Mattel is the One for 4Kids’ One Piece

At the Int’l Licensing Show in New York today, 4Kids Ent. Inc. and Toei Animation announced that Mattel Inc. has been awarded the master toy license for the hit animated action series One Piece. The show airs on 4Kids TV, the company’s Saturday morning block on FOX, and Cartoon Network’s Saturday evening Toonami block.

Mattel will produce action figures, play sets, role-play items, games, puzzles and a host of other products based on the series. The One Piece toys are expected to begin rolling out in North America by December 2005.

4Kids and Toei recently granted One Piece video game rights to Bandai, which will develop titles for PlayStation 2, Game Boy Advance and GameCube, as well as collectible card games, for release this fall.

One Piece centers on a young boy named Monkey D. Luffy, who lives in a small port village and aspires to be a pirate like his childhood hero, “Red-Haired” Shanks. When he accidentally eats the cursed Gum-Gum Fruit, he gains the power to stretch like rubber, at the cost of never being able to swim again. Despite this limitation, he vows to grow up to become the king of the pirates and find the greatest pirate treasure of all–the legendary “One Piece.”

Created by Eiichiro Oda, the property was introduced in Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump magazine in 1997 and went on to spawn five theatrical releases, eight video games and more than $1 billion in retail sales in Japan since 1999.