Tomy Co., Ltd. is the legal English name for the Japanese toy, children’s merchandise and entertainment company created on March 1, 2006 by the merger of "former" Tomy with long-time Japan rival, Takara Co., Ltd. However, the new company made the unusual decision to adopt two different legal corporate names so while in English the name is simply Tomy, in Japanese the legal company name is the combined name, K.K. Takara-Tomy (株式会社タカラトミー ).
The original Tomy was founded in 1924, while Takara was founded in 1955.
Merger and corporate name
The decision to use the Tomy name in English and the Takara-Tomy name in Japanese was made for pragmatic reasons. Tomy has built considerable brand recognition internationally, particularly in the area of infant and preschool products, where brand trust is very important. On the other hand, most of Takara's international hit products (Microman, Transformers, Battle Beasts, Beyblade, B-Daman, et al) have been sold and branded by other companies, most notably, Hasbro. Therefore, going through the costly process of registering and or changing the company name in all the countries where Tomy does business would have been expensive and unproductive. Thus, with the merged company's international subsidiaries continuing to use the Tomy name, it seemed appropriate to keep a domestic English name which matched that of the international subsidiaries.
It should be noted that editorial policy of many Western (English language) business publications is to ignore "merger" declarations and declare one company to be bought by another, often by splitting hairs over the number of board members, etc. Therefore, in much of the English media the Takara-Tomy merger was characterized as a "take-over" of Takara by Tomy. This assumption was made easier by the adoption of only the Tomy name in English. It is true that several years of losses had put Takara in a financially weakened state at the time of the merger. On the other hand, Takara did in fact have significantly higher sales than Tomy for three years preceding the merger. Yet it is common knowledge that over the years the management of Takara and Tomy, which were located less than a kilometer apart in Tokyo and had respectfully competed with each other as they grew side-by-side into world-class toy companies, had discussed merging several times, including times when Takara appeared stronger. Thus, ultimately, philosophically, culturally and legally under Japanese corporate law, the companies agreed to merge on an equal basis.
There has been much post-merger speculation on the control of brands such as Transformers now being with Tomy vs. Takara. Much of this arises due to the new use of the English "TOMY" copyright on all packaging, including former Takara brands shipped by Hasbro. This is simply the natural result of the practical decision to use only the Tomy name in English. In fact, internally, where 99% of the employees are Japanese and speak mainly Japanese, there is only one company, known in Japanese as "Takara-Tomy," and almost all internal departments have a healthy mix of management from both former companies. The fact that the English name is Tomy bears little relevance for most employees.
In Japan, Takara-Tomy continues to use the former Tomy and Takara names as distinct brand names on toy lines which originated in each company, but most new toy lines or stand-alone products carry the new Takara-Tomy brand. Staple toy lines from each company are continuing, in many cases gaining synergy from the co-marketing of each other's properties. This merger gave the combined company near parity in domestic (Japan) toy market share to domestic rival Bandai.
The merged company manufactures a broad range of products based on its own properties which include, from the Tomy side, Tomica, Plarail, Zoids, Idaten Jump, NoHoHon-Zoku Hidamari no Tami (aka Sunshine Buddies) and Tomy branded baby care products such as baby monitors, carriers etc; And from the Takara side, Choro-Q (aka Penny Racers), Transformers, B-Daman, e-kara, Licca-chan, Koeda-chan (aka Treena) and Microman (aka Micronauts). The merged TOMY also produces and/or sells a wide variety of toy and game brands under license, such as Thomas & Friends, Disney, Pokémon, Naruto, The Game of Life (aka Jinsei Game), Rockman (aka Megaman), Kirarin Revolution, Sugar Bunnies and Animal Crossing. Tomy's rights to these licenses vary by region.
One of the first examples of product synergy for the merged company was the combining of Takara's Jinsei Game (Game of Life) license and Tomy's Pokémon license to produce a Pokémon Jinsei Game.
Tomy UK was founded in 1982 for sale and distribution of Tomy products in Europe, and have brought toys such as Zoids and a variety of games like Pop-up Pirate to the West with great success. Tomy UK's slogan has traditionally been "Trust Tomy".
Tomy sell many products worldwide, including baby and pre-school toys, baby monitors, mechanical and electronic games, consumer electronics, children's arts and crafts products, and a vast range of toys suited to girls or boys. They also make a large selection of Disney, Pokémon and Thomas the Tank Engine merchandise, publish videogames in Japan (mostly based on Zoids and Naruto anime series), and are responsible for the distribution of some Hasbro products in Japan like Play-Doh, Jenga and Monopoly.
List of notable products
- Tomy Super Cup Football
- The Omnibot line of toy robots
- Mario Karts
- Pokemon Screen Cleaners
- Action figures and vehicles based on the Disney film Tron
- Tomica （トミカ）die-cast model vehicles
- Tomy AFX Slot cars
- Zoids （ゾイド）
- Cyborg Kuro-chan bendable figures
- Screwball Scramble
- Pop-up Pirate (黒ひげ危機一発 Kurohige-Kikiippatsu)
- Chatty Tom （英会語フレンドチャティートム） a talking robot bear designed to help Japanese people learn English, available with different cartridges for children and adults. The adult cartridge has a vocabulary of 650 conversational phrases.
- Gacha gashapon vending machines (distributed by Tomy Yujin Corp. (TYC) in the US and Tomy Yujin Europe (TYE) in Europe)
- Cella sticker machine
- Plarail (プラレール) plastic electric train set system (called "Tomica World" outside Japan)
- Atollo construction toy
- Atomic Pinball miniature pinball table
- Smife (a portmanteau of "smile" and "life") range of novelty items or gifts:
- Tomy Pocketmate
- NoHoHon-Zoku Hidamari no Tami (ひだまりの民 sunny people) (sold outside Japan as "Sunshine Buddies") and Hanauta no Tami (humming people) - solar-powered perpetual motion ornamental toys which have made a cult following
- Pachuppa finger puppets
- PaPiPuPe Puppies
- Flip Flap solar-powered plant
- Insect Cage Gallery
- Micro Aqua miniature aquarium
- Char-G radio-controlled cars
- Walkabout wireless baby monitors
- Lis'me Pod (リスミーポッド) girls' digital audio player
- Hide 'n' Squeak Eggs
- Xiaostyle digital still cameras
- Tomy Tutor home computer
- Caveman (Handheld electronic game)
- Kingdom Hearts Trading Card Game