FUNimation Productions, a subsidiary of the Navarre Corporation, has announced the awarding of the master toy license for Case Closed to Southern Island LLC. of Phoenix, Arizona. FUNimation has also given Southern Island the right to create action figures for Full Metal Alchemist, Fruits Basket, and Blue Gender. The four-year licenses will allow Southern Island to develop highly articulated 6' to 8' action figures for all four popular anime series as well as deluxe 10' to 12' action figures, plus busts and statues for Fruits Basket and Blue Gender. Action figures from all four properties should be available in 2006, with prototypes exhibited as early as the American International Fall Toy Show in October.
Case Closed is the American version of Detective Conan, one of the most popular anime and manga properties in Japan. This exceedingly clever animated detective show has not proved to be nearly the hit here in the U.S. that it is in Japan, but the series is still getting plenty of late night TV exposure on the Cartoon Network.
Full Metal Alchemist however, has been the breakout anime and manga hit of 2005 (see 'Full Metal Alchemist Still on Top'). Full Metal Alchemist action figures have major mass market potential, while Blue Gender, Fruits Basket, and Case Closed figures should do well in specialty markets where fans of anime and manga shop. Fruits Basket has been rated as the #1 manga property of 2005 so far by ICv2's Retailers Guide to Anime/Manga, and though its primary appeal may be to female readers, it is a top seller in the direct market as well as the bookstores, indicating that it has also attracted a large male readership who may be more interested than their female counterparts in purchasing Fruits Basket action figures as well as manga.
In addition to the four FUNimation anime series, Southern Island also has the rights to four comic book-based properties from Blue Water Productions, Victoria's Secret Service, Judo Girl, Isis, and Tenth Muse.