If you have ever seen one of my PC build logs, EDC, or audiophile photos, you will have no doubt seen this little guy. I discovered the amazon.co.jp version of these figures a long time ago and HAD to have one. Something about that blank stare resonated with me. There was only one problem. I could not find a single variation of it stateside. I found a few collector websites, but each asked upwards of $150 for used ones. I browsed eBay for a while on and off, but no luck finding anything cheaper.
Danbo (ダンボー, Danbō, "cardboard") is a fictional cardboard box robot character from Kiyohiko Azuma's manga series Yotsuba&!. In the ADV Manga English translation of the manga the name Cardbo was used, but the name was restored to Danbo in the later released Yen Press English translation.
Life is like a box—
Around the same time I discovered Danbo, I shared it with a friend. She instantly fell in love with them and to my surprise, tracked some new in box ones down on eBay for $37! Shipping was a bit rough at $18/ea, but I bought them both and gifted one to her for her diligence. Having followed these figures for a little while before purchasing mine, I saw tons of wallpapers, posters, shirts, mugs and even phone cases. Danbo was a celebrity in front of the camera. The moment I got mine, I confirmed this for myself. Danbo was photogenic beyond reason. The boxy shape and limited range of motion should have been a negative, but everything about Danbo added to its charm. I originally purchased one to sit on my desk, but he found his way into more and more photos.
Does he get a little bored? Are there siblings in the cards?
A couple of years passed and Danbo’s popularity rose. I started to see suggestions from 3rd party sellers on Amazon. I already have mine, but there is no harm in checking out the listing. It was… smaller! I don’t think I have ever pressed buy now so quickly. I did not double check payment methods or the address, I just said GET. IN. MY. MAILBOX. As it turned out my birthday just passed and I had a few gift cards, so mini Danbo ended up being a gift.
I was in a meeting when deliveries came that day, but I will be honest. I checked with reception once or twice to see if the courier had come by. When the package finally arrived, you would think a smaller box would net less excitement, but it didn’t. It was like that theory from Ant Man. Though Danbo shrunk, the density of adorableness remained intact. Perhaps a bit more impactful due to the miniaturization.
Mini Danbo was an excellent fit for my style of photography. Whenever he shows up in my social media posts, I’m asked “where did you get that amazon box robot?!” Shortly after this I looked for alternative Danbos, as I knew they existed. I wanted my followers to know there was an expansive universe for Danbo, not just the Amazon version. In searching, I found the green Dumbo over mini-Zero Fighter and later in that month a silver variant. These Danbos had a ton of character. Both have distressed Zero Fighter paint jobs, movable propellers on their heads, and a little over-the-shoulder satchel that was actually a tiny bomb. Did you know bombs could be adorable?! I certainly had no idea.
I figured there was more to it
After the Zero Fighter twins, I continued to post Danbo adorned content across the vast social media landscape. As people discovered there was more to it, interest in other variants began to rise. Searching for unique Danbos became something of an off hours activity during the Christmas to New Years week of 2020. I found quite a few rare ones and even one made specifically for Tully’s coffee shop. A few collectibles sellers in Japan kept in touch with me, one in particular sharing interesting snacks as well as promising to snag new Danbo releases when he comes across them.
Sharing what I collect is as fun a part of the experience as collecting itself. One of my extremely cute friends also happens to like Danbos. She has the Nyanboard collection as well as an amazon.co.jp Danbo mini. During one of my searches for rare Danbos, I came across one of the more unique pieces. A DANBO PLUSHIE! Now… I have never and will never own plushies for myself, but such a rare piece needed to be acquired. I knew just the Danbo enthusiast I needed it for.
It was a massive success. Danbo La Ploosh was ecstatic about his new home, and I was pleased that something so rare could make someone so happy. From there the enthusiasm spread to art. Specifically, Moossey Art! Moossey is a wonderfully talented artist who specializes in—how do I put this—cute? Yes, she specializes in cute. That’s the only way I know how to describe it. Her ability to turn just about any idea into art is something else. She created some absolute masterpieces.
So what’s next? More Danbos! I have my eye on a few that should make it out this way by the end of the year! Keep an eye out.