FAO Inc. agreed to sell its flagship New York City store and its Las Vegas location to VGACS Acquisition Inc., a division of D.E. Shaw Laminar Portfolios LLC. The deal is worth $20 million and includes the company's Internet and catalog businesses. VGACS Acquisition will take over the leases at both locations with plans to remodel and reopen them by summer 2004. FAO will continue to sell off the stores' inventory.
Target, Zellers Nab Duff Exclusive
Hilary Duff will show her mettle at retail as the pop star signed exclusive deals with Target Stores and Hudson's Bay Co. in the U.S. and Canada, respectively. A line of "Stuff by Duff" will hit Target shelves in spring with a mix of apparel, cosmetics, accessories, and bedding, as well as a collectible charm program with charms inspired by meaningful events, places, and things in Hilary's life. The "Stuff by Hilary Duff" line at Zellers, a division of Hudson Bay, will feature similar categories and be supported by a multi-tiered marketing campaign. Zellers also will support the Little Dog Duff line of pet accessories and plush toys. Proceeds will benefit spay and neuter clinics; shelters; and Return to Freedom, the American Wild Horse Sanctuary.
ShoPro Entertainment named Mattel master toy licensee outside of Asia for MegaMan NT Warrior. The property is based jointly on the Capcom game series and the Shogakukan "CoroCoro" comic book line. Kids' WB! recently extended its commitment to carry 26 more episodes of the series in its 2003-2004 season.
New Deals for itty bitty Heartbeats
LevyMann Entertainment secured new three-year deals for itty bitty Heartbeats with Wormser Co.; Fruit of the Loom; and Grosset & Dunlap, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group. A limited product line will be available from all companies with a wider rollout due for 2005. All deals were brokered by the Joy Tashjian Marketing Group. Wormser Co. will support the license with infant, toddler, girls' and boys' sleep 'n play, two-piece pajamas with crew coat-style tops, nightgowns, robes, sleep pants, and blanket sleepers. Fruit of the Loom will create products for the U.S., Canada, and Mexico including toddler boys' and girls' underwear, juvenile boys' and girls' underwear, and boys' and girls' underwear sets. A line of children's books will be created by Grosset & Dunlap including storybooks, readers, board books, sticker storybooks, sticker-style books (paper dolls), jewel sticker books, activity books, work books, and novelty formats such as "lift-the-flap" and "touch & feel."
M&Ms on the Move
Masterfoods, a division of Mars, Inc., and Creative Designs International entered into an agreement for a line of toys featuring the M&M brand. The new line will include a toy ice cream maker featuring the M&M characters; it will begin shipping to retailers in spring 2004. Other products in development include a cookie baking set, vending machine bank, and plastic play food sets.
Trio Signs on for The Runelords
Entertainment Business Group, with Story Island Entertainment and Origin Entertainment/Z Productions LLC, acquired the feature film and global licensing rights to "The Runelords." Plans for the best-selling novel series include a summer 2005 theatrical release and a consumer products program slated for the same time period. The company will attend Toy Fair and currently is in discussions with consumer product companies relating to major licensing deals.
Wild Wings to Represent Terry Redlin
Wild Wings was named the official licensor of Terry Redlin art as of January 1, 2004. Redlin is best known for his scenes of rural America and wildlife including his series of "America the Beautiful" paintings depicting lyrics from the patriotic hymn and chronologically charting the development of the country from Western expansion to present day. Wild Wings currently represents 40 artists.
Private Equity Group Acquires Duane Reade
Duane Reade was acquired by Oak Capital Partners, a private equity group led by oil billionaire Robert Bass. The company paid nearly $415 million for the 239-store drug chain. Duane Reade Chairman and CEO Anthony Cutti will maintain his position, and he and other top management will have ownership in the company.
AFLAC Duck gets Looney
The Looney Tunes are the latest cast of characters to team with the AFLAC duck in a commercial that aired New Year's Day during college football bowl games. The commercial features Looney Tunes legends Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Wile E. Coyote, and the Road Runner. The "AFLAC Looney Tunes" commercial marks the 16th spot in the campaign and was created by the Kaplan Thaler Group and Warner Bros. Consumer Products.
Be sure your advertising message in February for Toy Fair and MAGIC is seen by leading retailers and licensees. There are many publications vying for your ad dollars but only one acknowledged leader: License! magazine, the No. 1 read of decision makers, the No. 1 ad buy for marketers. Space advertising deadline is January 12. Call Benjamin Zachariah at (212) 951-6705 or your ad rep today. Positions are going fast!
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