Funrise Rounding Out Global Program for Madballs

MadballsMadballs, the bouncing balls from the 1980s with grotesque faces, protruding eyeballs, and zany names, are back in a new line from Funrise Toys. AG Properties, the intellectual property and outbound licensing division of American Greetings Corporation, announced the news.

The Funrise Madballs line will include plush and feature plush sports balls and soft accessories, including baseball bats and basketball hoops based on the brand’s satirical and gutter humor. Products are scheduled to hit retail in the fall of next year.

“We are thrilled to partner with Funrise on this new line for Madballs,” said Lindsay Martinez, vice president of licensing and business development for AG Properties.  “The addition of this plush sports ball program gives the franchise a unique position in the toy aisle and allows for a new generation of kids to experience the Madballs brand.”

Funrise’s plush toys will extend the property’s consumer products program, which includes comics with Lion Forge. Madballs were first introduced by AmToy, a subsidiary of American Greetings, in 1986.

Sean Hynes Joins VTech as Vice President of Sales

New-VTech-LogoVTech has appointed Sean Hynes as vice president of sales. A marketing veteran with more than 20 years of experience in sales leadership and brand management, including 15 years in the toy industry, Hynes will oversee VTech’s sales operations from its U.S. headquarters in Chicago, Ill.

In his new role, Hynes will aim to increase sales of VTech’s newest products, including the Kidizoom Smartwatch and the InnoTab MAX. He will also oversee sales of additions to VTech’s extensive infant/preschool range, Switch & Go Dinos Turbo, Go! Go! Smart Wheels, and brand expansion, Go! Go! Smart Animals. [Read more...]

Ziggy Creator Passes Away at Age 80

Tom Wilson Sr., creator of the comic “Ziggy,” died September 16, after a long illness. He was 80 years old. Ziggy, which celebrates 40 years in syndication this year, continues to be produced by Wilson’s son, Tom Wilson Jr., who handles the day-to-day operations.

Wilson Sr. was born August 1, 1931. For more than 35 years, he served as a creative director at American Greetings, where he was responsible for the development of many breakthrough card lines. Wilson Sr. first published “Ziggy” in the 1969 cartoon collection When You’re not Around. The “Ziggy” comic panel, syndicated by Universal Uclick (formerly Universal Press Syndicate), launched in 15 newspapers in June 1971. It now appears in more than 500 daily and Sunday newspapers, and has been featured in best-selling books, calendars, and greeting cards.

A veteran of the licensing business, Wilson Sr. headed up the creative team that developed character licensing blockbusters such as Strawberry Shortcake and Care Bears. He is survived by his wife Carol, son Tom Wilson Jr., and daughters Ava and Julie.

American Greetings Launches Care Bears’ “Share-A-Bear”

American Greetings Properties (AGP), the intellectual property and outbound licensing division of American Greetings Corporation, is launching a special figurine series featuring the Care Bears with Play Imaginative. The “Share-A-Bear” series includes 34 collectible characters that can be customized and shared to celebrate any occasion. Senders will be able to write a brief personal message and include them as the start of someone’s collection.

Care Bear Products to Launch in Korea this Fall

American Greetings Properties is launching a licensing program for its Care Bears brand in Korea this fall. Working with Korean licensing agent Asiana Licensing Incorporated (ALI), the upcoming Care Bears merchandise will target kids, juniors, and babies.

Seh-A will develop stationery, pens, and notebooks for the brand, while Forever Times will create watches and hair accessories. American Greetings and Asiana will also expand the program across other major categories, including apparel. Next month, ALI will feature the Care Bears at the Seoul International Cartoon & Animation Festival, held from July 21–25 at COEX in Seoul, Korea.

Popples as Art & Fashion

American Greetings Properties and Mindworks recently completed an exhibition called The World of Popples, which featured Popples original artwork from the 1980s, videos, and vintage Popples products.

The show included a  Popples Room that was filled with a  collection of toys, clothing, accessories, novelties, and even a fur-covered TV, all put together by designer 6%DOKIDOKI and Mindworks Entertainment.

6%DOKIDOKI also hosted a special pre-event where several of the 6%DOKIDOKI shop girls held a fashion show with dresses that converted into Popples. 6%DOKIDOKI’s founder, Masuda Sebastian, also led a talk on the culture of Popples.

Strawberry Shortcake TM CGI Adventure Comes To Kidtoons Theaters

Kidtoons and AG Properties, a division of American Greetings, have premiered the new Strawberry Shortcake movie, Berryfest Princess, in nearly 150 theaters nationwide. Showing exclusively at Kidtoons theaters throughout the month of March, The Berryfest Princess Movie features Strawberry Shortcake and her berry best friends in another CGI adventure.

Berry Bitty City is preparing for the annual Spring Festival and Strawberry Shortcake has just been appointed Berryfest Princess. Strawberry Shortcake and her friends must work together to ensure the festival and parade are the sweetest events Berry Bitty City has ever seen. The movie aims to teach that teamwork, friendship, and hard work pay off.

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American Greetings Signs New Entertainment Deals for Care Bears

American Greetings Properties (AGP), the intellectual property and outbound licensing division of American Greetings Corporation, has signed new entertainment deals to bring Care Bears entertainment to the UK, Italy, Latin America, Middle East, and Canada. The agreements grant broadcast rights to Cartoon Network in the UK and Italy, Disney in Latin America, and Astral Media’s Playhouse Disney in Canada. Prime Pictures has also been granted home video distribution rights in the Middle East.

Cartoon Network will broadcast the Adventures in Care-a-lot series in both the UK and Italy. This comedy series features new characters such as clumsy-but-hilarious Oopsy Bear, and showcases all of the bears’ newly enhanced belly badge powers.

[Read more...]