Special Report: Toy Fair Roundup

Toy Biz, the lead toy licensee for Jim Henson Productions, is showcasing 12 and 15-inch Miss Piggy and Kermit costumed plush dolls and a battery operated tabletop pinball game to coincide with the launch of the new muppet feature film, Muppet...
February 1, 1996

Toy Biz, the lead toy licensee for Jim Henson Productions, is showcasing 12 and 15-inch Miss Piggy and Kermit costumed plush dolls and a battery operated tabletop pinball game to coincide with the launch of the new muppet feature film, Muppet Treasure Island. The film, an adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, stars the usual Muppet cast along with Tim Curry as the notorious pirate Long John Silver.

To herald in two new Jim Henson Productions television shows Toy Biz is introducing toy collections for each. Muppets On Air is a series that g’es behind the scenes of a busy TV studio. The second show, Aliens in the Family, combines live action, animatronics and puppetry to tell the story of an unusual family with a human dad, an alien mom and the unique offspring. Both shows are set to premiere on ABC in the spring of ’96. Toy biz is also introducing a new ‘Muppet Babies’ collection which includes soft activity dolls and books.

Hasbro Toy Group/Kenner Products internationally launched a new Princess Gwenevere and The Jewel Riders line consisting of six 6 1/2-inch action figures, three ‘Jewel Adventure Deluxe Dolls’ and ‘Deluxe Jewel Adventure Animals.’ In the fall of 1996, Hasbro plans to reintroduce revamped versions of the action figures as well as new characters from the animated series. Hasbro Toy Group/Kenner Products has slated a multi-million dollar television campaign supporting the toy line to air this month. Princess Gwenevere and The Jewel Riders, a New Frontier Entertainment production and distributed by Bohbot Entertainment, debuted in the U. S. last September under the Amazin’ Adventures brand. The show has U.S. coverage of 80 percent and airs on 106 stations.

Skysurfer Strike Force, Bohbot’s lead boy-targeted licensed property, which also airs as part of Bohbot’s Amazin’ Adventures Sunday weekend block, is hitting the toy market with a line from Bandai America due out this spring. The line includes five posable four-inch figures of the Skysurfer her’es and their skyboard vehicles, child-sized digitran wrist communicators with pop-up wings, and five pull-back vehicles with miniature action figures. Other licensed products include footwear from Foot-Tec Industries, children’s underwear from Fruit of the Loom, and stickers from Baio & Company USA. Bohbot is still looking for licensees in the apparel, accessory, back-to-school, and publishing categories.

DIC Entertainment along with its master toy licensor, Bandai, will also have a presence at the fair, promoting Sailor Moon product. DIC is also looking for licensing partners for the new animated show Tex Avery Theater.

From the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) action figures, playsets and an electronic microphone are being showcased by Jakks Inc. Playco Products is bringing 12-inch figures as well as 24-inch bendable figures, and Tiger Electronics debuts WWF hand-held electronic games.

Among the licensed products being touted at the Toy Fair by Happiness Express, are lines for the kids show Aaah! Real Monsters, including mugs, tattoos, stickers, straws and battery-operated toothbrushes. The company marks its first foray into the back-to-school market in the fall of 1996 with a line of stationery and accessories based on the Goosebumps series. In September 1996, a line of soft toys is planned for girls aged three years and up by Happiness Express as a spin-off of the series Pillow People.

Playskool, Mattel and Hasbro have partnered with Nickelodeon for a wide range of toys. For the Nick Jr. children’s block, Playskool’s line-up includes ‘Find a Face Shape Sorter’ featuring Face the host of Nick Jr.; ‘Alpha Build’ sets, a learning tool for pre-schoolers; as well as ‘Wonder Cube’ and ‘Make an Instrument.’ For Nickelodeon’s Gullah Gullah Island show Playskool has developed the ‘Bathtub Binyah,’ a soft, water toy, and the ‘Binyah Plush,’ a soft posable 17-inch plush doll.

Nickelodeon branded products by Mattel include new scents for the popular ‘Smell My Gak’ as well as ‘Gak-in-the-Dark,’ the moldable ‘Megga Bump Floam,’ ‘Floam Jewelry Maker,’ ‘Floam Color Press,’ and ‘Floam Mask Maker.’ Hasbro US Toy Group brings the ‘Dizzy Dodge Ball’ a dodge ball with bungie cords based on the the American Gladiator-style show for kids, Guts.

elvana Marketing has slated Toy Fair ’96 for the product merchandising launch of a number of its properties. The Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series marks a move for Nelvana into the live-action arena. Both Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys, based on series created almost 70 years ago, have been transformed into modern day sleuths. The nineties Nancy is a independent 20-year-old who races around in a vintage Mustang convertible solving mysteries while The Hardy Boys adventures take place in the urban jungle.

Another Nelvana property waiting for this year’s Toy Fair for the product merchandising launch is, The Neverending Story. The 26 animated half hour episodes, based on the classic novel of the same name, features dragons, trolls, gnomes and other magical characters living in a world called Fantasia. Other licenses Nelvana has set for product merchandising launches at the Toy Fair include Blazing Dragons and Stinkin’ Around. Blazing Dragons, commissioned by Britain’s ITV Network and created by award-winning children’s book author and former Monty Python alumnus, Terry Jones, takes a spin on the old tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table by telling it from the point of the dragons.

tickin’ Around, created by Robin Steele and Brianne Leary, is a look at the wild world of 8-year-old Stacy Stickler and her best friend, Bradley, as they sketch stick figures against a background of crayon, paste and photocallage. The animated show combines traditional animation techniques with computer imaging technology.

In the spring of 1996, Nelvana is starting full production on the animated feature-length film Pippi Longstocking, and is also using this year’s Toy Fair for the product merchandising launch.

Other licensing opportunities for Nelvana properties include: Rupert with 52 half hour episodes. The show, produced and distributed by Nelvana, is licensed for television and video in over 90 countries; and Little Bear, the story of a young bear cub as he ventures out into the world, based on a 1957 book published by HarperCollins. The show is currently airing on Nickelodeon.

The Licensing Forum has reached an agreement with Kookanooga Toons for licensing and merchandising product for the animated series Monster Mania. Action figures, electronic games, playsets, apparel, toys and games, gifts and stationery, and a line of Halloween products are in the works for this show which follows the adventures of a young boy and the monsters in his closet.

BBC Worldwide America, the U.K.-based producer and distributor, is bringing the combination animated and live-action series Madison’s Adventures-Growing Up Wild to the Toy Fair for its product merchandising launch. The show, entering its third season this fall, explores the lives of young animals worldwide on 35 mm film as they interact with other wild life. Madison, an animated cat, and his animated animal buddies are featured in between the live-action segments.

Gaumont Multimedia, a subsidiary of French producer Gaumont and established last year, specializes in animation production, interactive, merchandising and licensing and CD-ROM design. It is announcing the international product merchandising launch of three properties at Toy Fair SkyDancers, Dragonflyz and Home To Rent. SkyDancers, produced by Abrams/Gentile Entertainment, has licensing partnerships with Galoob Toys for the SkyDancer action doll, Milton Bradley for game boards, The Software Company for clothing, and James River Corporation for party goods. Dragonflyz, also produced by Abrams/Gentile, will have a new action figure toy line for U.S. release this spring.

Playmates Toys have been awarded the master toy license and Live Entertainment the worldwide video rights for Flash Gordon-The Animated Series by Hearst Entertainment in preparation for its fall premiere. Hearst Entertainment is also developing a live-action Flash Gordon feature film set for release in the summer of ’97.

Bandai America is using Toy Fair to unveil another new line of action figures and accessories for the 4Kids Entertainment martial arts program WMAC (World Martial Arts Council) Masters. Bandai’s toy line for the show includes six-inch action figures, a child-sized Dragon belt (the shows ultimate martial arts award), and other accessories. WMAC Masters, which debuted last September, brings masters of Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Judo, Kickboxing and other martial arts techniques together to fight against one another in an attempt to win the Dragon Belt. 4Kids is the exclusive worldwide licensor (under the name Leisure Concepts), producer (in association with Renaissance Atlantic Films), and syndicator (handled by its subsidiary, Summit Media Group).

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