AGE Relaunches Madballs

MadballsAmerican Greetings Entertainment (AGE) and master toy partner Just Play have entered into a co-production and joint venture partnership to relaunch a new series of 1980s brand Madballs.

New Madballs animated shorts are currently in production and are set to launch this fall to support a consumer products program already underway with new and digital licensee commitments. Starting next spring, Just Play will launch a variety of products, including classic and mini-collectible Madballs, and expand with play sets and accessories at retailers worldwide.  [Read more...]

American Greetings, FATHOM Donate Care Bears-Themed Prosthetic Arm

Isabella 3D Printed with Care Bear FixtureAmerican Greetings, in partnership with 3-D printing experts FATHOM and the nonprofit e-NABLE, have donated a prosthetic arm to four-year-old Isabella Ibarra. The soon-to-be kindergartner was born with a shortened forearm and an underdeveloped hand. When American Greetings found out about the project and Isabella’s love for Care Bears, the company delivered artwork for the hand and donated a basket of Care Bears toys. Now, Ibarra looks forward to showing off her hot pink, 3-D bionic hand in kindergarten next year.

Care Bears Want Fans to #ShareYourCare

SYCgeneralIn a new online campaign, the Care Bears are asking fans to share their care (via the hashtag, #ShareYourCare) and post videos telling the Care Bears how they make the world a better place by showing how they love, care, share, and help others every day. The #ShareYourCare contest will award winners with pre-paid Care Bears-branded Mastercards and themed merchandise.

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Oldies but Goodies: Some of the Biggest Toy Brands of Yesteryear Are Making a Comeback

DebbieDunnHeadshotby Debbie Dunn, Licensing, Marketing, Promotions, & Mom Expert, GennComm LLC

What’s old is new again, and vintage brands are expected to be the biggest hits in the toy aisle for this year. Many of these brands have reinvented themselves in modern ways with digital entertainment content to reach today’s savvy kid consumer, yet they still offer the same trusted attributes that parents–and even grandparents–knew and loved. [Read more...]

Iconix Signs Agreement to Acquire Strawberry Shortcake Brand

StrawberryShortcakeIconix Brand Group Inc. has signed a definitive agreement to acquire the Strawberry Shortcake brand and related intangible assets from American Greetings for $105 million in cash. [Read more...]

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.