Game firm set to benefit from toy craze

By Danielle NuttallIT is a craze that has already gripped Japan and is promising to cause a stampede in toy shops this Christmas.The Yu-Gi-Oh! card game - which has been likened to the Pokemon phenomenon - has been listed as among Britain's top 10 toys for Christmas.

By Danielle Nuttall

IT is a craze that has already gripped Japan and is promising to cause a stampede in toy shops this Christmas.

The Yu-Gi-Oh! card game - which has been likened to the Pokemon phenomenon - has been listed as among Britain's top 10 toys for Christmas.

But its popularity is giving East Anglia game distributors Upstarts! a bit of a headache.


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For since being awarded the UK rights to distribute the popular game, sales have gone through the roof - and the craze looks set to explode as the game idea is given its television debut in the next couple of weeks.

Tom White, a director of the Great Blakenham-based company, said: “We have been doing phenomenal amounts since April time and I think all the trees in Europe are quaking with fear as we think it's going to go absolutely ballistic.

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“Kids who don't know about it yet will certainly know about it when it comes on TV.

“We have struggled to cope with the demand and we are concerned about it when it goes on terrestrial television. We will sell millions. It's impossible to put a figure on it.”

Players of the Yu-Gi-Oh! game begin by buying a starter pack of two sets of 52 cards for £6.99, which include a play mat.

The game involves one of the players laying a card, while the other tries to counter it by laying another with a higher power and the “duelling” begins.

Once a starter pack has been bought, children can buy booster sets at between £2.50 and £2.99 so they can begin collecting more cards.

Pupils at Gusford Primary School in Ipswich seemed enthralled yesterday by the new craze and many had already collected several decks of cards.

Ten-year-old Jamie Cackett, who has 20 decks of Yu-Gi-Oh! cards, said: “They are 10 out of 10. I want most of my Christmas presents to be Yu-Gi-Oh! cards. It's just fun. I play them with my sister all the time. They're the best.”

Josh Betts, also 10, added: “I started playing them in January time. I'd love to get more decks for Christmas.”

Upstarts! received the first batch of games in December, but it was too late for Christmas last year and are now seeing £1million-worth pass through its hands a month.

“It's been a slow boil, but it's suddenly took off. It's craze that came from Japan and went to the U.S. and is now arriving here. We sell about four or five times as many booster sets as starter sets,” said Mr White.

“It's a craze similar to Pokemon, which has become huge over here. The TV programme is going to start in the next couple of weeks and shows the power of the cards in characters.”

danielle.nuttall@eadt.co.uk

TOP TEN TOYS FOR CHRISTMAS

Badge It - Bandai (£15)

Barbie-Swan Lake - Mattel £20)

Beyblades Radio Control Top and Launcher - Hasbro (30)

Bionicles - Lego (£7)

Boohbah - Golden Bear (£15)

Bratz Winter Collection - Bandai (£25)

Cranium - Re:Creation (£25)

LeapPad Learning System - Leapfrog (£30)

Turtles - Vivid (£7)

Yu-Gi-Oh! - Upstarts! (£7)

n Compiled by the British Association of Toy Retailers

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