Funko turns Christmas Pop! in exclusive Hallmark and Walmart gifting and wrapping partnership

Funko is expanding across the seasonal aisle this year thanks to an exclusive partnership with the US retailer Walmart that will see the pop culture specialist release Pop! inspired Hallmark ornaments and wrapping paper in time for the Christmas and holiday season.

Hallmark has been a staple of the holiday product roll-out across the US since 1910. This year, it will join the pop culture explosion by partnering with Funko to deliver a 2021 ornament collection featuring Pop! versions of celebrated characters from TV, comic books, films, and more.

“The Funko team is always working on new and exciting product ideas to delight our fans. We’re excited for holiday shoppers to experience this upcoming season in Funko style with new décor that fits perfectly around your Christmas tree or on your mantel,” said Andrew Perlmutter, president at Funko.

“We’re excited to share this collection with our dedicated fanbase and reach new pop culture enthusiasts through an expanded holiday program for the most wonderful time of the year.”

Nicole Reid, vice president of ornaments and gifts at Hallmark, said: “For decades, Hallmark has designed and sold licensed ornaments and gifts for people like us who love a pop of culture in our homes and on our Christmas trees, whether that’s a favorite character from a comic book or even a nostalgic video game from our childhoods.

“Hallmark and Funko are excited to join forces and bring the Pop! versions of these popular licensed characters to add to fans’ trees this holiday season.”

Funko will also be debuting a range of Christmas and holiday season wrapping paper, all featuring pop culture icons in the Pop! styling. Available at Walmart this autumn, Funko’s debut line of wrapping paper will feature iconic TV shows, comic book characters, video games and more.

Funko’s holiday collection will also include advent calendars, games, mugs and more.

Fanattik nets SpongeBob SquarePants in first partnership with animated property

The pop culture specialist, Fanattik has signed a pan-European gift licensing partnership with ViacomCBS Consumer Products that will bring Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants into new home decor, barware, gifts and collectables.

The new collection of collectables and products will be available from September this year across gift and toy stores throughou Europe.

Fanattik managing director, Anthony Marks, said: “An internationally beloved and timeless brand, SpongeBob SquarePants is one of the most watched programmes in the world with 100 million global viewers monthly and a feature film on the way in 2021. This was a brand the whole team wanted to have in the Fanattik portfolio.”

Fanattik has received multiple awards and enjoyed ‘phenomenal growth’ over the past three years with multiple pan-European licensing agreements now signed up to the portfolio. Its partnership with Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob marks the first time the company has partnered with an animated show.

“With half of all viewers being adults, we are going to make sure the products we create appeal to the original fans as well as new ones. Each item will have that Fanattik twist which makes our pieces stand out from anything else in the market,” said Melissa Tudor, head of product development.

Mark Kingston, senior vice president, international, ViacomCBS Consumer Products, added: “SpongeBob continues to permeate pop culture with boundless positivity and fun. We’re excited to expand this iconic franchise in the gift license space through a partnership with Fanattik, a company which shares many of the same fun brand tenants as our favourite absorbent sponge. True to SpongeBob form this product is sure to deliver happiness.”

Since its launch July 17, 1999, SpongeBob SquarePants has reigned as the number one kids’ animated series on TV, while generating a universe of beloved characters, pop culture catchphrases and memes, theatrical releases, consumer products, a Tony Award-winning Broadway musical and a global fan base.

SpongeBob SquarePants is the most widely distributed property in ViacomCBS Networks International history, seen in more than 170 countries and territories, translated in more than 30 languages, and averaging more than 100 million total viewers every month.

Meanwhile, Fanattik works with retailers and partners of all levels across Europe. Retailers not already working with the team can find out how to do so by contacting Luiz Ferreira, head of sales on

Bulldog Licensing signs up with Marcus & Marcus as baby brand makes European licensing push

The mother and baby brand, Marcus & Marcus has shifted its licensing focus on to the European market, with the appointment of Bulldog Licensing to head up its plans across the children’s space and into toys, gifts, nursery products and more.

Initially created as a range of infant feeding products, Marcus & Marcus recently revealed its plans to expand the brand name into the wider consumer products arena, taking on categories such as apparel and publishing by utilising its character IP that includes Marcus the lion cub, Lola the giraffe, Ollie the elephant, and Lucas the hippo.

Under its remit as European licensing agency for the multi award winning brand, Bulldog Licensing will be looking to partner with a raft of licensees across toys and gifts, nursery products, homewares, and more.

‘The founders of Marcus & Marcus are parents themselves with a love of unique, modern designs. Marcus & Marcus’ delivers simple, effective designs with quality, safe and sustainable products to keep children entertained and engaged,’ read a statement from the firm.

Rob Corney, MD, Bulldog Licensing, added: “We’re really excited to be working with Marcus & Marcus. Their fun, bold designs offer a great opportunity for licensees to develop quality, smart and functional products in a wide range of categories to build on the existing, award-winning range using the instantly recognizable artwork.”

DKB takes on UK distribution of premium homewares specialist, Uncanny Brands

Uncanny Brands, the premium homewares brand with established presence in the US and Canada, has appointed DKB as its exclusive UK distributor across all of its key lines, spanning kitchen accessories based on hit IP such as Star Wars, Marvel, Pokemon, and others.

The partnership marks the latest signing for DKB Toys and Distribution who has already been working with the likes of Hasbro, Alex Global Brands, and Crazy Forts, while the business recently acquired MightyMast.

Best known for pop culture small appliances, Uncanny Brands is dedicated to creating licensed products that include kitchen accessories ranging from popcorn makers to toasters and hand blenders, all designed around iconic characters from some of the biggest entertainment franchises.

With initial product lines selling out instantly, DKB is committed to bringing in new shipments to supply its core and new retailer base. With limited distribution for 2021, the company is planning 2022 volumes now ahead of time so as to be able to respond quickly to growing consumer demand for these fantastic homeware’s products. 

“I am very proud to be working with a company like Uncanny Brands. Together we will offer fans of some of the worlds’ biggest licenses the opportunity to own a gadget or appliance featuring their favourite characters,” said Chris Lohmeyer, MD of DKB Distribution & Toys.

“The enduring appeal of these licensed ranges has had a huge impact on demand across UK retail and we are preparing well in advance for 2022 in order to facilitate as many orders as possible. We are starting small in 2021 but I cannot wait to see the success of Uncanny Brands in the UK in 2022 and beyond.”

Menkind is expanding licensed ranges and adult party and card games to meet lockdown trends

The gadget and gift retailer, Menkind has highlighted its plans to expand on its licensed products and exclusive ranges as it heads into the Christmas shopping season, a move that has been driven by the increased consumer engagement with pop culture TV, films, video games and entertainment throughout the pandemic.

Licensed products, according to the retailer, who recently detailed its plans to open concession stores with the UK department store giant Debenhams in the run up to Christmas, have become a “comfort blanket for consumers in difficult times,” and as a result will be increasing its listings as it adapts to current demands.

Last month, Menkind revealed that it was opening 23 concession stores within select Debenhams department stores across the UK, planning to open each from the start of October. The new concessions will be staffed by over 50 new recruits across all locations, and will stock all the core Menkind product range.

Among those ranges will be key trends to have emerged from 2020, including the greater lean on licensed products, as well as a trend for adult party games driven by the increased time consumers are spending socialising from home over virtual gatherings and group chats.

“Being stuck at home, people have turned to movie and TV show online streaming services, as well as games and video gaming as their main entertainment,” Fred Prego, director of marketing and e-commerce at Menkind, told ToyNews.

“Licensed products have become a comfort blanket in these difficult times. We have always stocked a quirky and unique range, so it’s definitely in our plans to expand our offering with new products and exclusive lines that are in high demand. I think it’s crucial to really listen to what consumers want during these times and adapt to trends very quickly.

“Meanwhile, with limited socialising in pubs and restaurants across the country, the biggest trend in my opinion is friends getting together virtually to have fun and relax with a drink. For that reason, we have extended our range of adult and party games that can easily be played in group chats.”

With the nation staring down localised lockdowns in the run-up to Christmas and restrictions in place in varying degrees across the country, Menkind has acted to adapt to the new model of Christmas shopping likely to be adopted this year. Its partnership with Debenhams places the brand within destination shopping zones ahead of the festive season.

Confirmed Debenhams store locations where Menkind will open include Bath, Birmingham, Cardiff, Colchester, Guildford, Manchester, Luton, London Oxford Street, Middlesbrough, Warrington and more.

“With Christmas markets and fairs likely not happening this year, we created an omni-channel proposition called ‘Menkind Wonderland’, to offer our customers a variety of toy, gift and gadget stalls online and in-store,” continued Prego.

“Debenhams felt like the perfect partnership to give shoppers a safe and fun pre-Christmas experience, and their widely accessible network of stores will help us best serve customers throughout the country during the busy holiday shopping period and beyond.

“Our Christmas range includes a wealth of unique gifts, gadgets and licensed merchandise, so we are determined not to have Christmas cancelled this year.”

When lockdown was first announced in March this year, Menkind swiftly began to introduce new products ranges such as puzzles and card games, in order to tap into the rising trend for family entertainment over the earlier part of the year.

“We also gave our online channels extra attention to ensure our customers are having a seamless shopping experience,” said Prego. “More recently, we’ve launched a range of exclusives and have implemented all the necessary safety measures during and post-lockdown. We are constantly listening to government advice in order to react as quickly as possible to any changes that affect retailers.

“Another initiative we’ve been working on has been releasing dedicated product ranges for key events earlier, to give people the opportunity to plan their shopping better, especially if it involves trips to the store. We started selling advent calendars as early as August, and it’s been very well received by our customers.

“Whilst we are continuously implementing all the safety measures recommended by authorities, we have made it our mission to communicate the same sense of fun and positiveness our customers are used to, and offer them the best experience possible in-store and across our online channels,” Prego concluded.