COMMENTARY: Spanning Generations: Modern Takes on Classic Brands

Nostalgia is a growing trend in the toy and licensing industry, but recently many classic brands have been given a modern reboot. The modernized take on classic brands offer fun for consumers both young and old, spanning generations and providing licensees with multiple new opportunities. Today, some modernized takes on old favorites live along side their predecessors.

PlaymatesToys.BasicMutagenOozeTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT), for example, launched in the 1980s. A huge, revolutionary boys’ property, the brand was given a reboot last year when a new TMNT animated series launched in September on Nickelodeon. The brand has seen massive success in the toy industry, with partners including Playmates Toys with a full line of figures and play sets, bubbles and water toys from Little Kids, and awesome electronics from Sakar International, including adorable TMNT earbuds. In addition to producing toys based on the new animated series, Playmates Toys also offers a classic collection including all four turtles, which reflects the look of the characters in the original series.

PacMan.BandaiPac-Man debuted in 1980, and has since become the highest-grossing video game in history. Namco Bandai Games Inc. continues to sign new licensees for the classic brand, including UK apparel specialist Poetic Gem with a line of nightwear and USAopoly with Yahtzee: Pac-Man Collector’s Edition and a 550-piece Pac-Man Collector’s Puzzle featuring an iconic maze from the game. In addition to the classic Pac-Man brand, the iconic figure will launch to a new generation of kids this fall, with the September 7 premiere of Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures, a stereoscopic, 3-D animated series airing on Disney XD. 41 Entertainment is the worldwide master agent for the new series, with nearly 50 licensees signed on for a full range of kid-targeted products, including master toy partner Bandai America with action figures, play sets, and plush; K’nex Brands with building systems; and Pressman Toy Corp. with checkers, tic-tac-toe, bingo, dominos, and cardboard puzzles in boxes and tins.

SMurfette.MegaBloksThe Smurfs made their first appearance in North America in 1981, with a Saturday morning cartoon series, The Smurfs.  Still relevant today, many licensees continue to churn out products featuring the classic look of the iconic characters. USAopoly has Monopoly: The Smurfs Collector’s Edition, while Jakks Pacific has 1-inch figures and play sets based on the classic characters. In 2011, the Smurfs experienced a makeover with the release of The Smurfs, a 3-D, CGI-animated live-action hybrid film produced by Sony Pictures Animation. The sequel, The Smurfs 2, will debut in July. Jakks Pacific will celebrate the film’s release with collectible figures, plush, fashion dolls, and play sets featuring the latest versions of Papa Smurf, Smurfette, and others. Mega Bloks has construction sets featuring the Smurfs, and Tech 4 Kids has The Smurfs Mash’Ems.

In all of these cases, the new versions of the classic brands feature similar-looking characters of the same names and a modernized logo. By placing the updated versions alongside the originals, licensors are practically doubling their licensing opportunities. TMNT, Pac-Man, and the Smurfs now appeal not only to kids, but to their parents as well, who are more likely to recognize the brands, leading them to purchase the licensed toys for their children. With new, original properties consistently popping up in the toy and licensing industries, sometimes it’s nice to be able to share nostalgic experiences with the next generation.

For more commentary from Marissa, check back often. Views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Toy Book as a whole. We hope that you will share your comments and feedback below. Until next time!