On the eve of The Licensing Show being held this week in Las Vegas, USA, it was announced that the North American master toy license for Ultraman has been awarded to Bandai Namco Toys & Collectibles America (BNTCA). This new licensing deal, which is separate and additional to Bandai’s license for Ultraman in Asia, was made between BNTCA, Tsuburaya Productions, and Tsuburaya Fields Media & Pictures Entertainment.
Bandai Namco was granted the master toy license for the full range of Ultraman intellectual property (IP), which will result in an upcoming line consisting of action figures, high-end collectibles, role play items, playsets, and plush available for retailers in North America. The line will also include products inspired by the feature-length Ultraman animated film slated to hit Netflix in 2024.
Created in 1966 and famous for defending humanity from hordes of giant monsters and aliens called Kaiju, Ultraman is one of Japan’s most evergreen franchises and recognizable characters, having appeared in dozens of television series and movies, as well as comic books, video games, and other media. In 2018, Tsuburaya Productions teamed with The Licensing Group to relaunch the franchise in North America, quickly gaining dozens of licensees, including Marvel Entertainment for American comics. The latest iteration of the television series, Ultraman Blazar, is set to debut in July.
“More than 50 years after the character’s inception, Ultraman is building an extensive fan base in North America which supports our global marketing initiative,” says Kei Minamitani, Executive Manager for Tsuburaya. “When it came time to decide who the master licensee would be, BNTCA was the most logical choice. The care and quality that goes into each of their products, plus their extensive presence within the world of anime, makes them a true leader within the industry.”
Teppei Onoki, Chief Operating Officer of Bandai Namco, adds, “Ultraman originally started off as a tokusatsu [or] live-action property and has been added into the world of anime. Here at BNTCA we are true fans and have been following the IP’s journey. Both tokusatsu and anime are some of the things we do best.”
In accordance with the deal, Bandai Namco will work to expand its Ultraman line with Los Angeles-based Tsuburaya Fields Media & Pictures Entertainment. The line is scheduled to release next summer across North America, with select categories launching in territories across South America and Europe.