The Licensing Blog

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Moshi Monsters Come to Nintendo DS

This is the year of the Moshi Monsters.

Mind Candy CEO Michael Acton Smith gave a packed-house speech at Toy Fair in February, then doubled down on the exposure with a huge booth in June at Licensing Show. Earlier this month, Moshi held an official launch party at Toys “R” Us in Times Square for its Spin Master toy line. He’ll give the keynote address at Brand Licensing Europe in October. The Moshi Monsters are clearly on a roll.

Now they’re coming to Nintendo DS. Moshi Monsters: Moshling Zoo, from Activision Publishing, Inc. will be released this fall.

“With an absolutely massive fan base, Moshi Monsters is clearly one of the fastest growing children’s entertainment brands in the world,” said David Oxford, EVP & General Manager, Activision Publishing. “We look forward to building on Mind Candy’s success as we work closely with them to extend the brand experience.”

Moshi Monsters: Moshling Zoo builds upon the popularity of the Moshlings—monsters for your online pet monsters—and offers fans a fresh new take on the Moshi universe, including brand new content and a new way to interact with their favorite characters. The game features new locations and an exclusive new Moshling—which is yet to be revealed. There are 52 Moshlings to collect from the common to the rare, including the elusive ‘Ultra-Rare’. Children can also play new mini-games and educational style puzzles, plus win awards and trophies to take back to their zoo.

—Bryan Joiner

May the Force (and Chocolate) Be With You

CandyRific has a hit with M&M’S Brand Star Wars novelties, especially the Light-Up Lightsaber, which, according to CandyRific President Rob Auerbach, is selling at a velocity of two-to-three times greater than other confectionery novelty items.

The company announced its license pairing Lucasfilm’s Star Wars with M&M’s Characters at a New York City event at Dylan’s Candy Bar in February. According to Auerbach, the excitement continues to build around these novelty items as fans gear up for the Blu-ray release of Star Wars: The Complete Saga in late September and the release of Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace in 3-D, which is the first of all six Star Wars films to be converted in 3-D, in February.

The Light-Up Lightsaber is CandyRific’s number one selling item, and its other M&M’S Brand Star Wars novelty items, including the fan, coin bank, and 9- and 12-inch dispensers are not far behind.

WME Announces Categories Available for Licensing

WME Licensing is looking for licensees for fashion designer Cynthia Rowley, in the bedding, social expressions, health and beauty aids, furniture, and children’s apparel categories; world-renowned health nutritionist Keri Glassman, in the health and beauty aids, food and beverage, fitness equipment, and activewear/sportswear categories; leading Latina chef Lorena Garcia, in all categories; and Survivor host Jeff Probst, in all categories.

—TLB Staff

Thomas to the Beach, Skechers to Southeast Asia

HIT Entertainment has inked a deal with Morgan Home Fashions for new lines of Thomas & Friends seasonal beach products. Armed with the No. 1 preschool property, Thomas & Friends, Morgan will be riding the rails providing unique beach products that will be unveiled to retailers during New York Home Fashions Market Week from September 19-23. The new line will hit stores for the 2012 beach season, too late for this TLB editor, who will be catching rays, weather permitting, in four days.

Thomas & Friends will blanket the beach with products, including sun shades, zip-up beach mats, and roll up beach mats. The merchandise will be targeted toward kids of all ages and their parents. This is the first time Thomas & Friends seasonal products will be designed and offered specifically for use at the beach.

Skechers to Southeast Asia

Skechers USA, Inc. has signed a licensing agreement with The Licensing Management Group (LMG) to develop the brand across Southeast Asia.

Under the multiyear agreement, LMG will present a wide range of strategic opportunities to leverage the brand’s prominence as a multifaceted lifestyle brand for men, women, and children across Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

In addition to LMG, Skechers’s current global licensee network includes a worldwide partnership with Viva International Group for eyewear; a multiyear partnership with Li & Fung’s LF USA for Skechers Fitness apparel and accessories in the United States; and a wide range of international partnerships, including apparel in China, South Korea, Israel, and India; bags in Panama; and watches in the Philippines. Skechers also has licensing agreements for kids’ apparel, socks, watches, bags, luggage and medical scrubs, among others, and is continuing to seek new opportunities to bring the Skechers brand to new product segments around the globe.

—Bryan Joiner

New Deals for Domo

Big Tent Entertainment is seeking to “domo-nate” retail with its new licensing deals for Domo, the mascot of the Japanese public broadcaster NHK who became a viral Internet sensation.

Big Tent added four new licensees for Domo, which it describes as “the reigning poster child for personalized, user-generated content.” Buckle Down, Lava Lite, SalesOne, and Underboss Production have inked multiyear agreements to create quirky accessories and novelty items that will hit retail this fall.

Domo’s popularity has led him from viral breeding grounds, including YouTube, Facebook, and Flickr, to occupy products like Buckle Down’s belts and accessories. The company will release a line of Domo web belts, leather belts, and silicone belts, as well as pet accessories including collars and leashes.

Lave Lite will create lamps featuring Domo, and Underboss Productions will produce one-piece Domo union suits for adults. SalesOne will release a collection of accessories, which include terry cuff wristbands, cuff links, and tattoo sleeves, along with an array of body jewelry, such as ear plugs, fake ear plugs, magnetic ear plugs/earrings, barbells, and navel rings.

Conan the Barbarian: When Starting Over is the Best Idea

There’s a great article by Brooks Barnes in the Media Decoder blog on NYT.com about Conan the Barbarian and what Paradox Entertainment has done to rebuild the brand.

I won’t spoil anything, but I’ll just note that when Paradox took the rights to Conan in 2002, they yanked all licensed products off the market. Why? “Conan’s brutality had been so watered down in search of the broadest possible audience that there was almost no personality left,” Barnes writes, paraphrasing a Paradox executive.

The long-term approach has paid off with a new Conan movie to be released next Friday… and new licensing opportunities. As they say in the New York City subway system, sometimes you’ve got to go backward to go forward.

—Bryan Joiner

New Deals for Skechers, Angry Birds

Skechers Signs Licensing Agreement for Skechers-Branded Youth Electronics

Skechers USA, Inc. has signed a licensing agreement with Sakar International to produce youth electronics and accessories featuring Skechers branding and Skechers Kids’ animated characters. The line is scheduled to launch in the Q1 2012 at retailers across the United States.

Under the agreement, Sakar will design, produce and distribute a wide range of Skechers-branded electronics and accessories, including MP3 players, molded earbuds, speakers, digital cameras, cases, skins, and USB flash drives inspired by Skechers Kids’ footwear styles. Products will be designed for boys and girls from elementary through high school with artwork from Skechers’ Zevo-3 animated television series, the Twinkle Toes by Skechers collection, as well as additional Skechers Kids’ characters and Skechers branding.

SwaddleDesigns Introduces New Angry Birds Baby Products

SwaddleDesigns and Rovio have signed a definitive agreement granting SwaddleDesigns licensing and merchandising rights for Angry Birds. SwaddleDesigns’ Angry Birds Baby products are now available for pre-order at SwaddleDesigns.com and shipping worldwide.

SwaddleDesigns is introducing products featuring Angry Birds including the Ultimate Receiving Blanket, Marquisette Swaddling Blanket, zzZipMe Sack wearable blanket, Baby Lovie security blankie, and Baby Burpies. Products will begin shipping by October 10.

—The TLB Team

Uglydoll Partners with U.S. Open; Jakks Pacific and Smack Sportswear Sign Deals

U.S. Open Welcomes Uglydoll Characters

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) and Uglydoll announced today their partnership to create three limited-edition tennis-themed Uglydoll characters that will be available during this year’s U.S. Open, held in New York August 29-September 11.

The characters Ox, Big Toe, and Trunko will come with their own tennis-inspired narrative that will provide consumers with a unique and fun way to share their passion for tennis. The plush toy collection will be featured in three sizes. The toys will be available at U.S. Open event retail shops beginning August 23 and are now available at the FAO Schwarz Fifth Avenue store. Consumers also will be able to purchase the merchandise online at www.uglydolls.com and www.usopenshop.org.

Jakks Pacific to Acquire Moose Mountain Toymakers

Jakks Pacific, Inc. has entered into an agreement to acquire Hong Kong-based Moose Mountain Toymakers Limited, which sells and manufactures sports arcade products, foot-to-floor ride-ons, tents, safe soft-play environments, arcade pinball games, and wagons.

Jakks Pacific will acquire all of the shares of stock of Moose Mountain, a 15-year-old, privately held company, and its Parsippany, NJ-based affiliate, Moose Mountain Marketing, Inc. The business includes licenses for well-known characters and brands, and its children’s product lines are complementary to Jakks Pacific’s product portfolio.

The transaction is scheduled to close in the third quarter of 2011, subject to third-party approvals and other customary closing conditions.

Smack Sportswear Signs Licensing Deal with National Volleyball League

Smack Sportswear (Smack), a brand of custom-designed volleyball apparel for both indoor and beach volleyball players alike, has signed a licensing deal with the National Volleyball League (NVL), the U.S.’s new professional beach volleyball tour.

Smack will design and manufacture the NVL’s licensed beach and fan wear. The NVL licensed apparel will be sold at events, VBSuperstore.com, and many volleyball specialty stores nationwide.

Melissa Tinklepaugh

Marvel Releases Kitchen Line; Disney Plans Expo

Marvel Heads to the Kitchen with Williams-Sonoma

Marvel Entertainment, LLC, has partnered with Williams-Sonoma to launch a collection of superhero kitchen and bakeware merchandise sold exclusively at Williams-Sonoma.

Designed exclusively for the retailer, the products include renowned superheroes from the Marvel Universe, including Spider-Man, Hulk, Captain America, and Iron Man. Featuring retro character art and graphics, the Williams-Sonoma collection captures the charm and artistry of the original Marvel Comics.

The program launches with an array of bakeware and kitchen essentials including cookie cutters, pancake molds, adult and child aprons, spatulas, and iced cookies. Product will be available at all Williams-Sonoma stores in the U.S. and Canada, and also via catalog and online.

Berkshire Signs Fila Licensing Deal

Italy’s Fila Luxembourg, S.a.r.l. has entered into a multiyear licensing deal with Berkshire Fashions, Inc. to design, manufacturer, and sell Fila accessories for the U.S. market, commencing this fall.

The line for Fila, which marks its 100 anniversary this year, will feature men’s women’s, boys’, and girls’ headwear, cold weather accessories, sweatbands, bags, and water bottles.

Disney Consumer Products To Showcase Merchandise at D23 Expo 2011

Disney Consumer Products (DCP) will showcase an extensive collection of Disney merchandise and interactive experiences inside its Disney Living Pavilion at the ultimate Disney fan event, D23 Expo, held at the Anaheim Convention Center from August 19-21.

D23 Expo attendees can explore the ultimate Disney lifestyle through the neighborhoods of “Style,” “Play,” and “Celebrations.” From the latest toys and newest fashions to the ultimate Disney birthday party and some of the most beloved Disney classics such as Disney It’s a Small World, guests can experience all things Disney through an immersive environment featuring exclusive and never-before-seen products; meet and greets with artists, designers, authors, and innovators; hands-on demos and activities; and live performances at the Disney Living Pavilion stage.

Guests can commemorate the event with specially released D23 merchandise, including a new Hallmark keepsake ornament, a Toy Story Woody action figure, a Finn McMissile Cars vehicle from Mattel, a Minnie Mouse plush from Just Play, and limited-edition 25th anniversary items from Disney Store.

Tickets to D23 Expo 2011 are available at http://www.D23Expo.com. Admission includes access to all experiences and entertainment at the D23 Expo and can be purchased for single days or for the full three days of festivities. More details about D23 Expo entertainment, events, and special guests will be announced in the coming weeks. Fans can keep up with all the news by visiting www.D23Expo.com, as well as by following “Disney D23″ on Twitter and Facebook.

Melissa Tinklepaugh

When Stealing Licensed Products is Encouraged

The Wall Street Journal’s Sarah Rose has a great story today on luxury hotels and how they’ve created their own branded personal care items in order to lure discerning customers. By “discerning customers,” we mean thieves.

Rose explains that the W chain of hotels uses Bliss soaps, shampoos, and lotions to lure customers. She explores the habits of other hotel chains including Hilton Hotels and Resorts, Ritz Carlton, and Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group. Many of the agreements involve licensing between hotel beauty product suppliers and luxury brands.

UK Judge Rules Against Lucasfilm

The designer of the original Storm Trooper helmets for the Star Wars franchise has won a legal battle in the United Kingdom that will allow him to continue selling the helmets there, BBC news reports.

Andrew Ainsworth of London is not allowed to sell the helmets in the U.S. due to American copyright law, but British Supreme Court judges accepted Ainsworth’s argument that the helmets were not artistic works but functional ones, and therefore not subject to the same copyright protection as works of art. The court ruled that three-dimensional creations are not considered sculptures, limiting their copyright protection in the United Kingdom to 15 years.

Retail Sales Up, But Profits, Not So Much

Reuters reports that U.S. retailers will report a nearly 3 percent increase in sales from last year, but that an increase in sales of discount merchandise has kept margins razor-thin.

The article posits that the large number of sales is designed to clear store shelves before the back-to-school season—but it is unclear whether BTS items will command full price.

As we’ve written before, licensed goods should fare pretty well during BTS season, regardless of overall sales numbers.

—Bryan Joiner

Classics on Netflix Bring the Big Bucks for CBS

Normally when we talk about CBS licensing, we’re talking about products for Star Trek, CSI, Star Trek, Dexter, Weeds, and, of course, Star Trek. But CBS made news with a different type of licensing yesterday.

Fresh off a recent content-streaming deal with Amazon for its Amazon Prime service, CBS’s earnings announcement showed a big boost from a February deal it signed with Netflix for streaming content, including Cheers and Frasier, according to The Wall Street Journal‘s Sam Schechner, who reported that the company saw 21 percent growth in its content licensing and distribution departments.

This doesn’t fall under the CBS Consumer Products umbrella, but better awareness of these shows, and others, can only be good for the licensing department.

Slow licensing news day today, but at least now you’ve got the Cheers theme song in your head. You’re welcome.

—Bryan Joiner

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