Hasbro named major U.S. licensee for Nintendo's Pokemon

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TOKYO -- U.S. toy maker Hasbro Inc. landed the rights to be the major licensee for the manufacture of the widely successful ``Pokemon'' characters from Japan's Nintendo.

Numerous companies battled for the U.S. rights to Pokemon character merchandise, which racked up an incredible $4 billion in sales in Japan over the past 18 months.

Hasbro is expected to launch products for the 150 Pokemons (short for pocket monsters) in the U.S. this fall.

Nintendo is expected to unveil a U.S. version of Pokemon for its hand-held Game Boy players this week during the entertainment expo in Atlanta. The Pokemon animated TV series will come to the U.S. in the fall, and Nintendo is planning a Pokemon game for its new Nintendo 64 that will arrive in time for Christmas.

Pokemon products in Japan range from stuffed animals through foodstuffs to yo-yos. The Pokemon game involves the search and capture of 150 monsters who are hidden in the field of play. Game players capture, nurture and train the monsters to develop various fighting skills. They can also trade monsters with other users via a Game Boy connection cable.

It is the number one selling electronic game in Japan with more than 8.2 million units sold.

Pokemon came to the attention of the world when 700 people across Japan were rushed to hospitals across Japan with symptoms such as convulsions and nausea after watching an episode of the animated series. The animated shows that will hit the U.S. are without the episode that caused the video-induced illnesses.

Copyright May 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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