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Issue #109: May 10, 2005


Welcome to License! magazine?s weekly e-mail newsletter featuring the industry?s latest headlines.

 

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Merger Strengthens Bandai?s Market Position
Bandai acquired video game maker Namco in a deal worth approximately $1.6 billion. The deal creates Japan?s second largest toy and games company with Sega Sammy Holdings being the largest. The two firms will form a holding company September 29 in which Bandai will hold a 57 percent stake and Namco the remaining 43 percent. ?Amid severe market conditions, we decided a merger was the best way to focus our resources in an effort to boost corporate value, expand our business, and come out on top of the competition,? the two companies said in a joint statement.

Scholastic Acquires UK Publishing House
Scholastic purchased Chicken House Publishing Ltd., a UK publishing house whose titles include ?Dragon Rider.? Chicken House and its founder, Barry Cunningham, have had a partnership with Scholastic in North America and Australia since 2001. The Chicken House team, led by Cunningham and Deputy Managing Director Rachel Hickman, will continue to operate from its headquarters in Somerset, England, and will be part of the Scholastic children?s trade book division.
In other news, LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc., signed on Scholastic Entertainment as the first third-party publisher to create software for its LeapSter Learning Game System. As part of the deal, Scholastic will adapt its software titles, I Spy Challenger and Math Mission, for the system. Both titles (suggested retail, $24.99) will launch in the fall; additional titles are slated for 2006.

New ?Tween Boys? Site Monkeys Around
Riotweb.com, the new online destination for ?tween boys, is now live. Riotweb.com features areas such as MuSick, where boys can create a uniquely gross song in minutes; the Chimp-o-Matic, where RIOT the Chimp can be added to any photo; and the wonders of Monkey Pee, Monkey Do. The site also includes free downloads?pranks, printables, icons, and more for RIOT Squad members. The consumer product launch includes wireless media in May; apparel in June; a calendar in July; and, in late summer, the premiere issues of RIOT magazine and the RIOT comic book, as well as RIOT trading cards, posters, and stickers. Additional content-based and branded products, including a collectible card game, books, electronic toys, games, back-to-school items, bags, backpacks, and other accessories, are slated for release beginning in 2006.

Spy Gear Inspires Book Series
Wild Planet signed a six-book deal to develop its Spy Gear brand beyond toys and into content. Aladdin Paperbacks is set to release the first two Spy Gear books in March 2006. The Spy Gear series, targeted at 8- to 12-year-old boys, is set in modern-day suburbia and focuses on the experiences of four average kids who discover a secret worthy of investigation.

Who?s the Boss?
Cartoon Network and ConAgra partnered on the ?Big Wig Gig!,? an integrated multi-brand promotion, which marks the first time ConAgra Foods has aligned with a TV network. As part of the promotion, one winner will serve as ?the boss? of Cartoon Network, helping select the programming lineup for a three-hour cartoon marathon, enjoying VIP treatment for the day, and taking a behind-the-scenes tour. Kid Cuisine, Hunt?s Snack Pack pudding, Armour LunchMakers, and Act II microwave popcorn each will feature on-pack messaging of the sweepstakes at http://www.CartoonNetwork.com/BigWigGig. Wal-Mart will kick off the sweepstakes in 1,000 supercenters Saturday, May 14, with greeters dressed in Cartoon Network T-shirts distributing ?Big Wig Gig!? Trivia Hunt Cards that feature questions about favorite Cartoon Network characters (answers to be found on the participating ConAgra Foods skus), along with a unique code for an exclusive Cartoon Orbit cToon digital trading card kids collect and trade on Cartoon Orbit, CartoonNetwork.com?s online trading community for kids. ConAgra Foods also will create in-store displays of its multiple kids? brands highlighting details of the ?Big Wig Gig!? sweepstakes, and sponsor free in-store sampling of Act II popcorn and Hunt?s Snack Pack Triples pudding.

Publishing Program ?Kicked? into High Gear
HarperCollins Children?s Books will release three children?s book tie-ins for Universal Studios? upcoming comedy, Kicking and Screaming. As part of its deal with Universal Studios Consumer Products Group, the publisher will create a movie novel and two Festival early readers including ?My Dad, The Coach? and ?The Comeback Kids.?

Iggy Arbuckle to Hit Airwaves in 2006
Blueprint Entertainment and National Geographic Kids? Programming and Production concluded a production agreement on new animated series Iggy Arbuckle. Blueprint will collaborate with Teletoon on the creation of the new animated series for the Canadian broadcaster for fall 2006. Blueprint also retains international distribution rights, while National Geographic holds U.S. distribution rights. The property, aimed at kids ages 6 to 11, follows the misadventures of a ?nature freak? pig and his faithful sidekick, Jiggers, a beaver.

Online Show Signs Reps in New Territories
Mondo Media expands the reach of Happy Tree Friends by closing licensing agency representation in Australia, South America, and Asia. The deals for the online show were brokered by Signatures Network, Inc. (SNI), which also handles U.S. licensing for Happy Tree Friends. Celebrities Entertainment handles the characters in Western Europe, and EEMC is the company?s agent in Eastern Europe. Australian licensing will be handled by Gaffney International Licensing. Tycoon Enterprises will handle licensing in Latin America in all countries except Brazil, which will be handled by Redibra. In addition to being the licensing agent, Tycoon also will distribute Happy Tree Friends DVDs. In Asia, the show will be represented by Asian Licensing Partners Ltd., which handles opportunities through its offices in Hong Kong, Bangkok, New Delhi, Seoul, and China.

Mega Bloks Constructs New Deals
Mega Bloks Inc. reached an agreement with Original Appalachian Artworks Inc. to create a line of Cabbage Patch-branded construction toy products. As part of the multi-year agreement, Mega Bloks will develop an assortment of building and construction playsets for girls ages 3 to 5. First products are due on shelves in fall.
In other news, the company partnered with Bardel Entertainment on the launch of the Dragons Metal Ages movie, the sequel to the Dragons Fire & Ice movie adventure. Lions Gate, Paramount, and Alliance Atlantis Motion Picture Distribution LP are onboard for the global home entertainment distribution of the movie. Dragons Metal Ages is licensed by YTV Canada and will premiere in Canada in fall 2005. A U.S. partner is being confirmed.

Baker Lends Expertise in Consultant Role
The Muppets Holding Company, LLC, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, hired Martin G. Baker as a consultant for the organization?s new entertainment endeavors. Baker?s duties will include searching for ways to expand the Muppets? talent base, as well as leading a search for more multitalented performers in the world of puppeteering who will serve as understudies to core Muppets performers and help the company develop new characters and service the growing international demands for the classic characters.

Submit Licenses Granted & Available Now Online
This week, License! unveils the new online License! Finder, allowing you to submit licenses granted and available now, which will be published online on a weekly basis once approved by an editor. Go to http://www.finder.licensemag.com/ to fill out the verification form and submit your licenses granted or available now. Highlights from each month?s online submissions will be published in License! magazine. Any questions, contact Alyson Grala at (212) 951-6743 or via e-mail: mailto:agrala@advanstar.com.

Announcing New Licensing Show Development
Licensing 2005 International, in conjunction with iHollywood Forum, will present the Mobile & Digital Licensing Summit Monday, June 20, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Jacob Javits Convention Center. The summit will explore consumers? rapid adoption of wireless entertainment?focusing on strategies for creating and licensing content for mobile distribution, including games, graphics, multimedia, marketing and promotions, video, messaging, and other cutting-edge wireless and digital applications. The Mobile & Digital Summit complements L!censing University, which delivers four days of high-impact educational seminars in a 35-session lineup. From art and brands to publishing and entertainment, there are sessions covering every aspect of the licensing industry. Registration for the Mobile & Digital Summit is expected to open this week. For more information, go to http://www.ihollywoodforum.com/.  To register for L!censing University, visit http://www.licensingshow.com/ and click on ?Attend,? or call Sylvester Jones at (212) 951-6764.

Licensing Fact: Gartner Research estimates Americans spent $2.6 billion last year on cell phone games, entertainment, and other handset personalization services such as ringtones and wallpaper.

Advertising Deadline for June License! and Show Dailies Is Quickly Approaching
The June issue of License! broadcasts your ad message loud and clear to 25,000 retailers, licensees, agents, promotional partners, and other subscribers of the magazine. In addition, your ad will be seen by more than 20,000 Licensing 2005 International show attendees, each of whom is personally handed a copy of the June issue and Show Daily at the show floor entrances. Make sure your property is seen along with all the other hot new properties and brands advertising in June. And complement your presence in our must-read Licensing Show issue by getting your advertising message in each issue of the License! Show Dailies.
Act quickly to make the deadlines: Space: 5/16, Materials: 5/20. To find out more about our June issue and Show Dailies, visit http://www.licensemag.com/ or contact Steven Ekstract at (212) 951-6684 or mailto:sekstract@advanstar.com.

LINK Las Vegas ? Get Linked to Licensing, Sports, Fashion, and Entertainment

LINK Las Vegas, August 31-September 1, 2005, Bellagio. Running concurrently with the last 1 1/2 days of MAGIC Marketplace, LINK Las Vegas will focus on the challenges and opportunities of brand licensing in the fashion, entertainment, and sports worlds. To register and for information on sponsorship, speaking, and attending, visit http://www.linkconference.com/.

For more licensing news and features, visit http://www.licensemag.com/. For more information on Licensing 2005 International, visit http://www.licensingshow.com/.


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