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MGA Entertainment Named Master Toy Licensee for Kong

MGA Kong41 Entertainment (41e) and Arad Animation have granted the exclusive worldwide master toy license to MGA Entertainment for the Kong property. The product line will include figures, electronic and action plush, play sets, vehicles, games, and learning aid toys for kids ages 5 and up. 

Disney Confirms Upcoming Frozen 2

Frozen 2The Walt Disney Co. has announced plans to make a sequel to 2013’s Disney Frozen at the company’s annual shareholders meeting in San Francisco.
 
Since its release in November 2013, Disney Frozen has made nearly $1.3 billion globally at the box office and won the Academy Award for best animated feature film. The largest grossing animated film ever, Frozen also inspired a robust line of consumer products, and was the No. 1 best-selling toy brand among girls last year, according to The NPD Group.
 
Details regarding Frozen 2’s plot and the release date have yet to be announced, but directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck will return for the sequel. Josh Gad, the voice of Olaf, was present during the announcement of the film and will also return for the sequel.
 
Fans of Anna, Elsa, and Olaf can get their Frozen fix with a new short film, Frozen Fever, set to play in theaters ahead of Disney’s live-action film, Cinderella.

AGP Hires Karen Vermeulen as Head of Global Sales and Co-Productions

American Greetings Properties (AGP) has revamped its licensing, entertainment, digital, and distribution teams, starting with the hire of former Zodiak Kids executive Karen Vermeulen. AGP will assign new roles to several other key executives as it positions itself for growth on its Care Bears brand, and other classic and new intellectual properties (IP).
 
Vermeulen joins AGP as its new head of global sales and co-productions. She will initially be based out of London. Previously, she was senior vice president of global sales and co-production at Zodiak Kids.
 
In addition to the hire of Vermeulen, AGP has made other personnel changes. Janice Ross is now head of global licensing; Megan Buettner is now head of creative studios; and Angelina Castro is now head of marketing.

Tubi TV, Paramount Sign Licensing Agreement to Stream Films

Tubi TV has entered into a licensing agreement with Paramount Pictures to bring more than 50 classic feature films from the studio’s library to the company’s ad-supported video applications.
 
Films currently featured on Tubi TV include Top Gun, Basic Instinct, Total Recall, Star Trek: The Final Frontier, The Hunt for Red October, and recent releases from 2013 and 2014. Tubi TV offers a large catalog of free streaming TV shows and movies.
 
In addition, Sandy Grushow, CEO of Phase 2 Media and former chairman of Fox TV, is joining Tubi TV’s advisory board.

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Announces Publishing Program with Lego

BionicleLittle, Brown Books for Young Readers will launch a new publishing program based on Lego brands as part of a multiple book, multi-year agreement with the Lego Group in North America. Rex Ogle, senior editor at Little, Brown, will edit the books.

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers will launch its Lego line with graphic novels, each based on three bestselling Lego properties: Lego Ninjago, Lego Friends, and Lego Bionicle. Each novel will be published in trade paperback format and will be available as an e-book. Geared for readers ages 6 to 11, the books will feature adventures and original storytelling that will expand the Lego universe and build upon the key Lego themes of creativity, imagination, and humor. In addition, each novel will feature exclusive content designed to enhance the storytelling and further engage young readers. 
 
Ahead of the release of the first book in September, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers will support the launch of the program with an extensive pre-publication campaign, including a presence at San Diego Comic-Con, a wide-spread distribution of teaser chapter samplers, and extensive cross-promotion with the Lego Group.

Marvel Rolls Out Extensive Toy, Kids Product Program for Avengers: Age of Ultron, Spider-Man, and More

Disney Consumer Products (DCP) revealed its 2015 plans for Marvel and its key franchises, including The Avengers and Spider-Man. This year will see the roll-out of one of DCP’s biggest licensing programs to date, revolving around Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, the launch of new animated content, and innovative marketing initiatives.
 
For Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, Marvel is working closely with licensees—such as Hasbro, Lego, Hot Wheels, Funko, and more—to develop products that expand the storytelling of the franchise. Through this year and beyond, Marvel’s campaigns will focus on new animation on Disney XD, as well as a new marvelkids.com microsite, where kids can regularly interact with the characters and experience new content.
 
Following the success of the first Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy film, Marvel is building a long-term strategy, starting with the new animated TV series set to debut on Disney XD later this year. Marvel is also expanding the franchise’s licensing program with current licensees—which will be extending their existing lines—along with new partners.
 
Disney Publishing Worldwide (DPW) will continue to bring Marvel superheroes to life through books, kids apps, and e-books in support of all Marvel Studios feature films, Marvel Animated TV shows, and classic versions of Marvel’s iconic characters. In addition to publishing more than 4,000 Marvel books and magazines in 30 languages for the next generation of fans, DPW will extend its print and digital program to include young adult and middle grade novels based on Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Spider-Man franchises—as well as kids and family friendly apps.
 
The culmination of Marvel’s blockbuster year will be a national multi-platform celebration, entitled Marvel Super Hero Spectacular. Following the success of Marvel Super Hero September this past fall, this year’s campaign will run for five weeks, beginning at the end of September and going through all of October. Marvel Super Hero Spectacular will introduce an enhanced marketing and retail strategy, and will focus on core Marvel franchises including The Avengers, Spider-Man, and Guardians of the Galaxy.
 
Both The Avengers and Spider-Man drove more than $1 billion each at retail globally last year, and Marvel’s toy sales in the U.S. grew nearly 13 percent last year vs. 2013, according to The NPD Group.

Uglydoll, Fathead Collaborate for Life-Sized Wall Graphics

Pretty Ugly LLC and Fathead have teamed up for officially licensed decorative wall products. The collection includes life-sized wall graphics of fan favorite characters, including Wage, Babo, and Ox, and supporting cast characters. It also includes a mural of the Uglydoll Universe and Fathead Jr. Decals.

ITVS Global Entertainment Expands Gerry Anderson Portfolio

ThunderbirdsITV Studios Global Entertainment has expanded the Gerry Anderson brand portfolio in celebration of the Gerry and Sylvia Anderson’s TV series Thunderbirds.
 
The new line features 1960s TV cult classics, including Captain Scarlet, Stingray, Joe 90, and Space 1999. The new Gerry Anderson product lines, aimed at adult fans and collectors, will span key categories, including collectibles, figurines, adult apparel, and gifting.  

In the UK and Ireland, Robert Harrop will unveil a range of collectibles based on the Gerry Anderson portfolio, including Captain Scarlet, Fireball XL5, Joe 90, Space: 1999, Stingray, Supercar, and UFO. The lines will feature high quality bronze figurines, character figures, resin figures, vehicles, and pewter figures. Also inspired by the complete Gerry Anderson portfolio is Plastichead, which will launch a collection of adult apparel, accessories, mugs, and mug sets across the UK and Ireland. Leading greetings cards publisher, Hype Associates is also on board for a range of high end greetings cards, gift wrap and bags. 
 
The line will launch internationally across key territories including UK and Ireland, United States and Canada, Australia and New Zealand, Japan and European markets France, Germany, Italy, and Spain.

Yottoy Celebrates Girl Scout Friendship Dolls with Troops of Manhattan Girl Scouts

Girl ScoutsTo celebrate National Girl Scouts Cookie Weekend from March 8 to 13 and the launch of its new Girl Scouts Friendship Dolls, Yottoy hosted a behind-the-scenes tour of its offices for local Girl Scout troops. The visit included girl-powered fun and a first-hand look at running a successful business. Junior, Brownie, and Daisy scouts from around Manhattan visited with Yottoy President Kate Clark to see how Girl Scouts Friendship Dolls are designed, sewn, sculpted, and painted. They also got to see other Yottoy favorites, including Paddington Bear styles, Madeline, Babar, and more.
 

Pedigree Partners with WWE

PedigreePedigree Books has signed a multi-year deal with WWE that covers a wide spectrum of publishing formats on a global scale. Pedigree will develop and publish a comprehensive portfolio of WWE formats that will initially include annuals, activity formats, and education titles.

Disney, Discovery Communications Join Fuhu’s nabi Pass

Disney DiscoveryFuhu Inc., the creator of the nabi tablet, has finalized deals with Disney and Discovery Communications to bring a wide range of content from their libraries to the company’s nabi Pass.
 
Introduced in December, nabi Pass is a mixed media subscription service created for kids ages 3 to 14. The core value proposition of nabi Pass is to deliver an engaging, easily navigable subscription service that enables kids to discover inspiring content across several categories and interests, and across different media formats such as video, apps, games, and books that aid their development and broaden their horizons.
 
Through the deal with Disney, Fuhu will gain monthly access to a new collection of videos that feature programming from Disney Channel, Disney Junior, and Disney XD, as well as select Disney apps and e-books, to curate on nabi Pass on an ongoing basis. Discovery Communications will provide content from across its portfolio under the Discovery Family Channel brand. Fuhu will also organize programming across topic areas such as nature, sports, animals, food, crafts, and cars through nabi Pass channels.
 
Discovery Communications’ video offerings will include notable franchises and specials, such as When Dinosaurs Roamed America, Too Cute!, and How It’s Made.

Kidz Bop Expands Release Schedule to Four Albums Per Year

KidzBopKidz Bop is expanding its release schedule to include four albums per year. The expansion follows the success of Kidz Bop 27, which launched in January and debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard Top 200 Album Chart. The album was Kidz Bop’s fastest selling release in two years, with sales up more than 68 percent from the preceding Kidz Bop album, Kidz Bop 26. The brand’s second release this year, Kidz Bop 28, will be released on March 23 and will be followed by Kidz Bop 29 and 30 this summer and fall.
 
The news coincides with the launch of Kidz Bop’s Make Some Noise tour this month. The first two performances of the year, in Dallas and Seattle, sold out. The tour is represented by CAA and will hit more than 40 other North American cities this year, including New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington D.C, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Ticket information and tour dates are available at kidzbop.com/tour.

Genius Brands Appoints New Agents for Brands

Genius BrandsGenius Brands International has announced the appointment of two new international sales agents to handle its growing portfolio of original brands, including Baby Genius, Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab, Llama Llama, Secret Millionaires Club, and Stan Lee’s Mighty 7. 
 
In Canada, GBI properties will be represented for multiplatform content distribution by Kaleidoscope Entertainment Inc., and in the Western European markets of France, Germany, Benelux, Spain and Italy, NDRL will represent GBI’s content for sales across multiple platforms, as well as licensing and merchandising.

Peter Maule Joins Nitro Circus as Global Head of Licensing

Nitro Circus has tapped Peter Maule to develop the company’s global licensing, retail, and consumer products business as the action sports and entertainment company expands into new ventures. 
 
Maule will focus on leveraging Nitro Circus’ brand and IP as well as developing strategic licensing and retail partnerships worldwide across all platforms. Key product categories include home entertainment, video games, apps, mobile, toys, apparel, and publishing.
 
Maule will lead Nitro Circus’ exhibition at Licensing Expo in June in Las Vegas.
 
Maule has held senior executive positions with multiple sports and entertainment firms, including The Walt Disney Co., Hallmark Cards, Corus Entertainment, and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).

EUROPE

Cinderella Opens at U.S. Box Office

CinderellaDisney’s new live action film Cinderella opened at the U.S. box office to an estimated three-day $70.1M gross
 
Filmed entirely in the UK, Cinderella features Lily James, Richard Madden, BAFTA and Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett, Holliday Grainger, Sophie McShera, BAFTA winning and Academy Award nominee Helena Bonham Carter and is directed by BAFTA winning and Academy Award nominee Kenneth Branagh.
 
Cinderella opens in cinemas across the UK on March 27, and will have its UK premiere within Leicester Square this week alongside a brand new exhibit housed within the gardens that celebrates BAFTA and Academy Award winning Sandy Powell’s critically acclaimed costumes and the world of Cinderella. Audiences will also be treated to the hotly anticipated seven-minute animated short Frozen Fever, which plays before the film.
 

The Red Harlequin Licenses Bespoke Jewelry Line

The Red Harlequin has entered into a licensing agreement with Zor Creations for a line of bespoke jewelry and accessories. Stephanie Lagier will design a series of seven jewelry lines inspired by the characteristics of each of the Chrome Nations featured in The Red Harlequin books. Products will include necklaces, earrings, rings, bracelets, jeweled hairbands, key chains, and decorative accessories.

The Entertainer Is a Winner at Retail Awards

EntertainerThe Entertainer Toy Shop has been named ‘Speciality Retailer of the Year’ at the Oracle Retail Week Awards, held on March 12th 2015 at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London.
 
The Entertainer was awarded ‘Speciality Retailer of the Year’ for its success in growing its presence on the UK high street and internationally, it’s focus on creating a unique in store experience for its customers and its charitable work and involvement within the community.
 
Gary Grant, founder of The Entertainer commented, “It’s a real honour to be recognised by Retail Week and given such a prestigious accolade. Less than two weeks ago, we were recognised as a Top 100 company to work for by the Sunday Times and this latest win is the icing on the cake. Winning two such highly acclaimed awards is a great achievement for our company and employees and these awards are for all the people who have contributed to make The Entertainer such a success. This has been a really positive week for The Entertainer and we are looking forward to capping this off by opening our 100th store in Aylesbury this weekend.”
 

Warner Bros. Consumer Products Adds to DC Comics Program

Warner Bros. DC ComicsWarner Bros. Consumer Products UK  (WBCP UK) has added power to the DC Comics licensing programme through the addition of new licensees and the extension and enhancement of commercial relationships with its existing best-in-class partners.
 
Emporium Eyewear has inked a deal to manufacture DC Comics spectacles for children.  Emporium is planning 3 different phased launches, with classic Batman and Superman branded eyewear scheduled to make its retail debut this summer.  Justice League products will follow in October 2015 and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice eyewear is set to launch in February 2016.  In addition to independent opticians, the large multiples, including Boots, Vision Express, Optical Express and ASDA will be stocking products from the various ranges, taking the Super Hero properties into unexplored territory and further expanding the retail footprint of DC Comics in the UK.
 
Character World has extended its multi-brand contract with WBCP UK, and Corsair, the licensed personal care specialist, has also extended its licensing agreement with WBCP UK. 
 

Mr. Men and Little Miss Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day

Mr. MischiefThe Mr. Men and Little Miss characters are celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with their own special style of silliness in Mr. Mischief and the Leprechaun – a seasonal story full of the usual muddle and mayhem that the Mr. Men and Little Misses bring to every occasion.  The book is available now.
  
Mr. Men was the fifth most popular children’s book brand in 2014, selling over 2 million pounds worth of books and in a recent poll of 1,000 parents and their children commissioned by Egmont Publishing, over 60% of parents said that funny books and/or humorous stories that make them and their children laugh are the stories they most enjoy reading, and over 50% of children said that if a book is funny they would be more likely to want to read it.  Familiarity with characters also has a big impact on children’s reading choices.  46% of children surveyed said that if a book features characters they already know and like, they are more likely to want to read that story. 
  
Sarah Bates, Publishing Director, Egmont Publishing commented: “It’s brilliant to learn from parents and children that laughter and favourite characters are still big motivators for them to share a book together.  Humour is an integral part of the Mr. Men and Little Miss charm and it is key to them remaining a favourite for families for over 40 years.  It’s great to think that the tradition of sharing a story and a chuckle with iconic characters such as Mr. Tickle or Little Miss Sunshine is now being shared with the next generation of Mr. Men fans.”

Blue Trellis Signs for Sports Afield

Blue Trellis, the license and literary company headed by Bobbie Hunnicutt and Linda Cunningham, has signed Sports Afield for licensing representation. 
 
The Sports Afield brand includes the iconic 125 year old Sports Afield magazine dedicated to outdoor enthusiasts; the website, SportsAfield.com, the weekly outdoor adventure television program, World of Sports Afield reaching over 31 million households; and Sports Afield Trophy Properties, a network of experienced brokers in recreational property needs.
 
Bobbie Hunnicutt said, “We are proud to be representing such an iconic brand that is as relevant today as it was a century ago.  The current Sports Afield name and logo as well as their famous vintage covers make it possible to affiliate with a wide range of products.  And for a licensee, the opportunity is enormous since Sports Afield can deliver an integrated marketing and promotional program of licensed products across their magazine, web and television show platforms.”

Suncrest Signs with Tiny Tatty Teddy

Tiny TattySuncrest Trading has added Tiny Tatty Teddy by the Carte Blanche Group, creators of the iconic Me to You brand, to its portfolio.  The license will cover soft play, sensory and activity toys, car and travel toys and sleep aids, featuring the loveable baby bear with a blue nose and a warm heart.
 
“We are delighted to be working with Carte Blanche on this license opportunity, (commented Rachael Bradshaw, Managing Director of Suncrest Trading). Tiny Tatty Teddy is a well-established license with a loyal fan base of mums who have grown up with the Me to You brand. We see a fantastic opportunity to create a range of products with an instantly recognisable character that creates an emotional connection with mums.”

A Happy Retail Promotion for 2015

SmileyWorldSmileyWorld has teamed up with France’s chocolate snack Brossard to create the ‘happiest retail promotion of 2015’.
 
This 3-tiered promotion features a special code on all Brossard packaging, allowing the consumer to go online and play SmileyWorld games on Brossard’s website with the chance to win exclusive Smiley prizes. Smiley prizes range from a hero prize of a Happy Brossard Box (gift card for travel and entertainment, Smiley products and Brossard products), through to 200 redeemable voucher codes for smiley.com which allow the consumer free access to a selection of Smiley premiums that include; phone cases, headphones, tees and watches, as well as thousands of exclusive Smiley graphics created exclusively for Brossard.
 
The promotion also features an opportunity to create your own personalised Smileys on Brossard’s website as well as a mechanism to print or share your Smiley across social channels.

Technicolor Secures New Partners for The Deep

TechnicolorTechnicolor has finalized several European broadcast agreements with Ketnet in Belgium, NRK in Norway, SVT in Sweden and YLE in Finland for the new CG-animated series The Deep, currently in production on 26 half-hour episodes. The announcement was made by Alison Warner, VP, IP Sales, Acquisitions and Co-Productions at Technicolor.
 
Technicolor serves as the exclusive international distributor (excluding Canada, Australia and New Zealand) and holds the worldwide licensing and merchandising rights for The Deep, managing the global broadcast rollout of the series and developing brand extension licensing opportunities. Additional international broadcast partners already secured for the series include The Seven Network and ABC3 in Australia and Super RTL in Germany.
  
“Our new best-in-class broadcast partners share our enthusiasm for The Deep, and recognize its unique aspects which transcend ages, melding undersea adventures and exploration with family dynamics aboard a state-of-the-art submarine,” commented Warner. “There really is no other property like it in the marketplace.”

ASIA

Nintendo, DeNA Form Business and Capital Alliance

Nintendo Co. Ltd. and DeNA Co. Ltd. have entered into a business and capital alliance to develop and operate new game apps for smart devices and build a new multi-device membership service for consumers worldwide.
 
Leveraging the strength of Nintendo’s intellectual property (IP) and game development skills in combination with DeNA’s world-class expertise in mobile games, both companies will develop and operate new game apps based on Nintendo’s IP, including its iconic game characters, for smart devices. The alliance will complement Nintendo’s dedicated video game systems business and extend Nintendo’s reach into the market of smart device users worldwide. DeNA will also strengthen its gaming business by leveraging Nintendo’s IP. Only new original games optimized for smart device functionality will be created, rather than porting games created specifically for the Wii U home console or the Nintendo 3DS portable system.
 
To create new game experiences for smart devices, all Nintendo IP will be eligible for development and exploration by the alliance. Consumers will have the opportunity to explore premium experiences on Nintendo’s dedicated video game platforms.
 
Nintendo and DeNA will also develop an online membership service that is accessible from smart devices, PC and Nintendo systems, such as the Nintendo 3DS portable system and the Wii U home console. The membership service will launch this fall.

EMPLOYMENT

A feature of the Total Licensing Weekly Report is the Employment section - this includes 'Jobs Available' and 'Jobs Wanted'. So if you have a position in your company that needs to be filled, or you yourself are looking for employment opportunities, don't hesitate to send your information to:

Becky becky@totallicensing.com
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JOB POSTING

Award-winning Northern Jersey PR firm is looking for a social media savvy, creative go-getter for an entry level account coordinator position that offers the opportunity to learn the ropes in PR and play in the toy, food, and pet categories. Strong knowledge of social media a must. Candidates should demonstrate a willingness to learn, ability to handle multiple tasks, work independently and in a team environment and demonstrate solid time management and organizational skills. "Business casual" environment, 1/2 day Fridays during summer, growth opportunities. We’re looking for motivated, organized and energetic people for blue-chip accounts. Please email cover letters and resumes to jobs@freemanpr.com.
 

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