The licensing program for Hearst Entertainment’s nationally syndicated comic strip Free For All has received a boost thanks to a deal with NBC to produce a prime-time animated series. Free For All follows the lives of a wealthy wheeler-dealer and his friend.
Hearst Entertainment has also launched two new comic-strip-based property licensing programs. The first is based on Buckles, a comic strip following the adventures of a mischievous mutt of the same name, and the second is based on King Features Syndicate comic strip Zits, which chronicles the teen angst of 15-year-old Jeremy.
Former Turner Home Entertainment executive Carol Postal has teamed up with Caroline Mickler, an ex-PolyGram Licensing International managing director, to launch a new licensing company. The company, called COPCO International Ltd., will specialize in offering a bridge between licensers and retailers.
London-based Link Entertainment has teamed up with Scholastic to flood the U.K. market with the popular Animorphs property. Licensing arrangements are in the works for both apparel and accessories, with an estimated 20 licensees already signed before the licensing show. The popular TV program based on K.A. Applegate’s best-selling book series is also poised to hit U.K. networks BBC1 and Nickelodeon UK later this year.
ITV has signed a licensing agreement with David Halsall to make plush, beanies and preschool toys following ITV’s decision to commission 26 more episodes of the Teddybears series from Link Entertainment and United Productions. Other new agreements have been inked with Downpace, which will produce gift boxes, mugs, badges, key rings and novelty slippers, and Tex UK for production of towels and bed linen.
HIT Entertainment recently scored global licensing rights to animated preschool series Kipper. Replacing prior rights-holder Copyrights America, HIT now holds the TV, video, and licensing rights for the award-winning children’s property.
HIT is backing the Kipper launch with an extensive marketing and advertising campaign. The Kipper licensing program is being introduced to potential licensees in July, and merchandise is expected to be out by next spring. U.S. customers will be able to see the goods earlier, by the end of 1999.
In other HIT news, three new licensing agents have been picked to represent its entertainment properties. Australia will be handled by Gaffney International Licensing, V.I.P. will take on duties in France, and Finland’s licensing will be handled by Pro Licensing Nordic. HIT Consumer Products has also appointed CTM Concept-TV and Merchandising to assume licensing for entertainment properties in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
Bradford Licensing Associates has brokered new deals for Pepsi, Kawasaki and PEZ.
The Arch Corporation of Branchville, New Jersey, and Microtrain Lines of Talent, Oregon, have been signed for Pepsi and Pepsi Cola International. Arch will produce die-cast biplanes and vehicles for distribution in the U.S., Canada, Australia and Hong Kong. Microtrain will manufacture N-scale model trains for sale in several countries.
Kawasaki has hooked up with Accolade, of San Jose, California to produce a new title called Test Drive Cycles for game systems to be distributed in the U.S. only. Chi Hong Toy Factory of Macau is set to produce die-cast motorcycles, also in the U.S.
Bradford has signed on five new licensees for PEZ Candy. Among those are Bazumba Toys of Burlingame, California to produce PEZ Puzzle Time stickers, dominoes, erasers, inflatables, jewelry, super balls and bookmarks. Acme Studios of Kulo, Hawaii will make roller ball pens, fountain pens, and collectible pins for the U.S. only. Clown Alley Products of Cincinnati, Ohio will be creating PEZ Halloween costumes for distribution in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Funko of Skonomish, Washington will produce nodders, tattoos and beanbag plush for sale in the U.S. only.
MGA Entertainment has signed a licensing agreement with The California Milk Processor Board to produce a line of `Got Milk?’ handheld and keychain LCD electronic games next year. The toys will be based on the `Got Milk?’ Internet maze game, where players wind their way through a maze in search of the thirst-quenching substance and other goodies.
Briarpatch has obtained rights to develop two board games and a sports-themed card game based on the Berenstain Bears series of children’s books. The games will be introduced at International Toy Fair 2000 in New York.
Preschool series Little Bear is one of several new licenses added to Cadaco’s game and activity product offerings for this year. Cadaco’s new licenses include a Little Bear Adventure Game, Little Bear Make-A-Match Game, and Little Bear’s Leap Frog Game. Cadaco is also producing new product lines for Paddington Bear, Kipper and Spot.
Nova goes nova
A preliminary licensing agreement has been inked between Trendmasters and Callaway & Kirk Company to produce children’s toy products based on Nova’s Ark, a Scholastic Press/Callaway book by David Kirk. Nova’s Ark tells the story of an adventurous robot boy named Nova who saves the world through the creative power of toys. Additional Nova’s Ark books are on the way, with the next installment, Nova and Elix, to be released by spring 2000. Callaway expects to release a Nova’s Ark book every six months thereafter. Kirk is also author of the Miss Spider children’s books.
Trendmasters will produce toy figurines, interactive items, banks, play and activity sets, hand-held electronics, animated pens, animated key chains and animated watches between 2000 and 2002. A computer-animated film is also planned. At press time, the studio and release date had not been announced.