Tag-teaming the collective power of its entertainment, toy and video game divisions with what seems to be a sixth sense for managing boys action properties, Bandai has hatched a new brand called D.I.C.E. (DNA Integrated Cybernetic Enterprises). The first 26-ep season of a half-hour TV series is set to debut on Cartoon Network this month in tandem with the launch of a toy line at U.S. mass outlets. A video game will follow in the fall, and Bandai has signed United Media to hunt for licensees.
D.I.C.E. marks a first for Bandai as it was conceived entirely in-house with North America in mind as the lead territory, rather than Japan. The property’s back-story revolves around a large corporation that deals with emergencies in the Sarbylion galaxy and its elite F-99 unit of highly trained kid rescuers. When a problem crops up, the kids zoom in on their Dinobreaker vehicles (which transform from mechanical dinos into supersonic transporters) to save the day.
Naturally, the vehicles are a central component of the toy line, which targets boys six to 11. The initial product range includes 4.5-inch action figures (US$4.99), Runner Vehicles (US$9.99), deluxe Defender Vehicles (US$29.99) and the D.I.C.E. Machine Gunship (US$39.99).
Matthew Golding, Bandai America’s director of marketing, says 50 episodes of the TV show are in the can, and if all goes according to plan, the toy line will get a refresh in the fall.
As for complementary merch, United Media is planning a fall soft launch. ‘The key components – the TV show and the master toy program – are there,’ says senior VP of domestic licensing Josh Kislevitz. ‘The licensing program will pick up speed once they get to market.’
Kislevitz’s top priority is to find a master apparel partner and then follow up with publishing, gift & stationery and domestics deals. He isn’t ruling out toys that fall outside of Bandai’s core action figure and trading card strengths, and will be looking at puzzles, games and craft & activity kits.
United Media is also repping Bandai’s reborn virtual pet brand Tamagotchi Connection, which will skew more girl with a strong graphic look and a marked focus on individual characters. Kislevitz is currently on the hunt for apparel, accessories, craft & activity and room décor licensees to deliver product in Q3 and Q4.