This series is full of technology. The original in-game Pokédex clearly took inspiration from devices like the early Palm Pilot, for example. And if you think about it, pokéballs are technological marvels: they somehow turn living things into particles that can be transported around the world (and on TV shows, pokéballs can even shrink). So it is not too surprising that there are many Pokémonthemed toys and hardware.
We’ve collected just a few of the many memories Pokémon gadget to honor 25th anniversary of the series. IRL devices range from gamified pedometers to custom video game consoles to replicas of actual pokéballs (although they haven’t been able to turn living things into particles yet). There are tons of gear you can get if you want to catch them all.
The real Pokédex
Tiger Electronics and Hasbro released the pokédex toy in the late 90’s, and I still consider it one of my all-time favorite toys. It was modeled after Pokédex Ash from the first season of the TV show, albeit with a few distinct features that allow it to actually function as a real-life toy. It has a keypad and numeric pad to look up information, a small screen that shows which pokémon you are viewing, and can show information about each pokémon such as height, weight, type, and some of the attacks it can learn. It made me feel like I was a bona fide pokémon trainer, and I remember spending hours reading about different pokémon to my pokédex.
My Pokémon Pikachu was a staple of my childhood. Released in 1998, it’s a pocket-sized gadget like the Tamagotchi, unless you take care of the digital Pikachu. But it also has a built-in pedometer which you can activate by simply shaking the device up and down. (Or, as in the ad pinned above, jump.)
That wobble ability means me always bounce off the tiny device to get a currency called watts. You can either give Pikachu the wattage or, oddly enough, bet it on the slot machine. You can learn more about that on this fun Japanese Nintendo website it’s still there.
Nintendo released an improved model, Pokémon Pikachu 2 GS, in 1999 in Japan and 2000 in North America and Europe, according to Bulbapedia. It has a color screen and can be connected to Pokémon Gold, Silver, and Crystal via the Game Boy Color infrared port, allowing you to swap watts for items.
Pokémon themed camera
Just look at this point-and-shoot camera. It has a giant Pikachu on one side, two poké balls holding the flash and lens, and the adorable Diglett is the shutter button. The camera shoots 35mm film, and each photo will also have a pokémon themed frame, according to the manual. (You can see that border, which features Pikachu, Meowth, Squirtle, and Blastoise, on this album.) Some eBay listings have their release date set as 1999.
Hey You, Pikachu’s “Voice Recognition Unit”
Hey you, Pikachu is a Nintendo 64 game that lets you talk to Pikachu with the help of the Voice Recognition Unit, or VRU, which is included in the game. It was released on 1998 in Japan and 2000 in North America.
You can see the VRU in the image above – the user attaches a large microphone to their controller, connects it to a special module (which stores a vocabulary of 256 words of Pikachu, based on Popular science), then plugged in that module to the Nintendo 64 itself.
And speaking of Pikachu themed hardware …
Pikachu-themed Nintendo 64
Pikachu themed Nintendo 64, released in 2000, give an interesting touch to the console design by making the on-off button a poké ball and Pikachu’s right foot a reset button. I love how giant Pikachu is – it dominates almost half of the console. And while I don’t remember actually using one of these myself, I imagine it must have been very satisfying to press down on Pikachu’s little feet to reset the game.
Pokémon mini is a small handheld console specially designed for playing Pokémon-themed games from cartridges. It was released on 2001 in North America and Japan and 2002 in Europe. That’s 74mm x 58mm x 23mm – described at the still active Nintendo UK Pokémon mini website and “well under half the size” of Nintendo’s iconic Game Boy Advance – and available in three colors. It even has motion sensing and innate roar.
The Pokémon Pikachu set was replaced by the poké ball-themed Pokéwalker in 2009, which comes bundled with every copy. Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver. Like Pokémon Pikachu, Pokéwalker is a pedometer, allows you to accumulate watts, and allows you to care for pokémon. But unlike Pokémon Pikachu, you can transfer pokémon back and forth from Pokéwalker, meaning you aren’t forced to just care for Pikachu. You can also find new wild pokémon and items directly on your Pokéwalker by spending watts playing mini-games.
Nintendo has uploaded Online Pokéwalker Guide, if you want to learn more.
Poké Ball Plus
Nintendo released another poké ball themed device in 2018 at the same time Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee!: that Poké Ball Plus, a true and functional game controller compatible with Nintendo Switch. You can play both games with the controller and catch Pokemon by making a throwing motion with your hand. Similar to the Pokéwalker, you can also store pokémon in Poké Ball Plus, and they’ll even cry from them if you shake them. The controller is also compatible with big mobile hits Pokémon Go.
This “no-throw” replica of this Poké Ball
This only counts as a gadget, but I have to include it. Last November, The Pokémon Company International and The Wand Company announced this $ 99.99 die-cast replica of the Poké Ball. Even though it looks realistic, don’t throw it at your cat as a joke; weighs 10.5 ounces, twice the weight of a baseball. And in fact, Said The Wand Company that he “shouldn’t be thrown” and “throwing the Poké Ball will damage it and could injure someone”.
But if you’ve ever really wanted to get hold of a poké ball, buying one is probably the closest you can get to it. It even shines.