Big Tent goes on a State-side walkabout with The Koala Brothers
New York’s Big Tent Entertainment has landed U.S. merch rights to preschool series The Koala Brothers, the first project from London’s Spellbound Entertainment. Big Tent is looking for partners in publishing, toys and interactive, and the licensing program should coincide with the show’s debut on Playhouse Disney in fall 2004. The series has also been sold to the BBC (the U.K.), TV Ontario (Canada), the ABC (Australia) and Super RTL (Germany), and Hasbro has signed on as international master toy licensee.
Peanuts and Miffy get new agents abroad
United Media has announced a roster of new Peanuts and Miffy agents: Exim Licensing Group, which nabs rights to Peanuts in Latin America (except Brazil/Argentina); Black & White Licensing (Peanuts in Greece); and Licensing & Promotions (Miffy in Mexico).
MGA’s Bratz poised for Brit blitz
The Licensing Company has signed on as the fashion doll phenom’s licensing agent in the U.K. TLC is developing a lifestyle program for tween girls that encompasses publishing, interactive, apparel and stationery. Bandai launched the toys in Britain last year, and they racked up US$16.4 million in 2002 revenue. Bratz is on track to nab a 30% share of the U.K. fashion doll market this year.
Fox talks up the merch opps for Robots
Fox L&M is preparing a merch program of blockbuster proportions for its newest CGI flick Robots, from the makers of Ice Age (Blue Sky Studios). The company is seeking partners in all categories, including toys, apparel, collectibles and novelty. Set to bow in spring 2005, the film features an aspiring robot inventor who leaves Robot City to pursue his dreams.
Toy Play taps into retro Rainbow Brite
Recently formed by The Betesh Group, New York-based Toy Play takes on the master toy mantle in a new deal with Hallmark Cards for its Rainbow Brite property. Toy Play’s line of playsets, craft sets, inflatables, décor and lighting products is slated to launch in Q3. For those not up on their ’80s pop culture, Rainbow Brite was a girl-targeted animated series that debuted in 1983 and is best-remembered as the hit doll of 1984.
Nickelodeon tunes in to Emerson Radio
Nick has signed a multi-year deal with Parsippany, New Jersey-based electronics manufacturer Emerson Radio for a line of portable audio and TV products based on its stable of properties. The initial range, due out this fall, will focus on SpongeBob SquarePants, with the rest of the Nick character cast joining the lineup in 2004.
Sesame Street’s arts and craft line brought to you by the letter ‘E’
In a deal that marks its first-ever preschool license, Elmer’s Products will introduce an arts and crafts range – Sesame Street Art Starts – late this month. Based on characters from the perennial preschool TV series, the initial assortment will include jumbo crayons, glue sticks, washable finger paints, water colors and a Monster art smock. Parenting tips and activity fold-outs covering topics like color-mixing will be included with each package, and creative activity sets will follow this fall.
Art Impressions designs So Girly! merch program
Canoga Park, California-based agency Art Impressions has announced its starting lineup of licensing partners for tween girl property So Girly! They include Blue Mountain Wallcoverings, Colorbok (crafts), Creative Imaginations (crafts), Cranston/VIP (home sewing fabrics), Dan River (bedding), Mohawk (rugs, throws, wall hangings), Silvestri (giftware) and Sweet Wrapsody (overwrapped Nestle Crunch bars). The So Girly! brand stems from a sticker line released by scrapbooking company me & my BiG ideas (Mambi) last January that exceeded projections by 200% and lifted up the company’s retail sales to over US$30 million. Mambi partnered with Art Impressions, and the two companies enlisted the help of a psychologist to develop eight girl characters – Avery, Brooke, Chloe, Destiny, Jade, Jessie, Kendra and MacKenzie.
The Sharpe Company hones its preschool portfolio
L.A. licensing agency The Sharpe Company recently padded its rep roster with two up-and-coming preschool properties. The agency will represent Decode Entertainment’s 3-D series The Save-Ums! worldwide (excluding the Americas). To date, The Sharpe Company has closed sub-agent agreements with Plus Licens (Scandinavia), Super RTL (Germany, Austria and Switzerland) and CPLG (the U.K., France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Benelux), with deals in Australia and New Zealand pending at press time.
Sharpe has also retained licensing and merchandising rights – including audio and video entertainment – to 3-D animated musical show Wheels on the Bus (Winchester Entertainment) in North America and Mexico. Marking its preschool toy market debut, Funrise Toy Corporation has been granted the U.S. toy license for Wheels on the Bus vehicles, playsets and ride-ons.
The Brazilian licensing market gets a dual-effort boost
As part of a regional business strategy that has seen 14 new offices open up in 14 different countries, Exim Licensing Group has entered into an alliance with Character Licensing Brazil. The two companies will consolidate operations and services to offer clients and business partners a strong portfolio of characters and brands in Brazil. Exim has represented international licensing phenomenons like Bananas in Pyjamas, Pokémon and Spider-Man: The Movie, while Character counts kids powerhouse Nickelodeon among its clients.
The Wildflower Group will rep Betty Spaghetty in North America
New York-based agency The Wildflower Group has partnered with Betty Spaghetty rights owner The Ohio Art Company (EtchASketch) and worldwide agent Plus Licens to represent the brand in North America. Wildflower will leverage the mix-and-match fashion doll’s popularity in the toy aisle into a range of lifestyle product, including licensed doll accessories, home décor and children’s apparel.
Maurice Sendak’s Wild Things comes to USCPG
Universal Studios Consumer Products Group has secured worldwide classic licensing, merchandising and promotional rights to 40-year-old children’s book Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (Little Bear). At press time, opportunities were available across all categories, including toys, apparel, gifts, health and beauty aids, accessories, interactive games, collectibles, home furnishings, food & beverage, stationery, wireless communication devices and accessories. USCPG’s style guide (borrowing from the classic book’s style) will include art based on main character Max and six of the Wild Things, as well as patterns, borders, patches, graphics and packaging designs. Where the Wild Things Are has sold more than 7.5 million copies and has been translated into 15 languages since its first print run in 1963.
Winx gets set to weave worldwide merch and TV magic
The partners behind tween girl animated series Winx have announced their starting lineup of licensees covering Italy and Germany: Giochi Preziosi (toys), PlayPress (publishing), Panini (stickers), Carlsen (publishing) and Universal (audio/video). Product is slated to debut in 2004.
This comes on the heels of an announcement that 4Kids Entertainment has picked up licensing, merchandising and distribution rights to the series in English-speaking territories. The partners will be seeking additional sub-agents for the rest of Europe and Latin America at Licensing Show this month.
A co-pro between Italian prodco Rainbow and RAI Fiction (in association with German agency CTM Concept & Merchandising), the series follows the adventures of the young pupils of three schools – Alfea College for aspiring fairies, Cloud Tower College for young witches and Red Fountain College for training boys as specialized fighters.
Bliss House gets happy with Harry the Dirty Dog
HarperCollins’ classic book Harry the Dirty Dog (by Gene Zion) has set up digs at Longmeadow, Massachusetts-based licensing agency Bliss House, which has also nabbed the rights to three other Harry titles. This marks the first time rights owner and illustrator Margaret Bloy Graham has contemplated a full merch line for the canine franchise. New York-based toyco Yottoy released a Harry plush SKU last Christmas and won the 2002-2003 Baby Zone Amazing Awards’ Best of Category Award for book and toy. At press time, Bliss House was in discussions with potential partners in nostalgic toy, craft and gift items to market to specialty retailers.