LJN

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LJN Toys, Ltd.
Industry Toys and video games
Fate Closed by Acclaim Entertainment
Successor Acclaim Entertainment
Founded 1970
Founder Jack Friedman
Defunct 1995
Headquarters New York, New York
Lyndhurst, New Jersey
Products Toys: Battery Operated Water Guns, Wrestling Superstars, Thundercats, Bionic Six, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, E.T., Gremlins
Video games: Back to the Future series, Spider-Man series, WWF wrestling games
Parent MCA Inc. (1985–1990)
Acclaim Entertainment
(1990–1995; 2000)

LJN Toys, Ltd. was an American toy company and video game publisher in operation from 1970 to 1995. Its products included toys, battery-operated water guns, and video games based on licensed properties from movies, television shows, and celebrities. It was headquartered in Midtown Manhattan, New York City,[1] and later in Lyndhurst, New Jersey.[2] LJN introduced the Entertech line of battery-operated water guns in 1986.[3]

Alan Amron invented and patented the first battery-operated water gun licensed to Larami and Entertech LJN in 1985.[4][5] In the first year, this invention had earned him $250,000 in royalties.[6]

History[edit]

Founding[edit]

LJN Toys, Ltd. was founded in 1970 by Jack Friedman, who later founded other toy companies, notably THQ and Jakks Pacific.[7]

The name LJN came from reversing the initials of Norman J. Lewis, whose toy company (Norman J. Lewis Associates) had employed Friedman as a sales representative in the 1960s. Lewis himself initially backed LJN financially but later sold his interest to a Chinese investor.[8]

MCA era[edit]

In 1985, MCA Inc.,[9] which had been actively acquiring companies in the mid-1980s,[8] acquired LJN for more than $60 million[9][10] in an effort to retain more profits from the merchandising of its film properties.[11]

LJN began publishing video games for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1987. Although this was LJN's first foray into the video game business, it was not for MCA who had previously started MCA Video Games, as a joint venture with Atari, Inc., to create coin-operated and home games and computer software based on various MCA properties.[12]

In 1988, LJN acquired Italian toy company Al'es from the Fassi family.[13]

In 1989, MCA decided to sell LJN after years of losses[9] since 1987 when fallout surrounding toy guns made by LJN's Entertech division plunged MCA's profits 79.5% in the second quarter of that year.[11][14] MCA finally agreed to sell to Acclaim Entertainment in March 1990 for cash and Acclaim common stock for 30 to 50 percent.[15][16]

Acclaim era[edit]

During the time the company was owned by Acclaim Entertainment, LJN continued with the same licensing direction. Acclaim eliminated LJN's toy division and reorganized it exclusively as a video game publisher.

During the 8-bit gaming era, Nintendo initiated a form of quality control based on limiting the number of titles to appear on its console, the Nintendo Entertainment System.[17] The company required each licensee company to limit the number of NES titles it published per year. As a result, companies like Acclaim created divisions such as LJN to produce more products than Nintendo would have otherwise allowed.[17] Konami also utilized such workarounds with its division Ultra. Even after Nintendo dropped this rule in the early 1990s, Acclaim continued operating LJN, which published several titles for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and Game Boy.[18] Although Acclaim distributed the video games, they were self-published and marketed by LJN.[19]

LJN, along with the Flying Edge and Arena Entertainment labels (the latter two labels had published Acclaim's games to Sega's consoles), were folded into Acclaim in 1995.

In 2000, LJN made a return in name only when Acclaim used the brand to publish the Dreamcast port of Spirit of Speed 1937.[18]

In 2014, CollectorVision Games acquired the LJN brand name/logo.[20]

Products[edit]

LJN produced toys and video games in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s.

Toys[edit]

Title Produced Licensed Notes
The Rookies 1974-1975 Spelling-Goldberg Productions
Emergency! 1974-1975 Emergency Productions
Road Stars 1974-1977 Various
S.W.A.T. 1975 Spelling-Goldberg Productions
255 Computer Command Cars 1980 LJN
Brooke Shields 1982 Brooke Shields' endorsement
E.T. the Extra Terrestrial 1982 Universal Studios
Magnum, P.I. 1983 Universal Studios
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1983-1984 TSR, Inc.
Michael Jackson 1984 Michael Jackson's endorsement
Boy George 1984 Boy George's endorsement
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom 1984 Lucasfilm, Ltd.
Oodles 1984-1987 LJN
Rough Riders/Switch Force 1984-1985 LJN
Gremlins 1984 Warner Bros.
V Alien Visitor 1984 Warner Bros.
Dune 1984 Universal Studios
Wrestling Superstars 1984-1989 Titan Sports, Inc.
Baby Blinkins 1985 LJN
Entertech 1985-1990 LJN
Thundercats 1985-1989 Rankin-Bass Productions
Photon 1986 DiC Entertainment
Voltron 1986 World Events Productions
Suckers 1987 LJN
LJN Video Art 1987 LJN Video game console
Tiny Dinos 1987 LJN
TigerSharks 1987 Rankin-Bass Productions
Bionic Six 1987-1989 Universal Studios
Roll 'n Rocker 1987-1990 LJN/Nintendo of America, Inc. Accessory for the NES
Plansters 1988 LJN
Who Framed Roger Rabbit? 1988-1989 The Walt Disney Company & Amblin Entertainment
Baseball Talk 1989 Major League Baseball In conjunction with Topps
A Nightmare on Elm Street 1989 New Line Cinema
Back to the Future Part II 1989 Universal Studios

Video games[edit]

Spanning a number of video game console generations, LJN published games outsourced to external developers, gaining infamy for several titles perceived as having poor gameplay and game mechanics.[21][22] Although many of LJN's titles (particularly the pre-Acclaim ones) did not disclose the developer, there were no video games developed in-house by LJN.[21] Most of LJN's games were based on existing properties, such as movies.

Game Developer Platform Year Notes
The Karate Kid Atlus NES 1987
Gotcha! The Sport Sanritsu NES 1987
Jaws Westone NES 1987
Town & Country Surf Designs: Wood & Water Rage Atlus NES 1988
Major League Baseball Atlus NES 1988
Friday the 13th Atlus NES 1989
NFL Atlus NES 1989
Back to the Future Beam Software NES 1989
Who Framed Roger Rabbit Rare NES 1989
The Uncanny X-Men N/A NES 1989
The Amazing Spider-Man Rare Game Boy 1990
Pictionary Software Creations NES 1990
Back to the Future II & III Beam Software NES 1990
A Nightmare on Elm Street Rare NES 1990
The Punisher Beam Software NES 1990
WWF WrestleMania Challenge Rare NES 1990
NBA All-Star Challenge Beam Software Game Boy, SNES 1991 SNES version released in 1992
WWF Superstars Rare Game Boy 1991
Beetlejuice Rare NES 1991
The Punisher: The Ultimate Payback Beam Software Game Boy 1991 The logo was only used in-game. All others had the normal Acclaim logo.
Bill & Ted's Excellent Video Game Adventure Rocket Science Productions NES 1991
Bill & Ted's Excellent Game Boy Adventure Beam Software Game Boy 1991 Game Boy counterpart to Bill & Ted's Excellent Video Game Adventure
Roger Clemens' MVP Baseball Sculptured Software NES, Game Boy, SNES 1991 Game Boy and SNES versions released in 1992.
Wolverine Software Creations NES 1991
Terminator 2: Judgement Day B.I.T.S. Game Boy 1992
Beetlejuice Rare Game Boy 1992
Terminator 2: Judgement Day Software Creations NES 1992 Different to the Game Boy counterpart.
Town & Country II: Thrilla's Surfari Sculptured Software NES 1992
WWF Super WrestleMania Sculptured Software SNES 1992
NBA All-Star Challenge 2 Beam Software Game Boy 1992
WWF Superstars 2 Sculptured Software Game Boy 1992
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 B.I.T.S. Game Boy 1992
WWF WrestleMania: Steel Cage Challenge Sculptured Software NES 1992
T2: The Arcade Game Beam Software (GB)
Probe Software (SNES)
Game Boy, SNES 1992 SNES version released in 1993
Spider-Man & X-Men in Arcade's Revenge Software Creations (SNES)
Unexpected Development (GB)
SNES, Game Boy 1992 Game Boy version released in 1993
The Incredible Crash Dummies Software Creations (GB, NES)
Gray Matter Studios (SNES)
Game Boy, NES, SNES 1992 SNES version released in 1993 and NES version released in 1994.
Alien 3 B.I.T.S. (GB)
Probe Software (NES, SNES)
Game Boy, NES, SNES 1993 SNES version had the logo only appearing on covers, manuals and cartridges while in-game had the normal Acclaim logo.
WWF Royal Rumble Sculptured Software SNES 1993
NFL Quarterback Club Beam Software Game Boy 1993
Spider-Man 3: Invasion of the Spider-Slayers B.I.T.S. Game Boy 1993
Terminator 2: Judgement Day B.I.T.S. SNES 1993 Different to the 8-bit counterparts.
Spider-Man & Venom: Maximum Carnage Software Creations SNES 1994
Wolverine: Adamantium Rage Bits Corporation SNES 1994
WWF Raw Sculptured Software (SNES)
Realtime Associates (GB)
SNES, Game Boy 1994
NFL Quarterback Club Iguana Entertainment (SNES)
Condor, Inc. (GB)
SNES, Game Boy 1994 Different to the Game Boy counterpart. Released on Game Boy as NFL Quarterback Club II in 1995.
Warlock Realtime Associates SNES 1994
True Lies Beam Software SNES, Game Boy 1995
Spider-Man: The Animated Series Western Technologies Incorporated SNES 1995
Revolution X Rage Software SNES 1995 Was supposed to be released under the label as listed on the copyright screen, but it ended up being released on the normal Acclaim label.
Cutthroat Island Software Creations SNES 1996 Was supposed to be released under the label as listed on the copyright screen, but it ended up being released on the normal Acclaim label.
Spirit of Speed 1937 Broadsword Interactive Sega Dreamcast 2000

NOTE: There's a game World War III, which was supposed to be on the NES, but it went unreleased.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Johnson, Doris McNeely. "Children's Toys and Books: Choosing the Best for All Ages from Infancy to Adolescence". Scribner, 1982. Unknown page. Retrieved from Google Books on July 8, 2010. ISBN 0-684-17767-6, ISBN 978-0-684-17767-0. "LJN Toys, Inc. 200 Fifth Ave. New York, NY 10010."
  2. ^ Tang, Sheng (唐盛). 美欧中贸易年鉴:美欧卷 ("Yearbook of Europe and United States-China Trade, Europe and United States). Volume 1995-1996. Shanghai Jiaotong University Press, 1995. 146. Retrieved from Google Books on July 8, 2010. ISBN 7-313-01608-5, ISBN 978-7-313-01608-9. "LJN TOYS, LTD. LJN %Jl$-R£^| 1200 Wall St., W., Lyndhurst, NJ"
  3. ^ Video of Alan Amrons' battery operated LJN Entertech water gun Inventions
  4. ^ Porges, Seth. "The Best Battery Powered Gun". The Top 6 Water Guns of All Time. Popular Mechanics. Retrieved 16 October 2012. 
  5. ^ Green, Amanda. "History Of The Water Gun". Popular Mechanics. Retrieved 5 August 2014. 
  6. ^ "Alan Amron battery operated water guns Records". People Magazine. 1986-09-08. Archived from the original on 2014-10-06. Retrieved 2017-02-13. 
  7. ^ Nelson, Valerie (May 6, 2010). "Jack Friedman dies at 70; toy maker". L.A. Times. Retrieved September 28, 2011. 
  8. ^ a b "JAKKS Pacific, Inc. -- Company History". 
  9. ^ a b c "COMPANY NEWS; MCA Taking Loss In Sale of Toy Unit". The New York Times. January 23, 1990. 
  10. ^ Fabrikant, Geraldine (February 9, 1987). "MCA TURNS HAND TO ACQUISITIONS". The New York Times. Retrieved May 11, 2010. 
  11. ^ a b SHIVER Jr, JUBE (January 23, 1990). "MCA to Sell LJN Toys Unit After Losses". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 11, 2010. 
  12. ^ "BRIEFS". The New York Times. May 11, 1983. 
  13. ^ "BRIEFLY". The Los Angeles Times. April 1, 1987. 
  14. ^ "After 3 Deaths, Realistic Toys Are Under Fire". The New York Times. June 16, 1988. 
  15. ^ "MCA Agrees to Sell Ailing Toy Unit". The Los Angeles Times. March 13, 1990. 
  16. ^ "MCA to Gain Acclaim Stock in LJN Deal". Daily News of Los Angeles. March 13, 1990. 
  17. ^ a b "Acclaim Entertainment Inc. Company History". Funding Universe. 
  18. ^ a b "LJN Ltd Company Information". GameFaqs. Retrieved January 2, 2013. 
  19. ^ "WWF Royal (1993) Box Art". LJN. 1993. Retrieved January 2, 2013. 
  20. ^ CollectorVision Games
  21. ^ a b "Video Game Rebirth". Video Game Rebirth. Archived from the original on December 20, 2006. Retrieved December 24, 2006. 
  22. ^ Gagne, Alex. "Sympathy for the Devil: The Secret Brilliance of LJN's Licensed Games". VentureBeat. Retrieved October 6, 2013.