PDQ Partners with Innovation First for Hexbug
Innovation First International (IFI), creators of Hexbug Micro Robotic Creatures, has partnered with PDQ, the sister company of Building Q, a marketing consulting company that specializes in licensing. PDQ will license the Hexbug brand and seek out appropriate and strategic licenses to apply to the toy line. Woody Browne, managing partner of PDQ, and Brandemonium’s Scott Shahmanesh, a youth and family marketing expert, are working together to develop a strategic, long-term brand licensed program of core partners and products. They are scheduling select meetings at Licensing Show to discuss the opportunities for 2012 and beyond.
Kids Preferred Inks Deal for The Gruffalo
The Sharpe Company, licensing agent for the children’s picture book The Gruffalo, has signed Kids Preferred as the plush licensee for North America.
The Gruffalo, written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler, has sold more than 5 million copies worldwide. An animated television special based on the book was nominated for a 2010 Academy Award in the short film (animated) category, featuring the voices of Robbie Coltrane, Helena Bonham Carter, and Tom Wilkinson. It will be released on DVD in the U.S. by NCircle Entertainment in August and in Canada by Phase 4 Films, Inc. in September.
PBS Kids Toy Line Now Available for Purchase
The first-ever PBS Kids toy line of preschool toys is now available online at the newly launched PBS Kids Shop at PBSKidsShop.com. The line, initially including more than 20 wooden toys, will be sold exclusively on the website until early fall when it will become available at other online retailers and in stores.
In addition to the new toy line, consumers will be able to find educational books, games, toys, DVDs, and more at PBSKidsShop.com, all based on PBS Kids programming. The shop was developed with Brand-Xpand, a leader in the design and management of eCommerce sites and services.
PBS Kids Shop will also feature exclusive items, including customizable backpacks, water bottles, room décor, apparel, and birthday party supplies featuring children’s names and their favorite PBS Kids programs and characters. Proceeds from the shop will help fund free, educational PBS Kids programming for children.
Disney Store Announces Additional Store Openings
Disney Store plans to open its interactive concept stores in more than 40 locations this year, bringing the total number of Disney concept stores around the world to 60. The specialty retailer will have concept stores in 16 major markets in North America and eight countries.
Also, next spring Disney plans to remodel the company’s original Disney Store location at the Glendale Galleria in Glendale, Calif., for the chain’s 25th anniversary. The store was built in 1987. The Glendale store will be just one of many planned remodels in 2012 delivering “the best 30 minutes of a child’s day.”
Patch Signs International Distribution Deals for 5 Second Rule
Patch Products has secured European and Pacific Rim distribution deals for its latest game, 5 Second Rule. The company plans to bring the game into more than 30 global markets and has already secured distribution deals in the UK, Eire, Australia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Holland, Belgium, South Africa, Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Denmark.
The party game challenges players to spit out answers in five seconds in categories ranging from naming superheroes to types of deodorants and breeds of dogs. The European version of the game adds even more content and additional board game features, including a game board and “Switch” and “Pass On” cards.
Pawparazzi to Enter Mass Market
Noodle Head, Inc.’s line of Pawparazzi collectible toys will enter the mass market, starting with Toys “R” Us at the end of this summer. The new mass-market product line will have a more affordable price point but will still maintain the detail and play value of the specialty line.
In addition, the company has launched Planet Pawparazzi (www.planetpawparazzi.com), a virtual playground, as an extension of the brand. Additional Pawparazzi brand extensions are underway, including an integrated licensing and merchandising program with publishing, interactive, apparel, accessories, social expression, home décor, entertainment, and more, led by Bennett Branding.
The Juno Company Names Global Licensing Agent
The Juno Company has named Copyright Promotions Licensing Group (CPLG) as the global licensing agent for its Juno Baby and Juno Jr. franchises. Under the deal, CPLG will be responsible for growing The Juno Company’s roster of licensed product partners while expanding the retail base and securing promotional partners. CPLG plans to target parents of children ages 12 months to 6 years for Juno’s line of products, including toys apparel, music, and books.
Character Options to Develop Rastamouse Toys
Character Options has added DHX Media’s Rastamouse to its portfolio of properties for kids and will launch toys based on the characters as early as this October.
Rastamouse, launched on CBeebies in January, follows a reggae-loving, crime-fighting special agent and his friends Scratchy and Zoomer. Plush will be swiftly followed by a plastic collection of both figures and play sets, with more products to be released later.
Bennett Branding to Oversee Sammy Spider Licensing Program
Kar-Ben Publishing, a division of Lerner Publishing Group, has retained Sharon Bennett of Bennett Branding to represent its Sammy Spider brand and to oversee its licensing program. Since its debut in 1993, Sammy’s storybook adventures and “fun books” of activities have introduced kids to Jewish holidays and customs, as well as sharing, making friends, and doing good deeds. An integrated licensing and merchandising program for the Sammy Spider brand and its world of Jewish holiday celebrations is underway and will include a complete line of merchandise and brand extensions including gifts, toys, novelties, publishing, interactive, apparel, social expression, room décor, home entertainment, and more.
Lego Adds New Jobs at Headquarters
According to the Hartford Courant, Lego is hiring new employees to work at its new North American headquarters in Enfield, Conn. The company converted one of its former manufacturing buildings into the headquarters, which spans 125,000 square feet. The headquarters includes offices, meeting spaces, a customer service call center, a revamped model shop, and a test store.
In the past year Lego has added approximately 75 new employees at the headquarters, bringing the total to 545, and is continuing to hire, the newspaper reported.
4Kids Takes Max Adventures to European Market
4Kids Entertainment International has been chosen to introduce kids’ brand Max Adventures to the European licensing market.
Max Adventures is a TV series targeting 6- to 10-year-olds, centering on Max, a lion, who protects his people against the evil Shadow Master. The show originated in Asia and has been picked up by broadcasters across Europe. Marketing activities in print and TV ads, DVD promotions, and costume character appearances are rolling out throughout Europe.
4Kids is developing a brand strategy for Max Adventures merchandising and is exploring categories for licensing, including publishing, collectibles, promotions, mobile applications, digital content and accessories, stationery, back to school, beach products, toys, and games.
Voltron Force Premieres June 16 on Nicktoons
New series Voltron Force is set to premiere on Nicktoons next month. The series will launch as a commercial-free presentation of the 90-minute movie, Voltron Force: New Defenders Trilogy, June 16 at 8:30 p.m. (ET).
Voltron Force, a half-hour series, follows the adventures of a new class of recruits as they join forces with the original team to fight evil by forming the super robot Voltron. The new iteration of the original Voltron: Defender of the Universe, which premiered in 1984, comes from World Events Productions, in association with Classic Media and Kickstart Productions. The series will air regularly Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. on Nicktoons.
On Nicktoons.com, a dedicated Voltron Force show page will feature video clips, full episodes, flipbooks, characters profiles, a dedicated message board, exclusive weekly printables, and more.
K.I.D.S. Calls for Donations to Help Tornado Victims
Kids In Distressed Situations (K.I.D.S) has donated approximately $710,000 worth of new products to help families affected by the devastating tornadoes in the South. With thousands of people left injured and homeless, K.I.D.S. is calling on retailers and manufacturers to help support its continued relief efforts.
K.I.D.S. is sending new toys, clothes, shoes, blankets, and baby items to its partner agencies in the hardest hit communities—including Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and North Carolina—where they will be distributed to those in need. To donate new products, contact Donna Charles at K.I.D.S. at (212) 279-5493, ext 205.