Toymaker Bandai Co. says it will enter China’s growing baby toy market next March by offering a range of products featuring characters from a popular Japanese picture book series.

While the Chinese baby toy market has been expanding following the abolition of its one-child policy, Bandai said character-based toys account for only 1.5 percent of the total market for baby toys.

Bandai said it will launch a new brand featuring characters from “the bears’ school” series of picture books for its Chinese operation, hoping to help popularize character-based baby toys among Chinese consumers with its products such as cloth-made building blocks and rattles.

The company, a unit of Bandai Namco Holdings Inc., aims to chalk up ¥1.5 billion in sales in the initial year.

In China, the market for maternity and baby products including toys, baby beds and diapers, was worth ¥42.8 trillion in fiscal 2017, roughly 11 times the size of the market in Japan, according to Bandai.

Baby toy sales accounted for ¥4.6 trillion in China, and they are expected to increase to ¥5.7 trillion in fiscal 2018.

The new toy brand dubbed “the bears’ school baby” will target children aged 3 and under. The first picture book in the series was released in Japan in 2002 and has been translated into Chinese and Korean.

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