To tie in with our look at the sector this month, we’ve put together our very own focus group and asked mums and dads of eight boys – ages ranging between two and 13 – what their kids are currently into and who their favourite characters are. We then asked the grown-ups for their thoughts on licensed product in general
Name: Charlie Browne
Age: 3 years, 11 months
(Answered by mum, Melanie)
"Charlie is currently really into films - such as Toy Story and Cars - and some TV, like Thomas, Handy Manny and Special Agent Oso. We buy lots of licensed merchandise featuring these characters including clothes, a Thomas bed, toys, cakes, even Buzz Lightyear potato and veg bites! We mainly buy product from Tesco, Argos and Disney Store.
I do like the shows that Charlie watches, and I love how he acts them out again. However, he isn't glued to the TV; he'll play at the same time, or colour in. He's also got his own ideas on what he likes. A few of his friends are into Ben 10, but Charlie's not bothered, he doesn't ask to watch it.
I think in general licensed product is good value for money. You tend to get what you pay for and if you only spend a pound it's not going to last long - well, about two minutes in my experience!"
Name: Benjamin Coles
(Answered by mum, Laura)
"Favourite shows at the moment are Octonauts and Show Me Show Me, while he also likes Cars and Toy Story. We buy licensed toys, clothes, bedding and activity books from various stores, but mainly Tesco, Argos and Amazon.
I like Cbeebies as they have an educational element, but Benjamin also adores films which have strong lead characters, such as Toy Story, which helps his imagination develop. I'm not too keen on Ben 10 - I think it's a bit too scary for his age - and he's never watched it, but he's picked up the theme music from his nursery friends.
I sometimes think that licensed product is overpriced, but it does really depend on what it is and the usage they will get out of it. I'm not sure how I view licensed characters being used for food promotions, but I admit it does help when they are attached to healthy food products."
Name: Craig Dyson
(Answered by mum, Louise)
"I buy a lot of licensed product - mainly from Tesco or Sainsbury's - including t-shirts, toys, lunchboxes, books, DS games and board games. Craig's favourites at the moment are Ben 10, Scooby-Doo and Garfield.
I do like them, as I used to watch Scooby-Doo when I was little and I think that Ben 10 is actually a good programme.
Craig is at an age where he's influenced by playground crazes, but he doesn't like things just because his friends do. I think most licensed products are good value for money."
Name: Archie Blumson
(Answered by mum, Lesley)
"LazyTown, Power Rangers and Ben 10 are some of Archie's favourites at the moment and he owns DVDs, bags and pyjamas featuring them.
I don't mind the programmes he watches; they promote healthy living and have a certain educational angle. He doesn't actually watch too much either, so we have a good balance of what he does in his spare time, meaning what he does tend to choose I support even if it's just for fun.
I think he's starting to be influenced by friends now. Ben 10 has become a character he likes because some of the older boys he plays with like the programme.
Most of the time I think licensed products are value for money, although I suspect that they choose the products wisely for fear of damaging their brands.
It definitely helps having a licensed character associated with educational products. For example, one of Archie's favourite characters is promoting learning French and, low and behold, we're buying learn French CDs and books. Thankfully this isn't just a fad and he's genuinely learning the language.
When it comes to food promotions I don't think it works. Archie doesn't like tomatoes, for example, never has. And even though Sportacus loves them, nothing will convince Archie to eat them!"
Name: Charlie and Dyllan Briggs
Age: 2 years, 2 months and 13 years, 5 months
(Answered by dad, Daniel)
"Charlie's favourite programme at the moment is Something Special, with Mr Tumble. I like the educational part of the programme; for example, it's taught Charlie sign language.
His favourite characters are currently Nemo, Buzz Lightyear and Spider-man and we buy quite a lot of licensed products including toys, pyjamas, colouring and activity books, although both Charlie and Dyllan get most of these at Christmas and birthdays.
For Dyllan, there's an element of liking the same thing as everyone else and a bit of peer pressure involved. I do think having a licensed character associated with educational products is helpful - if they like the character they are more engaged with the learning and they are willing to listen. I know if Nemo started a learning to count programme, Charlie would be interested."
Name: Matthew Deary
(Answered by mum, Sallie)
"Mattie currently likes Total Wipeout, Merlin, The Inbetweeners, Ninja Warrior, The X Factor and animal programmes. I'd certainly buy licensed merchandise for some of them, things like t-shirts, hoodies and socks from JD Sports, Next and online.
"He doesn't watch a lot of TV though, which I think is important; he tends to just chill after a busy day. Most of the time I'm happy to pay for the quality of licensed products. I also can't see licensed characters being associated with educational products doing any harm, especially if it encourages them."
Name: Harry Dungan
(Answered by dad, Ronnie)
"Harry currently likes Horrible Histories, Doctor Who, The IT Crowd, Harry Hill's TV Burp and Match of the Day. We do buy licensed products, but it tends to be more books, DVDs, games and video games now he's older. I like nearly all the programmes that he watches - with the exception of the biggest idiot competition that is The Apprentice.
Harry's never really been influenced into liking something just because others do; he's always been his own man. He did get into Match Attax for a bit, actualy and had a brief flirtation with Gogo's, but he's not the obsessive type.
Some licensed products are good value for money, and some aren't. I think a lot of licences get wedged into categories where they don't belong."