As I walked the streets of Shanghai, I didn't run into any crazy electronic delights. Unfortunate, but I did find the next best thing. A reminder of my 8 bit gaming heritage - a Pac-Man figure! Back in the 80s, I fell in love with the game. I wasn't any good at it (and I'm still not, despite having the full-size cabinet of Pac-man Plus), but I fell in love with the single-minded design of the game. A simple mouth in the pursuit of eating, and the bad guys are the same as have haunted stories for all time - ghosts! Back then, I remember buying some Pac-Man socks, Pac-Man silly putty, even Pac-Man scratcher games... but never a figure.
I was bemused and thrilled at the very existence of a Pac-Man figure I could put on my shelf. I assumed that like some of the other treasures I found in Shanghai, this was simply another attempt to shanghai (ha!) someone else's intellectual property to create another incomprehensible toy. Especially when I saw Pac's massive mechanical tongue.
I've forgotten a lot of things from the 80s, but I'd remember an aardvark berserker mode in Pac-Man that let you lick up all the ghost monsters. I assumed that this was one of the weird additions you find in bootleg toys, but as it turns out there's a new cartoon on TV that features some member of the proud Pac-Man lineage (Pac-Second-Cousin-Twice-Removed) with a superextended stamplicker. Though my toy doesn't exactly match the one on the box, so it still may be some weird bootleg.
I can't figure out the cartoon's storyline from the Wikipedia entry - possibly due to my advancing decrepitude. There's some basic thread of the yellow guy eating the ghost guys, but after that I'm lost. There are more Pac-Men; a bluish ice-spitting one, even a chrome Pac-Man who upchucks a magnet. You can get these figures in the US, as well as a special edition golden Pac-Man who's tongue has the original game's graphics tattooed (I assume) right on.
Guess what? Since the cartoon has been successful, they've already converted it into a video game. Hey, wait a minute...