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MGA beefs up in-bound licensing to fuel its expansion strategy

Van Nuys, California-based MGA Entertainment and its premier brand Bratz, which burst onto the market in 2001 and has since spawned a worldwide merch program of its own, are pretty much synonymous in the minds of most industry folk. But the company's planning to expand beyond the brand and recent moves indicate entertainment licensing will play a key role in fuelling the toyco's growth.
April 1, 2006

Van Nuys, California-based MGA Entertainment and its premier brand Bratz, which burst onto the market in 2001 and has since spawned a worldwide merch program of its own, are pretty much synonymous in the minds of most industry folk. But the company’s planning to expand beyond the brand and recent moves indicate entertainment licensing will play a key role in fuelling the toyco’s growth.

While MGA has been involved with in-bound licensing since the 1980s, it inked two high-profile deals in February. As Marvel Entertainment was cutting a new master toy agreement with Hasbro, it also granted MGA the right to produce die-cast and R/C vehicles based on its 5,000-character portfolio, including those from comic books and its film releases. R/C models are at mass retail right now and upcoming Spider-Man 3 and Ghost Rider theatrical releases should push product distribution well into 2007.

More significantly, MGA signed its first-ever master toy deal with DreamWorks Consumer Products for Shrek. The two-year deal will see products hitting shelves in January 2007, just a few months before Shrek 3 makes its way to multiplexes worldwide. The ambitious mass-retail targeted plan covers doll, collectible figure, plush, youth electronics, games, puzzles and room décor subcategories.

CEO Isaac Larian says the company is currently looking to lock down more third-party entertainment licenses. ‘It’s part of our strategy to grow the business,’ he says, adding his team is scouring for new licenses and product areas where they can be applied.

As for the quantity of deals MGA wants to land in the next year, Larian won’t be nailed down. ‘It could be 10, depending on what’s out there,’ he says. And while he points to the established market awareness of both the Marvel characters and Shrek as a key factor for pursuing the deals, Larian says MGA will consider projects from far and wide for its next in-bound move. Right now, the toyco is giving the once-over to boys, girls and preschool IP as well as new international animation shows that have yet to break.

Finally, rumors have been circulating since January that Larian is taking the toyco public by year’s end. So are they true? Neither confirming nor denying the possibility, he says, ‘MGA is looking at all its options for our ambitious expansion plans.’ LC

About The Author
Lana Castleman is the Editor & Content Director of Kidscreen and oversees all content for Kidscreen magazine, kidscreen.com and related kidscreen events. lcastleman@brunico.com

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