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Panda Mony’s Alter Nation Named 2021 Toy of the Year Finalist

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Panda Mony’s Alter Nation toy line has been named a finalist for the 2021 Toy of the Year in the Action Figure category.

The nominee joins other leading toys in its category such as Anime Heroes by Bandai America, Batman 4-Inch Action Figures by Spin Master and Fisher-Price #ThankYouHeroes Line by Mattel. The nominees are now being voted on by a collection of consumers, associations, retailers, journalists, bloggers, and academics. Voting closes Jan.5 and winners will be announced during a virtual celebration on Feb. 12.

“To be selected among hundreds of nominations for a TOTY Award is beyond humbling,” says Ryan Magnon, founder, Panda Mony Toy Brands.  “We set out to deliver a toy line with a fresh and innovative appeal for today’s generation of kids. To receive this level of acknowledgement from our peers in the industry is incredibly rewarding.”

Repped for licensing by FanGirl Consulting and Brand Management as part of Panda Mony’s larger portfolio, Alter Nation follows the clandestine operations of GK Delta, a secret government entity dedicated to protecting humanity from forces that no typical human can defeat. The group is filled with teenage human-animal hybrids that were given powers and abilities.

Released last fall, the line features four hero figures with El Ray, Albert VII, Daart, and Quillroy. The line also includes plus two villains, Sabotage and Sham. Each figure includes an original mini-comic introducing consumers to the character’s unique powers and abilities.

Vote for the TOTY Award today at the Toy Award’s website.

Maxwell Ryan Teams with Bemz for IKEA Slip Covers

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Maxwell Ryan/Apartment Therapy for Bemz has launched in the United States. The new collection helps consumers update their IKEA sofa with corduroy slip covers. 

The New York-based media company and Swedish interiors brand are offering made-to-order covers for IKEA furniture, and have joined forces to create an exclusive collection of six cotton corduroy fabrics.

“Working with Bemz over the past two years, I've been eager to introduce a rich, cozy fabric line to complement the Maxwell furniture leg collection,” says Maxwell Ryan, chief executive officer and founder, Apartment Therapy. “I wanted to pull from the fashion world with rich, bright colors, and from the upholstery world with soft, warm fabrics that would invite you to lay down and take a nap on your sofa. It plays with big, chunky corduroy ribbing in six new colors. This is a fabric collection that you'll want to touch and put your cheek up against. It's a collection that will turn your living room into the retreat you’ve always wanted.” 

This is Bemz and Apartment Therapy’s second design collaboration, having previously collaborated on a line of replacement IKEA furniture legs. The new collection is designed to complement this range, enabling customers to mix and match contrasting shapes, forms and textures to update their IKEA furniture in a stylish way.

The line is now available for purchase at Bemz.com.

Danone Introduces ‘Masha and the Bear’ Fruit Pouches

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Danone, one of the world’s largest multinational food-products corporations, confirmed a new licensing deal with Animaccord to produce a branded line of fruit pouches that feature “Masha and the Bear.”

The product collection will be available across major retail chains in Czech Republic and Slovakia under the Hami brand; in Romania, Hungary, and Ukraine under the market name of Milupa and in Poland, where the brand operates under BoboVita name. The distribution to Poland has been recently arranged to the main retail chains of the country already, including Biedronka and Rossmann.

Isaac Mizrahi Loves Crayola

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Fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi has shared plans for his upcoming collaboration with Crayola, “Isaac Mizrahi Loves Crayola.”

Beginning in spring 2021, the “Isaac Mizrahi Loves Crayola” product collections will inspire children and adults alike to express creativity, happiness and joy in their lives through color.  The announcement coincides with the October release of Running Press and Black Dog & Leventhal’s Crayola: Create It Yourself Activity Book, which includes an introduction by Isaac. 

Isaac and Crayola will draw out more colorful details about the launch in the coming months. 

‘Need for Speed No Limits’ Goes Mad with Madballs

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This Halloween season, Firemonkeys Studio, an Australian-based studio of Electronic Arts (EA), and ‘80s toys Madballs, owned by Cloudco Entertainment, are launching a limited-time partnership in “Need for Speed No Limits,” the mobile edition of the popular racing franchise.

“Halloween has always been a time for us to bring something fantastical and fun to the game, and we could not be more excited for fans of both NFSNL and Madballs to get their hands on this update,” says Sean Reynolds, brand lead, “Need for Speed No Limits.” “We are debuting a new Madballs character in-game that will be produced for the first-time ever by the team at Megalopolis and it is something fans of Madballs and Halloween enthusiasts are going to go crazy for. No one expects something as wild and quirky as Madballs in NFS, and the results are going to be something – I hesitate to use the word ‘spooktacular’ but – players have never experienced the franchise like this before.”

“Need for Speed No Limits” launched its latest update on Oct. 26, and Madballs characters appear in a madcap seasonal storyline within the game. Players can take on a special event where an in-game character purchases a mysterious toy that ends up possessing him, turning him into a Madballs-inspired alter-ego who attempts to sow chaos within the game. The player must use their driving skills to outmaneuver the Madballs character and save the city. Players will also be able to unlock a series of Madballs car wraps through in-game events, giving their cars a Halloween-inspired look that stands out as something never before seen in the “Need for Speed” franchise.

In addition, Madballs will debut a brand-new character in the game created specifically for this integration. The new character, Trashin’ Pumpkin, will have a limited run as an action figure created by Megalopolis Toys as part of their Megapolis: Premium DNA Madballs Collection and will be available to pre-order exclusively in “Need for Speed No Limits.: This will be the first time the character has ever been created as an action figure.

“We couldn’t be more excited for this grossly turbo charged partnership with NFSNL!” says Carlos Villagra, creative head, Cloudco Entertainment. “Not only will you experience Madballs like never before, we are thrilled to introduce a brand-new character, Trashin’ Pumpkin, to the Madballs universe as they take over the world of NFSNL.  It’s been a blast to collaborate with the folks at Megalopolis and NFSNL to bring Trashin’ Pumpkin to life as a fully articulated figure we hope you will enjoy and add to your collection. Halloween has always been our favorite holiday and this year might be the maddest yet!”

Josh Berger to Depart WarnerMedia, Polly Cochrane Promoted

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Josh Berger, president and managing director, Warner Bros. U.K., Ireland and Spain, and president, Harry Potter Global Franchise Development, has decided to leave the company after more than 30 years of service. 

“Josh is one of the most respected people in the industry,” says Gerhard Zeiler, international head, WarnerMedia. “He has been integral to the ongoing success of our Warner Bros. businesses in the U.K., Ireland and Spain and has been an incredible steward to the Harry Potter franchise. He was also the first Warner Bros. country manager, pioneering the model which shapes the international organization today. It is fair to say, that thanks to his leadership and energy our company is for sure better off today. I respect his desire to take on new challenges and, along with all of our colleagues across the company, wish him the very best.” 

He will step down in December and will remain as an advisor to the senior management until the middle of 2021 for the Harry Potter franchise in his capacity as an executive producer on the third instalment of the “Fantastic Beasts” film series and upcoming BBC documentary “Fantastic Beasts: A Natural History,” among other projects. 

“There’s nothing more amazing than seeing stories being brought to life on screen,” says Berger. “Over the last 31 years at Warner Bros., I’ve been lucky to see every part of that process in action. I’ve seen ideas being formed and deals being struck, magic being made in front of the camera and behind it and stories being told from – and sent to – all corners of the earth. I’m so grateful to all my colleagues for making this place feel like home for so long and wish them all the best for the future.”

In addition, Polly Cochrane has been promoted to country manager for WarnerMedia U.K. and Ireland, overseeing all commercial and group marketing activities in the region and will report directly to Priya Dogra, head, WarnerMedia EMEA & Asia (excl. China.)

Cochrane has been with WarnerMedia for 11 years and most recently served as executive vice president and group marketing director, Warner Bros. U.K. and Ireland, and chief marketing officer, Harry Potter Global Franchise Development.

“I’m delighted to welcome Polly to my leadership team,” says Dogra. “Polly brings a strong and inclusive leadership style, combined with a proven innovative approach to driving our beloved brands and franchises. As she takes on this broader set of responsibilities, our business will benefit from her wealth of experience in the U.K. media sector. I’m looking forward to tapping into the fresh thinking she will bring to the table.”

As a country manager, Cochrane is responsible for the development and execution of WarnerMedia’s strategy in the U.K. and Ireland and will coordinate and optimize all commercial and group marketing activities in the region. This will include theatrical distribution, content licensing, home entertainment, consumer products, as well as ad sales and affiliate distribution for the WarnerMedia channels.  She will work closely with functional leaders in the U.S. and across Europe.

Cochrane’s colleagues on the WarnerMedia EMEA leadership team include recently promoted fellow country managers Iris Knobloch (France, Benelux, Germany, Austria and Switzerland), Barbara Salabè (Italy) and Pierre Branco (CEE, Nordics, the Middle East, Turkey and Africa) who is also head of affiliate and ad sales for EMEA. 

Complementing the country manager structure are additional executive leadership colleagues, recently promoted heads of functions Hannes Heyelmann and Antony Root, who respectively lead the general entertainment programming and original production remits.  Rounding out the team, Pedro Cosa continues to lead data and insights for networks; and Lesley Bailey and Cecilia Persson continue their leadership of the central EMEA kids and young adults team, with a dual report to Dogra and Tom Ascheim, president, kids, young adults and classics for WarnerMedia.

The reorganization follows the announcement in August that WarnerMedia was bringing the international operations of Warner Bros., HBO and Turner under one leadership for the first time, with Gerhard Zeiler, to whom Dogra reports, named as head of WarnerMedia International.

Perry Ellis, Itochu Launch Farah in Japan

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Farah has been crafting modern menswear since 1920. Now, to celebrate its centennial anniversary, Perry Ellis and Itochu have teamed up to release Farah in Japan.

“As we celebrate our centennial anniversary, we are very excited to announce this collaboration with a powerful, global partner like Itochu,” says Oscar Feldenkreis, chief executive officer and president, Perry Ellis International. “This agreement complements our work together across other brands and markets.”

Itochu launched its first autumn/winter 20 Farah collection this fall. It will continue to build upon the Farah identity with a fresh outlook while also paying homage to the brand's heritage. Inspired by Farah’s founding days in the 1920s, the focal point of the AW20 collection is utilitarian workwear.

Trousers are seen in the collection in both hopsack and twill weaves and available in various styles such as a regular fit, cropped, flared and tailored. Jackets will be available in a zipped workman style. Other key pieces in the collection include a Texan-inspired shoelace shirt and corduroy over shirt. The colors range from khaki, camel and brown to grey and navy. Some brighter colors are also seen in the casual pieces such as pink and yellow t-shirts and hoodies.

The collection is available from but not limited to retailers such as BEAMS, Ellesse, Nano Universe, Shinya Kozuka and Baycrew’s throughout Japan. Running alongside the launch is an exclusive collaboration with Monkey Time, a Japanese brand inspired by Tokyo street culture. Limited pieces of the Monkey Time collaboration are also available in retailers outside Japan. Further collaborations will be seen from spring/summer 2021.

Van Gogh Museum, Robert Graham Partner for Fall/Winter Collection

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Robert Graham, the American-based eclectic fashion house, has partnered with the Van Gogh Museum to interpret the work of post-impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh in its Fall 20/Winter 21 collection, anchored around the brand’s Wearable Art pillar. Van Gogh Museum’s licensing agency IMG has been working extensively with Robert Graham on the development and launch of the collection. 

“This anniversary collection intertwines masterpieces in the art world while celebrating signature Robert Graham design expertise: vivid #WearableArt prints, tracer embroidery, contrast motifs under the cuff and yarn-dyed details,” says Sean Chadwick, vice president, design, Robert Graham. “The art of the detail in the details is always the unexpected with our designs.” 

Dubbed as a “Brush with Greatness” and also featuring collaborations with Leroy Neiman and Ryan McGinness, the collection offers fans collectible artistry with a signature Robert Graham hand.  

“The brand’s 20-year legacy, centered around fashion that is meant to be discussed, admired and collected, deeply ties us back to the world of art,” says Andrew Berg, president, Robert Graham. “That is who we are as a brand. The ability to feature iconic artists such as Vincent van Gogh through these collaborations allows us to officially marry art and fashion and make it our own.”  

Starting November, the collection pieces will be available at select Robert Graham Stores across the U.S., www.robertgraham.us and other high-end specialty boutiques. 

Mattel Transforms Playroom into Holiday Hub

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As families learned to navigate the pandemic, Mattel launched the Mattel Playroom, a free online destination that offers parents and caregivers activities and content. The platform includes content from their portfolio of brands including Barbie, Hot Wheels, American Girl and more, along with play-from-home information and tips, to be a valuable resource for them.

As we head into the holiday season and families continue to spend a significant amount of time at home, Mattel wanted to ensure that the Mattel Playroom continues to provide consumers with timely activities, information and tips. They have transformed the online destination into a holiday hub, offering:

  •  Holiday-themed crafts, including new printable holiday cards from Barbie, Hot Wheels and Thomas & Friends, as well as a step-by-step guide for building a Barbie Cookie Dreamhouse;
  • Ideas for holiday decorations and play, including instructions on how to incorporate dolls into holiday décor, recommendations on how to host an ugly sweater party with toys and suggestions on how to create a winter-themed race with Hot Wheels, to name a few;
  • Holiday-themed content from American Girl, Barbie and Thomas & Friends, among others. For example, American Girl’s The Perfect Present, follows Rebecca as she searches for the perfect gifts for her loved ones; and
  • Insights from Mattel’s play experts on how to manage holiday stress and ideas on creative ways to give back this season.

The holiday update is just the beginning and Mattel plans to regularly introduce new festive content over the coming months.    

BoxLunch, Marvel Unveil ‘Eat the Universe’ Holiday Collection

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BoxLunch and Marvel have launched the holiday edition of the Marvel “Eat the Universe” collection, a follow-up to their best-selling merchandise line inspired by the characters of the Marvel Universe and the unique dishes brought to life in Marvel’s popular YouTube series.

The holiday delivery showcases a range of apparel, home goods and accessories that reimagine the superheroes and iconography in seasonal colorways and graphics. Pop culture retailer BoxLunch teamed up with Marvel to debut the “Eat the Universe” holiday collection this fall at BoxLunch stores and BoxLunch.com.

Holiday and seasonal styling cues inform the latest “Eat the Universe” delivery, presenting new colorways of the “Eat the Universe” apron, oven mitt, tea towel set, coin purse, men’s tee, jogger and all-over print socks with “Avengers” characters recreated in gingerbread cookie form. Spider-Man’s pumpkin spice sweatshirt and mug debut alongside Marvel Logo Candy Cane styles and a Marvel Heroes Hot Cocoa Tee. The holiday edition of the Marvel Eat the Universe collection is now available at BoxLunch.com/EatTheUniverse and BoxLunch stores.