Weekly E-News, Issue #232, October 2, 2007

Toys ‘R’ Us Opens Temporary Digs, Supports Geoffrey’s FunDay
Toys ‘R’ Us is busy preparing for the impending holiday season by opening a 25,000-square-foot temporary location in New York City’s NoHo neighborhood. The pop-up store officially opens today and will operate through Jan. 31, 2008. The four-level store will feature a wide range of dolls, action figures, electronics, and educational toys. Visitors to New York will also find souvenir products that capture the spirit of New York City and the magic of Toys ‘R’ Us, with everything from familiar keepsakes to personalized and New York-branded items.

The retailer also rolled out the red carpet for Pokémon with feature shops in all 585 stores nationwide. The shops are filled with an extensive collection of merchandise, including the new Pokémon Trading Figure Game, video games, DVDs, apparel, and books. Among the highlighted products are new Diamond & Pearl action figures from master toy licensee JAKKS Pacific and the Mysterious Treasures expansion set for the Trading Card Game, featuring the never-before-caught Sinnoh Pokémon, including new gameplay options. Pokémon also participated in the annual Geoffrey FunDay where gamers were able to download Manaphy to their DS as well as receive customized Diamond and Pearl coloring sheets as well as character stickers. Kids were also able to visit a special Naruto Nation area and bring their cameras to take a picture in front of a Naruto backdrop.

Disney Teams with Canadian Retailer on Co-Branded Food Line
Sobeys Inc. and Disney Consumer Products have partnered on Compliments Junior Disney!, a new co-branded line of food to launch across Canada. The food products include Mickey burgers, alpha-taters mashed potato letters and fruit Pic-Mix dried fruit snack mix. More than 75 percent of the products carry the Health Check symbol, having been evaluated by Heart and Stroke Foundation dietitians and meeting the program’s nutrient criteria for healthy choices based on Canada's Food Guide. The line will be available across Canada at Sobeys, IGA extra, IGA, Foodland, and Price Chopper stores as well as in Quebec at IGA, Marché Bonichoix, and Les Marchés Tradition stores in the fall with a full range available by January 2008.
Trio Devises Strategic Campaign for Spider-Man TV Series
Kids’ WB!, Sony Pictures Television, and Marvel Studios have swung into action on a marketing and promotional campaign for “The Spectacular Spider-Man” television series due spring 2008 on the Kids’ WB! lineup on The CW Network. The network recently hosted The Spectacular Spider-Man sweepstakes giving away 100 not-yet-released Activision “Friend or Foe” video games every hour. The games will not be available at retail until October. In addition, a trailer for the series is featured on the Spider-Man 3 DVD available at Wal-Mart beginning Oct. 30.

In early 2008, Sony Pictures Television and Kids’ WB!/The CW Network will launch an in-school Milk Media Campaign, including localized tune-in information that will be featured on branded posters and book covers in the top markets, as well as branding on nearly 40 million milk cartons. Spider-Man Merchandising LP is currently in discussions with industry leaders in most major product categories, as well with key retailers, to develop a full licensing and merchandising program to support the series. Several deals are currently being finalized.

Steve & Barry’s To Drive Holiday Traffic with JEEP Deal
Steve & Barry’s revs up its licensing business once again with a line of JEEP T-shirts headed to its stores for holiday 2007. The deal, brokered by The Joester Loria Group, will include additional apparel merchandise throughout 2008.

Global Brands Teams Up with Seardel for Fifa World Cup in South Africa
Global Brands Group has signed up Seardel Investment Corp. to create official licensed clothing bearing the 2010 Fifa World Cup mark. This deal will enable retailers across South Africa to carry a wide range of merchandise in the run-up to the football festival.

Co-chairman and co-CEO of Global Brands Group Mark Matheny says, “The Seardel partnership aligns with Global Brands Group’s commitment to ensure that the South African clothing industry is supported, and 2010 Fifa World Cup fans are presented with merchandise choices that meet the varied needs of the marketplace.”

Product is expected to become available in South Africa later this year and will include T-shirts, shorts, scarves, jackets, sleepwear, and underwear. Global Brands Group’s partnership with Seardel runs to October 2010. 

JAKKS Named Master Toy Licensee for Neopets
JAKKS Pacific Inc. was tapped by Nickelodeon & Viacom Consumer Products as the master toy licensee in the United States for Neopets, the largest global youth-focused virtual world. The JAKKS line will focus on plush toys from the vast portfolio of Neopets species and characters featured throughout the site. In addition, the company will come to market with action figures and accessories, playsets, Plug It In & Play TV Games, interactive toys, as well as role-play products, vehicles, youth electronics, water toys, novelties, stationery products, kites, and craft activity toys. JAKKS’ Neopets collectible plush products will arrive on store shelves in early spring 2008 with figures, playsets, and other Neopets products shipping to retailers nationwide for fall 2008.  

Hit, Chellomedia Partner on Preschool Channel
Chellomedia, the European content division of Liberty Global, and producer and rights owner Hit Entertainment have launched a joint venture international preschool TV channel. At the same time, Chellomedia has separately acquired preschool channel JimJam, which is currently available in Italy on the Sky Italia platform. Together, HIT and Chellomedia’s subsidiary Zonemedia will launch and distribute JimJam internationally.

The launch across cable and satellite platforms in Western and Eastern Europe is scheduled for later this year with launches in Africa and the Middle East planned from the beginning of 2008. Additional rollout of the channel worldwide (excluding the United States and the UK) will follow.

Under the joint venture, Chellomedia, which currently operates 23 branded TV channels across Europe, will combine Zonemedia’s expertise in international channel distribution and management with HIT Entertainment’s children’s programming to launch the JimJam channel globally. The JimJam channel will include HIT properties including Thomas & Friends, Bob the Builder, Fireman Sam, Angelina Ballerina, Barney & Friends, and Pingu. The channel will also acquire preschool programming from international distributors.

Nelvana Grows ‘Grossology’ and ‘Di-Gata Defenders’
Nelvana is producing 26 new episodes of each of the animated series “Grossology” and “Di-Gata Defenders.”

The first cycle of “Grossology” sold to broadcasters including Discovery Kids in Canada and the United States, YTV and Societe Radio Canada in Canada, Jetix in the UK, BVI in Mexico and Latin America, TFI in France, Mediaset in Italy, Nickelodeon in Germany and Benelux, ABC in Australia, and MNET in South Africa. The series is targeted to kids aged six to 10 and is produced by Nelvana Studios. The merchandise program for the property is set to launch in 2008. Upper Deck Europe BV is the master toy partner in EMEA territories.

The first series of “Di-Gata Defenders” was bought by Jetix in the UK, Nickelodeon and TF1 in France, Raisat in Italy, RTL2 in Germany, Cartoon Network in Australia and Latin America, 4Kids Entertainment in the United States, Televisa in Mexico, and Teletoon in Canada, which began airing the new episodes in September. RTL2 has also acquired the new cycle. The series is for kids aged six to 10 and is produced by Nelvana Studios and LuxAnimation.

Spin Master has developed a line of dice games replicating the battles from “Di-Gata Defenders” and merchandise will launch in multiple markets this year and in 2008. TF1 Licences is the merchandise agent in France and Upper Deck Europe is the toy line’s distributor in Germany. Game Factory will launch a Nintendo DS title mid-October in Canada and Europe.

‘Lola & Virginia’ Explores New Territiories
Spain’s Icon Animation has extended the international broadcast presence of “Lola & Virginia,” and has penned a licensing deal with trading card company Panini.

In Finland, commercial broadcaster MTV3 has snapped up the series following the sale of the show to TV2 Norway at MIPTV earlier this year. Greece’s 06 TV has acquired TV and home video rights and in Malaysia, Icon Animation has signed a deal for “Lola & Virginia” with E-MAS for broadcast on public channel RTM.

In Latin America, home video distributor and merchandising agent Tycoon has picked up home video rights for Mexico and Central America. “Lola & Virginia” is currently airing with excellent ratings on Nickelodeon Latin America and SBT in Brazil.

“Lola & Virginia” has sold worldwide in over 40 territories to broadcasters including RTVE, France 3, RTP, as well as Nickelodeon in Latin America, Asia, and France, and the Disney Channels in Spain and Italy.

Its licensing and merchandising strategy includes a deal for Spain and Portugal with Comercial Nim. Products include school sets, stationery, backpacks, and pencil cases. Further product lines are planned by Comercial Nim working with Mendía Marketing, which will include games, T-shirts, beach sets, and toiletries.
Panini is set to launch a series of products across Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Brazil including a sticker stack book, story albums, and puzzle and coloring books. The rollout starts in Italy, where the series airs on the Disney Channel.

Grupo Edebe has already launched 10 manga-style comic books in Spain and leading mobile content producer Alvento is distributing ring tones, games, images, screen savers, and a WAP portal for the popular brand.

Icon Animation is also producing online games for the Lola & Virginia Web site (www.lolavirginia.com), which is available in Spanish, English, and Catalan and is also currently being localized in Italian and Portuguese. The animated series is a co-production between Icon Animation, Millimages, France 3, TV Catalunya, and ETB and is based on the original concept created by Myriam Ballesteros, founding partner of Icon Animation with Sergi Reitg.

Bang on the Door Names Four International Licensing Agents
Bang on the Door, with over 600 characters including Groovy Chick, Fairy Girl, and Football Crazy, has appointed four licensing agents covering Spain and Portugal, Benelux, Scandinavia, and Korea. Each agent will be responsible for developing a licensing strategy for its territory with a localized approach and identifying relevant licensing partnerships.

Sophia Noguera from Mendia Licensing takes on Spain and Portugal. Managing director of License Connection, Daphne Kellerman, will represent the Benelux territory, while Freddy Larsen of Mega Merchandising is agent for Scandinavia. Finally, character licensing company, Dick Bruna Korea, will handle the licensing and merchandising for Bang on the Door in Korea. 

Bang on the Door now has over 60 licensees covering territories from Europe, Australia, and the Far East. The brand includes a Bang on the Door baby range of characters with nursery products for the 0 to 3 age group, as well as Bang on the Door kids for the 4- to 7-year-olds.
Character Options Wins Master Toy License for Postman Pat
Entertainment Rights has signed a deal with Character Options, part of the Character Group, for the master toy licensee for Postman Pat in the UK and Republic of Ireland.

The agreement covers toys, playsets, plush, and collectibles. Under the deal, Character Options will begin developing new product lines for Postman Pat to go in store early 2009. This will coincide with the new series, which airs on CBeebies and BBC Two.

Entertainment Rights has 80 episodes of Postman Pat in its catalog exclusively licensed to the BBC. The new series of 26 x15-minute episodes sees Postman Pat promoted to head of Special Delivery Service (SDS). 

Entertainment Rights has also penned a multiyear partnership with London theater West End producer Duo Entertainment to produce live events for its Basil Brush character.

Duo produced Basil’s 2006–07 theater tour called The Fox Factor and other customized shows for theme parks. The new slate includes Basil of the Caribbean national tour, pantomimes from 2008, and summer residencies in leisure attractions across the UK.

A new 13-part season of “The Basil Brush Show” began airing on CBBC in September and is scheduled to repeat every Friday on BBC1. The agreement with the BBC brings the total number of episodes of “The Basil Brush Show” under license to 78, with a long-term broadcast platform secured.

Paddington Bear PS2 Game Goes Ahead
The Copyrights Group has signed a worldwide licensing agreement with computer games publisher Blast Entertainment to develop and publish Paddington Bear games for Playstation 2. The deal, brokered by Copyrights’ new media consultant, AT New Media, will see the official PS2 games ready for release from the end of this year.

TIA To Participate in Middle East Toy Fair
Toy Industry Association Inc. will launch its first-ever pavilion showcasing TIA members at the Middle East Toy Fair in Dubai, March 31 to April 2, 2008. The value of the Middle East toy market is estimated at $1.5 billion per year with about 11.8 percent annual growth. Member companies interested in exhibit space should contact Leigh Rhein at lrhein@toyassociation.org or call 646-520-4862.

American Greetings greets new licensee
KIDZ BOP will be making music with American Greetings as part of a line of social expression products. Due summer 2008, the line will include greeting cards for birthdays and all major holidays that play KIDZ BOP songs with the help of a specially embedded sound chip as well as gift bags featuring KIDZ BOP graphics.

Halo 3 Welcomed by Eager Gamers
As the clock struck 12 midnight last Tuesday, fans of the Halo franchise were eager to get their hands on Halo 3, the new version of Microsoft’s most popular Xbox 360 game. The first-person shooter science fiction game (about $60) pits super soldiers doing battle against alien invaders with the fate of Earth at stake. The game makes use of Xbox 360 graphics and online multiple player technology. It has a feature that lets gamers save it as a movie they can watch later.

Rive Gauche Motors & More Sells into Europe
Rive Gauche Motors & More has finalized licensing agreements with European broadcasters prior to the start of Mipcom in Cannes next week.

Among the deals, DMAX in Germany has secured the rights to “All the Gear, No Idea!” and Moto TV has acquired the same program rights in Italy.

Car Channel in the Netherlands has secured rights for “100 Most Popular Cars” and “London to Sydney Marathon,” while Auto Plus in Russia and CIS have obtained the rights to “Bikes Aloud,” “Military Motors,” “Bigfoot & Friends,” “Automobilia,” “Mutant Machines,” “Sold in 60 Seconds,” “Life of Tires,” “Slipstream,” “Taxi,” and “Classic Motors.”

In addition, seasons three and four of the men’s lifestyle program, “Family Business,” has been sold to 3 Lines/VMM in Belgium.

Manley Toys Acquires ToyTeck
Manley Toys Ltd. completed its acquisition of substantially all of the assets of ToyTeck Corporation, a privately held toy company and a related Hong Kong company, Toy Teck Ltd. ToyTeck, known for its candy-filled toys and banks, will operate as a separate division of Manley Toys, with its founder Mitch August acting as president.

Whac-A-Mole Burrows into New Business Opportunity
Foothill Entertainment will partner with Bob’s Space Racers to develop multi-platform television programming based on Whac-A-Mole, the $1.5 billion amusement park brand. The deal marks the brand’s evolution from traditional gaming into entertainment. Foothill Entertainment will serve as executive producers for the television and Internet projects. Christopher Keenan, president of Creating 4 Kids, will spearhead the development for Foothill Entertainment. Initial plans include a kids’ animated television series and a live-action reality/game show for family viewing.   

Taffy Entertainment to Support Kids’ Publishing Favorite
Taffy Entertainment extended its relationship with Atlantyca Entertainment and will now oversee most of the worldwide consumer products licensing and promotional rights for the Geronimo Stilton kids’ chapter book series. Atlantyca will continue to manage all licensing in Italy as well as worldwide publishing. The new pact follows a similar licensing deal signed earlier this summer for the new animated television series based on the Stilton character.  

Little Princess Stays with Milkshake
The second season of TV-Loonland’s preschool property “Little Princess,” produced by The Illuminated Film Company, has premiered on Channel Five’s Milkshake! The 35 x 11-minute animation series follows its first series, which launched on Milkshake! Five and Five Life in October 2006.

This year “Little Princess” DVDs were released worldwide and Martin Yaffe International was granted the master toy license in April 2007 for toys due in stores early in 2008. A dedicated consumer Web site has also been launched (www.littleprincesskingdom.com) aimed at parents and children.

Two book releases from Andersen Press are due fall 2007 and will bring the total number of “Little Princess” TV tie-in book titles to 10.

‘Genie in the House’ Casts Worldwide Spell at Mipcom
Moi j’aime la télévision/Helion Pictures’ live-action series “Genie in the House” is returning to Mipcom with new episodes to view for the first time through AB Distribution. Following the second series commission of 26 episodes by Nickelodeon UK and French broadcaster Canal J, a total of 52 episodes are now available to international buyers.

In the run-up to the Cannes event, AB has concluded a number of international sales for the show, including RTBF in Belgium; SIC in Portugal, Antena 3 in Spain; MNet Africa; and CTC Network for Russia and CIS.

MIPCOM Junior Dives into New Content
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The Licensing Challenge. In partnership with License! Global, this pitching session will showcase the TV property with the highest licensing potential. An international jury will select a winner from a shortlist of five entrants. The winner will be offered advice on how to hit the international stores, plus receive prizes designed to establish the contestants’ global presence.

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Atomic Wedgie Joins MySpace
Atomic Wedgie marked its official online debut on MySpace and is currently nominated as the Best Made for Mobile TV Channel by the MIPCOM Mobile and Internet TV Awards. The channel, owned by FremantleMedia Enterprises, can be seen daily on MySpaceTV’s “Featured Channels” list with new clips of the short-form comedy programming, including its No. 1 series “Secret Girlfriend.”

Geoffrey Beene Expands License Portfolio
Geoffrey Beene Inc. has signed a multiyear license agreement with George Weintraub and Sons Inc. for outerwear, topcoats, and rainwear due for fall 2008.
Emdigo Inc. Scores with New NFL deal
Emdigo Inc. brings the nonstop action of football to Verizon Wireless and Alltell Communications users with NFL Team Tailgate 3D phone screensavers. The screensavers feature all 32 teams and their players and allow users to select a player who will throw, catch, and kick footballs, ultimately scoring touchdowns in a variety of 3D animations that load automatically each time the handset is opened. The content also features animated wallpapers and a dialing skin that extends the look and feel of the user’s favorite team beyond the initial screen and into the actual dialing interface.
Casual Games Head to Mass-Market Shelves
Elephant Entertainment and Oberon Media will come to market with a new line of mass-market casual games. Fans of “Cake Mania” can play the latest version of the action arcade game “Cake Mania 2” on the PC as well as other new titles including NBC’s “National Heads Up Poker Championship,” “Dream Day Honeymoon,” “The Rise of Atlantis,” “Mahjong Escape: Ancient Japan,” and “Yumsters.”  

Execs on the Move
The Licensing Company (TLC) named Michelle McLaughlin vice president, retail and new business development.

CCI Entertainment named Jennifer Bennett executive vice president of licensing. CopCorp Licensing named John Fredericka sales manager and hired Leah Schnelbach as licensing administrator.