Nelvana Spins a Deal to Bring Beyblade Phenomenon to North America

Nelvana, a Corus Entertainment Company, Acquires Licensing and Distribution

Rights Including Programming, Publishing and Interactive

Jan 10, 2002, 00:00 ET from Nelvana

    LOS ANGELES and TORONTO, Jan. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- The current Japanese
 phenomenon, Beyblade, is whirling its way to North America under a new
 agreement between d-rights, a subdivision of Mitsubishi, and Corus
 Entertainment's Nelvana (NYSE:   CJR; Toronto: CJR.B), one of the world's
 largest animation companies.  Nelvana has been granted rights that include
 broadcasting all 51 episodes, manufacturing home videos, acting as an
 exclusive agent to facilitate the importation and distribution of toys by
 Takara and Hasbro, Inc. (NYSE:   HAS) and merchandise based on the series.
     (Photo: )
     Hasbro launched the Beyblade product line in December in Chicago and Los
 Angeles, in addition to, where it has enjoyed a strong initial
 reaction in stores where it has been sold.
     "We were excited about BEYBLADE from the first moment we saw the property
 and we are excited to work with Nelvana to launch the property in the U.S.,"
 said Brian Goldner, President of Hasbro's U.S. toy group.  "Kids have loved
 playing with tops for generations and BEYBLADE has brought this classic play
 to a new level.  We are pleased to see, based on early results in L.A. and
 Chicago, that U.S. kids are catching on quickly."
     A wildly popular spinning top, Beyblade toys set the Japanese marketplace
 on fire in 2001, as high consumer demand for the toys, led to the creation of
 an action-adventure TV series that brings the game to life.  Beyblade products
 have been a permanent part of Japan's top ten toys list since January 2000.
 Commercial tie-ins for Beyblade include Toyota, the world's largest automobile
 maker, adopting Beyblade as a main character for a campaign in Japan that
 began airing in November.  National (Matsushita), the world's biggest electric
 household appliance maker, also used Beyblade as a main character for their
 summer campaign.
     The Asahi Shinbun reported on July 27, 2001 that kids and parents alike
 were uncovering the schedules of Beyblade delivery trucks, and lining up at
 local stores before daybreak.  Beyblade has become such a phenomenon that the
 tops are hard to find in Japanese stores and shipments are often depleted the
 same day they arrive.
     Beyblade continues Nelvana's success story with anime brands.  The company
 recently released "Medabots," the animated series that debuted on Fox Kids as
 #1 new-season program for fall 2001 and "Cardcaptors" one of the top Japanese
 anime series in the U.S. with impressive ratings on Kids' WB! in the U.S. and
 Teletoon in Canada.
     "We will implement a unique and comprehensive branding strategy to ensure
 the enduring success of Beyblade," said Michael Hirsh, President and CEO
 Nelvana.  "Based on d-rights accomplishments with Beyblade in Japan, we now
 have all the elements in place to translate that success with American
     Under the terms of the agreement, Nelvana has acquired rights for
 television distribution, video and DVD manufacturing and distribution,
 merchandising and publishing rights.  In addition, d-rights will appoint
 Nelvana as the exclusive agent to import game software by Hudson & Broccoli.
 Nelvana's territories for Beyblade include North and South America, Europe and
 Oceania (excluding Italy, Greece, Turkey and Arabic speaking countries).
     "Nelvana is the ideal company to extend the Beyblade phenomenon to new
 marketplaces," stated Tsuyoshi Kaji, Vice President International Division for
 d-rights.  "We've entrusted Beyblade to them because of their proven success
 in anime and a track-record of staying true to the property."
     Beyblade Merchandise
     Nelvana recently granted Hasbro the rights to manufacture tops and other
 toys based on Beyblade.  Voted the #1 toy at the World Hobby Fair in Tokyo,
 the tops are currently available at major toy stores and mass merchandisers in
 Los Angeles and Chicago, as well as through, and will expand to
 the rest of the United States this month.  Hasbro offers a collection of the
 spinning tops that kids can build, customize and collect.  The Hasbro line-up
 includes Beyblade Starter Sets, Deluxe Launchers and Beystadiums.  With four
 parts needed for each Beyblade, there are literally hundreds of top-building
 combinations possible.  The attack ring determines its aggressiveness, the
 weight disk determines balance, the spin gear determines spin direction and
 blade base determines movement patterns throughout the Beystadium, where
 competitions are held.  The last Beyblade top spinning gets the glory.
     "We are extremely thrilled about the Beyblade toy brand which has
 extraordinary potential and we can't wait to help introduce this wonderful
 product in the market," said Warren Kornblum, Executive Vice President
 Worldwide Marketing and Branding, Toys 'R Us.
     "Beyblade" The Animated Series
     The "Beyblade" animated series spins in from Japan capturing kids six and
 older.  The Japanese toy phenomenon is coming to life in an edgy anime cartoon
 that unites an international team of heroes on a globetrotting quest.  The
 series acquired from d-rights, Inc. by Nelvana tells a story of a boy who
 learns to harness the power of his ancestors to perfect his technique in the
 sport of Beyblade.  The heroes bond as they battle their way to the world
 championship.  The series is packed with kid appeal as the play pattern of the
 show is directly emulated by this must-have toy of the year.  Nelvana will
 spotlight the animated series at NATPE 2002.
     "The Japanese anime and toy figurine craze in the United States started
 with Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, then moved to Pokemon -- now there is
 Beyblade," said Toper Taylor, President of Nelvana Communications.  "If we can
 achieve the same success in North America and Europe that was achieved in
 Japan, then we've got ourselves a monster."
     Beyblade Battle Association
     The only sports entertainment brand where adrenaline meets strategy to
 create an experience where the fan becomes an active competitor, Nelvana will
 work with Hasbro to launch a fully integrated media blitz in 2002 including
 the Beyblade Battle Association (BBA), the American counterpart to Japan's
 wildly successful Beyblade live events.  A recent nationwide championship
 sponsored by Takara in Japan attracted more than 6000 fans.
     Corus Entertainment is a Canadian-based media and entertainment company.
 Corus is Canada's market leader in both specialty TV and Radio.  Corus also
 owns Nelvana Limited, one of the world's largest international producers and
 distributors of children's programming and products.  The company's other
 interests include music, television broadcasting and advertising services.  A
 publicly traded company, Corus is listed on the Toronto (CJR.B) and New York
 (CJR) Exchanges.  Corus' Web site can be found at
     d-rights is 100% owned subsidiary of Mitsubishi Corporation handling
 entertainment content for a variety of media and currently focusing on
 production and licensing of animation.  Mitsubishi Corporation is world
 biggest general trading company, whose turnover is US$130 billion and net
 profit is US$1 billion.  d-rights is the company who produced the animated
 series of Beyblade and is taking care of all licensing related to the
 property, Beyblade.

SOURCE Nelvana