Tamagotchi is poised to make a comeback when Bandai America launches a new range of the virtual pets this fall.
Rolling out in two generations, the line will feature the original eight colors that first launched in 1997, as well as eight brand-new styles including rainbow and mermaid. The devices will retail for US$19.99 and should be available for pre-sale on September 30.
The upcoming line will feature the same programming that made the first-gen devices a hit more than two decades ago, allowing kids to feed, clean up and even discipline their virtual pets. The original toys included a game that let users guess which way their pets would move next; this generation’s game is all about guessing whether the next number will be higher or lower.
The original handheld virtual pets have sold more than 79 million units in 44 versions, since they first hit shelves in 1997.
In 2013, the Tamagotchi L.i.f.e. brand launched an app that generated three million downloads in its first year. Developed by Tokyo’s Bandai Games, the app featured the 16-bit black-and-white character pixels from the original toy, and users can link with Facebook friends to share their pet experiences.
Recent data from market research firm The NPD Group found that youth electronics was the fastest-growing supercategory in the first half of 2018, with US sales rising 43% due to Fingerlings, Star Wars and Hatchimals.