UPDATE (3/16/2017): This article has been updated to include another keshi, which I previously did not believe to be a part of this set. More detail on page 2. Thanks for reading!

Keshi are little rubbery figurines that have been popular in Japan for decades. You can get them out of gachapon (capsule toy) machines or in little packages or boxed sets or what-have-you. Though some are pre-painted, they’re generally unpainted, monochromatic figures that come in a variety of colours. If you’ve ever passed by one of those gumball machines with the little rubber ninja or monkeys or stuff in them, think like that, except these are much bigger (each Bomberman figure is close to 5cm wide and 5cm tall) and are often tied to popular game or cartoon franchises. Naturally, the ones I’m most interested in are the Bomberman figures.

There are actually a lot of these little guys, as I’ve found out through research and collection over the years, so I decided to try to catalogue them. As a wise bard once said, many years ago, “Gotta catch ’em all.” It is a mantra I have taken to heart.

Though I have a truly ridiculous amount of these standing around on my shelves, the only set I’ve truly completed (no missing attachments) is the Virtual Boy set, so that’s what I’ll be showcasing first. These figures come from the Virtual Boy version of Panic Bomber, and are comprised of the four monstrous Bombers who are faced as bosses within the game (strangely, their group has no name that I’ve uncovered). I’m also throwing in the figure from the unreleased Virtual Boy game as well as a figure from a Gameboy game that doesn’t seem to fit into any other set. Without further ado, let’s get started…

Bomberman Virtual Boy Series Info

  • Year: Circa 1995
  • Number of figures: 10
  • Figure size: Normal (up to 5cmx5cm)
  • Known colours: Yellow, red, white, dark blue, pink

Bomber Wolf

Bomber Wolf is the lycanthropic first boss of the game. As this is the first figure I’m covering, I’m going to go ahead and point out just how finely detailed these are. The fur around his collar is meticulously textured, and all the little details of his outfit, even a little seam in the back of his coat, are all there. Even his claws are distinctly separated from his fingers and toes. There are a lot of keshi out there of varying levels of quality. The Bomberman figures are all very high quality with very accurate sculpts. If one were to paint them, or find painted versions that exist for some of the series, it’s even clearer. If you’re into Bomberman, these are definitely worth the money they cost nowadays, two decades on.

Monster Bomber

Monster Bomber is a big guy, but his figure is scaled down to match the height and width of the others. This is likely for two reasons: production costs/equipment, and being able to fit into the same gachapon machines as the others in the set. The same is true for all of the bigger characters from the other games throughout the series. If it suits your fancy, you could probably place them at the appropriate distances to create a sort of illusion that makes them seem like they’re scaled properly, or you could be like me and set them up beside each other without really caring.

Anyway, Monster Bomber stands in the same pose he holds in his artwork. His middle and ring fingers are merged together in a sort of reverse-Spock thing, I assume for some practical reason that of which I’m unaware. I do actually have a minor qualm with this figure, actually. Instead of the normal ball antenna, Monster Bomber has a big bolt, but it’s in the same position on the crown of his head – if you take a look at his artwork on the cover of the game, you can see this. Strangely, it seems that whomever sculpted this figure only looked at his front-view artwork and assumed that the bolt just comes out of the top of his head, so that’s how the figure looks. Actually, you can tell from that artwork, as well, that the bolt is angled back due to its perspective, but whatever, it’s mostly just a little oddity worth pointing out.

The hardest part of creating a patchwork corpse monster? Choosing what colour he should wear…

Bomber Mummy

Bomber Mummy has his chains and everything, which is pretty sweet. He has one foot on top of his metal ball, which I must admit looks rather cool. Due to the smaller base of the ball, though, it makes him considerably more susceptible to toppling by a brush or shake. Still, his other foot provides enough of a foundation that he’s not the most accident-prone of all the Bomberman figures I’ve encountered, so it’s not too big of a problem. The little sun-shaped symbol on his belt is instead rendered as a smooth sphere, which is an understandable choice given how tiny it is on the figure.

We have a few of these, so here’s another shot:

I could make a joke about why his wrapping is yellow, but I'd like to think I'm classier than that.

I could make a joke about why his wrapping is yellow, but I’d like to think I’m classier than that.

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Bompire

He’s a vampire. And a Bomber. Thus, “Bompire”. “Vampire” in Japanese phonetics is “banpaia”, and Bompire’s Japanese name is “bonpaia”. Do you get it? Do you get the pun? Do you?

Alright, so Bompire is our first demonstration of a figure that comes with an attachment. This is cool, but it’s going to present a serious problem if you’re a collector, since kids lose stuff all the time and these things are now two decades old. It is my personal belief that somewhere, out there, is a pile of all the lost Bomberman capes that have somehow made their way to each other. As I type this, they are becoming a sentient hive mind hellbent on revenge.

Bompire without his cape.

Bompire without his cape.

So Bompire’s cape is pretty cool, it has a jaggedy design just like it does in his artwork, making it very distinct from all of the other Bomberman capes around. You can take it off and put it on other characters who have attachment slots, as long as it fits, though if you look at Bompire’s back, you can tell that it was shaped specifically for him (most of the characters with back attachments will have oddly-sloped backs so that the attachments fit properly). His pose is an altered variant of how he appears on the cover of the game, kind of like if you took that pose and just cranked up the flamboyancy. His feet are skinnier than those of most figures, so he kind of wobbles a bit sometimes. However, though I’m not entirely sure, I believe that the weight of his cape kind of balances him out. If you take it off, he seems considerably more wobbly.

Honestly, Bompire is pretty boss and I’m glad to finally have this one.

And 1 and 2 and 3 and sliiide!

Machine Bomber

Updated 3/16/2017!

I’ve had this character for a long time, but I was never sure what it was meant to represent, and I assumed it was one of the generic Super Bomberman figures, despite having the more modern face style. A few weeks ago, Ragey informed me that this character is actually unique to Panic Bomber for the Virtual Boy! In Panic Bomber games, if the player creates a big enough chain, a special event will occur, damaging the opponent. Typically, these effects involve something like a rocket shooting up over the screen, but in this iteration of Panic Bomber, if the player makes a chain of four, a Bomberman decked out in spikes will appear in the foreground and blast away their items and characters with eye beams:

A combo of 4 brings out this mysterious Bomberman.

A combo of 4 brings out this mysterious Bomberman.

In retrospect, I suppose it makes sense that he fits in with this group, visually. Like three of the other four characters in the game, his belt has a special insignia on it. In his case, it appears to be a gear.

Try as I might, I cannot seem to find the name of this character, as he is too much of a secret to have been included in the game’s manual, and I’ve yet to encounter a guidebook. Due to the graphical limitations of the system, and the monochrome nature of keshi, I don’t even know what his proper colours would look like! Evidently, he was deemed important enough to warrant a keshi… but then, there were only four other new characters unique to the game, so perhaps the marketing team just issued a print of him to round out the bunch. Anyway, if anybody out there has more information, please get in touch with me here or via Twitter. I will be very grateful, and you will be credited for your service.

Blue, red, and yellow copies.

Three of the colour variations for this character.

Updated 3/18/2017! Thanks, Evi for pointing out what an idiot I am for not remembering that this exists:

Menko card depicting the unknown Bomber in full colour.

Menko card depicting the unknown Bomber in full colour.

This is a disc for Menko, a centuries-old Japanese game comparable to Pogs. There are others from the 90’s – I’ve seen a Golem Bomber one, a Bompire one, and even one depicting a couple of Monk Bombers. This one shows this mysterious guy, which I suppose is further proof that he was deemed important enough for merchandise. Seeing him in colour again, though, I have to say… his palette is a little underwhelming!

Updated 10/5/2017! Finally, the last mystery is solved! Ragey obtained a menko displaying the character’s name. His name is Machine Bomber. It’s been a long ride, but I think we’re finally done updating this article!

God Bomber

Alas, poor God Bomber. Your game looked pretty tight but it was not to be. And yet, somehow, you still managed to grace us with your presence in the form of a keshi. God Bomber comes in the same variety of colours as the rest of the Virtual Boy characters, which leads me to believe that he may have just been a part of the same line, but I don’t really know. It’s truly strange that he exists. Perhaps this is indicative of the possibility that advertising for Bomberman for the Virtual Boy had already begun, and that they were pretty far along when it got cut with the rest of the Virtual Boy lineup. If I ever find out the truth, I will let you know here.

As that article I just linked indicates, originally, I just had a capeless God Bomber, but I have since acquired a completed figure. The cape is pretty cool and wavy and stuff, and has one of those rad high collars. I’m not sure what all to say about this figure other than what’s already been stated. He’s in a very basic pose that most caped Bombermen have held at some point in time.

Two God Bombers, one without his cape.

Two God Bombers, one without his cape.

Bonus Figure – Indy Bomber

Bomberman GB 2, known as Bomberman GB in the west because some asshole decided to supplant Bomberman with Wario in his English GB debut, is one of those rare Bomberman games that features a new protagonist other than White Bomber: Indy Bomber, White Bomber’s bomb-whipping ancestor. As the name implies, he’s basically Indiana Jones in Bomberman form. You can tell him apart from the Bomber Kid figure of Super Bomberman 3 by the style of his hat and the satchel he wears around his torso. I’m not sure if he was part of a set or just a single release, but he comes in the same colours as the Virtual Boy figures, and he’s from a handheld game, so I’m just lumping him in here with the rest of them.

They belong in a museum!

That’s all for now, but we’ve just scratched the surface. There are a whole lot more of these figures to cover, so stay tuned!

h/t: Special thanks to a close friend of mine for helping me to complete over half of this set, as well as Ragey for scanning in the Virtual Boy artwork I included in the Monster Bomber section.

This article was updated 8/20/2017 to include more pictures of duplicate Monster, Mummy, Bompire, and Indy figurines.

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