Next year won't bring the return of Astro Boy just to movie theaters. Thanks to the wonders of merchandising, you might have a hard time avoiding Osamu Tezuka's little atomic pinocchio by the time that his big-budget CGI revival hits the multiplex.Last week, Astro Boy owners Imagi Studios announced partnerships with five different companies as part of a heavy marketing push for the character into the American market, including books, comics, toys, video games and... gift wrap?

American Greetings, one of the world’s largest creators, manufacturers and distributors of social expression products, will create items such as greeting cards, stationery, gift wrap and party goods inspired by Imagi properties. “Imagi's upcoming films include an array of beloved characters with terrific storylines, which lend themselves perfectly for consumers to celebrate through a number of product formats within the social expression category,” said Michael Brown, VP of Licensing, American Greetings Corporation. “We are excited to be embarking on a long-term alliance with Imagi Studios.”

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The other companies partnering with Imagi include IDW, home of Transformers, GI Joe and Doctor Who comics, Penguin, toy company Jazwares and video game manufacturer D3Publisher. The movie is set for an October 2009 release. IDW Gets Astro Boy License [Newsarama.com]