It’s hard to imagine a franchise more destined for success than Disney’s Tsum Tsums.
Seriously, the mixture of ideas that shape the Tsum Tsum universe is a combination so addicting it’s almost diabolical. Take a uniform design similar to Funko Pops, mix them with adorable plush toys, tie them together with a mobile app that combines elements of puzzle games like Bejeweled and collection games like Pokemon, and wrap it all up with universally loved Disney characters like Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh, and there you have it: Tsum Tsums in a nutshell, which means it’s no surprise that people all over the world have become completely obsessed with Disney’s mobile game and toyline combo. Even the Star Wars and Marvel universes are getting in on the Tsum Tsum action, proving that Disney utilizes every intellectual property it can to appeal to as many fans as possible.
You may be asking yourself where in the world Tsum Tsums came from, or perhaps you’d like to know more about how they draw from the different franchises listed above. Fret not, dear readers, for those curiosities are answered below.
Tsum Tsum – translated as “stack stack” in Japanese – began as a mobile game that took Japan by storm in 2013. The objective of the title is simple: Tsum Tsum versions of Disney characters will appear on the screen stacked on top of each other, and the player drags their finger across lines of three or more identical characters to rack up the highest score possible under a strict time limit. It’s not unlike popular mobile puzzle games such as Bejeweled and Candy Crush Saga, but the shift in focus from methodical gameplay to twitch reflexes widens the game’s audience to those who may not normally like puzzle solving. What’s more, the Tsum Tsum game allows players to collect and level up individual Tsum Tsums that bestow useful powers during matches, clearly cut from the collection cloth that Pokemon popularized in the 90s. These may be common game mechanics in many mobile titles, but the Tsum Tsum game was both a unique collection of ideas and a cut above similar titles due to its simplistic gameplay and lovable Disney characters.
To the surprise of absolutely no one, Tsum Tsum dominated the charts in Japan for both iOS and Android downloads. Tying in with the game’s success were the Tsum Tsum plush toys, featuring similar designs to their in-game counterparts. With round shapes and teeny-tiny legs, Tsum Tsum toys are as stackable as their name implies, which naturally drives collectors to want more of them. Even promotional Tsum Tsum images will often depict the toys in an enticing pyramid shape. Whether a Tsum Tsum is based on Donald Duck or Dumbo the Elephant, each toy utilizes the same general template, complete with beady eyes not unlike the also widely successful Funko Pop figures. Tsum Tsums are produced in both small, medium, and large sizes, meaning toys can either be big enough to be huggable or small enough to fit in a pocket.
Having sold 1.6 million Tsum Tsum plush toys in Japan over 9 months, Disney brought both the app and the toys to the United States in 2014. Jimmy Pitaro, president of Disney Interactive, describes Tsum Tsum as “one of the first times that Disney has introduced a distinctly Japanese product to a global audience,” which is immediately evident in the name “Tsum Tsum” being retained for its international release. Tsum Tsums have also been released in South Korea, and the roster of Tsum-ified characters grows every month. With Disney throwing everything it has into growing the Tsum Tsum brand by pushing animated shorts and other promotions, collectors would do well to keep an eye on these stackable plush toys that are still going strong after almost three years. Just make sure to contain yourself if you feel your obsession growing, even if the temptation for more of those lovable faces is just so irresistible.
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