Back in June, the UFC inked a four-year licensing agreement with toy manufacturer JAKKS Pacific. While the first wave of action figures from that deal - which is said to include Chuck Liddell, Brock Lesnar and Anderson Silva, among others - has yet to hit shelves, JAKKS has today issued a press release announcing the addition of two more Zuffa-owned brands to its fold:
JAKKS today announced the signing of two exclusive, four year, worldwide Master Toy license agreements with MMA organizations World Extreme Cage Fighting(R) (WEC(TM)) and PRIDE(R). JAKKS is expected to launch the line of collectible action figures, play sets and accessories based on WEC and PRIDE in Spring 2010.WEC focuses on lighter weight classes including the bantamweight and featherweight divisions. WEC was founded in 2001 and purchased by the owners of the Ultimate Fighting Championship(R) brand in 2006. PRIDE, one of the most popular MMA organizations in Asia, was founded in 1997 in Japan and purchased last year by the owners of UFC."We are thrilled to extend our relationship with UFC by adding WEC and PRIDE to our action figure roster," said Stephen Berman, President and COO, JAKKS Pacific. "As the world leader in fighting action figure toys, we plan on dominating the Mixed Martial Arts collector action figure arena. The addition of WEC and PRIDE gives JAKKS a substantial base of fighters with which to work and develop into a broad and exciting line of collectable products for fans.""This agreement with JAKKS gives fight fans a premier line of authentic collector action figures," said Dana White, UFC President. "This is a great partnership that benefits the sport, our athletes and our fans."
With speculation running wild about the WEC/UFC upper-weight class merge - not to mention their forthcoming shift to PPV and possible inroads to Mexico - it makes a lot of sense for JAKKS to lock this down while the promotion's profile is still relatively low. (Plus, how awesome will a Miguel Torres figure with a removable mullet be?)
But... PRIDE? Action figures based on fighters from a Japanese promotion known mainly to a relatively tiny slice of the UFC's audience? A video library promotion which Zuffa purchased with the express intent of dismantling and then making as little mention of as possible? That's somewhat baffling. Ah well - fingers crossed for a reasonably priced Saku doll, or maybe a fuzzy Murilo Bustamante.
UPDATE: Forbes reports that shares of JAKKS rose 81 cents to $25.76 on the news.