Hasbro relaunches sports collectibles brand Starting Lineup

Hasbro has announced a partnership with the National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) for the highly anticipated re-launch of Starting Lineup, an iconic sports collectibles brand.

Launching this autumn in partnership with Fanatics, the global digital sports platform, the Starting Lineup brand will feature legendary NBA superstars as part of its first wave of figures and will be available for pre-order starting September 22 exclusively on Hasbro Pulse and across the Fanatics network of online sites, including Fanatics.com, and official league stores. The Starting Lineup collectible will also include an exclusive, officially licensed Panini NBA trading card.

“The NBA and NBPA are tremendous partners for the return of the Starting Lineup brand, and we cannot wait for fans to experience some of the biggest names in the league as action figures,” says Eric Nyman, President and COO of Hasbro. “The return of one of the most beloved sports collectibles brands of all time would not be complete without the inclusion of fan-favourite NBA superstars.”

The revamped Starting Lineup brand will continue its legacy of bringing fans and collectors their favourite athletes in action figure form but with design like never before in a highly articulated 6” scale.

“We look forward to the relaunch of Starting Lineup in the coming months as we meet the excitement of our fans and additionally introduce a new generation to these collectibles,” says Brian Keegan, Head of Trading Cards, Memorabilia and Hardgoods at the NBA. “Through our partnership with Hasbro, these figures provide our fans a unique opportunity to build upon their connection to our game and their favourite players.”

“We are thrilled to be partners with Hasbro and Panini in relaunching this iconic brand,” adds Inky Son, VP of Licensing for THINK450, the innovation engine of the NBPA. “Working together, we hope to continue to reimagine the possibilities for sports collectibles and action figures while also amplifying our collective players’ profiles on these platforms.”

The original Starting Lineup brand developed a massive following for more than a decade by bringing sports enthusiasts figures of their favourite superstar players accompanied by a trading card, and the introduction of notable NBA players will be the first of an all-new era of major athletes joining its classic heritage. Hasbro is also working with OneTeam Partners, a Washington, D.C.-based firm, on the athlete and creative marketing campaign.

For more information on the upcoming launch of the Starting Lineup brand, visit Hasbro Pulse | Where Fans Come First.

Mattel President and COO Richard Dickson to present BLE day one keynote: ‘Barbie x Fashion’

Iconic global brand Barbie will be the star of Brand Licensing Europe’s day one keynote, ‘Barbie x Fashion’, delivered by Mattel President and COO Richard Dickson.

“Barbie is one of the world’s greatest fashion and licensing icons, collaborating with everyone from Balmain, Karl Largerfeld, Moschino and Diane von Furstenberg, to M.A.C. and River Island,” says Informa Markets SVP of Licensing Anna Knight. “And, like all fashion icons, she has evolved, disrupted, inspired and led from the front – she is the perfect star to take centre stage during BLE’s fashion themed year and it’s no surprise she was labelled ‘The forever icon’ by Italian Vogue. Thank you, Mattel and Richard Dickson – we can’t wait for your keynote at BLE in September.”

During his Barbie x Fashion keynote, taking place at 1pm on Tuesday 20 September, Richard Dickson, Mattel President and Chief Operating Officer, will take BLE visitors on a rollercoaster ride, looking at Barbie’s amazing legacy to date and heralding the remarkable runway that lies ahead.

Brand Licensing Europe is Europe’s leading trade event and takes place from 20-22 September 2022 at ExCeL London. Registration is free and open now.

Richard Dickson first joined Mattel in 2000 and, in his role, he leads Mattel’s portfolio of global brands, overseeing innovation strategy, design and development, and brand marketing. He also oversees franchise management, which includes licensing and merchandising, episodic content, live events, and digital gaming.

During his time at Mattel, Richard Dickson has grown some of the world’s most powerful and purpose-driven brands, including Barbie – the most diverse line of fashion dolls – and Hot Wheels. In 2021, Barbie was the #1 toy property globally, Hot Wheels was the #1 vehicle property globally, and Fisher-Price was the #1 Infant, Toddler, and Preschool property globally, per The NPD Group.

Cuphead collection debuts at Zara

King Features Syndicate, along with its local agent in Spain, Caravanserai, has announced that gaming phenomenon Cuphead is building on its successful international presence with a new clothing collection at ZARA, the Inditex Group’s popular apparel retailer.

Cuphead, Mugman and other fan favourite characters are jumping off the screen and onto the runway with new apparel for adults and kids. Available now at ZARA stores worldwide, the collection features t-shirts, sweatshirts and shorts with designs inspired by the highly celebrated game’s classic animation style.

Cuphead continues to resonate with dedicated fans around the world and inspire pop-culture collaborations across all categories,” says Carla Silva, VP/GM, global head of licensing, King Features. “Working with ZARA is a true reflection of Cuphead’s popularity, and we are thrilled to partner with such a prominent brand to bring fresh and exciting fashion styles to fans worldwide.”

Cuphead is continuing to level up around the world with new publishing programmes in development for art books and graphic novels. Dark Horse and Norma Editorial are expanding the existing lineup of Cuphead books based on the original video game with “The Art of Cuphead” art book launching in Spain. The book will also hit shelves globally in markets across Europe and Asia such as France, Italy, Japan and more. Additionally, Cuphead graphic novels will launch in Spain, France, Italy, Israel, Japan and additional markets across Europe and Asia.

Studio MDHR’s Cuphead is celebrated by fans around the world for its arcade-action gameplay, highly original art design and award-winning soundtrack, featuring almost three hours of original jazz, early big band and ragtime music. A true cultural phenomenon, the game has sold millions of units worldwide and won over 20 major awards. In addition to a wide range of new product releases, this year, on 30June the Studio will launch Cuphead – The Delicious Last Course which will add an entire new island to the game, as well as introducing a new playable character, Ms. Chalice.

The game was also recently transformed into an animated series on Netflix. The first episodes of The Cuphead Show!, which debuted on February 18, made the Top 10 Kids list in 90+ countries. Due to its successful premiere, The Cuphead Show! is returning with a fresh set of episodes dropping this summer on August 19.

Tuesday is go! The Light Fund English Channel Relay to take place tomorrow

At 21:30 this Tuesday the two teams taking part in this year’s Light Fund English Channel Relay fundraiser will meet their boat pilots at Dover marina and at 23:00 the first swimmers will step into the water and start swimming for France. It will be very dark, very cold and very lonely. Some 15 to 24-plus hours later – tides, currents and any other eventuality permitting – the final swimmer in each team will hopefully reach the French coast somewhere between Calais and Boulogne.

Yes, The Light Fund English Channel Relay Swim Race is ‘Go’ this Tuesday evening – two days earlier than anticipated – and it’s all down to a small weather window in an otherwise unsettled period.

After more than 18 months of relentless training, commitment and preparation, the swimmers are as ready as they can be. Final team selections have now also been made. Team Optimist comprises Ian Down (captain), Eion Wallace, Katie Price, Jason Goonery, Mark Bezodis, Kevin Langstaff and reserve Tasmyn Knight. Team High Hopes comprises Stephen Gould (captain), Mark Kingston, Rhys Fleming, Anna Hewitt, Anne Bradford, Simon Gresswell and reserve Terry Lamb.

The Light Fund has set up a WhatsApp group with an additional link to the boat tracker set up by the Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation (CS&PF), the governing body for English Channel swimming. This means you will not only be able to see and hear real-time action and film footage from the swim but also be able to encourage the swimmers with supportive messages.

Simply click on this link from your phone to automatically join free of charge. Your friends and colleagues involved in the swim be thrilled to know that you’re cheering them on. The GPS boat tracker can be found here: http://cspf.co.uk/tracking

And don’t forget – before, during and even after the swim there are still many opportunities to help The Light Fund reach its target of £250,000 for this fundraiser as well, of course, as chances for corporate sponsors to be namechecked in the challenge event film presentation at the 2022 Licensing Awards on 13 September at the Grosvenor on Park Lane.

You can find out more about corporate sponsorship options here. And individuals are very welcome to donate via the event’s Just Giving page, where you can also review the teams’ preparation for the big day. There are also an Instagram feed and a Facebook page containing team photos and updates.

Event challenge organiser Stephen Gould says: “Despite the demands of work and family, interruptions from stomach bugs and covid, everyday stuff like repetitive strain injury and even domestic accidents which means one swimmer with a burn-blistered hand, we have trained diligently for months and we’re as ready as we’re going to be. It won’t be easy reconciling the cold, dark, pollution, Channel traffic and seasickness with a cramped open-deck boat in this notorious stretch of water, but we’ll be buoyed up by the amazing support we have received and will no doubt continue to receive from our friends, colleagues and acquaintances. Thanks again and please remember that the best way to cheer us on in this arduous ordeal is to donate – no matter how seemingly small or insignificant the sum. As we battle through guaranteed stress and discomfort, there is no better motivation than an escalating fundraising figure on JustGiving!”

About the Light Fund

The Light (Licensing Industry Giving Help Together) Fund was born when a group of like-minded people from the UK licensing industry came up with the idea to form a committee to help those less fortunate than themselves. The Light Fund is a registered charity, which raises monies to fund worthwhile charity projects that help children, women and men. Since its inception, back in 2004, The Light Fund has raised over £1.7 million and funded hundreds of different charity projects.


Spin Master Entertainment announces new animated series, Vida the Vet

Spin Master Entertainment has announced the upcoming launch of an all-new animated series, Vida the Vet. The show is the thirteenth series to date from the creators of the preschool powerhouse franchise PAW Patrol and last year’s worldwide box office success PAW Patrol: The Movie.

Season one of the series, comprising 52 x 11-minute episodes, will debut on BBC’s CBeebies and streaming platform BBC iPlayer in the UK and Corus Entertainment’s Treehouse and streaming platform STACKTV in Canada in autumn 2023, expanding to a raft of international broadcasting partners to be announced at a later date.

Vida the Vet follows 10-year-old Vida, an animal doctor who nurtures the charming and silly woodland creatures who live outside her home. Is there a fox with a sprained paw? A turtle with an itchy toe? A tiger with an aching tooth? Then Vida is the vet for the job. With quick thinking, a doctor’s intuition and the help of her closest friends, Vida helps adorable animals and makes sure they get the care they need.

“Spin Master Entertainment has deep experience creating award-winning content and engaging stories for preschoolers that are infused with a sense of play,” says Jennifer Dodge, Spin Master’s President of Entertainment. “Featuring a gorgeous, colourful world with a distinct look and feel, Vida the Vet will enchant preschoolers and their families with curious, courageous and caring stories about a little girl and her animal neighbours who show us how to take care of ourselves and others.”

Executive produced by Jennifer Dodge, along with Spin Master’s Co-Founder, Ronnen Harary, Laura Clunie, Toni Stevens and the Emmy Award winning Jennifer Oxley (Peg + Cat, Wonder Pets) who also acts as showrunner, the series is created by Emmy Award Winner Dustin Ferrer (Esme & Roy, Peg+Cat) and will be animated by Toronto-based Jam Filled Entertainment.

Spin Master Entertainment is orchestrating a strategic global franchise roll-out and will lead consumer products cross-category licensing worldwide, starting with toys in 2024. Corus Entertainment’s Nelvana has been secured as the exclusive licensing and merchandising representative for the brand in Canada and France.

“The classic and familiar world of Vida the Vet, with its beautiful 2D artwork and core theme of nurturing love for all animals, is the perfect property to extend across all facets of children’s lives,” says André Lake Mayer, Spin Master’s SVP, Global Strategic Partnerships & Consumer Products. “We are excited to activate our growing consumer products enterprise with a fresh new property that will resonate within all key categories and regions and through strategic partnerships and promotions worldwide.”


Macmillan Children’s Books named global master publishing partner for Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget

Multi-award-winning independent animation studio Aardman has announced a second publishing deal with Macmillan Children’s Books, naming the company the global master publishing partner for Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget.

The new feature length film, directed by Sam Fell and featuring the voices of Thandiwe Newton, Zachary Levi, Jane Horrocks, Romesh Ranganathan, Daniel Mays and more, is currently in production at the Aardman studios in Bristol and is due to launch on Netflix in 2023.

Macmillan Children’s Books has acquired world rights in all languages for three years. The publishing will launch on release of the film with a picture book of the film, a novelisation, a sticker activity book and a handbook.

The new agreement follows a previous publishing programme between the companies for Aardman’s animated musical special Robin Robin, which saw a range of picture books and novelty books published.

Robert Goodchild, Commercial Director at Aardman, says: “We’ve built a great partnership with Macmillan Children’s Books through its brilliant publishing programme for Robin Robin. We’re really pleased to be building on this relationship further by releasing these exciting product lines together for Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget. The books will be the perfect film accompaniment for young fans, and we can’t wait to get started on bringing them to life.”

Belinda Ioni Rasmussen, MD at Macmillan Children’s Books, adds: “Following the success of the Robin Robin range of publishing, we are delighted to be continuing our publishing partnership with creative powerhouse Aardman to bring Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget books to life. The original Chicken Run film was the highest grossing stop-motion animation ever and is one of the jewels in the crown of Aardman’s many achievements; we could not be more excited to be collaborating with them on this range of tie-in books for this much anticipated sequel.”


New senior role for Steve Manners at Licensing International UK

Licensing International has announced that U.K. managing director Graham Saltmarsh will be leaving the organisation. LI’s current global marketing head Steve Manners will add U.K. managing director to his remit as Licensing International intensifies its focus on the U.K. 

“We are incredibly grateful to outgoing U.K. managing director Graham Saltmarsh for bringing back LEC live and in person, launching the retail programme and for all of his hard work throughout the pandemic, righting the ship and steering our U.K. members through Covid,” says Maura Regan, president, Licensing International.

Based in London, Manners will be responsible for supporting Licensing International’s UK members and expanding the U.K. membership through educational programmes, expanded retail initiatives, and the Young Professionals Network (YPN). He will continue to collaborate with Informa on joint initiatives including BLE and Licensing Expo, as well as overseeing Licensing International’s marketing. This role expansion will become effective on July 18.

“It has been a joy working with the Licensing International team and I am thrilled to continue those efforts with a focus on strengthening our strategy in the U.K., which is a key market for the global licensing community,” says Manners.

Manners first joined Licensing International in January, overseeing global marketing efforts for the trade organisation. He brings extensive industry experience to the role, having held senior management positions at leading companies including 20th Century Fox, Universal, Beanstalk and WildBrain CPLG. His expertise includes a deep understanding of all aspects of licensing, both from a licensor and agent perspective.

AC Milan celebrates 60 years of The Rolling Stones with capsule collection

With British rock icons The Rolling Stones set to hold a concert at San Siro tonight, Tuesday 21 June, AC Milan has launched the AC Milan x The Rolling Stones capsule collection

The capsule collection is now available in all AC Milan stores and on The Rolling Stones official online shop. The collection consists of five pieces, including two t-shirts, a hoodie, a canvas bag and a gym sack. Each piece bears the iconic “tongue” of The Rolling Stones, which, for this occasion, has been redesigned in red and black, merging the British band’s historic logo with the famous Rossoneri colours to create a one-time special logo. The shirts also feature the text “Sympathy for the Devil”, one of the band’s most famous songs, which references the Devil, a symbol of AC Milan.

This special collaboration – brought together by Bravado, Universal Music Group’s leading brand management division – fuses together the worlds of football and music, which are united by the sheer passion of their fans and the emotional attachment that both can generate, most notably through matches and concerts.

The AC Milan x The Rolling Stones collection is a further step in a process of real growth for the Club off the pitch, with AC Milan particularly active with projects and important collaborations in the world of fashion and entertainment.




Last chance to register for Brands & Retail UK Summer conference

Retailers and licensees who have not yet signed up to the Brands and Retail UK Summer conference (sponsored by Fabacus), taking place at the British Library on Wednesday 6 and Thursday 7 July 22, are invited to do so now before the registration window closes at the end of this week.

Registration to watch the screenings closes this Friday (24 June), with 37 tickets still available for the ‘Meet the Buyers’ networking party which will end the conference.

The final line-up of global brands is now confirmed – with recent additions including:

Crayola (Retail Monster) – Day Two

Quorn & Vimto (Pink Key – FMCG) – Day One

The London Taxi Company (GTL – London Electric Vehicle co) – Day One

EttaVee and Bouffants & Broken Hearts (Start Licensing – Art) – Day One

Silvergate Media – Day Two

Dino Ranch (Boat Rocker) – Day Two

These 15-minute back-to-back screenings are for all retailers of licensed products and UK manufacturers interested in licensing, and existing licensees and partners of the brands.

Retailers attending include Tesco, ASDA, Boots, Vanilla Underground, The Entertainer, Toys “R” Us, Primark, Character.com and eBay.

The conference is free to attend, and a free lunch is provided.

Brands & Retail UK is also pleased to announce dates for the Winter conference are now confirmed. The event will be returning to the British Library in London on 18 and 19 January 2023.

“I am currently speaking with the founding brand partners who took part this year and offering them first choice of slots for the January ’23 event,” says event director Ryan Beaird.

“The concept for the Winter conference allows licensors to get their annual brand and company updates/plans out to the industry in 15 minutes before the global trade show season starts – saving them time at trade shows and helping them move deals forward.”

Brands wishing to present to UK retailers and licensees in January 2023 can contact Ryan by e-mailing Ryan.Beaird@BrandsRetail.uk

Licensees and retailers can book their FREE tickets for the conference and purchase their ‘Meet the Buyers’ party tickets (priced at £65 each) at the conference website: www.BrandsRetail.uk

Licensed toys account for 30% of UK sales

With several blockbuster movies set to launch this summer, The NPD Group has looked at the links between the big screen and toy sales and concluded that 2022 could be the year of the ‘blockbuster’ toy.

Licensed toys account for 30% of all sales this year, their highest level since 2008. By remaining relatively flat at -1%, licensed toy sales have out-performed non-licensed toy sales which are currently down -11% in value (Year-to-date May 2022 vs the same period last year). The largest licences this year are Star Wars, Harry Potter and Minecraft, with content including movies, streaming shows and video games.

The big screen is back

Three of the most anticipated films of the year are released during June and July: Jurassic World Dominion (released 10 June), Lightyear (released 17 June) and Minions: The Rise of Gru (released 1 July).

Melissa Symonds, NPD’s Executive Director of UK Toys, says: “We’ve already seen strong growth from movie releases this year such as The Batman driving toy sales up 84%, and Marvel Universe up 12%. Even ahead of their film launches, the Jurassic World toy license is up 63% and Minions up 79% so far this year. While prices and the cost of living pose a real-world challenge, cinema can provide an escape from everyday life. By buying toys related to the film they’ve just seen, kids can live in that world a little longer.”

Additionally, most of the big studios have implemented a multi-channel strategy that allows them to offer new content to fans continuously, instead of being restricted by one big movie release every three years.

“Many of these summer blockbusters have additional content available. There are series available on video-on-demand platforms such as Camp Cretaceous for the Jurassic saga, or Star Wars’ Obi-Wan Kenobi, not to mention the various Marvel streaming shows such as Ms. Marvel and Moon Knight developed around the lesser-known characters which enrich and extend the appeal of the franchises,” comments Symonds.

The top five movie properties YTD May 2022*
1.       Star Wars
2.       Marvel Universe
3.       Barbie
4.       Pokémon
5.       Paw Patrol
Source: The NPD Group

A record year for licenses for UK Toys

Symonds concludes: “2022 looks set to be a record year for licensed toys. With the big screen making a comeback, all eyes are on the summer blockbuster movies, but we also expect to see non-cinema licensed content performing as a powerful catalyst for the toy market thanks to TV, YouTube, subscription video-on-demand and video games. This should bring us one or two points of growth over the whole year.”