Sweet Suite 2016

Care Bears’ Launch at Build-A-Bear Set for February

Care BearsBeginning next February, the Care Bears will launch a line in all Build-A-Bear global locations. Guests will be invited to create their own stuffable plush toys and choose from a range of accessories to personalize their bears.

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The Strong and Ritsumeikan University Partner for the Study of Video Game History

the strong, museumofplay logoThe Strong (home of the International Center for the History of Electronic Games and the World Video Game Hall of Fame) and the Center for Games Studies and Art Research at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan, have entered into a collaborative partnership on the study of video game history and on efforts to preserve video games. For their first effort, the museum and the university will develop an exhibit celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Nintendo Entertainment System, slated to open at The Strong later this fall.

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Best-Selling Yo-Kai Watch Is Coming to U.S. on Nintendo 3DS

YoKaiWatchNintendo’s Yo-Kai Watch, a role-playing game that was a cultural phenomenon in Japan for the Nintendo 3DS family of systems, is coming to the U.S. The title launched in 2013, became a top-seller, and beyond video games, manga, and anime TV shows, has generated more than $1 billion in retail sales of toys and other merchandise in Japan.

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Disney Tsum Tsum Soft Toy Line and Mobile Game Launch Globally

Disney Interactive Line Tsum Tsum AppCoinciding with the global launch of the puzzle game app, LINE: Disney Tsum Tsum from Japan, the Disney Store is introducing more than 30 different stackable Tsum Tsum soft toys. They are available on DisneyStore.com, in select store locations in North America, and at Disney parks. Characters such as Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh are available now, and additional characters will roll out this fall.

The stackable Tsum Tsum toys have a screen cleaner material on their stomachs and come in three different sizes: large, medium, and mini.

Dedicated Rilakkuma Shop to Launch at FAO Schwarz in October

RilakkumaFAO Schwarz will convert three towers in the Grand Hall of its New York flagship store into a Rilakkuma destination for the month of October. Over the past decade, the Rilakkuma brand and its characters have become a key part of Japanese culture and the essence of the Kawaii lifestyle, which emphasizes cuteness and adorableness.

FAO Schwarz currently carries a variety of plush Rilakkuma product in its flagship store and online at fao.com. To celebrate the brand’s shop-within-a-shop launching in October, FAO Schwarz will expand its product assortment to include Kigurumis, hats, cell phone cases, ear buds, graphic t-shirts, and new plush items.

In 2003, San-X launched Rilakkuma in Japan, and Aliquantum International (AQI) has since brought the brand to North America.

Toy State Acquires Nikko and Nikko Entertainment

ToyState.logoToy State has secured the worldwide rights to Nikko by acquiring the consolidated operations of its Japan and Hong Kong offices. Toy State has also acquired Nikko Entertainment BV, the European arm of the company’s R/C toy category.

Nikko manufactures R/C toys, from custom vehicles, boats, and flying items to an array of preschool R/C toys. These toys are marketed through licensing partnerships with global automakers, as well as brands such as Transformers, Hello Kitty, Fast & Furious, and Angry Birds.

The acquisition expands Toy State’s presence to Amsterdam and Japan, as well as in Hong Kong, the location of its current headquarters. The acquisition will also serve as a platform for the company’s continued expansion into Europe. Toy State’s U.S. office is located in Boston.

Funko Kicks Off Hikari Fridays for New Collectible Line

Phil.April23.HikariTMNTFunko is introducing its new Hikari line, which consists of collectible, clear Sofubi Vinyl figures. These are extremely limited, with each piece run ranging from 500 to 5,000 pieces. Each Hikari piece includes a hand-numbered card to prove both its authenticity and rarity.

Every Friday, Funko will announce a new Hikari Japanese Vinyl figure, and hold a Hikari Friday giveaway on its social media channels, with winners receiving the first piece in the announced Hikari’s limited run.

For the first-ever Hikari Friday, Funko is featuring its Metal Mix Leonardo Hikari Vinyl Figure, which is limited to 500 pieces worldwide.

More coverage on Funko’s new Hikari line can be found in the recent-published commentary, These New Japanese Toys and Games Aren’t Just for Kids, Part 2.

COMMENTARY: These New Japanese Toys and Games Aren’t Just for Kids, Part 2

So Japan has toys that are compelling enough for grown-ups to enjoy? Figures. No, I mean action figures. As I mentioned in part one of this commentary last week, Japan has some of the coolest action figures on the planet, and much of why has to do with that country’s toy-buying market, which skews older than, say, in the U.S.

However, a lot of that sophistication is now making its way over to this country, in the form of toys that are either imported from Japan, or have their roots there. Some are kids’ items that have double appeal among older audiences, while others are purposefully aimed at grown-ups. That’s a bit of a blanket statement, of course, as any toy can appeal to lots of different demographics for varying reasons. However, we have a feeling adults will want to get their hands on these particular figures once they’ve cleared customs–probably even more so than kids will.

Phil.April23.HikariTMNTThis spring, Funko will introduce its new line of Hikari Japanese Vinyl figures, which are inspired by the vinyl “kaiju” figures that have developed a considerable following among collectors in Japan. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: These New Japanese Toys and Games Aren’t Just for Kids, Part 1

Phil.April18.2014.1I may not be the biggest aficionado of Japanese pop culture, but I do consider myself a fan, having devoured lots of manga and anime over the years. What I also appreciate are the toys: Japan has some of the most exquisitely-made action figures and giant robots ever made, and in their native land, these items are generally aimed at adults.

Now when it comes to toys and games, Japan has long enjoyed a healthy foothold in North America—think of all the Pokémon, Hello Kitty, and Power Rangers products that have made their way over. So far in 2014, that trend has continued, with several new properties either just launching or expected to launch soon. But these are Japanese imports, meaning they’re sophisticated enough for grown-ups, even if they look like they’re for kids. [Read more...]

Nintendo’s Tomodachi Life Looks to Breathe New Life into Social Media Gaming

82977A 3DS package_NOA_mOn June 6, Nintendo will release Tomodachi Life on its 3DS system. The game, which is set in an apartment building on an island, lets players create Mii avatars that represent themselves, as well as their closest friends and relatives, and to watch those characters behave and interact with each other.

Players check in on the Tomodachi Life characters on a regular basis, solving problems as they arise, which range from being hungry to sadness, to issues stemming from their love life. While players cannot control the decisions of the Miis, they can influence them.

Whenever the player makes a Mii character happy—for example, through purchasing them a gift from the in-game store—the player’s on-screen happiness level increases. They also receive in-game money that can be used to purchase more items for the Miis, and these items rotate on a daily basis. [Read more...]