Takara Tomy’s Zoids franchise is coming back in a big way. After a 12-year hiatus from the limelight, the Japanese toy manufacturer is planning a major cross-media relaunch with anime, manga, toys, video games and more. Ligers won’t just be roaring in Japan, either, as plans are underway to release the series internationally. As the franchise celebrates its 35th Anniversary, the new push will be predominantly aimed at the boys 10-12 demographic, with older fans in their 20s and 30s viewed as a secondary audience.
It all starts with the model kit line. Re-imagined with the theme of skeletal design, the new Zoids won’t be coming from sprue kits. Instead, each 1/35 scale kit will be more like an excavation, full of bones that one must reconstruct. Like earlier lines, the new toys will be mechanized and include a plastic figure (this time translucent). Builders can see the mechanical action even from the Zoids’ skeletal form, but once the armour is added, the Wild Blast feature can be activated that unleashes a special attack. To support it, Takara Tomy is launching an application for mobile devices. It’ll feature tips for assembly, a mission-based game, and ZFX, which will allow users to take videos of their completed model kits and add special effects to them. The app will allow export to YouTube and highly rated clips may win a special prize. The first of the two Zoids Wild kits, ZW01 Wild Liger and ZW02 Gilraptor will launch in Japan this June for ¥3000 each. Zoids Excavation Bases will be set up in retail stores to help promote the line.
The anime series will be produced by OLM (Pokemon, Beyblade Burst) and debut on the MBS network in Japan sometime this summer. The series will follow two factions on a desolate Earth in the year 20XX. Freedom, a young team tied together by their bonds with their Zoids, and Death Metal, an empire that controls Zoids by force, compete in fierce life-and-death battles for survival. Norihiko Sutou is directing the show from a story by Mitsutaka Hirota. The anime will be preceded by a manga series debuting in the April issue of CoroCoro Comic. Both will star a young boy named Arashi who takes command of the Wild Liger.
Kits, anime and manga are just the tip of the iceberg for this Zoids relaunch. The company expects to partner with others to produce Zoids Wild branded clothes, bags, accessories, eating utensils, jigsaws and snacks. Additionally, Takara Tomy is also developing a new arcade game, as well as a project for the Nintendo Switch.
Given how large this reboot is, it should be apparent that Takara Tomy has big hopes for the Zoids franchise. The company is expecting it to generate more than ¥50 billion ($465 million USD) in revenue over the next few years. To put that in perspective, the original generation of Zoids, running from 1983 to 1991, managed 19 million units sold for sales of ¥39 billion ($363 million USD). The second generation, which ran between 1999 and 2006, moved 25 million units for ¥44 billion (~$410 million USD) in sales.
International fans will play a part. While Takara Tomy didn’t divulge into details during this initial announcement, the company did confirm that it’s actively working with partners in North America, Europe and the rest of Asia to launch Zoids Wild abroad.
The second generation inspired the Zoids: Chaotic Century, Zero, Fuzors and Genesis anime series. In the past, Zoids products and media were released by Hasbro and ShoPro USA (later Viz Media) in western territories.