BBC Worldwide flexes its agent muscle
With ancillary rights reverting back to U.K. producers under the Ofcom regulations that came into effect this year, BBC Worldwide is working hard to showcase the strength of its third-party licensing services to attract new business. In late September, director of children’s operations Helen McAleer and head of U.K. licensing Richard Hollis announced that the Beeb will be repping DIC’s new tween girl property Trollz in the U.K. Product from worldwide master toy licensee Hasbro will hit British retail in fall 2005, tying into the launch of the animated series on the BBC. Hollis’s primary goal at Brand Licensing is to secure licensees in apparel, accessories, stationery and bags to round out the first phase of the program.
BBC Worldwide has also picked up U.K. licensing rights to Cookie Jar Entertainment’s Mona the Vampire, which has aired on the pubcaster since 2000. Mona’s merch program will target girls six to 10 in the gift market, with an initial product range rolling out in time for Halloween 2005. Hollis wants to concentrate on categories that ‘appeal to young girls at pocket-money prices,’ and he’ll be hunting for partners in stationery, hair accessories, costume jewelry, confectionery, small toys and novelties.
McAleer and Hollis also hope to round out the U.K. program for the Beeb’s new live-action preschool series Tikkabilla. Golden Bear has just been named master toy licensee in the region, and the London-based company will introduce a range based on the show’s lead puppet character Tamba in 2005. Licenses in arts & craft, educational toys, jigsaw puzzles and board games are currently available.
In terms of global business, Tiger Aspect has tapped BBC Worldwide to handle home entertainment and consumer products rights in all territories for Charlie and Lola, which has been commissioned by CBBC. The 26 x 10-minute mixed-media show is based on a book series by Lauren Child about a seven-year-old boy who takes his responsibilities as an older brother to four-year-old Lola very seriously.
Fox makes an icy splash with CGI sequel
Twentieth Century Fox L&M has come on-board as a Brand Licensing sponsor this year in order to build the profile of lead property Ice Age 2, a follow-up to the 2002 CGI hit movie that has grossed more than US$375 million worldwide. Senior retail development manager Miguel de la Rocha is looking to line up regional licensing agents to plan and coordinate merch programs that tie into the sequel’s European theatrical release in March 2006. Fox will likely draw a good number of these partners from an existing roster of licensing and promotions companies that are helping to create a merch splash for Robots, the studio’s lead film property for 2005. But de la Rocha says he’d also like to land local apparel, accessories, back-to-school, stationery and food & beverage licensees.
Hammy Hamster on the comeback path with Celador
Primarily known as the studio that spawned the Who Wants to be a Millionaire format, Celador International is concentrating more of its resources on children’s programming and consumer products these days. Leading off this strategic shift, the company secured the worldwide distribution and licensing rights to Tales of The Riverbank, the rodent-centric live-actioner from the early ’60s that made Hammy Hamster a star. The deal encompasses both the classic series and a 30 x five-minute revamp that’s in the pipeline at London-based Blue Sky Productions for a fall 2005 delivery. Celador’s head of licensing and marketing, Michael Seres, plans to introduce licensees to the property at Brand Licensing with an eye to launching the first wave of product at specialty retail in spring 2006. He’s looking initially for licensees in publishing (story books), apparel (infant through preschool) and toys (plush).
Jetix leads with a broad program for Sonic X
Appearing under its new banner, Jetix Consumer Products will be working against the clock to get product based around ShoPro Entertainment’s Sonic X series on shelves in time for Christmas. Jetix manages worldwide rights to the property outside of North America and Asia, and the company has signed up FEVA as its pan-European master toy licensee. But the line will kick off for the holidays with product from U.S. toy licensee Toy Island. FEVA will then round out the line with its range of 3-D figures, plush and inflatables in early 2005. JCP managing director Ronnie Cook says the rest of the program is pretty wide open, and he’s particularly keen to find licensees working in apparel, novelties and back-to-school accessories.
Also making its debut on the U.K. licensing scene is Marathon’s boy-skewing property Martin Mystery. Jetix holds rights for all territories across Europe, excluding Germany, Austria and Switzerland. With the exception of home entertainment in the U.K., France, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands, Cook says it’s open season on the rest of the program.
Boys action holds sway with CPLG
Copyright Promotions Licensing Group has upped its testosterone levels this year, repping Sony’s Astro Boy (airing Saturday mornings on the BBC) and AAC Kids’ Dragon Booster (Five’s Milkshake block) in the U.K. The Astro Boy program will lead off in Q2 2005 with product from Bandai (toys), Sega (video games), HarperCollins (books), GB Posters&Publications (posters), H&L Creation (stationery), Topp’s (stickers) and University Games (puzzles). Besides these tentpegs, retail and sales development director Andrew Carley says CPLG is looking to fill in as many other categories as possible for a Q4 2005 retail launch.
Meanwhile, Dragon Booster’s global master toy licensee Jakks Pacific is introducing toys to the U.K. market in March 2005, with worldwide interactive partner Konami following up with video games in Q3 2005. Carley says CPLG is still hunting for apparel, stationery and backpack licensees at Brand Licensing to round out the program.
Potential licensees will also get a sneak peek at the ogre of all sequels, DreamWorks’ Shrek 3.
Coolabi is the new egg on the block
Attending the show for the first time this year is Coolabi, a new outfit headed up by former Gullane CEO William Harris. In addition to previewing its proprietary preschool TV project Pepper’s Patrol – in development for 2006 – the company is keen to sign licensees for a Korean web property from PeopleSign called iloveegg. The concept centers around a group of Flash-animated eggs that can transform into anything from flowers to reindeer. Coolabi is planning a two-pronged program aimed at kids and teens, and managing director Janet Woodward will be on the lookout for edgy plush, apparel, accessories, stationery and interactive/wireless licensees. So far, the company has hired The Wildflower Group as its North American agent, as well as signing RC2 as master toy licensee for iloveegg.