Reports: Mattel Finalizing Deal to Buy Hit Entertainment

According to multiple news outlets, including the Financial Times, Mattel is in talks with Apax Partners to buy Hit Entertainment for £500 million. Two anonymous sources told the Financial Times that Mattel is in the final stages of negotiations to purchase the company that Apax bought in 2005 for £489 million. The sale of Hit will not include the group’s stake in children’s channel Sprout, but will include Bob the Builder, Thomas the Tank Engine, Angelina Ballerina, Fireman Sam, and Pingu.

Roary Toys Racing into Stores Next Month

Roary the Racing Car is zooming onto store shelves in the U.S. next month. Following the U.S. broadcast launch of the television series on Sprout, the new Roary line will hit Toys “R” Us stores and Toysrus.com in March.

As the U.S. master toy licensee for the brand, Bandai will offer a full line of Roary toys, including die-cast, push-along Racing Stars, Talking Turbo Vehicles, Roary R/C, Silver Hatch Racetrack play sets, and more. The die-cast vehicles, Talking Turbo Vehicles, and Roary R/C will be packaged with a special episode of Roary the Racing Car on DVD.

Following the Bandai toy launch, K’nex will release sets that will allow kids to recreate their favorite Roary characters and scenes.

The first Roary DVD, Roary The Racing Car, from Lionsgate Home Entertainment, will launch at mass retailers in June. The series was created by Chapman Entertainment and is represented by Hit Entertainment in North America.

Sprout Premieres Two New Nightly Shows

Preschool television network Sprout has premiered two new exclusive nightly shows, Nina’s Little Fables at 7:15 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. ET, and Chloe’s Closet 5:45 p.m. ET.

Nina’s Little Fables features 26 classic fables adapted for young audiences and illustrated with shadow puppetry animation. The series premiered on June 28. Chloe’s Closet follows the adventures of a little girl named Chloe who discovers new worlds while playing dress-up in her closet; the series premiered in the U.S. on July 12.

HIT Entertainment Celebrates 65 Years of Thomas & Friends

HIT Entertainment is celebrating the 65th anniversary of its preschool brand Thomas & Friends with partnerships with Minor League Baseball, Celebration Foods, Six Flags Entertainment, and Sprout.

Celebration Foods, the makers of Carvel ice cream cake, has been named the presenting sponsor of Thomas’ 65th anniversary. The company will serve as the exclusive Thomas partner for Thomas & Friends title nights, to take place at 22 Minor League Baseball teams’ games between May 15 and June 30. Celebration Foods will offer free Carvel ice cream cake samples and coupons to fans at the games, and will run free consumer offers at select regional grocery stores.

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Brandberry Appointed as The Wiggles’ Licensing Agent

Brandberry has been picked as The Wiggles’ new licensing agent in North America. Brandberry will handle all licensing categories for the children’s entertainment group.

The Wiggles are featured on Sprout, as well as on the virtual world Wiggletime.com, and the group’s website, TheWiggles.com. Each year, The Wiggles release two new DVDs and CDs, embark on two North American concert tours that visit more than 70 cities, and are featured in Six Flags Theme Parks with five Wiggles World theme areas.

Next year will mark the 20th anniversary of The Wiggles.

K’NEX Signs On to Produce “Roary” Building Sets

K’NEX Brands has signed a licensing deal with Chapman Entertainment and HIT Entertainment to manufacture and market a line of construction toys based on the Sprout series, Roary the Racing Car.

K’NEX will produce Roary building sets, including builable figures and buildable vehicles. The sets will be available at mass retailers in the U.S. and Canada in fall 2011.

Last month, Bandai America announced that it was named the U.S. master toy licensee for the brand, and will manufacture a full line of Roary toys, available exclusively at Toys “R” Us stores.