Bandai Co., Ltd. (株式会社バンダイ is a Kabushiki Gaisha Bandai)Japanese toy manufacturing and distribution company. Founded in 1950 as Bandai-ya, it was renamed to its current name in 1961. It originally began as a manufacturer of metallic toys and rubber swimming rings, but expanded to create vehicle models and eventually action figures. While Bandai initially created original products, it found huge success developing action figures based on the 1963 anime series Astro Boy (known as Mighty Atom in Japan) and the 1966 tokusatsu series Ultraman, which inspired it to change its business strategy toward creating licensed products based on popular franchises. Bandai also expanded internationally, establishing branches worldwide in nations such as the United States and United Kingdom. From the 1980s to early 2000s, Bandai expanded into the video game market, developing consoles and publishing some games. Following an aborted planned merger with Sega in 1997, Bandai merged with video game and entertainment company Namco in 2005, forming the holding company Bandai Namco Holdings. Bandai continues to operate to this day as the toy and hobby division of Bandai Namco.
Bandai holds a 49% stake in the Japanese production studio Tsuburaya Productions, having helped the studio out of financial difficulty by doing so. Bandai and its subsidiaries have manufactured countless vinyl figures and other merchandise based on popular tokusatsu franchises including Godzilla, Gamera, and the Ultra Series.
History[edit | edit source]
Bandai was founded in 1900, and quickly rose to popularity by mass-producing models made of metal. In the 1960s, Bandai expanded to include export sales. Bandai's racing car set, which first appeared in 1962, became a huge success. The 1970s continued to see Bandai expand, with Bandai Models being established in 1971. Although not their most profitable range, Bandai's 1/48 scale AFV models dominated that segment of the model kit market. Bandai America Inc. was established as local US sales/marketing operation in 1978. Since the 1980s, Bandai has become the leading toy company of Japan, and to this day, has the main toy licenses in Japan to popular properties including Daikaiju, Ultraman, Super Robot, Kamen Rider, the Super Sentai and Power Rangers series (which they took part in creating), Gundam and many others. The management of Bandai and Sega discussed a merger in the late 1990s, but the merger was later cancelled, citing "cultural differences".
In the 1980s, Bandai purchased several substantial shares in Tsuburaya Productions, saving the studio from financial difficulty. In return, Bandai is now the principal merchandising provider for the studio.
Selected filmography[edit | edit source]
- Bye-Bye Jupiter (1984) - Special thanks [with various]
- The Return of Godzilla (1984) - Special thanks [with various]
- Ultraman: The Adventure Begins (1987) - Executive producer [with Tsuburaya Productions, Hanna-Barbera, Kodansha, Nippon Columbia]
- Gunhed (1989) - Executive producer [with Toho, Sunrise, Kadokawa Shoten, IMAGICA, Toho Pictures]
- Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995) - Special thanks [with various]
Toy lines[edit | edit source]
- The Godzilla Collection, a line of Japanese figures that began in 1983 and ended in 1995
- Godzilla: High Grade, a line of Japanese figures that began in 1994
- Godzilla Memorial Box, a box set of Japanese figures released in 1995
- Godzilla Forever, a limited line of Japanese figures that were produced in 1996
- Godzilla Island Monster Series, a line of Japanese figures that were produced for the TV show of the same name in 1998
- Toho Kaiju Series, a line of Japanese figures that were produced in 1998
- Movie Monster Series, a line of Japanese figures that began in 2001
- Bandai America, a line of figures for the American market that began in 2002 and ended in 2019
- Godzilla 50th Anniversary Memorial Box, a box set of Japanese figures released in 2005
- Movie Monster EX Series, a line of Japanese figures that began in 2015
- King of the Monsters Series, a line of Japanese figures that began in 2016
- Kaiju Out of the Laws, a line of high quality figures by Premium Bandai that began in 2017
Notable subsidiaries[edit | edit source]
- Bandai America - the American distribution arm of Bandai that makes toy products for the U.S. market and manufactures Power Rangers, Kamen Rider Dragon Knight, and Ben 10 toys, among other franchises; it released Godzilla figures in the U.S. between 2002 and 2019, including figures for the 2014 American film.
- Bandai Namco Entertainment - a video game development company and publisher which published the 2014 Godzilla video game for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 and City Shrouded in Shadow for the PS4.
- Tamashii Nations - a Japanese company that specializes in producing highly-detailed articulated figures as part of its S.H. FiguArts and S.H. MonsterArts lines. It has produced several figures from the Godzilla franchise as part of the S.H. MonsterArts line.
[edit | edit source]
- Toho Kingdom interview with Bandai America (August 2013)
- Godzilla (2014)-focused Toho Kingdom interview (March 2014)
- Toho Kingdom interview with Bandai America (July 2015)
- Official Bandai America Twitter page
- Official Bandai America Instagram page
- Official Bandai America website
- Official Bandai Europe website
- Offcial Bandai Japan website
- Official Bandai Korea website
- Official Bandai Asia website
- Official Bandai Premium Twitter page
- Offcial Bandai Premium website
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