I've been on a "non-Pokemon Monster Collection Game" kick lately, as you might have gathered from the Denjuu and Dragon's Quest reviews, but here we're going to check out something even more obscure and forgotten than Telefang; something I've actually been meaning to review since the early 2000's, and kept forgetting about even after uploading all of its artwork and sprites back in 2010. That's almost half a decade these guys have been sitting silently on the Bogleech servers. Entire children have gone from zygotes to cognizant kindergarteners in the amount of time it's taken for me to finish my damn Chocovaders review page. Good lord.
So what are Chocovaders? Hitting Japan back in 2002, "Chocovader" was a line of beautiful gashapon alien figures who came packaged inside hollow balls of chocolate, which you may recognize would make them dangerous contraband here in America, though you can still find a limited selection of the toys, sans chocolate, on ebay with semi-regularity.
To help promote the sale of these delicious space eggs, a Gameboy Advance game was also released, though not quite a "monster training" title. Rather, the aliens you encountered would reappear on their own to help you out in scripted battle events, compared by some to the gameplay of Megaman Battle Network, though I'm not intimately familiar with what that entails. Each alien also featured a rarer variant form, visually identical but with upgraded abilities, whose "summoning codes" could sometimes be found packed with the figures!
The great thing about Chocovaders, of course, are the alien designs themselves; a mix of obscure real-world UFOlogy, pop culture references and original weirdos celebrating basically every flavor of "space creature" throughout modern mythology, all researched and designed by the same artist, Taishiro Kiya. We're going to go over all of these aliens here, primarily using graphics I'm very glad I saved off their official website over a decade ago.
Let's start with Stockport! This is one of the few Chocovader characters whose official name isn't Japanese, which makes me think it has to be a reference to something, but I don't know where else blue, tricloptic space elephants have ever appeared, and I can't find anything about any alien encounters related to the term "Stockport," though it is the name of a few locations. I do like how freaky this thing looks the longer you stare at it, and how its body is almost a perfect #8. By bending over, this elephant can symbolize infinity.
This knock-off of America's favorite space gardener is actually quite a bit more adorable than the real deal, with less of an off-human quality about its face, though I was totally in love with E.T. as a child. It was one of those movies I'd watch on repeat at an age where the concept of "plot" was lost on me and a film felt like nothing but a fevered chain of loosely related moments I found either fascinating, terrifying, or both. It had just come out about a year before I was born, and my parents always liked to tell me how the advertising lead them and many of their friends to believe it was a horror movie. My grandmother was still under that impression for some time, and wondered why I carried around stuffed toys from such an "ugly, ugly movie." I think she thought E.T. and Giger's alien were the same thing for a while.
Believe it or not, this is the first Chocovader we're looking at that draws from a for-real alien report. Allegedly, a trio of these little "angels" broke into an old woman's house in 1979 and messed with her Christmas decorations. I was born four years later, kind of smack into the middle of the UFO craze at its peak. In retrospect, it's hard to believe how many people even had to speculate whether or not all these stories were made up, but boy were those some fun times to be alive.
The face on this pale humanoid kind of implies a connection to the Moai statues of Easter Island, which, during the peak of that alien obsession I was just on about, were commonly claimed to have been modeled after extraterrestrial visitors, because where else would ancient people get the idea to sculpt gigantic heads with two eyes and one nose on them? Adorably, Toraerareta is only a couple feet tall, despite his fully grown proportions.
Another "real" alien encounter, these three-eyed giants were part of a sensational Russian news story in 1989, the true origins of which are rather muddled. Even the insignia on this guy's belt is taken directly from "eyewitness" sketches of the entities, who were also accompanied by a cubical robot, sadly not included in the Chocovader world.
These ancient, Japanese "dogu" have also been pinned on galactic tourists, with History Channel "experts" claiming ancient people couldn't possibly have just accidentally invented something resembling some sort of man-made spacesuit. Indeed, how bizarre for an intelligent species to make something reminiscent of something an intelligent species would make! CURIOUSER AND CURIOUSER.
Still, the concept of alien beings who look like these things is pretty damn cool, and has resulted in a lot of fun character designs, with inclusionb in many other monster franchises such as Claydol and Shakkoumon. Misinterpretations and wild conclusions are basically the backbone of all mythology, aren't they?
I really like the comical, cartoonish proportions of this otherwise sinister-looking snerson. The existence of humanoid lizard people is a crackpot paranormal hypothesis that has interestingly endured into the new millenium, though the narrative has shifted from "awesome lizard aliens may want to make first contact! I WANT TO BELIEVE!" to "OBAMA'S SECRET MUSLIM SATANIST LIZARD COURT INVENTED VACCINES TO SPREAD AUTISM."
I'm really beginning to make myself sad as I review these.
I'm not sure this alien draws from anything, really; there are shades of various Ultraman, Outer Limits and even Star Wars creatures here, blended into a simple but really cool looking design.
Love this raygun-wielding blob. An amorphous mass with a mouth and a few eyes isn't the most original alien concept, but this thing just feels like it has so much character, and the texture of its flesh especially stands out, looking a lot like a slime mold. The two darling little snail-like antennas are a perfect final touch.
A simple spacesuit-robot design, which may or may not be borrowing from another real-world alien report. The porthole face in combination with the mitten hands feels pretty familiar to me, but maybe it's just a stand-in for your typical "space suit" robot alien design.
Perhaps intended to invoke "Planet of the Apes," though ape or "yeti-like" aliens were reported by "abductees" more than once. I even recall points at which Sasquatch himself was speculated to be an alien, because how would we KNOW?
Who the hell is this supposed to be? Looks like a real jerk. I can think of very little to say about a scowling blue man in overalls so I'm just going to insult him. Look at his helmet. What a tool!
In 1971, two men in California actually alleged that they encountered huge brains lying all over a street at night. They subsequently reported "missing time," underwent hypnosis and spun an otherwise standard alien abduction tale, wherein the brains were only "translators" for a race of grey humanoids. The Chocovader version is definitely more fun, assuming that was its inspiration, (and they've certainly gotten just as obscure, here) adding little nubby limbs to give the whole brain a toad-like appearance. It's so pudgy, sweet and innocent looking until the animation.
This poor lightbulb-faced guy looks like he's having a pretty hard time on Earth, and I shit you not, official artwork has him hit by a car. He came all this way to Earth only to die like a squirrel, then Seth Macfarlane steals his likeness and recolors it grey. Indignity after indignity.
These two tiny old men, bright smiles and all, are lifted straight from a 1954 account by a woman in Cennina, Italy, who claimed they spoke to her in a gibberish language, then stole her flowers and the stockings she was carrying and loaded them into their rocket.
The concept of this little guy seems to be that of an alien "dog," if we go by concept art, but of course the first thing that comes to mind is a chameleon. I really like that unsettlingly curled lip, exposing the certainly more canine-looking teeth and gums.
I get the impression this is another reference to a "real" alien, but maybe it's just a reference to the Coneheads. The huge eyes and gaping, squareish mouth make it downright creepy, in that goofy, childish nightmare fuel way I so love. Maybe not as creepy once he gets chased out of his own gif by a pudgy dog, though.
I'm not sure what the idea behind this one might have been, though it's making a gesture kind of popularized by Darth Vader.
These cool little guys seem like they're patterned after what came to be known as the "Robert Taylor Incident," when a Scottish forestry foreman claimed to have been attacked by metallic aliens on November 9, 1979. His aliens were perfectly spherical, with many sucker-tipped protrusions, while their ship was more dome shaped with a row of windows. I really enjoy how this alien combines the two, and really looks like a "spacesuit" being worn by something entirely non-human.
One of the coolest, scariest and strangest of America's alien tales, the Flatwoods Monster was actually described by its "witnesses" as more of a rocketship with glowing eyes, but was portrayed in local news as this clawed, skirted humanoid, which quickly became more iconic - and seems to enjoy more popularity in Japan than its own country. Adorably, Chocovaders also features a tiny baby Flatwoods monster. How it factors into things, I'm not entirely sure, but it makes a great mascot character.
So weird, and so cute! Is this awkward, armless cyclops a machine, just something wearing a suit, or just a very smooth and simplistic alien with weird pants?
I haven't much to say about this handsome space elf, but I can laugh at his leotard with the giant arrow on it. What is that? So he remembers which end his head is supposed to go?
Another miscellaneous humanoid, the face and hair on this four-armed being looks rather like a crude imitation of a human; plastic and fake. The effect is furthered by her animation, standing perfectly stiff and still even while her rubbery arms flail wildly...a much stranger being than you would think at first glance.
You should know this one! It was more than likely the inspiration for the pokemon Sableye, and considered one of America's most exciting, terrifying alien folk tales. These metallic beings assaulted a Kentucky farmstead in 1955, and were distinguished by huge eyes and ears, clawed hands, and silvery skin that deflected gunshots. The Chocovader version opts for sucked-fingered hands and a more froglike build, but it's otherwise immediately recognizable as a hop-goblin.
You probably think I'm not really into these human-like specimens, but uncanny quasi-humans have always been a big part of alien lore, and I really like how Chocovaders gives attention to aliens that might seem superficially mundane. What I really love about this guy, though, is how I thought he had goggles for almost fifteen years and only just realized, from his Japanese name, that those are his actual eyes. His huge, glassy, unblinking, fish-like eyes.
Melon is your standard Little Green Man With Huge Brain, popularized by perhaps dozens of 1950's science fiction films, comics and pulp covers, though most famously by Invasion of the Saucermen. "Melon" could be the spitting image of a Saucerman if not for its dark eyes, and the breathing apparatus concealing the mouth.
We've looked at a lot of weird, wacky aliens from the totally-seriously-legit-I-swear case files, but by the time I was born, the "greys," also called "Roswells" and "Zeta-Reticulans," had basically become the universal standard for close encounters. Despite how obvious this made it that none of this stuff was probably actually happening, mainstream culture eventually forgot all about the goblins, bug people, robots and fairies in favor of the sleek, streamlined greys, even latching onto them as the most or only "plausible" alien visitors for some reason.
Disappointing, but the Greys are still lovable little guys, and look how much fun this one's having! It's having a dance party! This is a tradition for their people both before and after probing a butt.
The requisite "Alien" reference, BEAST doesn't stray too far from its inspiration, besides a somewhat more shark-like muzzle and the addition of a single, visor-like red eye. I'll also take this opportunity, as I often do when the Alien is brought up, to say that Aliens was a terrible sequel that ruined everything and I'd rather skip straight to Prometheus, which I totally found both cool and cohesive.
Entire alien races resembling "scary" yet "sexy" humanoid women are a trope all their own, more common the farther back you delve into sci-fi schlock. This is an especially stylish example, and if they're anything like your typical evil pulp magazine space vixens, they're probably collecting Earth-men for reproductive purposes that unfortunately entail a gruesome death for their captives.
Somehow I've neglected to mention up until this point that every single one of the Chocovader aliens has its own matching UFO, and "Devil's" is probably one of my favorites. You can see it back up top in those photos of the toy line, swirly and purple and kidnapping a man from his tiny house.
There isn't a lot that sets this hovering robot apart from many other hovering robots, though I like the pincers and the "welding mask" face. What feels really special is the name. "Olive" is just too cute! And it's waving!! Olive is saying hello!!!
You might think this is just a meaningless, generic blonde woman from space, but yet again, we have some highly specific UFO lore going on here. In 1975, a couple was reportedly abducted by a pair of aliens who looked "beautiful" and "very Scandinavian," with blue jumpsuits. A series of copycat encounters ensued, and these white skinned, blonde haired, blue eyed space visitors came to be referred to in UFO circles as "Nordics." Some theorized that, perhaps, they appeared so human because they were time travelers from the future, but that's kind of alarming, since nobody ever encountered any "Nordics" who looked like any other ethnicity. WHAT DID YOU DO WITH THE REST OF THE WORLD, SCANDINAVIA?
You gotta have an insect-like alien! It's interesting to see one modeled after a beetle, which is a rare choice. Most insectoid aliens go for a Mantodean, Orthopteran or Hymenopteran look. I'd have personally preferred Dipteran or Blattodean, myself, but Koncyu is appealing enough. And six-winged! Insects with six wings actually existed in our planet's past!
The name means "jellyfish," though this alien also gives me a distinct mollusk vibe. I love that cute little pug-dog mouth, and how the upper bell tapers into a dual eye-stalk.
One of the nastiest looking 'vaders, Jinzou almost looks like a shaved, cybernetic baboon, already by far the most terrifying of all primates. Actually...is Jinzou supposed to be an actual space monkey? As in an Earth monkey that mutated in orbit and came back? Probably not, since I'm pretty sure this figure had a distinctly alien spaceship counterpart, but it'd still be pretty cool.
Another set of twins, I'm not sure where these two come from, but the gloomy little looks on their faces are cute. They probably can't stand those other two little dudes, the smiling guys in the capes. The Futago brothers are trying to make serious, by-the-book first contact with their little butt dance, and those other chuckleheads are going around swiping socks.
Onude looks a lot like it's supposed to invoke a mushroom. It also looks like it came all this way across the stars to ask if you saw somebody who looks just like him only about "yay" tall. I like the way its face really looks like a cicada, or at least the way Japan tends to stylize a cicada, and I wonder if that was intentional in any way.
Another hovering robot? Well, I guess a hovering cyborg, implying there are some organic components somewhere in there. It really comes across to me as some sort of enforcer, maybe a galactic bounty hunter or something. Surely there's at least one of those in this game? I wonder what those nozzle hands can even do once they fly off.
At least one plant-based alien was a given, and I'm just glad it's a tree wearing pants. I like the branches coming off the head and swooping down to form arms, and the stoic little face, the kind of expression you just expect from a piece of wood. This one's accompanying UFO and other artwork implies, of course, that they came to Earth to study its flora more than its fauna.
A fun variant on all the grey humanoids, Soujiki has a more unique personality, goofy proportions, sweet purple jammies and some sort of alien vacuum cleaner. I know it's probably meant to do something else, but I want to pretend this particular alien came to Earth to spruce it up a bit, or maybe collect dust bunnies. You would certainly get a wealth of data from them, but maybe this species just eats them.
Feels like another "real" alien, but I'm not familiar with this one. Whatever's inside the suit must look pretty interesting, though perhaps this alien is just a bunch of metallic tubes coiled into this humanoid shape. The best thing about SPRINGTYPE of course is its darling little happy-dance.
The original file name for this one was actually "lgrey," I'm not sure how I'm supposed to interpret that, but the "L" could have been for "leader." He's pinker, pointier headed and nakeder than the game's standard grey, all of which might be symbols of higher status among their kind.
Star-shaped aliens are another of those things that crops up a lot in Japan, but not so much elsewhere. This might trace back to the Toho science fiction film "WARNING FROM SPACE," though there's also just that general star/alien association. Hitode's diamond-shaped mouth and beady eyes are one of the cooler faces I've seen on a star-shaped monster, most of which opt for either a large eye in their center or a complete face either in the center or on the uppermost point. It's curiously rare for them to put an eye on the end of each arm, which is what sea stars actually have, which is really awesome. A sea star is just a wheel of walking eye stalks! As much as I like Hitode, I'd like to see some artists shake up the star-shaped-monster beauty standards. Why can't a face be on one of the other points for a change? Like one of the ones being used as a foot?
I think this is my favorite of the fully robotic chocos, and not just because I love things with weird bulging eyes and trunk mouths, though that's about 90% of my reason. The name sounds a lot like a combination of "vacuum" and "baku." Is this a dream-sucking alien robot vacuum??
You saw this beautiful beast at the top of the page, a grotesque tentacle monster that hits on almost all the grotesque tentacle monster basics; polypous flesh, multiple, different eyes, even a mouth that looks like genitalia! Unusually for a Japanese tentacle monster, Hitokui is more into stuffing its orifice with human meat.
I strongly feel like Dorz is objectively the coolest thing in Chocovaders. It has a lot of competition, yes, but we don't often get to see such obvious mineral-based aliens, I love its overall shape and I really really love its eye, which is an eye design I've seen before and since, but Dorz is probably what I was thinking of when I designed a giant talking kidney stone as a webcomic character.
I don't think there's any other precedent for a giant banana slug alien, but I'm very happy that's a thing here, or anywhere for that matter. This is also one of the few I actually had a figure of, though it may be one of several I lost forever, quite mysteriously, in a series of moves. At least I still have some of my other favorites, though I never did get a Hitokui, Kurage or Ameba.
One of America's most disturbing cryptids was never really reported in the vicinity of any spaceships, but we all kind of just assume it would have been an alien invader if it hadn't probably been a series of owls. I'm glad Japan consistently portrays Mothman in the correct fashion, headless and with no facial features other than enormous, blank red eyes in its "chest." That's a far better treatment than Mothman's own country, where various artists try to spin it into an assortment of fanged bug-demons, missing the point of what made the monster so unnerving to begin with.
At last, we come to the Chocovader take on the iconic, "Japanese" octopoid martian. Common throughout anime and manga, these aliens are directly lifted from an early illustration of the invaders from H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds, which as you may be well aware, effectively invented the entire concept of invading, evil space aliens and kicked off the space fiction boom that's still shaping our popular culture.
Why, then, are these particular aliens all but forgotten by the Western world that spawned them? Why does every major film adaptation of the original story go for some completely unrelated quasi-humanoid alien? The whole point of these things was that a head and tentacles are all you need to operate machinery, that they were effectively brains that could plug themselves into different bodies. DUH.
For whatever reason, it's only Japan that keeps Wells' vision alive and kicking. It was actually stumbling upon this very artwork back in 1999 that I formally "discovered" this phenomenon, having noticed the same aliens passingly from a few other Japanese sources.
Sadly, our last two aliens didn't make it into the figure line or video game, but did apparently appear in a long-lost online Flash game, simply called "Abduction." This one would have mad a pretty awesome figure, assuming they made it out of transparent plastic with painted nodules and facial features. According to Taishiro, the Dots Man is another one based on the account of a real person, but none of my googling has turned up any leads on the original story of this weirdo.
Our very final alien and the other "Abduction" exclusive, this haunting entity hails directly from a disturbing 1955 tale spun by seven California children, aged five to fourteen, who claimed to see a series of strange apparitions including a bright sun-like flying object, a disembodied arm beckoning to them in mid-air, and finally this distorted, eight-limbed humanoid, who instructed two younger children to climb a nearby tree and await collection by their flying saucers. Taishiro's depiction of the being follows their tale to the letter, but also makes the wrinkled "clothing" a part of its flesh. Neat!
Each child, of course, told their own exciting personal variations. One was shot at and paralyzed by some guy with two weird guns. One was levitated up onto a rooftop. It's bizarre how willing self-proclaimed "UFOlogists" were to study these kinds of tales and take them seriously, but like I said, it was a lot of fun growing up during the tail-end of this stuff. Until nearly my late teens, I still clung desperately to the hope that at least some part of all the UFO mania had some genuine element of the extranormal. I wanted to believe too, Mulder. Nobody fed me yarns about Santa Bunnies or Easter Clauses growing up, but shows like Unsolved Mysteries, Roswell documentaries and stacks of books with titles like "THE UNEXPLAINED" and "FACT OR FICTION?" injected a level of mystery into my developing brain that I would never go back and trade for anything short of a live baby mothman anyway.
While that's it for the aliens to review, there is a personal happy ending to this article: just a few days later, I actually found almost my entire small collection of the figures. I was positive several had been lost forever, but only my Dometype remains unaccounted for.
And now, as you can see, they're never getting away again...nor is Vademon, who just seemed like he belonged.
Chocovaders were nothing but a brief flash in the cultural pan, a series of colorful candy toys with a few carefully crafted tie-ins, and UFO mania had all but died out completely by the time they were in development, but the hardcore space-creature enthusiast couldn't have asked for a more lovable, whimsical tribute to our collective obsession with extraterrestrial intelligence. I would have loved to see these make enough of a splash to get a second series, an additional game or a cartoon show, but on the other hand, these fifty aliens covered so much territory, so many facets of the basic concept, perhaps any further elaboration would have just diluted the magic, even if I wish Taishiro had included the Pascagoula encounter.
Whatever you do, don't forgot all about the Chocovaders without browsing through the additional artwork, exclusive production sketches and notes made available by ASTRONIT, directly from the artist himself! Don't miss some of the weird and sometimes hilarious stories attached to the "contactee file" artwork!