Nintendo and Game Freak have partnered with toymaker Bandai to create a series of Pokeball accessories. It's the first opportunity Pokemon fans will have at acquiring a selection of Pokeballs to carry around with them in real life, beyond their handheld console or mobile phone. 12 unique Pokeballs will be made available via two different sets, exclusively available through Japan's Premium Bandai brand. It's unclear if the Pokeballs will be made available in the West.
The Pokeballs are being released, at least initially, as part of the Pokemon the Movie 20: I Choose You! marketing campaign. The film retells the origin of the Pokemon cartoon's protagonists, Ash and Pikachu.
Fittingly, the first set of 6 Pokeballs to be released will include the special Pokeball featuring a lightning bolt that Ash keeps Pikachu in. That set also includes a Great Ball, Ultra Ball, Master Ball, Premium Ball, and normal Pokeball.
Features-wise, the Pokeballs work as would be expected. They open with a button press and have a small amount of storage space within, which will initially be filled with some candy. The balls also feature a type of clip on their back that lets trainers attack the ball to their belts or pant tops.
Again, these official Pokemon balls are currently exclusively planned for release through the Japanese outlet Premium Bandai. The first set of 6 Pokeballs will cost around $50 and launch in August. The second set of 11, which includes all of the Pokeballs except Pikachu's from the first set as well as Quick, Dusk, Timer, Heal, Dive and Luxary variants, will cost around $65 and launches in September. It's unclear whether overseas delivery can be used for online orders.
There are ways to buy Pokeballs of one sort or another on eBay or through grey markets online and thrift shops. Virtually all of them are unofficially made, but slip through the cracks. Considering just how much merchandise is made for Pokemon in Japan and then never comes westward, the void that leaves gets filled through various means. The demand is there and it will be filled. Let's all hope that Nintendo and Bandai figure out a way to bring these really great looking Pokeballs to the west as soon as possible.