Russ Berrie expands its presence in juvenile category
Looking to beef up its presence in juvenile products and gifts, Oakland, New Jersey’s Russ Berrie has acquired kids bedding and accessory manufacturer Kids Line for a cool US$128 million in cash. Company CEO Andy Gatto says Kids Line’s assets should complement Russ’s juvenile products subsidiary Sassy, which manufactures infant feeding systems and toys. Neither subsid does any business in character licenses right now, but Gatto is definitely looking at properties that are infant-appropriate. In fact, licensing has become a much more important facet of Russ’s wider strategy lately. Since buying the trademark for plush manufacturer Applause in October, Russ has picked up licenses for Marvel, DreamWorks’ upcoming flick Madagascar, Ziggy, Scooby-Doo, Curious George and Raggedy Ann & Andy.
Agency roundup: Look who’s reppin’ who
* London-based powerhouse Copyright Promotions Licensing Group will rep Mike Young’s Pet Alien in Europe, and the agency is currently scouring the U.K., Benelux, Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal for potential licensees.
* TV-Loonland has appointed Munich, Germany-based East Entertainment Media to get the most from its merch rights to Connie the Cow and Something Else in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
* In Scandinavia, Jim Benton’s acid-tongued rabbit property, It’s Happy Bunny, will now call Kidz Entertainment its agent. According to Kidz, Happy Bunny won’t need to be translated into any of the Nordic languages because a good chunk of kids in the region understand English. The agency is aiming to have product on-shelf by spring.
* L.A.’s PorchLight Entertainment has signed Gaffney International Licensing to rep its evergreen property Jay Jay the Jet Plane in Australia. And PorchLight will don the agent hat itself to launch a U.S. merch program for Ottawa, Canada-based Amberwood Entertainment’s The Secret World of Benjamin Bear.
* And finally, New York-based Care Bears agent The Joester Loria Group has added Genius Products’ Baby and Kid Genius DVD properties to its portfolio.