Nendoroid (ねんどろいど) is a Q version (chibi-style) poseable doll series launched by the Japanese figurine manufacturing company Good Smile Company in 2006. The products are made from materials like PVC and ABS rather than clay. The prototype team is called “ねんどろん” (nendoron) and, when combined with “droid,” forms “ねんどろいど” (nendoroid), which refers to what we commonly call clay figures. Therefore, being a Q version does not necessarily mean it is a clay figure, and clay figures are not made of clay.
Nendoroids are typically around 10cm tall and come with interchangeable parts that can be held in the hand or used as accessories. The facial expressions are also removable and replaceable. The figure has joints in the limbs, allowing for various poses. The first clay figure is widely believed to be FREEing’s “Priss Asagiri Nendoroid,” which was actually an experimental piece given as a bonus with a game and included different facial expressions in different versions, categorized under Nendoroid Plus. Looking at it now, the design of the early Nendoroids differs significantly from the current ones.
In the first 100 Nendoroids, we can see that Good Smile Company (GSC) was still in the experimental stage, with oversized heads, poor compatibility, and too many versions. However, this era also saw the birth of many classic pieces, including the Hatsune Miku Nendoroid (No. 33), which has been reissued five times.
Between numbers 101 and 200, the Nendoroid figures had basically solidified their design and showed significant improvements in craftsmanship. This period also saw the introduction of the highly posable series.
The 200th Nendoroid figure was the Good Smile Company’s mascot, Utao Tsuduki, released as part of the “Cheerful JAPAN!” project for disaster recovery. The project included a total of 12 figures, such as the Support Hatsune Miku and Support Black Rock Shooter, with 1000 yen from each purchase going towards disaster recovery efforts.
Nendoroid figures numbered 201 to 300 largely featured characters from popular anime series at the time. Occasionally, popular characters from movies and games were also transformed into Nendoroid form. Good Smile Company even joined animation production committees to accelerate the process of turning characters into figures.
The 300th Nendoroid figure was the highly anticipated Hatsune Miku 2.0, which featured a new neck joint for easier head swapping. The packaging design was also simplified and unified.
The conversion of voice actors/actresses into Nendoroid form opened up another realm for Nendoroids. There was a unique charm in collecting these figures during concerts. Additionally, the rapid transformation of the colossal titan from Attack on Titan into a Nendoroid form surprised many, as it was truly the main character in its own right.
Not only Japanese game characters, but also characters from Chinese and Western games have been transformed into Nendoroid form. Furthermore, Harry Potter was also made into a Nendoroid figure during the release of “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,” catering to fans’ nostalgia.
The highly anticipated 1000th Nendoroid figure finally arrived as the Snow Princess Ver. Hatsune Miku, created as a tribute to the 10th anniversary and themed around the image of a princess in the snow of Hokkaido. It was released as a limited edition for the Wonder Festival.
The head of the clay doll is of regular clay doll size, while the body is larger than that of a clay doll, making it easier to wear fabric clothing. It is a poseable action figure with rich and interesting playability.
Nowadays, clay dolls are highly loved by otaku fans. For example, some websites sell Nendoroid clothes.