Panda Mony Toy Company conquers new territory with cowboy-manga TANKDROME (press release)

Igarashi, Naomi

By: Marlene Sharp

Marlene Sharp,Los Angeles-based producer (SONIC BOOM, SNACK WORLD, YOUNG CAPTAIN NEMO), entertainment consultant, and educator.

Panda Mony Toy Brands, LLC, mothership of the award-winning ALTER NATION action figure-driven franchise, announces its strategic alliance with pedigreed Studio Entertainment Graphic Innovation (ENGI) on a new, mega vehicle-focused graphic novel series entitled TANKDROME. This illustrated undertaking welds manga-inspired visual design with western narrative structure. As a Japanese entity born from a conscious commingling of Kadokawa, Sega-Sammy, and Ultra Super Pictures, ENGI brings anime and manga authenticity to the project. Story development originates from American series creator and Panda Mony founder Ryan Magnon. TANKDROME tenders its debut illustrated book title in spring 2024.

An original concept IP architect Ryan Magnon elaborates on TANKDROME beginnings. “I’d initially planned to develop the character design art myself. I attempted to put my own spin on anime style, but I rapidly reconsidered. Rather than offer a poor imitation of anime, I thought this brand might be a good opportunity for east-meets-west collaboration.

Ryan Magnon

Based on the quality and reception of ALTER NATION, I was comfortable reaching out to established studios directly. ENGI, who was (coincidentally) seeking to expand beyond Japan, was receptive. The conversation started in August 2022. Since then, I’ve been in discussions with Hiroki Yoshioka (吉岡宏起).”

ENGI president Yoshioka-san further explains his attraction to TANKDROME. “I think this is a very important Manga project not just for the United States, but for Japan and other countries as well. It aims to create an entertaining piece that transcends the differences in values between Japan and America, making it enjoyable for audiences worldwide; moreover, I believe it presents a new opportunity to create something innovative for the future.” 

Naomi Igarashi, art director on TANKDROME, echoes Yoshioka-san’s sentiments. “From the moment I received this project, I couldn’t contain my incredible enthusiasm as I considered the interplay of an American concept and Japanese animation/manga culture inside its panels. In Japan, there is a continuous history of beautiful style that develops out of our time-honored tradition of skillfully fusing with different cultures. It’s said that manga and animation can easily cross cultural boundaries, and we believe it also builds strong bonds.”

ENGI, established in 2018, quickly solidified its status as an entertainment power player with impressive work in manga, anime for TV and streaming, video games, Pachinko animation, and theatrical films. Its substantial credit list includes forthcoming GAMERA REBIRTH (Netflix): the first animated series adaptation of this classic kaiju universe.

Story premise It’s 100 years into the future. After a great war, the nations of the world ban armies altogether. The totality of territorial disputes are settled in one-on-one tank battles. Each region chooses a champ to represent it in the International TANKDROME League; thereby, resolving these grievances publicly. This players alliance also produces and outputs the companion televised event, a legit ratings grabber.

In the TANKDROME-iverse, the throw-downs are TV chart toppers, because, well, these ain’t your grandma’s tanks. They’re the most stylish tanks on the road, with equally snazzy human drivers. For instance, forthcoming TANKDROME graphic novel issue #1 features leadfooted driver Bobby “The Bopper” Nash who pilots Long Tall Sally (a 1950’s hot rod tank); hulking operator Underground who drives Six-Feet-Deep (a hydraulic-hoppin’ lowrider armored vehicle); and Fujiyama Mama who handles The Iron Kitty (a “bosozoku” motorcycle-tank).

Grand brand business plans Additional TANKDROME brand blueprints include the TANKDROME Pit Pass – a fan club – similar to the ALTER NATION counterpart. Early adopters will receive mailed merch and perks, such as International TANKDROME League trading cards that display vehicle and driver art, tank tech features, and signature moves. Shortly thereafter, school supplies and kid-friendly accessories will roll out at retail.

“We’re on high alert for partnerships to expand the franchise in other ways,” intones Magnon. “This may be animation, games, toys, themed experiences, influencer and celebrity collabs, and other joint ventures. We are receptive to all kinds of overtures.”

Effusive praise for creator Magnon’s past, present, and future endeavors

Considering the ALTER NATION track record, industry experts have high hopes for TANKDROME

Marlene Sharp,Los Angeles-based producer (SONIC BOOM, SNACK WORLD, YOUNG CAPTAIN NEMO), entertainment consultant, and educator anticipates ardent audience response. “Ryan Magnon presented ALTER NATION to my adult digital arts students via video seminar last year. The trainees’ toy enthusiasm was palpable . . . as was mine! We also love(d) the animated webisodes; the show packs a ton of action, story, and character development into its compact installments. Similarly, I adore the early TANKDROME concept designs! TANKDROME seems poised to assume the ALTER NATION mantle and expand on it.”

Sharp, also a toy industry journalist and author of this article, continues. “ALTER NATION was a 2021 Toy of the Year (TOTY)-nominated action figure line. That’s mind-blowing! This new brand defied the odds and challenged heavy-hitters and legacies, like Spin Master’s Batman and Bandai’s Anime Heroes. TANKDROME has the same upstart spirit. I can’t wait to see the results of Panda Mony and ENGI’s adventure.”

About Panda Mony Toy Company

Formed in 2017, Panda Mony Toy Brands, LLC is a trailblazer in children’s entertainment. The company specializes in the creation and manufacture of toys, plus a robust outbound licensing business of its universes for film, TV, games, books, and consumer products. Panda Mony manifests uncommonly irresistible mythologies, because each new crop of kids deserves iconography of its own . . . and nothing less. Panda Mony respects children’s intelligence, eschews gratuitous indoctrination, and encourages youthful self-discovery. Panda Mony promotes healthy physical and psychological development and time spent between kids and their guardians. Panda Mony flagship toy line ALTER NATION is recipient of multiple trade awards, including 2021 Toy of the Year (TOTY) Finalist (from the Toy Industry Association); 2020 POP INSIDER’s POP JUNIOR Best Gifts for Next-Gen Fans; and 2020 TOY INSIDER Top Holiday Toys winner

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