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: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20020110/LATH025 )
Hasbro launched the Beyblade product line in December in Chicago and Los
Angeles, in addition to toysrus.com, 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
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."
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 toysrus.com, 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'S NELVANA
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 corusentertainment.com.
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