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Mattel TV Announces Two New Barbie Specials

Mattel has said it will be greatly increasing its film and television production efforts in 2021, and the company this week announced the launch of two new animated Barbie specials for streamers and broadcasters this spring. The first of the two specials is “Barbie & Chelsea The Lost Birthday,” the first dedicated television movie featuring Barbie’s younger sister Chelsea in a starring role. The second special, which follows the success of last year’s “Barbie Princess Adventure,” will be a musical that follows Barbie and her friends to New York City. Directed by Cassi Simonds (“Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures”), “Barbie & Chelsea The Lost Birthday” tells the story of Chelsea, Barbie’s precocious youngest sister, and the rest of the Roberts family as they set sail on an adventure cruise for her seventh birthday…. . . . read more

A Tale of Two Toymakers Influences Their Content Goals

Hasbro Restructuring Eone, Mattel Creating More Content By Gary Symons TLL Editor in Chief The toy industry enjoyed a surprisingly strong year in 2020, despite and partly because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but that doesn’t mean toymakers haven’t faced serious challenges in their operations. Despite the strong year for toy sales overall, Hasbro has seen a drop in their share price this week after the company forecast a decline in its operating cash flow this year. As well, Hasbro has announced cuts to its newly acquired Entertainment One film and TV division. Entertainment One is known for highly successful children’s programming like the Peppa Pig and PJ Masks children’s shows, which it sells to media outlets. Hasbro bought out Entertainment One a little over a year ago for $4 billion,… . . . read more

Mattel Takes a Swing at a Whac-A-Mole Game Show

Toy giant Mattel is working with America’s Got Talent producer Fremantle to develop a frantic new game show based on the Whac-A-Mole game it acquired in 2009. Mattel and Fremantle say the Whac-A-Mole game show will be a wild, physically challenging elimination competition in which opposing teams will use their skill, strength and endurance to become the Whac-A-Mole champion. The unscripted reality series will include a life-sized Whac-a-Mole, races and obstacle courses. “Whac-A-Mole is a beloved, action-packed arcade game with a deep fan following, and the interactive nature and comedic energy of the game makes it a great franchise for episodic television,” said Adam Bonnett, Executive Producer, Mattel Television, who is leading the development project for Mattel. “Jayson and the team at Fremantle have had unparalleled success creating iconic reality television… . . . read more

Hot Wheels Partnership With NASA is Out of This World

Hot Wheels has been partnered with NASA for more than 30 years, and this week came out with its first new, space-themed mini collection over two decades. The mini carmaker is helping NASA kick off another historic year of space exploration firsts with the release of the new Mars Perseverance Rover die-cast vehicle. The product is a detailed 1:64 scale replica model inspired by NASA’s real Mars Perseverance Rover, which is expected to make its much anticipated landing on Mars Feb. 18. The Hot Wheels Mars Perseverance Rover pays homage to the cutting-edge instruments and technologies that will help pave the way for human missions to Mars, studying critical data about Mars’ geology and climate and eventually sending Martian samples back to Earth. “Just as Hot Wheels stands for the Challenger Spirit… . . . read more

Barbie Named Top Global Toy Brand For 2020

Mattel, Inc. enjoyed a wildly successful year in 2020, producing many of the top selling toy brands globally, and riding a large increase in toy spending during the pandemic to one of their best revenue years of all time. As well, the definitive retail industry research company The NPD Group has now named Mattel’s Barbie brand as the 2020 top global toy property of the year, while Hot Wheels Singles 1/64 assortment was recognized as the global top-selling toy of the year. In the United States, NPD also ranked Mattel in 2020 as the #1 manufacturer for a remarkable 27th consecutive year, and lauded the toymaker with several other honors. The Barbie Dreamhouse was the #1 toy item industrywide last year, and the Fisher-Price division was the #1 manufacturer in the… . . . read more

UNO Celebrates A Half Century of Fun and Games

UNO Launches Yearlong Lineup of Products, Partnerships and Celebratory Events to Commemorate 50th Anniversary Mattel is launching a full year of new products, partnerships and events to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Uno. Uno was originally developed in 1971 by Merle Robbins of Reading, Ohio, who played it with family and friends. As it became more popular in the Cincinnati suburbs, Robbins invested $8,000 to have 5,000 copies the game produced, which he originally sold at his barbershop. Later some local businesses began to sell it as well, and then Robins sold the rights to a group of friends headed by a local funeral director for $50,000 plus a 10 cent royalty payment per pack of cards. The funeral director, Robert Tezak, formed International Games to market Uno from the… . . . read more

Mattel Licenses Itsy Bitsy Knight for Fisher Price Line

Mattel has signed a multi-year licensing agreement with PGS Entertainment a line of Fisher-Price toys based on the upcoming animated pre-school series, Gus – The Itsy Bitsy Knight. Mattel and its Fisher-Price brand will develop new figurines, plush toys, toy vehicles, and play sets, with the toy line slated for wide release in 2022. Gus – The Itsy Bitsy Knight is a pre-schooler adventure-comedy series based on a story created by Dankerleroux and Françoise de Guibert for Editions Gulf Stream. The CGI cartoon will launch with 52 11-minute episodes, and will follow the adventures of a miniature boy, the size of a grasshopper,  who wishes to become a great knight. “We are always looking for new properties that offer strong, toyetic qualities,” said Nick Karamanos, SVP of Entertainment Partnerships at Mattel…. . . . read more

Barbie and Tim Hortons ‘Double Double’ Down on Hockey For Girls

By Gary Symons, TLL Editor in Chief Few people in the licensing biz know this about me, but among other things I was a minor hockey coach for many years, as my elder daughter was a bit of a pioneer among female players. She started out playing full contact hockey against boys, because there was no girl’s team in our city, and later joined a girl’s hockey team. Every weekend at the crack of dawn we’d get up, stop at Tim Horton’s, and I’d alternate between sucking down a Double Double and screaming at the top of my lungs. For all those reasons, I was quite impressed to see Tim Hortons is now working on a program to empower young, female hockey players in a partnership with Mattel. The Tim… . . . read more

Mattel Names Catherine Frymark EVP Corporate Communications

Toy giant Mattel is getting a new voice, naming communications guru Catherine Frymark as their Executive Vice President of Corporate Communications. In this role, Frymark will oversee external and internal corporate communications globally as well as the Company’s philanthropic efforts, including the Mattel Children’s Foundation. Frymark will join Mattel next month, reporting to Chairman and CEO Ynon Kreiz. “Catherine is an outstanding executive, with a demonstrated track record of driving strategic communications during times of growth and transformation,” said Kreiz. “I look forward to partnering with her to tell our story in compelling ways, communicate our leadership in corporate social responsibility and amplify the Mattel purpose to empower the next generation to explore the wonder of childhood and reach their full potential.” Frymark joins Mattel from Discovery, Inc., where she… . . . read more

Licensing Veteran Nowicki Chosen for Key Role at Mattel

Mattel has new leadership in the critical role of global consumer products and franchise marketing, bringing on accomplished veteran Rosalind ‘Roz’ Nowicki. Nowicki has more than three decades prior experience working with kids’ products and entertainment brands, and is known for her deep experience in the world of brand licensing. She comes to Mattel from her most recent gig at Peanuts Worldwide, where she was responsible for the company’s global business, including licensing, PR, finance, brand development, and operations. Nowicki was responsible, among other things, for Peanut’s brand collaborations with Vans, Levi’s and Marc Jacobs, and retail programs with H&M, Uniqlo, and Inditex, among others. Nowicki previously worked as EVP global sales and retail at 20th Century Fox Consumer Products, where she headed the growth of popular brands like Teenage… . . . read more