]>Consumers favor familiar brands in these uncertain times Nostalgia-rich brands and images soared at the recently held SHOPA (School and Home Office Products Association) show in Miami. From trusted brands like Binney & Smith's Crayola to King Feature's Betty Boop, manufacturers claimed that consumers are craving the familiar. Newness is still welcomed, however. Bratz (MGA Entertainment) and the upcoming movie Spirit from DreamWorks were among the many newcomer properties adorning product. But it was familiar properties that garnered the most attention, seemingly breeding success, according to the booth keepers. Crayola (Easton, Pa.) showcased several new brand extensions from a variety of licensees. Items included calculators, alarm clocks, a sticker-maker and a "trace and draw projector" from consumer electronics manufacturer Polyconcept USA (Stamford, Ct.). In addition, Crayola executives showed off concept drawings from a series of science-based "Discover and Draw" items from Funrise Toy Corp. (Woodland Hills, Calif.). Product bows at Toy Fair in February. Crayola, which wants to be part of children's everyday experiences, is seeking an apparel partner. It once had a direct-to-retail agreement with Spiegel but that ended several years ago. BBC Int'l (Boca Raton, Fla.) is a footwear partner, distributing primarily through Ames Department Stores. Home products, like the clocks, lamps and toys from Polyconcept, may soon be joined by more licensees in the domestics realm (sheets, towels), says Diane Adams, Crayola manager global licensing. Separately, Crayola has hired agent Nancy Bailey & Associates (Coral Gables, Fla.) to find partners for two categories specifically: food decorating and personal care for kids. At the show, girl's brand Lisa Frank (Tucson, Ariz.) made its debut at Accessory Network (New York), on backpacks, bags, cosmetic bags, cold weather and fashion headwear, and hosiery. At Mead (Dayton, Ohio), familiar images on calendars like decades-old Betty Boop and photography by Kim Anderson (handled by New York-based Alaska Momma) were the buzz. Nostalgia-theme products offer the most growth in calendars, says Kathleen Kostelec-Durkin, Mead VP licensing and design for the company's consumer & office products group. Nostalgia-inducing board games like Hasbro's Boggle and Ohio Art's Etch-a-Sketch, were among 12 game properties gracing "game pens" from Stylus (Warren, Mich.). Each game pen, retailing from $4.99 to $9.99, features a small-size version of a popular board game at the top of the writing instrument. Previously, Stylus offered Operation and Bop-It game pens under license from Hasbro. New properties sprouted at Starpoint, a division of New York-based Fashion Accessories Bazaar. Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius (Nickelodeon) adorned categories like locker accessories, message centers and social stationery, along with Rocket Power and SpongeBob SquarePants, other Nick properties. Also new at Starpoint: Bratz, a foursome fashion doll line from MGA Entertainment, (North Hills, Calif.) graced backpacks, fashion bags, cold weather accessories and school supplies. However, updated familiar favorites were also on hand, such as Superman and Supergirl branded supplies, via licensor Warner Bros. Consumer Products. Starpoint is also a licensee for Hello Kitty (Sanrio) and fashion brand Mudd (handled by Ingroup Licensing). Another relatively untested brand: Spirit, the upcoming girl-targeted horse film from DreamWorks (Glendale, Calif.), found its way to several licensees' booths. At Zak (Spokane, Wash.), it debuted on lunchkits. "We got a great reaction to Spirit," says Craig Seaver, senior director, licensing, Zak. "Going in to SHOPA, we knew it would be a good property, but we were surprised at the strength in the response from our retailers."