For licensees, there is a major advantage to creating licensed merchandise based on a well-known toy-longevity. ‘We have quite a few licenses, from Dragonball Z to WCW. With these kinds of entertainment brands, if they last three or four months, it’s considered a good run,’ says Brian Dubinsky, president of California toyco Manley Toy Quest, which recently signed separate licensing agreements to produce Tonka and G.I. Joe role-play sets and accessories. ‘With Tonka, it’s been around so long, it’s a proven brand.’
Dane Chapin, president and CEO of USAopoly, which has been producing and selling special edition Monopoly games to the specialty market since 1994, concurs. ‘The consumer affection for the Monopoly brand in the games area is unparalleled. We felt tying in to such a license, we’d have better success getting our games into retail and better success at the consumer level,’ says Chapin. And how. Since 1994, USAopoly has sold over three million units of its Monopoly titles, which include editions based on U.S. cities and colleges, as well entertainment properties like Star Trek: The Next Generation. Some of USA’s titles, such as Monopoly Jr. Diggin’ Dinos and Nascar Monopoly, have performed so well in the specialty market that the company has since sub-licensed the games back to Hasbro to sell at mass.
The enduring appeal of toy brands shows no signs of tapering off either. The latest indexed Q scores from Manhasset, New York-based Market Evaluations show Hot Wheels and Tonka Trucks rated 85% and 47% higher than the average toy property among boys ages six to 11 respectively. For girls in the same age range, Barbie towers 104% above the average doll property. In games, Monopoly scored 57% higher than the average game for boys and 24% higher than the average for girls ages six to 11.
Not surprisingly, the staying power of toy brands versus the quick burn of children’s entertainment properties also makes any licensed toy extensions attractive to retailers. ‘They’re proven crowd pleasers,’ says David Leibowitz, a toy industry analyst at New York-based Burnham Securities. Barbie has been around for 40 years, he adds, which is a lot longer than most TV characters have.