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Kidult culture has become increasingly celebrated by brands deliberately designing and producing products for kidults. So, as a self-confessed kidult, Ben Roberts, content director, EMEA, License Global, highlights ten of the most impactful licensed launches for fans and big kids this year.
November 30, 2023
It’s safe to say that horror-comedy, “Gremlins” (1984), evoked a varied range of emotions from across its viewer base, from falling in love with Gizmo to hiding behind the sofa in fear of Stripe. Regardless, the Gremlins franchise proved a hit around the globe thanks to its signature style of storytelling and has continued to build a cult following with new generations ever since.
PUMA and Warner Bros. Discovery Global Consumer Products’ latest line of mismatched sneakers and apparel – featuring colorways and styles inspired by both Gizmo and Stripe – took the core memories of generations X and Y and built a capsule that hits a chord with kidults.
The PUMA "Gremlin" sneakers, PUMA
Buddy the Elf is single-handedly responsible for some of the most memorable holiday quotes and references of all time. New Line Cinema’s “Elf” (2003) was not only a hit with kids and adults at launch but has become a modern holiday tradition for all ages. Focusing on the beauty market, the latest collaboration with Mad Beauty brings a new range of cosmetic products to life in a way that celebrates the characters and core story of “Elf,” not to mention bringing fans together through in-store activations that showcase and celebrate the film and the brand.
"Elf" Mad Beauty window display, Roy Rochlin/Getty Images/Empire State Reality Trust
Experts in the kidult space, Mattel Creations launched a line of Fisher-Price Little People figures featuring the cast of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. in July. While recent events have us all watching the show in a new, heart-felt light, fans of the series can collect the sets or introduce their own little people to the hit television show while they play out classic scenes and spend time together.
"Friends" Little People, Fisher-Price
Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2024, “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1971) was a horror masterpiece by Tobe Hooper that gathered equal amounts of awe and criticism upon launch. Growing a steady and loyal fan base from launch, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Slaughterhouse is available to play in boardgame form thanks to Funko Games.
In The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Slaughterhouse, the Sawyer family is played by one player, while the other players will play travelers doing what they can to avoid becoming the next victims. It’s a game that lets players feel like a part of the world of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” safely.
“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Slaughterhouse" game, Funko Games
While it’s hard to avoid the initial, “All I want for Christmas” quips, the Mattel immortalization of Mariah Carey is a timely, seasonal and collector-focused launch that has “kidult” written all over it. The Mariah Carey Barbie doll captures the vocalist’s signature flair and style in a festive look. Mariah Carey Barbie rings in the holiday season in a glittery red gown with a ruched overlay and a hem slit, accompanied by sparkly, silvery accessories and matching red heels. Mariah herself noted that a Barbie edition in her likeness is a “once-in-a-lifetime dream” and hopes that the doll is a great addition to the holidays for fans and collectors.
Mariah Carey Barbie, Mattel
The LEGO Icons Atreides Royal Ornithopter is a collector’s item through-and-through. As part of the new 1,369-piece build experience, fans of Legendary Entertainment’s “Dune” will be able to recreate the dragonfly-inspired design of an Ornithopter with functional blades on the aircraft that can flap and retract with a 180-degree rotation. The set also comes with eight new LEGO Minifigures of characters from “Dune,” including Paul Atreides, Lady Jessica, Gurney Halleck, Chani, Leto Atreides, Liet Kynes, Duncan Idaho and Baron Harkonnen.
It’s not only the authenticity to the “Dune” brand, design and story that makes this a fantastic kidult product, but the precision behind the design of rotating blades and style that truly makes this a LEGO Icon.
"Dune" Royal Ornithopter, The LEGO Group
Family games designed for older players with a timeless design and nostalgic appeal run through the core of the Ageless Innovation re-design of Hasbro’s classics, “Game of Life,” “Scrabble” and “Trivial Pursuit.” Ageless Innovation designed the time-honored games to meet the needs and interests of aging loved ones, and to encourage intergenerational play among families. Building off Ageless Innovation’s knowledge in creating play experiences for older adults, combined with Hasbro’s gaming expertise, the widely established properties will be updated to feature age-inclusive components, such as easy-to-grasp game pieces, increased font size and trivia and references that cater to players of all ages.
Game of Life box, Hasbro
The 100 licenses signed and launched to celebrate the brand revival and subsequent movie launch of “Barbie” by Mattel was a milestone for 2023. What’s more, the authenticity of each product shows just how dedicated the brand was to create a genuine connected moment for fans. Ranging from food and beverage to beauty, apparel, toys and accessories, this is the ultimate kidult collection and the range that gave Mattel global authority for what comes next.
“Barbie” doll in car, Mattel
While this list celebrates the top kidult products from the point of view of one editor, the entire kidult market has been inundated with incredibly creative, impactful products that have nurtured a new angle for brands and licensees to pursue.
The Global Licensing Group (parent group of License Global, Brand Licensing Europe, Licensing Expo and more) will be highlighting the incredible creativity and authenticity of licensing programs (both kidult and kid-focused) across toys, games, sports and more with our theme for 2024, Brands at Play.
Read more about:PUMAElfMattelBarbieLEGOFriendsGlobalLicense Global OriginalLicense Global Editor’s ChoiceFebruary 2024
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