Weekly E-News, February 17, 2004

Cable Giant Makes $62B Bid for Disney
Comcast Corp. made a $62 billion unsolicited bid for the Walt Disney Co. If successful, Comcast Chief Executive Brain Roberts said in a conference call with investors the deal "would create one of the world's premier entertainment and communications companies, and, we believe, restore the Disney brand to prominence and the company to growth." At present, the Disney board is evaluating the offer and can reject it out of hand or consider a counteroffer from another company. Together, the companies have $45 billion in annual sales and 170,000 employees.

Spencer Gifts Is Wild About Wild On
E! Networks launched its first-ever licensing program for TV show Wild On at Spencer Gifts. The program will roll out to other retailers over the next months. A special Wild On mini shop filled with apparel, loungewear, headwear, handbags and footwear, beach products, accessories, and barware will be merchandised in Spencer's storefronts. The companies also will conduct a sweepstakes where one pair of friends can win a "Wild On Party in Paradise" adventure. The merchandise program and sweepstakes will be supported in store, online, and on air. The merchandise collection and Spencer's promotion were brokered by Brand Central, E!'s exclusive licensing agent.

Technology Gives Kids New Play Pattern
Warner Bros. Consumer Products partnered with Mattel and VEIL Interactive Technologies on technology that will bring a new level of interactivity to toys. The Video Encoded Invisible Light (VEIL) technology, exclusive to WBCP and master toy licensee Mattel for 2004, transmits encoded digital data directly from the new Batman animated series. During the show, Mattel's new Batwave toys can be activated to receive the encoded signal. After the signal is received, engine graphics, diagnostics, gadgets, story line background from the show, character information, power-ups, and more are activated within the toys. In addition, when the show is on, the Batman action figure and the Batmobile vehicle recognize the show's signal and "come to life" and react with lights, motion, and sound. The Batman animated series and Mattel's three VEIL-enabled toys debut this fall.

Sanrio Expands Relationship with Nakajima USA
Sanrio will significantly expand its license to Nakajima USA to include the stationery, gift, and accessory categories for the U.S. gift and specialty retail channel, effective April 1, 2004. Nakajima currently holds the plush license for Sanrio's Hello Kitty brand. In addition, Nakajima USA will run Sanrio's wholesale gift business, licensed store business, and the day-to-day operations of its 17 corporate-owned stores in the U.S. Nakajima plans to use the stores as a testing ground for new designs and product introductions.

NASCAR Adds Boyds
NASCAR will "bear" it all in a plush collection created by new licensee The Boyds Collection. Hitting shelves in May, The Boyds Racing Family will launch with Dale Earnhardt, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Bobby Labonte, and Kevin Harvick. The line will include a 16-inch bear with a removable firesuit and cap, a 14-inch bear with authentic racing jacket and cap, a 10-inch bear with a sweatshirt featuring the driver's signature and cap, and a 5.5-inch plush ornament for each of the drivers. The collection will be available at Boyds dealers, as well as Belk Department Stores, NASCAR.com, trackside venues, individual team gift shops, and other dealers.

Cartoon Network Signs Deal with Take-Two Licensing
Cartoon Network will give Take-Two Interactive Software "first-look" rights to develop and publish video games for all future Cartoon Network-branded properties for kids ages 6 to 11. Take-Two will produce interactive titles for multiple platforms, including PlayStation and PS2, Xbox, GameCube, Game Boy Advance, PC, and future platforms. The first property out of the gate will be Codename: Kid's Next Door with a Game Boy Advance title available at retail for holiday 2004. Codename: Kids Next Door games for other platforms will be available in 2005.

Wild Planet Enters Licensing Arena
Wild Planet Toys takes on its first license, signing a deal with Nickelodeon for a line of role-play toys based on SpongeBob SquarePants. Four products including Krabby Patty Station, The Krusty Krab Cash Register, SpongeBob Sea Talkies, and Bikini Bottom Binocs will ship in fall 2004.

Ocean Pacific Throws in for Towels
Ocean Pacific Apparel Corp. inked a licensing deal with Karsten America for a range of beach towels under the "Op" and "Ocean Pacific" monikers. The line will show a large variety of designs and techniques, from jacquards with special updated treatments and new borders to colorful, trendy fiber-reactive prints.

License! 2004 Black Book
Don't miss your chance at a free listing in License!'s 2004 Black Book--a comprehensive licensing industry directory that will include licensors, licensees, national and international licensing agents, consultants/services, and retailers. E-mail jfierman@advanstar.com today! For advertising opportunities, contact Ben Zachariah at (212) 951-6705 or bzachariah@advanstar.com.

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