Dic, ADV and Bandai Gear up for Knights of the Zodiac


Master Toy Licensee Bandai America Inc. to Roll-Out Action Toy Line

Home Entertainment Distributor ADV Films to Release Episodic Volumes

Launch Supported by Comprehensive Marketing and Promotional Campaign

Burbank, California – DIC Entertainment (DIC), Bandai America Inc. (Bandai) and ADV Films (ADV) gear up for the 2004 U.S. retail launch of the hit anime property, Knights of the Zodiac, across all platforms with a comprehensive marketing and promotional campaign supporting the rollout. The announcement was made today by Nancy Bassett, Senior Vice President, Worldwide Consumer Products, DIC; Bill Beebe, Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Bandai; and John Ledford, President, ADV Films.

Since announcing the launch of Knights of the Zodiac at Licensing Show 2003, DIC Entertainment has retained an extensive roster of key U.S. licensees in all major categories to launch merchandise throughout 2004 with many additional licensees currently negotiating for rights. In January 2004, Master Toy Licensee Bandai will lead the Knights of the Zodiac merchandise roll-out, introducing a product line of action figures, role-playing toys and collectible card games. In the publishing arena, VIZ Publications, the leading U.S. publisher of Japanese animation and comics, will launch a series of graphic novels based on the property following a featured preview of excerpts in the January issue of popular anime magazine, Shonen Jump. Additional merchandise rollouts scheduled for next year include t-shirts, trading cards, lunch kits, shoes, Halloween costumes, headwear, puzzles and games.

In January 2004, ADV, the #1 distributor of anime content in North America, will begin releasing 13 volumes (totaling 40 episodes) of Knights of the Zodiac, on DVD and VHS. The DVD packaging will include collectible trading card inserts from Bandai.

To support the rollout, DIC is developing a strategic marketing and promotional campaign. In June 2004, Knights of the Zodiac will be featured in a six-week packaging promotion with a major consumer brand, which will be announced in first quarter 2004. The upcoming promotional campaign will be supported by national television, print and radio advertising. In August 2003, DIC launched the interactive website www.knightsofthezodiac.com, supporting the television series debut on Cartoon Network's Saturday Night Action Block. The site includes online gaming competitions, promotional sweepstakes and tie-ins with other boy-targeted sites.

Bassett states, “Knights of the Zodiac is already an international mega-hit, and DIC looks forward to matching that success in the U.S. market. We have a foundation of partners who have unique expertise and knowledge in launching and sustaining some of the world's most successful boy's action brands. With Bandai, VIZ and ADV's expertise in anime content distribution, DIC anticipates tremendous success at the retail level.”

“With Knights of the Zodiac already an international success, Bandai is thrilled to exclusively introduce the toy line in the U.S,” said Beebe. “We anticipate Knights of the Zodiac to be the next boy's action brand to take the country by storm.”

“Anime continues to build upon a strong existing fan base and with the international buzz of Knights of the Zodiac, video retailers will have a hit property on their shelves next year,” comments Ledford. We look forward to offering this exciting new collection based on the renowned original series to young anime fans across the U.S.”

Knights of the Zodiac is among the three biggest hits exported from Japan, following Power Rangers and Pokemon. Before becoming a television series phenomenon in Japan, Knights of the Zodiac broke every publishing record in the country. After its broadcast debut in 1986, Knights of the Zodiac fast became the top-rated series in the boy's demographic ever to air in Japan. Since then, the series has aired across Asia, Latin America and Europe where it became the second highest-rated show in France. In addition to 114 television episodes, the property has yielded four feature films that collectively topped the box office charts in Brazil.

Knights of the Zodiac is a fast-paced, futuristic action-adventure series which pits the forces of good against evil as the Knights of Athena battle the Knights of Aries for control of the sacred Golden Armor of Sagittarius and the world.

About DIC Entertainment
DIC Entertainment is a leading children's entertainment company with more than 3,000 half-hours of programming in its prolific library, ranked as the largest independent library of animation. DIC has also amassed an incomparable family of domestic and international broadcasters who air DIC programming in Europe, Asia, Latin America, Africa and Australia. Some of DIC's popular properties include “Sailor Moon™,” and such new shows as “Strawberry Shortcake™,” “Super Duper Sumos™,” “Madeline™” “Liberty's Kids™,” and “Sabrina's Secret Life™.” More than 25 million children watch DIC's popular programs each week. DIC is a full service studio with production, development, distribution, home video, marketing and licensing departments.

About Bandai America

Bandai America Inc. is a subsidiary of Bandai Co. Ltd., the third largest toy company in the world, with 27 subsidiaries in 8 countries worldwide. Global interests include toys and children's entertainment, video game software, multimedia, music, full-length feature films, vending machines, trading cards, candies and licensed apparel.

Bandai America Inc. is celebrating its 25th anniversary as the master toy licensee of some of the most popular properties and brands in children's toys and entertainment, including the Power Rangers, Gundam, Strawberry Shortcake and Astro Boy product lines. Bandai America is headquartered in Cypress, California and company information is available at Bandai.com.

About ADV Films

In 1992, ADV Films began to forge the international market for Japanese animation (“anime”) by combining unique titles, outstanding production values and efficient large-scale distribution. Today, ADV Films is the #1 producer-distributor of Japanese animation to the North American market, with the firm's holdings including such premier titles as NOIR, Sailor Moon, Hello Kitty's Paradise, RahXephon, Robotech, Full Metal Panic and Neon Genesis Evangelion. In addition, ADV Films' product line has expanded to include other forms of genre programming, including live-action science fiction programs Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda, Mutant X and The Jim Henson Company's Farscape, and classic science fiction such as the updated Gamera trilogy. ADV Films' parent company, A.D. Vision, Inc. also publishes Newtype USA, the premier anime and manga monthly magazine; operates Anime Network™, broadcasting anime and anime-related programming via digital cable, 24 hours a day; and publishes ADV Manga, a line of Japanese and other East Asian comics, illustration books, graphic novels and more. Headquartered in Houston, Texas, with additional offices and distribution across four continents, ADV Films is fast becoming an international multi-media entertainment powerhouse. For more information, visit ADV Films on the web at .

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