Bandai America Inc. Starts New Year with Major New Licensing Agreements,
Successful Fan Favorites and Entry into Collectible Card Game Category
Bandai America Incorporated, a subsidiary of the third largest toy company in the world, Bandai Co. Ltd, starts the new year with a bang by announcing its most diverse toy line-up to date for the upcoming 2004 American International Toy Fair in New York City. With a complete collection of toys from top-selling brands such as Power Rangers and Strawberry Shortcake; master toy licenses for exciting new television properties like Astro Boy and a movie property, Thunderbirds; and entry into the hot collectible games category, Bandai projects huge success in 2004 in a variety of toy aisles.
“We are thrilled to ring in the New Year with our largest and most diverse line-up of toys ever. Bandai will continue our expansion of product with existing brands, launch new properties and enter new categories,” said Bill Beebe, senior vice president of sales and marketing, Bandai America Inc. “Boys and girls of all ages will see a comprehensive line-up from favorites Power Rangers, Strawberry Shortcake, SD and Gundam, the debut of new licensed properties, including the classic character Astro Boy, and our entry into the popular collectible card gaming arena. We even have a few surprises that toy lovers will get to see only at February’s Toy Fair.”
The Power Rangers’ 12th season, Power Rangers DinoThunder, promises to be action-packed, combining the number one boys action figure brand with a perennial favorite theme among boys - dinosaurs. Bandai America will introduce a complete line of toys to support the DinoThunder series - which will debut on ABC Kids on February 14, 2004 - including action figures, Megazords, vehicles, playsets, die-cast, role-play items and trading cards. The line will also include new toys, such as Raptor Cycles and ATV vehicles.
Following the success of last year’s battle-scarred assortment, Bandai expands the Gundam line to include characters from the new Gundam Seed series, scheduled to air on the Cartoon Network Action Block in April 2004. The new line features deluxe 4.5-inch action figures, 4.5-inch deluxe battle-scarred action figures with dioramas, 7.5-inch action figures, action figures with vehicles, action figure model kits, and a 12-inch Mega Size Gundam.
Bandai America has been named by Sony Pictures Consumer Products as master toy licensee (worldwide excluding Asia) of the much anticipated Sony Pictures Television anime series Astro Boy, which is set to blast-off on the #1 kid’s network, Kids’ WB! in early 2004. Astro Boy was created 50 years ago by the legendary artist Osamu Tezuka, widely regarded as the pioneer of anime and the “father of manga” (Japanese comic books). In 1963, Astro Boy became the first Japanese show imported to the United States and one of the country’s top-rated syndicated series. Bandai America will produce an extensive line of Astro Boy toys, including action figures, vehicles, role-play items (excluding costumes, masks and accessories) and playsets
Bandai Co., Ltd. signed a worldwide licensing agreement with Universal Studios Consumer Products Group (USCPG) as the master toy licensee for the upcoming theatrical presentation, Thunderbirds. From Universal Pictures and Working Title Films, Thunderbirds is a live-action feature film based on the hit British television series of the 1960s, which followed the perilous exploits of the
Tracy family. Thunderbirds, starring Bill Paxton and Sir Ben Kingsley, is slated for release on August 6, 2004. Under the agreement, Bandai America is developing vehicles modeled after the Thunderbirds rescue crafts in the film as well as dynamic playsets. The products are scheduled to hit shelves by June 2004.
Jagun Fighters debuted in August 2003 as a new brand that combines action figures with the elements of a game involving “fate” and “chance,” carried out with two players battling one another with game pieces called Power Eye Stones. Bandai America launched the brand with a unique, grassroots campaign including sampling, in-store demos, outreach at anime/gaming conventions, a beta testers program and an interactive gaming environment at www.JagunFighters.com
. In 2004, kids can add to their collection with new stones and 3-inch and 6.5-inch action figures, as well as new transforming stone sets with three pieces that can be combined into an exclusive, collectible figure.
Knights of the Zodiac
Originally introduced to Japanese audiences as “Saint Seiya” in a wildly popular TV show and toy line back in 1986, the property has since become an international phenomenon as a top-rated series across Asia, Europe, Central America and South America, and a multi-billion-dollar franchise, with 25 million action figures sold worldwide. The new TV show, entitled Knights of the Zodiac successfully debuted in the United States on August 30, 2003 as the #1 show across all boy demographics on the Cartoon Network’s Saturday Action Block. Launching at retail in January 2004, Bandai America will release action figures that are exclusive to the American market. Future assortments will include additional action figures, playsets and role-play items.
Combining action, adventure, humor and spunky pint-sized heroes, Bandai America’s new Superior Defender (SD) toy line has proven to be the “next BIG thing in robots.” An all-new 3-D animated TV show based on the property, entitled SD Gundam Force, debuted to spectacular ratings September 1, 2003 on the Cartoon Network (#1 with boys aged 6-11). And Bandai America’s SD action figures’ debut at retail exceeded initial sales expectations, with action figures flying off the store shelves as soon as they are stocked. For 2004, Bandai America’s toy line will continue to represent all unique characters from the SD universe, with 1.5-inch and 5-inch articulated action figures, vehicles, playsets and snap-together action figures of various skill levels, in addition to a new mega-size, battery operated action figure.
Strawberry Shortcake is a berry sweet success all over again as the doll that lets little girls be little girls! Since her debut at the beginning of 2003, Bandai America’s new Strawberry Shortcake doll and toy line has been a hit with girls and moms, claiming the #3 sales status in the mini doll category. In 2004, Bandai America will give little girls more of everything they love about Strawberry Shortcake with an expanded line of scented dolls and toys featuring exciting new themes, fashions, play environments and interactive features.
Highlights include the interactive Singin’ Surprise Strawberry Shortcake, who recognizes and sings tunes from an included song book; Berry Talkin’ Apple Dumplin’, Strawberry Shortcake’s baby sister who learns how to talk the more that girls play with her; and a line of ice cream-inspired fillies, which will also be featured in a new fall DVD release from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. New characters such as Blueberry Muffin and Huckleberry Pie will also add to the fun of collecting all of Strawberry Shortcake’s berry best friends.
Everybody’s favorite feline continues to delight girls with a whole new set of dolls and themes. As well known as any celebrity, Hello Kitty is one of the hottest brands around and has been a friend to girls around the world for nearly 30 years. In 2004, Bandai’s new Hello Kitty line of miniature dolls, collectibles and accessories will continue to be a leader in the mini-dolls category.
Bandai America created its own “Arts and Style” activity category with the launch of B*Stylin’ in 2003. Featuring the innovative B*Stylin’ Button Designer, the toy line offers a creative twist on traditional activity toys. The B*Stylin’ Button Designer features an easy-to-use system that allows girls to express their individuality by letting them customize, personalize and stylize their own buttons, crafts and jewelry accessories. In 2004, girls can add to their fashions and show off even more of their creativity and personality with the debut of new B*Stylin’ products, including Patch It, an easy activity toy allowing girls to decorate jeans, jackets and other fabrics with creative patches.
COLLECTIBLE CARD GAME CATEGORY
January 2004 marks Bandai America’s entry into the hot collectible card game (CCG) category. First to hit shelves in January will be games based on the popular Superior Defender (SD) toy line and Cartoon Network hit animated series of the same name. Also appearing in January will be Knights of the Zodiac, another animated property with a loyal following. CCGs for Bandai powerhouse Gundam will debut in June. Bandai also plans to offer an assortment of trading cards based on the popular Power Rangers property, the first time trading cards have been available since the first season of the TV show over a decade ago. An entirely new division and design team has been created at Bandai to make a unique gaming experience for fans and collectors. Distinct game play has been created for each property, rather than simply recycling the same game with new graphics for different brands. Dedicated Web sites for each individual game will also be accessible to gamers online with rules, tactics, tips and even upcoming tournament information.
About Bandai America
Bandai America Inc. is a subsidiary of Bandai Co. Ltd., the third largest toy company in the world, with 27 subsidiaries in 8 countries worldwide. Global interests include toys and children’s entertainment, video game software, multimedia, music, full-length feature films, vending machines, trading cards, candies and licensed apparel.
Bandai America Inc. is celebrating its 25th anniversary as the master toy licensee of some of the most popular properties and brands in children’s toys and entertainment, including the Power Rangers, Gundam, Strawberry Shortcake, Astro Boy and SD product lines. Bandai America is headquartered in Cypress, California and company information is available at www.Bandai.com