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Story on New York Times Square Event

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A write up on the Tamagotchi's New York City Times Square event can be found here


(story copied below without pretty pictures)



Virtual pets on prowl again





Tamagotchi, the virtual pet of the 1990s, is back to domesticate a new generation of owners.


The newest edition of the handheld digital toys, which hatched in 1996 and became a global obsession, debuted yesterday at Toys "R" Us in Times Square.


Japan-based Bandai is hoping the enhanced pets will recapture their previous popularity, which hit 40 million in global sales. The creatures emerge from an egg on the screen display of key chain-sized devices.


The pets were the brainchild of Bandai employee Aki Matia, who wanted a companion that fit her busy lifestyle, small apartment and that could accompany her everywhere.


But virtual pets have real needs - owners need to feed, praise, discipline and clean-up after them. When the originals were all the rage, they were banned from some schools. The digital critters need constant feeding to stay alive so they keep owners on a tight leash.


The new Tamagotchi - "lovable egg" in Japanese - comes with more features: It make friends, dates, gives gifts and procreates. In fact, a matchmaker eventually pops up.


They've also been upgraded with a pause button - to head off complaints from schools and workplaces, said Larry Falcon, Bandai's vice president of sales.


Bandai is marketing the Tamagotchis mostly to the tween (pre-teen) market, as was apparent at yesterday's event, where aspiring teen star Ryan Cabrera made an appearance.


But can a cult phenomenon be reincarnated successfully?


"The (little) kids who played with them before are tweens, and the new connectivity feature is part of tween life. It's retro for them in their own lifetime," said Reyne Rice, toy analyst for the Toy Industry Association.


Sara D'Anna, 16, of Long Island, agrees. The former virtual owner said she'd buy a new one. They'll catch on "with the youth. With older people it'll hit a soft spot," she said.


Originally published on August 11, 2004

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