JAKKS Pacific to Acquire Play Along
JAKKS Pacific has reached an agreement in principle to acquire substantially all the assets of the Play Along companies. The $116 million deal consists of $75 million in cash, approximately $11 million of JAKKS common stock, and an earn-out of up to an aggregate amount of $30 million through 2007, based on the achievement of certain financial performance criteria. The move will add Cabbage Patch Kids for dolls, Care Bears for plush and preschool learning, Teletubbies for preschool and playsets, and DC Comic’s Batman and Justice League for construction toys to JAKKS’ brand portfolio.
The deal is expected to close during the second quarter of 2004. Play Along will be operated as a wholly owned subsidiary of JAKKS Pacific and will continue to be based out of Florida and Hong Kong.
Loehmann’s Holdings Goes Private
Loehmann’s Holdings Inc. went private after merging with an affiliate of Crescent Capital Investments Inc., an Atlanta-based private equity investment firm. Under terms of the $177 million deal, the 48-unit retailer will be acquired by an affiliate of Crescent in a one-step merger transaction for $23 per share in cash. The CIT Group/Business Credit, Inc., the company’s existing lender, and Silver Point Finance will provide nearly $100 million in financing to fund the debt portion of the transaction and to provide working capital following the merger.
MGM Consumer Products Commits to Tiny Planets
MGM Consumer Products and Interactive will represent Tiny Planets in the U.S. as part of a three-year deal with Pepper’s Ghost Productions. The agreement appoints MGM as the exclusive licensing agent for all merchandising, promotions, publishing, and location-based entertainment. The property, starring Bing and Bong, currently has deals with Studioworks Entertainment for home video and DVD, Commonwealth Toy and Novelty Co. for plush, Starbound Entertainment for oversized outdoor inflatable balloons, and Crown Craft Infant Products for pillow buddies. Licensees are being sought for publishing, toys, apparel, games, interactive, infant, and novelties, among others.
Tiny Planets, targeted at 2- to 5-year-olds, airs three times daily on Noggin. A series of 16 half-hour compilation episodes are airing on Noggin at 8 a.m. through May 2.
Master Licensees for Trollz
DIC Entertainment named Hasbro and Scholastic master toy and publishing licensees, respectively, for Trollz, the new entertainment and lifestyle brand for ’tweens scheduled to debut for back-to-school 2005 with first products on retail shelves in July. Hasbro’s line will include fashion dolls, games, and youth consumer electronics. Scholastic will publish a series of chapter books, graphic novel-style storybooks, and a lifestyle activity book that explores the world of Trollz. DIC recently acquired the worldwide entertainment and licensing rights to the spiky, colorful-haired Troll character from The Troll Company. Trollz will be a stylized and contemporary version of the classic Troll characters.
ToddWorld Signs New Deals
New deals are in the works for ToddWorld, a new preschool program headed for TLC and Discovery Kids Channel this fall. Todd, known for his love of color, will be an integral part of Panasonic’s TV and print campaign in May introducing its new digital camcorders with 3CCD color technology. In other news, the series was picked up by ABC Kids Australia and will air in early 2005. ABC Kids also acquired the home video/DVD rights from Taffy Entertainment, as well as the merchandising rights in key ancillary categories including publishing, apparel, plush, and gifts from agent L&G Licensing+. ToddWorld is based on author Todd Parr’s books and co-created by Parr and writer Gerry Renert. The series is being produced by Mike Young Productions.
Nickelodeon Talks Up everGirl Property
Nickelodeon signed a multi-year worldwide partnership with Sorrent Inc. for its new everGirl ’tween property. As part of the deal, Sorrent will develop and publish mobile applications based on the brand. The applications launch for back-to-school and are a part of Nickelodeon’s multimillion dollar integrated marketing campaign. everGirl integrates a Website, pop music, and a customized line of apparel and accessories to create a healthy lifestyle brand that allows ’tween girls to explore who they are and what they want to become. Sorrent also signed a multi-year licensing deal with Spike TV to publish wireless games based on the new Ren & Stimpy Adult Party Cartoon.
Liberty’s Kids Comes to Home Video
Ten-Strike Home Entertainment acquired the exclusive U.S. distribution rights to the complete series of Liberty’s Kids. The series, created by DIC Entertainment, tells the story of the American Revolution through the eyes of two young apprentice journalists working in Benjamin Franklin’s print shop in Philadelphia. The DVD and VHS formats will ship in late June to coincide with July 4. The DVD will feature extras, behind-the-scenes footage, cast information, and interactive games.
Let’s Do Lunchboxes
Thermos is celebrating its centennial by donating lunch boxes and vacuum bottles to the permanent collections at The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Favorites such as The Partridge Family lunch box and the classic tartan plaid vacuum bottle will be featured in the “Taking America to Lunch” display that takes a look at historic school and workplace lunch kits and vacuum bottles from the 1880s to the 1980s.
The Beanstalk Group’s on Board with Subway
The Beanstalk Group was named exclusive licensing agent for Subway Restaurants with a goal of extending the brand into food and other products for supermarkets and other retail channels. A line of three Subway-branded role-play toys is due on shelves from Creative Designs in fall. The role-play toys are priced from $9.99 to $14.99, and a backpack role-play kit will sell for $8.99. The licensing program eventually will include food products, with branded meats, cheeses, sauces, condiments, and salad dressings.
Whac-A-Mole Stars in New Plush Line
Commonwealth Toy will create a line of plush based on the Whac-A-Mole property after signing a deal with Bob’s Space Racers Inc., inventor and manufacturer of the arcade game property. Wise-cracking plush with and without sound, beanie babies, and plush backpack clips will begin shipping in the fall. Whac-A-Mole is the No. 1 arcade game of all time, generating nearly $50 million in licensed toy sales since 1999 and more than $1.5 billion in amusement revenue since its inception 27 years ago.
“Got Milk” Goes International
The “Got Milk” campaign has crossed the Atlantic with Great Britain’s Milk Development Council offering the trademark throughout England, Wales, and Scotland. Since its debut in 1995, the famous tagline has been applied to more than 100 products including apparel, infant products, Hot Wheels race cars, and kitchenware.
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