Revving up for Brand Licensing

Nickelodeon CP takes on new Japanese IP
September 23, 2010

Nickelodeon CP takes on new Japanese IP

Two exiled Russian mafia rabbits will take center stage at this year’s show for Nickelodeon Consumer Products. The company is unveiling Usavich, an online property originating from Japan that NCP believes will be an easy sell to the international teen market. ‘It’s slapstick comedy,’ says VP Laurent Taieb, who oversees NCP’s French licensing operations. ‘Because there is no dialogue, we think it will really travel well.’

The content for the original Japanese series features digital shorts that run between 90 seconds and two minutes. NCP is now in talks to further develop the concept and will be at BLE to secure partners in a number of different areas. While a master licensing agreement has already been signed with Japan’s Crown Creative for the territory, Taieb says Nick is on the lookout for agents in other countries, and possibly European distribution and retailers for already-produced Japanese goods.

‘We are taking a two-tiered strategy by first looking to distribute the Japanese goods and then developing localized programs,’ Taieb says.

Honing in on 2011, the Year of the Rabbit according to the Chinese zodiac, NCP is looking to Chinese New Year in February and Easter in April to make a splash with the content on its European channels. As for accompanying merch, Taieb has put finding video game, apparel, plush and gift licensees at the top of his list.

BBCW looks for deals that Zing

On its home turf, BBC Worldwide is getting ready for its 12th appearance at Brand Licensing Europe with a newly designed booth that will include a walk-through experience and a private viewing theater for all guests and possible partners. A highlight at the booth will be new preschool property ZingZillas. The music-based IP is looking to capture the attention of boys and girls ages four to five, and BBCW wants to grow its current 17-partner licensee list.

The series, which debuted on CBeebies in April, is set on a tropical island where everyone chips in to create music. The main characters Zak, Tang, Panzee and Drum are mentored by music guru DJ Loose, and they come together to create the unique ZingZilla sound.

UK master toy licensee Vivid Imaginations will be unveiling its first line of ZingZilla toys, which are headed to retail shelves in the territory in time for the Christmas shopping season. The range includes musical and talking plush toys, outdoor products and games. Examples of new lunchware, apparel and health & beauty products will also be at the show. However, there is still lots of room in the program, and BCCW intends to expand into other ancillary categories for a second wave of products in 2011.

DHX picks up CBeebies’ Rastamouse

Toronto, Canada-based DHX Media will be grooving to the soothing sounds of sunshine music with its new preschool reggae/crime-fighting IP Rastamouse. A preschool series of the same name is set to launch on commissioning UK net CBeebies in spring 2011 and DHX is looking after both licensing and TV distribution rights.

‘It certainly looks different from other preschool series out there now,’ says Polly Beel, director of merchandising and licensing at DHX Media. Arguably a first for CBeebies, the series places stop-motion characters on 2-D animated backgrounds and stars a reggae band, The Easy Crew, whose mouse members also like to solve crimes in their spare time.

Already on-board is EMI Worldwide as the property’s music partner, and Beel says that with tunes playing such a big role in the series, she is looking for partners that can explore the musical aspect of the property. Additionally, since Rastamouse is based on a publishing program, DHX will be looking to expand that category and partner up with toycos. ‘Toys and publishing will be our core categories,’ she says. ‘In the UK, obviously plush will also be right there as well – figurines could really fit this program, too.’

There’s a new kitty on the block

Making its first appearance at this year’s event is design-led brand Pip the Cat from UK-based Over the Moon Design. Starting out as a greeting card line 18 months ago, the cute feline characters are now available on stationery in more than 500 high street outlets that’s also popular on UK-based online retailer The cards have also hit international retailers in France, Germany, Finland, Italy, Switzerland and Australia.

With licensing agent KJG working on its behalf, Over the Moon is now looking to extend the brand to other categories that appeal to both core kids and tween/teen markets. ‘We are looking to capitalize on Pip’s ongoing success, and given the amount of interest the brand has been generating, I’m sure that we will be very busy at the show,’ says Kirsty Guthrie, MD of KJG. On the roster so far is Bluebird Brands, which has signed up to create Pip mugs, coasters, purses, wallets and umbrellas aimed at tweens and teens. UK-based Shreds is also targeting girls with a range of aprons, tote bags and lunchbags. KJG will be using the show to look for further opportunities in a number of different categories, including plush and apparel.

Preschool pachyderm promotes safety

Bumbling elephant Hari is the center of brand-new preschool IP Hari’s World, the creation of father-and-son team Tristan-Sean and Tristan-Paul McGee. The IP makes its licensing debut on the back of a publishing program that has supported two releases at UK book chain Waterstone’s.

The plush license for the territory has been snapped up by Dowman Soft Touch, which has developed product based on the six characters from the books, with a line of finger and hand puppets about to follow. The higher-end range is set to go on sale this fall at boutique shops and department stores in the UK. An additional eight books have been planned that will see the introduction of two new characters to keep momentum going. And since the books carry a subtle safety message, the McGees will be looking to explore avenues outside of the traditional licensing categories like child safety products, including bicycle helmets and sunscreen.

‘The brand is proving very popular amongst children, while parents are attracted to the safety elements of the stories,’ says Tristan-Sean McGee, MD of Hari’s World. ‘Having Dowman Soft Touch on-board is a fantastic start and we look forward to taking full advantage of the three-day show.’

Fremantle focuses on boys action

After launching its Children and Family Entertainment division late last year, FremantleMedia is putting a big push behind brand-new 52 x half-hour boys action series Monsuno. And FM Enterprises is managing worldwide distribution and licensing rights (except Asia) for the TV series being co-produced by Dentsu, FM and Jakks Pacific that focuses on the re-awakening of monsters on Earth. With master toy partner Jakks Pacific already on-board, look for FME to be tracking other licensing avenues, including apparel, accessories and promotional partnerships.

About The Author
Gary Rusak is a freelance writer based in Toronto. He has covered the kids entertainment industry for the last decade with a special interest in licensing, retail and consumer products. You can reach him at


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