Chart-Topping Children's Property Announces Pokemon Journey Across America and Other Fan-Focused Initiatives
NEW YORK, Monday February 13, 6:00 am ET -- Pokemon®, the children's entertainment staple, kicked-off its 10th worldwide anniversary today at the American International Toy Fair with the announcement of the Pokemon Journey Across America, an action-packed 24-city national mall tour that will culminate in August at the first-ever Pokemon National Video Game Championships. With more than $25 billion in worldwide retail sales, Pokemon, the collective name for more than 380 characters that one can find, catch, train, trade, collect, and use in battle against rivals in the quest to become a Pokemon Master, is a global pop culture phenomenon credited with making Japanese animation mainstream in the U.S.
"We are immensely proud of the success Pokemon has achieved in its 10 year history -- we've become a children's entertainment powerhouse both in the U.S. and globally," said Akira Chiba, president, Pokemon USA, Inc. "This year promises to be one of the most exciting ever for the brand as we celebrate this significant milestone and chart our path for the future."
Pokemon is celebrating its 10th anniversary year with its fans in a big way through numerous events, exclusive anniversary products, and more. Kicking off February 25 and traveling to top markets across the country through July 22, the Pokemon Journey Across America tour will allow thousands of fans to compete for a chance to qualify for the Pokemon National Video Game Championships. Winners will be flown to New York City in August to compete for the championship title at the Pokemon National Video Game Championships which will include an anniversary bash open to the public.
The Pokemon Journey Across America tour includes many exciting on-site activities, including live costume characters, arts and crafts stations, a Pokemon Trading Card Game play area, exclusive character downloads for Pokemon video games, and a 10th anniversary lounge to offer fans a look back at Pokemon through the years as well as a peek at upcoming product launches and anniversary initiatives. Fans can compete in two age groups -- 12 and under and 13 and up-to make it into the finals at the Pokemon Video Game National Championships. Players must pre-qualify in order to compete in the local mall tournaments. For additional information and to pre-qualify, go to http://www.pokemon.com.
Year-Long Celebration Continues
Throughout 2006, Pokemon is providing its fans with a variety of different Pokemon initiatives ranging from new ways of interacting with favorite characters to exciting new animation specials to challenging new video games. Making its debut at Toy Fair, Pokemon Mobile offers the first ever official Pokemon cell phone content, including wallpapers, ring tones, and short videos. On the video game front, Pokemon Trozei, a puzzle game for the Nintendo DS® will launch in March and other Pokemon video games will be released throughout the year.
In April, a one-hour TV special entitled "The Mastermind of Mirage Pokemon" will debut on Kids' WB! and bring together everyone's favorite Pokemon characters to solve the unusual mystery of the Mirage Pokemon. Later in the year, the eighth Pokemon movie, "Lucario and the Mystery of Mew" is set for release and will feature never-before-seen Pokemon and the legend of the Aura Guardian. Join Ash and his friends on both of these adventures! Also, be sure to watch for the brand new Pokemon 10th Anniversary song and video, "Pokemon Go," which is sure to be the ultimate nostalgic tune for Pokemon fans everywhere.
Pokemon Staying Power
Pokemon was first created in Japan as a video game for the Nintendo Game Boy® system. A non-violent game that teaches children strategy, sportsmanship and team work, Pokemon has captured the imagination of a generation of children and adults. And this property has major staying power, as a market leader across multiple categories, including:
- -- Pokemon Video Games - Since its launch in 1996, Pokemon has released 25 video game titles and has sold more than 140 million video games worldwide. Pokemon video game titles have consistently been ranked among the top 10 selling video games according to NPD. Four new titles are scheduled for release in 2006.
- -- The Pokemon Trading Card Game (TCG) - With more than 14 billion Pokemon Trading Card Game cards in circulation, the TCG craze, which started stateside in 1998, continues to be as popular as ever. For the past six
years, Pokemon TCG has ranked among the top three selling trading card game series.
- -- Pokemon Animated TV Series - Now in its eighth season on Kids' WB!, the program is consistently ranked among the top three shows for Kids 2-11. The animated TV series follows the adventures of a Trainer named Ash Ketchum as he travels across the Pokemon world making new friends and striving to become a Pokemon Master. For the most recent sweeps period in November 2005, "Pokemon Advanced Battle" captured the #1 spot among the Saturday morning competition for Kids 6-11, Boys 2-11, and Boys 6-11.
- -- Pokemon Movies - Pokemon is no stranger to Hollywood. Following the 1999 debut of its first feature film, "Pokemon: The First Movie," which topped the charts with the highest box office opening for an animated movie at that time, Pokemon has continued to release kid-favorite movies with a new direct-to-video title scheduled to launch in spring 2006.
- -- Consumer Products - The world of Pokemon has continued to expand into toys, apparel, board games, party goods and more through http://www.pokemoncenter.com, an online retail site which features new and exclusive merchandise. Pokemon develops innovative products with more than 40 major licensees. In celebration of the 10th anniversary, Hasbro invited Pokemon fans to choose their top 10 favorite Pokemon characters by voting at http://www.pokemon.com. These special edition figures will be released as an exclusive anniversary set during summer 2006.
"The launch of Pokemon in the U.S. was truly an unprecedented phenomenon," said Nancy Lombardi, editor-in-chief of Toys & Family Entertainment. "There is something to be said for a brand that remains as popular today as it was when it launched. Pokemon has constantly innovated to give its fans new and exciting content through the years."
History of Pokemon
Pokemon started with Japanese game developer Satoshi Tajiri and his interest in video games and, in particular, the communicative properties of the Nintendo Game Boy® system. After six years of development, Tajiri and his company, GAME FREAK, turned his "interest" into the first-ever Pokemon video game.
In October of 1996, the Pokemon Trading Card Game was introduced in Japan as a seamless extension of the Pokemon world. Tsunekazu Ishihara, producer of Pokemon, developed the Pokemon Trading Card Game with his company, Creatures.
After becoming a phenomenal success in 1996 in Japan, Pokemon launched to immediate star status in the U.S. in 1998.
About Pokemon USA
Pokemon USA, Inc., a subsidiary of The Pokemon Company in Japan, manages the property outside of Asia which includes licensing, marketing, the Pokemon Trading Card Game, an animated TV series, home entertainment, the official Pokemon website, and online retail center http://www.pokemoncenter.com. Celebrating its 10th worldwide anniversary in 2006, Pokemon was launched in Japan in 1996 for play on Nintendo's Game Boy® and has since evolved into a global cultural phenomenon. Pokemon was introduced in North America in September 1998 and today is one of the most popular toy and entertainment properties in the world. For more information, visit http://www.pokemon.com.