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What is Bakugan And Why Are My Kids Willing to Sell Their Sister To Get Them?

As you may have noticed from our reviews, The Toy Report favors toys of an organic nature, toys outside the mainstream, toys that you normally don’t find at the big box toy stores.  We love off the beaten path toys from shops like Magic Cabin, Oompa and manufacturers like Haba.  Sure, we like mainstream toys such as Lego, Playmobil and Playdoh, but shy away from the over branded Disney/Dora/Bratz plastic junk they try to push on you at the major toy chains.

We attempt to avoid watching TV that has violence or major advertising, sticking to PBS and recorded shows off Noggin and Nick Jr where we can fast forward through the commercials.

We send the boys to a Waldorf school out of a healthy respect for allowing our children to grow and learn in a natural and nurturing environment without the constant pressure of pop culture envy overwhelming them.

So far we’ve been rewarded with some great, well adjusted, polite, friendly, damn fine kids.

A few weeks ago at bedtime, Speedy says the words I’ve been dreading for a couple of months now… “Daddy, at school today, Marcus had a Bakugan.”

“Really? At school?” I say, knowing full well that they don’t allow such items at school.

“Well,” said Speedy “not at school, after school.  It was in his coat pocket after school, and it was red and when you touched it to metal it turned into a dragon!”

“Not just any metal” shouts Rainbow from his bed across the room, “it has to be STEEL!  It can’t be a coin or foil!

“Daddy, can you get us some Bakugan? We really want some!” They both say almost in unison.  “I want a green one and a white one and blue one…”


What Are Bakugan?

Bakugan are the latest toy craze among the 6-12 year old set.  As the writer of a toy blog, I keep my eyes on the latest toy trends and I’ve been seeing more and more about these infernal collectables for months now.  Think Pokemon on steroids wearing a laser robot jetpack missle launcher transformer and you start to get an idea of how this appeals to young boys.

The main force behind it is the Bakugan Battle Brawlers game, which consists of little boy hand sized plastic balls (called Bakugan if you can believe it) which pop open to transform into small fighting creatures when they roll onto special spots on the Bakugan Cards.  There is a magnetic clasp inside each ball that allows it to pop open into it’s creature form when it’s placed on a metal surface (such as hidden inside the Bakugan Cards).

In a game each player lays their cards out in turns with the rule that they must have one full edge touching another card (think Dominos).  Then the players take turns shooting their Bakugan onto the cards (think Marbles).  When one Bakugan from each player stands open on a card, they “do battle” by comparing the “G Power” values shown on each Bakugan adjusted by different values listed on the back of the card for each different possible color Bakugan. (think Pokemon).  The winner of the battle takes the card and both Bakugan and play continues until there are no more cards.

There are some other rules to cover other eventualities, such as a Bakugan opening when it’s not on a card, knocking an opponents Bakugan off a card, but you get the idea.


Whose Idea Was This Anyway?

The marketing power behind the concept is best summed up in the company press release introducing the Bakugan franchise.  It’s obvious that a great deal of thought and coordination went into this tweeny boy full on marketing assault:


Nelvana and Spin Master Toys partner with Sega Toys, TMS Entertainment and Japan Vistec on Bakugan

(Cannes, France) In a move that represents an unprecedented synchronized worldwide launch for the toy and TV animation industries, Nelvana and Spin Master Toys, along with Japanese partners Sega Toys, TMS Entertainment and Japan Vistec, are pleased to announce an agreement in principle on the co-development of an animated series and related toys, as well as the formation of a joint production committee.

Partner collaboration at the earliest stages of development positions a property for creative and commercial success, but to our knowledge, this has yet to be achieved on a truly global scale, said Doug Murphy, Executive Vice President of Business Development, Nelvana. Nelvana is pleased to join forces with Spin Master and some of the best Japanese creative talent on what we believe will become the next generation of boys action.

“Spin Master is thrilled to be a part of such a groundbreaking partnership,” says Ronnen Harary Chairman & Co-CEO Spin Master Ltd. “Bakugan combines unique characters, fast-paced action and strategic play which will make for a comprehensive licensing program and an exciting new animated series for kids.”

The partnership’s first project will be a new boys action franchise called Bakugan. Targeted at boys ages eight to 12, Bakugan will be a character-rich animated series as well as an action game featuring cards and marble-like balls that transform into multiple collectible characters. The game will allow players to compete against various opponents, select from a wide range of strategy options and, combined with card game features, will create an entertainment experience with depth and long-term potential.


Is Bakugan Mania Bad For Kids?  Is Bakugan Bad For Parents?

As you can see, someone realized that they could easily duplicate and surpass the craze last seen with Pokemon if they came up with a closely tied Toy/Game/Video Game/TV Show merchandising experience carefully and precisely targeted at everything a “tween” boy wants and likes.

And boy did they come up with a doozy.  If Bakugan mania hasn’t swept through your town yet it soon will and woe be to the parent who finds themselves Bakuganless during this Holiday Season.

From an caution parenting perspective, outside the potential high cost of this addiction, there is a something to be said for the educational and creative play value of the actual Bakugan game itself:

  1. Aiming and rolling physical Bakugan balls is a better hand/eye coordination experience than most video games tend to be.
  2. Adding and subtracting the points to see who wins each “battle” is a great way to learn basic math skills.
  3. Memory skills and value strategy of remembering which point values are on which card for which color Battle Brawler
  4. Once they’re done with the game, the kids tend to make up little adventure stories and fly their Bakugan around the room saving the downtrodden and defeating the bad guys.

Note that some parents have commented that Bakugan is in league with the devil in the same sense that Harry Potter is in league with the devil.  Magic, strange mystical symbols, ability of mystical creatures to appear and disappear, you get the idea.  If you’re someone who is bothered by the religious implications of something mystical that isn’t in line with church doctrine, you might want to avoid the Bakugans.

Also Note, Bakugan balls are quite small, about the size of a superball.  Bigger than most marbles, but smaller than a walnut.  They are most certainly a choking hazard and NOT for children under 3.  Use caution if you have small children around these.


The Locusts Hit The Big Toy Stores Before Me

With the Boys birthday fast approaching, I decided to stop at Toys R Us after work to pick up some Bakugan for them, only to find that the rather small Bakugan section was completely empty of anything Battle Brawler game related.  Since there was a K-Mart close by, I decided to run in there and see what they had.  Same problem, a completely full toy isle with the small Bakugan section of it picked clean as if by vultures.  Target had a couple of Bakugan backpacks, travel cases, and static action figures in stock, but no Battle Brawler game pieces either.  Gone, all 100% gone and it’s was only late October, not even close to Christmas.  Tween boy parents has swept through town like locusts, leaving nothing in their wake.

The Internet to the rescue right?  Well, kind of.

Prices were high, with Bakugan Battle Packs and Starter packs two to three times their retail price or higher.  However, after some careful searching, I was able to find a Bakugan Battle Pack on eBay for $29.99, close to it’s retail price of $22.99.  Then I spotted a couple of Bakugan Starter Packs actually in stock at Amazon for only $15.99 each.  Not to be confused with the ones available from Amazon Third Party Sellers for $22 and up, these are actually in stock by Amazon and qualify for Amazon Prime or free shipping if you break the $25 per order barrier.

Folks, it’s November.  If you have a 6-11 year old boy, I’d strongly advise you to buy Bakugan NOW for the holiday season.  If your town happens to have somehow avoided the Bakugan Craze Fever, just resell them on eBay come December 22nd for either a profit or to make some poor beleagured parents Chrismas miracle come true.

Remember, you don’t want to be that parent camping out in front of Toys R Us in mid December praying for the Bakugan fairy to visit the store or paying $100+ on eBay to get a single starter set overnighted.

Last I checked, this Bakugan Battle Brawler Starter Set was actually in stock for $15.99 at Amazon.  I’d  suggest grabbing some up before it’s too late.  Also, click here for the search that found some $34 Bakugan Battle Pack at eBay.

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31 comments… add one

  • Lisa Damian November 12, 2008, 9:06 pm

    What a complete and insightful review. Good tip on ordering them now in time for Christmas. I was sent these items for review, and once she got her hands on them, my young daughter became addicted (before she heard about them in school or ever watched the show). There is definitely something about this Bakugan craze that has hit a chord with children.

  • Michael Burdick November 15, 2008, 8:29 pm

    I live in Northeast ohio and all Bakugan have been out of stock at all venues for more than a month here.

  • bakugan beginner November 16, 2008, 12:28 am

    How many colors does each child need? One of each of the six colors? or three of one color or does it not matter?

  • Remo November 16, 2008, 8:55 am

    The colors don’t really matter, any child can play with any combination of Bakugan colors they wish. Some kids prefer to play with all one color.

    The cards that the balls land on have different “power boosts” for certain colors, so you ideally want to match up your colors with the boosts you have on your cards, which means buying lots of balls and cards to get the good matches. It’s a good marketing strategy. 😉

  • Jen Nack November 16, 2008, 10:20 pm

    Bakugan is the only thing my son is asking for this Christmas. I have been looking for over 3 weeks with the same result. All shelves were empty and ebay and Amazon pricing continues to increase. However, as luck would have it, a Target employee told me they stock their shelves on Friday and Monday mornings at 8 a.m. Low and behold, my husband went before work at 8 a.m. (while waiting with others), but he did manage to get his hands on some.

  • tannage November 18, 2008, 7:28 am

    Bakugan prices online still aren’t as much as some of the other christmas must-haves, a starter pack is nowhere near as expensive as an Elmo Live.

    I’d say if you can’t get hold of it in the shops, get it online soon, because Spin Master’s keeping the supply short to maintain interest (apparently)

  • Elizabeth November 23, 2008, 11:25 am

    Curious if you need the battle pack and a starter pack or one or the other? Basically what is the bare minimum for two kids to play? Thanks!

  • Bridget November 23, 2008, 9:47 pm

    After my son became interested in these a few weeks ago, sneaking them to school and playing and trading on the playground, I thought the WalMart prices were a little high. $22.99 for 6 marbles? Boy was I naive.

    Little did I know that I should have been stashing them away for Christmas since now, and we haven’t even hit Thanksgiving yet, they are all gone gone gone. Frustratingly enough I resorted to eBay against my better judgement, and was shocked and appalled to see that $22.99 for 6 brawlers has jumped to $40-$50+!

    I was lucky enough to stumble upon a kind soul who had the mega pack (arena + 6 brawlers) for $53.99, free shipping and a 10%-off Paypal coupon later I spent $48.59. Less than two dollars more than an arena and 6 pk. would’ve cost at WalMart.

    What frustrates me the most are the feedback comments thanking all of the various sellers for providing these hard-to-find items! Ironically it is those sellers who are clearing the shelves and selling on eBay that has created the scarcity in the first place. Some of them are even auctioning Bakugan by the caseloads for hundreds of dollars. HOW are they getting them?? Anyway, Good luck to the parents of all the little boys out there believing Santa will bring Bakugan!

  • Tabitha January 15, 2009, 11:04 am

    Wonderful post, very informative. My children attend a religious private school. The administration just recently sent this note to the parents: Recently, we have noticed that some of the students are bringing a new type of card and toys to the school. The name of the cards is “Bakugan” which seems that it is very popular among the boys in general. Unfortunately, these kind of cards contain evil characters and ideas in them. Please, talk to your children about the evil side of this type of cards and games, and I am planning to address this issue to the all students during the assembly. In the past, when we confiscate an item, we usually talk to the parents and give it back to them. Starting next week, if any student brings “Bakugan”, we will confiscate them, and we will still contact the parents, however, we will not return the cards or toys to the parents, instead we will get rid of them right away.

    This note was sent by email to all parents. I have heard of this type of thing happening since the Holiday break is over. Just a reminder that if they bring their $50+ gift to school, the admin may take it based on the perceived religious/mystical connotations . . .

  • Chameleon January 30, 2009, 12:55 am

    At 15, my son is too old for the Bakugan toys, but not to watch the anime series. In fact, he gets up at 5 am every morning JUST to watch Bakugan, much to my chagrin, since our television is in the living room where, at 5 am, I am usually just sitting down to start writing. The show is high on the “kawaii” quotient, making it far too cutesy by half, and at least half of each episode seems to revolve around the crush between the two main characters and their refusal to admit that they “like” each other. Ew.

  • babolos February 12, 2009, 3:11 am

    i am 12 and i like bakugan. i am in middle school (where kids think they are too old to participate in such a sport) and i suggest to all the parents who are trying to buy bakugan to get them USED off of ebay. i really dont care weather my bakugan comes in a flashy chunk of plastic that i have to pecuriously pry open without breaking the little bakugan inside, so i dont think anyone else would. its just an idea, and i hope someone gets some help from this.

  • bakuganexpert March 14, 2009, 6:21 pm

    this is a helpful article – that highlights the pros of Bakugan. Yes, there are cons to it, but overall, the educational values with all the positive elements of a kids’ games trumps the negatives. Winning the toy of the year 2009 says something in itself.

  • Loretta Freeman March 25, 2009, 7:07 am

    I walked into my son’s bedroom yesterday and thought I heard one of the characters on Bakugan say God Dammit. Can anyone tell me if I heard right?-
    Watchful Mother in VA.

  • Connor Barrett April 9, 2009, 8:16 pm

    I am pretty stinking young so I know every thing about bakugan including the cool ones

  • Connor Barrett April 9, 2009, 8:37 pm

    Here is a tip ask your son or daughter ( that likes bakugan ) what their favorite color is out of blue,black,white,green or brown, blue this will help you choose which color to buy without telling them you are buying them and trust me it work on a 13-year old so it’ll work on your bakugan lover.

  • Becky May 6, 2009, 8:32 pm

    I am still kinda confused. I have a 9 year old girl and a 4 year old boy who want bakugan can anybody give me any advice or insight to these toys. Thanx

  • Kade Norton May 18, 2009, 3:50 pm

    I want some bakugan but their rip off prices.

  • Bakugan Expert June 16, 2009, 11:43 pm

    Here is a tip to parents out there, if you child trades Bakugan with young children
    that don’t understand trading, it’s best not to let them trade with them because there was case a kid traded Bakugan with a young child and the young kid’s mom ended up calling the kids mom for a trade back. The other kid got upset and broke the Bakugan. The young kids mom took it seriously because he was crying so much
    and that ruined the relationship between their parents. Now that young kid is sad because he enjoyed looking at the other kids new Bakugan. The other kid didn’t want to show him his Bakugan to him because he had a grudge against him, but he still looks like he wants to brag about his Bakugan.

  • Bakugan Expert June 16, 2009, 11:53 pm

    Here is a tip for buying Bakugan. You always want to find the type,attribute,color
    the person your buying the Bakugan for likes. Otherwise they will just get upset.
    Second tip is you want to always find the strongest Bakugan the power level is the Gs. Next tip the brown/sub terra Bakugan that are special ability are the strong ones you want and also buy trap Bakugan the kids go wild for them they always sell out trust me. Last tip is Christmas time is when Bakugan are sold out so if you don’t want to buy Bakugan for Christmas early i would suggest finding out when the next truck of Bakugan will arrive to the store then find out the earliest time the store opens, then just wake up and go go go! Buy those Bakugan. Also find out the right time for the right day otherwise you could come to early.

  • Mystery Bakugan Master September 13, 2009, 7:56 am

    I think Bakugan is for every age except 18 and older you know they are adults we are just kids it doesnt matter that you are 16 and you play that game of not ?
    Btw i am 13 😛

  • Brandon Fletcher November 25, 2009, 9:13 pm

    Yeah, like he said, Bakugan really can be for an older teen market. I’m 17, and I’m completely obsessed about Bakugan. I’ve been collecting since the beginning of the year and already have 234 Bakugan, many of what now is considered the “older” B2 and B1 Bakugan. So yeah, I think its a good thing for older kids and teenagers to get involved in Bakugan, because of course all the little kids bring it popularity, but when it comes to the Tournaments and competitions starting up next year, it will be older kids that come and prove to the world that Bakugan is just as complex and interesting a game as Pokemon and Yugioh.

  • Kade Norton January 6, 2010, 2:47 pm

    wow someone has the same name as me.

  • Lara February 1, 2010, 12:02 pm

    Saw this review and smiled the entire time I was reading it. I have a 6 year old son who drags his plastic shoebox full of Bakugan toys, books, cards etc. from one room to the next…just to be near them! He loves the detailed descriptions of each character and as a kid who seems good with numbers, the math is great! Ironically, he is very hesitant to watch the show on the cartoon network (although my 4 year old daughter likes it!)…too much reality, I suppose. I do think this toy is far from a bad one…it promotes coordination, reading, math and imagination/story building ideas. I’m a teacher, so I try to get things that inspire creativity for my kids. All in all, I can’t go wrong giving this toy on any occasion! (some are on sale now for great deals, too!)

  • Tom February 13, 2010, 10:04 pm

    I use Bakugan as rewards for good grades. Apparently, his lowest grade is now a 95%, and the rest are mostly 99+% (on average). When there are no Bakugan in stores, I just promise him that I will buy them for him when they appear. And when we come to stores another day… CLEARANCE!?? One for 2 dollars, three for 4 dollars, and the whole aisle was FULL. It was heaven for sure. It’s a good thing he was patient and we were lucky to find this. It’s a good thing he doesn’t nag about Bakugan too much, and he keeps himself interested with his old ones by making digital drawings of them with Photoshop. I say he deserves to have some from time to time.

  • Master Pyrus Brawler April 29, 2010, 12:45 pm

    I am 12 years old and play Bakugan there are 6 people in my school that play it although I am the only girl who plays it we love to battle I am Pyrus (red) and I also want to say good on Brandon Fletcher and Connor Barrett who also “Brawl”*(see bottom of page) also if you dont want to buy to many Bakugan for your kids I suggest you by them the Video game I have got it and I think it totally rocks. Also for all you brawlers out there reading this BRAWL ON!!!

    My Faverouite Bakugan-Pyrus Appolonere

    For more information go to Bakugan.com click on USA to get more information.

    *To Brawl someone is to battle them you might hear some Brawlers (people you play bakugan) say “lets Brawl” or “Brawl on”.

  • Bakufan June 14, 2010, 5:22 pm

    I love bakugan. I got alot of bakugan last Chirstmas. I am getting one today as well. I really like them,and i dont think they are bad for children. They dont have evil in them. There just a game. Nice article

  • May Mitchell September 13, 2010, 2:10 am

    thanks for explaining all about Bakugan – I have just gone to a six yr old’s Bakugan birthday party and now I am being begged by my five yr old to get some. :-)
    Great writing – enjoyed reading your article a lot

  • Kara April 26, 2012, 6:21 pm

    I hear about people thinking it’s all for boys but my little sister has bakugan so I mean even when she watches the show there’s girl brawlers.

  • Su-Ji January 2, 2013, 11:15 am

    You know, there’s a girl version of Bakugan . It’s called Zoobles and they are really cute. They are based off of animals and have the same design off of Bakugan except that instead of a card, you have a Happitat where you put the Zoobles in. Search it up on Google.

  • Someone June 21, 2014, 3:08 pm

    I am a twelve year old girl and I liked Bakugan once in my life. I have 5 Bakugan toys that are used and are kind of old. I am too young to set up a eBay account (at least thats what my parents say) but I want to sell my Bakugans for around 10 dollars without the cards. I need help trying to sell these, my parents don’t care if I sell them or not.

    Thx for reading

  • Michael December 23, 2014, 5:14 pm

    To all who may see this, I am a 13 year old boy in 7th grade and even though I haven’t used one of my 56 bakugan in about 3 years I still love the games. So here is a big tip to all you parents, I will sell ALL of them for only $30.00. You see, yes I do still play the video game but that is just life. When kids feel as if they don’t have other people to play the game with they share, and this starts the whole thing again, but when your little kindergartner feels cool for starting the phad again I know he will give them out not just to play it but to share. I think if you buy them he/she will be like me, love em’ to death, then sell them to make not money, but other kids happy. When I played my last game today getting ready for someone to buy them, I cried. I cried, not of sadness, but nostalgia my siblings did too but you cant keep something that isn’t emotional forever. I know, this kid is being dramatic but the same kid that you buy these for learns to share and sure, he might trade when he doesn’t want to but he will learn to get over it.

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