POGS? What the heck is that? POGs — essentially an acronym for Passion-Orange-Guava — were them thick cardboard-like paper-based round faux “milk caps”, measuring about 1-5/8″ diameter, usually including a pull-tab and sometimes a staple in it. They were a huge collectors (and game playing?) craze back in the early 90’s, when just about every business at the time jumped at the opportunity to use them as a vehicle for advertising.
According to Wikipedia, the story behind POGS goes like this: “The game of pogs was played on the Hawaiian island of Maui as early as 1927. The 1990s revival is credited to Blossom Galbiso, a teacher and guidance counselor who taught at Waialua Elementary School in Oahu. In 1991, Galbiso introduced the game she had played as a little girl to a new generation of students, soon incorporating pogs into her fifth grade curriculum as a way of teaching math and as a nonviolent alternative to other popular schoolyard games, one of which involved throwing a ball at one’s opponent as hard as possible. The game quickly spread from Oahu’s North Shore, and by early 1992, STANPAC Inc., the small Canadian packaging company that had been manufacturing the milk caps distributed by Haleakala Dairy on Maui (the same caps that were collected by Galbiso for her class), was printing millions of pogs every week for shipment to the Hawaiian island chain. The game soon spread to the mainland, first surfacing in California, Texas, Oregon, and Washington before spreading to the rest of the country. By 1993, the previously obscure game of pogs, which had almost been forgotten, was now played throughout the world.”
I’m not really the collector type (loosely said), yet I do have a couple folders filled with Hawaii POGs from the early 90’s. Here’s just a few of the many I’ve got. Check it out…
Some of those logos are classic! Looking back at the design of them all together like this, the square-shaped “Portagee POG” actually stands out the most. See, us “portagees” are marketing geniuses! lol If POGS were to ever make a comeback (and if it does, you know who’s taking credit for it!), I’ll propose making one shaped like a triangle musubi with a red ume in the middle, perhaps for businesses like Gulick Delicatessen and Tanioka’s, as well as my blog. Hey, why not?! Great business card idea!
POGS (faux milk caps) really were a great advertising vehicle at the time, being relatively cheap to produce and easy to get out the message due to the collectible factor. Of course, this was during the time before the internet was commonplace, as perhaps today if it were to try to make a comeback, may not be quite as popular. Yet I could be wrong on that!
Speaking of collectibles, check out Diner E’s “otaku” office collection of Gashapon (Japanese capsule toys)…
And here’s my “manini” (compared to his) office collection…
Speaking of Japanese superhero collectibles, I do still have my self-made Japanese superhero costumes…
Pomai’s take on “Hakaida 01”
Pomai as “HaynKikaida” at Front Street, Lahaina
Pomai as “Hakaida”
Pomai as “Kamen Rider” (some funky version I made up lol)
Dr. Giru ain’t likin’ this pic!
Pomai as “HaynKikaida” with Chance Gusukuma and Bob Enomoto of JN Productions
I made this Kikaida mask using broken VCR parts and bondo sculpted over a hockey mask riveted to the front of a baseball batting helmet, with the visor portion cut off. The clear plastic covering the “electronic brains” is made from a rather unusual half-orb hanging planter found at a thrift store. The eyes are made out of plastic sun glass lenses, while the metallic “ear” on the right (the blue side) is from the VCR’s tape drum. You can’t see it, but there’s a bunch of blinking LEDs in the “brains” section taken from various toys found at the thrift store.
The Kikaida mask has since been autographed by Ban Daisuke, the actor who played Jiro in the original Kikaida series, as well as the late Shunsuke Ikeda, the actor who played Ichiro in the original Kikaida 01 series.
When I wore the Kikaida costume the first year I made it for Halloween back in 1999, several people (locals of course) in Waikiki offered to buy it right off my back, with one guy offering $10,000 cash for the whole thing, including the suit. I kid you not. To this day, I refuse to sell it. This was back before the “Kikaida” craze made a comeback, so people were even more surprised to see “Kikaida” walking around “live” in person. It really was a riot! When I wore it the next year for Halloween on Front Street in Lahaina, Maui, some of the mainland tourists were asking, “What are you man, some kind of Power Ranger?” While I remember one kid practically “de-dadded” his own father with him for me as “Kikaida”. It was hilarious! The dad was cracking up!
JN Productions “Kikaida” costume at Ala Moana Shirokiya, taken directly from the Toei Studios mold
My Kikaida costume ended up being used for various gigs by JN Productions, the company that produces the remastered Kikaida and Kamen Rider DVDs under the “Generation Kikaida” label. They’ve since gotten a professionally made, very authentic Kikaida costume taken directly from the Toei studio mold, as well as Hakaida, Kikaida 01, Bijinda, Kamen Rider V3 and a few more popular 70’s Japanese superhero characters.
Getting back to the original subject of POGS, I’ve got quite a lot more than shown above, including other variations such as colors, more schools, businesses and clubs, as well as anime.
Do you still have POGS, or did you collect them at one time? Did you ever “play” POGS?