Scholastic moves into the toy aisle
As part of an ongoing effort to distinguish its product offering from other toy retailers, Toys `R’ Us has inked a licensing agreement with pubco Scholastic, allowing it to create toys and other merchandise based on the company’s logo and brand. As per the agreement, TRU will develop products across a range of categories, including developmental learning toys, puzzles, arts and crafts, science kits, school supplies and role-play products.
Toys `R’ Us may also have the opportunity to use Scholastic-owned properties like Clifford and I Spy for promotional uses, though those details are still being worked out, says Tom Emelo, senior product brand manager at Toys `R’ Us.
The first wave of product is scheduled to reach stores for back-to-school 2001 and will be available at all Toys `R’ Us and Imaginarium stores worldwide, as well as on toysrus.com. TRU is creating Scholastic boutiques to house the product. In Imaginarium Stores and locations featuring Imaginarium Shops, the Scholastic merchandise will serve as one of the anchor brands. For Toys `R’ Us, which has also inked exclusive licensing deals in the last year with Home Depot, Osh Kosh, and Discovery Channel’s Animal Planet brand, the partnership with Scholastic, with its strong education and learning focus, will help to buttress TRU’s appeal with parents, says Mike Tabakin, director of licensing, sales promotion and partnership marketing at Toys `R’ Us.
For Scholastic’s part, the deal will give the company another point of entry into the retail marketplace. ‘The majority of our business is done through our book clubs and book fairs, so the [agreement with Toys `R' Us] allows us to extend our brand into another area,’ says Judy Corman, senior VP and head of corporate communications at Scholastic.
Lyrick releases Witzy books
In January, Dallas-based Lyrick Studios will launch Witzy, a new preschool-targeted book series inspired by the duck character from artist Lucy Spafford’s line of greeting cards, Little Suzy’s Zoo. The books, which Spafford is writing and illustrating, will relay the adventures Witzy and his stuffed animal friends encounter in their forest home. Initially, Lyrick will release five titles: Two storybooks (Witzy’s World: Friends Forever and Witzy’s World: Witzy to the Rescue, US$5.99 each); two board books (Witzy’s Colors and Witzy’s Opposites, US$4.99 each) and a tab book featuring bios on each of the characters (Witzy Wonders, US$5.99). In July, Lyrick will follow up with a lift-the-flap A-B-C book (Witzy’s Book of Words, US$9.99).
In support of the Witzy titles, Lyrick will distribute party kits to retailers, featuring instructions on how to hold a half-hour in-store Witzy event, ideas for crafts, coloring sheets, stickers and name tags. Lyrick is also planning to coordinate some cross-promotions with other Little Suzy Zoo licensees, which include Gerber (infant apparel); Prestige Toy (infant plush); and Unimax (dolls and accessories).