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Prince William Doll From Charisma Brands Now Available

Charisma Brands, the California-based designer, developer, and marketer of award-winning dolls, has announced that its Prince William doll is making its world debut today.

The doll was created in response to overwhelming consumer demand for the groom to go with the Duchess Catherine bride doll. Never before released, it is the first of its kind. Regally costumed in the uniform of the Irish Guards, which he wore on the day that he married Kate Middleton, every detail—from the bright red color of the jacket to the buttons and the tiny replica medallions—has been meticulously recreated to create this magnificent collector edition doll.

Prince William stands approximately 18” tall from head to toe and is crafted in exclusive Caressalyn vinyl. He comes with a Certificate of Authenticity and Collector box for $99.97.

With Uniqlo, Harry Potter’s Getting Snazzier (Just not in America)

Warner Bros. Consumer Products (WBCP) has announced a partnership with Uniqlo to introduce a stylish, one-of-a-kind apparel line. Expanding on their current deal, new offerings will also be available from classic characters, including Looney Tunes and Tom and Jerry.

The all-new apparel line from the world of the young wizard will feature detailed graphics and elements from the world of Harry Potter on t-shirts targeting a wide range of fans, adults and kids, and will be available at all Uniqlo stores worldwide (excluding United States), at Ut Store Harajuku, and the Uniqlo online store, just in time for the final installment of the record-breaking film series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2.  2011 marks the third year WBCP has partnered with the fashion-forward company, previously releasing stylish new lines for fan favorites including Looney Tunes, Tom and Jerry, Batman and Superman. An all-new collection for both Looney Tunes and Tom and Jerry are now available and include trendy t-shirts for females and girls.

“This expanded partnership with UNIQLO will allow fans to immerse themselves in some of the most beloved and larger-than-life franchises in a chic and stylish way,” says Jordan Sollitto, Executive Vice President of International Licensing, WBCP. “We are thrilled about the extension of this partnership and are excited to provide additional offerings that capture the essence and personality befitting these properties.”

The editor wearing Uniqlo from head to toe approves.

—Bryan Joiner

What time is it? For Skechers, Glamm, and Total Licensing, Inc., it’s deal time

Some early news this morning from Total Licensing, Inc. (TLI) in the U.S. (not to be confused with our publishing friends in the U.K.), which has signed a deal with Glamm, Inc. for Skechers-branded time instruments to be available at retail in the fall.

Glamm is currently the exclusive U.S. licensee of watches and timepieces for Skechers. As part of the agreement, Glamm maintains the multi-year exclusive domestic licensing and manufacturing rights, as well as certain non-exclusive global manufacturing and distribution rights.

The parties are in the process of completing terms relating to the compensation and participation of TLI, a subsidiary of Total Apparel Group Inc., and further announcements regarding the agreement will be made in the coming months.

The End of Harry Potter is Just the Beginning

I walked in a Barnes & Noble store Saturday and quickly noticed a Harry Potter display with a sign that read, “It all started with a book.” The display included not just J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels, but also an unofficial Harry Potter cookbook, Lego sets and books, a chess set, and wands. With Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 opening in theaters July 15, Harry Potter mania will take over as fans grapple with the end of 13 years of material based on the books. What is the future of the Harry Potter franchise?

J.K. Rowling’s announcement of the “Pottermore,” an online reading experience, creates a whole new portal for muggles to travel into the wizarding world. Pottermore will launch in October, and boasts partnerships with Bloomsbury, Scholastic, Sony, and Warner Bros. in a Pottermore shop that will sell eBooks of the Harry Potter series. (The series has not yet been released in digital form.) Rowling and her Pottermore team also worked with TH_NK, a UK digital agency, to develop Pottermore, which will include an interactive experience.

To bridge the gap between the final film and Pottermore’s launch, fans still have the Harry Potter amusement park and the traveling Harry Potter: The Exhibition, which is at Discovery Times Square in New York City until September 5. The amusement park helped raise revenue for Universal’s Islands of Adventure Park in Orlando by 16 percent to $95 million during the first quarter of 2011, said Forbes‘s Dorothy Pomerantz.

The Harry Potter franchise brought Warner Bros. around $10 billion during the last 10 years—between $800 million to $1 billion per film at the worldwide box office and around $200 million on DVD/Blu-ray and TV rights for each film, according to Forbes‘s Mark Hughes, which isn’t even counting revenue from merchandise tie-ins.

Hughes expects Warner Bros. to fill the revenue gap left by the end of the Harry Potter movies with superhero movies. But he also says that Harry Potter might not go away. Studios have been mining established franchises for reboots. While I don’t believe that Harry Potter will see a film extension reaching outside of the novels, and I assume that Rowling maintains a clear vision over the brand and quality, I find it unlikely that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is really the end of franchise growth. Perhaps Hughes will see his predicted animated Harry Potter TV series. Or Tales of Beedle the Bard will get the green light for animated specials. New video games could provide new opportunities for the wizarding world.

As someone who has been reading and watching Harry Potter since the sixth grade when I blazed through the first three books, I just can’t accept Deathly Hallows: Part 2 as my last trip from my broom cupboard—also known as a New York City apartment—into a world of magic, but I’d still bet there’s more to come.

—Melissa Tinklepaugh

Have fun, fun, fun with FunGoPlay until it’s time to go inside again. Repeat.

On Friday, we met with the CEO of FunGoPlay, Steve Lerner, in The Licensing Book offices. FunGoPlay is a delightfully simple concept designed to get kids active: it’s an online game for which you can get points by playing actual, outdoor sports with special FunGoPlay equipment that track the time you’ve been playing. The more you play, say, soccer, the more points you earn, and the more fun you can have in the FunGoPlay online world for when the sun goes down or you’re just plain pooped.

FunGoPlay will be fully launched in mid-July, but they’ve already signed a major partner in Sports Illustrated for Kids, which will provide videos for the FunGoPlayTV website. The partnership will begin in July with additional content appearing in early August, and visitors to FunGoPlay will receive SI Kids Real World Sports content in the FunGoPlay newsletter. SI for Kids Managing Editor Bob Der says FunGoPlay “provides an amazing digital platform to engage sports fans on a very different level.”

FunGoPlay seems ahead of the curve here. Tracking usage of sporting equipment is only a start (we have to imagine adults will be able to do this sooner or later), and adding it to an online game is an inspired combo. We’ll have more news from FunGoPlay as it’s available, which we have to imagine is quite soon.

—Bryan Joiner

Live Nation Merchandise Announces New Deals

Live Nation Merchandise has announced several new deals for its artists, including two major new deals for KISS. KISS has signed deals with Monster Mini Golf for a glow-in-the-dark KISS-branded mini-golf course across from the Hard Rock Hotel, at the Shoppes at Harmon Square, in Las Vegas, and with Rubie’s Costume Co. for costumes, masks, wigs, and accessories for adults and children.

The custom-designed, frightfully fun mini golf course will feature animated KISS and monster props lurking in all 18 fairways. A live DJ will rock the raucous house with continuous KISS music, trivia, contests, and prizes. A gift shop will offer unique KISS and Monster souvenirs. And for party monsters, one-of-a-kind KISS themed event rooms will host KISS and monster-themed parties, events and wedding celebrations.

“At Monster Mini Golf presents KISS, rockers and golfers of all ages can enjoy a screamingly good time at affordable family-friendly prices,” explains Christina Vitagliano, Monster Mini Golf Founder. “There’s nothing like this venue anywhere else in Las Vegas or the world. So, it’s beyond cool. It’s KISS!” says Christina Vitagliano, Monster Mini Golf Founder.

The band itself is over the moon about the deal with Rubie’s. “With your new KISS costumes, you will release the Demon within you. You are the God of Thunder!” says Gene Simmons.

But those aren’t the only deals for KISS: Live Nation has also signed the band up for a deal with Jumpin Jammerz for adult/kids/baby footed pajamas. Other recent Live Nation deals include:

Audio Technology of NY (Ipod/Iphone/blackberry/MP3, notebook/laptop cases) for Various Music Artist Deal, The Beatles and AC/DC
Skaffles (Pet Products) for AC/DC and Various Music Artist Deal
Big Idea Guys (Guitar Picks, Guitar Leather Straps,Motion Cards, Auto Air Fresheners) for Various Music Artist Deal and AC/DC
Street Player Holding (Pandas) for KISS
WMS Gaming (Slot Machines) for KISS
New Era Caps for our Various Music Artist Deal
Insight Editions (Children’s Book) for our Properties Bag One Arts
VM Global Manufacturing (Skateboards) for our Various Music Artist deal

For more information on Live Nation Merchandise, please contact Steve Senk, VP of Licensing, at 415-247-7467 or stevesenk@livenation.com. You can also visit the Live Nation Merchandise Licensing website at lnmlicensing.com.

—Bryan Joiner

Ooh la la! New Moulin Rouge Barbie

There’s a new Barbie in town.

Licensing Works has signed a deal for a Moulin Rouge Barbie Doll, brokering the agreement between Moulin Rouge and Mattel. Per the press release, the Moulin Rouge Barbie doll “wears a frou-frou costume, inspired by authentic Moulin Rouge Paris Cancan dancer design, [and] features rows and rows of frills and ruffles.” As you can see!

The doll is available for purchase on 9/01/11 on barbiecollector.com and moulinrougestore.com. No more than 5,500 total dolls will be made worldwide.

—Bryan Joiner

Studios Integrate Toy Makers Into Film Development

Toy licensing of movie franchises has garnered attention from mainstream media this week. Time looked into the relationship between Mattel and Warner Bros. while developing toy products for the new blockbuster Green Lantern. The Wall Street Journal focused on what defines a Cars product. With more franchise blockbuster movies to hit by the year’s end, this can only be the beginning of the movie explosion in toy aisles—with X-Men: First Class currently in theaters; Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Winnie the Pooh, The Smurfs, and Captain America all due by the end of July; and The Muppets releasing in November.

Film studios bring in toy makers early in the development process for a film like Green Lantern in order to ensure brand visibility in toy aisles, according to the Time article, “Green Lantern and Mattel: Friends with Benefits.” Doug Wadleigh, senior vice president of franchise development at Mattel, told Time that Mattel has access and input into big upcoming projects up to 18 months before theater release, and Mattel spent more than a year designing Green Lantern action figures and products.

Toy makers like Mattel give the studios input earlier in the film development process to tell why that particular film could translate into toys. Doing this integrates the toy company with the filmmakers to develop products kids want. Newer brands, like Green Lantern, cost toy makers less money to license the film and come as a lower risk if movie tickets and products don’t sell. Thus, according to Time, Mattel paid Warner Bros. $2.5 million in royalty fees for Green Lantern, expects perhaps $20 million in toy sales for the film, and as a $5-billion-a-year company, is risking much less of a loss if sales don’t do as well as expected. (See USA Today for more about Green Lantern products.)

Studios, however, increase the likelihood of reward by focusing on films with the potential for sequels, spin-offs, products, games, and even theme-park attractions, according to The Wall Street Journal’s article “Cars 2 Is Already a Hit–In Stores.” WSJ cites an estimate that Cars 2 cost slightly less than Toy Story 3’s $200 million production costs. In order for Disney’s Pixar Animation Studios to generate profits beyond breaking even on production costs, the studio looks for merchandise tie-ins for a portion of its films.

Target announced earlier this month its collection of merchandise inspired by Cars 2, which hits theaters June 24. Fur further integration, Target features a dedicated boutique of Cars 2 products online at Target.com/Cars2, including an interactive experience with the movie’s characters and an exclusive custom animated TV spot created for Target by Disney•Pixar.

“Fans are clamoring for Cars-inspired merchandise that brings the stories and characters from the film to life,” said Bruce Morrison, senior vice president of sales at Disney Consumer Products, in a press release. “Target has captured some of the movie’s magic through its expansive Cars 2 assortment, and we know fans will love it.”

Disney and its licensees also have products lining Walmart and Toys “R” Us shelves, and merchandise expands through multiple departments, with products such as Kleenex, shampoo, food items, kids’ furniture, sleeping bags, and video games, according to WSJ. Furthering franchise expansion, Disney has plans to open a 12-acre Cars Land at it California Adventure theme park next year, and DisneyToon animation studio is working on Cars spin-off direct-to-DVD films.

In another WSJ article, “Franchise Guardian at Pixar Tries to Keep Cars 2 on High Road,” Pixar’s Jay Ward said he seeks to keep merchandise tie-ins authentic, measuring by “truth in materials,” such as a heavier car moving slower than a lighter counterpart. He also monitors products for accuracy to the characters and the world they live in.

Cars 2 may sell more merchandise than any single previous Disney film, including Toy Story 3, which set the bar last year with $2.8 billion in merchandise sales, according to WSJ. The first Cars installment has sold an average of $2 billion annually since 2006.

With focus on films’ potential for retail sales, it’s not surprising that Warner Bros.’s Legendary Entertainment is negotiating with Mattel, in this case to receive film rights to the Hot Wheels toy car line, according to Variety. By purchasing film rights from a well-known toy line, it’s hard to imagine a toy maker more seamlessly integrated into a film.

Melissa Tinklepaugh

Geronimo Stilton Coming to PSP

Geronimo Stilton, one of the most successful series of children’s books, will be adapted for PSP, it was announced today. Geronimo Stilton The Kingdom of Fantasy: The Video Game will carry children and adults alike to the magical world depicted in the Kingdom of Fantasy.

Geronimo Stilton The Kingdom of Fantasy: The Video Game, exclusively for PSP, will be produced in collaboration with Sony Computer Entertainment España and developed by the Spanish studio Virtual Toys, and is set to be available in Spain and other key European markets at the end of the year.

The Video Game will maintain the spirit of the books and characters, while delivering distinctive graphic adventures full of riddles, optical illusions, enigmas, puzzles and brain teasers. Throughout its levels, Geronimo Stilton The Kingdom of Fantasy: The Video Game will generate unique and enriching experiences for both novice and expert players.

Fans will be able to guide Geronimo Stilton on his journey through kingdoms of fairies, mermaids, and dragons, among others, diving into a colorful world where friendship and family are the greatest treasures to have. Similar to the books, the game will be divided into seven levels designed to recreate each Fantasy Kingdom. In each one, players are required to take on ten different challenges in order to move forward in this spellbinding story.

Baby Genius Offers Simon Says-Style Apps

I’ve heard that young children quickly pick up on the swipe and touch techniques of iPads and smartphones. A friend of mine frequently updates Facebook with stories of his toddler son’s video game mastery. Baby Genius knows young kids have a knack for technology and is adding a learning experience to kids’ fascination with touch-screen devices.

Baby Genius now has iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad apps available for free from the Apple App Store. These two apps, MyPal Temp and MyPal Frankie, are musical games in the style of “Simon Says,” teaching children memory skills. Frankie and Tempo repeat anything the tot or parent says. The apps also allow users to record videos and share them on Facebook, YouTube, or email.

While teaching any kid the game of “Simon Says” has its own potentially obnoxious consequences, channeling children’s craze for games on the latest devices into intellectually enthralling experiences seems worthwhile.

Melissa Tinklepaugh

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