Weekly E-news, Issue #252, February 18, 2008

Wrestling Reversal! WWE to Mattel, TNA to JAKKS It’s a set of moves and plot twists worthy of a professional wrestling match. WWE, the largest professional wrestling and sports entertainment company in the world, last week entered into a compreh

April 6, 2018

37 Min Read

Wrestling Reversal! WWE to Mattel, TNA to JAKKS
It’s a set of moves and plot twists worthy of a professional wrestling match. WWE, the largest professional wrestling and sports entertainment company in the world, last week entered into a comprehensive, multiyear licensing agreement with Mattel Inc., effective January 2010, naming Mattel WWE’s master toy licensee covering all global territories upon the expiration of WWE’s current toy license with JAKKS Pacific. JAKKS responded by announcing that they have signed an exclusive five-year worldwide master toy license with TNA (Total Nonstop Action) Entertainment LLC for TNA Wrestling, with a planned launch also expected to commence in 2010.

JAKKS Pacific has held the WWE toy license since 1996. The TNA action figure license was previously held by Marvel Toys.

Under the terms of the Mattel WWE agreement, Mattel will develop and market products in a wide variety of toy categories such as action figures, accessories, and playsets, games and puzzles, activity toys, plush products, vehicles (including R/C), and role-play products.

JAKKS’ new TNA license includes all styles of action figures, playsets, accessories, and role-play toys as well as collectible items based on TNA Wrestling’s top talent.

Latest Elmo Toy Debuts at Toy Fair—Elmo Live!
Fisher-Price Friends (a division of Fisher-Price Inc., a subsidiary of Mattel Inc.) unveiled its latest Elmo toy during Toy Fair 2008. Described by the company as “not just another” plush Elmo, the new figure, dubbed Elmo Live, featuring realistic animations in Elmo’s mouth, hands, and legs, as well as interactive storytelling and singing capabilities.

Elmo Live will go on sale at retail nationwide on Oct. 14, 2008, at a retail price of $59.99. Pre-sale opportunities will be available in the spring for consumers to reserve Elmo Live for delivery on Oct. 14. “Initial reaction from industry insiders has been so strong and so decisive—even greater than the initial response to T.M.X. Elmo two years ago—that we just couldn’t keep this a secret and realized this story must be told now,” says Neil Friedman, president of Mattel Brands.

This is the most lifelike Elmo ever developed, according to Fisher-Price vice president of marketing Gina Sirard. “With today’s technology, we’ve been able to make the magic between child and toy even more seamless and exciting than ever,” she says. “This Elmo is packed with unprecedented movement and an abundance of creative content, never before featured in a plush product.”

Star Trek Warps to Summer 2009
Paramount is pushing back the release date of its upcoming big-screen reboot of the Star Trek franchise from Dec. 25, 2008, to May 8, 2009. The move for the J.J. Abrams-directed film Star Trek is to maximize the film’s profit potential as a summer tentpole film, rather than a holiday release.

Playmates Toys, which recently exhibited new toys based on the film at the London and Nuremberg Toy Fairs, had no comment as to how the move will affect its plans for the property.
Tolkien Lawsuit May Halt Production on Hobbit Films
New Line Studios has been sued by the estate of Lord of the Rings creator J.R.R. Tolkien, which claims that it has received no revenue from the estimated $6 billion the films have grossed worldwide, including DVD and merchandise sales. The lawsuit has the potential to block the two-movie Rings prequel based on The Hobbit, which was reportedly close to signing a director.

According to the lawsuit, which was filed last week, New Line was required to pay 7.5 percent of gross receipts to Tolkien's estate, The Tolkien Trust, and original Lord of the Rings publisher HarperCollins. The plaintiffs claim the only money they have received was an upfront payment of $62,500 for the three movies before production began.

The plaintiffs seek more than $150 million in compensatory damages, unspecified punitive damages, and a court order giving the Tolkien estate the right to terminate any rights New Line may have to make films based on other works by the author, including The Hobbit. Peter Jackson, director of the Lord of the Rings trilogy of films, recently signed on as executive producer of The Hobbit project, following the resolution of his own lawsuit against New Line regarding revenue from the films. The Hobbit was slated to begin production next year, with releases planned for 2010 and 2011.

"The Tolkien trustees do not file lawsuits lightly, and have tried unsuccessfully to resolve their claims out of court," Steven Maier, an attorney for the Tolkien estate based in Britain, said in a statement. "New Line has not paid the plaintiffs even one penny of its contractual share of gross receipts despite the billions of dollars of gross revenue generated by these wildly successful motion pictures." Maier also claims the film studio has blocked the Tolkien estate and the other plaintiffs from auditing the receipts of the last two films.

New Star Wars Cartoon Set to Premiere on Big Screen
A new era of Star Wars entertainment begins in 2008 when the CGI-animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars, from creator George Lucas, premieres as an all-new feature film in August, followed by the television series debut in the fall, in a partnership between Lucasfilm Ltd., Warner Bros. Pictures, and Turner Broadcasting System Inc.

Produced by Lucasfilm Animation, Star Wars: The Clone Wars will open in North American theaters Aug. 15. International release dates will be announced soon. "I felt there were a lot more Star Wars stories left to tell," says George Lucas, executive producer of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. "I was eager to start telling some of them through animation and, at the same time, push the art of animation forward."

The theatrical debut of Star Wars: The Clone Wars is only the beginning of all-new Star Wars adventures that continue in the fall when the long-awaited television series premieres with half-hour episodes on Cartoon Network, followed by airings on TNT. Details regarding international broadcasts will be announced shortly.

EA Sports Signs With IMG, Renews NFL License
Electronic Arts has entered into a strategic partnership with sports software brand IMG, to bring its EA Sports label into the IMG sports marketing and licensing global network.

Through the partnership, IMG will license and market the EA Sports brand in a variety of product categories, which could include sports camps, gaming lounges, publishing products, performance apparel, and more. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

A spokesman for IMG highlighted EA Sports as "one of the most recognizable sports brands in the world," and said the company anticipates creating new business opportunities for the label.

In other news, Electronic Arts announced an extension of its exclusive licensing relationships with the National Football League and NFL Players to develop, publish, and distribute interactive football video games. These agreements—which were negotiated separately and are extensions of contracts originally signed in December 2004—provide EA continued rights to NFL teams, stadiums, and players for its critically acclaimed and best-selling football video games through the end of the 2012 season, which culminates in February 2013.

Both agreements include all aspects of the interactive experience, including console and handheld games as well as console-based online features. The agreements also provide EA access to both NFL Films and the NFL Network to enrich its game experiences.

Additionally, EA announced that the NCAA Football franchise is set to debut on the Nintendo Wii. NCAA Football 09 will also be released on the Xbox 360, PS3, PS2, and PSP.

Nickelodeon Debuts First-Ever Slime Product Line
Nickelodeon debuted the first-ever complete Slime product line at this week’s International Toy Fair in New York, putting Nickelodeon’s coveted green goo directly in kids’ hands.

Created by JAKKS Pacific, the new line of products is expected to hit retail shelves for fall 2008, and allows kids to bestow the honor of sliming their friends, family, and loved ones. Slime was introduced on Nickelodeon in 1982 and getting slimed has since become a badge of honor for both kids and celebrities worldwide. The JAKKS line includes: Slime Super Slimer Blaster that shoots slime as far as 25 feet; Slime Time Splatter a not-so-ordinary ball for games of catch with an explosive ending; Slime Ball, a gooey sphere that oozes its way down walls in metallic and glitterized shades of green; Slime Can containers and Slime Bucket containers that hold up to 20 ounces of goo.

Lego to Sponsor Thomas for HIT Entertainment
HIT Entertainment entered into a comprehensive strategic partnership with the Lego Group, encompassing the presenting sponsorship of “Thomas & Friends” on PBS Kids in the United States. In addition, this agreement includes a global extension of HIT's existing relationship with The Lego Group for Lego and Duplo Thomas & Friends and Bob the Builder construction toys. Since fall 2007 and extending through 2008, The Lego Group will serve as a presenting sponsor of “Thomas & Friends.” In this role, The Lego Group will receive 15-second spots at the open and close of each “Thomas & Friends” episode and will be featured on the Thomas & Friends Web site, www.thomasandfriends.com, and on pbskids.org with new branded games and banner ads.

As part of the new agreement, The Lego Group will also serve as the presenting sponsor for the Day Out With Thomas tour in North America, beginning in spring 2008. As sponsor of this grassroots tour, which includes approximately 300 event days at more than 45 heritage railroad stations across the United States and Canada annually, The Lego Group will receive extensive branding at each event, including on-site signage, model displays, and Lego bricks at the "Imagination Station." Steaming into its 13th year in 2008, the Day Out With Thomas tour reaches more than 1 million children and families annually.

‘Planet Earth’ Rolls Out Green-Minded Licensing Program
BBC’s award-winning production, “Planet Earth” is now evolving into a consumer products brand. The BBC has partnered with several leading toy companies to launch products inspired by “Planet Earth.” As far as possible, the “Planet Earth” branded products will use environmentally friendly or recycled materials and manufacturing processes that are less harmful to the environment—offering consumers the opportunity to take small, everyday steps to help safe guard the planet.

Master toy licensee Planet Toys will unveil a full collection of eco-friendly products, including a collection of plush spotlighting some of the animals featured in the series. The deluxe plush comes packaged with a DVD featuring kid-friendly footage of the specific animal, pulled from the BBC’s nature library. The plush stuffing is made from recycled bottles and the packaging is made from recycled materials.

Planet Toys’ line also includes science and learning activity kits, recycling kits as well as outdoor explorer kits that enable kids to get active and engaged in exploring the world around them, helping inspire them to do their part to preserve the planet. Other highlighted items include the Enviro-Grow Geo Globe where kids can pour water on Earth and see grass grow where the continents are.

Additionally, USAopoly’s Monopoly: Planet Earth Edition gives fans the chance to buy, sell, and trade the earth’s most natural resources, landscapes, and animals. Also, Modern Publishing’s program of “Planet Earth” children's titles, includes Deluxe Photo Activity Board Books, Coloring, and Activity Books, Jumbo Floor Pads, Sticker Books, Wall Art Activity Cards, and much more, all made from 100% recycled paper.

NBC Restructures Licensing Business 
NBC Universal Television DVD, Music and Consumer Products Group will assume responsibility for all global licensing and merchandising of NBC Universal television properties, as well as the NBC Universal television catalog.

Kim Niemi, senior vice president, will lead the NBC Universal Television DVD, Music and Consumer Products Group’s efforts to develop and implement product lines associated with NBC Universal’s television brands, including NBC, Universal Media Studios, USA Network, Sci Fi Channel, Bravo properties, CNBC, and Telemundo.  

In addition to assuming responsibility for all NBC Universal television properties, Niemi’s group will continue to oversee all new business development for music, e-commerce sales, the NBCUniversal.com store group, and third-party home entertainment licensing.

Previously, the licensing and merchandising for NBC Universal television properties was handled by the Universal Studios Consumer Products Group, which will still continue to handle all licensing and merchandising for the company’s film properties, including the “Curious George” and “The Land Before Time” franchises.

In addition, NBC Universal has selected Joy Tashjian Marketing Group LLD (JTMG) as its exclusive consumer products agency. This appointment expands upon a long-term licensing association that JTMG has had with NBC Universal.

Among the popular television series that JTMG will focus on are “Heroes,” “The Office,” “30 Rock,” “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” “Monk,” “Psych,” “Battlestar Galactica,” “Top Chef,” “Top Design,” and “Mad Money,” to name a few, as well as NBC Universal’s television catalog.
4Kids To Bring ‘Dinosaur King’ to New Global Markets
4Kids Entertainment Inc. has closed several sales with key global broadcast partners for the popular new animation series, “Dinosaur King.” The fantasy adventure series, a combination of traditional cel and CGI animation, is now set for broadcast on YTV (Canada), Jetix (Latin America), TV2 (Denmark), and TV4 (Sweden) during the upcoming 2008-09 season. In the United States, “Dinosaur King” airs Saturday mornings on 4Kids TV (FOX), where it has earned strong ratings in the kids’ 6-11 demo since its September 2007 premiere.

 The global broadcast lineup for “Dinosaur King” already includes Mediaset (Italy), RTL2 (Germany), France 3 (France), Canal J (France), and Jetix (UK, Scandinavia and Spain), among others.

Woodstock Vision Licenses Images of Classic Festival
Intercontinental Licensing is launching its new­est property, Woodstock Vision just in time for the 40th anniversary of the original Woodstock Music Festival. This photographic collection, shot by Elliott Landy, the official photographer of the Woodstock Festival, chronicles the event that helped define a generation.

The Woodstock Vision licensing program will focus on both publishing and product categories. Bolstered by two existing book titles, Woodstock 69 and Elliott Landy’s Woodstock Visions, the collection has already garnered two new international book deals. Titles under the “Woodstock Vision” brand are slated to be released in France and the UK some time later this year.

Available product categories include: scholastics and other paper goods; posters and prints; calendars and diaries; T-shirts; mugs and collectible plates; puzzles; home textiles; gift bags; tote bags; greeting and post cards; mouse pads; and gift novelties.

Publishing rights available include U.S. rights for gift books and foreign rights for coffee table and gift books.

‘Yo Gabba Gabba!’ Gets Multimillion-Dollar Licensing Program
Animation and entertainment company Wildbrain recently unveiled a multimillion-dollar licensing program for the hit preschool series “Yo Gabba Gabba!,” produced by The Magic Store and Wildbrain. Wildbrain has signed key licensees to create and distribute extensive “Yo Gabba Gabba!” merchandise in 2008, including apparel, accessories, books, games, toys, and other consumer products featuring the popular series’ characters. Due to the show’s crossover appeal to children, teens, and adults alike, licensed products designed to excite all age groups will hit shelves in 2008 worldwide, timed with the beginning of the second season of the series.

Officially licensed Yo Gabba Gabba! merchandise will be available to consumers in 2008 through top licensees including vinyl collectible toys by Kidrobot; accessories by Loungefly; apparel from Kidrobot, The Merchandise Company, Mighty Fine, and Success Apparel; books through Simon & Schuster; CDs from Nick Records; crafts by NSI International, Inc.; DVDs through Nickelodeon Home Entertainment; electronics by Blue Box International; wood puzzles and Uno by Sababa Toys; holiday items through CSS; home decor by The Betesh Group, G-Wiz, Marshmallow, and Spin Master Ltd.; key chains from Basic Fun; play structures through Time to Play Corp. Ltd.; sleepwear by American Marketing Enterprises Inc.; and a full line of toys from master toy licensee Spin Master Ltd.

As master toy licensee, Spin Master will unveil its Yo Gabba Gabba! toy line in fall 2008, which will be carried by major retailers.

Louisville Slugger a Hit with G.I. Apparel
Licensing agency IMC Licensing has negotiated a new licensing agreement for Hillerich & Bradsby Co.'s Louisville Slugger brand to develop a line of casual apparel for boys and girls with licensee G.I. Apparel Inc., a multidivisional company selling every major retailer of the apparel marketplace.

Louisville Slugger Apparel was introduced at last week’s 2008 MAGIC Marketplace. Licensing items will include printed and embroidered, activewear, loungewear, sleepwear, and headwear classifications. These new products will be in-store Feb. 25. Distribution channels are expected to include sporting goods stores and department stores.

Steve & Barry’s Teams With CBS, Classic Media for Apparel
Steve & Barry’s and CBS Consumer Products, a division of CBS Entertainment, have formed a new partnership that will provide the apparel retailer with a diverse slate of television properties from CBS’s extensive library of titles. All 257 Steve & Barry’s stores nationwide will carry merchandise featuring images and characters from “Beverly Hills 90210,” “Cheers,” “Happy Days,” “Laverne and Shirley,” “Little Rascals,” “Melrose Place,” “Taxi,” “The Andy Griffith Show,” “The Beverly Hillbillies,” “The Brady Bunch,” “The Love Boat,” and “The Twilight Zone.” Product is expected to arrive on shelves later in 2008.

Currently, Steve & Barry’s nationwide retailers carry a wide array of apparel products from the CBS primetime shows “Survivor” and “The Amazing Race,” as well as designs based on the original “Star Trek” series.

Additionally, Classic Media, an Entertainment Rights group company, and Bullwinkle Studios announced that a new line of apparel and accessories featuring some of America’s favorite brands including Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, Underdog, and Rocky & Bullwinkle will be coming to Steve & Barry's stores nationwide.

Initial product rollout includes men’s and juniors graphic T-shirts featuring: Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, Underdog, and Rocky & Bullwinkle.

The Classic Media line will hit shelves in select Steve & Barry’s stores across the United States beginning in the spring of 2008.

Richard Scarry Clothing Line on Drawing Board
Cookie Jar Entertainment and Mighty Fine Inc. have partnered to produce a new young adult trend/retro clothing line inspired by the classic works of bestselling children’s author and illustrator Richard Scarry. The clothing line, launched under Cookie Jar’s new Vintage Richard Scarry brand, will include knits, fashion Ts, and fleece and will feature book favorites like Lowly Worm and his apple car, Huckle Cat, Sally Cat, and Pig Will, and Pig Won’t.

As the merchandise licensing agent for the Richard Scarry Vintage brand, Cookie Jar plans to expand this internationally recognized property beyond the successful publishing titles. To date, more than 150 million copies of Richard Scarry’s books have been sold and translated into 30 languages. The brand’s universal appeal will enable Cookie Jar to explore more merchandising opportunities in a variety of categories including accessories, giftware, social expression, and stationery.

CBS Consumer Products Takes Over ‘CSI’ Franchise
CBS Consumer Products will assume control of all international licensing rights for the “CSI” franchise, effective immediately, with the closing of a 2007 agreement with GS Capital Partners, a private equity fund managed by Goldman, Sachs & Co. GS Capital Partners had previously purchased Alliance Atlantis’s financial interest in the property—including international licensing rights—and will remain 50/50 partners with CBS in the franchise.

CBS Consumer Products will take over existing international licensing agreements and will be responsible for all future licensing around the world of the three CSI series.

The “CSI” franchise consists of “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” “CSI: Miami,” and “CSI: NY.” In addition to high ratings in the United States, internationally all three series currently rank among the top 20 U.S. series in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK. Each series in the franchise is licensed in over 180 territories.

In other news, CBS Consumer Products appointed FremantleMedia Enterprises (FME) as exclusive licensing agency for Australia and New Zealand.

FME will now look to build merchandising programs for CBS’s signature brands including current smash hit franchises “Star Trek” and “Australia’s Next Top Model” and a number of classic library properties such as “Happy Days,” “Brady Bunch,” and “Beverly Hills 90210.”

The division also has expanded its relationship with longtime UK licensing agency, Copyright Promotions Licensing Group Limited (CPLG), to include Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal and Italy.
Simon & Schuster, Starz Media to Bring ‘Raggedy Ann & Andy’ Back to the Screen
Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing is partnering with Starz Media to develop and produce a series of Raggedy Adventures movies based on the publisher’s Raggedy Ann and Me! books. The movies will unveil a new and updated look that will target young children.

Starz Media has hired writer Joe Ansolabehere (“Recess,” “Hey Arnold,” “Rugrats”) to create an updated Raggedy Adventures story that will appeal to today’s young audiences, while retaining the characters’ core values of friendliness, imagination, and giving. The animated movies will be produced at Film Roman, with TV sales handled by Starz Media and DVD releases going out via Starz Media’s Anchor Bay Entertainment.

Along with the Raggedy Ann and Me! books and the Raggedy Adventures movies, Russ Berrie will create a new doll based on the updated look. United Media is currently building a licensing program in support of Raggedy Ann and Me! and will release merchandise in conjunction with the videos, dolls, and books this fall.

EA Announces First Titles from Hasbro Deal
EA Casual Entertainment recently announced its initial slate of Hasbro games in development on a variety of game consoles, mobile devices, and for online play. The first Nintendo Wii and DS titles that will be available this fall are Littlest Pet Shop and Nerf ‘N-Strike, both in production at EA’s Salt Lake Studio. EA also is developing new Monopoly and Scrabble (in North America) titles for multiple platforms, as well as other titles that will be announced later this year.

Mobile gamers can already experience Scrabble (in North America) and Yahtzee Deluxe on their phones. Starting this spring, EA Mobile will introduce the next generation of classic Hasbro titles. The first games in this new expansion include Monopoly Here & Now, Trivial Pursuit, Risk, and Yahtzee Adventures, a re-invention of the classic dice game.

For online web play, EA’s Pogo.com is developing authentic online experiences for Monopoly and Yahtzee as multiplayer experiences, and Trivial Pursuit will launch online this fall. Additionally, Pogo.com is launching two connected downloadable titles, Operation and Pictureka, which can be played offline or players can connect online on Pogo for bonus features and the social experience of playing the game with others. With more than 13 million visitors a month, the pogo.com community delivers an online experience for family and friends to connect and play the Hasbro games together in the virtual world.

At Hasbro’s Toy Fair showcase in New York Feb. 17-19, EA will unveil Littlest Pet Shop on Wii and DS, Nerf ‘N-Strike, and EA Mobile’s Scrabble, Yahtzee Adventures, and Monopoly Here & Now.
Peppa Pig Heads to U.S.
UK preschool animated series “Peppa Pig” has been signed by U.S. global rights owner Entertainment One (E1) for broadcast on Noggin, the 24-hour, commercial-free educational preschool network from Nickelodeon. The deal is for U.S. broadcast rights to the first 52-episode season of the show.

Commenting on the deal, E1 president Patrice Theroux says, “The connected-learning approach offered by Noggin provided us with the perfect platform on which to showcase ‘Peppa Pig’ to U.S. audiences, and replicate the success that we have already achieved in the UK and overseas.”

The Peppa Pig brand generates in excess of £25 million in retail sales a year in the UK, through network of over 35 licensees from toys, books, magazines, clothing, footwear, accessories, outdoor toys, games, and DVDs.

Internationally it is sold to over 50 broadcasters in more than 160 territories and translated into 25 languages.

Cartoon Network Gains Licensing Rights for ‘Bakugan’
Cartoon Network Enterprises and Nelvana Enterprises have entered into a relationship giving the cable network’s consumer products division U.S. licensing and merchandising rights for the popular anime brand “Bakugan,” which premieres in the United States on Cartoon Network on Sun., Feb. 24. Through the agreement, Cartoon Network will serve as the brand’s licensing agent, marking the division’s first time managing a partner’s property.

“Bakugan” is a co-production from Nelvana Enterprises, Spin Master Ltd., Sega Toys Ltd., TMS Entertainment Ltd., Japan Vistec Inc., and Sega Corp., with animation by Japan Vistec Inc. and TMS Entertainment Ltd. Since its inception in 2006, the brand has become a broadcast and consumer products phenomenon in both Japan and Canada and is poised to make its U.S. debut this year on air and at retail. With Spin Master as Bakugan’s co-developer and co-owner, as well as master toy partner, Cartoon Network will work to create a comprehensive consumer products program by adding a series of key categories.

While a range of Spin Master toys has recently launched on shelf, this fall will feature an extended product rollout that will expand the brand’s presence at retail with the release of games and puzzles, youth electronics, and home entertainment managed by Cartoon Network Enterprises. The second wave of products will launch in spring 2009 with apparel, accessories, publishing, and novelty. Cartoon Network Enterprises is currently seeking partners for several of those categories.

Paramount Licensing Program Debuts at MAGIC
Paramount Licensing unveiled several new apparel programs with licensing partners at last week’s MAGIC show in Las Vegas. They include:

  • American Classics for The Godfather—A line of T-shirts based on iconic images from The Godfather, now in its 35th anniversary year. Retail distribution: Specialty, mid-tier.

  • NECA for Sweeney Todd —NECA is producing a broad range of product based on the recently released film Sweeney Todd, starring Johnny Depp. Apparel includes a hoodie, tote bag, beanie hat, and T-shirt. Retail distribution: Specialty, mid-tier.

  • 80stees.com for Paramount Classic Titles—A variety of T-shirts celebrating film titles from Paramount’s extensive film library, including Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Bad News Bears, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Footloose, Old School, and The Warriors. Retail distribution: Online only.

  • Steve and Barry’s for Paramount Classic Titles—A variety of apparel, including T-shirts, tank tops, polo shirts, button-front shirts, sweatshirts, jerseys, jackets, athletic pants, shorts, hats, underwear, sleepwear, all celebrating well-known Paramount film titles, including Airplane!, Anchorman: The Legend of Rob Burgundy, Old School, Road Trip, Tommy Boy and Top Gun. Retail distribution: Exclusive to Steve and Barry’s University Sportswear Stores.

Sababa Named Master Toy Partner for Bella Sara
Granada Ventures, the merchandise, licensing and publishing division of the UK’s largest commercial broadcaster ITVplc, has named Sababa Toys the master toy licensee in all English-speaking territories for its girls’ fantasy horse-themed property Bella Sara. A deal is also imminent for a worldwide publishing license for the property.

Sababa Toys will develop a comprehensive toy line, including action figures and games anticipated to hit the shelves in fall 2008 across major, mid-tier, and specialty retailers throughout the United States.

Says Stone Newman, president of Sababa Toys: “We are thrilled to be part of the Bella Sara excitement. Bella Sara represents everything girls love: from beautiful horses to magical fantasy to inspiring messages that encourage friendship and sharing. We look forward to bringing to life these wonderful themes through unique and captivating product.”

Bella Sara products are available throughout North America at Barnes & Noble, Blockbuster, Borders, K-Mart, Target, Toys “R” Us, and Wal-Mart stores, as well as at regional chains, booksellers, airports and toy, hobby and equestrian stores.

Recently, Bella Sara also secured retail distribution in the United States in Limited Too and Justice Stores that includes in-store sales and sampling of select Bella Sara products, as well as promotional support in both brands’ “catazines” (catalogs within a magazine format).

NCircle to Distribute Cookie Jar Properties
Cookie Jar Entertainment has signed a multi-show home video distribution deal with NCircle Entertainment to license and distribute three of Cookie Jar’s newest properties—“Magi-Nation” and “Will & Dewitt,” currently airing on Kids’ WB! on the CW, and “Hurray For Huckle! (Busytown Mysteries)”—as well as two new properties currently in production.

“Cookie Jar is thrilled to partner with NCircle Entertainment to bring children of all ages a wide variety of quality home entertainment,” says Toper Taylor, president and COO of Cookie Jar Entertainment. “NCircle’s strong presence in the home video market along with the television success of Cookie Jar’s new shows will translate into impressive video sales."

Ben 10 Hits the Beach
Boys can hit the beach in a full line of boardshorts and rash guards featuring Ben Tennyson and some of their favorite aliens including Heatblast and Diamondhead as Cartoon Network Enterprises (CNE), the global licensing and merchandising arm of the cable network, has inked a multiyear deal with C-Life Apparel for a line of Ben 10 swimwear. The line will be available at retail starting this spring. 

“As the popularity of Ben 10 continues to grow on our air and at retail, we are constantly looking for new and fun ways for our fans to experience the brand,” says Christina Miller, vice president of consumer products, CNE. “C-Life’s creative approach to boys’ swimwear is a great fit for us and this spring’s launch is a perfect extension of our soft-lines program.”

Since debuting on the network in January 2006, the “Ben 10” television series has become one of the network’s most popular series for boys and the November 2007 broadcast of “Ben 10: Race Against Time” holds the record as the most-watched telecast in Cartoon Network’s history. As the latest addition to the brand’s robust consumer products program, C-Life joins other “Ben 10” licensees ODM & Freeze (T-shirts), SG Footwear (flip flops and athletic shoes), Jay Franco (beach towels), and Pan Oceanic (sunglasses and swim accessories) to complete young fans’ beach apparel. 
Cinemanix Taps Artist Chris Yambar for TV, Film Properties
Cinemanix Productions has entered into a partnership with Chris Yambar aimed at bringing the comic book worlds of "Mr. Beat," "El Mucho Grande," "Suicide Blonde," and other character creations by the comic creator and pop artist to the world of animation and live action films.

The Cinemanix Productions team of artisans and technical creatives will utilize its Motion Capture Stage, animation, and Visual Effects Production area to work on developing Yambar's characters into programs and features that will be marketed to TV, online interests, and the motion picture industry.

Cinemax Productions CEO Bryan Scibelli said that he has already found enthusiasm and interest within the industry for Yambar's characters. "Chris Yambar is a one-man idea factory," says Scibelli. "Typically, with any kind of animated story, any type of project you take to the big screen or into episodic cartoon animation, it all comes down to the story and writing first. What we're dealing with here are characters that have already lived in the print format and who are ready to literally walk out onto the animation stage and into the mainstream."

‘Turbo Dogs’ To Air in North America
CCI Entertainment and Scholastic Media have closed pre-sales for the animated series “Turbo Dogs” to CBC in Canada and qubo in the United States. The series, based on the book Racer Dogs by illustrator Bob Kolar, is aimed at children aged 4 to 7. Using 3-D animation, Turbo Dogs features the antics of a wacky, dog-filled community that is wild about racing. The Turbo Dogs team has also announced new co-producers, New Zealand’s Huhu Studios (Buzz and Poppy, Littlebrook Farm).

Guinness World Records Acquired
Jim Pattison Entertainment Ltd., a subsidiary of The Jim Pattison Group, has acquired Guinness World Records from HIT Entertainment. Details of the sale will not be made public.

Guinness World Records is the universally recognized authority on record-breaking achievement. First published in 1955, Guinness World Records has developed its annual book into an international phenomenon published in more than 100 countries and 37 languages. The book has gone on to become a record breaker in its own right—Guinness World Records is the world's best ever selling copyright book.

The Jim Pattison Group is Canada’s third largest private company with sales of more than $6.3 billion. Its holdings include Ripley Entertainment Inc., which has held the global rights to develop and operate Guinness World Records museums and attractions for over a decade.

Dark Horse Debuts Domo Merchandise
Dark Horse Deluxe has acquired a license to release a line of merchandise based on the popular Japanese NHK mascot Domo. The product line includes a self-mailer stationery set, a sculpted refrigerator magnet, an embroidered patch, two separate journals, and a flocked vinyl Domo in four variations.

The centerpiece of the Domo line is an 8.5-inch flocked vinyl figures—not only in traditional Domo-brown, but also variant figures in pink, white, or blue. This is the first time Domo will be seen in a color other than brown.

The stationery, photo journal, and patch will release in April; the flocked journal, flocked vinyl figures, and sculpted magnet will be available in June.
Big Apple Wallcoverings Gains Lego License
Big Apple Wallcovering Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Big Apple Worldwide Inc., has secured a licensing agreement with The Lego Group to produce a line of Playable Wallcoverings. Designed in cooperation with The Lego Group, a full line of background murals, borders, and decals will be developed, allowing children to place and arrange the detachable wallcoverings on any surface.

Big Apple Wallcovering's Lego products will be available through its "No More Books" kiosks and through other wallcovering outlets in fall 2008. The designs will feature selected Lego themes such as City, Sports, Castle and Princess.

EM Entertainment Signs DVD and Video Rights
Germany-based EM Entertainment has expanded its partnership with Universum Film with licenses for further DVD and video rights within the German-speaking region. The new agreement grants marketing rights within Germany and Austria to a range of well-known children’s and youth programs from the EM Entertainment rights library. The program package includes “Fraggle Rock,” created by “The Muppet Show” creator Jim Henson, as well as cartoon productions “Alice in Wonderland” and “Tao Tao.”

Universum Film also acquired rights to animation series “The Rainbow Fish,” based on the children’s book of the same name, within Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

DreamWorks Appoints TLC for Madagascar: The Crate Escape
DreamWorks Animation has appointed UK licensing agency The Licensing Company (TLC) to represent Madagascar: The Crate Escape, the sequel to the 2005 box-office hit Madagascar, which features voice talent of Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Sacha Baron Cohen. The film releases in theaters in December.

Marley Launches Archie Productions
UK children’s and entertainment television producer John A. Marley is launching Archie Productions, an independent production company to develop and produce creative intellectual property for both broadcast and digital media.

Marley will originate and produce his own shows and enter co-production partnerships in the UK and internationally to make original programming.
Archie Productions is currently developing properties across kids, entertainment, and factual entertainment.

Most recently series producer at Talent Television, Marley was responsible for the first three series of CBBC’s entertainment brand “Best of Friends” and was also producer/director of series 1 and 2 of Cartoon’s Network’s “Skatoony.”

Bzots Gets a Gig on Nicktoons
Nicktoons Network has acquired the U.S. broadcast rights to a selection of Bzots music videos for children from Entertainment One and Eat Your Lunch.
Bzots follows the antics of three industrial robots that follow their dreams of forming a band. Joan Lofts, director of Rubber Duck Entertainment, a division of Entertainment One, says, “Shows about bands and shows about robots have been done before, but Dave Skwarczek and Eat Your Lunch have created something totally fresh with Bzots. Thanks to the success of the touring live show, two home videos, and a music CD, Bzots already has a loyal fan base, which we’re excited about developing with the team at Eat Your Lunch.”

Plus Licens Tackles Archie
Stockholm-based Plus Licens was appointed the pan-European merchandising and publishing agent for Archie, America’s teenager comic character created by John Goldwater and Bob Montana.

Archie first launched in the comic book Pep Comics in 1941 and was soon seen in other media including newspapers, radio, television, movies, consumer promotions, spin-off comics, and merchandising. The 1960s even saw the fictitious bubblegum pop group The Archies top the U.S. charts with “Sugar Sugar.” The property is known in Plus Licens territories under names like Acke, Arkibald, and Justus.

“Representing Archie throughout Europe is an important landmark in our European strategy to be a market leader in fun fashion character design, recently manifested in the opening of our Paris office,” says Peder Tamm, president of Plus Licens.

Abbey Home Media Pens Deals for Early Learning Programs 
Children’s programming specialist Abbey Home Media Group (AHMG) signed two publishing agreements for Early Learning Programs.

German publisher Edition XXL is to produce the Wide Eye Early Learning Program in Germany and Pioneer is to produce the Wide Eye, Mother Goose, and Artyfacts Early Learning Programs in the Middle East, India, and selected Far Eastern markets. Both are scheduled for rollout this year.  

The Early Learning Program is designed to provide preschool children with support in the 10 key areas of learning that a child needs to develop in preparation for its formal education, including listening, language, mathematical, and early manipulative skills.

BBC’s ‘Secret Show’ Sneaks on to DVD
BBC Worldwide is launching the first interactive DVD from BAFTA award-winning children’s television series “The Secret Show” in April.

Produced by Collingwood O’Hare Entertainment, “The Secret Show” scooped two awards at last year’s Children’s BAFTAs for best animation series and best interactive for the series’ Web site. The DVD contains The U.Z.Z Files: Volume One and extras including over half an hour of new, secret extras.

Shaun the Sheep Goes International
Aardman Animations’ Shaun the Sheep has expanded its international presence, securing a raft of new TV and licensing deals in more than 150 territories as well as picking up accolades including the Cristal Award for Best TV Production at the Annecy Animated Film Festival 2007 and, the Audience Choice Award at the World Comedy Film Festival 2007 and winner of the Age 5-10 Audience and Parent’s Choice Awards at the New York International Film Festival 2007.

Aardman International’s latest global deals include a broadcast deal with Teletoon Canada and a video and licensing deal in the United States and Canada with HIT Entertainment. TV rights have been secured by RAI in Italy, RTE in Eire, RUV in Iceland, RTV in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Fox TV in Serbia, Slovak TV in Slovakia, LRT in Lithuania, TV3 in Latvia, RTV in Slovenia, MBC 3 and Emirates Cable TV in the Middle East, RTP2 in Portugal, and EBS Korea.

Video rights have also been picked up in Korea by KBS Media, in Poland by Media Way, and LNK in Portugal. Elsewhere video rights deals have been signed with Concorde in Germany, CNR/Tabtoo in the Netherlands, and Grand Entertainment in Croatia. Merchandise and promotional rights have been secured by Biplano Licensing for Spain and Portugal.

TV-Loonland’s ‘Pat & Stan’ Starts Rolling Out 
TV-Loonland’s multi-formatted CGI-property “Pat & Stan” is rolling out to Italian broadcaster Mediaset and Germany’s ARD/HR. “Pat & Stan” will also be airing on Ki.Ka.

The show has also been licensed to Cartoon Network Spain, Disney India, VOOM HD Networks/Animania USA, DR TV Denmark, TG4 Ireland, and Minimax for Eastern Europe. In Italy, Pat & Stan have already found DVD distribution with DNC.

Coolabi Hammers Out New Licenses
Coolabi has signed a raft of new UK licensing deals for Hammer, as the iconic studio goes back into production this year. The Royal Mail’s Hammer Horror stamps, featuring reproductions of the cinema posters from The Curse of Frankenstein, Dracula, and The Mummy go on sale in June, available individually or as part of a presentation pack for collectors.

Millprint is producing a range of eight metal signs based on classic Hammer cinema posters and Arnold Wills has created a range of affordable accessories including Hammer cufflinks, handkerchiefs, and wallets. The official Hammer calendar for 2009 will be produced by Slow Dazzle.

School for Vampires Takes Lessons to Austria
The animated children’s series “The School for Vampires” will air on Austrian television beginning at the end of February following a deal between m4e and the ORF, Vienna. The deal covers the first two seasons of the total of 52 x 11-minute cartoons produced by Hahn Film Berlin. In Germany the series appears on KI.KA.

The series is an international co-production, under the direction of Hahn Film, and is based on the book series by the German children’s book author Jack Niebisch. A feature film is currently in planning and is scheduled for theatrical release in 2009.

Mexican Licensees Sign Aboard for Crack and Bonky
Adness Entertainment has signed new licensees and media companies for character-based franchise Crack & Bonky, including Mexican stationery company Scribe for school notebooks and Televisa as the new cellular content home. Televisa will distribute short animations and wallpaper images through its Web site, esmas.com, for cellular content downloading. Televisa will also promote Crack & Bonky through its nationwide magazines as well as both its cable and terrestrial channels through specially produced animated vignettes. The two new licensees join Crack & Bonky merchandisers across a wide array of categories, including back-to-school, apparel, resin figures, and cell phone charms.

Executive Moves
Hasbro Inc. CEO Alfred J. Verrecchia will step down and be replaced by chief operating officer Brian Goldner. Verrecchia will become chairman of the board, and Goldner will succeed him as CEO on May 22.

Entertainment Rights appointed Andrew Kerr executive director of consumer products and marketing for its international operations, effective March 26. In his newly created position, Kerr will be responsible for further developing and overseeing the group's commercial strategy for Entertainment Rights’ brand and content portfolio across the UK and international territories (excluding the United States and Canada), as well as aligning the company's U.K. and international licensing, marketing and brands divisions.

Classic Media, an Entertainment Rights group company, named Nina Henderson, formerly senior marketing manager, Sesame Street for Fisher-Price, to the position of marketing director, seasonal, preschool, and family brands in North America, effective immediately. In her role as marketing director, she will be responsible for spearheading brand strategies in North America to support the company across its multiple business lines of programming sales, home video, digital, licensing, and promotions for Classic Media’s and Entertainment Rights’ extensive portfolio of properties.

Nelvana Enterprises has appointed Antoine Erligmann vice president, licensing, Europe, based in its Paris office. He will be responsible for developing and implementing consumer products business plans and strategies for Europe and will supervise consumer products activities in the UK and Benelux, as well as developing and overseeing marketing plans for key European territories. 

UK-based Entertainment Rights (ER) appointed Andrew Kerr executive director, consumer products and marketing, international. He joins from Ragdoll Worldwide, where he was executive vice president, global licensing and marketing.

Jetix Europe promoted Monika Oomen to deputy managing director for the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and Middle East markets. In her new role, she will be responsible for the management of sales and marketing strategies for over 25 countries.

Target Entertainment named Sarah Walker director of marketing and communications. She will head up the company’s newly centralized marketing division.

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