BlackMilk goes sci-fi with latest Matrix-inspired pieces

BlackMilk clothing has officially entered the Matrix with seven new pieces inspired by the hit movie franchise, including its take on the iconic Neo Trench Coat.

The new pieces are dropping on January 10 at 1pm (PT) as part of BlackMilk’s larger ‘Beam Me Up’ collection, which includes futuristic designs inspired by all things sci-fi. Fans can get their wish lists ready ahead of launch by previewing the entire collection now at



Fanattik names Get-Well Gamers its charity partner for 2022

The pop culture specialist, Fanattik, has named the gaming charity, Get-Well Gamers as its charity partner until the end of 2022. The partnership has been struck up as the firm’s means of ‘giving back to the community that has supported it since launch.’

Established in 2007, Fanattik has been developing film and gaming collectables for the geek culture market for the past 14 years. Its partnership with Get-Well Gamers not only reflects its appreciation for audience that has helped its success, but the role gaming plays with mental health improvement.

“Every member of staff at Fanattik HQ is a gamer, and we’re a multi-generational team, with some of us growing up with Atari’s and Amiga’s, and some growing up with PlayStations and Xboxes. We all recognise the importance of the problem-solving, hand-eye coordination, and mental health improvement that comes with gaming, so supporting a gaming charity like Get-Well Gamers, was a no-brainer,” said Fanttik’s MD, Anthony Marks.

Get-Well Gamers was founded in 2016 and provides recycled consoles and games to hospitals, hospices and other healthcare settings, where children may have long hospital stays, or are in circumstances in which recreational activities can be beneficial. They are currently linked up with almost 200 hospitals and organisations across the UK.

Fanattik is the licensee for many gaming franchises including Resident Evil, Sea of Thieves, Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, Banjo-Kazooie, Doom, Cuphead, and more. The team’s ranges of gaming gifts from 24k gold plated collectibles to limited edition pin badges can be found on sale at all levels of the European gift trade from HMV to Hamleys.

Fanattik is also an award-winning gift company, being crowned the North West Business of the Year awarded by the Federation of Small Business in 2020, their SpongeBob SquarePants bottle opener has been nominated for Gift Of the Year by the British Gift Association for 2021.

Get-Well Gamers were recently the subject of a BBC short film about the important work that they do, which you can watch here:

Reemsborko details flurry of global partners for graphic novel IP Trese

Reemsborko, the UK agency specialising in cult and pop culture licensing from across the world, has secured a flurry of new partnerships for the best-selling graphic novel series, Trese.

In a run of new deals for the series publisher, Ablaze Publishing, the graphic novel IP now finds itself expanding its consumer products presence across categories including apparel and accessories, drinkware, wall decor, statues, and more.

Joining the licensing portfolio is the likes of Bioworld who has signed on for apparel and accessories for global distribution, Goodie Two Sleeves who will be delivering apparel and accessories to the North American market, Pyramid America who will delight North American audiences with its wall decor and drinkware, and Great Eastern Entertainment, signed on for multiple categories across North America.

They are joined by IndieGo Distribution who will deliver apparel to the European market, and Bedrock Collectables whose polyresin statues will be distributed worldwide.

Trese is set in a Manila where the mythical creatures of Filipino folklore live in hiding among humans. It follows the story of the hero Alexandra Trese as she battles with a criminal underworld run by malevolent supernatural beings. Seven volumes of the comic have so far been released in the Philippines and are now being steadily republished worldwide by ABLAZE. 

Reemsborko is the agent for all categories and territories. The property has become even more popular this year since the Season One Anime series started streaming on Netflix in July.

When Geek Culture went Pop! | Kids Industries on how we’ve all adopted the geek market (without even realising)

Aleksandra Szczerba, researcher at Kids Industries, explores the ubiquity of geek culture today, and the very real chance that if you’re reading this, you’ve long since become one.

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No longer constrained by the four walls of a dimly-lit basement or the stacks of a comic book store. No longer only openly revered by social outcasts (and covertly by everyone else in fear of being shunned). So-called “geek culture” is – in many ways – no more. Or at least it has evolved to be something vastly different than it has been in the past. The cornerstones of geek culture of decades gone by, from sci-fi to comic books, from video games to anime, don’t just have their footholds in the mainstream. They have become the mainstream, permeating today’s biggest children’s and adult media trends alike. So how have we all become geeks, how did this happen, and what does it mean for the future?

The most obvious way in which geek culture has become a staple in pop culture is of course through screen adaptations of comic books, both feature film and television. Although one would think that DC had the head start, having the rights to iconic characters such as Superman and Batman, it is Marvel that took the movie industry by storm in the past decade. The Marvel Cinematic Universe, comprising more than 20 films and dozens of characters, became a set of interwoven narratives and franchises, brought together in a grand finale in the form of the highest-grossing movie spectacular of all time (at the time at least). “Avengers: Endgame” earned $2.798B at the global box office, and is now the second highest grossing movie of all time, after being narrowly dethroned by the re-release of James Cameron’s “Avatar”. Notably, it is not the only Marvel film people around the world saw in droves: “Avengers: Infinity War” is fifth in terms of box office earnings, and the first “The Avengers” movie ranks 8th. The dollar signs speak for themselves – it’s not just geeks who are all over superheroes today.

Although “Endgame” brought a sense of finality to the MCU, Marvel is not slowing down – it was only the end of Phase 3, and we are already well into Phase 4 with the release of “Black Widow” and the many streaming titles being released on Disney+. Each series is dedicated to developing fan-favourite side characters, and these have been a hit for the platform, both in drawing in subscribers – and in drawing critical acclaim. The June release of “Loki” coincided with Disney+’s biggest increase in mobile app downloads among major streamers, with a 39% increase in the week ending 27th June, and an 11% increase in streaming sessions, according to Bloomberg’s Apptopia data, and in general Disney+ is currently chipping away at Netflix’s dominance in the streaming space. It definitely takes a bit of a geek to want to watch a multi-episode series about a villain or a supporting character who didn’t get their own feature length movie, and clearly there is no shortage of those out there. They also come in all shapes and sizes – at KI we have interviewed children as young as 6 who report enjoying watching Marvel series with their parents.

To put it simply: superheroes are cool now. And it’s not just the MCU. The “DC Extended Universe” may not have taken off in the same way, but television’s “Arrowverse” definitely has its own very loyal following. Superhero movies and TV shows, like “Logan” or HBO’s “Watchmen”, have received prestigious accolades. Comic book brands are no longer “for kids” or “for geeks” – everyone knows these stories and characters, including their mother, father and brother. Once upon a time everyone knew that Superman was the super strong guy, now everyone has an opinion on where they stand in the Captain America vs Iron Man conflict in “Civil War”. There is something for everyone in comic book stories, from a bit of good old fashioned fisticuffs, in-depth character conflict, to comedy and teenage high school hijinks. Many of today’s superhero stories are also more diverse and more relatable; everyone is bound to find a type of superhero they can enjoy.

To an extent the appeal of comic book movies also translates to other expressions of fandom. Parts of the “geek” industry have seen growth, from collectable merchandise like Funko POP! action figures (Funko reports growth every year and quarter, with the POP! line specifically most recently seeing growth of 33% in US and Europe in the first quarter of 2021), to events (the San Diego Comic Con attracts upwards of 130 thousand attendees every year). Similarly, one would expect this to translate to comic books – and many in the industry do cite MCU’s success as the reason for the U-turn in the decline in comic sales post-1993 (i.e. when the comic book bubble burst – but that’s a story for another day). In the 2010s, comic book sales in the US alone crossed the $1 billion mark in 2015, and grew to a $1.2 billion peak in 2019. However according to retailers the ‘movie-lover-to-comic-reader’ conversion is difficult, and hasn’t been all that successful. Yes, more people come into stores and give comics a try, but they also stick to content that is as close to the adaptation as possible. The industry has seen boosts and has seen increased sales related directly to trending storylines or characters – but the bottom line is this: we might collectively be comic book movie geeks, but we’re not quite comic book geeks (yet).

Similarly to superheroes, once upon a time interest in anime and manga may have been limited to people known as “otakus” or “weebs”, but in the year 2021 things could not be more different once again. The anime industry is worth over $20 billion today, with overseas markets accounting for half of the Japanese animation industry’s profits according to the Association of Japanese Animations. In 2019 the industry reached an all time high of $24 billion, with the overseas market valued at around $11 billion – a 19% increase on 2018, and almost a fivefold increase from 2009. These numbers include everything from animation itself (TV and film), to music, and merchandise, with the latter alone being worth over $5.2 billion globally. The dollar signs don’t lie – they’re all pointing East. Not only are we geeks, we’re also otakus.

Data from various streaming services further backs up the data on anime’s growth. According to the specialist anime streamer Crunchyroll’s data, a whopping 8 in 10 people today watch anime, and the platform has felt this. During last year’s Festival of Licensing the platform boasted of nine consecutive years of record sales (the site doesn’t just offer anime, but also manga and merchandise), and in February 2021 the site had hit 4 million paying subscribers, alongside over 100 million registered users, having grown its paid memberships by 33% in the space of just six months. In December 2020 news emerged regarding a possible monumental merger worth almost $1.2 billion in which Crunchyroll would be acquired by another anime giant: Sony’s Funimation. The deal is still up in the air, but if the deal goes through, it will lead to the creation of a veritable anime giant.

Anime isn’t just something found on niche platforms however; regular mainstream players recognise the power of anime too. In 2020 Netflix reported that more than 100 million households across the globe had watched at least one anime title on the platform between January and September, an increase by 50% from the year before, and that anime titles had appeared in top 10 lists in nearly 100 countries. The company has a Tokyo-based team dedicated to anime production and is regularly producing new content as well as acquiring new titles. Just as an example, earlier this year they released a well-received two-part Sailor Moon movie “Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Eternal”, and August will see the release of “The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf”, an anime prequel to the live-action fantasy “The Witcher” series based on the Polish hit-books-turned-hit-video-games (now how’s that for layers of geekiness?)

Of course, the best known titles today are still the likes of Pokémon, Naruto, Studio Ghibli movies, but people are broadening their horizons. This exploration does not end with animation – manga sales were at an all time record high in 2020. Based on NPD’s BookScan data, across the 20 top selling adult graphic novels in the US in October 2020, 17 were manga titles. One of the biggest hits of today took the top three spots: My Hero Academia, a shōnen superhero-themed series popular with teenagers. This year an ever hotter commodity is the supernatural series Jujutsu Kaisen, particularly following the release of its anime adaptation; as of May this year it has 50 million copies in circulation, it has had successful brand collaborations including Uniqlo, and has topped the list of Japan’s most lucrative franchises of 2021 so far.

Anime and manga are popular enough in the English-speaking world that an element of fandom never previously accessible to these audiences is finally being opened up to them as well. This summer, for the first time ever, stage adaptations of popular anime will be streamed online with English subtitles for non-Japanese speaking audiences. These musical stage productions, also known as “2.5 dimensional musicals”, are a big part of manga, anime and video game fandom in Japan, but overseas audiences haven’t been able to engage with them officially until now. In August musical adaptations of Naruto, Sailor Moon and My Hero Academia will be streaming as part of a special online theatre event.

Geek culture has undoubtedly morphed and evolved over time, and the 21st century has seen it become – for all intents and purposes – pop culture, with previously “geek” franchises and fandoms becoming your standard, everyday, blockbuster fare. How “geek” evolves from this point on, we are yet to see – but it is definitely here to stay. It has made its place in the media landscape and it is seeping into trends everywhere. Geek franchises have bastions of fans, and they’re primed and ready to discover new titles and brands that align with their tastes. It is official: we have all become geeks (probably without even realising it).

Asmodee Entertainment teams with Event Merchandising to launch online gaming merch stores

Asmodee Entertainment has entered into a new licensing partnership with Event Merchandising Limited to launch a series of ‘one-stop-shops’ for fans of Fantasy Flight Games Studio’s Arkham Horror, Legend of the Five Rings, and Twilight Imperium across the world.

Just the latest example of Asmodee Entertainment’s current push to expand the merchandise offerings available to fans of some of its biggest hobby game brands, the partnership will see the launch of new online stores, sporting the latest in licensed merchandise for the gaming brands.

“These are exciting times for us and for fans of these brands. For over two decades these three rich and fascinating universes have gathered fans who cherish diving into adventures in these worlds – they are a true passion for many and part of their identity,” said Alexander Thieme, licensing manager for consumer goods and publishing at Asmodee Entertainment.

“It’s about time that we enabled them to express their fandom beyond the games. Novels from Aconyte made a start of this expansion, merchandise now follows. And we couldn’t have found a better partner for this than EML.”

Initially opening in the UK in Q4 2021 these online stores will feature specially designed apparel, accessories and homewares such as pillows and mugs. The first of these launches is planned for Q4 2021. Fans can expect more products to be added to the stores regularly after launch.

 Jeremy Goldsmith of Event Merchandising, said: “Asmodee has created amazing, captivating content and artwork and we are delighted to be designing and operating the online store for Arkham Horror, Legend of the Five Rings, and Twilight Imperium along with a selection of key product lines.”

Chess sets and Transformers: The Movie ReAction figures, Hasbro is laying on a nostalgic treat for fans

Having never been one to shy away from its adult fanbase or one to tread lightly around the kidult market of collectors and geek culture community, Hasbro is serving up a platter full of nostalgic fodder for followers of its generation-spanning Transformer franchise this season.

The geek culture outfit and pop culture licensing specialist, Super7 is celebrating the 35th anniversary of Transformers: The Movie with a special raft of Tranfsormers ReAction figures.

The Super7 team has become recognised for its ReAction brand, bringing nostalgia to the shelves of specialist retailers the world over as it taps into some of the best loved properties of yesteryear, and feeding a growing audience of kidult collectors.

The company’s latest look back now takes the shape of its Transformers ReAction Wave 4 collection, developed to celebrate a full 35 years since the release of the animated Transformers: The Movie. The exclusive toy line pays tribute to some of the most iconic characters and moments, including Hot Rod, King Starscream, Fallen Leader Optimus Prime, and – for the first time in 3.75-inch figure form – Galvatron.

The collection will be available from next month. The launch of the range coincides with Hasbro’s own anniversary celebrations for the cult classic, during which the toy maker will re-release the 1986 animated feature film to select US cinemas for two days only.

Presented by Fathom Events and Hasbro, The Transformers: The Movie 35th Anniversary will land in cinemas across the US on Sunday September 26th and Tuesday, September 28th, bringing its all-star cast including Judd Nelson of The Breakfast Club, and Leonard Nimoy of Star Trek fame back to the screen in their Autobot adventure.

Adam Biehl, SVP and GM, action brands at Hasbro, said: “We look forward to bringing families and fans back to the theatres for this milestone Transformer anniversary.

“With thanks to our Fathom partners, Autobots and Decepticons of all ages will be treated to a one of a kind movie experience celebrating this beloved animated film.”

But that’s not the only activity being stirred up around the classic Transformers property this season, as Hasbro is continuing to dish out the nostalgia fodder thanks to a new team up with the pop culture collectables outfit, Hero Collector.

Under the partnership, Hasbro is embarking on its first Kickstarter campaign to bring to life a new Transformers Chess Set, featuring 16 heroic Autobots and 16 villainous Decepticons, all modelled on the classic 1980s Generation One Transformers animated cartoon.

The sculpts each show the Transformers in their robot form and have been developed in collaboration with Hasbro, based on the original animation designs and animated series.

The Kickstarter launched on August 13th this year, and is scheduled to deliver in Q4 2022. A variety of backer gifts are planned for fans, including a Transformers pin badge, Transformers profile book, and exclusive Gen-1 chess pieces.

Fans can visit the Kickstarter page here.

Games Workshop sees full-year profits spike 69 per cent as staff receive £5k bonuses

A big spike in profit over the last year, confirmed plans to expand in China, and a bonus of £5,000 to each member of staff compound another successful end of year for the UK-based tabletop gaming brand, Games Workshop.

In its trading update issued this week, the tabletop figures retailer confirmed that each of its around 2,600 staff will receive £5000 in shares under its profit-share scheme following a profits spike at the company of 69 per cent to hit £151 million.

The share bonuses, issued to staff in May this year, are in total worth £12 million, marking a £10 million increase on the £2 million awards given to staff in the previous year. Meanwhile, senior executives will share an extra £1.1 million bonus pot, marking a £300,00 increase on the year before.

Games Workshop has been at the forefront of a surge in demand for tabletop gaming and RPG gaming over the last few years. While it was forced to close its 523 stores during lockdowns due to the pandemic, its online engagement, online events, and online sales helped buoy the company through the tough trading period.

As a result of consumer demand for escapism during the pandemic’s various lockdowns, and the retained audience that had turned to the hobby sector for entertainment, Games Workshop has seen its full-year pre-tax profit rise 69 per cent to nearly £151 million, while revenue came in at £353 million.

With another successful year under its belt, the retail brand has begun eyeing international expansion, detailing its plans to roll out hundreds of products across China, following delays at the border.

Chief executive, Kevin Rountree said that while China and Japan are ‘not significant contributors’ to the company’s performance yet, the firm ‘remains focused on sharing our passion for Warhammer to more people in these countries as well as the rest of Asia.’

Geek Retreat moves into Dumfries and stays on track to open 60 stores by end of 2021

The geek culture retailer, Geek Retreat, is continuing on its ambitious plans for the UK with the successful launch of its new store in Dumfries, bringing its total numbers of shops around the country to 28.

Situated on Church Crescent and providing five local jobs, the new Geek Retreat store – a geek culture retailers, gaming cafe, and events space rolled into one – aims to offer a safe and friendly environment ‘where people can gather and enjoy shared interests.’

The retailer aims to provide for all fanbases within the geek culture community, from Marvel and Magic the Gathering to Yu-Gi-Oh, Warhammer, and Pokemon, as well as traditional board games. Visitors will also be able to enjoy a full menu with vegetarian, vegan, and kids’ options all developed in partnership with the food service firm, Booker.

The Geek Retreat has previously outlined the importance it places on providing an inclusive, welcoming, and social environment for its more vulnerable customers such as those with autism or with mental health issues. The retailer has a national partnership with the National Autistic Society, while the Dumfries store locally supports The D&G Queerier, LIFT D&G, and Dumfries Gamers.

Samuel Glendinning, franchise owner at Geek Retreat Dumfries, said: “We are excited to have opened our doors and be bringing something new and different to the Dumfries Town center and to the local community. A safe and inclusive place to play, relax, have fun and make friends, where they can share their love of all things geeky from anime and manga to trading card games such as Pokemon and Magic:The Gathering.”

Emma Harper, MSP for South Scotland, added: “The opening of the unique Geek Retreat store and café in Dumfries is great news. The store proposes to offer a safe, friendly environment where people can come and enjoy their shared gaming interests as well as traditional board games.

“It is also extremely welcome that Geek Retreat provides an inclusive, welcoming, and social environment for more vulnerable customers, like those with autistic spectrum or with mental health or anxiety issues. Geek Retreat has a national partnership with the National Autistic Society, and locally supports The D&G Queerier, LIFT D&G and Dumfries Gamers.

“I have no doubt that Geek Retreat will be an invaluable asset to Dumfries and I encourage all with gaming interests to pop in and see what it has to offer. I am looking forward to going along for myself in August.”

Geek Retreat is now on track to open 60 of its planned 100 new stores on high streets by the end of 2021, creating 360 jobs around the UK.  The franchise is on track to meet its previously announced target of a total of 100 new stores in 2022.

Its growth is echoed by the increasing popularity of boardgames, card trading and tabletop games which make up an industry worth £8 billion in the UK and is predicted to grow by 3.1 per cent annually over the next three years.

Peter Dobson, chief executive of Geek Retreat, said: “The success of the Dumfries store is another step in the growth of the Geek Retreat franchise. The Geek Retreat proposition and unique culture has proved particularly resilient during the pandemic and has shown us how important it is for people to have a safe please to visit and to share their interests with friends as part of a community.”

All stores commit to a COVID-19 secure environment, with strict social distancing and hygiene measures in place, to give customers extra piece of mind that they can visit in confidence.

FanSets and Asmodee bring magic to the collectable pins space with first KeyForge line-up

FanSets LLC has partnered with the tabletop gaming giant, Asmodee to bring a dose of magic to the enamel pins space, with the launch of a series of collectables based on the popular card game title, KeyForge. The range will be launched to fans and collectors across the US, Canada, and the UK.

The series will feature KeyForge characters from every house, including the newly premiered house Unfathomable, and will be available in Summer 2021. The new deal is the latest in Asmodee Entertainment’s continued expansion into licensed opportunities for its portfolio of popular board game and card game titles.  

For FanSets, meanwhile, this deal expands their collector-focused product line and is the team’s first tabletop brand partnership. 

“We are excited to announce this new partnership just in time for fans to explore the newly released KeyForge game set Dark Tidings,” said Alexander Thieme, licensing manager for publishing and consumer goods at Asmodee Entertainment. “FanSets’ fantastic enamel pins provide our fans a way to represent their allegiance to their favorite houses. We’re thrilled  to work alongside the talented team at FanSets to bring such a great, sought after collectible to our fans!” 

KeyForge is the world’s first Unique Deck Game. Fans play as the mighty Archons and, using  their team of vault warriors, race to forge keys to unlock the secret vaults of the Crucible, a  world in which anything is possible and nothing is predictable. Fans of KeyForge all have favorite cards and houses, either because of the colorful and dynamic artwork featured or  because of the card’s power on the table, and now they can represent their favorites with  equally dynamic enamel pins. 

“Our customers are collectors, hobbyists, and passionate fans,” said FanSets co-founder Lew Halboth. “We love tabletop games and are putting every ounce of that passion into developing these KeyForge pins. We know fans will love them because we love them. We are excited to add Asmodee Games as one of our key licenses going forward and we look forward to working with their passionate team.” 

The first of these releases is planned for Q3 2021 and pins will be available at hobby and specialty shops and online. 

Pop culture retailer The Geek Retreat on track to open 60 of its planned 100 stores this year

Geek Retreat, the geek culture retailer, gaming café and events venue rolled into one, is on track to open 60 of its planned 100 new stores on UK high streets by the end of 2021, creating 360 jobs around the country.

The franchise is on track to meet its previously announced target of a total of 100 new stores in 2022.

The Geek Retreat franchise, which opened its first store in Glasgow in 2013, now has 27 stores, with the newest in Truro, Cornwall, which opened last week. It has stores in town and city-centres such as Glasgow, Newcastle, Leeds, the Wirral, Northampton, Chelmsford and London, which stock geek culture merchandise like comics, posters, clothing, figures and memorabilia as well as games and trading cards.

Fans of everything from Marvel and sci-fi, to Warhammer and Pokémon – and even traditional board games, are welcome at the stores and play their hobbies in the café.

New stores are due to open in a number of locations around the UK, including Blackburn, Hereford, Exeter, Lincoln, Ipswich, Bedford and Exeter, in the next couple of months.

To support the growth of the business, the retailer has also announced a series of new hires, including four franchise development managers who will support the expanding geographical footprint of the brand. A further 25 employees will join the head office team in new roles such as New Store Openings Managers, Event & Gaming Specialist and Head of Digital & Ecommerce.

Following the recent brand relaunch, Geek Retreat has also developed and launched a new menu in consultation with its franchisees. The full menu roll-out in partnership with leading food service firm, Booker, sees the introduction of a high-quality menu with vegetarian, vegan and kid’s options, ensuring there’s something to suit everyone’s taste.

Peter Dobson, chief executive of Geek Retreat, said: “We are pressing ahead with our expansion plans and are on track to meet our target for new stores. Despite the impact the pandemic has had on the high street more generally, the Geek Retreat proposition and unique culture has proved particularly resilient and has shown us how important it is for people to have a safe please to visit and to share their interests with friends as part of a community.”

All stores commit to a COVID-19 secure environment, with strict social distancing and hygiene measures in place, to give customers extra piece of mind that they can visit in confidence.