ガチャポン台紙) or just daishi for short, they give you a preview of what you might get with a turn of the wheel.
Collecting daishi is an established part of the gachapon collecting scene, though they aren't nearly as easy to find as the toys. Personally, I think they make a great complement to a set of figures, especially if you have the space to display them all together.
More after the jump:
Gachapon machines in Japan date back to the 1970s, when a turn of the dial cost 20-50 yen. The daishi were small - just over half the size of a sheet of paper. Also, there were corrugated lines running down them vertically.
A few sample figures would be taped on top, with the whole thing - daishi + samples - wrapped in plastic so you could see some of the items you were trying for. The vintage daishi I've seen were for fairly generic mini toys like workman's tools or snakes or joke toys like slime. They were the type of thing you might get at an old candy shop, or what you'd see in some Western countries in drugstores or discount chains.
|These are two early daishi from the 70s. They're unused, so there aren't any sample toys attached.|
In the 1980s, figures from licensed properties, as well as the emergence of Kinnikuman, led to a huge gachapon boom. The size of daishi and gachapon machines both expanded. The new daishi were a bit larger than a sheet of paper, and they typically showed illustrations or photos of sample figures printed on the board.
|Kamen Rider daishi. This one and the ones that follow are all from Bandai, the King of Gacha.|
|The back is blank, but it gives a better sense of the material type - thick cardboard stock.|
|Modern daishi often show painted versions of the figures, whereas the ones you get from the machine might be unpainted. Sometimes if the figures are painted, that selling point is boldly advertised as "フルカラー" (full color).|
|This one just tripped me out, so I had to get it. It's from Ninja Jiraiya, an 80s tokusatsu (live action drama show) that looks like a cross between Monty Python and the Rocky Horror Picture Show.|
Some figures have multiple pieces and are not only complex but also very well made. That's reflected in the price, too, as a single turn might cost you 200, 300, or even 500 yen.
And of course, where there's a gachapon machine, there are daishi. So even if you don't put your money down, you can look over the little works of commercial art, learn about the series, and sate your eyeballs at no cost.