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LeSportsac, Nintendo Partner for a New Super Mario Travel Collection

LeSport_NintendoLeSportsac and Nintendo partnered to introduce a collection of totes, backpacks, and accessories inspired by Super Mario. The new line will launch during this holiday season.

The collaboration features two designs—Power-Up Burst and Mario Travel—created exclusively for the LeSportsac x Nintendo collection. Power-Up Burst is inspired by the classic game’s power-up items, including Fire Flowers, Super Mushrooms, 1-Up Mushrooms, Super Stars, coins, Goombas, and Koopas. The Mario Travel print portrays Mushroom Kingdom-inspired travel memorabilia, such as luggage tags, passport stamps, and postcards. Read the rest of this entry »

Uniqlo Unveils Grand Prize Winners of Nintendo T-Shirt Design Competition

Nintendo_Uniqlo_WinnerBeginning May 29, Uniqlo will unveil 25 winning designs from this year’s Nintendo-themed Uniqlo T-shirt Grand Prix competition. Uniqlo began the contest in 2005.

This year’s contest included 16,000 entries worldwide where participants created original T-shirt designs inspired by Nintendo’s games and legendary characters. Read the rest of this entry »

Nintendo Outlines Launch Plans for First Mobile App Miitomo

Nintendo’s first app made exclusively for smart devices Miitomo will launch in North America in March for both iOS and Android devices.

Starting February 17, people can pre-register for Miitomo by signing up for the new Nintendo account service using their existing email, social media accounts, or current Nintendo Network IDs. People who pre-register will be among the first to be notified about the availability of Miitomo when it launches in March.

Nintendo will offer a special Miitomo bonus to anyone who signs up for a Nintendo account between February 17 and the launch. Miitomo is a social experience that uses Nintendo’s Mii characters, which first debuted on the Wii console to spark lighthearted conversations like “What song has been stuck in your head lately?” or “Do you believe in aliens?” Users can also share photos featuring their Mii with the Miifoto feature.

ThinkGeek and GameStop to Launch Unique Store Concept

ThinkGeekLogoThis fall, online retailer ThinkGeek will partner with GameStop to open a new concept retail store focused entirely on collectibles. The first store will open in the Florida Mall in Orlando on September 25.

ThinkGeek’s stores are intended to feature a wide assortment of collectibles, as well as other licensed products from pop culture brands such as Star Wars, Game of Thrones, Marvel, Nintendo, and more.

ThinkGeek and its parent company, Geeknet, were acquired by retailer GameStop this past June.

Hasbro to Launch Yo-Kai Watch Toy Line Early Next Year

Nintendo,YoKaiWatchWith Nintendo‘s Yo-Kai Watch launching in the U.S. on November 6, Hasbro will be introducing new play items based on the Yo-Kai Watch franchise in North America and Australia in January. Hasbro’s line, which will expand to additional global markets by the end of next year, will include toys and games centered around collectible medals, each representing a unique Yo-kai.

Read the rest of this entry »

Nintendo Partners with Universal Parks & Resorts for First-Ever Theme Park Attractions Based on Nintendo Games and Characters

Nintendo and Universal Parks & Resorts will bring the world of Nintendo to life at Universal theme parks, with experiences based on Nintendo’s wildly popular games, characters, and worlds. Through the partnership, Nintendo will be expanding the reach and popularity of its characters and intellectual property.

The immersive experiences will include major attractions at Universal’s theme parks and will feature Nintendo’s best-known characters and games. More details will be announced in the future, as the Nintendo and Universal creative teams work to create specific concepts.

COMMENTARY: Licensed Video Game-Based Toys Can Ease Kids into Other Kinds of Play

KNEX.SuperMarioDesertIt’s summertime, which for a lot of kids means playing outside in the sunshine, swimming, and maybe even going on trips to visit nature. But for others, summer means staying indoors and playing video games all day. It’s probably best to moderate any activity that involves staring at a screen; however, the question is, how to get video game-obsessed kids to take up a different form of play? The answer may be toys based on popular video game titles, and there are quite a few of those available right now.

We kick off our non-comprehensive list with K’NEX, which since 2010, has partnered with Nintendo on construction toys based on its popular Mario property. Recently, I spoke to an executive at the company, who said that no small part of the partnership’s success came from replicating game elements in K’NEX’s construction sets: For example, many of its Super Mario building sets have a mechanism that simulates the avatar’s in-game jumping ability. Read the rest of this entry »

Performance Brands Announces New Digital Division, Signs Clumsy Ninja

Performance Brands has been developing long-term licensing programs for top global brand names such as BMW, Aston Martin, Ford, Nintendo, IBML Brands (Dunlop, Slazenger, Everlast) in the UK, Europe, and Asia for more than a decade. Performance Brands has now formed a new division, PB Digital.

Over the past five years, Performance Brands’ digital partnerships have grown significantly. Michele Pearce, head of European licensing, has represented Nintendo for more than six years. Michele also spearheaded the pitch to represent Ubisoft (Assassin’s Creed) and to manage all promotional activity for Pokemon.

Michele will take on the new role of vice president for PB Digital and will consolidate the licensing programs for all digital and entertainment clients, using her expertise and leverage with digital developers, publishing houses, and global toy manufacturers to grow global brands.

PB Digital will focus on digital, toys, promotions, and publishing with a team with first-hand industry knowledge of these sectors. Mike Archer has a background in marketing and promotions; Linden Farrow joins the team with a background that includes toy product development for Hornby and management of all product approval for Nintendo; and Howard Claire brings experience in the hardgoods/toys sector.

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Performance Brands has also been appointed global licensing agent for Clumsy Ninja, the mobile game from NaturalMotion Games released on November 21. Clumsy Ninja is a virtual friend who feels alive and self-aware. Players train him, throw him, tickle him, and tie balloons to him. The game uses NaturalMotion’s Euphoria motion engine which lets the character sense, feel, move, and react uniquely every time.

COMMENTARY: New Warner Bros. Licensed Games Look at Superheroes in a Different Light

I couldn’t be happier that 99 percent of all current movies—including Thor: The Dark World, due in theaters this week—seem to feature somebody in a cape or a miraculous suit of armor battling evil. Full disclosure: I was way into superhero comics when I was a kid. I managed to amass hundreds, which I kept in cardboard long boxes, re-reading them over and over throughout my tortured adolescence. I didn’t buy them for collecting purposes, thank goodness; years later, I traded in the entire lot for $10 and a key lime pie, and considered myself lucky to have gotten that much.

(Seriously, folks, if you started collecting comics during the 1990s or later, they’re not going to put your kid through college. It just won’t happen.)

My point is, I’m a huge superhero fan. However, I’ve started to feel super-saturated by all the licensed comic book-based movies and TV shows popping up of late. They always seem so serious, with all the world-saving and high drama, the death and epic romance and heroic posturing. It’s great the first time, pretty good the second, but around the umpteenth, I have to fight the urge to stand up and yell, “Hey, grown person in hockey pants! Aren’t we supposed to be having fun here?”

For that reason, I am grateful for the recent trend in video games based on licensed superhero properties, specifically those from Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. While its offerings of late include the very seriously toned Batman: Arkham Origins, the company is also responsible for two titles that manage to be respectful of the superhero genre, while simultaneously turning it on its head in ways that are funny and downright fun. Both games are available now and suitable for kids ages 10 and up.   Phil.Nov6.3

Lego Marvel Super Heroes: This one, from Warner Bros. and TT Games, combines all the action of Marvel Comics with the game play of Lego video games. Players climb into the skins and costumes of such iconic characters as Iron Man, Captain America, and Spider-Man, ostensibly to stop Loki from an act of super-villainy. The game is available on a wide variety of platforms, with noticeable differences between the console and handheld versions. However, both offer a wide roster of playable heroes with distinct abilities, e.g., Iron Man can fire laser beams and fly, Hawkeye can shoot arrows at targets via a bulls-eye cursor, etc. Then there is the Hulk, who is—not surprisingly—enormous compared to other Lego avatars, and can toss around vehicles and all sorts of objects with ease.

In the console version, the levels have more of an open world feel, meaning players are free to roam and go on side missions. By comparison, the handheld-only Lego Marvel Super Heroes: Universe in Peril seems more like a traditional game. The levels feel shorter, and some consist entirely of fights with Doctor Octopus or other villains. This might appeal to a gamer who just wants to work out some aggression quickly. For what it’s worth, the Nintendo 3DS version makes good use of the hardware’s special features. To make Spider-Man swing around on his webs, for example, one makes an upward motion on the touchscreen. Meanwhile, both versions of the game require players to use certain heroes at particular times.

Phil.Nov6.2As far as taking a superhero epic and making it fresh, fun, and noticeably less grim than it could be, it helps that much of this universe is built on Legos. Make no mistake: Throughout the course of Lego Marvel Super Heroes, players cut a swath of impressive destruction through New York City and other locales. They also amass a considerable body count, possibly greater than all the Marvel films combined. However, when objects including cars and trains are destroyed and bad guys are smitten, they explode into colorful Lego building blocks, which somehow makes things seem less violent, and more slapstick-y. Similarly, when a player’s avatar gets killed, it topples and reverts into component Lego pieces. The implied message seems to be that it’s never game over, just time to do a quick rebuild.

Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure: On the surface, dovetailing a licensed superhero universe with Scribblenauts, a video game franchise that challenges players to use words to solve puzzles and overcome obstacles, might not seem the obvious choice. After all, superheroes have a reputation for solving their problems through physical action, e.g., smashing, hitting things with an ancient Norse hammer, as opposed to using the written word. But in the recent Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure, it turns out that Maxwell, the main protagonist of Scribblenauts, is not such a misfit in the DC Comics universe, the home of such characters as Superman and Batman. Maxwell has a magical notebook that grants him godlike power—he can make any object he writes materialize, with some limitations. Yet he’s inherently a good kid, so he uses it for good and not evil.

Phil.Nov6.1The game play is similar to previous Scribblenauts games, though this time around, some of the puzzles take on the form of rampaging super villains. Maxwell can try to punch them into submission; however, the game is always more interesting when he—and therefore the player—uses wits and a well-placed adjective. For example, at one point early on, a scar-faced criminal can be transformed into a tiny version of himself to be carried off to jail. All the various DC heroes and villains look like cute, super-deformed versions of themselves, but overall, Warner Bros. and game developer 5th Cell get their personalities and abilities down.

The end result is a vision of the DC Universe that is fairly lighthearted and surprisingly cerebral. And that’s fine by me. If more superheroes led by their brains instead of adrenal glands, I might never have stopped collecting comics. On the other hand, I live in a really small apartment now, and I can make my own pies.

For more commentary from Phil, check back often. Views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Licensing Book as a whole. We hope that you will share your comments and feedback below. Until next time!

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