News

KidScreen’s Virtual Showroom

Even as the licensing industry appears to be rising from the economic doldrums of the past couple of years, licensees - arguably most affected by the downturn - are still looking at new properties with wary eyes.
June 1, 2003

Even as the licensing industry appears to be rising from the economic doldrums of the past couple of years, licensees – arguably most affected by the downturn – are still looking at new properties with wary eyes.

This once-bitten, twice-shy attitude manifested itself in responses to our third-annual pre-Licensing Show Virtual Showroom poll. While in past years, property assessments came in with a strong mix of high and low potential ratings, this year’s e-pollsters cast a far more critical eye on our five Showroom properties.

Licensors shouldn’t be discouraged, however, since many respondents appended their lower ratings by saying they would wait and see how the property performs in its core medium before getting excited.

Boys (71%) were still voted the most underserved gender for licensable properties in the areas of brands (42%), TV (25%), film (16.5%) and publishing (16.5%). But a sizeable portion of our pollsters (29%) are still hankering after a girl property that could take on Barbie in the three to seven arena. Read on for a full dossier of pre-market intelligence, property by property.

Cosy Corner

Licensor: France Animation

Territory of origin:France

Description: An animated series (52 x 6.5 minutes or 13 x 26 minutes) produced by Storimages in association with France 5, Teletoon and Teva. TV rights have been sold to TFO in Canada, with strong broadcast interest from Italy, Scandinavia, Korea, Japan and the U.S. Video distribution in France will be handled by Universal.

Concept: Tree-dwelling creatures Stella, Victor, Marius, Louis, Nini, Jacky and Margot have adopted Cosy Corner as their playground, each building a treehouse matching his or her personality. It may not always be easy sharing a branch with such diverse neighbors, but each of these friends finds his or her own niche as they muddle their way through the game of life.

Demo: Kids ages four to eight

Domestic and international categories open: Domestic – all categories open except publishing. International – all categories open.

International territories of interest: Korea, Japan, the U.S., the U.K., Australia, Germany, Scandinavia and Latin America.

For licensing opportunities, contact: France Animation, 33-1-53-35-9090, marty@france-anim.com

At-a-glance temperature read

Overall licensed potential in respondents’ product categories: good (20%), fair (60%), poor (20%)

Similar property already in respondents’ portfolios: yes (80%), no (20%)

Would respondents consider adding Cosy Corner to portfolios: yes (80%), no (20%)

Desired minimum number of eps sold/commissioned: 52

Desired time of day series should air:early-morning block (60%), after-school block (40%)

Desired timing for licensing launch (in relation to series launch): three to six months before (40%), three to six weeks before (20%), three to six months after (40%)

Desired retail channel for merch launch: mid-tier (60%), mass (40%)

Expected royalty range: 8% to 12%

Given the ongoing proliferation of preschool properties in the U.S. and U.K. (where most of this year’s respondents are based), the outlook for Cosy Corner ranged from cautious optimism to skepticism.

‘There are too many preschool properties and not enough retail space for our products,’ says Liz Murphy, director of licensing for U.S. gift and party products manufacturer Amscan. ‘This would really need to take off for us to consider licensing it.’ Murphy believes that Cosy Corner needs a strong toy license – ideally backed by TV advertising – to create awareness for the brand. And for retail, she adds that an equally strong apparel partner is key.

While Andrew Barnett, VP of licensing for apparel manufacturer Evy of California, agrees that apparel is integral to merch programs based on animated series, he believes the category should lead. ‘When starting on TV, it’s much easier and quicker to launch an apparel and accessories line to create excitement,’ he says. ‘Toys, games and videos should follow right behind.’

Most of our State-side respondents felt that PBS, Nick or Kids’ WB! would be the strongest broadcast platforms for the show, with the U.K. segment pointing to CiTV, CBBC, Cbeebies and GMTV.

But some Brit panelists indicated that even with TV support, Cosy Corner wouldn’t merit a hefty licensing program in the U.K. market. ‘I feel that it does not look significantly different or exciting enough from the plethora of early preschool properties, and therefore it might only make it in key categories like publishing, video games, software and toys,’ says Pauline Howarth, licensing director for confectionery manufacturer Bon Bon Buddies.

Pororo the Little penguin

Licensor: Iconix Entertainment

Territory of origin: Korea

Description: A 52 x five-minute co-pro (currently in production) from Iconix, Ocon, Hanaro Telecom and pubcaster EBS TV, Pororo the Little Penguin is a 3-D CGI educational series for older preschoolers. The curriculum is based on four universal themes – playing, discovering, experiencing and exploring – but the story is not developed in a didactic way. Character dialogue is minimal, and the visual presentation is paramount, which should also help to boost the show’s chances for international travel.

Concept: Pororo and his friends – Poby the warm-hearted polar bear, Eddy the big-mouth fox, Loopy the do-gooder beaver, and Crong the baby dinosaur – live in cozy little houses near a frozen lake in a mountainous forest village blanketed in ice and snow. In the first play-themed episode, Pororo finds an egg that he thinks will make a tasty meal. But the egg hatches to reveal Crong, who becomes friends with Pororo after a comical misadventure that finds the penguin and his pals rolling down a hill into a snow bank.

Demo: Kids ages four to seven

Domestic and international categories open: All

International territories of interest: All

Proposed international agents: TBD

For licensing opportunities, contact: Wonjung Kim, sales manager, wjkim@iconix.co.kr, 82-2-513-1657

At-a-glance temperature read

Overall licensed potential in respondents’ product categories: fair (67%), poor (33%)

Similar property already in respondents’ portfolios: yes

Would respondents consider adding Pororo to portfolios: yes (67%), no (33%)

Desired minimum number of eps sold/commissioned: 26

Desired time of day series should air: early-morning block (67%), after-school block (33%)

Desired timing for licensing launch (in relation to series launch): three to six months after

Desired retail channel for merch launch: mid-tier (33%), mass (67%)

Expected royalty range: 8% to 12%

While Bon Bon Buddies licensing director Pauline Howarth indicated that Cosy Corner might have a tough time wrestling share away from key preschool properties in the U.K., she views Pororo in a slightly rosier light. ‘There is a plethora of like products, but this one looks very attractive,’ she says. ‘There is more room for competitive properties in categories’ like publishing, video games, toys & games, novelty & gift and apparel.

As far as a U.K. broadcast scenario goes, Howarth sees Pororo finding its best home in a terrestrial broadcaster’s after-school block. In the U.S., respondents felt that Nick or Disney or would be the ideal fit for this type of programming. But while the concept of ‘older preschool’ has been embraced in the international market, some in the U.S. have yet to buy into it. According to Jim Barber, licensing director for electronics manufacturer LeapFrog, Pororo’s premise skews much younger than the four to seven target set by the producer. So driving the demo down in the U.S. could make the show more palatable to licensees.

Getting a retailer on board to support a U.S. broadcast platform would also turn a few heads. ‘This needs something driving it with retailers and consumers,’ says Marci Gordon, chief marketing officer for accessories manufacturer MZB, adding that selling apparel in at retail might get accessories buyers to consider it.

Silverwing

Licensor: Bardel Entertainment

Territory of origin: Canada

Description: A 2-D/3-D action-adventure series based on the first novel of a children’s book trilogy by Kenneth Oppel that has sold roughly a million copies in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Germany, France, Denmark, Australia and Holland. Bardel is in discussions with the publishers to re-release the trilogy to coincide with the launch of the television series, which will be available for broadcast in fall 2003. Production has already started on the Silverwing website, an on-line quest in which a new game level is unveiled as each of the TV series’ 13 episodes airs. A subsequent 13 episodes based on the second book in the trilogy (Sunwing) are now in development.

Concept: Silverwing is an action-adventure series about bats, birds and beasts set against a backdrop of myth, fantasy and conflict. Shade Silverwing, the story’s hero, is on an epic quest for redemption and identity amidst escalating tensions and the threat of another Great Battle between the Birds and the Beasts.

Demo: Kids ages six to 12

Domestic and international licensees: TBD

Domestic and international categories open: Video/DVD, video games, toys, action figures, trading cards, stickers/tattoos, posters, apparel, publishing, back-to-school products, accessories, confectionery and gifts & novelties.

International territories of interest: All territories

Proposed international agents: TBD

For licensing opportunities, contact: Bardel Entertainment, 604-669-5589

At-a-glance temperature read

Overall licensed potential in respondents’ product categories: fair

Similar property already in respondents’ portfolios: yes (50%), no (50%)

Would respondents consider adding Silverwing to portfolios: yes (50%), no (50%)

Desired minimum number of eps sold/commissioned: 52 (stripped daily)

Desired time of day series should air: after-school block

Desired timing for licensing launch (in relation to series launch): in conjunction with (50%), three to six weeks after (50%)

Desired retail channel for merch launch: mass

Expected royalty range: 8% to 12%

Silverwing respondents (all of whom hail from the U.S.) felt that the property skewed heavily towards boys from a merchandising perspective, thus highlighting toys, video games, publishing and apparel as tent-pole launch categories.

Our panel resoundingly selected Fox and Kids’ WB! as the broadcast platforms of choice for Silverwing. And while they unanimously agreed that the property’s chances of success in the U.S. market were fair, many respondents felt that this would depend upon Bardel signing with a sub-agent that has a strong retail development team.

In the property’s favor: ‘It appears to have many elements that usually work – animals, adventure – so it could tie in to various game platforms,’ says Brett Freeman, VP at hosiery/underwear manufacturer High Point Knitting.

Stunt punx

Licensor: Ellistrations

Territory of origin: U.S.

Description: Extreme sports, urban culture, graffiti life, ghetto style, hip hop and rave rage are all influences on this lifestyle brand and TV toon concept from New Albany, Ohio-based graphic design firm Ellistrations. The company is seeking co-pro partners to develop an animated TV series based upon the Stunt Punx characters, which Ellistrations refers to as ‘atti-toons.’

Concept: Stax is all about pushing the edge, and the same goes for his crew The Stunt Punx. Whether it’s playing extreme sports, tagging their turf or grinding down some hotdogs at the Weenie Wroundup, theses dudes are all about going big or going home. But all of the Stunt Punx know enough to steer clear of the Stunt Chix, hotties that are like kryptonite!

Demo: Tweens

Domestic and international categories open: All. Ellistrations is currently seeking partners worldwide.

International territories of interest: All

Proposed international agents: Ellistrations is currently seeking representation in all international territories.

Proposed international agents: Sub-agent representationdeals will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

For licensing opportunities, contact: Tim Ellis, ellistrations@mindspring.com or 888-297-1029

At-a-glance temperature read

Overall licensed potential in respondents’ product categories: fair

Similar property already in respondents’ portfolios: no

Would respondents consider adding Stunt Punx to portfolios: yes (50%), no (50%)

Desired retail channel for merch launch: mass

Expected royalty range: 8% to 12%

Survey respondents indicated a marked dearth of boy brands in the global market, but it seems that many are still a little hesitant when it comes to graphic brands that have yet to prove themselves in other media. And while Ellistrations is seeking production partners for a Stunt Punx animated series, licensees are waiting for a deal to break before they pass judgement on the property.

In Stunt Punx’s favor is that it targets a demo that would allow Ellistrations to push categories like video games and skateboards first, trickling down to apparel, publishing and toys when a broadcast platform is secured. But, notes George White, VP of marketing for the United States Playing Card Company, ‘this is a tough demographic to crack. We need a property to be a hit in this area; I hope [Ellistrations] can do it.’

While all respondents concurred that Stunt Punx would be a mass-market brand, not all would pursue the edgy gamer/boarder route at the outset. LeapFrog licensing director Jim Garber believes that toys should be the lead category for the property.

Sugar Planet

Licensor: MGA Entertainment

Territory of origin: U.S.

Description: The newest introduction from California-based Bratz creator MGA Entertainment, the Sugar Girls (Arianna, Leela and Flurree) were conceived as a mini doll brand encompassing themed playsets and Best Friend pets.

Concept: MGA is looking to down-age the successful Bratz formula with Sugar Planet. The brand is all about cute looks, but mixes in the fantasy elements favored by younger girls.

Demo: Girls four to eight

Domestic and international categories open: All open.

Program will focus on accessories, apparel, cosmetics, jewelry, bedding, footwear, stationery, games & puzzles, party goods, costumes, publishing and animation.

Proposed international agents: TBD

For licensing opportunities, contact: MGA Entertainment, 818-894-2525

At-a-glance temperature read

Overall licensed potential in respondents’ product categories: excellent (17%), very good (33%), good (17%), poor (33%)

Similar property already in respondents’ portfolios: yes

(33%), no (67%)

Would respondents consider adding Sugar Planet to portfolios: yes (67%), no (33%)

Desired retail channel for merch launch: mid-tier (17%), mass (83%)

Expected royalty range: 8% to 12%

Many respondents believe that MGA’s marketing prowess with Bratz could spell sweet success for Sugar Planet, with a smaller, less vocal faction deeming it a me-too property.

Sugar Planet’s licensed potential is good, provided that ‘the toys take off and the licensor drives it at retail as it did with Bratz,’ says Marci Gordon, chief marketing officer with accessories manufacturer MZB, pegging apparel and toys as the lead categories for the property.

In the U.K., ‘Bratz is doing very well, and this could sell on the back of that success,’ says Pauline Howarth, licensing director for confectionery manufacturer Bon Bon Buddies. ‘I believe the Bratz theory – it has moved kids nicely away from Barbie – and this is very fresh.’ As a hypothetical Sugar Planet licensee, Howarth would look to create seasonal gifting confectionery product, though she notes that toys, video games and apparel should lead the licensing program across the pond.

Indeed, Andrew Barnett, VP of licensing for apparel manufacturer Evy of California, says Sugar Planet has a great look for apparel and ‘all related items that piggyback on it.’ And, as a hypothetical Sugar Planet licensee, he would look to create a full girls apparel line spanning all categories.

But still other licensees, like Alexandra Tart, senior editor at Rizzoli/Universe Publishing in the U.S., feel that the property should move into publishing before expanding beyond the core toy line. As a Sugar Planet licensee, Tart would push the property into calendars and journals.

And one of the biggest market factors in the property’s favor is the lack of competitive product for the target demo. ‘There is a need for a new girls license’ in the U.S., says Barnett. ‘We need something to replace The Powerpuff Girls and something to compete with Hello Kitty and Dora the Explorer.’

About The Author

Menu

Brand Menu