Sofubi (ソフビ) or Sofvi is a portmanteau word used to describe toys made from soft vinyl (sofuto biniru) usually depicting kaiju, mascots and original characters.
The word's meaning has broadened beyond its etymological meaning – referencing the material used, as well as the associated art style and culture.
Soft vinyl toys were made popular by the Japanese plastic model manufacturer Marusan in 1966 with the release of the "Ultra-kaiju" toy range, before being adopted by other manufacturers and independent artists.
Traditionally, soft vinyl toys are made using a process called Slush Molding. A wax master is sacrificed to create a metal mold which is then filled with liquid vinyl and placed into a high heat chemical bath. Excess slush is poured out before being cooled until a shell of material forms in the mold. This then becomes a "pull". This process allows various colour variations to be created and the outcome is often unpredictable and unique for each pull. The final product is either left blank or painted, before usually being placed in a polybag with a header card featuring original artwork.
In the early 1990s, many soft vinyl garage kits were made in the United States under the influence of Japanese kits.
Otaku (おたく) is a Japanese term for people with consuming interests, particularly in anime and manga. Its contemporary use originated with a 1983 essay by Akio Nakamori in Manga Burikko.