HIT Entertainment Realigns Business Units
HIT Entertainment has announced an internal realignment of its business units. As a part of the realignment, four new divisions will be created. The divisions will form two new lines of business: one focusing on Thomas & Friends,and the other on HIT Global Brands (Angelina Ballerina, Barney, Bob the Builder, Fireman Sam, Pingu, and Rainbow Magic). The realignment is effective immediately.
The Thomas & Friends line of business will comprise three divisions: the New York-based “Thomas Americas,” London-based “Thomas EMEA, ” and the Hong Kong-based “Thomas Asia.” The HIT Global Brands business unit will be managed from London as one global division.
HIT's Finance, Legal, HR, and IT groups will remain centralized staff units supporting both lines of business. As a part of the restructuring, Peter Byrne, executive vice president of international consumer products and home entertainment, will be leaving the company.
Hasbro Files Infringement Lawsuits Against Toy Companies
Hasbro, Inc. has filed lawsuits against Buzz Bee Toys, Inc. and Lanard Toys, Inc. for patent infringement for its Nerf and Super Soaker brands. The lawsuits were filed in the United States Federal Court in Springfield, Mass.
Hasbro is seeking to enjoin both companies from infringing two U.S. patents relating to its Nerf-N-Strike Disc Shot blaster. Additionally, the company has sued Buzz Bee Toys for infringing its Nerf Super Soaker water product patent. Hasbro is also seeking monetary damages from both companies for illegal use of its patented technology.
Warner Bros. Signs New Deals for Harry Potter, Expands Looney Tunes Program
Warner Bros. Consumer Products (WBCP) has announced licensing agreements with Creative Imaginations and The Noble Collection in anticipation of the upcoming theatrical releases Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 and Part 2. The Noble Collection will expand its collection of Harry Potter merchandise by adding 40 new wands, including wands used by each character in the Harry Potter film series, bringing the total wand collection to more than 60.
The Noble Collection, which worked closely with the Harry Potter film production team to ensure that the products are authentic and true to the films, will have approximately 200 Harry Potter products, including wands, jewelry, chess sets, and other collectibles. The products will be available by the end of the year at www.noblecollection.com.
WBCP also signed a two-year licensing deal with Creative Imaginations. The company, which provides custom manufacturing of scrapbook products via licensed artist and brand designs, will create a new line based on the Harry Potter films, including scrapbooking paper, stickers, albums, kits, autograph books, embellishments, and more.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I will be in theaters on November 19.
Additionally, Warner Bros. is expanding its Looney Tunes program. The company will release animated 3-D shorts, featuring Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote, before three of its family movies that will release this year. The three-minute shorts will launch during the theatrical release of Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore on July 30.
Looney Tunes will also return to television this fall with The Looney Tunes Show, an all-new half-hour animated series in CG on Cartoon Network.
Hidden City Signs New Bella Sara Deals
Kidz Entertainment/EEMC, the licensing agent for Hidden City Entertainment’s Bella Sara, has brokered a new deal for a range of home furnishings, apparel, and stationery in European markets.
The deal gives TOP-TOY/K.E. Mathiasen A/S the rights to produce a range of Bella Sara-branded products, including book bags and book wrappers, towels, bed sets, T-shirts, sleeping bags, notebooks, and stationery sets. The new products will launch this fall across Scandinavia, Germany, and Benelux. The company will also launch a Bella Sara toy line with Giochi Preziosi and carry the trading card game in its network of retail stores.
Additionally, Bella Sara has signed a new agreement with Rosman-Press to publish, distribute, and market Bella Sara collectible cards throughout Russia. The deal marks the first time a major trading card property has been introduced to Russia, and the first property in Russia to support a major online component. Rosman-Press will launch Bella Sara’s Starlight collectible card series this fall.
Bella Sara has also signed with marketing partner MagicMarket & Twenty Five S.r.l. for Bella Sara card distribution in the Italian market.
Dorel Juvenile Group to Develop Safety 1st-Branded Products
Dorel Juvenile Group USA, a division of Dorel Industries, has licensed Grow’n Up, Ltd., a division of Nadfinlo Plastics Industry Co., for a full line of Safety 1st-branded products. The Safety 1st line will include outdoor play equipment, sandboxes, slides, swings and seesaws, ride-ons, and walk-behinds for toddlers learning to walk. All of the products, available at retail next spring, will incorporate special safety features that the Safety 1st brand is known for.
Synergy Licensing, licensing agent for Dorel Juvenile Group, brokered the deal.
JAKKS Expands MXS Lines with More Motocross Athletes
JAKKS Pacific is expanding its Road Champs MXS line with the addition of action figures, motocross bikes, and accessories based on motocross athletes Jeremy McGrath and Carey Hart. The new toys will hit retailers nationwide starting next spring.
The company has also signed the Nitro Circus crew, lead by motocross rider Travis Pastrana. Nitro Circus MXS products will be available for retail in fall 2011.
Toys “R” Us Premieres Dedicated Toy Story Boutiques
In celebration of the anticipated theatrical release of Toy Story 3, Toys “R” Us is debuting dedicated Toy Story 3 boutiques in all of its nearly 1,300 toy stores in 34 countries around the world.
The boutiques, which are open across the U.S., are filled with an assortment of Toy Story-inspired toys, including action figures, construction sets, role-play accessories, musical instruments, and electronic devices. Similar sections will open in Toys “R” Us stores around the world, coinciding with the movie’s release in each respective country.
DC Comics Extends Partnership with WizKids/NECA for HeroClix
On behalf of DC Comics, Warner Bros. Consumer Products (WBCP) has signed a multi-year extension agreement with WizKids/NECA for HeroClix. Under the agreement, WizKids/NECA will continue releasing DC Comics’ characters on the HeroClix platform. HeroClix is a collectible miniatures game, where players construct teams of superheroes and villains, and then battle––turn by turn––on a grid map.
The 2010 DC Comics HeroClix lineup will include the Blackest Night Starter Game (releasing June 9), Jonah Hex (releasing later this month), Watchmen (July 22), Brightest Day (October), and the DC 75th Anniversary Set (November). Batman: The Brave and the Bold setis available now.
Warner Bros. Pictures’ upcoming film, Jonah Hex, will be released on June 18.
TIA Calls for Nominations for Toy Industry Hall of Fame
The Toy Industry Association (TIA) is inviting TIA members and non-member toy industry stakeholders to submit candidate nominations for the Toy Industry Hall of Fame in February 2011. The nomination period is currently open and will close June 30.
The candidate(s) should have accomplishments such as: long experience in the industry; innovative product or marketing introductions; manufacturing process changes that significantly improved the process or product; service on the TIA Board of Directors, or in other important capacities in or related to toys and youth entertainment; and an unimpeachable record of integrity and respect in the industry.
The Toy Industry Hall of Fame Committee will meet in July to review the nominations received. For more information, click here.
Brand Central Picked as Silly Bandz Licensing Agency
BCP Imports, the maker of Silly Bandz, has picked Brand Central, LLC as its licensing agency of record. Brand Central will be responsible for acquiring brands to develop new licensed product lines of Silly Bandz, as well as license out the brand to licensee partners. Brand Central, LLC and BCP Imports have already identified several licenses they are seeking to acquire for the brand, ranging from sports and television to entertainment icons and popular films. The agency is also in discussions with potential manufacturers who are interested in developing Silly Bandz-licensed products in categories such as apparel, headwear, arts and crafts, confections, and iPhone applications.
Gamewright Inks Publishing Deal for Patchwork Card Game
Gamewright has signed an exclusive agreement with Knightweaver Games for worldwide publishing rights for the company’s independent card game, Patchwork. While game play will remain the same, Gamewright will change the title to FlipSide and launch it in late 2010/early 2011. FlipSide is a light family strategy game of pattern matching and surprises. In the game, players draw cards and rearrange them to get four, five, or six of the same pattern in a row. The twist is that each card has patterns on both sides, and anyone can take and use any card that they can see.
Madame Alexander Launches New e-Commerce Website
Alexander Doll Company, Inc. has launched a new e-commerce website, madamealexander.com, for Madame Alexander doll collectors. The site, which is categorized by collectible, play and baby doll, size and age range, and more, allows Madame Alexander fans to purchase the dolls from one central location. Special features include zooming and a 360-degree viewing capability for detailed close-ups of Madame Alexander dolls’ artistry and costumes. The company’s authorized retailers are also participating in the e-commerce site as Madame Alexander/Shopatron fulfillment partners. Additionally, visitors can get an in-depth look into the history and features of the company.
New Broadcasting and Licensing Deals Announced for Beyblade: Metal Fusion
Nelvana Enterprises has announced several broadcasting and licensing deals for the new animated series Beyblade: Metal Fusion. Beyblade: Metal Fusion, from Nelvana and d-rights Inc., will air on Cartoon Network in the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand; Gulli in France; Nickelodeon in Germany; Nicktoons in the U.K.; Disney XD in Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands; and BOING, Turner’s Free To Air Block in Spain, broadcasted on Telecinco and Factoria de Ficcion. The series premiered on YTV in Canada last month.
Hasbro, Inc. has been appointed the master toy licensee for most international markets outside of Asia. The new toy line has already launched in Canada and is set to hit shelves this fall in the U.S., Mexico, UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Benelux, Scandinavia, Australia, and New Zealand.
Hudson Entertainment is signed for Beyblade: Metal Fusion video games for the Nintendo DS and Wii gaming systems, with a scheduled release in North America for the 2010 holiday season.
Dinosaur Train Licensees Total 23 With New Additions
The Jim Henson Company has signed new licensees for Dinosaur Train, bringing the number of licensing partners to 23 in the U.S. Most recently to sign for Dinosaur Train include Pacific Play Tents for tents, slumber bags, and folding animal chairs; Publications International for sound books and look and find books; and VM Global Manufacturing for scooters, skates, and bikes. Dinosaur Train merchandise will begin to hit retail stores later this summer with a full assortment of products available for the holiday season.
Qubits Signs with Discovery Toys for Distribution Deal
The Qubits Construction Toy Company has signed an exclusive contract with Discovery Toys, LLC for a three-year distribution agreement covering the United States and Canada. The toy company will manufacture its Qubits product and Discovery Toys will serve as the vendor and distributor.
Qubits is a plastic toy that can be constructed into objects using a patented modular geometry. The product aims to teach children about design science, which involves math, geometry, biology, and some levels of nanotechnology.
Chorion Names New Partners for The World of Beatrix Potter
Chorion, through its Copyrights subsidiary, is expanding its licensees, retail programs, and product lines for The World of Beatrix Potter across U.S., UK, Australia, and Asia. The property now has a roster of more than 350 licensees and retail programs around the world.
Pottery Barn Kids in the U.S. will expand its Peter Rabbit range in 2011. Australia will see a cross-category launch in Toys “R” Us stores, featuring Peter Rabbit infant apparel, bedding, toys, feeding, and hard goods such as strollers and high chairs beginning in August.
For the first time, Chorion has also appointed licensing agents to work across Europe. Working with Frederick Warne & Co, owner and publisher of The World of Beatrix Potter brand, Copyright Promotions Licensing Group (CPLG) is representing the property in France, Germany, and Benelux, with Bulls Press acting as agent across Scandinavia.
Brand new animation is now in development for Peter Rabbit to include a TV series and specials, with a launch date to be announced.