(from http://www.bandai.co...ws.cfm?wn_id=71 )
Bandai America Announces the Next Generation Tamagotchi: Tamagotchi Connection
America's Favorite Digital Pets Return, Boasting Advanced Infrared Technology
CYPRESS, Calif., June 15, 2004 – After much consumer and retailer anticipation, Bandai America Incorporated today confirmed that the company is launching the next generation of Tamagotchi, called "Tamagotchi Connection." The digital pet phenomenon that swept the nation more than six years ago makes its highly awaited return to the United States in August 2004, following recent successful launches in Japan and Europe.
The egg-shaped toy simulates the life cycle of a pet, letting kids experience the fun and responsibility of feeding, tending to and caring for their digital pet. The advanced Tamagotchi Connection features new infrared communication functions allowing the virtual pet to become friends with other Tamagotchi, visit its friends to give gifts or play games together, and eventually have a possible second, third and fourth generation virtual pet.
Tamagotchi first exploded in popularity when Bandai launched the product in 1996, selling more than 40 million units worldwide and 12 million units in the United States and Canada. Not only did Tamagotchi spur a pop culture phenomenon, but the product itself created a new toy category and prompted countless virtual pet imitators. During its peak, 15 Tamagotchi units were sold every minute in the U.S and Canada. The new Tamagotchi Connection is on track to replicate that success starting in Japan where the first product on the shelf sold out in two days.
Based on market research and high consumer demand, Bandai decided to launch the advanced Tamagotchi Connection incorporating the elements of the original product with new advanced technology. According to recent Internet research conducted by Bandai, 100 percent of consumers were aware of Tamagotchi and 85 percent of respondents had played with Tamagotchi – even seven years after its original launch in Japan.
"Over the past five years, we have heard Tamagotchi fans ask for the return of this brand, and we couldn't be more excited to bring back America's favorite digital pet with more interactive features and options," said Bill Beebe, senior vice president, sales and marketing at Bandai America. "We believe Tamagotchi Connection is just the product to boost toy industry sales and top holiday wish lists this fall."
Infrared technology allows Tamagotchi Connection owners to become friends with other Tamagotchi owners and store a "friend list" of up to 50 friends. Once an adult, the Tamagotchi can connect with a compatible Tamagotchi friend and have a second-generation Tamagotchi that the owner can care for and nurture into an adult to create a possible third and fourth generation. With a larger display and better graphics than the original version, Tamagotchi Connection owners can care for their pet by selecting various controls to feed it food or a snack, play games with it, clean up after its messes and give it medicine when it becomes sick. The new Tamagotchi Connection will debut at retail on August 15, 2004 at a suggested retail price of $14.99.
"Tamagotchi created a whole new category in toys as the originator of the virtual pet concept," said Jim Silver, publisher of Toy Book and Toy Wishes magazines. "The launch of Tamagotchi Connection will bring excitement to the toy industry as the digital pet craze resurfaces with new innovative twists and improved technology as consumers begin looking for the hottest toy for the holiday shopping season."
To celebrate the return of Tamagotchi, Bandai America will release special unopened packages of Tamagotchi Connection and Tamagotchi Connection T-shirts for bid on eBay. The Tamagotchi Connection packaging and T-shirts will be specially autographed by celebrities from film, television, sports and fashion. The series of 10-day auctions will begin on Monday, June 21 with new items being added on June 22 and June 23. All proceeds will benefit the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. The Foundation creates a future of hope for children and families worldwide by eradicating pediatric AIDS, providing care and treatment to people with HIV/AIDS, and accelerating the discovery of new treatments for other serious and life-threatening pediatric illnesses. For more information and to bid on the auction, please visit www.ebay.com/tamagotchi.
About Bandai America Incorporated
Bandai America Incorporated is a subsidiary of Bandai Co. Ltd., the third largest toy company in the world, with more than 30 group companies in 9 countries. Global interests include toys and children's entertainment, video game software, multimedia, music, full-length feature films, vending machines, trading cards, candies and licensed apparel.
Bandai America Incorporated is celebrating its 26th year as the master toy licensee for some of the most popular properties and brands in children's toys and entertainment, including the Power Rangers, Teen Titans, Gundam, Astro Boy, Superior Defender, Strawberry Shortcake and Hello Kitty product lines. Bandai America is headquartered in Cypress, California, and company information is available at www.Bandai.com.