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The New Pokemon By Roberta T. McCulloch Times Herald-Record

The New Pokemon
By Roberta T. McCulloch
Times Herald-Record
September 08, 2002
Item# newpokbyrobt

Product Description


September 08, 2002

The new Pokemon

   By Roberta T. McCulloch
   Times Herald-Record

    
 William Aviles watched as the boy made his way to the Yu-Gi-Oh! card aisle.
   "I saw him trying to take (the cards) out of the box," says Aviles, a sales associate at KB Toys in the Galleria Mall at Crystal Run.
   This kid wasn't the only one with sticky fingers when it came to Yu-Gi-Oh! cards. At least four to five packages were opened daily, says Aviles.
   Now, the cards are hidden behind the counter.
   After all, Yu-Gi-Oh! is the hottest thing to hit the scene since Pokemon. "They're number one right now," says Aviles.
   Japanese-based Yu-Gi-Oh! (pronounced You-Ghi-Oh), which means King of Games, has dominated Pokemon, which ruled the toy world three years ago. Charizard cards, once valued at as much as $100 apiece, lie ignored in cardboard boxes.
   Like Pokemon, the Yu-Gi-Oh! phenomenon is fueled in part by trading cards, video games and an assortment of action figures.
   But it's the animated cartoon that has made sales skyrocket, says Raymond Carrier, a sales associate at Toys "R" Us in Middletown.
   That's what got 12-year-old Connor Cuddy of Middletown psyched. "I like the TV show," he says. "It's a cool thing."
   Customers range from 5-50 years old, says Carrier. Starter sets, which include 50 cards, a game map and a rule book, sell for $12.99. A nine-card booster pack goes for $3.50.
   And then there are rare cards, which cost much more if purchased individually. The first Yu-Gi-Oh! edition includes 82 common cards, 22 "rare" cards and 20 "super rare" or "ultra rare" cards, with at least one rare card in each pack.
   Yu-Gi-Oh! has sold more than 33 million books and comic books, 7.5 million video games and 3.5 billion cards in Japan since 1996, according to Mary Mancera, a spokeswoman for Upper Deck in Carlsbad, Calif. The company, a leading sports- and hobby-card producer, has been issuing American Yu-Gi-Oh! cards since March.
   "We've had to reprint three times, which is unheard of for us," Mancera says.
   The most expensive is The Head of Exodia, which costs $70 for a first edition. Kids like it because it's a powerful card that can win a game for them.
   Yu-Gi-Oh! will be just as popular as Pokemon, but will appeal more to older kids than younger ones, says Alfred Kahn, chief executive of 4Kids Entertainment in New York, who decides which products will bear the Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh! labels in the United States. And that's why the name will appear on products that appeal more to older kids.
   "You won't see pajamas or lunchboxes," he says. "You'll see skateboards, apparel, how-to books on how to play the game, and home videos and DVDs of the television show."
   It's that approach that drew Connor's brother, Jesse, into the game. "It's more for older kids," says 14-year-old Jesse, who especially likes the game's strategy. "All you have to do is use monster cards to fight other monster cards."
   Lora Cuddy says she has no problem with her sons' playtime as long as it doesn't become "exorbitant."
   However, not everyone is into the Yu-Gi-Oh! hype.
   Donna Beekman, of Chester, says she will not buy her sons, Billy and Jake, Yu-Gi-Oh cards. "They would love to get into them, but we already did Pokemon," she says. "Been there, done that."
   
   Knight-Ridder News Service contributed to this story.
   
   The story
   Like Pokemon, whose hero, Ash, wanted to become a great Pokemon trainer, Yu-Gi-Oh! also has a young hero.
   After solving a puzzle given to him by his grandfather, a nerdy young boy, Yugi, morphs into cool, spiky-haired Yami Yugi. He's a master at Duel Monsters, a game in which the characters on the cards come to life.
   When the creator of Duel Monsters, Maximillion Pegasus, steals Yugi's grandfather's soul, Yugi sets out to battle him and recover it.
   Yu-Gi-Oh! started in Japan in 1996 as a comic strip. It came to the United States last fall as a Saturday morning cartoon on Kids' WB!
   The cards, games and toys rolled out in March.
   And, by all accounts, kids have spent a lot of the summer working on their game with friends.
   




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