Want in on a trend for just a couple of bucks? Check out Toronto's indie Asian retailers -- from Chinatown to Queen West, Markham to Scarborough -- for kitschy, kid-friendly Japanese-made toys and snacks.
Glico's honey and butter Pretz stix (1) buzz in at $1.05 (Tokyo World, 205 Richmond West, 416-971-5628).
Pocari Sweat drink (2) makes a macho stink for $2.69 (Sanko, 730 Queen West, 416-703-5628).
Knockoff Digi Charat trading figures can cost hundreds, but the real thing -- shown here, hooligan Abarenbou comes with Dejiko and Puchiko key chains (3) -- is only U.S.$7 plus s&h online, from www.omochabox.com, or buy in person at the Anime North convention, coming to the Constellation Hotel May 24-26, 2002.
Chew on some green-apple gum (4), $1.25 at Yanonako Housewares (Pacific Mall, 4300 Steeles East, 905-947-0137 and others).
Go ape for Glico's banana-cream-filled Collon cookies (5, $1.35, Tokyo World).
Inside its zippy wrapper, Meiji's So Good (6) cotton candy looks like fiberglass insulation ($1.68, Tokyo World). Meiji's apple-candy appeal is anything but sour (7, $1.15, Tokyo World).
At $1.28, everyone needs a Hello Kitty keychain (8, New Look Accessories, 122 Dundas West, 416-599-6333). Kabaya's Hello Kitty strawberry stix look and taste sweet (9, $.99, Hua Sheng Supermarket, 293-299 Spadina, 416-263-9883).
Gotta love Peko Poko's twin chocolate lollipops (10, $1.68, Tokyo World). Fujiya's chocolate crayons (11) come with one of 12 trading buttons ($1.68, Tokyo World).
Tohato's pea-based vegetable snacks pack protein (12, $2.48, Sanko).
Shake up your desk with a Hello Kitty paperweight/penholder (13, $13.99, New Look Accessories).
Tare Panda pencils are just three for a buck (Tang's, 19 Milliken, 416-412-1972, and others).
Lots of Japanese toys come packaged as prizes with candies -- a dodge to get around Japan's high toy taxes. At $2.59 for a prize like this cellphone handle, Morinaga's chocolates make a tasty bonus (16 and 16A, Sanko).
Chill with a Qoo (17, $3.99, Tokyo World). A Hello Kitty mini-clipboard (18, $3.99) is one of the many must-haves at official Sanrio merchandiser Dragon Seed (261B Spadina, 416-596-7978).