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How LEGO’s Monkie Kid Deal With Amazon Could Change Toy Licensing

By Gary Symons

TLL Editor in Chief.

LEGO is taking its first steps in a partnership with Amazon Kids+, as the hit Asian series Monkie Kid debuted on the streamer on Sept. 9.

And that deal is much more than just a content agreement. In fact, it could point to a huge advantage for Amazon that changes the way toy companies look at content and product licensing, and who they choose to work with.

The Monkie Kid is the first agreement that will see Amazon winning both the streaming rights and the product distribution rights in a single deal.

“This is profound, this is really an historic moment,” said Richard Gottlieb, the founder and CEO of Global Toy Experts, and Publisher of Global Toy News. “I mean, Walmart, Amazon and Target can all sell lots and lots of product, but what Amazon has that Walmart and Target do not have is the ability to stream video to a very broad audience.

Richard Gottlieb, CEO of Global Toy Expert, says the nature of the deal between LEGO and Amazon could have a profound impact on the future of content and consumer product licensing.

“This will deepen and broaden brand equity, brand visibility, and should really boost sales. It’s huge.”

After a highly successful reception in Asia, the hit animated series inspired by a Chinese legend is swinging onto screens and into new LEGO sets to entertain new audiences. On Sept. 8, the LEGO Group announced its first-ever original content distribution relationship and product deal with Amazon and the launch of the animated series LEGO Monkie Kid.

The content is part of a multi-territory, multi-year arrangement which includes seasons one and two, two specials, and a new line of LEGO sets available later this fall.

Season 1 became available on Sept. 9 on Amazon for viewing in the US, UK, Canada, Germany, and Japan, and season 2 will be available on Amazon Kids+ beginning Oct. 28.

In recent years the most important trend for toy companies has been the expansion into various forms of entertainment, including films, series, books, apps and video games. These entertainment ventures generate their own revenue, but they also create a demand for toys related to the franchise. The strategy is being used heavily by Mattel, Hasbro, Spin Master, and Jazwares, just to name a few.

LEGO has been a leader in that trend, particularly with the success of its various LEGO movies, which showed wide box office appeal. Now, LEGO is focusing on series that extend the brand in a lasting way, and enable the launch of new toy sets.

“We’re thrilled to bring LEGO Monkie Kid to Amazon audiences to Amazon Kids+,” said Jill Wilfert, Vice President of Entertainment Partners and Content at the LEGO Group. “LEGO Entertainment aims to create brand love by bringing our brand and franchises to life. Amazon allows us to bring new types of content and product to audiences around the world and connect with consumers in a meaningful way. We hope that through Amazon, our fans will fully immerse themselves in the LEGO Monkie Kid story.”

One of the important aspects of the deal that licensing pros will want to note is that the agreement covers both distribution of the animated series, and distribution of the physical toys and other assets that are linked to the show. That type of agreement by a leader in the field would seem to point to a potential advantage for Amazon—the only streaming service in the US that is also a major online retailer.

Gottlieb says the unique nature of Amazon as a global retailer and a video streamer can be used to put the company ahead of the other streaming services like Netflix or Disney+, at the same time it gives the company an advantage over retailers like Walmart and Target.

“No one else that unique ability to so completely combine media with product,” Gottlieb said. “I’ve maintained for a while that the silos have just collapsed, and that entertainment and product have merged. I think this is highly significant.

“I will be very interested to see if Walmart and Netflix want to have a talk, and perhaps do something similar.”

Monkie Kid products featuring characters and scenes from the series will be available on the Amazon ecommerce network in the U.S. and Canada in time for the holiday season, with sets that include Monkie King Warrior Mech and The Legendary Flower Fruit Mountain.

Featuring new products, animated specials, and a TV series, LEGO Monkie Kid was first launched by the LEGO Group in China, in May 2020. It is the first-ever LEGO theme to be inspired by a Chinese legend. The legendary Monkie King is one of the most iconic and recognizable heroes in Chinese culture and loved by generations. LEGO Monkie Kid is the LEGO Group’s take on a new, untold chapter of the legendary tale.

“Bringing a series like LEGO Monkie Kid to our toy product lineup and to our Amazon Kids+ service was high on our list of priorities as we continue to expand our content and product offerings for customers,” said Anne Carrihill, Amazon’s Director for Toys & Games. “We are thrilled to bring these legendary tales to life for customers on the digital screen, as well as through imaginative play with new and exciting LEGO sets discoverable in our store.”

LEGO Monkie Kid will join the Amazon Kids+ roster, which already offers more than 20,000 kid-friendly books, Audible books, videos, educational apps, and games on compatible Fire tablet, Echo, Fire TV, Kindle devices and across Android and iOS. The all-in-one subscription that Amazon offers subscribers allows them to both stream and download content, while also getting free shipping on consumer products such as the LEGO sets.

Additionally, Amazon Kids+ subscribers will be able to access an exclusive Monkie Kid background and avatar on Amazon Fire Kids tablets, including the newly launched Fire 10 Kids Pro tablet. The background and avatar will be available starting in October to complement the content premiere and product availability on Amazon.com.

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