Ahead of Licensing Expo 2019, Toei Animation Inc. and Funimation, a Sony Pictures Television company, released their annual Dragon Ball franchise report detailing the successful results of their licensing efforts over the past 12 months, including new agreements since last year’s expo.
Produced by Toei Animation and distributed in the U.S. & Canada by Funimation, the Dragon Ball anime franchise consists of 20 feature films and four TV series, namely Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, Dragon Ball GT and Dragon Ball Super, the first new storyline in more than 18 years from original creator Akira Toriyama. This year marks the 25th anniversary of Dragon Ball’s introduction to U.S. and Canadian audiences and the global 30th anniversary of the Dragon Ball Z anime TV series. Dragon Ball has left an indelible mark on pop culture as reflected by the multi-generational, multi-cultural fandom it enjoys today.
Brand awareness and consumer demand for merchandise from anime fans as well as the mainstream market were intensified by several franchise initiatives and associated promotional marketing. These included the North American Dragon Ball Tour, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Dragon Ball Super: Broly feature film.
Launched last July at San Diego Comic Con 2018, the North American Dragon Ball Tour was a seven-month-long, seven-city interactive tour showcasing exclusive and collectible licensed figures as well as electronic games. The tour was supported by a major out of home (OOH) advertising campaign which included building wallscapes in San Diego and a Times Square billboard. In November 2018, Dragon Ball became part of the 92-year history of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with the debut of a giant-sized Goku helium balloon. The 2018 parade generated an estimated 20 billion media impressions and was the first introduction to Dragon Ball for tens of millions of American households, significantly increasing awareness of the franchise. And this past January, North American audiences experienced Dragon Ball Super: Broly, the franchise’s 20th feature film and the first based on the Dragon Ball Super series. The movie was a $30 million box office hit and was supported by a six-month-long theatrical campaign that culminated in a Hollywood premiere at the historic Chinese Theatre.
In the 12 months since Licensing Expo 2018, Toei Animation and Funimation executed more than a dozen agreements with new licensees and an equal number of agreements for renewals or additional rights with existing licensees. Collectively these agreements covered a range of categories, including mass market apparel, home goods, wall décor, accessories, gifts, calendars and costumes, as well as new rights for Dragon Ball Super: Broly and the Dragon Ball Z 30th Anniversary. These successes not only unleashed untapped demand for Dragon Ball Z merchandise but also swelled the popularity of Dragon Ball Super merchandise as well.
Apparel was once again a top performing category for the franchise. Licensee Bioworld was a key contributor in this category where they successfully expanded distribution into mass market retail. In addition to their Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball Super apparel collections, Bioworld also supplies accessories like headwear, bags and stationary as well as underwear and sleepwear. The global release of Adidas’ Dragon Ball Z themed sneaker collection announced last year proved to be immensely popular. Fans clamoring to buy the highly collectible, limited edition sneakers, can look forward to one final set of designs this summer. An additional collaboration of note was with Primitive Skating Company. Launched last May shortly after Licensing Expo 2018, Primitive x Dragon Ball Z offered fans a co-branded collection of skate decks, wheels, t-shirts, hoodies, jackets and socks. Due to the overwhelming success of the first collection, Primitive released a “second drop” just three months later featuring all new designs and additional characters from the Dragon Ball Z series.
New licensing agreements secured by Toei Animation and Funimation include:
- Accutime: Designer and manufacturer of on-trend, private label, branded fashion watches for two new watch collections based on Dragon Ball Super and Dragon Ball Z.
- Underboss: Underwear and sleepwear manufacturer popular with skaters, club kids and cosplayers for two collections including underwear, sleepwear, swimwear and Mo-Show socks based Dragon Ball Super and Dragon Ball Z.
- Rabbit Tanaka: Maker of premiere entertainment lifestyle products for a collection of tattoo sleeves, dimensional shadow boxes, MDF board signs and tin signs based on Dragon Ball Super.
- Spirit Halloween: Specialty retail chain for a direct to retail collection of adult and children Halloween costumes and accessories based on Dragon Ball Super.
- Traly: Multi-product importing company for a collection of enamel pins for Target based on Dragon Ball Z.
- Fusion FG: Designer and manufacturer of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and fitness apparel for a collection of fighting gi, rash guards, spats and fighting shorts based on Dragon Ball Z.
- Ground Up: Designer and manufacturer of licensed and owned brand footwear for a collection of casual footwear, seasonal footwear, sandals, slides, flip flops and slippers based on Dragon Ball Z.
- Party City: Specialty retail chain for two direct to retail collections of adult and children Halloween costumes and accessories based on Dragon Ball Super and Dragon Ball Z.
- Primitive Skate Company: Well-known merchandiser of skateboard gear and clothing for a new co-branded collection based on Dragon Ball Super.
- Naked and Famous: Denim apparel company for a co-branded Dragon Ball Z x Naked and Famous collection of denim pants and jackets based on Dragon Ball Z.
- Transworld Entertainment: Entertainment retailer for a direct to retail collection of consumables, confectionery, beverages, beauty products such as Korean masks, soap, bath bombs and scents based on Dragon Ball Z.
Toei Animation and Funimation will be actively seeking additional partners at Licensing Expo 2019 for Dragon Ball Super and Dragon Ball Z themed merchandise in a variety of categories including pet accessories, bedding, health and beauty. For more information or to schedule a meeting, please visit either the Toei Animation (F-196) or Funimation (K-230) booths to speak to a licensing representative.