COMMENTARY: Ease Your Walking Dead #zombiebrain with Licensed Products

Along with more than 8 million other Americans, I’ve taken to spending my Sunday nights biting my nails watching Rick, Carl, Daryl, and Michonne slice through zombie skulls on AMC’s The Walking Dead. Needless to say, thoughts of the zombie apocalypse have now pretty much overrun my life. I’m dubbing this obsession #zombiebrain. If, like me, you or someone you love suffers from #zombiebrain, here are some awesome toys and games to feed your addiction.

Monopoly.WalkingDead.USAopMonopoly: The Walking Dead Survival Edition, from USAopoly brings everyone’s favorite board game into the world of the (un)dead. Based on The Walking Dead comic from Robert Kirkman, the game challenges players to fight for their own property and avoid zombies at all costs. Monopoly: The Walking Dead Survival Edition delivers classic Monopoly wheeling and dealing game play—but this time, players must fight for their survival. Everything about the game screams “WALKERS!” Properties correspond with the series landmarks, such as the prison cells, the Greene Family farm house, and Woodbury, while game tokens resemble key items from the series such as Rick’s sheriff hat, a bucket of body parts, the telephone, Dale’s R.V. (RIP Dale!), the Katana (aka Michonne’s awesome sword), and Lucille (aka a ridiculously effective baseball bat wrapped with barbed wire). Instead of using money to purchase property, players must trade essential supplies, such as food, ammo, and fuel to gain more territory on the board or to place a guard tower or wall (instead of the standard houses and hotels) to secure their safe haven from Walker attacks. The game is recommended for two to six players ages 13 and up and is now available at comic book specialty shops. [Read more...]

Funko and Underground Toys Announce a European Partnership

Funko LLC, creators and manufacturers of entertainment-related toys, has partnered with London-based global entertainment merchandise company Underground Toys Ltd. This U.S. and UK company alliance will allow Underground Toys to incorporate the Funko line of products within their range of licensed merchandise to be distributed among European retailers, including Toys “R” Us, Tesco, ASDA, Carrefour, and FNAC.

With licenses for more than 70 different franchises, including Star Wars, Hello Kitty, Walking Dead, Disney, Marvel, WWE, and Teenage Mutant Ninja TutlesFunko currently services many U.S. retailers such as Hot TopicBarnes and Noble, FYE, and Walmart. With this new partnership, the products will be distributed by Underground Toys in Europe.

COMMENTARY: Kids Getting Older Younger—Or Younger Older?

Everyone always talks about how kids are getting older younger. Kids as young as 8 years old are swapping their Barbie dolls and Transformers for iPods and tablets—but this isn’t the case for everyone. There are big kids everywhere, and toys have a funny little habit of bringing an adult’s inner-child giggling wildly to the surface.

Nostalgia is a huge trend in toys today—classic properties such as The Smurfs, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Pac-Man have resurfaced and are engaging a whole new generation. Traditional toys, such as Hasbro’s Easy Bake Oven, Kahootz’s Spirograph, and POOF-Slinky’s Slinky, all still appeal to young kids the same way they did decades ago. However, adults and older kids will find just as much fun in new products primarily targeted toward youngsters, too.

RainbowLoom.Butterfly Blossom braceletThis weekend, I was loomed. A family friend’s daughter, Karli, had her wrist covered in the colorful rubber bracelets that are a product of Rainbow Loom, from Choon’s Designs. A huge craze among kids, I was enamored by the bracelets and begged her to teach me how to make one. She did, and of course, hers came out better. I’ve been staring at it on my wrist every day since she made it for me, and I was extremely tempted to purchase my own loom when I went into a Michael’s craft store and saw the enormous display (but I thought to myself: “You’re 23 years old, Marissa! Taking home product samples is one thing, but you cannot justify BUYING a toy!”).

[Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Comic-Con Exclusives Bring the Fantasy Home

Comic-Con: A once-in-a-lifetime (annual) experience. Fans come from all over to get autographs, take photos, and experience the thrill of oversized Lego structures and men-in-costume. A place full of Hobbits, heroes, and happiness, Comic-Con allows consumers to share their love of all things fantasy. Best of all, the licensed merchandise and exclusive product offerings are abundant. These products allow consumers to get a little bit closer to the franchises they love, bridging the gap between fictional worlds and reality. From classic brands like The Power Rangers, to new favorites like Game of Thrones, the product arrays are seemingly endless, and everyone comes eager to take home their piece of Comic-Con history. Here are some of the limited edition and exclusive products we were most excited about in our office:

LEgacy Power MorpherThe Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers was by far my favorite show growing up. Though the brand has expanded to include multiple modern versions, the classic series is still my favorite. For other nostalgic Power Ranger lovers, Bandai America released the retro-style, limited-edition Legacy Power Morpher in a Green Ranger/White Ranger Edition. The 24-karat gold-plated Morpher comes with two die-cast coins. With only 1,000 available, each Morpher is individually numbered.

Spider-Man, Iron Man, the Hulk, oh my! Though Marvel superhero merchandise is never in short supply at Comic-Con, the limited-edition Marvel exclusives are always something to look forward to. In preparation for the upcoming film, The Wolverine, hitting theaters this Friday, Diamond Select, in partnership with Marvel, has unveiled the Marvel Minimates Wolverine Saga Box Set. This four-pack features 2-inch versions of Symbiote Wolverine, Spacesuit Wolverine, Ultimate Wolverine, and Logan-san in Japanese robes with a variety of interchangeable parts. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Winter Is Coming with New Game of Thrones Products

As an avid reader of George R.R. Martin’s book series and a regular viewer of the HBO TV series, I could not have been more excited to receive HBO’s announcements of their Game of Thrones-licensed products that were debuted at Comic-Con International in San Diego. New figures, books, puzzles, plush and more are sure to delight Game of Thrones fans and collectors. The new products feature favorite characters as well as cuddly versions of even the prickliest of Westeros’ creatures. (There are probably some spoilers from the series, so proceed with caution.)

NedStarkComicConPOP (1)Game of Thrones Comic-Con Exclusive Pop! Ned Stark Figurine: Ever find yourself watching the show and thinking, Ned Stark never would’ve let this nonsense go down? Well, the sad, defeated, yet honorable late Hand to (also the late) King Robert Baratheon is back with the Game of Thrones Comic-Con Exclusive Pop! Ned Stark Figurine, from Funko, that pays homage to the head patriarch of the Stark family that we all miss so dearly. Held together by two magnets, his bloody neck from his beheading in the penultimate episode of the first season is revealed when you remove his head. This iteration of the classic Pop! Ned  Stark Figurine is a great collectible to keep intact on your desk or in separate pieces to honor the memory of our beloved Ned. A limited quantity of this figure is on sale HBO online store. [Read more...]

Marvel Unveils Action-Packed Line-Up at San Diego Comic-Con

IronmanMarvel Entertainment, LLC will give fans another reason to head to the comic event of the year—Comic-Con International: San Diego—with a lineup of one-of-a-kind exclusives that will be available at the show for the first time. Marvel, along with partners Hasbro, Diamond Select, Gentle Giant, and Huckleberry have created a lineup of limited-edition collectibles featuring some of Marvel’s biggest icons. A few of the key Comic-Con product unveilings include the Marvel Universe Deadpool Corps Special Edition figure set, three variant editions of the Iron Man 3 Iron Man Chara-Bricks 7-inch vinyl, and Marvel Minimates Wolverine Saga box set. Some of the Comic-Con exclusives will be available in limited supply following the four-day pop culture event.

Below is a rundown of some of the Comic-Con International: San Diego Marvel exclusives to be unveiled: [Read more...]

DreamWorks Announces Licensees for Mr. Peabody & Sherman

dreamworksDreamWorks Animation has secured a collection of consumer products partners in North America for Mr. Peabody & Sherman, which will debut in theaters March 7, 2014. The licensing program will be anchored by Random House Children’s Books as master publisher and also includes IDW Publishing (comic books and graphic novels); Hallmark Cards Inc. (stationery); Ludia (iOS, Android, and Facebook games); Hybrid Jem (knit tops, tees, and apparel for kids); Concept One (accessories); Funko (vinyl figures and bobbleheads); Comic Images (plush); Rasta Imposta (costumes); PopFun (glassware and decorative refrigerator magnets); SmileMakers (stickers); Multipet International (pet toys).

DreamWorks Animation brings Jay Ward’s classic cartoon Mr. Peabody & Sherman to life in an all new 3-D comedy adventure. The film is directed by Rob Minkoff (Stuart Little, The Lion King) and produced by Alex Schwartz and Denise Nolan Cascino. Bullwinkle Studios’ Tiffany Ward, Eric Ellenbogen, and Jason Clark also serve as executive producers.

Sanrio and Pretty Ugly Partner for Hello Kitty Uglydolls

1225Sanrio Inc., the global lifestyle brand best known for Hello Kitty, has partnered with Pretty Ugly LLC, owner of Uglydoll, to create global, co-branded collaboration with Hello Kitty and Uglydoll characters. Uglydoll’s unique aesthetic, defining “ugly” as distinctive and unique, will be combined with the iconic style of Hello Kitty to create a selection of limited-edition collectibles.    

The Hello Kitty Uglydoll collaboration will make its official debut at San Diego Comic-Con, held July 18 to 21. The collection will include a set of limited edition plush by Gund, featuring Hello Kitty dressed as Uglydoll’s popular characters—Ox, Trunko, Ice-Bat, and Wage—as well as a set of vinyl figures by Funko. Additional product exclusive to Comic-Con will include t-shirts by Mighty Fine, iPhone cases by Uncommon, and a collectible pin set by PinUSA. Specific items from the collection will also be shown at Licensing Expo, held June 18 to 20 in Las Vegas, and will be available later this summer at select Sanrio boutique stores, Sanrio.com, Uglydolls.com, and specialty retailers.

Uglydoll Teams up with DC Comics for Superhero Toys and Accessories

Pretty Ugly, LLC and Warner Bros. Consumer Products, on behalf of DC Entertainment, announced that they have entered into a co-branded 1209collaboration with DC Comics Super Heroes and Uglydoll characters. Gund, a division of Enesco, will produce a diverse range of colorful and collectible superhero plush based on the DC Comics and Uglydoll character universes. The initial release this fall will be a trio that includes two versions of Ice-Bat as Batman and Babo as Superman.

The plush characters will be offered at retail and will be available through Diamond Comics and a broad range of retailers. Funko is also set to offer a collection of vinyl figures based on the DC Comics and Uglydoll plush collaboration during the holiday season this year. Additional categories of merchandise and collaborative characters will be announced in the coming months.

Gund will be previewing their new collaborative plush merchandise at the summer Gift Shows and ASTRA show in June. Diamond Comics will be exhibiting at San Diego Comic-Con in July and in their infamous Previews catalog. Funko and others will launch merchandise in time for the holiday season.

Warner Bros. Consumer Products Unveils Product Lineup for “The Wizard Of Oz” Anniversary

Warner Bros. Consumer Products has announced its roster of licensees set to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of The Wizard of Oz next year. Master toy partner Jazwares, as well as USAopoly and Mattel, are among the partners. [Read more...]