Blast from the past19 February, 2012 by Chad
I was hunting in a candy store in Ueno for some Pocky for Wilson when I came across these “Soft Gliders” for sale. Older readers might remember these styrofoam planes fondly. They used to be available widely at Mama Shops in Singapore as “Flying Gliders” for 50 cents a packet but have since disappeared from stores.
These were sold for about 60 yen or approximately SGD$1 each. Surprisingly, I ran into more than one shop in Tokyo selling these. It seems like there may be an ongoing fad for vintage toys over there.
Each packet contains a styrofoam toy themed after a World War 2 fighter plane. Seems I had somehow managed to pick out two german planes at random here but there are also Japanese and American fighters. We used to have avian versions too, which featured different species of birds instead.
Each styrofoam glider comes unassembled in the packet. Due to how flimsy the pieces are putting together the pieces used to be quite a difficult task. The most challenging part was getting the propeller on without damaging the nose. The weighted clip is way too tight.
It must had been pretty satisfying as a kid to assemble one perfectly. But even then, the planes rarely last for more then a few throws.
To be honest, I’m not sure if these planes are an Asian invention. I remember playing with a more elaborate version in Auzzie as a kid which combined the styrofoam wings with a sturdier chopstick for its body. There was also a rubber band stretched across the propellor and tail to allow the plane to be wound up. This made it fly much further. But such planes were quite costly.
As with all the other treasures sold at Mama Shops, the most endearing part of Flying Gliders were their affordability. Older or more fortunate children could purchase one of these inexpensive toys with the remnants of their pocket money, while others might have had to forgo that day’s lunch.
Supermerlion's Webmaster and Editor-in-Chief. Singaporean Nikkeijin with over 12 years of experience in the media industry. Producer at a Japanese entertainment company. Former Web Developer, Graphic Designer, Multimedia Programmer, Manager and Consultant. Shoots with a Canon 5Dmk2 and Sony RX100-2.