NASCAR high chairs hit high gear
At first blush, juvenile products may appear to be the unlikeliest category for NASCAR to attach its name to, but with the North American TV debut of kids show NASCAR Racers on Fox last month, the racing league is betting the barely cognitive set will be positively psyched about buckling up in a NASCAR-branded stroller or high chair. NASCAR has inked a multiyear deal with Cosco, an Indiana-based juvenile furniture producer, to create these and other infant items, including playpens, folding tables and chairs that bear the NASCAR name and logo. The merch costs under US$100 and will hit mass and department stores in the summer. Last year, Cosco signed separate licensing agreements with NASCAR drivers Dale Earnhardt and Mark Martin to produce similar items, which it began shipping to stores in January.
In an unrelated deal, NASCAR driver Ernie Irvan has licensed model car producer Action Performance to make a range of die-cast replica cars modeled after the vehicles the championship racer has driven in his 13-year racing career. The five-year deal will see Action produce a series of 10 Irvan autos initially, which it will sell on its site at www.goracing.com and at mass and specialty retailers across North America.
Wizards gives MLB the Pokémon treatment
You know the Pokémon behemoth has achieved a new level of cultural dominance when its tentacles infiltrate the tradition-obsessed world of baseball cards. Major League Baseball and the MLB Players’ Association have signed a multiyear deal with TCG producer Wizards of the Coast, allowing it to create a line of baseball cards that grafts the elements of its popular Pokémon line onto the baseball diamond. As with Wizards’ Pokémon cards, the object for players of MLB Showdown 2000 is to collect as many cards as possible, so they can compete against another opponent’s set or team. Each card will sport the pic of a real MLB star and will be assigned special abilities or powers based on a player’s actual performance during the `99 season. Kids can use their knowledge of baseball strategy to pit certain pitchers against hitters, substitute pinch runners, or call for a stolen base, and just like real baseball, they can also trade their players to improve their lineups. Wizards will release MLB Showdown 2000 Starter Sets (US$9.99 each) containing two cards, and booster packs (US$2.99 each) containing nine cards, to stores on April 27. Wizards and MLB will support the products at retail with in-store appearances from MLB athletes starting in April. Additionally, this spring, Wizards plans to establish leagues across the U.S., similar to its Pokémon tournaments, so that kids can play Showdown against one another.