Surge Licensing signs TOMY as global master toy partner for A Little SPOT

Surge Licensing has signed TOMY as the global master toy partner for Diane Alber’s A Little SPOT  book series, a market leader in social-emotional learning content that parents, teachers, and children look to for compelling characters and experiences.

Initially, TOMY will develop a broad range of branded SEL-focused products, including plush toys, with and without added features and technology, and plastic figures. TOMY will also distribute the Amazon bestselling book plus plush box sets, to bricks-and-mortar chains globally. The new products will be available online and direct-to-consumer in the first half of 2023 followed by bricks-and-mortar stores later that year.

Diane Alber designs her books and products as solutions to problems expressed by parents and teachers alike. Her A Little SPOT book series – featuring the brightly coloured, stick-legged sphere Little SPOT – was originally developed to help children visualise their emotions as characters, so that it would be easier to manage them, and evolved to address topics such as kindness, empathy, honesty, diversity, inclusion, and reading.

On Amazon, the Little Box of Emotion Box Set, geared for children 4-11, ranks #1 in Academic Development Counseling, and #1 in Children’s Moving; A Little Box Takes Action Book Set  ranks #1 in Children’s Criticism and Collections; and A Little SPOT of Emotion Plush Toys with Feelings Book Box Set ranks #2 in Academic Development Counseling and cracked the top 100 books sold on Amazon with a toy. Two teaching guides and a parent guide are also available for the A Little SPOT series. Alber’s books all come with sticker sheets, and additional sticker books, colouring books and sketch books have been created for many of the titles.

“Diane has created a massive body of work appealing to parents, their children, and teachers alike, carefully crafted to make not only teaching SEL fun, but learning it, too,” says Elan Freedman, Surge Licensing EVP. “TOMY is the ideal partner and platform for Diane to design new experiences for children to explore and understand their emotions, become better humans and learn to communicate effectively.”

“The stressors associated with the pandemic and global events have only increased the need for social-emotional learning tools to teach children how to handle their feeling in a healthy way,” says Diane Alber. “I’m delighted that TOMY is our global partner to create new toys for Little SPOT that will help to support kids and families to prepare for the challenges of the world.”

“Infant and Preschool is well anchored in TOMY’s historical DNA, and we have deep expertise in successfully launching preschool brands,” says Morgan Weyl, Managing Director of Licensing and Global Development. “We will bring Diane’s highly inspiring and beloved series to life in playthings that can help children practise effective communication in a fun and natural way. TOMY’s mission is to make the world smile, so helping children learn to express themselves through play with the Little SPOT brand is perfectly aligned to the happy, healthy development we fully embrace in our daily work.”


Pokémon GO creators partner with Hasbro and TOMY to launch Transformers AR game

Niantic, the team behind the wildly popular AR game Pokémon GO, has teamed up with Hasbro and TOMY to develop a new augmented reality title based on the Transformers franchise.

Titled ‘Transformers: Heavy Metal’, the new game will see players battle with characters from the Transformers series in real world settings using the game’s AR features. Development on the title is being led by the Seattle-based studio Very Very Spaceship, using Niantic’s Lightship platform.

Transformers: Heavy Metal is scheduled to be released worldwide later this year.

“Transformers is the perfect franchise for AR. Battling and interacting with giant robots in the real world is an amazing experience,” said John Hanke, CEO of Niantic. “We want to live up to the high expectations of Transformers fans around the world and bring them a game unlike anything they’ve played before.”

In a statement issued on the Niantic website this week, executive producer, Phil Hong said: “In thinking about franchises that would be incredible to bring to life in AR, Transformers was a no-brainer.

“This will be a Transformers game unlike any other, an AR game where you’ll get to team up with the likes of Bumblebee and the Autobots in the real world, powered by the Niantic Lightship platform.

“We’ve been working super hard on this with Seattle-based Very Very Spaceship as the development studio. We’ll enter soft launch in select countries soon, and global launch is planned for later this year.”

TOMY puts new Ricky Zoom toys into gear as kids’ series makes second season debut in the UK

TOMY is preparing to launch its follow up master range of Ricky Zoom toys this year, as the popular preschool series revs itself up for its second season debut here in the UK.

First launched in July 2020 during what has been a challenging period for retail, Ricky Zoom toys have made a solid start and are set to launch more new lines throughout 2021. These include TOMY’s unique Wind & Launch assortment, a wheel launcher that will send Ricky’s red bike racing.

The launch will follow on from the top selling success of last year’s Speed & Stunt Ricky Zoom play-set, the third best-selling Ricky Zoom item overall at retail, and is already tipped to ‘be equally as popular.’

Fresh hype around the TOMY master toy line is expected to coincide with the second season debut in the UK of the CGI animation, as Hasbro and its global entertainment studio, Entertainment One, rev up for its launch on Nick Jr and Channel 5’s multi-platform preschool brand, Milkshake!

The CGI animated series follows Ricky, a speed loving little red rescue bike who enjoys to zoom around Wheelford. The show has already enjoyed a ‘strong success in the UK’ among its preschool audiences, while the brand has picked up a number of licensing partners lead by TOMY master toy range.

“We are thrilled to bring Ricky Zoom back to the number one channel for preschoolers in the UK with Milkshake! and Nick Jr.” said eOne’s Monica Candiani, EVP, content sales, family and brands.

“The show has had such strong success in the UK among young viewers, allowing us to secure a number of licensing partners across a variety of categories. We can’t wait for audiences to watch season two, which I am sure will deliver even more exciting all-bike adventures in the colourful world of Wheelford.”

Louise Bucknole, VP programming kids, ViacomCBS Network UK and Ireland, added: “We’re delighted to be welcoming back Ricky Zoom and his two-wheeled friends on Nick Jr. in June and and Milkshake! later in the year in the UK.

“It’s a fun and playful show which is a favourite among preschoolers, and we look forward to sharing their new adventures with our young viewers.”

Joining master toy partner TOMY on the growing licensee list is the likes of Penguin (story, activity, novelty books); Redan (magazines); Character World (bedding); MV Sports (wheeled toys); Ravensburger (puzzles and games); Cooneen (nightwear & socks); Blues (daywear); and Drew Pearson (accessories).

The supermarket giants have added Ricky Zoom into their preschool aisle following strong performance of the FSDU programme last Autumn/Winter. Other forthcoming toy highlights include the new interactive Maxwell’s Transforming Trailer Playset, which can be renovated into a mobile repair station and comes complete with both Maxwell and Ricky bikes.

Further product ranges from other licensees will roll out gradually throughout the year, bringing broader distribution.

Marketing activity has also been buoyant, with Ricky proving popular among parent influencers. A Dadsnet campaign to support Smyth’s Toys launch of the Speed & Stunt Play-set reached almost 408,000 via influencers and 558,000 via paid media, while a Ricky takeover on UKMums.TV hit almost 622,000 impressions, with a blogger reach of almost 296,000 and the site’s associated Twitter Frenzy reaching almost 392,000 unique accounts.

TOMY named master toy partner for Netflix’s popular pre-school series BUDDI

TOMY International has been named the master toy partner for the popular Netflix pre-school series, BUDDI. The launch will arrive courtesy of a partnership between the toy maker and Unanico and Raydar Media.

BUDDI is an animated series aimed at kids aged four years old and under that looks to deliver emotional intelligence through the lens of imagination and non-verbal cues. It follows the adventures of five friends, each bright and colourful, as they experience the simplest moments of life for the first time.

Currently with two seasons available on Netflix, more seasons are planned as the show opens to other linear, SVOD and AVOD platforms around the world. Furthermore, BUDDI was nominated for a 2020 Annie Award in the TV/Media Preschool category for the “Snow” episode.

“We’re thrilled to be working on this new opportunity with Unanico and Raydar Media,” said TOMY’s director of global brands, Morgan Weyl.

“BUDDI meets the trends that are impacting the toy market right now, from education, music, zen-sational themes, and socially conscious play. With the highly recognizable characters that have captured audiences around the world, these unique and thoughtfully designed characters will stand out on shelf.”

The core values of BUDDI fit right in line with TOMY’s portfolio of brands. TOMY has a longstanding history of creating toys that are focused on toddler development through play, which include both the Lamaze and Toomies lines.

Building a world of toys with unique character identities that also promote sensory discovery, emotional intelligence, along with being fun, playable and developmentally appropriate, is a hallmark for the company.

For BUDDI, TOMY will introduce a line of innovative toys for toddlers focused on bringing the unique DNA of the brand, along with the emotional and developmental aspects of BUDDI’s characters to markets around the world.

Paul Laikin, Unanico’s managing director and producer of Buddi said: “We are delighted to be working with the team at Tomy, a company that really understands the values of Buddi, and has the deep creative and commercial experience necessary to bring toys to Buddi’s young fans around the world.”

Sonic the Hedgehog to join TOMY’s Club Mocchi-Mocchi plush line up

The global toy maker, TOMY International, has signed a new collaboration with SEGA of America to bring the characters from the Sonic the Hedgehog universe to retail via the toy firm’s popular collectable Club Mocchi-Mocchi line.

Developed under TOMY’s Micchi-Mocchi brand, the officially licensed range will include super soft, squeezable, and huggable plush versions of characters from the Sonic universe. The range is expected to bow ahead of the arrival of the sequel to the hit blockbuster Sonic the Hedgehog movie and a new Netflix Originals animated series, Sonic Prime, next year.

Sonic the Hedgehog burst onto the gaming scene on June 23, 1991 with the release of Sonic the Hedgehog on the classic Sega Genesis, and quickly became known for his super-fast speed, signature attitude and readiness for all types of adventure. Since his debut, Sonic the Hedgehog has become a prominent figure in pop culture that has captivated fans around the world with an expansive franchise of iconic video games, comics, TV series and more.

“Sonic is an all-time classic video game character that has evolved into a beloved lifestyle brand and we are thrilled to bring these amazing characters to fans and collectors around the world through our unique Club Mocchi- Mocchi- brand,” said TOMY’s director of global brands, Morgan Weyl.

“The signature look and feel of our Club Mocchi- Mocchi- items will even turn Sonic’s quills in the most huggable quills ever.”

Michael Cisneros, manager of licensing at SEGA of America, added: “TOMY has a long-standing reputation for high-quality plush toys not only in the industry but is well revered with Sonic collectors as well. We’re thrilled to re-partner with them to create this unique line for Sonic the Hedgehog.

“Fans have embraced Sonic in so many different mediums, and these super-soft, Club Mocchi-Mocchi- plushies will be ones they can hug and cherish for years to come.”

Universal Brand Development teams with TOMY for Jurassic World Toomies launch

TOMY has embarked on a new licensing collaboration with Universal Brand Development to launch a new line of pre-school toys for its popular Toomies brand, based on the blockbuster Jurassic World franchise.

Jurassic World id a $5 billion global franchise, and with Jurassic World: Dominion scheduled for release in June 2022, the brand is set to be one of TOMY’s “biggest ever collaborations” for the pre-school category.

Launching in June 2021, the line will include Chase & Roll Raptors and a Dino Rescue Ranger, inspired by the iconic vehicles in the films; Spin & Hatch Dino Eggs,a clever twist on Toomies bestselling Hide and Squeak Eggs, using dinosaur eggs in an incubator featuring the core toddler play pattern of ‘sort & pop’; and Pic & Push T. rex,a large T. rex dinosaur with a fun take on the iconic gyrosphere from the 2015 Jurassic World film.

The line will also support TOMY’s classic action game, Pop Up Pirate, with the launch of a Pop Up T. rex from July. The bestselling game recently celebrated its 45th Anniversary.

Mary Wood, general manager UK at TOMY, said: “Dinosaurs are an evergreen toy trend, reaching multiple age points including pre-schoolers, and with our Toomies success in this market dinosaurs seemed like a great fit for our next collaboration.

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with Universal to introduce this fantastic range – combining our expertise in pre-school toys with the worldwide phenomenon of Jurassic World, this is going to be a major focus for the business for next year and into 2022.  Feedback from retailers across all markets has been nothing but positive.”

The Toomies brand has seen exponential growth in recent years, with its Toy range up by 33 per cent at Retail vs 2019. The brand’s ever-popular Hide & Squeak Eggs are also up by 25 per cent, with the full range including the Spring 2020 Hide & Squeak extension items and AW20 additions contributing to 81 per cent of EPOS Sales Year to Date.

WildBrain CPLG readies a raft of new UK partners for In the Night Garden

WildBrain CPLG has signed a raft of new UK toy partners for the popular pre-school property, In the Night Garden, including 8th Wonder, Paul Lamond Games, TOMY, Grabo Balloons and the children’s audio platform, Toniebox.

The latest slate of partners join the current product portfolio as WildBrain CPLG continues to focus on driving “even more exciting initiatives across our integrated platform of content, distribution and consumer products.”

Under the newest developments for the hit pre-school brand, 8th Wonder will develop and launch an In the Night Garden themed plush chair and range of wooden toys, while Paul Lamond Games will develop a new line of games and puzzles for pre-schoolers. Meanwhile, TOMY will apply the license to its hit Aquadoodle mats, and Grabo Balloons will launch new foil balloons.

Completing the line-up, Boxine, the firm behind the Toniebox, has signed for an Iggle Piggle figurine to be used on the audio platform. The launch will provide In the Night Garden audio content, including a narrated story and music.

WildBrain’s premium kids and family AVOD network and studio, WildBrain Spark, also manages In the Night Garden on AVOD platforms including YouTube and YouTube Kids, where it has achieved an average of 15 million monthly views this year.

The brand’s channels now have over 635,000 global subscribers, and episodes are currently available in English, Polish, Arabic, Swedish, Spanish, Norwegian, and Italian. The original In the Night Garden series is also an established fixture in CBeebies’ bedtime schedule, where characters Iggle Piggle, Upsy Daisy, Makka Pakka and their friends are an integral part of the sleep time routines for many families.

Emily French Ullah, licensing director hardlines at WildBrain CPLG, said: “In the Night Garden remains front of mind with pre-schoolers and parents alike, as demonstrated by the continued positive response from licensees and retailers, and the strong broadcast and AVOD viewership.

“We’re delighted to welcome these wonderful new partners to the UK licensee base and look forward to seeing young fans across the UK enjoy this engaging array of new products.”

Michael Riley, chief brands officer for WildBrain, said: “In the Night Garden has an eternal quality that continues to resonate with families worldwide, and these new licensees signed by WildBrain CPLG will provide UK fans with more opportunities to celebrate their love of the brand offscreen.

“In the Night Garden is a key preschool property for WildBrain, and we are highly focused on driving even more exciting initiatives across our integrated platform of content, distribution and consumer products that are sure to keep parents and young children engaged and entertained for years to come.”

Toy maker TOMY bolsters licensed portfolio with Sing 2 and Plants vs Zombies ranges

Last month witnessed the international toy maker, TOMY bolster its licensing portfolio with new toy, plush, and play-sets plans for both Illumination’s upcoming animated motion picture, Sing 2, and the popular Electronic Arts mobile game, Plants vs Zombies.

Scheduled for launch on December 22, 2021, TOMY’s Sing 2 toy line will comprise innovative products including collectable figurines, feature plush, and a role play game.

The range will be launched in partnership with Illumination and Universal Brand Development, the studios behind the popular animated feature film Sing and its upcoming sequel, Sing 2.

“Audiences everywhere have already fallen in love with the relatable characters of Sing, and we’re looking forward to bringing them to life and into playrooms,” said TOMY’s director of global toys, Morgan Weyl.

“The Sing films are about overcoming obstacles and pursuing dreams, so we created a musically-infused toy line that will help inspire the next generation to shoot for the stars – no matter what challenges they may face along the way.”

Joe Lawandus, senior vice president and general manager, global toys and hardlines, Universal Brand Development, added:  “Our filmmaking partners at Illumination continue to deliver dynamic characters and storylines that bring joy and smiles to audiences across the globe, and we’re excited for the worldwide debut of Sing 2.

“We look forward to collaborating with TOMY on an all-new toy line that will bring the franchise’s signature comedy and hit music into the hearts and homes of fans worldwide.”

In addition, the toy maker has also secured a new partnership with Electronic Arts to bring the Plants vs Zombies video game characters to life in plush form.

In a deal brokered by the licensing agent Retail Monster, TOMY’s Club Mocchi-Mocchi brand will deliver a variety of soft, squeezable plush.

Plants vs. Zombies is a tower defense classic in which players pit their loyal plant squad against the zombie peril, fending off boss invasions and banding together with friends to help save their small town. With over 1.2 billion installs to date, the popular franchise is looking at granting its fans new adventures with future content releases.

“Plants vs. Zombies is a wildly popular video game franchise and we’re thrilled to be the licensed partner that gets to bring its characters to life in plush,” said TOMY’s Weyl. “Many of Club Mocchi- Mocchi-‘s most popular plush toys are characters and accessories from beloved video games, so we’re excited to bring a little piece of Plants vs. Zombies into gamers’ homes around the world.”

Retail Monster’s founder and CEO, Michael Connolly, added: “TOMY’s Club Mocchi- Mocchi- brand is renowned for its bespoke plush format, and we’re thrilled to delight Plants vs. Zombies fans with what will surely be an in-demand range of iconic plush characters.”

Ricky Zoom lands second series for November 2020 as first products ready for launch

Following a successful debut at the end of 2019, Entertainment One’s international animated hit, Ricky Zoom has landed a second series, slated to air as soon as November this year.

Ricky Zoom raced to success and achieved ‘outstanding ratings’ in multiple markets and across several platforms. It is currently a top five pre-school show with boys on Nickelodeon in the US, number one on Nick Jr. commercial kids’ channel in the UK, and the number one show on Clan in Spain.

Ricky Zoom’s appeal also resonates in China where the series has garnered more than 425 million views on streaming platform, YouKu.

The property’s first app, Welcome to Wheelford has been downloaded more than 4 million times globally since its release in August 2019.

“We are so proud of Ricky Zoom and its success to date. It is premium original content produced by the very best talent and our strong roster of international broadcasters has super-charged the series to a high level of awareness around the world,” said eOne’s Olivier Dumont, President, Family & Brands.

“We are very excited for the potential to explore even more ground in the second season. There are so many more stories to tell that will deepen the connection between the characters and our audience and we look forward to bringing them all-new adventures.”

Entertainment One is now readying the launch of the first wave of consumer products in key territories which will be led by the launch of Ricky Zoom toys from global master toy partner TOMY, including six key products across a variety of price points.

The collection will roll out in multiple territories this spring. The toy launch will be followed by a limited range of secondary category product launches to meet consumer demand in 2020, including publishing, puzzles and games, arts and crafts, apparel and accessories with additional secondary launches planned throughout 2021.