We Heart Official (yeah! official!) Katamari Damacy t-shirts are yours for the buying, thanks to the fine people at Panic. The team has worked closely with Keita Takahashi and Namco Japan in designing seven fashionable options that won't embarrass you when out-of-doors. Folks outside of Korea, Japan, the United States, and something called "Canada" are unfortunately out of luck (Psst! Have your American friend buy you one for Christmas!), but the rest of us can snag one for $24.95 USD (Cheap!).

What are you waiting for? The initial print run is low, and you might have to wait a while for the next batch. Hurry up and get all seven before it's too late!

[UPDATE - 1.12pm PST : We asked Cabel from Panic about how the project came about and here's what he had to say, read on for more!]

Who was involved at Panic on the project?

Two people.

First, there's me, Cabel Sasser, co-founder of Panic. I designed and built the Goods website and all of our previous shirts, and I dearly love gaming.

Then there's Nobuhiro "Noby" Hasegawa, our lone but amazing guy in Japan, who was responsible for (literally) translating my crazy ideas, and being the total connection between myself and Namco.

How did you initiate this project with Takahashi and Namco?

Believe it or not, we called them. Seriously. I think I e-mailed Noby on a whim and said "We should totally make Katamari shirts", so he called them up, and had booked a meeting a few days later. That was amazing step number one.

Then, our request for licensing got approved. That was amazing step number two (although we didn't know how amazing at the time -- it turns out he had never approved any license request, ever, except for the game soundtrack).

Finally, when Takahashi told us he'd design the shirts himself -- I was expecting a packet of assets that I'd turn into designs -- I pretty much crapped myself.

A lot of people are wondering "Why Panic, the Mac Software Company"? From our side, it's easy -- we love games, and being able to run off and make cool t-shirts for fun is part of the joy of running your own business. As long as it doesn't bankrupt you. :) From the Namco side, it's interesting -- Takahashi really wanted to challenge the idea of a game shirt, and he didn't think that would be possible with a "normal" company. He selected us because he liked our style, and approach, but also because Panic and Takahashi were both outsiders in this project. Panic is a software company somehow making t-shirts. Takahashi is an artist/sculptor somehow making games. In his mind, it was a combination that could likely really make his ideas come to fruition. I think he was right!

What was the design process like? How involved were the corporate/branding types at Namco? What kind of direction did the team provide to you?

The design process took a long time, but that's just largely because everyone was busy with other things! To be fair, it also took me a while before I "got" what Takahashi was trying to do -- I was stuck on making the cute, super-pop kind of gaming t-shirts he didn't really like, but he was trying to be both fashionable and connected to the Katamari world. So, there was some back-and-forth there. But amazingly, there was no corporate input into the designs at all -- they gave Takahashi total free reign. There was an official licensing guy on the corporate end to make sure, you know, the copyright was in the correct place, the contract looked good, etc. But it was Takahashi's show, which was wonderful.

What was the Panic philosophy on videogame t-shirt design? What do you like or dislike about what else is currently available?

Videogame shirts, in mainstream America at least, are terrible. There are a few positive examples to the contrary, but they're rare. I think there's a bit of growing up that has to be done there, people need to realize that it's not just 15 year old boys who truly love playing video games anymore. You've got adult gamers -- why does that always sound so awkward? -- people who are acutely aware of good design, people who are fashionable, huge groups of people who love off-beat cult games and not just jockathon sports games, people who love the games they grew up with. It seems an obvious combination.

The nostalgic ones really kill me, because you could do so much. I don't understand how you can take something we all love -- say, Zelda -- put some awesome pixelated Zelda imagery on a shirt, and then sit back and go, "You know what? Something's not right. This shirt needs COMEDY! Let's make it say 'DON'T MAKE ME GET ALL ZELDA ON YOU!'. Wow, now THAT'S a shirt!".

No shirt in the history of time has ever made anyone smart laugh. You didn't need the clever slogan. The images speak for themselves, even as amazing conversation starters -- "Hey, is that the magic whistle from Zelda? Remember that awesome music it played?"

Maybe subtle gaming tie-in is a tough sell, but I'm certain there's a crowd for it. We'll see with these Katamari shrts, I guess!

What's next? Will you be working with Namco on non-Katamari properties or future Katamari games?

Great question. We're definitely going to keep in contact with Namco. If these shirts do well, maybe there might even be a "Series 2" -- I'd love to see that happen. While this is really just an experiment for us -- licensed shirts! -- we'll go where the awesome winds may take us. :)