In perhaps the biggest deal of this type announced to date, Toho Company Ltd. and Diamond Comic Distributors have inked a deal for Diamond to bring Japanese (and other non-U.S.) Godzilla merchandise to the U.S. and Canada in a comprehensive program, the companies are announcing Thursday. Diamond will choose, market, and distribute the products.
Masaki Fujiwara, General Manager of the Toho Los Angeles office said the program will "...share a wider and more complete line of Godzilla merchandise."
Merchandise categories will include toys, comics, collectibles, and lifestyle products.
The first listings, in Diamond’s May Previews catalogue, include X-Plus, Tamashii Nations, and Marrmit figures and exclusive Godzilla t-shirt designs. Those products will ship in July.
Godzilla is on a big upswing, driven by anticipation for the new Legendary feature, which started shooting in March and will premiere May 16, 2014 (see "Juliette Binoche and Ken Watanabe Join 'Godzilla'"). IDW Publishing has been running a successful comics program, and is launching a new ongoing series in June (see "'Godzilla: Rulers of Earth'").
Spearheaded by Diamond VP-Biz Dev John Parker, Diamond has signed a number of deals to bring in products produced for other markets in officially sanctioned programs, most recently for merch tied to Viz properties (see "Japanese Viz Merch to North America").
While not directly targeting gray market importers, a Diamond spokesperson said they expect an impact. "We believe that providing steady product access will reduce the gray market imports," he said.
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