Sony Wonder and Sunbow Entertainment are attending Licensing Show as exhibitors for the first time. Following Sony Wonder’s acquisition of Sunbow last year, the two companies are looking to communicate that their licensing activities are integrated under recently appointed Glenn R. Hendricks, VP of licensing and merchandising for both companies, and that they’re entering licensing for the long haul. Hendricks is premiering three Sony Wonder properties at Licensing Show: Lion of Oz, a 75-minute animated prequel to The Wizard of Oz that tells the tale of how the lion lost his courage, produced with Montreal-based Ciné-Groupe; the Enchanted Tales series of nearly 20 animated family videos; and Angel Wings, a 13 x 11-minute animated series of inspirational programming for kids ages three to eight that is in production. For Sunbow, the spotlight is on the animated series Brothers Flub, a co-pro with Germany’s RTV Family Entertainment AG and VIDEAL, the animated preschool series Salty’s Lighthouse and the new animated series Molly O!, starring an eight-year-old girl who becomes a global pop sensation. Twenty-six half-hours of Molly O! are being co-produced with RTV and Wang Film in Taipei, Taiwan. Hendricks is looking to sign on licensees for domestic programs and licensing agents to oversee programs in foreign territories, depending on which licensing rights Sunbow or Sony Wonder own.
Harvey Entertainment’s recent purchase (see KidScreen’s May 1999 issue, ‘New honchos helm Harvey,’ page 13) has spurred a rejuvenation of existing programs and new licensing initiatives, says Stefanie Tier Friedman, director of domestic licensing and consumer products. ‘The new management wants to grow the business like crazy,’ notes Friedman.
Harvey’s booth will be split, one side featuring product lines surrounding Harvey’s classic characters, including Casper the Friendly Ghost, Richie Rich, Baby Huey and Wendy the Good Witch; and one side devoted to the new teen apparel line Hot Stuff. A new tin signs line will be featured. Adult- and teen-oriented product includes T-shirt lines for Herman and Catnip and Bunny. launch of the new Junior girls brand, the Casper movie sequel from Universal/Amblin for the year 2001 will spur a bigger presence for Harvey, says Friedman.
Disney spotlights Tarzan and Toy Story 2
Disney will not have a booth and will have no formal presence at Licensing Show, but will meet with attendees to present comprehensive programs for summer release Tarzan and fourth-quarter release Toy Story 2. Kid-targeted product will be available in all categories for the two features, including toys and school supplies. Master toy licensee Mattel will reveal a Tarzan and Jane fashion doll line and interactive toys for Toy Story 2. A more focused program will surround the summer release Inspector Gadget. Targeting baby-boomer adults familiar with the original TV series, as well as kids, the program will feature a limited line of toys, games, apparel and gifts.
Preschool block heads into licensing for itsy bitsy
The itsy bitsy Entertainment Company is coming to Licensing Show with its new It’s itsy bitsy Time! preschool block, Teletubbies and Noddy. The company is looking to bring on a master toy licensee for all properties within the preschool block, which to date include The Animal Shelf and Tom and Vicky. It is also negotiating with a publisher to produce a series for the block under the imprint of It’s itsy bitsy Time! or The itsy bitsy Publishing Company. Kenn Viselman, president and CEO of The itsy bitsy Entertainment Company, says the company is exploring a traditional licensing arrangement with a publisher or taking a greater risk in a publishing venture. The company would also like to use the umbrella of It’s itsy bitsy Time! for video.
For Teletubbies, the focus for the coming year will be new innovations in products, as well as products for babies. Among the products will be apparel with sound chips on the surface that respond to touch from Children’s Apparel Network for the fall and glow-in-the-dark and tie-dye clothing from Changes for spring 2000. A follow-up to Hasbro’s Talking Teletubby is also planned.
Noddy, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, has signed on its first licensees in Canada: Jay-Gur International for apparel, backpacks and other accessories and Little Princess Children’s Wear for sleepwear for holiday ’99, Midway Industries for rainwear, hats and caps for spring 2000 and Trends International for a poster and millennium calendar.
Scholastic continues branding efforts
Scholastic Entertainment has signed with Kmart and some independent retailers to carry its Scholastic-branded school uniforms from M. Hidary & Co. in 100 U.S. markets beginning in July, and is looking to extend its brand to school supplies, stationery and arts and crafts kits.
Animorphs will see a bigger product rollout from the property’s roughly 20 licensees in the fall to coincide with the launch of the show’s second season on Nickelodeon, including additional figures from master toy licensee Hasbro, videos three and four in the Invasion series from Columbia TriStar, a game and puzzle from Milton Bradley for holiday `99 and Sony PlayStation and CD-ROM titles from GT Interactive for spring 2000. Taco Bell will kick off a promotion in early September.
Natural Science Industries has just signed on to produce adventure kits, to launch in August, for Scholastic’s The Magic School Bus. Scholastic is in discussions with specialty retailers to create an exclusive home for the property’s products.
Also in Scholastic’s stable of properties are Clifford The Big Red Dog; Real Mother Goose, with plush products from Scholastic’s Sidekicks branching into gift, specialty and other upstairs retailers after being offered in Scholastic’s proprietary channels such as book clubs; and Dear America, with collectible dolls from Madame Alexander.