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Japanese toy maker Bandai to tap into China's baby toy market

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japanese toy maker Bandai Co. said Monday it will tap into China's growing baby toy market next March by offering a range of products featuring a bear character.

    While the Chinese baby toy market has been expanding following the country's abolition of its one-child policy, Bandai said character-based toys account for only 1.5 percent of the total market for baby toys.

    Bandai said it will launch a new brand featuring characters from the "the bears' school" picture book series for its Chinese operation, hoping to help popularize character-based baby toys among Chinese consumers with its products such as cloth-made building blocks and rattles.

    The company, a unit of Bandai Namco Holdings Inc., aims to chalk up 1.5 billion yen ($13.5 million) in sales in the initial year.

    In China, the market for maternity and baby products including toys, baby beds and diapers, was worth 42.8 trillion yen in fiscal 2017, roughly 11 times the size of the same market in Japan, according to Bandai.

    Of the market, baby toy sales accounted for 4.6 trillion yen, and they are expected to increase to 5.7 trillion yen in fiscal 2018.

    The new toy brand dubbed "the bears' school baby" will target babies and children aged 3 and under. The picture book was first released in Japan in 2002 and has been translated into Chinese and Korean.

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