``Virtual Pets'' No Longer Living in Just a Virtual World
Tamagotchi(R) Virtual Pet From Bandai America Incorporated is Thriving Beyond the Toy Aisle; Now Invading Cell Phones and Even a Hot Video Game Console
CYPRESS, Calif. --(Business Wire)-- Oct. 25, 2005 The era of a new Tamagotchi phenomenon is dawning worldwide. Now, the popular virtual pet toy from the '90s has been adopted by a fresh generation of tween and teen fans. And to meet the renewed demand, the Tamagotchi and its cast of loveable characters are leaping out of the virtual world to invade cell phones, other licensed product categories, and the Nintendo DS game console -- all thanks to manufacturer, Bandai America Incorporated.
As the leader in introducing hot Japanese trends to the U.S. marketplace, Bandai America first launched the Tamagotchi back in 1996. It was originally created to be the perfect companion for kids and adults in Japan, who typically cannot own real pets due to their small living spaces. Worldwide, the Tamagotchi went on to sell more than 40 million units and became a massive pop culture phenomenon. It created a brand new toy category and has prompted countless imitators.
"The original Tamagotchi struck a chord with kids who wanted a toy that complemented their active lifestyle, and these virtual pets were the perfect answer," said Reyne Rice, toy trends specialist for the Toy Industry Association. "Tamagotchi provides the nurturing play pattern with the electronic component and portability that allows kids to take the toy with them wherever they go."
Based on strong consumer demand, despite being off retail shelves for a few years, Bandai America reintroduced the product in late 2004 as Tamagotchi Connection(TM). With new games, characters and interactive features, it became the number one selling toy in Canada and received numerous accolades, including a distinction in the "Holiday Hot Dozen" by Toy Wishes Magazine. Currently, the product is in such high demand that consumers cannot seem to get enough of the toy.
"The recent re-birth of the Tamagotchi's popularity is due in large part to the growing trend of tech toys for tweens," said Colleen Sherfey, director of marketing for Bandai America Inc. "Tweens love the new infrared connection feature which allows their virtual pets to play games and trade gifts with one other. The Tamagotchi is now one of the most talked about `must-haves' on the playground, and it's becoming a phenomenon all over again just by word-of-mouth."
In Summer 2005, Tamagotchi Connection Version 2 debuted with advanced features, including "Gotchi" points, which can be used to shop for virtual toys and food such as pizza, roller skates and hair gel, as well as secret codes that unlock special shopping areas. A new "True Friends Collection" two-pack was created with two Tamagotchis having matching designs for a pair of best friends to share. And, at only one-third the size of a regular virtual pet, the new "Mini" can be attached to cell phones, key chains, backpacks, jewelry and clothing as a fun fashion accessory or "wearable tech."
"The new Tamagotchi Connection offers an interesting twist for today's teens. They remember fondly the fun they had with their original Tamagotchis, but they now have even more features to explore and play with in this new generation of virtual pets," added Rice.
In addition, Bandai America recently launched a mobile version of the Tamagotchi via QUALCOMM's BREW(R) solution. Fans can now raise a virtual pet in full color on their cell phones, making the original play pattern more dynamic and entertaining. The characters are even designed to withstand prolonged neglect for those too busy chatting or texting. And coming this Fall, Bandai Games Incorporated, the video game subsidiary of Bandai America, will release its Tamagotchi Corner Shop title exclusively for the Nintendo DS. Players can open their own specialty Tamagotchi shops and develop their businesses by servicing customers through mini games. Game play utilizes the DS's unique stylus and touch-screen functionality.
Bandai America is also set to launch a number of licensed products featuring the cute Tamagotchi characters, such as Mimitchi, who resembles a rabbit. Target categories include apparel, sleepwear and small accessories, and will hit retail in 2006 from a variety of partner companies. For more information on Tamagotchi Connection, visit Tamagotchi.com.
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About Tamagotchi Connection
The Tamagotchi is an egg-shaped toy that simulates the life cycle of a real pet, letting kids experience the fun of caring for their own virtual pet -- without the responsibility and the mess. The advanced Tamagotchi Connection features new infrared communication, which allows owners to "connect," play games, give gifts and become friends with others while storing a "friend list" of up to 50 pals. Once an adult, the character can connect with a compatible friend and have a second-generation Tamagotchi that the owner can then nurture into more generations to come. With a larger display and enhanced graphics from the original version, Tamagotchi Connection owners can care for their pet by selecting various controls to feed it a meal or snack, play games with it, clean up after its messes and give it medicine when it becomes sick.
About Bandai America Incorporated
A leader in introducing Japanese trends to the United States, Bandai America Incorporated is a subsidiary of Bandai Co. Ltd., the third largest toy company in the world. With 30 subsidiaries in 13 countries worldwide, global interests include toys and children's entertainment, video game software, multimedia, music, full-length feature films, vending machines, trading cards and miniature collectible games, and candies. Bandai America is the master toy licensee of some of the most popular properties and brands in children's toys and entertainment, including Power Rangers, Teen Titans, Magical DoReMi and Tamagotchi. The company is headquartered in Cypress, California and information is available at http://www.Bandai.com.