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LIMA Seeks Nominations for the Licensing Hall of Fame Award

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The international Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association (LIMA) is now accepting recommendations for the Licensing Hall of Fame. Each year LIMA honors creators, marketers, manufacturers, and anyone who makes outstanding contributions to the global licensing community.

Individuals with a minimum 15 years of experience in the licensing business, a detailed description of their body of work, unique contribution to the industry, development or advancement of a specific aspect of the business, ongoing relevance to the industry, business ethics and principles consistent with the licensing industry, and LIMA membership for at least three years are eligible for nomination.

To be considered for induction into the 2016 Hall of Fame, online recommendations must be made through LIMA’s website and received by November 6.

Take Control of Your Brand: The 4Cs of Brand Management

By DeEtta Jones

There are plenty of reasons to care about your brand, and high among them should be to make your voice heard: your unique voice. Voice is the contribution made to something larger than oneself. It’s the medium for sharing one’s purpose, values, talents and vision for the future. Yes, there are plenty of examples in contemporary society of people creating a shallow brand seemingly for the sole purpose of increasing the number of social media followers. But, before you too hastily follow that line of thinking, consider the bigger picture—and your values. Where do you want your name and legacy to appear in people’s minds and hearts? Read the rest of this entry »

COMMENTARY: Teen Titans Go! Has Licensed Toys Ready to Go

Phil.TeenTitans1.RobinFunkoIt’s been a good year for superhero comics on TV, what with the success of DC Comics’ Arrow and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., not to mention the planned fall arrivals of The Flash and Gotham. But let’s not forget the animated side of small screen super-heroics, as the second season of Teen Titans Go! premieres next month. The series resurrects Teen Titans, which aired during the mid-to-late 2000s, as something wackier and anarchic. Both shows are based on the long-running comic book of the same name, which is centered on some of the best-known teenage characters in DC’s pantheon.

Along with everyone’s favorite young sidekick, Robin, the cast includes Starfire, Cyborg, Raven, and Beast Boy. While adept at defeating evil-doers, Teen Titans Go! more often depicts them hanging out unsupervised at their team headquarters, at which point trouble worse than any super-villain tends to break out. The series is a fun romp, not to mention a good antidote to the spate of more serious, live-action superhero adaptations of late. Teen Titans Go! is currently licensed by a number of toy companies, with items for collectors, young kids, and everyone in between. But in all cases, the property’s lighthearted attitude shines through. Read the rest of this entry »

COMMENTARY: It’s All About the Experience

A main goal in a brand’s licensing program is the idea of connecting consumers to that brand. It is about fully integrating the brand into their lifestyle. How do we get the consumer to be fully immersed in a brand experience when they buy these action figures, bedspreads, food and beverage products, T-shirts, etc.? One of the best ways to do this is through live events and experiences, such as live touring arena shows and amusement park worlds. Three very popular character and entertainment brands have successfully integrated these live, in-person experiences into their licensing programs, establishing a greater connection between their cult fans and the characters those fans love.

Harry Potter

hpWizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios allows us Muggles to fully experience the world of J.K. Rowling’s literary (and cinematic) phenomenon, Harry Potter. If you’re looking for proof that Harry Potter fans are a dedicated and loyal group, you only need to look as far as the recent announcement of the expansion of this magical pocket of Universal Studios. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which let fans travel to Hogwarts or Hogsmeade for a mug of refreshing butterbeer, will expand to include Diagon Alley, complete with shops galore and Gringotts Bank. Fans will soon be able to see the Hogwarts Express as well, bringing multiple familiar magical sites to life.

Read the rest of this entry »

COMMENTARY: Discover the World of Dora and Her Friends

dora-and-friends-about-the-show-mainImageKids’ favorite explorer Dora will introduce a whole new group of friends in this summer’s new Nickelodeon series Dora and Friends: Into the City. Friends Alana, Emma, Naiya, Kate, and Pablo will all be available in a product line developed by Fisher-Price. The line goes beyond traditional characters such as Boots, Perrito, and even that mischievous Swiper the Fox and brings kids a fresh range of all-new friends that Dora meets in the show’s beautiful pan-Latino metropolis, Playa Verde.

These new, friendly faces will be an instant hit among kids who can choose to collect all of the friends, or obsess over their favorites. I’m naturally drawn to red-headed characters, so I already know that Kate is definitely going to be my favorite—but I’ll give the others a chance to be my favorite, too.

Read the rest of this entry »

COMMENTARY: Licensed Role Play Toys Engage Kids in Superhero Action

It’s no secret that kids are extremely influenced by the characters they see in movies and on TV. Superheroes are particularly influential, with their mankind-saving tendencies and super-human abilities. The best thing about superheroes is that they appeal to kids and adults alike, since many of the iconic superheroes we know and love have been around for decades. Fisher-Price’s DC Super Friends line is geared toward kids as young as 3 years old, and Lego will introduce DC characters into its Duplo line for the first time this year. While play sets and building blocks are popular play patterns for kids and adding their favorite superheroes to the mix is a great way to get kids excited, the toys that make kids feel like they are becoming their favorite superhero are some of the most engaging toys on the market.

Everyone’s favorite friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is now back on the block with new enemies. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 opened in theaters Friday, May 2, and now kids can take home all of the web-slinging action, thanks to Hasbro’s intense line of role-play and action figure toys. Read the rest of this entry »

COMMENTARY: Put a Little English on Life with Downton Abbey-Inspired Products

Downton Abbey is known for being one of the classiest shows on TV—quite literally, in fact, meaning it revolves around the “upstairs” and “downstairs” worlds of an early 20th century household in England. The life of the upper class upstairs is juxtaposed and entwined with the service staff downstairs. The TV drama focuses on both classes equally, allowing you to love and hate members of both, showing upward mobility within them, and really defining what it really means to be wealthy and have status. (Plus, it’s heavily British and really soap-opera-y, making it very addicting and easy to marathon-watch.)

Downton Abbey is full of elegant taste and the instillation of manners and subtlety (the British way!), and parts of the licensing program reflects just that. While it does contain “louder” pieces, such as T-shirts from Fifth Sun bearing phrases such as “I was meant to live at Downton Abbey,” the licensing program also really focuses on making Downton Abbey a lifestyle brand—one that combines the fictional world with your own contemporary home. These products ease viewers’ fandom into their current modern lifestyle in a quieter way. Read the rest of this entry »

COMMENTARY: Rabbids Invasion Toys Wreak Havoc in the Best Ways

I like to pretend that I’ve grown out of my childish, tomboy ways, but there’s something about toys that fart, burp, scream, and make the noises of toilets flushing that really, even still, steals my heart. As Ubisoft’s Rabbids video game-turned-Nickelodeon hit TV series, Rabbids have completely taken over TV screens and gaming devices, and now the Rabbids licensed toy line by McFarlane Toys is about to invade toy aisles everywhere.Unknown-3

The range of this line definitely struck me most. McFarlane found a way to bring all of Rabbids’ crazy antics to life with toys that kids can play with, collect, and love.

The Rabbids Plunger Sound Blaster is a wacky toy that’s great for kids who enjoy pranking parents and friends with the pleasant sounds of Rabbids’ famous Bwaaah’s laughs, farts, and more. Even when I think I’ve exhausted all 15 sounds, I still continue to laugh each time I pull the toy’s trigger.Unknown-2

Action figures are a staple in almost every toy line, but the Rabbids Sound and Action Figures 2-Packs allow for interaction and more than just imaginative fun. Plunger Face is currently fastened to my purse—each time I pull the plunger back the toy sounds off with a Rabbid noise, and as I release the plunger it smacks the adorable little bunny in the face, and he reacts with a yell. Kids can also collect Chicken Surprise, The Driller, and Starfish Friend and attach them to coat zippers, backpacks, key chains, and more.

 

With Rabbids Mini Figure Blind Bag, kids can collect and trade a variety of iconic Rabbids figures. What’s fun about this is that kids don’t know which figure they’re going to get—and a rare high-value mystery Rabbid definitely raises the stakes.Unknown

The line wraps up with plush, and there’s so much to love about these soft and squeezable 12-inch bunnies. Between their silly facial expressions and costumes, it’s almost too much for me to handle. Kids can choose from Loco Libre Rabid, Super Bwaaah, and original Rabbids plush. Shake Hoo-Bwaaah Rabbid, Raving Rabbid, and Sly Rabbid to hear fun sounds.

Rabbids Invasion toys are recommended for kids ages 5 and up. The line is now available at Wal-Mart and Toys “R” Us.

COMMENTARY: Hôtel de Glace Puts the “Ice” in Licensing

Iceslide1
Quebec City
is a winter wonderland in late February and early March. Strolling around historic Old Québec, one can find statues and life-size pieces of furniture carved out of ice, but even then, Ville de Quebec is only getting started. Indeed, a mere 10 minutes from the city’s heart by car—and slightly longer by public transit—is the Hôtel de Glace (aka the Ice Hotel), a major tourist attraction constructed from more than 30,000 tons of snow.

The Hôtel de Glace is constructed in early December, through a method that requires less than zero temperatures across a week. After a very dense snow is blown onto metal frames to create archways and domes, the frames are removed, leaving behind the hotel’s walls and ceilings. Next, heavy blocks of clear ice are moved in, which a team of sculptors uses to create the hotel’s mesmerizing columns, furniture, and decorations.

IceHotel.FrozenSuiteThanks to the efforts of the Hôtel de Glace’s team of artists, there’s a lot to see and experience, and during the most recent season, the thrills included a suite inspired by the animated feature Frozen. Read the rest of this entry »

COMMENTARY: Expanding Brands From Blockbusters

 

The_Lego_Movie_posterBy Jackie Breyer, editorial director, The Licensing Book

I recently took my daughter, Lena, to the preview for The Lego Movie. It was very entertaining for both the adults and the kids in the audience, and when we got home the first thing Lena wanted to do was play with Legos. Well played, Lego, well played. I am certain that the next time we go to the toy store, there will be Legos in my shopping cart.

Ask a kid, “If you could have one new toy, what would you choose?” Depending on the child, his or her toy of choice might be Transformers, Barbie, Monster High/Ever After High dolls, Skylanders, My Little Pony, Legos, or Hot Wheels. All of these items have something in common. They are all successful properties launched by toy manufacturers. They all have some form of entertainment attached—movies, TV shows, webisodes, video games, and apps—but the main component of the property is the toy itself.

The biggest toy manufacturers—Mattel, Hasbro, Lego, and Spin Master—can really be considered entertainment companies first and foremost (and really, what are toys if not entertainment?). Hasbro, which has always been in the entertainment business with its cartoon lineup, took it to the next level when it launched The Hub Network in 2010, and has had varying levels of success turning some of its biggest toy properties into movie franchises. The next installment of the Transformers franchise, Age of Extinction, will be in theaters on June 27 and will surely give a boost to the toy line and the licensed products as well.

Not only are these properties driving demand for toys and saving manufacturers big money on royalties, but, as the property owners, they are making money in the form of licensed bed sheets, backpacks, pajamas, and even toys made by other toy manufacturers.

As manufacturers continue to expand their proprietary entertainment properties, often—but not always—successfully, how will traditionally licensed toys be affected? Today, 30 percent of all toy dollar sales and 25 percent of units are in licensed products. However, some experts anticipate a decline.

It is expected that the leading toy manufacturers will continue to put emphasis on building their own brands, allowing them more control over their products, and putting more dollars in their pockets. We may even begin to see some decline this year, but I don’t expect licensed toys to become insignificant anytime in the near future. As long as there are companies with irreplaceable content, such as Disney and Sesame Workshop, licensing will remain a critical part of the toy business.

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