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Special Report: The Future of Hasbro

By Gary Symons TLL Editor in Chief The ‘Play and Entertainment’ conglomerate Hasbro has for the first time outlined its future plans in a live investor event, and as expected, the news will be game changing for the company and for its licensing partners worldwide. Sit down and grab yourself a coffee or tea, because it’s a LOT. At the core of the announcement, Hasbro has outlined its “strategic growth drivers” for the near and medium term, and has unveiled new product segments aligned to these drivers. In other words, the company is restructuring, and it’s doing so in ways that it feels will better prepare Hasbro for a rapidly changing environment. The new financial reporting segments are: Consumer Products, including toys and games; Wizards of the Coast (Wizards) and… . . . read more

Highlights Names M-Zone As North American Agent

The educational toy and literature company Highlights is kicking off its 75th year with the appointment of The-M-Zone as its North American licensing agent. The-M-Zone will pursue licensees and partnerships that will deliver content, product and experiences that engage, delight and foster joyful learning. “Partnering with The-M-Zone comes at an opportune time when children’s learning is being redefined, and content and experiences need to be more relevant,” said Lece Lohr, President of Highlights Consumer Business. “The-M-Zone will engage licensing partners, who will help us continue our mission of fostering curious, creative, caring, and confident children.” As Highlights gears up to celebrate its 75th anniversary, The-M-Zone will leverage Highlights’ world-renowned as a trusted family brand to expand its footprint into new content areas and product categories with the purpose of creating… . . . read more

LEGO Named World’s Most Popular Kids Entertainment Brand

By Gary Symons TLL Editor in Chief According to a sweeping new report on brands for children, LEGO is now the most popular kids’ entertainment brand in the world, followed by Disney, Marvel, Barbie, and with Paw Patrol rounding out the Top 5.  The data comes via a report from Brand Trends, in which mothers provided answers to a survey on behalf of their children, from ages 0 to 6.  However, it’s worth noting that some brands in the list could be combined, since, for example, Disney also owns Marvel.  And, while Spiderman is now part of the Marvel Universe, it is also so popular as a brand that it places sixth on the list as a separate franchise. Similarly, the Disney property Frozen places seventh.  If the various Disney-owned… . . . read more

Key Former Disney Exec Nancy Kanter Joins Rival Netflix

The streaming wars are heating up, as Netflix snapped up former Disney Executive Vice President Nancy Kantor just one day after she left her position with Disney Channels Worldwide. Kantor played a critical role at Disney, having launched and operated Disney Junior, a channel for preschool children, and acting as the EVP of Content and Creative Strategy for Disney Channels Worldwide. Netflix is very clear that the move is part of their quest to play catch up with Disney+ in terms of family and children’s entertainment. “We’re very fired up about catching them in family animation—maybe eventually passing them, we’ll see, a long way to go just to catch them—and maintaining our lead in general entertainment that’s so stimulating,” Netflix’s founder and co-CEO Reed Hastings said on the company’s earnings… . . . read more

My Little Pony Riding High With Hasbro

The My Little Pony franchise is ending its popular The Friendship is Magic series, but don’t expect to see the brand riding off into the sunset any time soon. Hasbro has big plans for the franchise after acquiring Entertainment One in 2019, including a wide range of new consumer products, the release of a CGI film, a cross platform mashup with The Transformers, and a new animated series called My Little Pony: Pony Life. eOne is now Hasbro’s global entertainment arm, and will now air Pony Life, which debuted in late 2020 on platforms like Disney Channel and Cartoon Network. The upcoming film is currently slated for release in September, with a newly developed CGI look. “The final season [of Friendship is Magic] brought that storytelling to a satisfying conclusion, and it felt… . . . read more

Four Crunchyroll Anime Series That Are ‘Purrfect’ for Licensing

The specialist Anime streamer Crunchyroll is offering up four almost unbearably cute series for licensing opportunities outside of Asia, most of them involving cats and kittens with a decidedly Hello Kitty vibe. TAMA of the 3rd District is a popular anime for kids that has been around since 1983, and follows the life and adventures of a cat named Tama and his collection of feline and canine friends. Oh, Suddenly Egyptian God is a new anime that takes viewers into the world of ancient Egyptian deities, from Anubis to Thoth, with a healthy accent on Egyptian cat gods. The series Nyampire tells the story of a bloodthirsty but adorable kitten who is abandoned but saved by a vampire, who gives the kitten some of its blood to help it survive… . . . read more

Weekly Wrap-up: Deals Penned for Ja Rule, Michael Crichton, Maya the Bee, Nintendo and CoComelon

Deal Will See New Content Produced From Michael Crichton Novels The late author Michael Crichton wasn’t just a science fiction visionary; he became a one-man licensing powerhouse after novels like Jurassic Park and Westworld became hits in film and on television. More than 20 film and TV adaptations have been produced from Michael Crichton novels, including five Jurassic Park films and one more on the way; the Westworld film and series; Futureworld; The Andromeda Strain movie and series; Congo; Sphere; and many more. Now CrichtonSun, the late author’s publishing and production company, is partnering with Range Media Partners to create a slate of new content, inspired by Crichton’s body of work, including a number of previously unpublished works that have been released since the author’s death, such as Pirate Latitudes,… . . . read more

Two new licensees signed for Elmer the Patchwork Elephant

Beloved kid’s book character Elmer the Patchwork Elephant is getting even more popular with licensees, as agent Metrostar signed up two new deals this month. One of those agreements is with Danilo, a leading European publisher of licensed calendars, greeting cards, gift wrap and bags, and diaries. A family-run company operating for over 40 years, Danilo works with a huge range of official titles. Danilo will be publishing a new range of Elmer-themed calendars, greetings cards, gift wrap and bags. The second agreement is with Robert Frederick, a popular UK-based firm that works primarily with branded creations in the area of stationery, gifts, toys and games, books, diaries and calendars. Under this agreement Robert Frederick will be producing several lines of pachodermery, including gifts, arts and crafts kits, and stationery. Existing… . . . read more

Rachel Lowe Develops Board Game for Elf on the Shelf

Just in time for Christmas, British board game designer Rachel Lowe is creating a new game for The Lumistela Company’s much-loved The Elf on the Shelf property. “I love Christmas and I am absolutely delighted to be working with The Elf on the Shelf to create a range of products that any child will love to have this Christmas,” said Lowe. “Every year parents come up with elaborate and funny activities for their elves which they share on social media. I’m really excited to be able to contribute to this Christmas tradition which is such a big part of families’ festive holidays.” In an agreement was brokered by UK-based Rocket Licensing, The Elf on the Shelf board game tells the story of scouting Elves who fly to the North Pole… . . . read more

Plug-in Media and Fryday Brands Eye Toy Partners For Pre-school Hit Tee and Mo

Plug-in Media is eyeing potential toy partners for its popular pre-school property, Tee and Mo, an animated monkey duo that made its return to CBeebies last month with the premiere of Big Boots Birthday: A Tee and Mo Mini Musical. The animated property’s 10th musical special to launch on the channel, Big Boots Birthday: A Tee and Mo Mini Musical featured three new songs and once again starred the voice talent of BBC Radio 6’s Lauren Laverne. The Tee and Mo Mini Musical launched with the aim of re-imagining the musical genre for pre-schoolers, aged two to five. The 11-minute episode is designed to help young children feel understood, and focuses on the theme of what it feels like to grow up. Released on CBeebies and BBC iPlayer on Saturday, Nov. 21… . . . read more