Pokemon merchandise outside of Japan is about to get a big change. The Pokemon Company announced earlier this week that Wicked Cool Toys will hold the master license to the Pokemon brand beginning in 2018. This means that Wicked Cool Toys will make all of Pokemon's plushes, action figures, play sets, and toys...basically everything except for Pokemon-themed clothes and Pokemon cards.
Wicked Cool Toys is an up and coming toy developer that holds licenses for properties like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Cabbage Patch Kids, and MasterChef Junior.
The master license will impact everywhere but Asia, where the Pokemon Company manages its own toy licensing. Tomy, Pokemon's current master license holder will remain a "key" licensing partner.
As part of the licensing deal, the Pokemon Company will become a "strategic investor" in Wicked Cool Toys and have a seat on the company's board. As part of the investment, the Pokemon Company will have a greater collaboration with the toy company in designs and plans for various Pokemon toys.
Several news sites have described The Pokemon Company's deal with Wicked Cool Toys as similar to the investment it made with Niantic Labs before the app developer made Pokemon Go.
We won't know the full impact of the move until fall 2018 when Wicked Cool Toys' Pokemon toys hit stores, but this could mark a big change for what sort of Pokemon merchandise fans can purchase in the US and Europe. Currently, Pokemon merchandise outside of Japan is a bit...underwhelming, so this could be a huge improvement.