Takara acquires animation studio

Toy maker Takara Co. has purchased an 88 percent stake in Tatsunoko Productions, a pioneering animation studios known for such classic works as “Speed Racer” and “Gatchaman,” industry sources said Saturday.

Takara, set to merge next year with Tomy Co., another toy maker, is believed to have paid more than 1 billion yen to acquire the equity stake from Tatsunoko’s founding family, the sources said, adding the transaction took place Thursday.

Tatsunoko, established in 1962, created a number of hit animation series in the 1960s through the 1980s. Among its earliest works was “Speed Racer,” first released in Japan in 1967 as “Mach Go, Go, Go” when television was still in black and white.

Takara wants to use animation characters created and owned by Tatsunoko in its toys and software, the sources said.

Other popular animation series created by Tatsunoko include “The Adventures of Hutch, The Honey Bee,” known in Japan as “Minashigo Hatchi,” and “Time Bokan.”