It would seem that 4kids is really getting a move on completely transforming the company image. The following article is from the USA Today website (something like this is also on ANN, but their links don't seem to work at the moment.)
4Kids, marketer of Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh! gets into card business
NEW YORK — After years of helping other companies to get rich off trading card games, including Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh!, TV and marketing company 4Kids Entertainment will unveil on Monday plans to change from a licensing agent to an independent force in the growing $5 billion-a-year industry.
Publicly traded 4Kids (KDE) bought rights to a Danish game, Chaotic, and is starting a trading card division that will handle all facets of the business.
4Kids also programs Fox Broadcasting's Saturday morning kids' shows and will introduce Chaotic characters in a weekly animated series starting Jan. 6. Trading cards and an online game will be available in the spring, followed by toys, games for handheld players and merchandise.
"Whether (kids) will buy these things in droves, who the heck knows?" 4Kids CEO Alfred Kahn says.
After seeing fans spend $15 billion on Pokémon goods since 1998, and $6 billion on Yu-Gi-Oh! since 2000, he says he doesn't need to capture lightning for his investment to pay off. "All I need is a little thunderstorm."
He has a lot riding on the new game and business as fan interest has waned in Yu-Gi-Oh! and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, licenses that accounted for 56% of 4Kids' revenue in the first nine months of this year. The company had a net profit of $1.3 million for those months, down 71% vs. the same period in 2005, on revenue of $53.5 million, down 6.3%.
Chaotic also faces lots of rivals, including a new card series based on the series Ben 10, which airs on Cartoon Network.
"The odds are against them," says Jefferies & Co. analyst Robert Routh. "Very few properties like Chaotic take off. Even Yu-Gi-Oh!, which did incredibly well, died out pretty fast. And this is no Pokémon."
Yet retailers likely will support 4Kids.
"We've looked at everything they've done, and we're going to recommend to all our customers that they carry the product," says Steve Jones of Excell Marketing, which distributes cards to outlets including Target and Walgreens.
The trading cards are key to the franchise, which has a storyline that will roll out over seven years. The TV series will give players information that will help them compete in games.
The twist with Chaotic, though, is that each card will carry a code number that enables gamers to play others online.
"We're going to bring entertainment back to where the kids are," says Bryan Gannon, who leads the Chaotic trading card and online efforts. A Wi-Fi enabled scanner, which can capture card images, "will be the key toy for the brand."
The company will have a website where people can compete, get information, chat with other enthusiasts and buy Chaotic-related merchandise.
"We've seen what the future is," Kahn says. "Whether we can deliver it — that's what we're going to find out."