Welcome to ASM's Toy Fair 2005 Coverage!
Bandai - Girls Toys Report
Amy Lipkowitz, General Reporter
Bandai America is known for its many exciting Boys' properties, such as
Power Rangers SPD, D.I.C.E., and Teen Titans.
Bandai's girl-oriented properties can't be forgotten, though -- and
nor can their hugely popular Tamagotchi Connection virtual pet,
which surpasses all gender and age boundaries.
Bandai's main girls' toy property is Strawberry Shortcake, the
spirited scented little girl who "lets little girls be little girls"
through cooperative play and child-friendly fashions. In 2004, 20 new
dolls were released, and the fun just keeps rolling in 2005!
There are three major themes for 2005. Currently out is the Spring
2005 "Tropical" theme, featuring Strawberry Shortcake and her friends
in tropical locales with ocean and beach related friends and
The next two themes will be "Mermaid", featuring Strawberry Shortcake
in her friends with glimmering fabric mermaid-tails, and "Fantasy",
featuring the dolls and their filly friends in a variety of fantasy
costumes ranging from weddings to fairy princesses. There will be a
mail-in promotional item, either a large Strawberry Shortcake beach
towel or a backpack.
In the summer, a deluxe Berry Magical Carriage and Filly set will
be released, featuring a special exclusive Honey Pie pony with honey
scent and metallic strands in her mane. The carriage makes clip-clop
sounds as it moves across the floor.
Also in June will be the Berry Magical Strawberry Castle, an
electronics-rich two-story playset in the shape of a strawberry that
opens up to reveal furniture and accessories, a "working" fireplace, a
functional doorbell and a musical dance floor that lets Strawberry
Shortcake dance to her heart's content. Accessories include a baby
grand piano, perfect for soirees at Strawberry Castle.
On a related note, a new Berry Magical Strawberry Shortcake
princess doll will be available. This doll is huge, a good 14 to 16
inches in height, with tiara, earring, and pendant that light up. She
will come with an extra outfit for fashion fun; at this point, it's not
known whether there will be separately sold fashions.
Fall 2005 will see the release of fairy winged Fantasy Fun Fillies,
an all-new series of scented fillies with softer, more flexible bodies.
The line-up includes Fantasy Fun Honey Pie, Fantasy Fun Huckleberry
Hash, Fantasy Fun Lemon Ice and Fantasy Fun Raspberry Ripple, all with
ice-cream scents. The fabric-covered fairy wings are removable.
Also coming in the fall are Strawberry Shortcake Baby Dolls, which
will be infant doll versions of Strawberry Shortcake and her friends.
The dolls are still at the prototype phase, but they are planned for a
Fall 2005 release.
The year was 1996.
I was a shy young girl, new to this "internet" thing... and also
new to this new Tamagotchi virtual pet thing that was all the rage.
Fortunately for me, the internet was the perfect place to meet
other Tamagotchi fans. Collectors who owned every single variation of
Tamagotchi, including ones only available at specific locations in
Japan. Researchers who had made charts and tables to show how to raise
your Tamagotchi in order to get the adult Tamagotchi that you wanted.
Fans who made websites dedicated to their favorite Tamagotchi
character. The list was endless.
Nearly ten years later, I'm a lot less shy and a lot less young,
but Tamagotchi is still going strong. In 2004, an updated version
called Tamagotchi Connection was released, using IR technology to allow
two Tamagotchi Connections to communicate with each other. Now,
Tamagotchi living in different units could meet, play games, give each
other gifts, and fall in love.
This April, Bandai America is releasing Tamagotchi Connection
Version 2 (TCv2). This updated version of Tamagotchi Connection will come in
new packaging... but don't make the mistake of assuming that this is
merely a cosmetic makeover. TCv2 includes two new games, over 30
new Tamagtochi characters, and a new function called "Gotchi Points".
By playing certain games or getting certain items, "Gotchi Points" can
be earned, and used to shop for special treats, items, or food. Treats
are an addition to the traditional Tamagotchi food options of "Meal"
and "Snack", and may lower or raise the Tamagotchi's level of
happiness. Treats may also be given to visiting Tamagotchi.
Another new aspect of Tamagotchi Connection is the inclusion of
secret codes. One secret code will be included in each TCv2 package, as
well as shared on the official website and in TV ads. These secret
codes consist of a special sequence of buttons which is pressed to
unlock new options... unique items not normally available, for
example. When five secret codes have been collected, a special sixth
item is unlocked.
In the Bandai America showroom, there was a large Tamagotchi on
display, at least a foot in height. This DEKA TAMAGOTCHI
("DEKA" meaning "huge") can connect with regular Tamagotchi using
its IR port, and share special
items or play special games. In Japan, the DEKA TAMAGOTCHI showed up at
special retailers and fast food restaurants, allowing visitors to add a
unique character exclusive to the DEKA TAMAGOTCHI to their Tamagotchi
Unfortunately, the complicated licensing issues make it difficult
to bring the DEKA TAMAGOTCHI to American fast food restaurants... but
Bandai hopes to bring DEKA TAMAGOTCHI to special retail locations so
that people can bring their TCv2 to connect and communicate.
Fortunately for people who already have Tamagotchi Connection,
TCv2 is backwards compatible, with an added menu that lets you
choose whether to connect to an original or V2. And fortunately for me,
DEKA TAMAGOTCHI is also compatible with Version 1, letting my
Hinotamachi "Pha" visit the special Tamagotchi character "KORE-A-N". I
watched as Pha played on the teeter-totter with KORE-A-N. The two of
them then "travelled" to my hand-held Tamagotchi Connection, where
KORE-A-N gave Pha a little present... a teeny tiny Tamagotchi of her
Speaking of tiny Tamagotchi, Fall 2005 will see the release of the
TC Mini Accessory. These little keychain-sized accessories are in
various fashionable colors and designs. The versions we saw in the
showroom were modeled after the original Tamagotchi designs from the
1990s in Japan; however, we were told that the patterns would be
changed when the final product came out.
The TC Mini Accessories will be priced lower than the TCv2's
suggested retail price of 14.99. As a result, they won't have IR
functionality... but they will have simple functions that will,
according to the spokesperson, allow you to play with and raise a real
Tamagotchi. The TC Minis were about 2/3 the size of the original
Tamagotchi, and quite adorable... if I could have taken one home right
then and there, I would have!
According to the Bandai America press release, TCv2 will be
available in new colors and designs including "milky pink with stars",
"milky white with hearts", "milky blue with polka dots", and "cobalt
blue". Equally important to virtual pet fans, the TCv2 addresses an
issue with early release Tamagotchi Connection units where the
batteries were drained at an alarming rate, sometimes losing power
within two weeks of use. The TCv2 has been tweaked to avoid this
problem, and TCv2 should enjoy a normal battery lifespan.
There are plans for a two-pack of Tamagotchi Connection, called
Best Friends Forever. This will feature matching or complementary
designs on both Tamagotchi, as well as an item that can be shared
amongst the best friends, such as a friendship bracelet, or two
keychains that join to form a heart. The projected retail price for the
Best Friends Forever two-pack is 26.99.