Mattel and HIT Entertainment’s preschool brands are transforming their licensing approach to stay better connected to consumers worldwide.

April 6, 2018

3 Min Read

'Thomas & Friends,' 'Fireman Sam' lead toy company's preschool lineup.

Mattel and HIT Entertainment’s preschool brands are transforming their licensing approach to stay better connected to consumers worldwide and foster global growth.

Among the brand's being showcased at Brand Licensing Europe this week are "Thomas & Friends," "Bob the Builder" and "Fireman Sam.

"Thomas & Friends" is steaming ahead in the U.K. and following opportunities for European growth in 2016 including into Russia, Poland, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

In 2016, the brand will communicate to preschoolers the value of friendship, teamwork, participation and determination through the theme of racing.  Friendship remains at the heart of the brand campaign designed to deepening engagement and relevance to preschoolers with the theme When You Race with Team Thomas, Friendship Always Wins.

The year will kick off with "Signals Crossed," a story where Thomas & Friends deliver mix-ups and mischief as signals get crossed on the Island of Sodor. Fall will see the release of the DVD feature-length special The Great Race, an exciting new adventure where Thomas wants to go to the Great Railway Show. The special will include an extensive range of tie-in products including toys, publishing and apparel. Season 20 of the TV series will also launch on-air in 2016 introducing all-new characters.

In Europe, the brand is also seeing success in a range of markets including Russia, Poland, France and Germany, Italy and Spain.  Outside of the very successful toy line key categories include wheeled toys, ride-ons, electronic learning devices, party supplies, publishing and apparel. Soft lines continues to grow in the UK with the category also rolling out across Europe with strong licensee partnerships and DTR programmes the brand is extending its range in nightwear and underwear.

Thomas’s storybook heritage also continues to engage children and 2016 will see an increased range with sound books, 1001 stickers and more.

In 2016, "Bob the Builder" will expand into consumer products with the launch of a range of toys rolling out in the fall. The range will create a truly engaging construction experience for preschoolers as they interact with Bob’s world above and beyond the on-screen content. 

The toy launch follows the recently released CGI-animated series on Channel 5’s Milkshake, featuring new characters, relatable locations and an aspirational hero while maintaining core values including teamwork, positivity, empowerment and learning.

Other broadcast partners for the TV series outside the U.K. include Super RTL in Germany, PBS in the U.S. and Televisa in Mexico, offering a strong foundation for success for the brand.

Hot on the heels of the successful first new CG animated season, season two will hit screens in fall 2016 featuring three new and dynamic vehicles.

New for "Fireman Sam" in 2016 is the launch of season 10 featuring an Animal Rescue theme that introduces new uniforms and a brand new specialist vehicle. 

"Fireman Sam" goes digital with the all-new Fire Station, which is bigger and more up-to-date for today’s tech-savvy kids. Key broadcast partners include Milkshake and Cartoonito in the U.K. and key licensing partners include master toy license Character Options in the U.K. and Simba in Europe.

Toy partners are driving the consumer products programme forward across EMEA and in Germany, where Sam is now the No. 1 character property in preschool toys and across the region. The character also now has 95 licensees with more onboard for 2016. New hard lines for 2016 include Ravensburger and Jumbo for puzzles and soft lines feature categories ranging from apparel to home, footwear and BTS.

In the U.K., "Heroes of the Storm" was promoted in partnership with Hamleys stores nationwide including red carpet premieres and character visits and the DVD is currently rolling out across EMEA.

Activity in other markets included the Germany Live Theatre Tour, Pontypandy Rocks, which kicked off in September. The first three shows sold out and the tour is proving a great success. 

In France, a retail partnership with La Grand Recre, the third largest toy retailer in France, ran over the summer months.

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