RoboSapien in Japan – Update

Robosapiens was released in Japan last month (September) and seems to be getting a mixed response. The MSRP from the Japanese distributor - Takara - is pretty high, about 50% over the US MSRP. The market positioning is very similar to other 'toys' that Takara sells, and if you didn't look closely you would automatically assume that it was a Takara toy since WowWee, Tilden, et. al. are totally out of sight except for the required fine print copyright legends that no one ever pays any real attention to.

Street pricing varies all over the map. Hobby, specialty, and some online retailers are trying to sell it at the Japan MSRP with no discounts, while others offer significant discounts. Bic Camera, one of the most well known camera and electronics distributors here, was selling Robosapien at a 20% discount and sold out. ToysRUs Japan shows Robosapien at a 15% discount. Costco Japan sold them at the lowest price I've found so far - a whopping 30% discount - and quickly ran out of stock.

Keep in mind that a 30% discount from the Japan MSRP only gets the price back to parity with the US MSRP. Both Bic and Costco are high traffic brick-and-mortar stores where customers are very likely to make impulse buying decisions. It's been proven over and over again that the 'magic price' for impulse buys here is 10,000 yen (roughly USD$ 90.) If the price is lower than 10,000 yen it's easy for an impulse buyer to rationalize the purchase, but if it's higher then they will hesitate and think about it for a while.

Rakuten's weekly 'best seller' listing of "Hobby - Pet - Collection: Mini Car" shows Robosapien in the #30 position and falling. Why put it in the 'Mini Car' category? Probably an oversight, or perhaps because of the other Takara toys that end up in this category.

One thing that's surprising is the relative dearth of Robosapien posts by Japanese robot tinkerers/maniacs/hackers, at least so far.


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