DotGraphic Video Game Stage Figures

Hands down one of the coolest merchandising tributes to classic video games I’ve ever seen have been in a couple of series of “stage figures” released onto the Japanese toy market under the Dot Graphics banner. The extensive series of scenes from Super Mario Bros. depict almost every major event in that game, complete with moveable parts, while a similar (but sadly smaller) series of mini-dioramas depict events from classic 70s and 80s Namco arcade games. To say that both of these selections are merely cool is to not even come close to doing them justice.

DotGraphic Stage Figures - photos copyright 2007 Earl Green / theLogBook.com
DotGraphic Stage Figures - photos copyright 2007 Earl Green / theLogBook.com
DotGraphic Stage Figures - photos copyright 2007 Earl Green / theLogBook.com
DotGraphic Stage Figures - photos copyright 2007 Earl Green / theLogBook.com
DotGraphic Stage Figures - photos copyright 2007 Earl Green / theLogBook.com
Series 1 Super Mario Bros. Stage Figures

The Super Mario stage figures each come with fixed set pieces (which must be snapped onto the pre-painted flat background square) and at least one moveable element which consists of a game character and a magnetic backing. In theory, one can move these elements of each scene manually by moving the magnetic backing, but in practice, it’s best used to position characters “just so” on a scene to create a desired effect. There are also several individually packaged characters, sold separately from any particular scene, which can be added to a scene, stuck on the fridge, or what have you.

DotGraphic Stage Figures - photos copyright 2007 Earl Green / theLogBook.com
DotGraphic Stage Figures - photos copyright 2007 Earl Green / theLogBook.com
DotGraphic Stage Figures - photos copyright 2007 Earl Green / theLogBook.com
DotGraphic Stage Figures - photos copyright 2007 Earl Green / theLogBook.com
DotGraphic Stage Figures - photos copyright 2007 Earl Green / theLogBook.com
DotGraphic Stage Figures - photos copyright 2007 Earl Green / theLogBook.com
Series 2 Super Mario Bros. Stage Figures

(As a side note, I’ve shown off a glass case of the Super Mario stage figures at the Oklahoma Video Gaming Exhibition for the past couple of years, and a “not for sale” sign has yet to deter people from asking if they could buy them. I can’t wait to see how crazy the Namco stage figures make that crowd…)

DotGraphic Stage Figures - photos copyright 2007 Earl Green / theLogBook.com
DotGraphic Stage Figures - photos copyright 2007 Earl Green / theLogBook.com
Super Mario Bros. Stage Figure Packaging

As if that’s not a sweet enough deal, each scene is packaged in an exact, if slightly scaled-down, reproduction of the box in which Super
Mario
cartridges were made available for the Famicom (the Japanese equivalent to the later NES) in the early 1980s.

DotGraphic Stage Figures - photos copyright 2007 Earl Green / theLogBook.com DotGraphic Stage Figures - photos copyright 2007 Earl Green / theLogBook.com
Namco Stage Figures

The Namco stage figures are both smaller and simpler, and more elaborate at the same time. The backdrops of the Namco mini-dioramas snap onto a black base which houses a sound chip, battery and a tiny (but plenty loud) speaker. Each backdrop has pre-positioned holes where one can arrange characters from the game in question as desired. (I suppose one could even mix-and-match for a laugh, but since these characters don’t have a magnetic backing, it’s a potentially more permanent proposition.)

DotGraphic Stage Figures - photos copyright 2007 Earl Green / theLogBook.com DotGraphic Stage Figures - photos copyright 2007 Earl Green / theLogBook.com
Namco Stage Figures

Pressing the button on the base of each stage figure activates a short sound clip of music and sound from the game, or at least something approximating the game. (The Xevious sound clip is just a little bit off.) The clips are more than loud enough. This range of toys has two rare “chaser” figures which I haven’t found yet; judging by the selection that is available, and which titles are conspicuous by their absence, my guess is that the two chasers are Pac-Man and either Galaga or Ms. Pac-Man. (I’m more than open to any pointers on acquiring the two missing items so I can find out for myself.)

DotGraphic Stage Figures - photos copyright 2007 Earl Green / theLogBook.com DotGraphic Stage Figures - photos copyright 2007 Earl Green / theLogBook.com
Namco Stage Figures

What both lines of figures have in common is intricate detailing, like 3-D renderings of the original pixel characters from the games themselves. It’s an incredibly neat concept, beautifully executed. Call it silly, but for retrogaming fans, it’s like holding a little core sample of the electronic world in the palm of your hand.

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