Wowee Toys with Gatchaman, Astro Boy

Imagi Animation Studios, the company behind the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, TMNT, has tapped Wowwee Ltd. to market and distribute toys based on the studio’s next two feature films, CG-animated adaptations of the classic anime series Gatchaman and Astro Boy. Wowwee will act as the exclusive distributor in global markets (except Japan and China) for toy lines developed by Imagi and its OEM partner, Wah Shing Toys Ltd. The toys are scheduled to ship concurrently with the 2009 theatrical releases.

The Gatchaman and Astro Boy toy lines are expected to include action figures, vehicles, playsets, robotic figures, activity toys, and plush. Wowwee is providing some of its proprietary technology for advanced robotics and flying vehicles. “We’re combining the most advanced technology in the toy industry with creative ideas from two great animated action movies,’ says Wowwee chief operating officer Eric Lau. ‘Our sophisticated toys will surprise and delight consumers with features and play depth they’ve never before enjoyed in film based products.”

‘All too often, film-licensed toys fail to live up to kids’ expectations, because they fall so far short of what the kids see on the movie screen,’ adds Imagi co-CEO and chief production officer Douglas Glen. ‘But in the case of Gatchaman and Astro Boy, the filmmakers are working closely with the toy designers to make toys that are as innovative and feature-rich as the films themselves.”

Gatchaman debuted in Japan as Science Ninja Team Gatchaman in the early 1970s and aired in the U.S. under the titles Battle of the Planets and G-Force, introducing audiences to the futuristic exploits of five reluctant heroes whose remarkable genetic code makes them Earth’s only hope of defeating extra- terrestrial invaders. Set for release in early 2009, the CG movie is written by Robert Mark Kamen (The Fifth Element, The Karate Kid) is is being directed by Kevin Munroe (TMNT). According to Imagi, the film will be a big, effects-rich production featuring ambitious action sequences.

Slated for release later in 2009 Astro Boy will offer a new spin on one of the best known, most-loved action hero characters in the world. Originally created by Osamu Tezuka in the early 1950s, the property has seen more than 300 television episodes and several 2D features produced. The story of a half-human, half-robot youngster on a journey of self-discovery and redemption is being adapted by screenwriter Michael Lachance, who conceived the stories for DreamWorks Animation’s Shark Tale and the upcoming Kung Fu Panda. Colin Brady (Toy Story 2, Everyone’s Hero) is directing.