Less than nine months after repositioning its real-world brand for the boys six-to-12 demo, Discovery Kids has made significant headway in expanding its licensing program Stateside.
Several new innovative products across a number of categories are being prepped for release this year, and thanks to the momentum from the expanded licensee roster, the first wave of products for the refreshed Discovery Kids brand will be heading to all levels of retail, including mass.
“We’ve got an equal number of continuing partners that are really embracing this new Discovery Kids brand strategy, and we’re building from that and augmenting it with some really exciting new licensing partners,” says Robert Marick, VP of North American licensing and global location-based entertainment for Discovery Consumer Products.
The most notable of those new partners is Mattel. DK has inked a deal with the toy giant to create themed virtual reality experiences for Mattel’s recently launched 3D View-Master, with an eye towards launching products in 2017.
Marick says his team is looking at several different possible themes—such as outdoor, adventure, adrenaline and mystery—but DK’s first collaboration with Mattel on View-Master, a 2016 TOTY finalist, will most likely take the form of underwater sea life.
Another important new partner for the refreshed DK brand, Marick says, is crafts and craft activity kits manufacturer Horizon Group. Discovery Consumer Products is partnering with Horizon to develop a range of small, medium and large science, craft and magic activity kids for fall.
Other newcomers include Sakar, which is developing a line of youth electronics (headphones, earbuds, speakers, boom boxes, karaoke machines, as well as digital, still, video, action and wearable cameras) for fall, and Journey North is launching a range of telescopes, binoculars, microscopes and night vision electronics for kids that will launch in both spring and fall.
Meanwhile, RMS International is producing a variety of small and medium science kits, dig and discover kits and metal building kits for the for the mass discount channel, and Wild Republic is creating a variety of plush toys including dinosaurs, land and sea animals. Items from both companies are slated to hit retail for fall 2016.
DK has also renewed its long-standing partnership with Merchsource, which creates everything from children’s furniture and seasonal toys to building sets and arts and crafts for the DK brand. There’s also stalwart Parragon (pictured), which continually adds titles to its non-fiction children’s storybooks, picture books, coloring books, activity books/tins and more; JLR, which is developing primary lighting products (glow sticks, AC powered nightlights, glow headlamps, multifunction lanterns); and Tek Nek Toys International is developing a line of ride-on and role-play toys.
Furthermore, other existing partners embracing the revitalized brand with new products are The Bridge Direct (Classic View-Master), DGL Group (do-it-yourself kits and 3D puzzles, plastic foam blasters, novelty products) and NKOK with its variety of toys and games (laser tag, RC products, battery-operated vehicles/animals, and tech and interactive items).
“The brand strives to deliver high-quality interactive products based on real-world discovery and adventure,” Marick says. “It really has to include that balance of fun, entertaining and parent-approved—that’s really the crux of all this.”
Marick contends the combination of re-launching the brand, adding marquees licensees and extending existing partnerships has translated into a significantly expanded distribution network for Discovery Kids products.
“It’s really exploded in a positive way,” he says.
Marrick adds that thanks to high sell-through numbers during a recent test with a thousand US Walmart stores, the partnership will be continuing, and ideally, expanding this year.
“I think a year from now, when you look at the landscape of post-holiday 2016, you’re going to see a very broad breadth and depth in terms of Discovery Kids products at all channels of distribution,” he contends.