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The Wizarding World of Harry Potter to Open at Universal Studios Japan in July

Apr21.HarryPottahThe Wizarding World of Harry Potter will have its grand opening on July 15 at Universal Studios Japan. The Hogwarts castle was also unveiled, which is one of the many iconic locations that will be replicated from the world of Harry Potter.

The celebration began with an owl delivering a letter from Hogwarts to President of CEO of Universal Studios Japan Glenn Gumpel. Additional honored guests include Evanna Lynch, Stuart Craig, Tadao Ando, and United States Ambassador to Japan Kennedy. As the opening date was announced, the Hogwarts castle was illuminated with fireworks.

A website has been launched to explore The Wizarding World online.

Hands-On Learning Event at Barnes & Noble in Celebration of 45th Anniversary of The Very Hungry Caterpillar


The Joester Loria Group has partnered with Barnes & Noble for Hands-On Learning events across the country in celebration of the 45th anniversary of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. The events are tailored to children ages 3 to 6 to encourage them to develop their creativity and social skills through sharing and storytelling.

During the Hands-On Learning event, children will learn, color, share, and take home their custom-created crowns. They will also learn about the free B&N Kids’ Club.

The events will kick off on April 25 and run through May 4th. The events are free and open to the public.

COMMENTARY: Now Every Kid Can Get Licensed to Be Captain America

Phil.04.03.Cap6inchLegendsRecently, everyone’s favorite re-animated World War II super-soldier returned to theaters in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, from Marvel Studios. (PLEASE NOTE: THIS OPENING MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS.) I won’t give too much away, but suffice it to say, it’s a good time, precisely because the captain faces conflicts that aren’t just fisticuffs. At a certain point, both he—and the other Marvel Comics-based heroes who appear—must decide whether to turn on their own government. Admittedly, it’s not that difficult a choice, since saying no means a terrorist organization descended from the Nazis gets the power to kill millions with the push of a button. But a moral quandary is, nevertheless, a moral quandary, and gives the movie a kind of complexity that isn’t always found in summer blockbusters. (END SPOILERS.)

It also results in a character that kids of all ages can—and should—aspire to become more like. (Did I mention that Captain America also learns to trust his friends? This film’s full of valuable lessons for young ones!) To that end, Hasbro has released an impressive line of licensed Captain America: The Winter Soldier toys and accessories that allow for all kinds of pretend play. Since not every movie protagonist is a fit role model for kids, having found one with product support from the toy industry, I feel it is this column’s responsibility to highlight said product as much as possible. Cap, you’re welcome. Read the rest of this entry »

Shaun the Sheep Set for Expansion


Shaun the Sheep The Movie is coming to movie theaters worldwide next spring. The TV show, now in its fourth series, airs on kids’ channels in 170 territories. The movie is now in production.

Aardman Animations continues to develop an international licensing program for the property across core categories and looks forward to meeting current and new partners at Licensing Expo in June. Aardman will present new Shaun the Sheep product opportunities and style themes for this year and next.

Shaun the Sheep has also reached a publishing deal for Tales from Mossy Bottom Farm and Shaun the Sheep The Movie titles, as well as a joint licensing program with Rugby World Cup 2015.

Women In Toys Appoints New President, Board Members

Women in Toys (WIT), a global organization for professional women in the toy, licensing, and entertainment industries, has appointed Ashley Mady, president of Brandberry Inc., as its new board president.

Women in Toys provides its members with a collaborative, empowering environment through shared resources, industry connections, and extensive networking opportunities to foster professional growth and career enrichment. The organization recognizes and promotes the achievements of outstanding female leaders at all levels and capacities within the industry.

Other new appointments include Stephanie Barone, vice president of product development for Innovative Designs, as treasurer; Caitlin Gutekunst, senior manager, content acquisition and business development at LeapFrog, as regional chapter chair; Jennifer Quattrock, independent design contractor, as design chair; and Mali Baum, CEO of Beezeebee, as chair of international chapters.

Outfit7 Expands Licensing Reach for Talking Tom and Friends


Outfit7 has appointed nine licensing agents to expand the reach of its licensing business worldwide.

Exim Licensing Group is now on board to support the Talking Tom and Friends brand in Latin America, while Bulldog Licensing will push opportunities for the entertainment sensation in the U.S. and Canada.

In Western Europe, Enjoy Licensing represents Talking Tom and Friends in Spain, Portugal, and Andorra, and J&M Brands will handle the brand’s licensing and promotional rights in Belgium, The Netherlands, and Luxembourg. The rights for Germany, Austria, and Switzerland will sit with Team! Licensing.

Plus Licens will manage the Taking Tom and Friends licensing program in Scandanavia and CEE as the brand gains traction in these markets. Icon Promotion covers Russia, Ukraine, and CIS, while Brand Is Real will oversee the rights in Israel.

Partnerships with Promotional Partners Worldwide for Greater China, TIGA for Thailand, and Empire for South East Asia will allow Outfit7 to spearhead its licensing program for Talking Tom and Friends in major cities all around Asia.

Walls 360 Launches Kids’ Decal Line from Caleb Gray Studio

walls360Red Monster Truck

Walls 360 has launched a new kids’ decal line from artist Caleb Gray. Among the first designs to debut are race cars and fire engines for boys, teddy bears and tea parties for girls, and little ducky and sweet silhouettes for baby.

Made in the U.S. and printed on a premium, self-adhesive fabric material, the decals can be removed and reused hundreds of times without damaging surfaces. Walls 360 decals are available in several different sizes.

Walls 360 offers a 20 percent discount on all Caleb Gray Studio decals with coupon code CALEB20 through April 30.

WBCP Gears up for Easter with Family-Friendly Products

Batman Easter Basket 2

Warner Bros. Consumer Products (WBCP) and DC Entertainment are gearing up for Easter season, having teamed up with retail partners nationwide and MegaToys to provide Easter products inspired by Scooby-Doo, Superman, and Batman.

WBCP brings Batman to life this Easter season with large and medium-sized Batman Easter baskets containing sweet treats, toys, and more from MegaToys. The large sized baskets are available at Family Dollar and grocery stores nationwide, and the medium sized baskets are available at Wal-Mart.

The Mystery Machine revs up this Easter with assorted Scooby Doo Easter baskets containing candies, toys, and other products, available at Kmart and grocery stores nationwide. Also available this spring is a 21-inch Scooby-Doo Easter porch greeter wearing a bunny costume.

Large Superman Deluxe Easter baskets by MegaToys are available at Meijer, Kmart, and grocery stores nationwide. The supercharged Easter basket includes a variety of seasonal toys and candy.

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