Toy Lines for Anime and Manga [04/03/02]

There seems to be a growing trend of bringing more anime-based figure lines to America or new toy lines being created and marketed towards the North American market. For a long time it seemed like collectors would have to import their Anime-based toys, or find them online. Now, with the growing market for anime and manga in the North American market, some toy companies are finding a good sales market to explore.

Years ago, I can recall having toys for Shogun Warriors, Godzilla and even Macross/Robotech. While most of the other series never seemed to get that much attention, it was nice to have the occasional toy line turn up in a local store. In fact, Transformers borrowed the Macross Veritech design for their Jetfire figure. Even as late as the early 90s, it was hard to locate anime-based figures without knowing someone who knew someone. Except for a series of Battletech figures based on the Robotech Battloids, you were hard pressed to find anything outside the occasional model.

But thanks to a recent trend in making anime and manga more accessible, thanks in part to the Pokemon/Digimon craze and Cartoon Network's Toonami (and subsequently Adult Swim), the genre of entertainment has become far more mainstream. And because of this, it seems that finding both import and N.A. market figures based on anime/manga titles are becoming more frequent. Here's a few notable ones:

Dragonball Z - Why not? This popular, long-running series just screams to have it's own toy line. With leagues of die-hard fans, the toys sell decently, and since they're built for play rather than display, they're perfect for the younger audience that's a big draw for the series.

Pokemon - I would have to say that marketing is what made Pokemon too big. A series that just seemed to take off all on it's own, mostly because kids were drawn to it, became a quick sell for marketing and toy companies. They churned out series after series of toys and dolls and then the Collectible Card Game (which followed in the success of Magic: The Gathering). Now, I think Pokemon has burned itself out and you can see a decline in the production of new toys. Now, if they manage to squeeze out a few more games, the whole series may get rejuvenated.

Robotech - Despite the soap opera story, this series has a dedicated fan base and the recent explosion of toys and collectibles have made them more than pleased. To see what's new in the world of Robotech, check out their site at www.Robotech.com.

McFarlane Anime Series - Todd always seems to make figure lines for the stuff he likes in music, sports, videogames and even anime. In his first two series, he's given us Kusanagi (Ghost in the Shell), Tenchi Muyo and a number of characters from Akira, including Akira, Tetsuo and Kaneda.

A few others that have turned up recently include Neon Genesis Evangelion, Outlaw Star, Gundam and Big O.

Some series I'd like to see:

Appleseed - Fans of Masamune Shirow's series want more than a few pricey statues. Give us a some figures of Deunan and Briaros and even some of the vehicles and mechs. A few of the side characters would be nice, also.

Ninja Scroll - With such a great, stylized cast, I'm surprised no one has cashed in on this movie's fan base. Give us Kagero, Jubei and a number of the Seven Devils so that we can reenact some of the great fighting scenes.

Vampire Hunter D - Do I need to even make suggestions here? D, Doris, Count Lee. And that's just for starters. Characters designed by Amano (of FInal Fantasy fame) would always make great additions to any collection.

These are just a few suggestions. Heck, they may even be out there in import fashion. I just wish that some of the lesser known anime and manga series would get the same treatment as the bigger names, like Pokemon and Dragonball Z.

- - Kinderfeld

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