Bakugan relaunch set for 2019, 11-minute format

Spin Master’s financial reports continue to drip feed new information regarding the upcoming relaunch of Bakugan. During the Canadian toy company’s 2017 fourth-quarter results, CEO Ronnen Harary confirmed that the transforming spheres will return in 2019. After entering a hiatus in the western world in 2012, Spin Master initially announced they were developing a revival in 2015.

Responding to a TD Securities analyst, Harary stated that the seven-year hiatus allows the refreshed franchise to reach an entirely new generation of kids. He also revealed the new Bakugan series will be in the 11-minute format. Rather than a single 22-minute story, each episode will contain two. Harary says this is being done to better reflect the consumption patterns of today’s children. The new toy line, which features “advanced innovation,” will be revealed to investors this spring, before the brand launches globally across television, toys and online in 2019. Harary also stated that Spin Master is looking into the possibility of launching a movie within the “next few years.” He later added that Asia will be a key market for the relaunch.

Here are his complete comments:

Question: Ronnen, on Bakugan, can you just provide some details on the relaunch in 2019? I believe Corus will be involved with the production again, but when it hits the market is this a global relaunch or will it be aimed at a specific geographic region before going global? Just how do you think about a relaunch of a historically successful story or franchise?

Answer: The first and foremost is to wait seven years for a fresh generation of kids, okay, to come into the property. And I think that the discipline that we’ve employed by having the patience to wait is first and foremost.

Second is staying very true to what makes Bakugan very special, but at the same time to bring something new and different to the actual Bakugan toys themselves. And I think when we show that to you guys in spring, you guys will really appreciate the advanced innovation that we’ve brought forth to the actual toy itself. And from a story and show perspective, again, trying to follow the same formula that we employed on the first four seasons, but again, making it a little bit more current and relevant to what’s happening in the marketplace. So for example, the show is actually instead of being 22 minutes in length, it’s two 11s to fit what’s happening now with the movement in terms of kids and how they’re viewing content in partnership with our broadcaster, which we’ll be sharing with you guys shortly.

And in terms of it being a global launch, it will be a global launch around the world. We’re very focused on that. We’re very excited about the ability to launch globally through a lot more direct offices this time around rather than distributors. And that will give us the ability to control the marketing and control the shipments in and the overall brand. So I think that we’re very focused on the global aspect of it this time around than last time around.

And yeah, it’s going to be everything from the toy, to the television, to online, to the marketing, to the in-store. The Company is very, very focused on making this a global franchise and also working on other things that we talked about before, which is potentially trying to get a movie out in the next few years.

In January, Corus Entertainment CEO Doug Murphy stated his company’s Nelvana division would be partnering up with Spin Master and Japanese animation studio TMS Entertainment on the new Bakugan. The three produced the original four seasons of Bakugan Battle Brawlers between 2007 and 2012. Late last year, Spin Master trademarked the name “Bakugan: Battle Planet,” in multiple categories, including for television series. It’s not currently known if that will be the relaunch’s title.

Assuming TMS continues to animate the show, the 11-minute format is very atypical for anime. The one major exception would be Yo-Kai Watch, which often contains multiple unrelated stories in a single 22-minute episode. This way of storytelling is far more common in western animation, where even once heavily serialized properties like Justice League and Transformers have ditched half-hour stories in their latest incarnations.

The news of a movie might get fans excited, but it’s important to remember that in 2008, Universal Pictures announced their intent to launch a live-action feature based on the property. That (thankfully?) never happened.

Last month, Spin Master launched lawsuits against two Chinese toy manufacturers for allegedly violating the company’s Bakugan patents. This included Alpha Group’s Screechers Wild, whose animated content is produced in Vancouver.

Source: Spin Master Corp. Q4 2017 Financial Results Conference Call (pg. 44 and 45)

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