MasterPieces, Smart Play Signs on for Animal Planet and Shark Week Merchandise

MasterpiecesPuzzlesLogoMasterPieces Puzzle Company has signed a deal with Discovery Consumer Products to produce Animal Planet and Shark Week puzzles and craft sets. It will also create Animal Planet-branded dinosaur and safari products, as well as Shark Week-branded 3-D puzzles with a paint component and buildable craft kits made of wood.

Smart Play will develop children’s educational toys offering different ways to discover the world of animals. The line includes 3-D flashcards and puzzles, puzzle cubes, alphabet floor puzzles, a lighted click-and-see toy projector, and an electronic learning pad. The new items will be available next year.

Clue, Scrabble, The Game of Life, and More Join The Hub’s Upcoming Lineup

Nine new original programs will join The Hub’s 2011-2012 lineup, announced president and CEO Margaret Loesch at the network’s upfront meeting in New York City last week. The new series include The Aquabats Super Show, from the creators of Yo Gabba Gabba; Blythe Loves The Littlest Pet Shop (working title), inspired by the Littlest Pet Shop brand; Clue, featuring six teens who are brought together when they believe they’ve witnessed a terrible crime; The Game of Life, a live-action family game show; and Scrabble Showdown, another family game show.

Additionally, The Hub is adding Kaijudo: Rise of the Duel Masters (working title), Majors & Minors (working title); Rescue Bots (working title); Secret Millionaire’s Club; and has acquired Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?

Returning series include The Adventures of Chuck & Friends, Animal Mechanicals, Dan Vs., Family Game Night, My Little Pony Friendship is Magic, Pound Puppies, R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour: The Series, Strawberry Shortcake’s Berry Bitty Adventures, Transformers Prime, and The WotWots.

King Tut and Discovery’s Holiday Product Preview

Discovery invited media and other personnel to its 2010 Holiday Product Preview today at the Discovery Times Square Exposition in New York. Being only a figment of the prescribed guest, I was lucky enough to be bestowed an invitation by The Toy Book, a perk of being an editorial intern. The event featured new products set to release just in time for the holidays and a complimentary refreshment bar.

One of the products I liked was the “Wild Eyes” collection based off Discovery’s Animal Planet channel. The collection includes dinosaurs, snakes, and animal plush toys that roar, hiss, and growl, respectively. The snakes, for example, came in four different colors, stood around 1-foot tall, and could be activated by sound, sending them into a frenzy of hissing and glowing eyes. These products will retail for $19.99 at Toys “R” Us, with smaller versions that make noise sans-lit eyeballs selling for approximately $6.

Another product that showed promise was a video game based on Bear Grylls’ Discovery Channel show Man vs. Wild. Players take control of Bear as he treks through the wilderness, with the ability to level up skills similar to a role-playing game. The build I saw was the early-alpha release shown at E3 last week, so the graphics and animation weren’t as polished as the final product hopefully will be, although the frame rate was constant. Dynamic weather effects and the ability to fashion crude weapons and tools out of animal products and the environment should make this game stand apart when it’s released later this year. Developed by Crave Games and F84 Games, Man vs. Wild hits the Wii for around $40 and the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 for $50. [Read more...]

In the Night Garden to Be Aired in the U.S. on The Hub

In the Night Garden, a BBC Worldwide and Ragdoll Worldwide, Ltd. joint venture, will be premiering in the U.S. this fall on the new children’s network, The Hub. Starting this October, kids can join Igglepiggle and Upsy Daisy on their adventures with Makka Pakka and friends. The Hub has secured broadcasting rights for all 100 x 30 episodes of In the Night Garden.

Produced by Ragdoll Productions for Ragdoll Worldwide, In the Night Garden takes kids on an imaginative journey to meet toy characters living together within a caring woodland community. Shot in high-definition, words, rhymes, and music make the series both entertaining and relaxing.

In the Night Garden won Best Preschool Program at the 2010 Broadcast Awards and BAFTA’s Best Preschool Live Action in 2007 and 2008. The show has been sold to 35 countries including Canada, Australia, Spain, and China.

Big Tent to Roll Out More Than 50 New Discovery Kids Products

Discovery Communications has expanded its relationship with Big Tent Entertainment by signing a three-year deal that extends Big Tent’s licensing representation for Discovery Kids-branded products.

As part of the extended agreement, Big Tent will release more than 50 new Discovery Kids products from licensing partners including Parragon Publishing, MerchSource, 505 Games, JAKKS Pacific, MasterPieces, SRM, and Kids Station. Big Tent will also expand its Discovery Kids licensing program in the following categories: platform-based video games, electronics, computers/computer peripherals, R/C, apparel, room décor, furniture, outdoor sport, and select food categories.

Discovery has also appointed Big Tent as the exclusive North American licensing agency of record for its TLC network. Big Tent will spearhead licensing efforts for the TLC brand and the network’s lineup of programming in categories such as home & organization, cooking, fashion, and weddings.