Pokemon, the children’s entertainment staple, kicked-off its 10th worldwide anniversary today at the American International Toy Fair with the announcement of the Pokemon Journey Across America, an action-packed 24-city national mall tour that will culminate in August at the first-ever Pokemon National Video Game Championships. With more than $25 billion in worldwide retail sales, Pokemon, the collective name for more than 380 characters that one can find, catch, train, trade, collect, and use in battle against rivals in the quest to become a Pokemon Master, is a global pop culture phenomenon credited with making Japanese animation mainstream in the U.S.

“We are immensely proud of the success Pokemon has achieved in its 10 year history — we’ve become a children’s entertainment powerhouse both in the U.S. and globally,” said Akira Chiba, president, Pokemon USA, Inc. “This year promises to be one of the most exciting ever for the brand as we celebrate this significant milestone and chart our path for the future.”

Pokemon is celebrating its 10th anniversary year with its fans in a big way through numerous events, exclusive anniversary products, and more. Kicking off February 25 and traveling to top markets across the country through July 22, the Pokemon Journey Across America tour will allow thousands of fans to compete for a chance to qualify for the Pokemon National Video Game Championships. Winners will be flown to New York City in August to compete for the championship title at the Pokemon National Video Game Championships which will include an anniversary bash open to the public.

The Pokemon Journey Across America tour includes many exciting on-site activities, including live costume characters, arts and crafts stations, a Pokemon Trading Card Game play area, exclusive character downloads for Pokemon video games, and a 10th anniversary lounge to offer fans a look back at Pokemon through the years as well as a peek at upcoming product launches and anniversary initiatives. Fans can compete in two age groups — 12 and under and 13 and up-to make it into the finals at the Pokemon Video Game National Championships. Players must pre-qualify in order to compete in the local mall tournaments. For additional information and to pre-qualify, go to http://www.pokemon.com/.

Throughout 2006, Pokemon is providing its fans with a variety of different Pokemon initiatives ranging from new ways of interacting with favorite characters to exciting new animation specials to challenging new video games. Making its debut at Toy Fair, Pokemon Mobile offers the first ever official Pokemon cell phone content, including wallpapers, ring tones, and short videos. On the video game front, Pokemon Trozei, a puzzle game for the Nintendo DS will launch in March and other Pokemon video games will be released throughout the year.

In April, a one-hour TV special entitled “The Mastermind of Mirage Pokemon” will debut on Kids’ WB! and bring together everyone’s favorite Pokemon characters to solve the unusual mystery of the Mirage Pokemon. Later in the year, the eighth Pokemon movie, “Lucario and the Mystery of Mew” is set for release and will feature never-before-seen Pokemon and the legend of the Aura Guardian. Join Ash and his friends on both of these adventures! Also, be sure to watch for the brand new Pokemon 10th Anniversary song and video, “Pokemon Go,” which is sure to be the ultimate nostalgic tune for Pokemon fans everywhere.

Pokemon was first created in Japan as a video game for the Nintendo Game Boy system. A non-violent game that teaches children strategy, sportsmanship and team work, Pokemon has captured the imagination of a generation of children and adults.