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Duel Masters Wow Attendees at Comic-Con

17 Aug, 2004 By: Edwin De La Cruz

The presence of anime and manga (comic book) from domestic distributors as well as international companies was at an all time-high during the recent Comic-Con in San Diego.

Bandai Entertainment provided attendees with a sneak preview of D.I.C.E., its newest property that is scheduled to debut in early 2005.

“This was a soft launch,” said Jerry Chu, Bandai's marketing manager. “During the upcoming Toy Fair, we'll be announcing an impressive licensee list for this property including a television partner.”

Bandai also announced the creation of a publishing division set to debut next February. This comic division will primarily focus on complementing Bandai's existing video properties.

Viz held a theatrical screening to promote its upcoming release Inu-Yasha: The Movie which debuts on DVD Sept. 7. Additional screenings are scheduled in select markets throughout August to hype not only the movie but also the upcoming InuYasha Season 1 Boxed Set, also available Sept. 7.

Perhaps the biggest surprise came from toy giant Hasbro and game publisher Wizards of the Coast who wowed attendees with new Duel Masters merchandise, a property that has been gaining tremendous attention on Cartoon Network.

Awareness was at an all-time high for the new franchise, not only at the Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast booth, but also at Atari, which will launch a series of video games, as well as Beckett Publishing which premiered a magazine — all dedicated to Duel Masters.

“Duel Masters is a hip entertainment property for boys that centers on a trading card game and features awesome battle creatures and over-the-top humor,” said Aaron Alberg, Wizards of the Coast's associate brand manager for the Duel Masters franchise.

Duel Masters is a new, original, global entertainment property for boys jointly developed by Wizards of the Coast, publisher Shogakukan and Mitsui/Kids Station in Japan. The property actually began as a manga in Japan but popularity increased at such a rapid rate that readers demanded a trading card game be created, marking the first time American and Japanese toy manufacturers have collaborated to create a trading card game property.

“We were responsible for developing and applying Duel Masters' game mechanics based on our success with Magic: The Gathering, while our Japanese counterparts focused on the creative process, granting us access to Japan's best anime and fantasy artists and comic book writers,” Alberg said.

Currently, “Duel Masters,” the TV show, has been enjoying prime-time success since its March debut, airing every Saturday evening at 7 p.m. on Cartoon Network's Toonami Block.

“Cartoon Network is very happy with the ratings,” added Alberg, who also confirmed that Wizards has already commissioned 52 additional episodes, half of which have already been produced and aired in Japan.

Paramount Home Entertainment is scheduled to begin releasing Duel Masters on DVD starting January 2005 as part of its Hasbro line that already includes the upcoming fan favorites Transformers: Energon and G.I. Joe.

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