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A Sunny Cartoon Launch Party

June 11, 2002, 12:00 AM EDT

ShoPro USA Hamtaro launch Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers Monday, 06.10.02, 6:30 PM to 9 PM
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Hamtaro, a cartoon hamster with the round, squat shape and big eyes of the South Park kids who behaves more like the Powerpuff Girls and Pokemon, had its official U.S. launch with a sunny, cheerful party at the Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers. The event was produced by Washington-based Westcott Promotion Group for Hamtaro's parent company, ShoPro.

To match the cartoon's sunny attitude and the hamster's penchant for sunflower seeds, the entryway was covered with faux grass and steel arches wrapped with vines and mini-sunflowers, and tree branches from American Foliage hung from the ceiling. Inside, the Lighthouse's walls and columns were covered with pale yellow fabric, and tables were covered with sunny yellow tablecloths and giant fabric sunflower cutouts dotted with marshmallow candy pops.

Despite the fun theme, the party was serious business. With more than $2.5 billion in merchandising sales, Hamtaro is the most popular cartoon in Japan, and ShoPro is looking to make it an even bigger success in the US than Pokemon. The event was held to promote the brand to potential licensees, who could jump on the Hamtaro bandwagon with Nintendo and Hasbro as marketing and licensing partners. After the sales presentation, four giant robot Hamtaro characters emerged on stage, and the New York Kids gave a quick performance of the “Ham-Ham dance” for the crowd.

The cute canvas gift bag contained a video, a pop-up book, an extra large shirt with orange sleeves, some plastic toys, and a bag of barbecue-flavored sunflower seeds.

--Suzanne Ito

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