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June 2004 | Vol. III - No. 6


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Film Characters Achieve Immortality Through Licenses


Films generate an endless degree of licenses, among the most popular are those inspired by superheroes and cartoon characters. Both new and classic characters are coming to life on the silver screen, appealing to a broad market as their images launch a plethora of collectables, plush, video games and more.

Spider-Man and Superheroes

Marvel recently entered into an agreement with JAKKS Pacific to market and distribute a new line of TV Games based on the superhero, Spider-Man. Five games ($20 each), created to plug directly into any TV, will be available in the latter half of 2004. The games’ release, although not directly associated with the feature film sequel, will be timely.

Also in conjunction with the release of Spider-Man 2, NECA will produce collectable merchandise for the comic sequel, as well as for The Punisher and The Incredibles, a new Pixar project about retired superheroes. Head Knockers ($11-$14.00), lunchboxes ($17.00) and other collectable items will be marketed in correspondence with each film.

Marvel also announced a multi-year agreement that will give Electronic Arts full license to develop all video game titles for current and next generation videogame consoles, handheld platforms and PCs. The exclusive license will grant EA the sole rights to create fighting games featuring Marvel Super Heroes, including Spider-Man, against a new set of hero characters to be developed by EA.

MasterPieces Puzzle Company (ToyDirectory) has incorporated superheroes from the comics and the big screen into their latest collectable puzzles. The Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man and characters from the X-Men make up the puzzle line. Each puzzle is 550 pieces ($14.99, ages 10 and up) and can be protectively laminated with special glue. Each puzzle also comes with an opportunity to purchase a frame to display the completed puzzle.

Upper Deck Company has trading card games for numerous cartoons and superheroes, including the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Trading Card Game ($9.99; booster packs $2.99). Based on the animated story line, the card game incorporates martial arts and all of the original characters of the animated series.

Upper Deck will also be releasing more collectable trading cards throughout the year, including Spider-Man 2 Collectible Movie Cards ($1.99).

Children’s Characters and Animation

SpongeBob SquarePants has already inspired numerous license agreements, but Nickelodeon will be entering into a few more, in coordination with the release of SpongeBob SquarePants: The Movie. Mattel has released the SpongeBob Patty Wagon, an R/C controlled vehicle ($24.99, ages 3 and up). SpongeBob and Patrick characters are included and make comments as they ride in the Patty Wagon or the spatula-shaped vehicle that trails behind the wagon.

Wild Planet Toys has also announced a licensing agreement with Nickelodeon that will allow kids to ring up an order with the Krusty Krab Cash Register ($19.99 - $24.99, ages 3 and up) and fry up patties at the Krabby Patty Station ($19.99 - $24.99, ages 3 and up). Wild Planet will also release the SpongeBob Sea Talkies ($14.99 - $19.99) and Bikini Bottom Binocs ($9.99 - $14.99) as part of the licensed agreement.

Since SpongeBob and Patrick will be celebrities following the release of their feature film, Mattel has dressed the two Interactive Characters ($31.99, ages 5 and up) in outfits made of shiny “movie-star” material, complete with star-shaped sunglasses for Patrick and cool shades for SpongeBob. Each character moves as he speaks and communicate when holding hands.

Following the decision by Kids’ WB! to continue with 26 more episodes of MegaMan NT Warrior, ShoPro Entertainment has awarded Mattel the master toy license outside of Asia. Mattel will create a line of toys in the animation, action-adventure likeness of MegaMan NT Warrior’s characters.

Beverly Hills Teddy Bear Co. has secured a license with Dreamworks to design a line of products for Shrek 2 (spring 2004). Characters Shrek, Princess Fiona, Donkey, and Puss In Boots will appear on shelves as plush, magnets, keychains, beanies, finger puppets, a PVC figurine collector set and more ($2.99-$79.99).

Home on the Range is Disney’s newest animated film about a few farm animals’ quest to save their home. Buck, Maggie and Grace are available as figurines ($3.50) by Applause and Buck and Maggie also come in plush ($8-$14).

Precious Kids has several products based on the film, Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hat (video release, April 2004). For the Cat in the Hat, Precious Kids offers two puzzles, Puzzle Cubes with Case ($12) and Wood Puzzles in Tray ($10), which comes in two styles. The Cat in the Hat also comes as a Thumb Push Puppet ($4.99); a 3 Pack-Self Inking Stamper ($7.99); and bendable keychain ($2.99). Other characters come in five different styles of bendable figures ($4.99).

New Licenses – Retro Themes

The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth were landmark feature films created by The Jim Henson Co. roughly two decades ago. Now, several licensees will produce new products based on these retro films. For Dark Crystal, Sababa Toys (ToyShow) is responsible for plush and games that will include the card game Uno and Magic 8 Balls. Play B Toys will create resin/PVC busts and polystone statues for the Crystal and Labyrinth. Sideshow Toys’ (ToyShow) collectable polystone busts will be miniature and only for Dark Crystal. Mighty Fine will produce junior apparel, also related to Dark Crystal.

More bendable fun is on the way from Precious Kids with the release of the Pink Panther 2005). Everyone’s favorite pink cat returns as a bendable keychain ($2.99) and figurine ($4.99). The famous sleuth, Inspector Clouseau has his own bendable figure as well. The Pink Panther Bank and Inspector Clouseau Bank ($14.99 each) are also available by Precious Kids.

In anticipation of the animated film Curious George (November 2005), Precious Kids will feature the curious monkey performing various zany activities, including riding a Pull Back Action Bicycle or Car ($4.99), or as a 10” Bank ($14.99). Curious George also swings from a Tricky Trapeze ($4.99) or balances on a circus ball as a Thumb Push Puppet ($4.99).

Live Action films

JAKKS Pacific will create a line of action figures (5” $6.99, 12” $19.99) and accessories associated with Van Helsing, (May 2004). A Castle Dracula Playset ($19.99), Monster Guts ($5.99) and Gross Dissection Lab ($19.99) are also associated with the line. Other licenses include trading cards from Comic Images and Die Casts by Funline Merchandising Co. Rubies Costume Company is creating costumes and masks inspired by the movie’s characters.

Bandai America is the North American licensee for vehicle toys in coordination with Universal’s Thunderbirds, based on the 1960s British television series. The line includes 6” Rescue Crafts ($5.99, ages 6 and up), and a Thunderbirds Rescue Crafts Special Pack ($9.99, ages 6 and up), which includes minature versions of Thunderbirds vehicles. Also the Tracy Island Secret Base Playset ($12.99, ages 6 and up), which comes with vehicles that kids can launch, and the 11" Deluxe Thunderbird 2 ($19.99, ages 6 and up), which includes Thunderbird 4, the Mole and Firefly vehicles, are also part of the line.

Premier licensee for science fiction flick, The Chronicles of Riddick (June 2004), is Sota Toys. The company will offer action figures ($12.99), statuettes ($99.99), mini-busts ($59.99) and vehicles based on the futuristic film starring Vin Diesel.








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