Verdy x Minions streetwear collection to launch this week

Inspired by the new Illumination film, Minions: The Rise of Gru, the Minions, in collaboration with Universal Brand Development, have teamed with graphic artist Verdy – the founder of streetwear labels Girls Don’t Cry and Wasted Youth – to launch the Verdy x Minions capsule collection, now exclusively at Universal Studios Hollywood, and at Universal Studios Japan beginning June 24.

To celebrate the initiative, celebrity guests were treated to an early preview of the collection at a private party at Universal Studios Hollywood on Thursday, June 16, which featured music by DJ Zack Bia, access to the “Despicable Me Minion Mayhem” ride and the Super Silly Store – where the collection will be available for purchase – as well as photo ops with Illumination’s Minions and Verdy’s Vick character, signature cocktails, appetisers and more.

Pairing two global brands, both with massive appeal, the Verdy x Minions collection reunites the mischievous Minions with Verdy’s signature character Vick after a record-setting sell-out collaboration between the two style icons in 2020. The limited run will feature tees, hoodies, long-sleeve shirts, hats, accessories, and skate decks brought to life with graphics featuring new Minion Otto paired as a duo with Vick. Additional designs include the larger-than-life Minions featured on long-sleeve tees, as well as graphic tees and jackets with a re-imagined design of Verdy’s yellow rose in a can with the Minions creating mayhem around it.

Verdy x Minions is available exclusively at Universal Studios Hollywood, and at Universal Studios Japan beginning  June 24, 2022, with a special limited edition launching July 1, the same day Minions: The Rise of Gru arrives in cinemas, on

“I’m happy to continue my relationship with Illumination’s Minions,” says Verdy. “Having my character Vick made into a mascot and interacting with the Minions characters at the Universal Studios theme parks in Hollywood and Japan seems unreal. It is a dream come true.”

“Illumination’s Minions are global icons, and they’ve profoundly influenced pop culture and fashion worldwide,” says Scott Schiraj, Director, Franchise Management, Universal Brand Development. “Our first Verdy x Minions collaboration sold out in under 60 seconds. With fans asking for more, we’re thrilled to collaborate with Verdy on a new capsule inspired by Minions: The Rise of Gru and have strategically partnered with our Universal Studios theme parks in Hollywood and Japan, to exclusively launch the collection – serving fans with early access to these coveted limited-edition drops.”

Verdy, a graphic artist based in Tokyo, has worked with brands such as Nike, Human Made, Instagram, Levi’s, Louis Vuitton, Dover Street Market and more. In 2021, he entered the contemporary art world by having his first solo show at Takashi Murakami’s gallery, Kaikai Kiki in Tokyo.

Universal Brand Development taps Moose Toys for Trolls collectibles

Moose Toys has entered a multi-year global partnership with Universal Brand Development for DreamWorks Animation’s blockbuster Trolls franchise. Under the agreement, the toymaker will develop a range of collectible figures to arrive at retail in autumn 2023, to support the highly anticipated release of the newest Trolls movie in cinemas on 17 November 2023.

In addition to creating the official Trolls collectibles for the movie, the agreement allows for cross-collaboration with original brands from Moose.

“Universal Brand Development tapping us to create collectibles for the Trolls franchise is an extraordinary opportunity,” says Menal McGrath, vice president global licensing, Moose Toys. “We cannot wait to infuse our Moose magic into movie collectibles and to bring the vibrant, colourful, diverse and inclusive Trolls into several of our key original brands.”

Moose has built a reputation for its hyper-creative collectibles and for delivering a depth within each of its brands that keeps the narrative fresh and ever-expanding. As the popularity grew for its original brands, licensing became the next logical step for the toymaker. The licensing agreement with Universal Brand Development will include an expansive line of Trolls collectible figures highlighting new characters introduced in the new film, plus evergreen movie favorites like Poppy and Branch. The line will feature a deep variety of colours, finishes and hair and range of products that will be supported by a robust marketing campaign.

“Moose is an incredible partner with a keen understanding of what makes the Trolls franchise so beloved by fans,” says Joe Lawandus, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Global Toys, Hardlines and Publishing, Universal Brand Development. “Throughout the process, they demonstrated a clear and creative vision for not only our movie-inspired collectibles, but some truly innovative thinking about how to infuse Trolls into their popular brands. Extending the Trolls narrative beyond the film and collaborating with Moose is a tremendous value-add. We could not be more delighted about this new partnership.”

The addition of DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls expands Moose’s licensed portfolio, which already includes Bluey, Octonauts and Strawberry Shortcake.

The LEGO Group unveils six new Jurassic World Dominion sets

 The LEGO Group and Universal Brand Development have officially revealed six new sets inspired by the upcoming feature film Jurassic World Dominion, from Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment, set to hit cinemas in June 2022. Each set offers a chance for fans to dive into their very own prehistoric world, with endless creativity, storytelling and adventure, with fan-favourite characters like Owen, Claire, Ian Malcolm and Dr. Ellie Sattler.

The six new sets are:

10938 LEGO® DUPLO® Dinosaur Nursery

Age: 2+

Piece Count: 27

Price: 19.99 EUR/USD

Measures: The Triceratops stands over 1 in. (5 cm) tall and the set can be reconfigured to inspire endless imaginative play possibilities

Description: Animal-loving toddlers can join Jurassic World’s Claire Dearing to care for three baby dinosaurs. This set includes a Triceratops in a cave, a Pteranodon in a nest, and a Brachiosaurus using its long neck to nibble leaves from a tree. 

76943 LEGO® Jurassic World Pteranodon Chase

Age: 4+

Piece Count: 91

Price: 19.99 EUR/USD

Measures: Over 3.5 in. (9 cm) high, 4.5 in. (12 cm) wide and 5 in. (13 cm) deep

Description: Includes a brick-built dock, fish stall and buggy, Owen Grady and Maisie minifigures with a fishing rod and lasso, and a Pteranodon figure. 

76944 LEGO® Jurassic World T. rex Dinosaur Breakout

Age: 4+

Piece Count: 140

Price: 49.99 EUR/USD

Measures: Over 6 in. (15 cm) high, 6 in. (16 cm) wide and 2.5 in. (6cm) deep, and the T. rex stands over 4 in. (11 cm) tall

Description: Build the airport with a helipad, a helicopter and a fence for the mighty T. rex to smash through. The set also includes Owen Grady, Zia Rodriguez and wildlife guard minifigures, plus a dinosaur egg, walkie-talkie and tranquiliser.

76945 LEGO® Jurassic World Atrociraptor Dinosaur: Bike Chase

Age: 6+

Piece Count: 167

Price: 19.99 EUR/USD

Measures: Over 2.5 in. (6 cm) high, 7 in. (17 cm) wide and 5 in. (13 cm) deep. This playset combines with the T. rex & Atrociraptor Dinosaur Breakout (76948) set

Description: Features a market with a wall for the Atrociraptor and motorcycle to smash through, a battle pit for two small dinosaur figures, plus Owen Grady and Rainn Delacourt minifigures.

 76946 LEGO® Jurassic World Blue & Beta Velociraptor Capture

Age: 6+

Piece Count: 173

Price: 29.99 EUR/USD

Measures: Over 2.5 in. (6 cm) high, 5.5 in. (14 cm) long and 2.5 in. (6 cm) wide, and the whole playset can be combined with other LEGO® Jurassic World building toys

Description: With Maisie and Rainn Delacourt minifigures, dinosaurs Blue and Beta, a truck, bike and a dinosaur cage with a trap, plus a chicken drumstick to use as dinosaur bait.  

76947 LEGO® Jurassic World Quetzalcoatlus Plane Ambush

Age: 7+

Piece Count: 293

Price: 49.99 EUR/ 39.99 USD

Measures: The Quetzalcoatlus dinosaur figure measures over 11.5 in. (29 cm) wide and has posable wings and a snapping beak; The airplane measures over 3.5 in. (9 cm) high, 8.5 in. (22 cm) long and 11.5 in. (30 cm) wide, and Owen’s motorcycle from the 76945 set fits inside the cargo hold

Description: Features an airplane with space in the cockpit for Owen Grady, Claire Dearing and Kayla Watts. The plane also has spinning propellers, an opening cargo hold and engines designed to break off under attack from the Quetzalcoatlus. 

76948 LEGO® Jurassic World T. rex & Atrociraptor Dinosaur Breakout

Age: 8+

Piece Count: 461

Price: 89.99 EUR/ 79.99 USD

Measures: The market measures over 7 in. (18 cm) high, 10 in. (26 cm) wide and 3.5 in. (9 cm) deep, and it combines with the LEGO® Jurassic World Atrociraptor Dinosaur: Bike Chase (76945) set

Description: Build a market with an enclosure for the T. rex and a big rig truck with a cage to transport the Atrociraptor. Also includes Owen Grady, Claire Dearing, Rainn Delacourt and Soyona Santos minifigures, plus two tranquilisers.

 These new sets will be widely available starting April 17, 2022 on, in LEGO Retail Stores and at major retailers worldwide.


Dreamtex partners with Universal Brand Development for home décor collection

Home textile specialist Dreamtex has collaborated with Universal Brand Development to add Universal’s globally popular franchises to its portfolio. The collaboration will bring new home décor collections to the market across a variety of brands, including Jurassic World, Illumination’s Minions, as well as DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls and Spirit.

With Universal set to release blockbuster movies Jurassic World Dominion and Illumination’s Minions: The Rise of Gru in summer 2022, the new products will come at an ideal time to capitalise on high consumer awareness and demand for film merchandise. Dreamtex intends to capture the action of these eagerly anticipated cinema releases within its home textile ranges, bringing famous characters and their adventures to life in fans’ bedrooms and living rooms.

Dreamtex has already begun working on the collections and there has been a great response within the industry, with buyers registering their interest. The new designs and products are set to launch as early as this spring.

Universal Brand Development celebrates E.T.’s 40th birthday

Universal Brand Development (UBD) has given a first glimpse of the 2022 product launches marking the 40th anniversary of one of the most iconic properties in cinema history – E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.

The birthday of the much-loved film from Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment will be marked with a curated mix of special screenings, new consumer products, digital and social media campaigns as well as unique retail activations that aim to capture the magic and timeless appeal of the movie.

“It is simply a masterpiece and still invokes such a strong connection and reaction from global audiences,” says Paul Bufton, Vice President, EMEA at NBCUniversal Brand Development. “It is also a particularly good time for this anniversary because recently so many families have rediscovered, together, the immense joy of the film. Parents have watched E.T. and the kids, of course, now love it as much as the previous generation – quality storytelling and genuine emotion never get old.”

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial altered the pop culture landscape when it was released in June 1982, the story of a lost alien and the young boy who helps him to find his way home resonating with audiences worldwide. The film was one of the first global blockbusters to leverage consumer product tie-ins and the new campaign will be replete with nostalgic references that aim to please both the casual fan and the growing community of enthusiasts and collectors.

To mark E.T.’s anniversary, UBD has lined up a roster of global licensees to fully explore the product possibilities with organic extensions that leverage the toyetic and kidult appeal of the property. Toymaker Mattel has signed on to create E.T. feature plush, while additional global partnerships include Funko & Fisher Price (collectibles), WOW! Stuff (novelty), Tomy (pre-school plush), Basic Fun (retro collections) and Ravensburger (puzzles). UK-specific partnerships have been forged with Posh Paws (plush), RMS (amusement toys) and Nobel (chess).

In the UK, there is a robust Fashion & Lifestyle programme that includes babywear launches from Poetic Brands, Crib Star and Sleep no More to meet the newest generation’s demand for E.T.-branded clothing. A slew of new adult soft lines are also set for release in the UK from established names such as BooHoo, Poetic Brands and Fashion UK.

On the global fashion front, UBD has ensured that the E.T. programme will be prominently spotlighted in high-end boutiques and elite shopping destinations across Europe throughout 2022. New partnerships with some of the most influential retailers across the continent include Difuzed (adult/young adult apparel and accessories), Mini Rodini (kids apparel and home textiles) and popular fast fashion online platforms such as Zalando, AboutYou and EMP. H&M Kids is putting the finishing touches on its exclusive offerings that will be launched later this year.

In addition, a replica of Elliot’s iconic BMX bike will hit mass retail later in the year (E.T. riding in the basket not included).



Universal Brand Development prepares for the return of Minions in summer 2022

Illumination’s Minions: The Rise of Gru, the long-awaited next installment of the most successful animated franchise in history, is set to hit cinemas across the globe in July 2022.

In anticipation, Universal Brand Development (UBD) is pulling out all the stops to support the new feature film with global toy partners Mattel and The Lego Group. The toy collection will feature fresh new looks of action figures, construction sets, electronics, plush, collectibles and playsets. Other partners include Topps, Asmodee, Ravensburger, Clementoni, Posh Paws, Danilo and Boxine.

During last year’s 2020 lockdown, Minions’ global popularity in the international grocery sector, which remained open, kept the beloved characters front-of-mind. The franchise has shown continued strength throughout Europe in FMCG, food, personal care and beauty categories and UBD is planning a broad-based programme in a number of categories with Yazoo, Brioche, Pez, Danone, Volvic, Perfetti Van Melle, Colgate, Avon, BIP and Glamglow.  Softlines will also be a focus as Minions: The Rise of Gru sparks further interest in the franchise.

With a roster of local agents around the globe, UBD is taking a tailored approach to retail activations and licensing and merchandising opportunities. It is a formula that has consistently delivered results, establishing Minions as a powerhouse brand.

Last summer, UBD developed a number of online-only events and promotions including the Free the Fun digital pop-up event in the UK that included giveaways and prizes that enlisted top-tier UK grocers including ALDI, ASDA, Sainsbury, Tesco, as well as toy stores Smyths, The Entertainer and Hamleys. Leading up to the film’s release in 2022, UBD’s promotional and marketing efforts will be doubled as the pent-up demand and anticipation for all things Minions is expected to be huge.


Line Friends partners with Universal to launch Minions x Brown & Friends collaboration

The internationally celebrated character brand, Line Friends, has partnered with Illumination and Universal Brand Development to unveil its Minions x Brown & Friends collection, a new line-up of products that will feature the Minions’ Stuart, Kevin, and Bob alongside Line Friends’ own Brown and Sally.

A collaboration long over-due, early reaction among Millennials and Gen Z has – understandably – gone viral, as the first glimpse of Brown and Sally dressed in the signature Minions’ get up of overalls and goggles ignited the imaginations of its core audience the world over.

 Launched as part of the collaboration between these two powerhouse brands, the Minions x Brown & Friends collection consists of fashion and tech accessories ranging from AirPods cases to phone grips to canvas tote bags, as well as to golf accessories and camping gear. Collection items are anticipated to hit a record-breaking sellout worldwide.

The Minions x Brown & Friends collection is available for global purchase on the official on- and offline stores of Line Friends in countries and regions including Korea, the US, Japan, and China, from July 22. Line Friends is also slated to drop big surprises of digital contents, including Line messenger stickers and Instagram AR GIFs for this collaboration, sparking viral sensation among Millennials and Generation Z.

“With our unrivalled creative capabilities, Line Friends once again captures the hearts of Millennials and Generation Z across the world with this collection jointly collaborated with long-standing partners Universal Brand Development and Illumination,” said the Line Friends team.

“We anticipate that this phenomenal collaboration between Brown & Friends, originally created for use as Line messenger stickers, and the beloved Minions will stir up fun and excitement for fans worldwide.”

Mattel and Playmobil ready new ranges as Universal launches Spirit Untamed across EMEA

Universal Brand Development has launched a cross-category consumer products programme centered on the latest chapter in the DreamWorks Animation Spirit franchise, as the new animated feature film, Spirit Untamed rolls out across EMEA this summer.

Having premiered in Central London last weekend at an event attended by celebrities and their families, the film is swiftly moving through the EMEA region, with Russia, Italy and Spain already out of the stable gate, with Germany ready to welcome the film to screens from July 22nd, and France from July 28th.

“There’s something really special about the connection between girls and horses, and DreamWorks Animation’s Spirit Untamed taps into that emotional bond, bringing audiences along for the ride,” said Shannon Vacca, vice president, global franchise management, Universal Brand Development.

“We set out to create consumer products celebrating wholesome characters that empower girls around the world and reinforce Spirit Untamed as the ultimate story about what it means to be wild and free.”

Master toy partner, Mattel is expanding the Spirit adventure beyond the screen with its broad range of horses, character dolls, and play-sets, all featuring innovative details and storytelling accessories, as well as games. In addition, Playmobil is a returning franchise partner with new pay-sets supporting key moments from the film, alongside Just Play with basic plush.

Additionally, Outright Games, alongside Universal Games and Digital Platforms, is launching DreamWorks Spirit Lucky’s Big Adventurea new video game set in the adventurous world of the award-winning Spirit franchise.

In the game – distributed by Bandai in EMEA – players can go on an adventure and explore the wonders and dangers of the frontier with Lucky and her wild mustang, Spirit. This original story celebrates themes of adventure, friendship and the special connection between a girl and her horse.

Lucky teams up with best friends Abigail and Pru to embark on a fun-filled quest for hidden treasure in Miradero. DreamWorks Spirit Lucky’s Big Adventure will release on Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Xbox One and PC digital in summer 2021.

Black Lives Matter Licensing movement expands team as “industry is ready to take action”

The Black Lives Matter Licensing movement has welcomed two new members to the team amid a period of rapid growth reflective, the group has suggested, of an industry ‘determined to implement meaningful change’.

Kim Saxelby (pictured right), senior design manager, Universal Brand Development Group, has joined the movement to help build a strong framework for the group’s licensing programme as it continues to gather pace, while Shontae Savage (pictured left), founder of the consulting company Savvy Synergies LLC will lead the group’s licensing initiative in the United States.

The addition of the two industry executives not only bolsters an expanding team but brings the Black Lives Matter Licensing movement into the US market for the first time.

Savage boasts around 20 years’ experience in the brand licensing industry, representing global sports and entertainment brands such as NFL, CBS, CBS Films, Showtime, and DC Comics. Her company, Savvy Synergies LLC focuses on filling the void for licensed products for African American IP, leveraging her expertise in the industry to help Black IP expand into new product categories and markets.

“Being an African American, I am personally aware of the unmet needs of the African-American consumer and fanbase of Black IP,” said Savage. “I have focused my efforts to create cultural-focused licensing programs around Black IP and fulfilling the pinned-up consumer demands of historically over-looked Black IP and its fan base in licensing.

“This Movement is something I am passionate about and it is the experience I have lived with. I am keen to help this real cause for change I hope to lend my real life experience and my extensive experience in Licensing to represent this niche market from a culture-centric approach.”

Saxelby, added: “I am excited and honoured to be joining such a talented and passionate team. I can’t wait to get started and can hopefully bring my experience to make positive change not only to our industry but to this social injustice issue which is very important to me.”

Both Saxelby and Savage now join a team that earlier this year welcomed Simta Sawhney, category director at ViacomCBS Consumer Products UK, Hannah Miles, managing director of Fashion UK, and Ravina Mehta, graphic designer at BB Designs.

Black Lives Matter UK’s Christina Jordean has been “thrilled” by the level of support the movement has been shown by the licensing industry to date.

“We are very happy that Kim and Shontae have joined us,” she said. “We have been candid that we need to work with our allies. Kim is passionate about making the change, Black Lives Matter is something that is very important to her. Shontae is a key member of the team for us, she is a great addition who understands black culture from an African American perspective.

“With Shontae leading us from New York, we can now take this much needed support of this global movement in the heart of the African American communities and help tackle social injustices for African American communities.”

Meanwhile, the Black Lives Matter Licensing movement’s Saphia Maxamed believes it is clear ‘that the industry is ready to take action.’

“I have to say, I have been amazed throughout this journey,” she said. “To me, change has already happened and it is up to us on what we do moving forward. What is clear, is that the industry is ready to take action.

“We have been working solidly on a framework for the licensing programme for a year and having key talents from major licensors at the forefront of the work we are doing is a testament to what we as an industry can do together when the subject matter touches all of us.

“If you really think about it, this is industry is uniquely positioned to send the message in every household on a global scale though consumer products. That puts us in a place of responsibility and the industry understands that. This is why this key
addition to the team, and the work we are doing, is significant.

I am pleased that together we can build and really work with black communities on initiatives that would make changes in people’s lives. Both Kim and Shontae brings a wealth of licensing experience and personal passion for making positive change.”

Exploding Kittens launches first licensed title Exploding Minions with Illumination and Universal Brand Development

The hit tabletop games publisher, Exploding Kittens has launched its first licensed game, Exploding Minions, developed in collaboration with Illumination and Universal Brand Development.

The new game is a Minions-inspired take on its flagship Exploding Kittens card game, drawing on the appeal of one of the most successful animation franchises of all time, to bring an ‘easy to learn, quick to play’ game for kids and adults to enjoy together.

Read the full interview with Exploding Kittens’ Joeri Hoste here or in the Spring/Summer issue of ToyNews.

“We’re excited to combine one of the biggest card games with Illumination’s global pop-culture phenomenon, the Minions, to create a new family game night essential,” said Elan Lee, co-creator and CEO of Exploding Kittens. “Exploding Minions marries these two universes to create a simple yet strategic game for all to enjoy.”

Aimed at players aged seven and upwards, Exploding Minions is a family-friendly spin-off of the core Russian Roulette-style game that includes new card types and fun illustrations of Minions as imagined by The Oatmeal. Participants take turns drawing cards while trying to evade the Exploding Minions.

Players can avoid exploding by using clever strategies and favourite cards such as ‘Defuse’, ‘Nope’ and ‘See the Future’, as well as the new ‘Clone Card’. The last player who hasn’t exploded is declared the winner.

The partnership with Illumination and Universal Brand Development marks the first licensing partnership for Exploding Kittens who, until now, has seen most of its licensing activity take the form of outbound licensing, expanding its own IP into the likes of video games for the Nintendo Switch.

In an exclusive interview with’ sister title, ToyNews, Exploding Kittens’ director of international sales, Joeri Hoste revealed that should the partnership prove to be successful, then further licensing options will be an avenue the firm will continue to explore for its titles.