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Toy Play and Hallmark revive retro brand Rainbow Brite

The '80s seem to be an endless well of inspiration and revitalization opportunities. But among the most promising old-is-new contenders is girls property Rainbow Brite, which made a shining comeback at Licensing Show in June.
August 1, 2003

The ’80s seem to be an endless well of inspiration and revitalization opportunities. But among the most promising old-is-new contenders is girls property Rainbow Brite, which made a shining comeback at Licensing Show in June.

Best remembered as the doll of 1984, the Hallmark Cards-owned brand was launched as an animated series in 1983, and generated US$1 billion in sales of dolls and licensed merch in the ’80s.

That convinced Betesh Group-owned toyco Toy Play to sign on as master toy licensee. The New York-based company will release a line of toys (including dolls and plush) in Q3, with TV-promoted product slated for 2004 – in time to celebrate the property’s 20th anniversary. Other licensees include Children’s Apparel Network, Franco Manufacturing (bedding), American Marketing Enterprises (sleepwear) and Disguise (costumes).

Hallmark decided to revive the property because its messages – the importance of keeping the world bright, doing good deeds and staying happy – should resonate with today’s kids (and nostalgic moms). The brand addresses recent retailer requests for more preschool girls properties and it has established itself as a hot tween graphic property with aspirational value. A Rainbow Brite range has been selling at tween retailer Hot Topic since 1999, and the line’s annual wholesale sales consistently meet or exceed seven digits.

Similar girl-targeted retro properties have enjoyed success this year, which bodes well for the many-hued brand. American Greetings properties The Care Bears and Strawberry Shortcake occupied the number-five and number-nine spots on the NPD Group’s top-10 licensed toy chart for April 2003. The Care Bears also placed 10th on the top-10 toy licenses list from January to April 2003, and Strawberry Shortcake jumped up NPD’s chart of best-selling licensed properties from 144th in Q4 2002 to 25th in Q1 2003.

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