Exploding Kittens launches first licensed title Exploding Minions with Illumination and Universal Brand Development

The hit tabletop games publisher, Exploding Kittens has launched its first licensed game, Exploding Minions, developed in collaboration with Illumination and Universal Brand Development.

The new game is a Minions-inspired take on its flagship Exploding Kittens card game, drawing on the appeal of one of the most successful animation franchises of all time, to bring an ‘easy to learn, quick to play’ game for kids and adults to enjoy together.

Read the full interview with Exploding Kittens’ Joeri Hoste here or in the Spring/Summer issue of ToyNews.

“We’re excited to combine one of the biggest card games with Illumination’s global pop-culture phenomenon, the Minions, to create a new family game night essential,” said Elan Lee, co-creator and CEO of Exploding Kittens. “Exploding Minions marries these two universes to create a simple yet strategic game for all to enjoy.”

Aimed at players aged seven and upwards, Exploding Minions is a family-friendly spin-off of the core Russian Roulette-style game that includes new card types and fun illustrations of Minions as imagined by The Oatmeal. Participants take turns drawing cards while trying to evade the Exploding Minions.

Players can avoid exploding by using clever strategies and favourite cards such as ‘Defuse’, ‘Nope’ and ‘See the Future’, as well as the new ‘Clone Card’. The last player who hasn’t exploded is declared the winner.

The partnership with Illumination and Universal Brand Development marks the first licensing partnership for Exploding Kittens who, until now, has seen most of its licensing activity take the form of outbound licensing, expanding its own IP into the likes of video games for the Nintendo Switch.

In an exclusive interview with Licensing.biz’ sister title, ToyNews, Exploding Kittens’ director of international sales, Joeri Hoste revealed that should the partnership prove to be successful, then further licensing options will be an avenue the firm will continue to explore for its titles.

Hasbro and Gamepath release first details of the Monopoly: Lifesized attraction coming to London this summer

Hasbro and Gamepath – a new division of Selladoor Worldwide – have released the first details of the Monopoly Lifesized experience – a new gameplay attraction due to open in London on August 14th this year.

The attraction will bring together the best of the iconic board game with escape room challenges and team co-operation for the ‘first of its kind in the world’ experience as players move around the board, participating in missions in order to acquire properties, earn money, and progress through the game.

Monopoly Lifesized is an immersive, on-your-feet version of the world’s favourite family game brand. Players will be able to experience the thrill of staging a heist in Mayfair, competing against the clock to build some of London’s most iconic buildings, or solve a baffling murder mystery.

The experience will be held at 213 – 215 Tottenham Court Road, a 22,000sq ft building over three floors in the West End. The building will house a retail outlet selling a range of Hasbro game merchandise, as well as The Top Hat – a Monopoly themed bar and restaurant serving signature cocktails and a British small plates menu.

Monopoly Lifesized will consist of a 75 minute gameplay segment on a 15 x 15m board, featuring eight properties, two Utility Companies, two Train Stations, Jail, Free Parking, Go, and Just Visiting. Each board can host between eight and 24 people split into four teams, all playing against each other.

Each team will have their own personal Monopoly token  – Scottie Dog, Boot, Racing Car, etc. – leading them around the game, taking scores, and giving hints where required. Each property square will have a full-sized location specific room behind it that players enter to participate in a challenge to ‘acquire’ that particular property.

The challenges will be a mixture of physical and mental puzzles and games that will test players’ skills and lateral thinking, and will be themed appropriately for the square, featuring either some historical or current day relationship with that part of London.

Monopoly: Lifesized will be created by a team drawn from across the immersive theatre, tech, and escape room worlds. Creative producers on the experience are Tom Beynon and Paul Mansfield, with set design by Tim McQuillen-Wright (designer for Secret Cinema experiences Stranger Things, Blade Runner, and Moulin Rouge) with costume design by Sarah Mercade, sound design by Luke Swaffield, and production management by Entourage.

Julia Posen, head of development at Gamepath, said: “Hasbro’s original board game continues to lead the market year in, year out and is loved globally by every generation that has grown up with the game. It has been an exciting journey to work with the talented Gamepath production team to bring this new experience to central London.

“We’re very excited as we know we have created something really special for people of all ages. When you step into the world we’re creating, we promise a dynamic, lively interactive experience and a great night out. Get ready for high risks and high rewards where there’s no ceiling to winning. As long as you can stay out of jail.”

David Hutchinson, CEO of Gamepath, added: “For us, Monopoly: Lifesized represents a major entry into a growing and exciting marketplace. Audiences want to consume live performance differently, and what better way than to jump into a lifesized version of the world’s favourite board game? Our creative team has been working their magic to fuse an experience that puts our audiences centre place on the board, and brings together our theatrical roots with innovative, digital and immersive storytelling.

“After everything we’ve missed out on individually and collectively and given the decimation of our high streets and city centres, it’s really exciting to be launching this now – we hope that we’ll be able to contribute to the recovery of Central London, and bring people back together in our fabulous Capital with a major new attraction in a major new destination building.”

Matt Proulx, vice president, Location Based Experiences at Hasbro said: “We are thrilled to be working with our best-in-class partners at Gamepath. Given its track record creating world class live performances, we believe that combining their skills along with our beloved Monopoly brand will create an exceptional, one-of-a-kind experience that truly brings the Monopoly game to life in a way only once imagined. We cannot wait for individuals of all ages to be able to once again get out and play together.”

The venue will be Covid-secure, adhering to all latest government guidelines, including one-way systems for the retail and food and beverage areas, hand sanitisers throughout the building, an enhanced deep cleaning regime, and with temperature checks undertaken for patrons and staff on arrival.

The capacity for each gameboard is limited to 24 maximum, and players are encouraged to form teams within their household bubbles. The producers will keep guidelines under constant review.

Rachel Lowe launches Beano board game to celebrate 70 years of Dennis the Menace

The iconic British comic brand, Beano is celebrating the 70th anniversary of Dennis the Menace’s first appearance with the launch of a new board game developed by the award-winning designer, Rachel Lowe.

In a partnership secured by Rocket Licensing on behalf of Beano Studios, the new Beano game will bring Dennis and Beanotown friends together for a plethora of playable pranks and school playground humour.

Players will take turns to journey around Beanotown and try to complete pranks while avoiding being caught by the teacher. Perhaps a whoopie cushion will be dropped at Mount Beano or a custard pie will splat the walls of Bunkerton Castle? The player to prank six different locations first will win the game.

The game takes inspiration from the case and heritage of The Beano, the longest-running British children’s comic magazine which in August 2019 celebrated its 4,000th issue. 70 years ago, Dennis first appeared in the comic and has been loved by children and adults from around the world ever since.

As well as the game, a 200-piece and 1000-piece puzzle featuring more of the comic’s characters, including The Bash Street Kids will be released later in the year.

Rachel Lowe said: “Beano is an absolute classic with a dedicated fan base around the world. Dennis has one of the most iconic and recognizable faces – the messy black hair and that mischievous grin are what people love the most. I am thrilled to be working with the Beano team to create these new products to celebrate such a wonderful anniversary for a wonderful character.”

Vanessa Andreis, franchise planning and partnerships director, Beano Studios, said: “For 70 years, kids have read and laughed along with Dennis and now thanks to this incredible Rachel Lowe partnership, fans big and small can come together to test their own prank skills.

“We look forward to creating a range of games that generations of family and friends can come together to enjoy.”

The Beano board game is £29.99 and available from www.amazon.co.uk and  www.rachellowe.co.uk now.

The new game is available alongside Rachel’s current range including Elf on the Shelf, Call the Midwife and WWE: Road to WrestleMania.

Released before Christmas 2020 and designed for all the family, The Elf on the Shelf game plays out the story of Scout Elves, who fly back to the North Pole each night to report to Santa who has been Naughty and who has been Nice.

The WWE: Road to WrestleMania game, released at Christmas 2019, is available with a 500-piece puzzle and playing cardsallowing WWE fans across the UK to become part of the electrifying global pop-cultural event. The products featured WWE Superstars including John Cena, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Becky Lynch and have been popular with WWE’s passionate fanbase.

Finally, the Call the Midwife products (board game, puzzle and playing cards) have continued to be popular in their third year of release.

Lowe said: “Call the Midwife is a show with a dedicated following and the new series later this year will be very popular. I will be looking to update the game and puzzle to keep it in line with the new characters and story lines coming in future series.”

Rachel Lowe launches The Elf on the Shelf Board Game through Rocket Licensing deal

Award-winning board game designer Rachel Lowe has partnered with The Lumistella Company to bring its flagship property, The Elf on the Shelf to the traditional board gaming space in time for Christmas. The move acts to cement Elf on the Shelf as part of the festive tradition for families across the UK.

In a deal brokered by the UK licensing agency, Rocket Licensing, Rachel Lowe’s official The Elf on the Shelf Board Game plays out the story of Scout Elves who fly back to the North Pole each night to report to Santa who has been naughty and who has been nice. Nice players are rewarded with Candy Canes, while naughty ones lose their candy cane collection.

Designed as a family-friendly title, the games sees player take turns on the spinner to determine their naughty of nice fate, as well as face challenges along the way, including Snowball Fights to collect an extra candy cane. The player with the most candy canes wins the game.

The game is released alongside The Elf on the Shelf Snap Card Game depicting Scout Elves.

Rachel Lowe said: “I love Christmas and I am absolutely delighted to be working with The Elf on the Shelf to create a range of products that any child will love to have this Christmas.

“Every year parents come up with elaborate and funny activities for their elves which they share on social media. I’m really excited to be able to contribute to this Christmas tradition which is such a big part of families’ festive holidays.”

The Elf on the Shelf launched in the UK in 2015 and quickly became a family favourite. Rocket Licensing, which manages the licensing rights for The Elf on the Shelf brand in the UK and Eire, has already predicted that 2020 will be the biggest Christmas ever for the property, which started life as a book and Scout Elf in 2005.

In a recent survey, over half of mums had top of mind awareness of the loveable elf, which also ranked as the third most popular Christmas tradition for children (2019 MMR survey).

The Elf on the Shelf Board Game is available alongside Rachel’s current range, including Call the Midwife and WWE: Road to WrestleMania.

The WWE: Road to WrestleMania board game, released in 2019, is available with a 500-piece puzzle and playing cardsallowing WWE fans across the UK to become part of the electrifying global pop-cultural event. The products featured WWE Superstars including John Cena, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Becky Lynch and have been popular with WWE’s passionate fanbase.

The Call the Midwife products (board game, puzzle and playing cards) have continued to be popular in their third year of release.

Rachel said: “Call the Midwife is a show with a dedicated following and the new series next year, along with the Christmas special, will be very popular. I will be looking to update the game and puzzle to keep it in line with the new characters and story lines coming in future series.”

Scottish board game company lands Rangers FC, Chelsea FC and The Open licensing partnerships

The Scottish board gaming company, Taxi Game, has launched a raft of new titles under its Taxi! trivia board game range, with the addition of three new sports-themed editions for Rangers FC, Chelsea FC, and The Open, as well as two destination-themed games for Liverpool and Greater Manchester.

The launch follows the recent success of the company’s Edinburgh, Glasgow, Celtic, Scottish Rugby and London edition that have sold with ‘rocketing success’ over the course of the year, as lockdown measures across the UK have forced families to take up new hobbies while spending more time at home.

Taxi Game has also stated that the games have found an appeal among fans who are currently missing live sport.

Each Taxi! trivia board game tests players’ knowledge of a particular destination or sport and includes alternative general knowledge questions. The better a player’s knowledge, the more tips they collect and the more money they earn.

The trivia game, which now boasts 18 different editions, was invented five years ago by former taxi driver Derek Carroll, who came up with the idea while sitting on the taxi rank one winter’s evening waiting on his next fare. The game is based on the working life of a taxi driver with players travelling around the board, picking up passengers,  receiving a ‘tip’ based on their ability to answer trivia questions about that city, sports team or general knowledge.

There are also opportunities to ‘sound off’ like a cabbie, a moment in the game in which players are given a subject to talk about for 30 seconds with six key words that you have to identify, the more included, the more they can earn.

Gordon Drysdale, one of the company’s founding directors, said: “As a result of the coronavirus lockdown, many people have gone back to basics, spending more time with their family and friends, and playing board games together has been a popular and fun past-time.

“Games such as Taxi! also impart useful facts and general knowledge about a destination or sports team which stays with you long after the game is finished. We have seen a significant rise in game sales in the last six months, and it’s fantastic to be adding to our existing range of games with the launch of these new editions.”

The benefits of board games appear to go beyond simply entertainment and connecting as a group. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have recently suggested that playing board games can help to improve thinking skills in the elderly, with a range of cognitive health benefits well into old age.

The Taxi Game company is now at what it calls “an exciting point in its development”, with a long line of clubs and different sports in the UK and further afield, looking to partner up in 2021.

The directors are now looking for further investment to help them realise the opportunities in front of them and are in discussions with potential investors.

Mattel has the power in new Masters of the Universe toy line reveal featuring UNO, Fisher-Price and Mega Construx

Mattel has unveiled a new generation-spanning collection of toys, action figures, tabletop games and even a themed version of its popular card game UNO all based on the Masters of the Universe franchise, proving that the global toymaker really does ‘have the power.’

Revealed at this year’s virtual edition of Power Con, Mattel finally shed light on the much anticipated Masters of the Universe toy line for 2021, a launch that will coincide with the arrival of a new Masters of the Universe series on Netflix. And it’s a range designed to truly bring generations together.

For the first time, Masters of the Universe is launching in to the pre-school space with a line of Fisher-Price toys under the Little People moniker. The line-up of four figures features He-Man, Skeletor, Man-at-Arms, and Beast Man.

Mattel then begins to transition up the age groups with the introduction of a new action figure line from its Imaginext collection. The Fisher-Price Imaginext Masters of the Universe XL Action Figures line features a collection of super-sized 10-inch action figures including He-Man, Skeletor, and Beast Man.

Mega Construx comes roaring into play as the brand expands its Masters of the Universe offering with a reissue of last year’s Pro Builders Series Castle Grayskull. The 3,508-piece building set includes three floors featuring the Throne Room, Command Centre, Dungeon, Power Sword-activated Jawbridge, and more. It also includes six collectable micro action figures.

Meanwhile, the Mega Construx Masters of the Universe Skeletor Skull Assortment comes with three collectable Skeletor heads, each containing micro action figures and building materials.

Skeletor and Panthor signature sets complete the line up, alongside a Battle Ram vehicle with Tri-Klops and Mekaneck micro action figures.

Mattel has also got the gaming sector covered with a Masters of the Universe themed version of its hit game UNO. The new launch features vintage artwork from the franchise’s archives of oil paintings created by Williams George and Ruby Obero in the 1980s, tapping into the retro-revival with vintage appeal.

Finally, Mattel has also detailed the first tabletop roleplaying game to feature Masters of the Universe, introducing players to Legends of Grayskull. The launch is the result of a multi-year licensing deal with Fandom – the team that developed D&D Beyond – to produce a roleplaying game complete with a 250 page hardcover guidebook with pull-out maps, a digital companion app and toolset, a community content creation and sharing platform, and a ‘play programme that gives fans the chance to participate in a connected, living story with other players around the world.’