Sony Pictures Television has announced that the new Astro Boy anime series will make its debut on the Kids WB in early 2004, rather than in September as was previously announced (see 'Kids WB Nabs New Astro Boy Series').  Sony has designated Bandai America as the master toy licensee for the product.  The new Astro Boy series, which debuted in Japan last spring, combines two of the hottest trends in licensing, 'retro' and 'anime.'  Due to its experience in developing product lines based on anime properties and its previous work with Astro Boy, Bandai was a natural choice as the master toy licensee for the property.  Bandai is preparing a major line of Astro Boy products including articulated and non-articulated figures, vehicles, role-play items, trading cards, trading card games and playsets -- all of which should be available at retail starting in the fall of 2004. 


In addition to Bandai's toy line, Sony has also licensed Giant to create t-shirts, Fashion Accessories to make Astro Boy bags and backpacks, Dan River to create themed bedding and window treatments, and Harper Collins to publish activity books and storybooks.  Dark Horse Comics is publishing the original Tezuka Astro Boy manga series (see 'Dark Horse To Publish Astro Boy'), which should get a huge boost when the new Astro Boy anime series starts airing in early 2004.