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LJN Toys, Ltd.
Industry Toys and video games
Fate Closed by Acclaim Entertainment
Successor Acclaim Entertainment
Founded 1970
Defunct 1995
Headquarters New York, New York
Lyndhurst, New Jersey
Key people
Jack Friedman (Founder)
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 LJN Toys, Ltd.:
Independent (1970-1985)
MCA (1985-1990)
LJN, Ltd.:
Acclaim Entertainment (1990-1995)
LJN Entertainment, Inc.:
Acclaim Entertainment (2000)

LJN Toys, Ltd. was an American toy company and video game publisher in operation from 1970 to 1995. It manufactured toy lines and released 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]



LJN Toys Ltd. was founded in 1970 by Jack Friedman, who later founded other toy companies, notably THQ and Jakks Pacific.[4]

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.[5]

MCA era

In 1985, MCA Inc.,[6] which had been actively acquiring companies in the mid-1980s,[5] acquired LJN for $66[6] or $67 million[7] in an effort to retain more profits from the merchandising of its film properties.[8]

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.[9]

In 1988, LJN acquired Italian toy company Al'es from the Fassi family.[10]

In 1989, MCA decided to sell LJN after years of losses[6] 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.[8][11] MCA finally agreed to sell to Acclaim Entertainment in March 1990 for cash and Acclaim common stock for 30 to 50 percent.[12][13]

Acclaim era

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.

Spanning a number of video game console generations, LJN published games outsourced to external developers.[14] Although many of LJN's titles (particularly the pre-Acclaim ones) do not disclose the developer, there is no video game that has been developed in-house by LJN.[14] Most of LJN's games are based on a preexisting brand such as movies.

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.[15] 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.[15] 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.[16] Although Acclaim distributed the video games, they were self-published and marketed by LJN.[17]

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.[16]


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


Video games

See also


  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. Nelson, Valerie (May 6, 2010). "Jack Friedman dies at 70; toy maker". L.A. Times. Retrieved September 28, 2011.
  5. 1 2 "JAKKS Pacific, Inc. -- Company History".
  6. 1 2 3 "COMPANY NEWS; MCA Taking Loss In Sale of Toy Unit". The New York Times. January 23, 1990.
  7. Fabrikant, Geraldine (February 9, 1987). "MCA TURNS HAND TO ACQUISITIONS". The New York Times. Retrieved May 11, 2010.
  8. 1 2 SHIVER Jr, JUBE (January 23, 1990). "MCA to Sell LJN Toys Unit After Losses". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 11, 2010.
  9. "BRIEFS". The New York Times. May 11, 1983.
  10. "BRIEFLY". The Los Angeles Times. April 1, 1987.
  11. "After 3 Deaths, Realistic Toys Are Under Fire". The New York Times. June 16, 1988.
  12. "MCA Agrees to Sell Ailing Toy Unit". The Los Angeles Times. March 13, 1990.
  13. "MCA to Gain Acclaim Stock in LJN Deal". Daily News of Los Angeles. March 13, 1990.
  14. 1 2 "Video Game Rebirth". Video Game Rebirth. Retrieved December 24, 2006.
  15. 1 2 "Acclaim Entertainment Inc. Company History". Funding Universe.
  16. 1 2 "LJN Ltd Company Information". GameFaqs. Retrieved January 2, 2013.
  17. "WWF Royal (1993) Box Art.". LJN. 1993. Retrieved January 2, 2013.
  18. "Battle of the Fun Factories". Time. December 16, 1985. Retrieved March 3, 2010.
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