20th Century Fox L&M
020 7437 7766
Since its debut in 1989, The Simpsons has pretty much dominated TV ratings across the globe. And, with guaranteed on-air presence in the UK secured until at least 2011, there are no signs of its popularity waning just yet.
With 600 licensees worldwide (90 in the UK), the licensing campaign also continues to evolve. Fox L&M has recently developed new style guides for Bart and Homer, along with a focus on other key characters such as Itchy & Scratchy. Recent deals cover a variety of categories including a worldwide deal with Mattel for 20Q and Scene It DVD boardgame; Bart Stretch from Character Options; Remote Controlled Bart Skate from Halsall; a new Puzzle Ball from Ravensburger; boys bikes from Tradewinds; and Wii accessories from A4T. Other new product launches include consumer electronics from Clarity and a sixth sticker album collection from Panini.
Meanwhile, Family Guy regularly draws audience figures of more than 880,000 total viewers on BBC3. The licensing programme is steadily expanding, targeting the core demographic of older teen boys. Among various deals, Bravado’s teen boy-male clothing is a strong selling line with entertainment retailers Play.com, HMV, Amazon and Zavvi.
020 7297 5980
Momentum is building across Europe for the show, which mixes battles and collectability with dinosaurs, a winning combination for the boys market.
The show premiered on Jetix in the UK in March and broadcast has now rolled out across the EMEA region. Trading cards from Upper Deck and Sega's Nintendo DS game launched in the autumn, while the Playmates toy line includes mechanised figures, exclusive collectable cards and play-sets and is distributed in the UK by Vivid. The first toys are due to launch at retail in spring 2009. Half-term visitors to La Geode at the Science Museum in Paris have also been experiencing a special Dinosaur King event.
The latest chapter in the successful franchise, which started in 2001 and has been on-air in 80 countries. The new series has a new look, plus fresh storylines and an emphasis on speed.
Like the rest of the franchise, it targets six to 14 year-old boys, but features new duelists, vehicles and challenges. It currently airs on 4Kids TV in the US, with the firm expected to confirm international broadcast starting in 2009. The trading card game is available from Upper Deck, including an all-new 100 card booster set. Over 18 billion Yu-Gi-Oh trading cards have been sold worldwide since the show started and approximately six million kids collect and play the game worldwide.
In just 12 months, the Chaotic trading card game has become one of the most popular TCG brands on the market.
The first card series was launched in the US in October 2007, called Dawn of Perim, and 4Kids and its majority-owned subsidiary TC Digital Games, has just launched a new card series called M'arrillian Invasion in the US. This introduces the fifth tribe in Chaotic, together with accessories such as a card storage tin and scanner deck. The TCG is distributed in the UK by Esdevium Games and makes its retail debut in Toys R Us this month.
Bang on the Door
+353 749 386 740
The firm has recently refreshed its portfolio, with focus given to some of its boy characters including Football Crazy, Skater Boy and Game Kid. These are being used by licensees such as Hallmark to create greetings cards, targeting the boys market with contemporary and topical artwork.
Football Crazy, in particular, has been well received by licensees and was one of the hits on the BOTD stand at October’s Brand Licensing Europe. A number of new deals are now being finalised in several areas.
For example, one licensee – Primary Teaching Services – is using the character in the educational market, creating educational, motivational and reward-based products. Other licensees using the boy characters include McClaggan Smith Mugs.
020 8433 2000
Interest in Doctor Who licensing remains high, with almost 70 licensees now working within the brand portfolio. Character Options continues to invest strongly in the property and it is now entering its fifth year of production.
A highlight of the forthcoming spring/summer 2009 collection will be the arrival of a new mini action figure range called Time Squad, available for pre-sale in the New Year. The Sonic Screwdriver and five-inch figures continue to be popular, while to support the clothing and paper-based licensees, a new Monsters style guide for artwork has just been launched so new products can hit stores in 2009.
A wide array of published product will also be available, including the existing book and magazine ranges, plus new book and online publishing lines and a DVD to appeal to collectors.
BBCW now has ten licensees in place for the series from Impossible Pictures.
Character Options launched its second action figure line back in January on the back of the second series, while it is due to launch a new wave of five-inch figures to coincide with season three. The plush Rex remains popular, while new additions will include the portable Anomaly Detector with lights and sound effects.
Other new lines launching in spring/summer include greetings cards from Gemma International, clocks and watches from Wesco and lunchware from DNC. Apparel, nightwear and underwear ranges will also be in-store from January from Aykroyds and TDP and TMI.
Various publishing deals will span out over the year, with Penguin releasing two new activity books in February, the third novel from Titan - Extinction Event - will be available in early 2009, while a second sticker album from Emax will also roll out. Following the success of the first All About Primeval magazine last year, Egmont is planning two further issues around the third series.
Due to the continued success of both the TV series and magazine, BBCW is extending its reach in licensing from products targeting adults to those for boys and families.
The key to the range is to ensure the product reflects the irreverent humour and content of the show, as well as the cult appeal of The Stig. There are currently 11 licensees on board, with other deals and proposals pending.
Ultimate Car Challenge Board Game, by Imagination, has recently launched, along with a chocolate advent calendar and 2009 calendar by Kinnerton. The Top Gear Power Laps Scalextric set is also available from Hornby.
M&S has added new product categories to its Christmas gifting range including car boat bath toys for men. Additional ranges of Top Gear Top Trumps are in discussion with Winning Moves, while the 2008 Top Gear calendar from Danilo was one of the best selling motoring calendars.
Children's lunchware and stationery ranges are due to launch in early 2008 from DNC, with Easter eggs and Paul's Model Art Die-Cast models based on the power laps in time for Father's Day. In addition, Wow Stuff's master toy line will hit the UK High Street in time for Christmas 2009.
020 7031 7979
The leader in the hand tools market is looking to use licensing to sharpen its image, broaden its brand appeal to core customers and establish itself further within the hardware and tool category.
The strategy is to create a licensing programme that extends the Stanley name into products that its core customers - professionals and serious do-it-yourselfers - need to do their jobs.
Current European categories include work gloves, personal protective equipment, power accessories, work lights, drills and bits, apparel (UK and Eire), construction toys (UK) and welding machines and accessories. A new line of metal and plastic construction toys is aimed at eight yeat-old boys and above and comes in 20 different models including the Stanley Jumbo Excavator, Digger, Dumptruck and Bulldozer, a Stanley Minibike range and a Stanley Aircraft range.
Made under licence by Sambro, each toy comes will a Stanley-branded spanner and screwdriver.
Enjoying more than 95 per cent brand awareness in all key territories, Land Rover vehicles are sold in more than 140 countries around the world. It currently has over 40 licensees and, in 2007, through a range of lifestyle categories including apparel, accessories and eyewear, the licensing programme achieved retail sales in excess of $40 million.
Recent developments include bike licensee 2x2 Worldwide unveiling its new G4 Junior and G4 Youth bikes, while Empire Interactive is due to launch a video game on Nintendo Wii - Off Road - featuring Land Rover and Ford.
The current licensing programme for this iconic brand includes more than 45 licensees in apparel, accessories, publishing, toys and games. Over 600 million Dr Seuss books have been sold in 95 countries in 17 languages, with The Cat in the Hat enjoying 83 per cent brand awareness in the UK and the brand itself having a 20 per cent share of the UK Classic Children's publishing market.
Leapfrog is the latest licensee to partner with the brand, launching The Cat in the Hat Tag Reading System.
Apparently the fifth most recognised brand in the world, with over 100 Harley-Davidson licensees worldwide generating approximately $1 billion in licensing retail sales annually. Global youth programme licensees generate over $100 million in retail sales annually, offering apparel, toys and home furnishings.
In Europe, for example, Harley-Davidson has unveiled brand extensions in youth apparel, back to school and bed linen. The apparel line is being developed with two partners: Danish company Contrast for Northern Europe and Barcelona-based Precisport for Southern Europe. The two firms are also developing the back to school range, alongside Paxos and Gruppo Cartorama.
BKN New Media
020 7269 8679
Dork Hunters from Outer Space
Created by the man behind Biker Mice from Mars and the animated Spider-man series, the show launched on GMTV mid-August with a prime time Sunday morning slot and, in eight weeks, achieved solid ratings success, pushing it into the top five performing TV series for boys. Scheduling on GMTV will continue for the rest of this year and into 2009, with series two being lined up for a summer launch.
It's not just performing well in the UK, either. In South Africa, the show has performed consistently well since its launch on SABC 1 in July, beating any competition from other channels. It is averaging over 35 per cent audience share for kids aged six to 13 and in some instances a share of over 43 per cent. Success has also been reported in Spain, Russia and Australia.
Master toy licensee Character Options will begin launching product from January 2009 supported by over 300 TVRs of advertising. The line consists of ten skus: seven action figures, a vehicle, plush and accessories. DVD releases will begin in February and negotiations in publishing, trading cards, apparel and additional toy lines are well advanced.
Zorro Generation Z
It may be based on the legendary character, but this series sees the debut of a thoroughly modern Zorro, with the horse replaced by a motorbike and gadgets including a laser weapon, Z-phone and Z-pod.
It has already premiered in Spain on two platforms, Telecinco and Clan TV, while it is also airing on CTC in Russia. It is due to launch in South Africa and the US later this year/early 2009.
BKN is already working on a further 26 episodes for delivery in late 2009/early 2010. Gulliver Toys has been granted the master manufacturing rights and distribution for Brazil, with the toy line ready to begin shipping at the end of the year. In addition, a broad base of European and South American licensees have been appointed covering categories ranging from board games and jigsaws, through to apparel, luggage, confectionery and stationery.
020 8325 5455
Bulldog is lucky enough to have not just one, but two, of the market’s current playground crazes among boys, with GoGo’s Crazy Bones and Thumb Wrestling Federation.
Produced by Magic Box International and Promociones Premier International, there are now 160 GoGo’s Crazy Bones characters to collect in five different colours, as well as five rare figures. Licensing deals have been inked with Penguin (publishing), Halsall (wheeled toys), Portico (greetings cards), Pyramid (posters), Roy Lowe & Sons (socks), Infocado (calendars) and Poetic Gem (apparel). New licensees joining the programme are Zap (bedding) and Random House, which is producing the official GoGo’s handbook.
Meanwhile, licensees have also been quick to snap up Thumb Wrestling, with those pledging support including Danilo (greetings cards), Aykroyds TDP (apparel), Panini (sticker books), Random House (official TWF ‘thumb’ book) and Sambro (toys).
“GoGo’s Crazy Bones and TWF are two of the hottest products for boys on the market and their popularity shows no sign of abating – 2009 promioses to be a fantastic year for both of them,” says Rob Corney, MD of Bulldog.
020 7693 1000
The success of Ben 10, an action-adventure animation series in which our hero turns into different alien superheroes using his powerful Ominitrix watch, is now well-established and looks set to continue into 2009 and beyond.
Cartoon Network Enterprises achieved a successful toy launch for Ben 10 by utilising in-house resources including sales, marketing and on-air, and through collaboration with master toy licensee Bandai. This strategy was followed through with all licensing partners to provide a strong presence at retail. Ben 10 is now enjoying great success as the number 1 toy property in the UK, covering every major product category with more than 60 licensees.
With free-to-air broadcast partners on board, a record breaking DVD release and over 150 licensees Ben 10’s success is growing rapidly across EMEA including an imminent launch in Italy. February 2009 heralds the next chapter for Ben 10 with the UK broadcast of a new series, Alien Force, in which Ben has turned 15 and encounters a new set of adventures. There are 49 Alien Force episodes, a new animated feature and a live action film due for release in 2009. Bandai will launch its Alien Force toy range and D3 Publisher their interactive game to coincide with the new series. Existing Ben 10 licensees will make the transition to Alien Force in summer 2009, backed by a brand new style guide and strong support at retail, building on Ben 10’s existing retail partnerships. Six to 11 year olds remain the core audience for the show and Cartoon Network’s integrated marketing initiatives for Ben 10 will continue.
Alien Force will launch on air and roll-out a licensing program across the rest of EMEA from summer 2009.
The Secret Saturdays
The Secret Saturdays is a new mystery adventure series coming to Cartoon Network in 2009. The Saturdays are a family of scientific explorers dedicated to protecting the secret artifacts and cryptids (mysterious creatures) of the world. Mattel is now onboard as master toy partner and a deal has been agreed with a global video games partner, both of which will form the basis of a licensing program in place for series launch.
0870 403 0556
Since it premiered in the UK on Five’s Milkshake and Nick Jr in May 2007, Roary the Racing Car has charmed its target audience and the business in equal measure.
It currently has 32 licensees in the UK and internationally and has been sold into 110 countries to date. Toys and publishing are the most successful categories, although Chapman is keen to point out that all of the secondary categories are also performing well, particularly clothing.
Indeed, the firm launched a limited edition exclusive clothing range with Woolworths in October. A full roll out of secondary categories including housewares, gift and stationery began in January 2008.
020 7907 3797
While the Peppa Pig business is still undoubtedly growing, the character’s brother – George – is also showing signs of becoming a licensing star.
“We heard parents saying ‘please start developing things for boys so that my son can have George product,” says Andrew Carley, head of licensing and merchandising at Contender, which licences Peppa Pig globally.
Toys with a boy bias, such as the campervan, the car and the successful spaceship, have always been available, however apparel licensees including Misirli, Cooneen and Blues were the first to start offering George specific product. Ranges have been in-store for about six month and have been performing well.
Notably, the next style guide will include George material for the licensees to work with. Other partners which have been inspired to add George product to their lines include VMC (accessories), Trademark (bags), W Lamb (footwear), Roy Lowe (socks), Spearmark (housewares), Character World (bedding) and Character Options (toys).
020 8563 6400
While Horrid Henry certainly enjoys cross gender appeal, there are certain aspects of the brand which are very boy-centric.
In a DTR coordinated by CPLG, Mothercare's exclusive range of apparel launched in October and has been selling through well, with repeat orders already placed. Socks and slippers are just about to launch, with a further extension of the line planned for spring 2009. Fabric Flavours' Horrid Henry t-shirt has also been doing well on the stage show, which is currently touring the UK. Re:creation's line of figures, games, joke and trick sets are also performing well in toy retailers.
Over 12 million Horrid Henry books by Orion have been sold in the UK alone, with two out of three children between the ages of four and ten having either read, or listened to, one of the stories. New titles are planned for 2009, while the TV show also continues to perform well.
Disney Consumer Products
020 8222 1318
Brand new 'Cars Toons' have been created by the firm, which are a new animated short series directed by John Lasseter and starring Lightning McQueen's friend Mater. The first of three will premiere on the Disney Channel in the UK in late 2008.
Meanwhile, Cars 2 will be released in 2011.
Power Rangers Operation Overdrive is airing on Jetix and various promotional activity will be taking place over the coming months.
Activity includes a partnership between Jetix and the Holiday Inn Group in the UK. This will see Jetix-branded programming activity in all 120 Holiday Inn hotels throughout the year. Power Rangers Jungle Fury was the first property to feature as part of this in July and August.
A cross channel TV campaign took place in August and September with a 20-second ad, while October half-term events in TRU included martial arts demonstrations from the Red Ranger, activity sheets, competitions and a sneak peek at the Jungle Fury toys.
The much-loved film is returning to cinemas in autumn 2009, this time in 3D. Meanwhile, early 2010 will see the 3D theatrical release of Toy Story 2, followed in summer 2010 by the highly anticipated Toy Story 3.
All films will be supported extensively by DCP with new product ranges launching.
Phineas and Ferb
A new boys' property for 2009, the Disney Channel Original Series airs daily on the channel in the UK, while it also premiered on CITV in October.
Merchandise will be targeted at boys aged six and above from autumn/winter 2009 and will focus on the humour and sense of adventure in the show, as well as the main characters of Phineas and Ferb.
Launching in summer 2009, G-Force will be a key event film for DCP. The comedy adventure will follow a team of highly trained elite agents who are being used as guinea pigs by the government to carry out a dangerous mission - which is all fine, because they actually are guinea pigs.
020 8762 6200
Postman Pat has recently undergone a major brand re-launch with Postman Pat Special Delivery Service (SDS). The new series premiered in September 08 and is one of the top rating shows in the BBC2 (Cbeebies) morning schedule. The show has also been sold to over 80 territories worldwide.
Character Options is on board as master toy licensee and a toy range including track systems, locations, play-sets and plush is set for roll out in Q1 2009 and will be supported by a major national TV advertising campaign (450 TVRs).A full cross-category L&M programme is in development for Postman Pat SDS with over 30 licensees on board spanning publishing, apparel and home furnishings.
Egmont is developing a publishing range including collectible storybooks, colouring and activity books and novelty formats set for roll out March 2009. Other licensees on board include - SDS bedding with Zap, SDS health and beauty with Hall & Associates, outerwear with CWI, as well as a three-year SDS stationery deal with BHL Products. Alongside these deals, the company has also extended the Postman Pat brand into an infant range and following its success at retail has renewed a Postman Pat babyware range with Brecrest.
The first Postman Pat product to hit UK stores is a brand new Postman Pat SDS DVD, A Brand New Mission. The DVD is set for release on November 20th 2008.
020 7554 2500
Thomas & Friends
Thomas has ranked as the UK's number one pre-school licence since 2000 and also as the UK's number one property for 2008 YTD (NPD: September).
There are over 90 licensees and thousands of Thomas-branded skus currently on the market. Over 50 million home entertainment units have sold globally over 43 releases, whole more than 200 million Thomas books have been sold worldwide. Europe's first Thomas Land opened in the UK in March this year, with attendance figures far exceeding expectations. This year's release of The Great Discovery DVD (featuring former 007 Pierce Brosnan as the narrator) saw new consumer product ranges from Tomy, RC2 and Hornby.
In the run up to the character's 65th anniversary in 2010, Hit is planning a number of new initiatives. For example, next year will see Thomas entering the world of electricals through a deal with Martin Yaffe to develop Thomas TVs, TV/DVD combo, digital camera and boom box. Product is due to launch in June/July 2009.
Bob the Builder
Celebrating his tenth anniversary this year, Bob has now firmly been established as an evergreen brand.
There are 50+ licensees in the UK including Martin Yaffe, MV Sports, RC2, Lego, Vtech, Toybrokers, Ravensburger, VMC, Aykroyds & TDP, Silverknit and Portico to name just a few. Master toy licensee Martin Yaffe has recently introduced a new construction play-set for autumn/winter, while Ravensburger launched the Race to the Finish puzzle to tie-in with the DVD release and RC2 has a new tenth anniversary die-cast vehicle set.
Set to appear in a new CGI format from 2009, there is a wide range of Fireman Sam currently available across 20+ licensees. This includes an innovative line from master toy partner Martin Yaffe, with further lines in development for next year.
Retail sales for Fireman Sam are up 29 per cent YOY to July 2008 (source: NPD), while plans are afoot to extend the retail roadshow for spring/summer 2009 to further drive brand awareness and cross-category sales.
Confirmed new product launches for 2009 so far include a new line of nightwear from Cooneen, while Yaffe will introduce the Fireman Sam Ride in Jupiter and Snaptrax Firestation.
Europe’s largest construction brand, JCB is approaching its 65th anniversary. Legoland and Diggerland theme parks support the brand in the UK with dedicated areas, while JCB is planning to roll out branded outdoor adventure zones next year. This ties in with the aim of inspiring children in their play, encouraging them to use their imagination and, where possible, engage them in physical activity. A dedicated website also supports and promotes these activities.
Over 20 licensees are now on board including key toy partners Halsall and Golden Bear, which have been granted global rights. Further extensions in 2009 include publishing (Peter Haddock), DVD (Go Entertain) and entries into new categories such as toiletries, ceramics and greetings.
Jetix Consumer Products
020 8222 5852
As the leading boys-driven kids channel across EMEA, Jetix continues to focus strong on its boys properties. Its consumer products division has signed up a number of new licensees, with new products rolling out over the next few months for Sonic X and Galactik Football among others.
There are currently 50 licensees worldwide for Sonic X, with the latest to join the list being Joystick Junkies, which is developing a daywear and nightwear line. With listings in key retailers, the first products will be hitting stores by the end of the year.
Meanwhile, there are 16 licensees worldwide for the Sonic the Hedgehog brand. Bravado has created a new t-shirt exclusive to HMV which is expected to hit stores in the first quarter of 2009. UK licensee Impact International will continue to develop its plush and new gifting lines, while Arnold Wills & Co will be creating Sonic 3D cufflinks in an exclusive agreement with Next stores in time for Christmas.
Moving on, and 26 licensees have pledged support for Galactik Football. From June 2009, Jetix viewers will be able to play the game for themselves when 505 Games launches the Nintendo DS game across Europe. Hachette Livre in France has already published two chapter books novelising the show.
Hot Wheels will be introducing an extensive licensing programme designed to enhance the authentic lifestyle brand, targeting four to eight year-old boys.
New for the autumn is the exclusive launch of Hot Wheels leisurewear in George at Asda. A hoodie and t-shirt launched this month and will be followed by a range of exclusive clothing next year. Other existing licensees include Aykroyds & TDP (nightwear/underwear); Carta Mundi (Trumps game); Drew Brady (socks); DNC (melamine); Wesco (gifts/accessories); Worlds Apart (Ready Bed); Zap (homewares/bedding); MV Sports (wheeled toys); and Gemma (stationery) among others.
The popularity of Bakugan is continuing to spread, with Spin Master producing approximately 40,000,000 Bakugan this year to meet the incredible demand. The newest items to be launched in North America from the toy firm this autumn are the Special Attack Bakugan, oversized Deka Bakugan and the Bakurack storage unit for Bakugan balls.
Cartoon Network has signed several new partners in the soft lines categories for the brand in the US including apparel, sleepwear, footwear, swimwear and accessories, with Hybrid Tees, Jazwares, Accessory Innovations, C-Life and SGI Apparel. DVDs of the first season episodes were released in the summer.
Within EMEA, Cartoon Network is also notching up the licensing agreements in all the above categories, plus confectionery, stationery, publishing and posters. DVD distribution agreements are in place with Warner Home Video for the UK, Spain, Italy, Germany, Benelux and France, as well as with KE Mathiasen for the Nordic region.
The Bakugan TV series will begin to air in the UK, Europe, Australia and Africa throughout the remainder of 2008 and into 2009, coinciding with the launch of the toys in those markets. A second season, Bakugan: New Vestroia, is being produced, with new episodes due in the spring.
020 7462 1000
Go! Diego Go! launched on TV in 2005 and at retail in 2007. It’s lively eight year old hero Diego is an animal rescuer and the show’s message of love and respect for animals and the environment has made the Nick Jr star, his sister and his many friends enormously popular with pre-school viewers.
Like Dora the Explorer (who is, in fact his cousin), Diego’s show is both entertaining and educational, combining adventure stories and music with plots that allow involvement from the audience in identifying animals, locating their habitats and using scientific thinking to investigate the world.
It’s hardly surprising therefore that Diego a syndicated in over 70 markets worldwide. Licensed product from over 50 licensees includes books, toys, DVDs and jigsaws but the show offers some very specific opportunities in the form of, for example, a talking rescue centre, a talking rescue radio and of course, a backpack.
More recently, licensees such as Fisher Price, Character World and Trademark Collections were joined by video games publisher 2K Play via the Go! Diego Go!: Safari Rescue game, which, like the show educates as it entertains. What’s more the game was nominated in the Best Interactive Category at the recent Licensing Awards. Other new partners include International Greetings and Smith and Brooks.
Aimed at those who appreciate a relaxed attitude to life, the Plain Lazy franchise continues to introduce new licensed product. Spring 2009 will see the launch of greetings cards and a range of accessories including belts, wallets and bags.
The products will use some of the well-known sayings and new catchy slogans from the forthcoming spring/summer 2009 clothing line.
The brand now works with 20 licensees across UK, Europe and Canada. The main focus is to continue to build on the successful licensing drive in the UK, but to also look at introducing the brand into other European markets.
The first European market to launch the brand is Greece, where Plain Lazy is partnering with a retailer/distributor specialising in the fashion market and which has its own stores and concessions. The clothing launched with the autumn/winter 08 range, and will be followed by stationery, bags and gifting in spring 09.
020 7207 6241
It isn’t wise to be over-confident in the present economic circumstances but, let’s face it, if you’ve got a brand that has ‘boys’ in the title, is based on a book that is a publishing phenomenon and is soon to be a TV show, and you have a good selection of licensees and retail outlets already established - all in the run-up to Christmas - you might regard Charlie Donaldson’s comment that “initial signs are that sales will be good” as a touch conservative.
Donaldson, joint MD of Rocket Licensing, is discussing The Dangerous Book for Boys. The Dangerous Book has other advantages. Its feeling for do-it-yourself fun, book learning and old-fashioned games and skills seems to have struck a chord in these technology-heavy times. Also, when the book appeared it was unique in the market. Unique but also wildly successful.
And it has a clearly identifiable market - eight-to-12-year-old boys - but, as Donaldson says: “The nostalgia and the classic nature of the both the book and the product we have developed will appeal to older ‘boys’ - dads and granddads in particular - and so makes a great gift purchase.”
And the TV series - Dangerous Adventures for Boys - brings that appeal to life, with stars - like Todd Carty, Vic Reeves and Darren Campbell - learning about history and rediscovering once everyday but often forgotten skills together with their sons. It has received strong promotion on Five before hitting the screens on November 12th.
Ironically, the Dangerous Book’s success is built on an apparently ambivalent attitude towards consumerism. Thus the way to make a market for the brand is to extend the spirit of the book into the choice of licensed product. And that’s exactly what Rocket has done, with a product range that mixes established licence areas - like stationery and apparel - with slightly more unusual ones.
University Games is an example of this with a range that includes magic kits, card tricks and illusions, while the Marks and Spencer Peter Black range, which includes a paper folding kit, juggling balls and a telescope, is performing strongly. Other lines include a board game from Hasbro, jigsaws, page-a-day diaries, chemistry sets, build-your-own periscopes and timeless classics like marbles, tiddlywinks and trebuchets. Add to this a Burger King promotion running from the 7th to the 27th of November, through which toys and games are included with Kids’ Meals and a tie-in offers mini-book vouchers that can be redeemed at WH Smith, and awareness is likely to be sky-high by Christmas. Meanwhile the book’s sales remain impressive with more books - including pocket books, yearbooks and a Daring Book for Girls (also represented by Rocket) - likely to keep interest in the brand as strong as it has been since the original book’s release in 2006.
But 2009 should see even more activity. “The initial indications we’ve got from both our licensees and our retail partners are that they are keen to increase their investment and their relationship with the Dangerous Book,” says Donaldson.
Well, of course they are. After all, who could deny the appeal of a brand whose appeal truly stretches the definition of ‘boys’ to its limits? Or as Donaldson puts it. “The core market loves it - but so do their dads and granddads. So really the market is boys aged eight to 80!”
Rocky, the film, was huge at the box office in 1976 and with the help of five further sequels, generated over $1 billion in the next few decades.
Rocky has become part of popular culture and a perennial classic brand, its themes of success through struggle resonating even with kids too young to have seen the first film at the cinema. Which is why Rocket can point to a well-established licensing programme in core product areas, through companies like Pyramid and GB Posters, which offer posters and art prints, and Trademark, which has done well with t-shirts.
Male gifting lines - like an already successful range of bathrobes from Groovy - are an obvious target. “We’re looking to extend that male gifting line into 2009,” says Donaldson. However, the high awareness of the brand across many ages means that alongside polo shirts, trainers, toiletries and robes for older males can also be included figurines, games and novelties that may be popular with a younger audience.
It’s a tribute to the Rocky brand that it enables this diversity. But that should be no surprise. After all, its appeal is precisely that it has taken the ultimate male daydream of sporting triumph against the odds and embodied it in one word recognised by everyone from 16 to 60.
Once Atari video games and boys were pretty much synonymous. Now, nearly 40 years after Pong, the original Atari video coin-op game, appeared in 1972, those boys are men aged from 18 to 40-plus. However, many of them secretly want to get back in touch with the kids they once were.
Or not so secretly, perhaps. As Rob Wijeratna, joint MD, points out: “Of course retro brands inspire warm feelings and have enormous appeal and interest for everyone. So Atari imagery appeals to men that have a real fondness for the brand that they played as kids.” Which is why Rocket jumped at the opportunity to licence the classic Mount Fuji trademark and the images and icons associated with the games - like Asteroids, Battlezone and Missile Command - that began the video gaming revolution.
But the continuing cultural interest in retro concepts has made brands like Atari appealing to a second demographic. It also has resonance for the much younger gamers of the present day. For them it’s less about the history and more about the image: the innovation and design-led quality of the brand. In short, they recognise it and know it’s cool. Thus the apparently retro Atari brand has also become a fashion brand for kids from 16 upwards.
Apparel and male gifting seemed the obvious first area to target and indeed t-shirts from licensees Joystick Junkies are already selling well at Top Man, Next Directory, Play.com and other fashion retailers. Trademark Products will increase and widen distribution of tees later in 2009. The PC bags and accessories license was snapped up by Impact Innovations, while a novelty gift deal is just being concluded which includes items that add an Atari look and feel to your PC.
We can expect to see most of this product in the coming year. But it’s far from the only possibility that a classic retro brand which appeals to boys young and old can offer. “The art assets Atari have are amazing and have a very wide appeal for this design-led brand,” Wijeratna points out.
Which is why Rocket has a long list of potential product categories that includes cufflinks and belts, fashion bags, stationery, socks, trainers and music compilations. It even includes handheld electronic games - which is, give or take a few updates, where we came in.
020 8337 7958
Filming for the second series of the new-look Gladiators is beginning later on this year, with broadcast slated for early 2009, with a Christmas special running as a precursor.
Start has been busy whipping up licensing interest in the property – something which was undoubtedly helped by the appearance of Oblivion and Atlas at Sky’s showcase presentation at Brand Licensing Europe in October – and a number of products are already in-store, including calendars from Danilo, apparel from Fashion UK and TDP Aykroyd, plus dress-up from Cesar. A DVD of series one has also just been launched by Universal, including some behind the scenes footage.
Other partners planning 2009 releases are Character Group, which has a full toy line including action figures, play-sets and accessories. Some of the range will be available this year (such as inflatable pugil sticks and a studio announcer set). In addition, Underground Toys is developing a talking keychain, with publishing coming soon from Alligator Books, roller blinds from Creatively Different and wheeled toys from Grossman.
Gladiators has also linked with the Teenage Cancer Trust and the Big Badge Company to create a range of fund raising merchandise and to engage in cause-related marketing partnerships.
Another Sky series which has successfully developed in the licensing arena, Paladone Products has created a full line of Brainiac toys and gadgets. Very much in the spirit of the series, these include a Shocking Quiz, a Sonic Grenade and a Brainiac Bazooka.
There are also plans for the stage show to continue touring throughout 2009, with new shows booked up for Q1 already.
The Commando comic is still regularly published, with distribution in key High Street retailers such as WH Smith. It has also been successfully licensed into the book publishing area, with Carlton developing a new series. These have been rolled out regularly for over three years, with a box set being released this year. This is packed into an ammo box and is limited to 1,000 copies, including three books and a special Commando magazine. DC Thomson has developed a style guide for the property which is now being presented to licensees in areas such as apparel, prints, stationery and accessories.
There are plans to develop similar products based on artwork from other classic comics in the firm’s archive including Starblazer, Hotspur, Warlord, Rover and Adventure.
The Beano and The Dandy are, of course, already established within the licensing world. The Cartoon Museum in Bloomsbury is currently running an exhibition to celebrate 70 years of The Beano, while other pointers to the growing interest in comic artwork include the recent BBC series Comics Britannia and the success of fan magazine Crikey.
Boots has also launched a range of Beano gift products targeting men for this Christmas. The collection was developed by Character UK, Golden Bear and Paladone and includes accessories such as cufflinks, pen sets and toys. Items are presented in packaging that uses vintage artwork from The Beano and The Dandy. Other licensees currently developing products around The Beano include Flair with its Beano Comic Maker Kit, Tanside with collectable belt buckles and Wizard Toys, which will be developing a Beano-branded Shrinkies collection. DVD company Delta has recently released a Beano DVD box set to celebrate the 70th anniversary.
Dress-up company Smiffy’s has enjoyed success with outfits based on Bananaman from The Dandy, while it has recently signed up to develop Desperate Dan dress-up, too.
Target Entertainment Group
0870 164 7474
Comedy action/adventure Storm Hawks is continuing to attract strong interest. This year alone it has aired in more than 50 countries, including Cartoon Network in the US, the UK, France and Latin America; GMTV (UK); YTV and VRAK (Canada); ABC Australia and terrestrial broadcasters France 3 and RTLII (Germany).
MGM Worldwide Television Distribution is continuing to lock down deals worldwide after securing the distribution rights in all territories (excluding North America and Western Europe).
Storm Hawks’ rights owner Nerds Corps has teamed with a number of international licensing agents – including TEG in the UK – while Spin Master is the master toy licensee.
The series is currently a top ten brand in the UK and is on track to be top five by the end of the year. Among the deals TEG has signed is an exclusive direct to retail deal with Woolworths for Storm Hawks fashion items until end of 2008. The ranges will be available in the retailer’s top 243 stores. Meanwhile, other UK deals include Christy’s Group (dress-up), Sony (home entertainment), Topps Europe (trading cards and stickers) and Lightbody (celebration cakes).
In other territories, Nerd has signed up with: RMP Licensing (France and French speaking territories); Exim Licensing (Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean); Haven Licensing (Australia and New Zealand); Empire Multimedia (Asia (excluding Japan, Korea, India and China)). In addition, Nerd has also secured a deal with Kidz Entertainment for all rights to the series in the Nordic territories. Kidz will also act as licensing agent for Eastern Europe and CIS. BRB handles the property in Spain and Portugal, while M4E looks after Germany and German speaking territories.
Online, the Storm Hawks website gets 14,000 visits per week and has more than 25,000 active members and growing.
The Science Museum
020 7942 4317
Over the last eight years, the Science Museum has developed its range of licensed product and has built up a reputation as a strong brand designed to appeal to both boys and girls. Indeed, it is one of the Museum’s objectives to help dispel the myth that girls will not have the same enthusiasm for science as boys. However, despite this, there is no doubt that the firm is a serious contender within the boys’ toys sector.
Licensee Wow Stuff has developed a strong r/c offering which has huge appeal to the male market. Products such as the amphibious r/c Morphibian and the Virtually Indestructible Plane MkII have proved popular, for example.
Many of the Science Museum products also encourage the owner to build or explore, such as the new Airfix kits released earlier this year. Also of note is a new collection of built-it-yourself robots from Great Gizmos.
020 7368 4323
The boys’ highlight from TLC’s extensive portfolio is The Clone Wars, the new chapter in the Star Wars saga.
“We are thrilled to be part of The Clone Wars launch, which started when the movie opened in August, and we’re absolutely delighted that Sky has partnered with Lucasfilm to screen the TV series on Sky Movies Premiere, as well as on other Sky channels,” says TLC Entertainment division MD Lisa Shapiro. “It’s had strong ratings so far and we have already seen a surge in merchandise sales as kids, fans and collectors get the chance to experience this latest piece of the Star Wars universe.
“In addition, Activision’s Clone Wars game goes on sale later this month and, given the great gaming legacy of Star Wars, we anticipate that this will have a tremendous positive impact on sales of licensed product as well. Clone Wars is a must-have boys property for 2009.”
Warner Bros Consumer Products
020 7984 6173
The Dark Knight is officially the most successful superhero movie of all time and WBCP is planning to continue to develop the licensing programme.
The film will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray on December 8th and is widely predicted to be one of the best selling DVDs of this Christmas. Of course, the release gives licensees a second window of opportunity - and the hero products from the merchandise line should benefit including Mattel's Dark Knight Stealth Launch Batmobile, Rapid Fire Utility Belt and action figures.
And there's more to come from the Batman franchise, with new TV show The Brave and the Bold due to air in 2009. A massive licensee recruitment drive kicked off at Brand Licensing Europe in October and will continue next year. The series, which comprise of 26 episodes in total, showcases a lighter more humourous side of Batman, offering licensees the opportunity to develop fresh product targeted at the four to seven year-old male market.
Mattel is onboard as the global master toy licensee.
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is due to hit cinemas in July 2009, with the style guide apparently offering the most robust artwork programme WBCP has had for a movie.
As well as the film, Harry Potter: The Exhibition premieres next spring, appearing in ten or more major cities around the world throughout a five-year period. A 'fully immersive' theme park within a theme park - The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - is also due to open in spring 2010 at Universal Orlando Resort, Florida.
All this, of course, leads up to the release of the final movie in the series - Harry Potter and the Deathy Hallows - which will be rolled out in two parts, the first in Q4 2010 and the second in summer 2011.
Scooby-Doo is the longest running animated television series ever, with more than 360 episodes (landing Scooby in the Guinness Book of World Records). More than 4,000 episodes aired between January and June 2008 in UK multi-channel homes.
Scooby-Doo was, uniquely, both a Top 10 Boys and Top 10 Girls property in 2007, according to NPD’s License Tracker. The character toy range continues to grow steadily with S/S08 retail sales up 15 per cent vs S/S07. The current range from Character Group, which includes Scooby Doodle-Doo, Scooby Hide ‘n’ Seek and the cool new Scooby Snack Action Game, to name but a few, will be supported by extensive TV advertising this Q4.
Following further investment, brand-new lines are planned for 2009. These include Mystery Mates Figure Packs, Mine Car Mayhem Stunt Set, Sleuth Play Set and Glow in the Dark Stretch Scooby. Character Group will support the 2009 range with TV advertising both in SS and AW09.
Home Entertainment also continues to thrive. Named as the biggest-selling, non-theatrical kids franchise in 2007, Scooby-Doo certainly has top-dog status. The most recent release, Scooby-Doo and the Goblin King, was supported by a national marketing and public relations campaign.
A full slate of releases is planned for 2009, including two, brand-new direct-to-dvd specials, one of which is a live-action format that visually harkens back to the two previous live action theatrical releases. This live action/CG movie goes right back to the very beginning and answers some of the basic questions on how the gang originally came together: Why is Shaggy a vegetarian? Why does Fred wear that ascot and perhaps, most importantly, where did the group of fearless heroes find everyone’s favourite, lovable dog? Both feature releases will be supported by a comprehensive marketing campaign that includes TV advertising.
Additionally, there are plans to release a Scooby-Doo video game in A/W09.
In addition to this robust activity, Scooby-Doo returns to the stage with a brand-new live show. Scooby-Doo and the Pirate Ghost will tour 36 venues in UK and Ireland from February through October 2009. Supported by a significant marketing campaign, the live show presents a wide range of cross-promotional opportunities for partners.
020 8834 1016
WWE continues to go from strength to strength in the UK, which is the brand's biggest market outside of North America seeing revenue growth of 113 per cent between 2006 and 2008, while double digit growth is also expected for 2008.
This is mainly thanks to the live events held around the country, WWE's broadcast commitments and CPLG's comprehensive licensing programme.
Latest activity within the licensing arena includes the launch of the monthly WWE Kids Magazine from DC Thomson.
In addition, WWE and supermarket giant Tesco have teamed up for a WWE Tesco Survivor Series retail promotion, which kicked off at the beginning of November and will run throughout autumn/winter. For seven weeks, 93 Tesco stores, mainly the larger Extra outlets, will feature WWE branded cross category pallets displaying a range of product. This will be backed up online, while WWE Superstars are due to visit certain Extra stores local to the live event locations in November.
Woolworths is also continuing to provide cross-category support at retail, with the next Woolworths Champions of Wrestlemania due to go to over 600 stores nationwide in March/April 2009, coinciding with the European spring 09 tour. This will be the retailer's third year supporting the brand.
Numerous promotions will be running across Europe, too.