SEGA of America has announced various "Sonic the Hedgehog"-inspired merchandise for the 30th anniversary of the video game character in 2021.
The first wave of products covers categories, including publishing, toys, collectibles and apparel. Merchandise will begin to roll out this December from partners such as:
- Funko will release Pop! collectibles for video game series characters Sonic, Tails and Silver;
- Dark Horse Comics plans to debut a full-color hardcover historical retrospective encyclopedia called "Sonic Encyclo-Speed-Ia" that explores nearly every video game in the franchise;
- Jakks Pacific is offering additional collections of action figures and plush toys for the series;
- King Ice is developing an official jewelry collection with a hip-hop influence;
- IDW Publishing will unveil a comic book mini-series in both English and Spanish;
- FiGPiN plans to launch collectible enamel pins; and
- G Fuel will release Peach Ring flavored energy drink and 30th-anniversary collectors' box.
Alex Gomez, director of ‘Sonic’ pillar licensing, SEGA, tells License Global that the latest partnerships continue the brand’s long-standing success in licensing. Gomez reports that licensing has always been central to “Sonic” because merchandise provides a venue for fans to connect with the character in a novel way.
"Since the inception of the franchise in 1991, when people first saw the Blue Blur rushing across their CRT Televisions, they fell in love with the character," says Gomez. "Licensed products give them a way to take that experience from the screen into toys, comics, collectibles, apparel, [and more] – which expands the reach of the brand into the real world."
The new collaborations serve as a testament to the 30-year history of the "Sonic the Hedgehog" series. SEGA has evolved the series over the past three decades to create new categories and storylines that leverage the classic character. Gomez shares that the themes of the series has been at the core of what made "Sonic" successful for many years.
"The franchise has consistently carried the themes of attitude, action, adventure, and freedom in a way that is fun and aspirational for all audiences," adds Gomez. "This rock-solid foundation has allowed 'Sonic' to connect to millions of fans, from kids, parents and families, to young adults and those who grew up with the brand in the '90s. 'Sonic the Hedgehog' has brought people together for three decades to celebrate and be part of a true pop culture phenomenon."
The diversification of the franchise over the years includes a movie released earlier this year. "Sonic the Hedgehog" grossed more than $300 million in worldwide ticket sales since debuting in February. The success of the film added to the strong licensing portfolio for the character and SEGA more broadly. Gomez reports that the licensing portfolio for "Sonic" has found success by finding partners that know the brand and bring their unique take to the franchise.
Finding surprising and effective partnerships requires taking a very strategic and targeted approach," continues Gomez. "Impactful partnerships, like the ones announced for the 30th anniversary, require a licensee that has a passion for the brand and a deep understanding for what will resonate with the Sonic audience while remaining experts in the products that they create. When both parties come to the table with their own personal story of what Sonic means to them, we capture that feeling and work together to figure out how to best translate that into a product. That's when the magic happens."
"Sonic's" 30th anniversary will come a year after SEGA celebrated its 60th anniversary. To mark the 60-years of the brand, License Global covered the brand in its August issue. SEGA was also just named a Top 150 Global Licensor for 2020 based on its success with "Sonic" and its other brands.