Japanese toymaker Bandai is planning to re-launch the ‘90s virtual pet toy Tamagotchi as a new multi-platform brand with new devices, lifestyle products and animated content.
Tamagotchi was first re-introduced in North America earlier this year, with the “Tamagotchi L.i.f.e.” app, targeted to the original user base–females who are now 18- to 29-years-old.
Bandai now plans to debut the brand to a whole new generation of kids under the Tamagotchi Friends label, which will include the release of an updated version of the toy itself. The updated toys will feature trend-inspired designs, new characters and short-range communication features that let friends share texts and game via the device.
“Part fashion, part friendship, part community and all fun, the new Tamagotchi Friends combines the nurturing features and simple play pattern of the beloved handheld virtual pet, with exciting new entertainment that we believe will really resonate with Tamagotchi fans," says Georgia Manolas-Lopez, director of girls marketing, Bandai America. "And now, with the new Bump feature, similar to what's found in today’s smartphones, these lovable, whimsical friends can connect with each other for massively increased levels of interaction."
The Tamagotchi Friends brand will launch globally throughout this year and 2014, beginning with animated webisodes, the first of which debuted Saturday.
The toys and other products will hit European retailers in late December, followed by a U.S. roll out in fall 2014.
In additional to the toys, Bandai is planning a full lifestyle portfolio for the brand that will also include apparel, apps and a website.
Bandai first introduced the Tamagotchi toy 17 years ago, and the property remains the No. 1 character brand for girls ages 7 to 9 in Japan, as well as top nostalgic brand in the U.S.