Coming out of Licensing Show last month, United Media has its sights set on making inroads into the girls market with two new programs.
To start with, 92-year-old Raggedy Ann is getting something of a makeover. While the company will continue supporting and building its program based around the classic-look ragdoll, Raggedy Ann & Me is a new interpretation of the property that’s aiming to appeal to the three- to six-year-old daughters and granddaughters of Ann’s original fans.
A contemporary style guide serves as the backbone of the revamp and features a pigtailed Raggedy Ann with a younger look and softer features, emphasizing the values of imagination, love and friendship. Simon & Schuster has already signed on to produce Raggedy Ann & Me books, while Russ Berrie & Co. has taken on the master soft doll license. Both companies will have goods at US specialty retail in time for back-to-school and are planning a mass rollout in 2008. Meanwhile, United Media SVP of domestic licensing Joshua Kislevitz is still on the hunt for toys and games, puzzles, accessories, stationery, novelty and apparel licensees.
Joining Raggedy Ann on United Media’s girls property roster is Fancy Nancy, a charming book series from HarperCollins that has two titles at market, both of which have landed on the New York Times bestseller list. Fancy Nancy is about a young girl who makes everything around her fancy, and author Jane O’Connor is working towards launching 15 more titles over the next few years.
Kislevitz says he’s looking to bring Fancy Nancy to the US specialty market, and products will represent the property’s philosophy of ‘more is better.’ Girly, colorful merch ranges will include lots of pink and sparkles, and encourage little girls from three to eight to express themselves. It’s pegged to launch in time for the holiday season, with rollout to mass retailers at the beginning of 2008.
Thus far, United Media has inked a deal with Andrews McMeel Publishing for 2008 and 2009 wall calendars, as well as one with Vancouver, Washington-based specialty drink mix company McSteven’s, which is creating a hot cocoa line for Q4. Kislevitz is hoping to land apparel and accessories licensees and promotional partners in the next few months to round out the first wave of product.