Fanattik celebrates its 15th anniversary in blockbuster style

Fanattik, the award-winning gift and collectibles licensee, celebrated its 15th anniversary in style this week with a special screening of Jurassic World Dominion, a film for which the company is also a licensee.

Fanattik took over Art Deco cinema The Rex for the private screening. Attendees included fellow licensees, brands, retail buyers and influencers, who also enjoyed viewing various props from the franchise during the event. 

Explaining why the Jurassic World film was chosen for the event, Fanattik’s MD Anthony Marks says: “It was signing our licensing agreement with Universal Studios all those years ago for the Jurassic Park franchise that set Fanattik on the road to success, and I wanted to pay homage to the franchise at this, the first of our 15th anniversary events.”  

Fanattik supplies pop culture retailers throughout Europe, North America, Australasia and MENA territories via its own offices and network of distributors.

Not wanting to leave non-UK retailers out of the celebrations, the company sent Fanattik cakes to buying teams all over the world, including one of their furthest afield retailer partners, based almost 12,000 miles away from their UK head office in New Zealand.

The company is a licensee for some of the biggest film and video game studios in the entertainment world, including Konami, Hasbro, Universal Studios, Bethesda, Capcom, Paramount Studios, Microsoft, and many others. The company also creates exclusive product for retailers with DTR licenses as well as being a distributor for gift ranges featuring Star Wars and Marvel.

Before the film started, Anthony took to the stage to thank the entire Fanattik team, the colleagues who have helped the company grow from “a one-man enterprise working out of a spare bedroom to what is now a global player in the pop culture field”.

“We genuinely love what we do. The fans can see the effort we pour into each and every product we create and that is reflected in the sales we help generate for retailers,” says Melissa Tudor, Creative Director, Fanattik. “It also explains why so many of those retail buyers have turned up to help us celebrate our anniversary.”

Fanattik strengthens senior team with new appointment

Pop culture brand Fanattik, a licensing partner for Hasbro, Universal Studios, Capcom, Bethesda, Studio Canal, Konami and many more leading video game and film studios, has appointed Melissa Tudor as Creative Director. She will take control of the company’s creative strategy which is integral to the company’s continuing success.

Anthony Marks, M.D of Fanattik, says: “I am delighted to announce Melissa’s new role. She has been with Fanattik for more than three years, helping to shape our creative team, which in turn has made Fanattik into a fan favourite brand within the world of pop culture.”

The promotion comes at the end of a year that has seen phenomenal growth for the award-winning gift and collectible manufacturer, which supplies gift retailers throughout the UK, Europe and beyond with everything from SpongeBob Squarepants bottle openers to Jurassic Park playing cards, and sees them in good stead for 2022, the company’s self-proclaimed ‘Year Of Export’.

Fanattik strengthens senior team with new appointment

Pop culture brand Fanattik, a licensing partner for Hasbro, Universal Studios, Capcom, Bethesda, Studio Canal, Konami and many more leading video game and film studios, has appointed Melissa Tudor as Creative Director. She will take control of the company’s creative strategy which is integral to the company’s continuing success.

Anthony Marks, M.D of Fanattik, says: “I am delighted to announce Melissa’s new role. She has been with Fanattik for more than three years, helping to shape our creative team, which in turn has made Fanattik into a fan favourite brand within the world of pop culture.”

The promotion comes at the end of a year that has seen phenomenal growth for the award-winning gift and collectible manufacturer, which supplies gift retailers throughout the UK, Europe and beyond with everything from SpongeBob Squarepants bottle openers to Jurassic Park playing cards, and sees them in good stead for 2022, the company’s self-proclaimed ‘Year Of Export’.

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:

Hasbro partners with Rubber Road to launch merchandise range based on its hit global franchises

Hasbro has tapped the pop culture merchandise specialist, Rubber Road and its design arm, Numskull Designs, to develop, manufacture, and distribute a wide range of official merchandise based on some of the toy maker’s biggest franchises.

Rubber Road has made a name for itself as a producer of quality merchandise for movie, toy, gaming, and TV brands. Its portfolio consists of official products for fans and collectors of some of the world’s biggest names in pop culture, including Minions, Harry Potter, DC Comics, Sonic the Hedgehog and more.

In its new partnership with Hasbro, Rubber Road’s Numskull Designs team will introduce a range of products based on some of the global toy maker’s most notable global franchises, including Transformers, Power Rangers, Dungeons & Dragons, NERF, and My Little Pony.

Liam Taylor, commercial director and ‘Dungeons & Dragons fan’ at Rubber Road, said: “We are thrilled to be teaming up with Hasbro to work with some of the world’s best names in toys. With a Transformers movie coming up in 2022 and a resurgence in Dungeons & Dragons, we are excited to be producing some fantastic merchandise that will appeal to fans old and new, big kids and little kids.”

According to a press release issued by the team, ‘fans are going to love celebrating their favourite toys with this eclectic range that is super cool, fun, useful and collectible spanning many of Rubber Road’s categories: *TUBBZ Cosplaying Collectible Figures, wireless charging mats, Nintendo Switch cases, lamps, statues, pin badges, sunglasses and sweaters.’

Rubber Road already works with leading global brands in entertainment including Universal, Warner Bros, Netflix, Xbox, Sony Playstation, SEGA, so Hasbro is in outstanding company and a most welcome addition to this impressive portfolio of partners.

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.

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.

[divider style=”solid” top=”20″ bottom=”20″]

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).

Rubies II and NECA launch pop culture arm Denuo Novo to specialise in collectables and cosplay

Rubies II LLC and NECA (National Entertainment Collectibles Assocation) have formed a new wholly-owned subsidiary to specialise in the creation of high-end collectables based on various pop culture franchises.

Called Denuo Novo LLC, the new business will combine the innovation and creative capabilities of NECA with Rubies’ supply chain and omni channel retailing capabilities to deliver a pop culture product line-up spanning replica costumes and props such as helmets and high end cosplay costumes.

Rubies has been making Halloween costumes for over 60 years while NECA has been a force in the licensed product and collectibles space for over 25 years. The creation of Denuo Novo allows the talented designers and product developers from both powerhouse companies to create a new destination for cosplay and replica costumes and high-end collectibles.

The newly formed Denuo Novo has made no secret of its mission to ‘be the single stop for premium quality costume replicas and high-end collectibles for generations to come.’ The business will kick start its journey with a range of product to support the Star Wars franchise, with more IP on the horizon.

The firm also plans to fulfill many of the existing orders of Star Wars replica and high-end collectable products originally prodcued by ANOVOS Productions.

“NECA has been a powerhouse in licensed collectibles for years and we’re incredibly excited to grow our presence in the  high-end collectibles space with replica costumes and helmets,” said Joel Weinshanker, managing partner of Rubies.

“Furthermore, we are thrilled to offer the quality and attention to detail that these discerning customers have  come to expect.”

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.