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.

Q&A with Drew Stevenson, Vice President of Sales and Retail Marketing North America, Mega Bloks

The Toy Book spoke with Drew Stevenson, vice president of sales and retail marketing North America at Mega Bloks, about the current state of the construction category and Mega Bloks role in the industry.

TB: Building sets saw a 23 percent increase in sales from 2011 to 2012, according to the NPD Group, and the category is the strongest toy category right now. Why has the construction category taken off over the past couple of years?

DS: Well actually, the category has been consistently growing for the past four years and we believe it represents a desire for more educationally beneficial toys, which absorb children’s imagination from the age of 1. Parents want what is best for their children and they understand more and more the benefits of construction in terms of skill development, creativity, self-expression, and sense of accomplishment. So, we are confident that the construction toy category will only continue to grow.

Mega Bloks will continue to offer more choices for preschoolers, boys, girls, and collectors, allowing all of our fans to continuously immerse themselves in this play pattern and grow with Mega Bloks. [Read more...]

Sanrio Expands Hello Kitty Brand

hello_kitty001Sanrio Inc. has inked multiple partnership deals to expand the Hello Kitty brand across toys, sporting goods, and infant accessories

Blip Toys will produce dolls, plush, novelty, and play sets, while Just Play and International Playthings will create plush and soft toys. Fashion Angels and Ohio Art focus on creativity with sketch portfolios, hair chox, tapefitti, Etch A Sketch, doodle sketch, and nano blocks. MMA International and Street Flyer are responsible for sporting goods such as tennis, volleyball, basketball, and soccer equipment, as well as active skates, skateboards, and pogosticks. Baby Trend will create infant gear such as car seats, strollers, play yards, and high chairs, while Aden and Anais provide blankets, bibs, hooded towels, and washcloth sets. Ginsey will create bath accessories.

The Hello Kitty brand will also expand to the digital and publishing category with LeapFrog  and Viz Media.

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.

KISS Catalogue Ltd, Sanrio to Produce KISS Hello Kitty Animated Series

kiss hello kityThe Hub Network has optioned the rights to a new animated series, KISS Hello Kitty (working title).

The KISS and Hello Kitty collaboration began in 2010 with a global collection of co-branded products, from Sanrio. The collection features hundreds of licensed items across all categories, including apparel, toys, electronics, stationery, and back-to-school merchandise.

KISS Hello Kitty will feature the four KISS x Hello Kitty characters living their rock ’n roll dreams and bringing pink anarchy to a number situations. The series is in the initial stages of development and will be produced by KISS Catalogue Ltd. and Sanrio.

COMMENTARY: Everyone Has One, But I Want Mine to be Unique

Last Friday marked my niece Courtney’s eighth birthday, and what was she hoping for most? An iPod. Now, in my opinion, an 8-year-old doesn’t have much business with an iPod, but kids today are getting into electronics at a much younger age. Though part of Courtney’s argument for “needing” an iPod was, “everyone has one except for me,” the first thing she did when she got it was personalize it. Before even putting a song on it, she slapped a peace-sign sticker right on the back of it—10 minutes out of the box (hence why 8-year-olds probably shouldn’t have iPods). But, this was her way of making it her own.

For parents buying their children expensive devices such as smartphones, iPods, or even portable gaming devices like the Nintendo 3DS or the PS Vita, there are some awesome products on the market that will allow kids to dazzle and personalize their devices without placing a never-gonna-come-off, gooey-backed sticker on said device.

Plugy

Plugy, from Hashy, is a universal 3.5mm plug that fits snuggly into all standard headphone jacks. Plugys come in more than 40 different styles, including zoo animals, robots, and glow-in-the-dark options. Plugy has something for everyone, including a rainbow, Eiffel Tower, and an apple stem, and allows kids to  take their smart device to a more personal level in a not-so-permanent way. Plugys are made of rubber and will not break when inserted into the headphone jack. They even protect the device from rain, dust, and sand when earphones are not plugged in. Plugys are available on amazon.com and from Hanging Mobile Gallery. For more information on Plugys, email plugyUSA@gmail.com. [Read more...]

Sanrio and NECA Sign Licensing Agreement

Sanrio Inc. and National Entertainment Collectibles Association (NECA) have entered into a licensing agreement to produce games, collectibles, toys, and novelty items featuring Hello Kitty and other Sanrio characters.

The new Hello Kitty line will cater to long-time collectors, with action figures and statues, high-end lamps, calendars, tea sets, vintage carrying cases, various tabletop games, and a HeroClix miniature gaming collection from NECA’s games subsidiary WizKids. The Hello Kitty products will launch in North America this summer.

VTech MobiGo 2 and InnoTab 2 Now Available for Pre-Order

VTech Electronics North America, LLC, have announced that MobiGo 2 and InnoTab 2 are now available for pre-order at ToysRUs.com, Amazon.com, Target.com, Walmart.com, and VTechKids.com.

MobiGo 2 is a multi-functional, handheld touch learning system that comes equipped with a motion sensor and microphone for total game control. The InnoTab 2 gives kids their own touch-screen tablet with free on-board activities to get them started, and a new rotatable digital camera and video recorder. Both products connect to VTech’s Learning Lodge Navigator so children can choose from hundreds of apps to download, including new content from Brave, Madagascar 3, and Hello Kitty, for more fun and learning.

For pre-orders, the estimated shipping dates for MobiGo 2 and InnoTab 2 are July 23 and August 10, respectively.

This post was originally written by Sierra McCleary-Harris and published by ToyBook.com. For more news, visit www.toybook.com, follow The Toy Book on Twitter, and like The Toy Book on Facebook. The Toy Book is a bimonthly trade magazine covering the toy industry, published by Adventure Publishing Group.

Sun-Mate Announces Slew of New Licenses for Entertainment Brands

Sun-Mate Corporation has obtained a number of licensing rights to a broad spectrum of entertainment brands, including Star Wars, Spider-Man, Power Rangers, WWE, the recently announced Hello Kitty and KISS joint branding, and the fashion art brand Public Zoo.

For Star Wars, Sun-Mate will develop ATM machines, arcade-style games, tabletop games, and guitars based on the brand.

Spider-Man and other Marvel Heroes, including Wolverine, Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor, will be featured among keyboards, drums, ATM machines, and other activities being developed by the company for U.S. consumers. Sun-Mate will also develop various Power Rangers-branded pinball game machines, which will incorporate Power Rangers’ themes of fitness, responsibility, teamwork, and helping others.

[Read more...]

Sanrio Signs Licensing Agreement with Fiesta

Sanrio, Inc. has signed a new licensing agreement with Fiesta to produce a collection of plush toys for the prize redemption market, featuring Hello Kitty and other iconic Sanrio characters. The agreement is effective immediately.

The initial offering of prize redemption plush toys will include Hello Kitty, Badtz-Maru, Chococat, Keroppi, My Melody, and TuxedoSam in six different sizes, ranging from 6.5 inches to 27.5 inches.  These products are licensed for distribution in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico and will be available in various theme parks, crane vending machines, fairs, carnivals, water parks, and arcades. Theme park distribution will include Six Flags Theme Parks, Cedar Fair Theme Parks such as Cedar Point, Knott’s Berry Farm, and Universal Studios, to name a few.

The Sanrio plush toys will be available in July and pre-booking orders are available now.