Licensing Magazine March 2024

Page 1

#02|2024 LICENSING | BRANDING | MEDIA&DIGITAL | PUBLISHING TRADE MAGAZINE WHAT’S NEW FROM THE INDUSTRY SPOTLIGHT ON CHILDREN’S PUBLISHING EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS INDUSTRY EVENTS NOT TO BE MISSED

DEAR READER

Welcome to this edition of Licensing Magazine. The Spring issue of our magazine is always a kind of golden issue, as it not only gathers the most important news from the industry, but also tells the best of what happens in Bologna, on the occasion of the Bologna Licensing Fair/Kids, the Licensing Pavilion organised by BM on behalf of Bolognafiere, located in the heart of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair (BCBF). Being part of a leading global trade show of the prestige and level of the BCBF allows us the organisation of initiatives that bring licensing to children’s content. In this issue, we try to introduce some of them, which we invite you to experience live in Bologna. Among them, we would like to mention the 4th edition of the International Kids Licensing Days, a three-day conference programme on the main trends in the kids licensing: anime, gaming, the main anniversaries and hottest previews, researches and insights on the main trends, and the development of content from books to tv and film.

This year in Bologna we also organise the Licensing Portfolio Review, a speed dating between illustrators from all over the world and seventeen companies from the world of games, animation, stationery, toys and apparel.

In addition, on behalf of BCBF we have organised a brand-new business area dedicated to audiovisual producers interested to expand their business towards publishing, the TV/FILM Rights Centre. This area, together with the Licensing Business Lounge, creates the first major ancillary rights business centre ever organised at the Book Fair.

So, we invite you to visit us in Bologna! And in the meantime, as always, enjoy your reading!

PUBLISHER

BM Srl

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Cristina Angelucci

EDITOR

Rossella Arena

GRAPHIC DESIGN

Francesca Wolfler

SPECIAL THANKS TO

Alessandra Maccaferri, Andrea De Amicis, Beatrice Revello, Nepal Campagna, Rob Hutchins, Josh Selig, Rachit Moti, Philippe Guinaudeau

PUBLISHING, ADVERTISING AND ADMINISTRATION

BM Srl - Via Po, 14 - 10123 Torino, Italy Ph. +39 011 1921 1996 - info@bm-eu.com www.bm-eu.com

PRINTING

Casma Tipolito - Via B. Provaglia nn. 3/B-3/C-3/D 40138 Bologna - Italy

Trade publication registered at ROC number 25906
The editorial staff has taken every care to obtain from copyright holders the authorization to publish the pictures in this issue. In any cases where this has not been possible, the editorial staff would like to make it known that they are available to eligible parties to settle any amounts that are owed.
EDITORIAL 8 DIGITAL VERSION FOLLOW OUR DAILY NEWS ON: licensingmagazine.com SOCIAL SUBSCRIPTION REQUEST TO info@brands-media.com HOW TO SUBSCRIBE TO LICENSING MAGAZINE, FOLLOW OUR NEWSLETTERS, SEND US YOUR LATEST NEWS AND DISCOVER OUR EVENTS’ CALENDAR @LM_LicensingMag @LMLicensingMag @Licensing Magazine @lm_licensingmag Licensing Magazine

The

celebrates 10 years of success

Costume

the new allies of social-emotional

CICABOOM

From the new Elastikorps lines to Naruto’s Boomez board game

TONCAR

Toncar innovates the paper industry with the introduction of the exclusive PURE.TECH© Tachnology

SBABAM

Forever

PEA SRL The PEA Phygital Way

with The

Nicole

The

The

Looking

and

THE

The remarkable girl Pippi

turns 80 in 2025

BRANDTRENDS

Adapting tales to tech: Charting the impact of consumer trends on children and family-centric reading experiences

CONTENTS 10 MATTEL
introduction to Mattel Q&A with Claudia Lucarella Hot properties and future development What’s new in Italy STARBRIGHT LICENSING 2024, the Year of Stumble Guys Cover Story Interview Interview Interview 12 13 14 16 54 12 ALMOND ENTERTAINMENT Arnold and the Benchwarmers, the successful new IP from Almond Entertainment
An
Children
HASBRO Expanding amazing IPs RAINBOW
continuing evolution of Rainbow DEAPLANETA ENTERTAINMENT DeAPlaneta Entertainment brands bloom in springtime IMPS/LAFIG
The
new Smurfs x Emporio Armani Spring/ Summer 24 collection THE POKÉMON COMPANY INTERNATIONAL Pokémon Sets out Plans for 2024 in Italy and Beyond MAURIZIO DISTEFANO LICENSING
WBD ITALY
Agency
ahead
SANRIO
to 2024
2025
limitless potential of Sanrio’s characters KONAMI CROSS MEDIA Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game Hits Major 25 Year Milestone ATLANTYCA ENTERTAINMENT
characters,
learning STUDIO BOZZETTO Studio Bozzetto:
Trails in Animation
Game Catchers News News News News News 64 66 68 72 74 18 26 22 58 30 44 60 32 36 48 50
Blazing New
LINDGREN COMPANY
ASTRID
Longstocking
KIDS INDUSTRIES The Power of Audiobooks in developing Fandoms Publishing 80 82 84 54 MOONBUG ENTERTAINMENT Moonbug at forefront of the Digital Evolution 40 NICOLE MILLER
Miller,
lifestyle brand Fashion&Lifestyle 78
a full

THE

The Kingdom of Santa Claus, all the magic of contemporary Christmas

PREMIUM SRL

Rebel Girls, licensing on the girls’ side

TRENDS

The latest releases and trends from the thriving world of children’s publishing

SLOVENIA

Children’s books, from Slovenia to the world

CARTOON NEXT

Discovering Cartoon Next 2024 projects

MIPTV

MIPTV 2024 new lineups

SUMMER

How

MESSE

HK

High-profile exhibitors at Toy & Edu China, Baby & Stroller China and Licensing China

SHOPTALK

Shoptalk Europe Returns to Power Retail’s Digital Transformation

EUROPEAN

Why a new publication dedicated to European Animation edition

WHAT’S NEXT

The next events to follow!

CONTENTS 11
ANIMATION JOURNAL
FRANKFURT
INDUSTRY EVENTS
Events
Must-Attend
From May To July 2024
MOVIE
Movie 2024: a discovery of European creativity SUPERPROD Superprod, a jewel in the animation sector FIILIN GOOD FILMS
CARTOON
Cartoon
to conquer the tween/ teen market NELVANA Trapped in a Video Game books to be adapted into a series of films CHINA BRIDGE CONTENT The Bubble Takes A Bath Entertainment Entertainment 124 114 116 122 118 120 100 102 104 106 108 92
smile in the mind
PAPACO A
KINGDOM
OF SANTA CLAUS
AFRICA
Books: Spotlight on Africa
Youth
Publishing Save the Date EAJ Events Events 86 87 88 92 96 98 126 104 112 LAYER LICENSING Starship Licensors: How IPs can gain passive benefits from market trends Media&Digital 110 ANIMATION In toon with the planet 112 Sustainability

An introduction to Mattel

Moments like the Bologna Licensing Trade Fair always stick out in my calendar, it’s exciting as they get closer, and we know that we will soon meet with our partners face to face. At Mattel, we are proud to have one of the most beloved, nostalgic, and played with portfolios of entertainment franchises in the world. It is our job to make sure the brands that have been loved for generations continue to be culturally relevant and reflect the world around them.

We have been storytelling for nearly 80 years and have a strong heritage in entertaining children, parents, and grandparents. The full offering that publishing provides is vital in breathing new life into our iconic brands. With such a wide range of properties, it’s important to us that all have a full franchise system – this means that no matter how the brand started, it now has a rich ecosystem of content which we amplify in the publishing and licensing space for

every brand.

I am particularly excited about Hot Wheels. With so much franchise extension, including a brand-new high preforming TV show (‘Let’s Race’) and global live entertainment offering – it’s unstoppable. We see similar trends in Monster High, with a second season of content just confirmed, it promises to expand our storytelling capacity in publishing and beyond, driving consumer connection in multiple verticals. From toy, publishing, consumer products, live events, multi-platform content, fashion and more – this is the time to showcase our full franchise approach and we can’t wait to take all our partners on the journey with us.

I will be at the Bologna Licensing Trade Fair/Kids zone, Hall 29 Mall 2 – Booth F/8 - G/1

COVER STORY 12
MATTEL

Q&A with Claudia Lucarella

Ahead of the Bologna Licensing Trade Fair, Claudia Lucarella, Head of Publishing Mattel EMEA, shared her thoughts on heritage in storytelling, as well as what makes Mattel so unique.

What is Mattel’s approach to storytelling within its brand portfolio?

Mattel’s approach to storytelling is rooted in its rich heritage and commitment to brand evolution. With a diverse portfolio spanning toys, content, and publishing, we craft narratives that resonate across generations. We know that our fans want to go beyond the toy, by leveraging mediums like film, television, and print, we create immersive worlds for our iconic brands, ensuring that storytelling remains at the forefront of our brand portfolio strategy and that it resonates with audiences of all ages.

Can you elaborate on how Mattel’s properties have evolved into full franchise systems?

Certainly. Each of our properties have evolved into full franchise systems through strategic development and cross-platform expansion. Brands like Barbie, Fireman Sam, and Thomas & Friends, each with distinct origins, are now part of comprehensive franchise ecosystems. This evolution involves amplifying content across various mediums, including publishing, to engage fans and extend brand narratives beyond their initial forms. The ultimate aim is to create enduring

franchise universes that cater to diverse fanbases.

How do you ensure stories remain relevant while staying true to the brand’s heritage?

It’s all about striking a delicate balance between innovation and tradition. Whether exploring new themes or revisiting classic narratives, we like to infuse our storytelling with elements that resonate with today’s audiences while staying true to the essence of each brand. This approach, exemplified by the success of properties like Thomas & Friends, fosters meaningful connections with fans while evolving brand narratives to reflect contemporary

values and societal trends.

For instance, with Thomas & Friends, we’ve successfully explored themes of global citizenship with the likes of the UN and their SDG goals, while maintaining the essence of the beloved characters. This approach extends across all our intellectual properties. It’s also important that we put our storytelling in up-to-date formats such as audiobooks and sticker albums, something we have had a lot of success with.

Could you tell us about Mattel’s partnerships in the publishing sector?

Mattel’s partnerships are diverse and

strategic, spanning longstanding collaborations with industry stalwarts like Egmont, Panini, and Hachette, to innovative ventures with newer publishers like Tonies and Yoto. These partnerships enable Mattel to engage fans through bespoke content, exclusive products, and innovative storytelling formats, ensuring that its brands remain at the forefront of publishing trends while reaching new audiences worldwide.

What is the significance of Mattel’s new publishing imprint?

Our new Mattel publishing imprint marks a significant step in our strategy. It will focus on developing a centre of excellence for our extensive portfolio of franchises, creating new stories based on iconic brands like Barbie, Hot Wheels, and Fisher-Price, among others.

Set to launch in the United States and Canada in 2024, this initiative underscores Mattel’s commitment to expanding its publishing presence and supporting brand initiatives, ensuring a robust pipeline of content for future generations.

COVER STORY 13
Claudia Lucarella
MATTEL
Barbie, The Icon Celebration by 24ore Cultura Mon Journal Secret by Hachette

Hot properties and future development

Mattel | Unlocking endless stories

In the world of toys and entertainment, Mattel stands as a beacon of innovation and storytelling. With a rich history spanning nearly 80 years, Mattel has consistently captivated audiences across generations through its iconic brands and dynamic storytelling. As the company gears up for the 17th edition of the Bologna Licensing Trade Fair/

Kids (BLTF/Kids), there are several compelling reasons to be excited about Mattel’s presence and its future endeavours.

Rich Storytelling Heritage

Mattel’s journey has been one of continuous evolution and adaptation, driven by a commitment to storytelling excellence. From Barbie to Fireman Sam and Thomas & Friends, each brand within Mattel’s extensive portfolio has its own unique origin story. However, what sets Mattel apart is its ability to weave these individual narratives into a cohesive tapestry of storytelling magic. With nearly 80 years of experience, Mattel has honed its craft, creating stories that resonate with audiences of all ages and backgrounds.

Evolution into Full Franchise Systems

Mattel’s properties have evolved far beyond their initial origins, transforming into full franchise systems that transcend traditional boundaries. Whether a brand was born from toys, content, or publishing,

Mattel is committed to developing a comprehensive ecosystem of content that amplifies the brand’s presence in the publishing space. Through strategic partnerships and innovative storytelling, Mattel ensures that each brand within its portfolio receives the attention and care it deserves, fostering deep connections with fans around the globe.

Launch of Mattel’s Publishing Imprint

The launch of Mattel’s own publishing imprint marks a significant milestone in the company’s publishing strategy. Set to debut in the United States and Canada in 2024, the imprint will focus on developing a centre of excellence for Mattel’s extensive portfolio of children’s and family entertainment franchises. By creating a dedicated platform for storytelling, Mattel aims to complement its existing content offerings, support brand initiatives, and create new stories based on iconic Mattel franchises.

COVER STORY 14
MATTEL Harper Collins for Thomas & Friends Tonies for Fireman Sam Monster High Middle grade novel by Abrams

Incorporation of Content into Publishing Products

For Mattel, publishing is more than just books and magazines; it’s a gateway to immersive storytelling experiences. Through various formats, including print books, audio books, eBooks, and digital content on platforms like Caribu, Mattel incorporates content into its publishing products in innovative ways. These offerings not only enrich brand narratives but also provide fans with multiple avenues to further engage with their favorite Mattel brands, characters, and worlds.

Catering to Adult Fans

Mattel recognizes that its brands are cherished by fans of all ages, including adults who seek to reconnect with their childhood memories. From retro Barbie magazines to high-end decorative books, Mattel offers a diverse range of products catering to adult fans’ interests and preferences. Whether they’re hardcore collectors or casual enthusiasts, adult fans play a vital role in keeping the spirit of Mattel’s brands alive and thriving.

Looking Ahead

Mattel has an exciting lineup of projects and collaborations that can be amplified

in multiple avenues. From the recent announcement of the J-Lo produced Bob the Builder film to innovative ventures like the Caribu acquisition, Mattel is constantly pushing the boundaries of storytelling.

With 14 films, over 30 television shows, live events, and of course consumer products all in development, these projects not only showcase Mattel’s creative vision but also highlight its commitment to delivering compelling content that resonates with audiences worldwide.

For Mattel, the intersection of the toy business and storytelling is where magic truly happens. By leveraging its extensive portfolio of brands and dynamic storytelling capabilities, Mattel creates immersive experiences that transcend traditional boundaries, captivating audiences of all ages.

COVER STORY 15
Classic Thomas the Tank Engine by Harper Collins Barbie Annual by Harper Collins ©[2023] HIT Entertainment Limited. HIT and the HIT logo are trademarks of HIT Entertainment Limited.

What’s new in Italy

In Italy, Mattel’s brands keep growing and succeeding in every category. Below some of the latest novelties.

HOT WHEELS, an exciting journey between innovation and passion Hot Wheels, an icon of speed and innovation since 1968, celebrates its cultural impact that goes well beyond a toy. More than marking an era, Hot Wheels has redefined the concept of play, evolving into a global franchise that encompasses video games, contents, such as the acclaimed “Let’s Race”, and live entertainment initiatives rooted in the “Spirit of the Challenger”. This ethos, which encourages overcoming obstacles with courage and determination, is the lifeblood of the brand.

In 2024, Hot Wheels continues its race to success with the aim of continuing to grow by strengthening its leadership

position. The “Let’s Race” franchise remains a protagonist of this ascent, promising exciting new developments with its upcoming seasons and expanding its offering with RC & Skate expansion playsets, initiatives dedicated to Adult Fans, and the Legend Tour. The Hot Wheels universe is enriched through exclusive collaborations with prominent brands in the world of food and fashion, including Kinder Ferrero,

Dolci Preziosi, Original Marines, Vision of Super, weaving a network of unique experiences that unite passion and style.

BARBIE, the celebration of an icon that inspires limitless dreams 2023 saw Barbie reach new heights, thanks in part to the global success of Barbie The Movie. And 2024 promises

to be a year of celebrations for the brand’s 65th anniversary, with dedicated activities and the presence of a new Role Model.

Among the various new product releases this year, we find Mini BarbieLand, which transports the enchantment of the Barbie movie into reality, offering a world of collectible fun for all ages.

COVER STORY 16
MATTEL
Vision of Super for Hot Wheels

2024 will also see the enrichment of the Barbie universe with TV content, streaming on YouTube and Netflix with new arrivals coming in the autumn.

The movie “Barbie and Stacie to the Rescue” and the series “Barbie a Touch of Magic” on Cartoonito introduce exciting new stories, while the podcast in collaboration with Podcastory and a wide range of books published by Mattel Press offer further insights to explore the world of Barbie.

The vast product portfolio reflects Barbie’s ongoing expansion into categories such as FMCG, outdoor,

and electronics, aiming to meet the needs of children and adults alike. With successful collaborations spanning from art & crafts to electronics, through fashion, accessories, and role play, Barbie reaffirms her leadership in the world of licensing, which in Italy alone has recorded extraordinary growth in 2023.

MONSTER HIGH, the dolls that celebrate diversity

In 2010, Mattel launched Monster High, sparking a revolution in the doll world by celebrating diversity and inclusivity. In 2023, Monster High confirmed itself as the fastest-growing doll property, thanks also to significant collaborations and content that have been successful on platforms like Netflix, Super!, and Nickelodeon. This includes the Be Yourself project, carried out in collaboration with FARE x BENE, which involved schools and transmitted a message of self-acceptance.

2024 marks the arrival of novelties inspired by the animated series that have captured the imagination of children and adults alike, including the “Monster Fest” dolls and a new series of “Secrets to Shiver”, introducing characters with unprecedented styles, shapes, and accessories. This year, the property is enriched with new content on YouTube, Spotify, and through publications with Panini, offering series, movies, music, and

books that immerse fans in the unique universe of Monster High. The CP side also continues the expansion and development of the brand in the areas of art & craft, role-play, dress-up, beauty, and significant Halo and retailer projects in the fashion area.

GAMES, innovation and growth in the board game world

In the games landscape, Mattel stands out for its ability to innovate and constantly expand its offering. At the heart of this excellence are UNO, Pictionary, and Scrabble, three mainstays that continue to entertain and bring people of all ages together. UNO, the classic market-leading card game, continues to conquer the world and evolves with UNO Show’ em No Mercy. Pictionary, the favourite game of artists young and old, broadens its portfolio with the new Pictionary Sketch Squad. Scrabble, the traditional crossword game, is refreshed with Scrabble Core.

Mattel’s attention also turns to expansion in Consumer Products, focusing on significant collaborations with the FMCG world. 2024 will see the introduction of revolutionary novelties for UNO cards, and a series of events and retail activations to increase the game’s usability. Collaborations are abundant, with Walcor for Easter eggs and Befana stockings, to promotions with San Carlo Junior and Kellogg’s, which offer UNO surprises and the chance to win unique prizes.

For any information about licensing for Italian market please refer to Victoria Licensing & Marketing. www.victorialicensing.it

COVER STORY 17
San Carlo for UNO Bershka for Monster High
info@victorialicensing.it

Expanding amazing IPs

With an incredible portfolio of brands and major anniversaries to celebrate, Hasbro has a lot of exciting news! LM interviewed Marianne James, Senior Vice President, Global Licensing at Hasbro, to find out more.

Through your work, you follow the EMEA and Asia areas on a daily basis. What are the respective kids properties’ trends in the two markets?

When I started at Hasbro nearly five years ago, my role was solely focused on EMEA before expanding to include Asia and, most recently, global oversight of our licensed consumer products business. While there are nuances to each market, we’re seeing continued growth in the kidult space across the world. With franchises that have been around for decades and deliver offerings for fans of all ages, Hasbro reigns supreme with kidults.

In China and Asia, we’re seeing a particular emphasis on the kidult trend,

along with strong demand for local and character-driven IP for kids. Anime, which is probably the biggest trend in Asia at the moment, appeals to a broad swath of consumers as it marries these trends.

Which licenses are you currently focusing on?

We have such an incredible portfolio of brands that we’re putting special attention into. This year, we’re focusing

INTERVIEW 18
HASBRO Marianne James Orlando Bloom x Peppa Pig

on expanding the following IPs: Dungeons & Dragons, Furby, Littlest Pet Shop, My Little Pony, Peppa Pig, PlayDoh and Transformers. From locationbased entertainment, like theme parks and live shows, to licensed consumer products with best-in-class partners, we’re excited to bring these brands to life through all-new territories.

What is your licensing strategy for the future, and in which categories would you like to expand?

At Hasbro, our mission is to create magic through play by delivering innovative play experiences, becoming a partner of choice and expanding our brands through a franchise-first approach. We create bespoke programs for each unique brand, we have stateof-the-art data analytics and consumer insights capabilities that allow us to look at the products and experiences that our fans are seeking for. We collaborate closely with our partners and share this knowledge so we can craft experiences tailored to our fans’ desires. Location-based entertainment is certainly a category that our team is focusing on expanding on. Consumers have been craving in-person experiences that go beyond tangible goods and create everlasting experiences that they can share with their loved ones. We have so much on the horizon that we cannot wait to unveil, including the official opening of new NERF Action Xperience and PEPPA PIG theme park locations, along with Planet Playskool, Playlodge and more.

Publishing is a strong avenue for us as well. By continuing to tell stories in diverse publishing formats – from cookbooks to comics, podcasts, audio stories and more – we are able to connect with our fans in new and engaging ways.

Could you tell us about the latest news on the publishing front for your brands?

Last year, we announced our collaboration with  Skybound Entertainment  as the comic book home for two of our most popular franchises: TRANSFORMERS and G.I. JOE. This year, amid TRANSFORMERS’ 40th  anniversary, we’re unveiling brandnew comics and graphic novels based on the shared Energon Universe from visionary creator, Robert Kirkman. Fans

in more than 13 territories across the Americas and Europe can join in on the action and adventure as new editions roll out regularly. The wildly popular series featuring Transformers, G.I. Joe and Void Rivals has broken industry sales records, and we’re excited to continue the momentum with brand-new collections being released this year! In Fall 2024, we’re launching a new graphic novel compendium series collecting the landmark Transformers series from Marvel Comics. Recently, we revealed  an impressive lineup for  Transformers #7, which kicks off the series’ second story arc.  Thanks to Dynamite Entertainment, fans can collect a new set of nearly 200 premium trading cards featuring fan-favorite characters from the Transformers brand’s “Generation 1” era, which showcases classic art styles from an international array of top artists and Hasbro’s design archives!

In the UK and EMEA, we introduced two refreshed  PEPPA PIG magazines with  Story House Egmont. Formatted as a three-weekly title, the Peppa Pig Official magazine includes a story based on an episode from the popular TV series and focuses on kids’ first experiences. As a brand-new offering for Peppa’s preschool category, the Peppa Pig Play Pack issue focuses on imaginary play with popular themes that draw inspiration from Peppa Pig episodes. The refreshed titles from the kids’favorite magazine arrive during the Queen of Preschool’s 20th anniversary. In line with new entertainment for the brand’s 20th  anniversary and 10th  season, we’ll also release an extensive range of books with content tie-ins and party themes in engaging new formats. For the first time ever, PEPPA PIG is also getting the podcast treatment from  Audible  this year with  brandnew podcast content  filled with rich storytelling for fans of all ages.

In EMEA, to help kick off our iconic CLUE brand’s 75th  anniversary this year, we

INTERVIEW 19
Katy Perry x Peppa Pig

launched  CLUE extended audio stories from Lunii  on the brand-new device, Flam. In these exciting audiobooks, fans can dive into a mystery inspired by the classic game, while immersing themselves in the thrill of the great detective story. Further, we’re publishing a mind-bending puzzle book with Harper Collins (Expanse Imprint) penned by bestselling author Dr. Gareth Moore this fall.

Also, in celebration of DUNGEONS & DRAGONS’ 50th  anniversary celebrations from the award-winning publishing house,  Ten Speed Press, we’ve launched Heroes’ Feast Flavors of The Multiverse: an Official D&D Cookbook The mouthwatering book presents a culinary tour that features original recipes inspired by regions and settings from across the Forgotten Realms and beyond. Developed by a professional chef, the seventy-six dishes within include scrumptious appetizers, like the Talyth and Goldenstars, savory main

courses, such as Steak of the Deep, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and desserts. We’ll also be releasing a stunning D&D museum book from Studio Press. In fiction, The Fallbacks: Bound for Ruin by Jaleigh Johnson is available now from Random House Worlds. Fans can look forward to the release of Exodus: The Archimedes Engine by bestselling author Peter Hamilton which releases September 17, 2024 (Random House Worlds in the US, Macmillan in the UK), ahead of the launch of the anticipated Exodus game.

After commemorating Hasbro’s 100th anniversary in 2023, 2024 will see major anniversaries for your brands, such as the 50th of D&D, the 20th of Peppa Pig, the 40th of Transformers, and so on. What related initiatives are in the pipeline?

This year is such a proud moment for us as we honor the 40th  anniversary of our prized IP, Transformers. This summer, fans can start jamming out to a special anniversary vinyl album featuring music from the 1984 animated series. Later this year, we’re continuing the onscreen action and adventure through the Transformers: EarthSpark Season 2 launch, along with the franchise’s first fully CG-animated movie, Transformers

One. With additional epic collabs from  LEGO, Funko, Jada Toys, JLab, Mad Engine, Robosen, RSVLTS, Super7 and many more, fans of all ages are welcomed into the beloved franchise and can discover where it all began.

We have so much planned for families to join Peppa Pig and her Let’s Jump In! adventures this year. Instilling confidence in little ones to treat every

step as a new adventure, Peppa Pig is conveying this positive brand theme across wide-ranging formats.  Katy Perry  and  Orlando Bloom  are getting airtime in the fun, three-part  PEPPA PIG Wedding Special, which premieres from March 25-28 as part of Nickelodeon’s PEPPA PIG Wedding Week. On the product front, we unveiled a new collaboration with  LEGO  and  Merlin Entertainments  to bring Peppa into Lego Duplo form through four adorable Lego Duplo Peppa Pig sets, along with themed play areas that are set to open this year at select Merlin Entertainments theme parks.  Additionally, we’ve introduced exciting new Peppa Pig fashion collaborations with Trotters, for a vibrant children’s clothing collection, along with Uniqlo Baby through two PEPPA-themed short-sleeved graphic t-shirts as part of its My Special Friends UT collection.

Since it first debuted 50 years ago, Dungeons & Dragons has cemented itself as a leader in imaginative play. Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast are raising a twenty-sided die and celebrating five decades of the fantasy roleplaying game by engaging with fans all over the world and offering games, entertainment, and products informed by the history of D&D to inspire fans of all ages.

INTERVIEW 20
Peppa Pig - Let’s Jump In D&D x LEGO Jada Toys x Transformers

Bolstering D&D’s innovative slate of new products, the team has an intriguing lineup of licensed consumer products in the works with world-class partners, including an eye-popping collection of footwear and apparel from Converse. Additionally, Reyn Spooner, home of the world’s most collected Aloha shirts, is set to roll the die on a D&D collab, along with Black Milk, the brand known to make awesome gear for fans who aren’t afraid of standing out. Additionally,  WizKids  is planning to debut its 50th anniversary-inspired product line, and we have so much more we’ll be announcing for D&D in the coming weeks.

Finally, LEGO and D&D are coming together to release an official LEGO IDEAS building set complete with minifigures, available for purchase from April 1 on LEGO.com. To play out your

D&D adventures, use the LEGO set that includes a downloadable free adventure available on D&D Beyond!

In recent years, companies have seen an increase in digital offerings, and at the same time there has been a huge growth in the LBE sector. What are Hasbro’s current prospects and partnerships in these two areas?

Location-based entertainment is a key growth area for us at Hasbro. To-date, we offer over 500 annual events globally and 60+ open fixed location experiences, including theme park attractions, branded hotels & restaurants, interactive life-sized games and more. Following the success of the Florida location, Merlin Entertainments is set to open two brand-new locations of the PEPPA PIG Theme Park in Texas (US) and Germany! Also tailing the opening of Kingsmen’s first NERF Action Xperience (NERF AX) in Manchester, UK, we’re launching two more locations in the United States in New York and Tennessee.

Additionally, Immersive Everywhere is bringing to life the unforgettable live experience, PEPPA PIG: Surprise Party! Set to launch in spring/summer

2024, PEPPA PIG will be the first preschool property in the UK to enter the immersive sector with an engaging interactive theatrical storyline and dedicated retail space.

Coming soon to Shanghai, China is the co-branded TRANSFORMERS & MY LITTLE PONY Playlodge, which will present an indoor family entertainment center and hotel rooms, along with retail and dining offerings.

We’re also expanding our digital offerings in all-new ways. In March, we launched the all-new TRANSFORMERS Digital Pop! Collection. The digital tokens feature some of the most recognizable Transformers characters, including Ultra Magnus, Blitzwing, Arcee and more.

In March, we also announced a collaboration with Voodoo to integrate Transformers into its most popular game, Mob Control.

In December 2023, LITTLEST PET SHOP marked its long-anticipated return to retail with an immersive digital play experience on Roblox. Then in January 2024, we announced that the Roblox experience smashed expectations with over 2 million visits in just the first month.

INTERVIEW 21
Mad Engine x Transformers LEGO DUPLO x Peppa Pig Playlodge x Transformers and My Little Pony NERF AX Manchester, UK

DeAPlaneta Entertainment brands bloom in springtime

The arrival of spring coincides with an expansion, at various levels, of the brands included in DeAPlaneta Entertainment’s varied and abundant portfolio, a veteran multinational entertainment company that operates globally and is a leader especially in Europe.

Milo, the award-winning and successful preschool series co-produced by DeAPlaneta Entertainment and British studio Fourth Wall, is already a classic in the company’s portfolio and a brand that continues its unstoppable international expansion. The series starring Milo, the charismatic black cat who uses role play to explore the wonderful world of vocations, is already being broadcast in more than 170 countries and has been dubbed into more than 20 languages. In the next few months, the series will premiere in Germany, Switzerland and Austria thanks to an agreement with SUPER RTL, the leading content

provider for kids in Germany. Milo is also coming to the U.S. through the public broadcaster PBS Kids and its free streaming platforms in May 2024; the preschool series will also be available to stream on the PBS KIDS Prime Video Channel. This year, Milo was also one of the finalists in the Best International Animated Series category at 2024 British Animation Awards. Season two of this successful award-winning pre-school animated show premiered recently in the UK and will be released worldwide in Fall 2024.

Milo’s international expansion is also taking place in the digital and gaming

environment. DeAPlaneta Entertainment launched in early March the official and free App for Milo, an exciting educational adventure that allows fans of the show to explore the world of this beloved character and acquire knowledge as they engage in play. Created to broaden and enrich the experience for Milo’s fanbase spanning all age groups, the App is an educational tool that promotes both learning and fun in a safe environment for children. This educational gaming app for the whole family is available worldwide for international Milo fans to enjoy in five languages: Spanish, English, French,

NEWS 22
Milo

Italian and Portuguese. Regarding the licensing agreements, Milo is expanding throughout Europe and consolidating into new categories. Milo’s Italian fans could enjoy last Easter of Milo’s first seasonal product in Italy: Milo’s Easter Egg, by Dolci Preziosi. The 150 grs. milk chocolate egg inspired by Milo had two different surprises: a special set of finger puppets depicting the main characters of the series, Milo, Lofty and Lark, and an exclusive kit of coloured clay and special stickers. This was the first seasonal product of Milo in Italy, and it was on sale in mass distribution, being available during last Easter in all Italian supermarkets. Also in Italy, DeAPlaneta Entertainment has signed agreements with Ravensburger for the creation of Milo puzzles (already on shelf), as well as with Panini for the creation of Milo’s magazine. In the Live Events category, DeAPlaneta Entertainment has partnered with Soluna Experience, which has created a costume character of Milo for Meet & Greets, Live Events and other activities for kids that they organize at commercial centres and shopping malls. Other licensing agreements in Italy include the deal with Pon Pon Edizioni (Gruppo Giunti), which will be the Italian publishing partner of Milo; DeAPlaneta

Entertainment has also closed licensing deals for the brand in Italy in the food & kids’ snacks categories. In Benelux, DeAPlaneta Entertainment is partnering with Vagaboond in a Back to School product line, which includes backpacks and pencil cases.

DeAPlaneta Entertainment is a company focused on creating new brands, such as Milo, but also specializes in representing IPs with a global reach, such as ZAG Heroez Miraculous™

- Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir, an

international phenomenon produced by ZAG and Mediawan Kids & Family. Miraculous is an ever-expanding brand, constantly producing new content and new characters that have made it an evergreen brand. Following last summer’s debut of the wildly successful theatrical and streaming animated blockbuster Miraculous™ Ladybug and Cat Noir: The Movie, 2024 will see the launch of additional new content. The much-anticipated 6th season of the series—as well as the 4th animated TV event (title TBC)—will launch in Q4!

Most recently, fans across the globe enjoyed the animated TV event Miraculous™ World: Paris, The Adventures of Shadybug & Claw Noir in which Ladybug and Cat Noir discover a parallel world where the holders of Ladybug and Cat Noir’s miraculous are evil, while the holder of the butterfly miraculous is a hero.

With over 400 licensees across the globe, Miraculous has achieved enormous digital success with 37+ billion views on YouTube and 645 million+ views on TikTok. And the Roblox game Miraculous™ RP: Ladybug

and Cat Noir was the second most visited branded game in Roblox in March 2024.

In the consumer products space, Miraculous closed an exciting Easter 2024 campaign with Ferrero in Italy with Miraculous™ Easter Eggs full of surprises for fans available in in all Italian supermarkets for Easter. And children across the globe will soon be able to replay the adventures of the globally loved superheroes in the PLAYMOBIL format with nine playsets based on the series launching in spring 2024.

NEWS 23
Miraculous™- Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir

Hero Inside, a superhero action-comedy animated series for kids (+8) created by the joint efforts of Korean powerhouses CJ ENM, Million Volt Animation Studios, Tencent Video and YGG Global, is one of the latest additions to DeAPlaneta Entertainment ever-expanding portfolio. DeAPlaneta Entertainment represents the brand across Europe and Latin America and serves as Master Licensing Agent and Media & Digital Distribution Partner of Warner Bros. Discovery, which has global broadcasting rights. With its spectacular animation and its unique kind of very human superheroes, the series has already demonstrated its ability to appeal to a global audience. The first season, an exhilarating collection of 11 episodes, premiered successfully last November in Latin America through Cartoon Network and HBO Max, arriving in countries as Mexico, Brazil and Argentina. Hero Inside arrived in Europe through linear channel Cartoon Network last January,

premiering since then in Portugal, Germany, France or United Kingdom, among other territories; the series also has arrived in Italy and Spain via free-to-air TV channel Boing. HBO Max launched the first season of the series last February, arriving in Spain, Portugal,

Northern Europe (Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden), CEE countries, Poland and Netherlands. Beyond Europe, Hero Inside has also arrived in Africa and to the Middle East in Q1 2024. The second season of this successful animated superhero blockbuster will premiere in multiple territories in September 2024.

Hero Inside makes any child or teenager’s dream come true: that their favorite superhero appears in front of them, in flesh and blood, just by saying their name. This creative series fosters values such as imagination, friendship and diversity while providing an exciting mix of different genres. Hero Inside also has an absolutely original collection of superheroes and a character design in which humor, as well as an irreverent approach to the classic super-heroic universe, is essential: in addition to Crying Man, the series includes such peculiar superheroes as Black Knight, Great Finger, Mummy Girl, Mr. Justice, Lucky and Sparkules. All of them, superheroes with a unique peculiarity:

they can turn their weaknesses into strengths, their shortcomings into real superpowers.

Finally, along with novelties such as Hero Inside, DeAPlaneta Entertainment’s catalog also includes classic, timeless brands such as Maya, the Bee. The relevance of this brand, which never go out of fashion, is evidenced by the nominations it has received at the Bologna Licensing Awards 2024. Maya the Bee is a brand known worldwide for strongly supporting sustainability, advocating for biodiversity, and effectively communicating important topics to children and young families; for this reason, it is not at all surprising that Maya has been nominated for Best Licensed Sustainable Project, a newly created category of the Bologna Licensing Awards.

NEWS 24
In this page pics from “Hero Inside” TV series

The continuing evolution of Rainbow

LM caught up with Matteo Olivetti, VP Licensing Sales & Strategy at Rainbow, to find out the latest news on the group’s extraordinary brands.

A few months ago you took on the new role of VP Licensing Sales & Strategy within Rainbow. What is this change entailing?

Rainbow is constantly evolving and I am excited to take on this new role, which brings with it new responsibilities but also goals that I am already pursuing. We are exploring new horizons and our licensing strategy is growing with more and more prestigious partnerships.

One of your most important brands, Winx Club, recently turned 20 years old. With which licensing and marketing activations are you celebrating this important anniversary?

Winx Club is a multi-target classic, which is now a reference brand for its core target groups of children and YA, adults and nostalgics, and which caters for an increasingly sophisticated and lifestyle demand. 2024 is a milestone year for Winx Club, with exclusive projects for the core audience.

To celebrate the first twenty years of Winx, Poste Italiane will release a

series of themed stamps, a memorable project for our fairies; from 28 March to 30 September Mirabilandia will host Winx Forever - the Musical, a unique collaboration that will give fans a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Another partnership signed for the 20th anniversary is the one with Boris Dondè, a Swiss artist who will create 36 collectable works inspired by the Winx. In the Winx must-have category, we find Zuiki and the co-branded capsule collection signed by Jimmy Paul, born from the partnership with Difuzed and distributed worldwide. Our marketing campaign also features many news: social media content, exclusive collaborations and competitions for fans around the world, projects and live events in Italy and in the countries where the community is strongest. The highlight of the celebrations will be the 20th Years Celebration Party in Rimini on 31 August

Gormiti - The New Era is the new live action series you have created in

collaboration with Giochi preziosi. Could you elaborate on this project for us?

Gormiti - The New Era is a high-budget live-action series produced by Rainbow in collaboration with Giochi Preziosi, with compelling stories, amazing special effects and extraordinary locations. It will reach the fans with product lines designed down to the smallest detail, thanks to the impressive mix of elements that give the brand a very strong appeal.

The reboot will bring back to the fore a brand that Giochi Preziosi has been able to empower year after year since its launch in 2005. The return of Gormiti is a true rebirth, a high-budget series of the highest quality coming out in BTS ‘24 to be followed by GP’s Master Toy and a rich and dedicated licensing plan with already many partners on board in different categories.

INTERVIEW 26
RAINBOW Winx Celebration Party

Rainbow recently announced a new animated property, Mermaid Magic. Can you tell us a bit more about it?

Mermaid Magic is Rainbow’s new highbudget CGI IP. The first ten 26’ episodes will be released on Netflix worldwide in Q3 ‘24, and various licenses are already in place from food, to toys, to Back to School. We are excited to bring audiences this series, which follows the adventures of the mermaid princess Merlinda and her friends Sasha and Nerissa on a mission to the surface world to save the underwater kingdom of Mertropia.

Another project concerns the Smurfs’ Village which is coming to Etnaland in Sicily for the ‘24 season, where 44 Cats is already a partner with its own Winx

Another very successful IP of yours is 44 Cats. What new deals will you be launching in the coming months?

44 Cats is a neutral pre-school classic with steadily increasing partnerships. The great focus on digital has made it more and more popular and the license is flourishing. The prestigious partnership with Trevalli Cooperlat for the 44 Cats lactose-free Trevalli CIOKO cocoa milk started in February. EsseCi is coming with toiletries and in May there will be a special release of Poste Italiane postal products. Walcor is our partner for Easter ‘24.

Rainbow is also a licensing agency for numerous third-party brands. What news can you share with us?

We have been licensed neutral, crossover classic The Smurfs since 2021. The first piece of news is that Giochi Preziosi will become the European master toy starting in 2024. The brand has just celebrated its 65th anniversary and in Italy two new TV series of 26 episodes have been launched on both Nick Jr and Rai Yoyo with excellent ratings, and a third is on the way. In addition, a cinema film will be released in February 2025.

attraction.

Diabolik keeps attaining excellent results on the Italian market, where it is confirmed as an iconic and multi-target brand.

Our partnership with artist Lucia Heffernan, who will be at the centre of a new digital strategy with the release of innovative content, also continues. Jack Ottanio, a multi-talented artist whose pop style with a futuristic touch is conquering more and more categories in Italy and internationally, is among the artistic licenses rising. Among the brands that have chosen Jack Ottanio’s rich imagery are Conad, with its reusable shopping bags, the Swiss multinational Sigg, with its line of reusable water bottles, Mirabello Carrara, part of the Caleffi Group, with its bed linen collection, and Ravensburger, with its puzzles.

INTERVIEW 28
Gormiti - The New Era Forever – The Musical, Mirabilandia 44 Cats, Cioko TreValli Cooperlat Winx Club, Zuiki capsule collection

THE POKÉMON COMPANY INTERNATIONAL

Pokémon Sets out Plans for 2024 in Italy and Beyond

Pokémon has started 2024 in style, with a vibrant programme of activity in place set to keep it fresh, relevant and at the forefront of popular culture, and deliver another sensational year for the world’s largest single property.

Pokémon’s popularity continues to surge across Europe, with Italy seeing a remarkable 68 per cent growth yearon-year and the second strongest growth among top 15 properties*. At the forthcoming Licensing Awards in Bologna, Pokémon is the most nominated brand and is shortlisted in four categories: Best Property of the year, Best Fashion Project for Pokémon X Dolly Noire, Best Teen Licensing Project for Pokémon X Clarks and Best Kids’ Licensing Project for Pokémon X Van Gogh Museum.

The Pokémon Company International has created a host of exciting new releases, collaborations and events in Italy, designed to appeal to a wide range of fans both old and new.

Pokémon toys continue to defy market trends, helped by innovative and awardwinning new products from Jazwares, distributed in Italy by Reitoys. The

latest hits include 8” and 12” plush and squeezable Clefairy and Teddiursa Squishmallows. In addition, Mattel’s Mega Construction figures continue to be popular, along with puzzles from Ravensburger and Funko’s distinctive and collectible vinyl figurines.

Pokémon remains a firm favourite among fashion retailers, from high street to high end. Its long-established direct-to-retail relationship with Inditex continues to go from strength to strength. Zara’s expanded kids’ collection includes new lines aimed at a younger age group, while Lefties also stocks an extended range. Both stores also offer accessories from Tempe, with a vibrant selection of Pokémon-adorned shoes, bags and backpacks. A new DTR partnership with Mango will see kids’ apparel coming in later 2024.

Following the great success of the recent collaboration with leading Italian

Jazwares plushes. Top image: Never be Lonely with Jax Jones

streetwear brand Dolly Noire, an exciting new launch is coming soon to delight fans. The collection will be available on Dolly Noire e-commerce and retail partners across Europe and as an exclusive of the Pokemon Center US and UK.

Other key licensees in Italy are Sabor and JB for fashion retail and wholesale; Difuzed for Adult apparel and accessories; Stor for lunchware; Seven for back to school and CyP Brands for 3D backpacks.

Pokémon and OVS celebrated Pokémon Day with an in-store activation across Italy, featuring dedicated windows, instore branded areas offering Pokémon product including toys and Softline with J Brand Licenses, and special events including a Pikachu Meet-and-Greet.

Recent successful promotions include the continuing collaboration with

NEWS 30

Ferrero, which includes the Kinder Ferrero Epiphany Stockings launched for the 2023/2024 campaign; and more launches are in the pipeline with the popular iced tea drink Estathe.

A new partnership saw branded San Carlo crisps appear in supermarkets and grocers across Italy, featuring the 3 new Paldean starter Pokémon alongside Pikachu – with a surprise inside each bag.

In ice cream parlour shops across Europe, fans can chill out with a delicious flavour inspired by Pokémon from CasaOptima. The Pokémon gelato was also presented at the recent SIGEP B2B fair in Rimini, Italy. And following the success of the BTS promotion with Levissima in 2023, new for 2024 is a selection of 18 Pokémon on the iconic Issima water bottles.

Innovation and creativity is at the heart of Pokémon’s continued success, and 2024 is set for even more exciting releases, activity and events across the year.

The hugely popular Pokémon Trading Card Game releases a new special expansion, Scarlet & Violet – Temporal Forces in March, marking the return of powerful ACE SPEC cards. And later in the year will see a fun new way to enjoy Pokémon TCG with the launch of the free-to-start Pokémon Trading Card Game Pocket app for iOS and Android devices.

There is also plenty of exciting new activity across Pokémon’s wide range of video games. Pokémon Masters EX celebrates 4.5 years with the arrival of new sync pairs, while more Pokémon are coming to Pokémon UNITE too. A series of 7-star Tera Raid Battles launched in Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet in celebration of Pokémon Day.

Introducing the first new mainline Pokémon animated series released in over 25 years, “Pokémon Horizons: The Series” launched in the UK on the BBC last December, rolling out across Europe – available in Italy on Boing from Pokémon Day 2024. And from early March, a special Pokémon Horizons: The Series collaboration arrived in Pokémon GO, introducing Pokémon and characters from the animation to the mobile game sensation.

The Play! Pokémon European International Championships, featuring action, events, rewards and more, come to Excel in London from 5-7 April.

Pokémon ice cream by CasaOptima

A new musical collaboration with multiplatinum DJ and producer Jax Jones, Never Be Lonely, featuring Zoe Wees, is a testament to the power of unity through music. Its video features a grand entrance from Pikachu, whose electrifying sparks illuminate the stadium and unite the crowd.

And following this packed and pulsating 2024, there is more excitement on the horizon for next year too, with an ambitious new entry to the Pokémon video game series, Pokémon Legends: Z-A, exclusive to Nintendo Switch family of systems, due for worldwide release in 2025.

*(source: Circana Retail Tracking)

NEWS 31
Dolly Noire for Pokémon Pokémon branded crisps by San Carlo

The limitless potential of Sanrio’s characters

A world of boundless potential awaits as Sanrio continues to captivate diverse audiences, industries, and, of course, characters. For over five decades, the Japanese company has been designing, developing, distributing, and licensing an array of branded gifts, stationery, and fashion items through collaborations and partnerships with esteemed companies worldwide.

Among the hundreds of characters created during its remarkable journey, Hello Kitty stands out as one of the most beloved. First introduced on a coin purse in 1974, Hello Kitty embodies

the essence of Japanese kawaii style and has become a global icon. Pop stars and divas like Dua Lipa, Paris Hilton, Katy Perry, and Lady Gaga have spontaneously posed with Hello Kitty accessories or clothing, cementing her status beyond Japan.

Yet, beyond Hello Kitty lies an enchanting universe of cutenessinfused characters, each with a unique personality and iconic features. These characters have won the hearts of fans across Asia and Europe, and their popularity is evident in the growing number of brands incorporating them into their collections. From My Melody to Kuromi, Sanrio’s characters now grace fashion items, stationery, and toys. Some even have their own TV series, available for streaming on

platforms like Netflix and YouTube. For instance, Gudetama and Aggretsuko have entertained audiences with their adventures, and Gudetama’s 3D live-action animation, “Gudetama: An Eggcellent Adventure,” was even nominated at the latest Emmy Awards in the “Kids: Animation” category. As we look ahead, Sanrio’s future brims with promise and excitement. The forthcoming years will be marked by milestones, new market explorations, new contents and captivating collaborations across various industries.

NEWS 32
SANRIO Hello Kitty’s Cute Coffee shop at CUTE exhibition. Top image: Hello Kitty’s corner at Somerset’s CUTE exhibition

Notably, 2024 is poised to be Hello Kitty’s year of celebration as she marks her 50th anniversary—an occasion that promises joy, nostalgia, and renewed enchantment for fans worldwide.

Hello Kitty’s 50th Anniversary: A Year of Celebration

In 2024, Hello Kitty enthusiasts around the world are gearing up for an extraordinary celebration as the beloved character marks her  50th anniversary Sanrio, the company behind Hello Kitty, is pulling out all the stops to ensure this milestone year is unforgettable for fans. The latest initiative took place earlier in March, when Primark launched in 16 markets a brand new collection dedicated to Hello Kitty’s 50 anniversary. The festivities kicked off towards the end of 2023, and it felt like a nostalgic trip back to the 2000s—the heyday of “Hello Kitty mania.” The  CUTE exhibition  at Somerset House in London is a prime example. An entire area is dedicated to Hello Kitty, featuring delightful installations and a showcase of merchandise, including the iconic coin purse that started it all. Journalists from across the globe have flocked to cover the event, and visitors eagerly queue up at the Hello Kitty café within the exhibition. It’s a testament to the enduring fascination with Japanese culture and traditions, of which Hello Kitty has become a cultural ambassador.

But that’s not all. Sanrio is embarking on an ambitious content creation journey. Historically, Sanrio characters haven’t been associated with animated series or TV shows. However, recent years have seen a shift. For example  “Hello Kitty: Super Style!”, a co-production with Amazon Kids+, since its launch, the show has performed well in every market, consistently ranking among the top 5 pre-school shows. Fans can

look forward to new episodes slated for release in Q2 of this year.

Where can you catch “Hello Kitty: Super Style!”? The show is available on both renowned streaming platforms and free TV channels worldwide. New partnerships are in the works, bringing “Hello Kitty: Super Style!” to additional territories: RTVE/Clan: Spain, MBC: Pan Middle East and Youku: China So whether you’re a longtime Hello Kitty fan or a newcomer, get ready for a year filled with joy, nostalgia, and adorable adventures!

My Melody and Kuromi: Upcoming Anniversaries and Fashion Influence

As we celebrate the iconic Hello Kitty’s 50th anniversary, we can’t overlook the exciting milestones awaiting two other beloved Sanrio characters:  My Melody and  Kuromi. In 2025, My Melody will mark her 50th anniversary, while Kuromi celebrates her 20th. These characters have already captured the hearts of fans worldwide and have become fashion icons in their own right.

My Melody: The Sweet Baking Enthusiast

My Melody embodies innocence, sweetness, and family values. She’s a kind-hearted girl whose favorite pastime is baking cookies with her mom. Over the years, My Melody has graced collections from renowned fashion brands like Liu Jo, Fila, and Chloé. Her timeless appeal extends beyond childhood, as evidenced by her recent collaboration with Italian television personality and social media influencer Elettra Lamborghini.

Kuromi: The Mischief-Maker with a Soft Side

Kuromi, on the other hand, is My Melody’s friendly rival. This tomboy character thrives on mischief and is always up to some playful trouble. Kuromi marches to the beat of her own drum, unswayed by external influences. Despite her tough exterior, she harbors a sweet side. Brands like Bershka, Uniqlo, H&M, and Forever 21 recognize Kuromi’s edgy appeal and have launched clothing lines featuring her signature style.

NEWS 33
Primark collection x Hello Kitty’s 50th anniversary

Sanrio’s Strategic Collaborations and Fashion Impact

Sanrio’s strategic collaborations with globally relevant brands have led to innovative projects, increased media exposure, and elevated product value.

The rich and diverse portfolio of Sanrio characters appeals not only to kids and teenagers but also resonates with young adults. For instance, GCDS brought Hello Kitty to the catwalks during Milan Fashion Week, captivating journalists and photographers once again.

Sanrio’s Expansive Influence and the World of Mr. Men Little Miss

However, Sanrio’s creative prowess doesn’t stop there. Enter another beloved brand under their umbrella:  Mr. Men Little Miss, originally created by Roger Hargreaves.

These endearing characters, each representing distinct human emotions and attitudes, hold a special place in British cultural heritage. But their appeal transcends borders. Over the past few years, Mr. Men Little Miss has experienced remarkable growth not only in the UK and France but also in countries like Greece, and China. Sanrio is committed to further expanding the brand’s presence globally, with a particular focus on emerging markets. Among the most promising regions is the Middle East where content development and strategic marketing initiatives are set to intensify in the coming months.

Thrilling Developments for Mr. Men Little Miss in 2024

What makes Mr. Men Little Miss particularly exciting in 2024 is their diversification across various industries.

NEWS 34
GCDS’s collection featuring Hello Kitty My Melody has graced collections from fashion brands like Chloé (Right Image)

While historically associated with publishing, these characters now captivate audiences in multifaceted ways. Here are some highlights.

Edutainment Activations: Mr. Men Little Miss embraces the trend of edutainment, seamlessly blending education and entertainment. A recent campaign in partnership with McDonald’s for World Book Day exemplifies this. Happy Meals offer either one of ten Mr. Men Little Miss plush toys or one of four “Discover You” books, along with a token for a free World Book Day book. This approach extends the brand’s reach to children in a joyful and playful environment, encouraging engagement and socialization.

Versatility Across Mediums:

Partnerships like the Mr. Men Little Miss-themed Monopoly edition in France (in collaboration with Winning Moves) showcase the brand’s versatility. Whether in books, games, or other forms of media, these characters continue to resonate with audiences of all ages. The enduring charm of Mr. Men Little Miss lies in their ability to evoke emotions, entertain, and teach valuable life lessons. As they venture into new territories, their legacy remains firmly rooted in hearts around the world.

The enduring appeal of characters like  Mr. Tickle,  Little Miss Sunshine, and their delightful friends extends far beyond the realm of children. Even adults find themselves drawn to these beloved personalities, as evidenced by

Mango’s latest collection that features them. These iconic characters have transcended their original context and now make appearances not only in fashion outlets but also in exhibitions and even amusement parks. Their presence enriches the experiences of audiences of all ages.

As we look ahead to the coming months, exciting novelties await the  Mr. Men Little Miss  brand. While some details remain confidential for now, one thing is certain: these characters will continue to evolve across various mediums. They serve as invaluable tools for nurturing

emotional intelligence and fostering cultural appreciation among children worldwide.

From helping children understand their emotions through the engaging “Discover You” series to embarking on delightful adventures in different countries with the book “Around France,” these characters inspire, educate, and bring joy to hearts young and old. With Sanrio at the helm, and exciting developments on the horizon, audiences can look forward to many more years of inspiration and delight from these iconic characters.

NEWS 35
Adidas’ collection featuring Hello Kjtty and Friends Kuromi clothing line by Bershka and Friends Edutainment: the endearing characters of Mr. Men Little Miss were featured on McDonald’s for World Book Day

Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game Hits Major 25 Year Milestone

Yu-Gi-Oh!, the popular Japanese manga, anime and collectible card game, has hit a major milestone celebrating 25 years of the Trading Card Game.

Today, Yu-Gi-Oh! reigns supreme as the “King of Games” evolving into a multi-generational brand with fans from a range of demographics including Millennial Gamers, Gen Z and Gen Alpha. With the Trading Card Game’s introduction 25 years ago, providing gamification for the already popular Manga title, the Yu-Gi-Oh! IP has grown and continued to engage players thanks to not only the Trading Card Game, but with the introduction of an array of

mobile and video games that highlight a similar play pattern. Duel Links and Master Duel are two of the more recent titles that have attracted new players to the game as well as bringing back lapsed players thanks to the ease of access and multi-player focus. Collectability, community and strategy remain at the core of the Trading Card Game’s appeal.

Other key brand initiatives and promotional collaborations are also providing excitement around the brand. This includes a major deal with adidas Originals, which provided Yu-Gi-Oh! fans with a selection of a fresh deck of footwear, ranging from high-energy sneakers to fashionable sandals specially designed with fan favorite monsters, stripes, spells, trefoils and traps. The social media presence for the brand is on the rise with organic growth coming from high visibility collaborations such as adidas, Hypland and Higround along with new content breaking on the Yu-Gi-Oh! YouTube channel.

Most recently, fans in Belgium have gone wild for a McDonald’s Happy Meal offered there with a promotion which has Sanrio characters dressed as monsters from the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game. Since launching in that market a few weeks ago, fans have taken to social media and eBay in search of the product to purchase. Abysse Corp who is both a merchandise licensee and a distributor of the YuGi-Oh! Trading Card Game noted, “Yu-Gi-Oh!’s overriding theme of friendship, inclusivity, self-power and self-expression, are touchpoints that

NEWS 36

resonate with a number of demographics across the board,” said Xavier Sartoris, President and founder of Abysse Corp He continued, “With the IP’s continued and growing exposure across broadcast, streaming, live events, and promotions, we look forward to seeing what the next decades bring in terms of fan excitement and engagement.”

With anime being a hot genre, Yu-Gi-Oh! has consistently been part of major broadcaster’s schedule lineups around the world and available on a wide range of streaming services such as: Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Crunchyroll, Amazon and Roku. The newest anime series, Yu-Gi-Oh! Go Rush!!, is currently finding success with audiences in Japan. Yu-GiOh! Go Rush!! is currently airing on TV Tokyo and BS TV Tokyo and fans hope it will soon be available in other markets

as past series have been.

The commercial heart of this franchise remains the Trading Card Game.

The Yu-Gi-Oh! TRADING CARD GAME, featuring monsters, spells, and traps, was launched by Konami in 1999 in Japan and later in North America.

Through the years, it has become a top selling trading card game worldwide. Konami launched its 25th anniversary project in February 2023, with on-going planned releases of commemorative products. Some of the special product introductions available for purchase to mark the occasion have included: platinum trading cards, a range of products featuring Pot of Greed, and the very popular limited edition adidas sneakers collaboration; all instantly recognizable to fans of Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters series. This most fondly

Konami Cross Media NY Inks Yu-Gi-Oh! Publishing Deals

remembered series includes noted fan favorites such as: Yami Yugi, Seto Kaiba, Dark Magician, Blue-Eyes White Dragon, and Dark Magician Girl.

MEET KONAMI AT BLTF/K!

Konami Cross Media NY, Inc. will be part of the Licensing Business Lounge at the Bologna Licensing Trade Fair/Kids (Hall 29 – Mall 2), set in the heart of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, 8-11 April 2024. The company will be taking part in meetings and seeking to expand in the EMEA region for Yu-Gi-Oh! and their other gaming IPs.

Konami Cross Media NY, Inc.’s Vice President of Licensing and Marketing Jennifer Coleman, who oversees the franchise’s licensing program, has confirmed two new publishing agreements for the Yu-GI-Oh! IP.

In a move to bring publishing into the mass market for Yu-Gi-Oh!, Konami Cross Media NY has partnered with Landoll Publishing, a market leader to produce Yu-Gi-Oh! Inspired, high-quality coloring books and storybooks as well as sticker, puzzle and educational activity books. The Yu-Gi-Oh! publishing line is now available across U.S. and Canadian outlets.

Landoll Publishing’s retail partners expressed a strong interest in Animerelated content for the genre’s growing fanbase,” said Coleman. “Yu-Gi-Oh!, with an expanding global presence on so many platforms, is well poised to attract a Gen Alpha demographic to Landoll Publishing’s products”.

Landoll Publishing’s General Manager Jennifer Denn added: “With nearly 60 years of expertise in the development and publishing of coloring, activity and educational books for children, Landoll Publishing’s goal has always been to surpass consumer expectations by creating engaging and entertaining experiences for youngsters who are discovering the wonder of books and reading. Yu-Gi-Oh! provides us with a limitless number of innovative characters and monsters which can be incorporated into a wide array of activity, coloring, and sticker books.”

With Nelson Publishing, an imprint of Carlsen Publishing, Konami Cross Media NY has secured a licensing agreement that will produce and publish a German language edition of The Official Yu-Gi-Oh! Guidebook, under the Nelson imprint and coming to the market at the end of 2024. A German language edition of The Art of the Cards, a coffee table book that will be published under Carlsen Publishing House imprint will be available in 2025.

“Nelson Publishing has a demonstrated passion for children’s publishing, as evidenced by its work with such franchises as: Harry Potter, Tintin, Son Goku, Peanuts and Naruto,” said Coleman. “We are happy to work with the team at Nelson to make these wonderful books available for our German speaking and reading Yu-Gi-Oh! fan base.”

Nelson Publishing’s Thorben Thoosen added: “We are excited to partner with Konami Cross Media NY to build a publishing program in the German market for Yu-Gi-Oh! We know that Germany has a strong fan base and we look forward to providing a new kind of content that they can enjoy.”

NEWS 38

Moonbug at forefront of the Digital Evolution

With consumers becoming more and more connected as part of the ongoing digital revolution, Moonbug has access to real time data on how audiences consume and watch content on a multitude of digital platforms and formats, knowing first-hand what type of content, stories and characters resonate the most.

The company has built a portfolio of properties through the acquisition of popular kids’ IPs that were originally born in the digital space. By leveraging its creative and production expertise, and having an integrated approach, Moonbug have grown these properties into global entertainment franchises.

Moonbug is the creative force behind some of the biggest kids’ entertainment brands in the world today, including CoComelon, which is the largest YouTube kids’ channel worldwide, with over 300 million subscribers globally, and over 4.5 billion average monthly views.

On YouTube, Moonbug dominates the Made-For-Kids (MFK) space. In 2023, Moonbug content had nearly 97 billion views, which is more than the MFK content on YouTube from Hasbro, Warner Media, Paramount and Disney combined.

In November 2023, Moonbug announced an innovative and strategic global alliance with Spin Master Based on a shared vision of creating exceptional kids’ content, products and experiences and making it accessible to audiences around the world, this partnership brings together

NEWS 40
MOONBUG ENTERTAINMENT
UNIQLO for CoComelon

the powerful capabilities of both companies and maximizes audience growth across a mix of product and content, encompassing licensing, content production and targeted  media placement for some of Moonbug and Spin Master’s most iconic brands.

The month of March 2024 marks the launch of the first apparel collaboration with global casual clothing company, UNIQLO, featuring characters from its hit show CoComelon. The collection includes five different designs of infant and toddler T-shirts, and will be available online and in-store globally.

“Our collaboration with UNIQLO is a significant milestone for our Consumer Products team as we continue to expand our fashion and apparel offering, especially in territories across Asia where our CoComelon brand has a big fan base,” said Francesca Romana Gianesin, Head of Consumer Products & Experiences, International at Moonbug Entertainment. “ With this collection we are looking forward not only to offering a great quality product to families around the world, but also bringing the joy of CoComelon to our little fans, who can now experience their

favourite characters in a new way.”

In FMCG, Moonbug has partnered with the #1 fastest growing premium baby food brand in the UK, Piccolo, for a CoComelon baby snacking range. The deal is confirmed for 3 years and marks an important move in the challenger brands rise in popularity among parents, as it’s the first time CoComelon will be seen in the baby food aisle in the UK and Piccolo’s first venture into a major licensing agreement.

Bringing the joy of the popular character JJ through their newly reformulated baby snack range, parents will be able to feed their babies and toddlers tasty, nutritious snacks that will engage them beyond the food. CoComelon will be featured across Piccolo’s Multigrain Puffs Single packs (15g) and Multipacks (4x15g) as well as it’s duo of fibre-rich Oaty Bars (6x20g). The Piccolo X CoComelon collaboration will also be launching on a range of NPD launching later in 2024.

Piccolo Founder and mum of three Cat Gazzoli said: “This is a really exciting time for Piccolo as it’s the first ever licensing deal we’ve done. As a mum of

three, I know all too well how popular CoComelon (it’s been quite the savior on busy work days) and it’s amazing to see this collaboration come to life on our packaging. I know how hard it is to make sure our children are getting all the nutrients they need at home, let alone when on the go, so I’m so pleased to see the extension and reformulation of our snack range to support parents with products that put nutrition first, second, and third.”

Samar Selby Altaf, Director FMCG at Moonbug Entertainment said: “ We are thrilled to partner with Piccolo to offer this new range of CoComelon branded snacks. We understand the importance of providing little ones with tasty nutritious snacks, whilst getting them interested and excited about their food. The combination of our beloved characters with Piccolo’s recipes provides parents and carers with a great solution for those on-the-go or inbetween meals moments.”

As product licensing dives headfirst into immersive storytelling, the boundary between entertainment and play is blurring. The fusion of play and media allows kids to step into the shoes

NEWS 41

of their favourite characters and their worlds. To this effect, the E xperiences and Location Based Entertainment efforts continue to be a focus for Moonbug.

A brand new semi-permanent Blippi experience opened in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia last October featuring new characters Tabbs and D.BO, plus Blippi himself. Families can visit Boulevard Riyadh City and book to explore the curious world of Blippi through zones inspired by the episodes: dinosaurs and lava, under the sea and space. This experience will be open for one year and is operated by Moonbug’s Distribution and Events partner Spacetoon. So far, it has been enjoyed by over 30,000 visitors.

Testament to Blippi’s success, in the first-ever Licensing Awards for the MENA region (held in Dubai in February 2024), Blippi won the award for “Top Brand for Educational Content”, beating competitor brands Paw Patrol and Dora the Explorer.

CoComelon inflatable pop-up events continue to prove extremely popular, especially in Asia. In Malaysia, Moonbug’s partner One Universal Production SDN BHD was awarded the prestigious Golden Horse Award 2023 for their exceptional CoComelon immersive experience, which delighted over two million fans in 44 days.

Through partnerships with top brands and a diverse range of licensing opportunities across multiple regions, Moonbug’s positioned to continue leading the industry in new and creative ways and continues to expand its product offering, leveraging knowledge in data to inform product development based on the most popular episodes of content, as well as following product trends.

Last but certainly not least, March 20 th 2024 sees the launch of the animated series Morphle and the Magic Pets. The Moonbug Entertainment and Disney Branded Television-created show will first debut in the US on Disney Junior and Disney+, and will then begin rolling out globally (excluding China) on the same platforms later in the year.

“Our collaboration with UNIQLO is a significant milestone for our Consumer Products team as we continue to expand our fashion and apparel offering, especially in territories across Asia where our CoComelon brand has a big fan base. With this collection we are looking forward not only to offering a great quality product to families around the world, but also bringing the joy of CoComelon to our little fans”

Morphle and the Magic Pets follows Mila and her stepbrother, Jordie, as they leap into a world of adventure with the help of Morphle, Mila’s magical and loyal pet who has the power to morph into whatever she imagines. The series will comprise 52 seven-minute episodes and  50 threeminute shorts, and is being billed as an “evolution” from the original  Morphle  YouTube series with a new look and more in-depth storytelling.

Moonbug remains dedicated to providing inclusive and engaging content for families, and is always looking for new ways to connect with its global audience through authentic storytelling and products.

NEWS 42

The Agency celebrates 10 years of success

Ten years of innovation and unforgettable partnerships for Italy’s No. 1 independent agency, which is still growing in 2024.

Maurizio Distefano Licensing is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year with great pleasure and gratitude to all the licensors and licensees who have trusted in the high professionalism of its founders, Maurizio Distefano and Michela Marchese Patti. To mark the occasion, even the iconic logo has been enriched with a festive balloon. Ten years of dedication, passion, innovative partnerships, strategic vision and intuition for winning brands have marked the successful path taken from day one by Maurizio Distefano, who, together with his partner Michela

Marchese Patti and the rest of his splendid team, has worked with dedication and professionalism to help licensees turn licensing projects into major commercial successes, becoming the No. 1 licensing agency in Italy, No. 2 in Europe and No. 37 in the world (credit: License Global). President Maurizio Distefano said: “As we look to the future, we are committed to continuing to innovate and grow, while maintaining a high level of service and professionalism. We are delighted to be able to celebrate several highly successful projects in which our agency has been the driving force, and to confirm this trend again this year”. Indeed, this spring it’s possible to see on the shelves many products resulting from partnerships secured by the

NEWS 44
Masha and the Bear Easter egg by Motta

agency. Easter 2024, for example, is full of companies that chose or confirmed their partnership with Maurizio Distefano Licensing for chocolate eggs and other Easter products. Just to name a few, Motta with Masha and The Bear eggs (confirmed to be the most popular animated TV series in the world in 2024 according to Parrot Analytics, on air for over 11 years on Rai Yoyo, and still in the top 3 most viewed titles), Balocco with ALVINN!!! And the Chipmunks, Dolci Preziosi with Gigantosaurus, and Dolfin with Bluey’s Easter Eggs, the animated series that

has many surprises in store for 2024. In fact, for Bluey, the final 10 episodes of season 3 were released on Disney+ last January, as the first 10 episodes of the same season were released on Rai Yoyo in February. BBC Studios Kids & Family has a global broadcast deal with Disney for all territories outside Australia, New Zealand, and China. On April 14th, the series’ longest ever episode, The Sign – 28 minutes length - will premiere worldwide. As a preview of this special release, there is also the première of another unseen episode, ‘Ghost Basket’, released on Disney+ on April 7th. Since

its launching in Australia in 2018, Bluey has gained millions of fans around the world and has been widely praised for its sincere and funny portrayal of family life and celebration of play. Celebrity fans include Eva Mendes, Natalie Portman and Lin-Manuel Miranda, who have all appeared in cameo roles in the series. Once again this year, Dolfin will be stocking two formats of Bing’s Egg, the animated series that conquered the Italian market thanks to its authentic, entertaining and, above all, educational content. The partnership with the Italian Society of Paediatrics (S.I.P.)

NEWS 45

and Assonidi, aimed at promoting good habits in the early stages of children’s development, has been very well received by families and, for the first time, features an entertainment character as a symbol of good childhood habits.

Another brand in the agency’s portfolio that is reaching its full potential in 2024 is Baileys. This Easter, Bauli’s

Colomba with Baileys Cream is back on the shelves, but other leading food companies have recognised the strength of the brand for other products we can find in the stores all year round. The latest addition to the licensee list is Mec3, which has added a new treat to its range: Baileys ice cream. The launch of this new product in the best ice cream parlours offers consumers an unprecedented taste experience thanks to an ice cream with an enveloping texture and soft alcoholic notes. Dessert Manifattura, on the other hand, has chosen Baileys to create three spoon desserts (Chocolate & Baileys, Tiramisu with Baileys and Caramel & Baileys) to be found in the chiller cabinets of the best supermarkets. In November 2023, Caffè Borbone launched the product we have all been waiting for: the innovative Baileys-flavoured coffee cream. Unique on the market, it can be enjoyed both hot and cold, making it perfect for all seasons. The rapid sell-out confirms the strength and uniqueness of this delicious product, where the unmistakable notes of Baileys blend masterfully with the taste of Caffè Borbone. At the end of 2023, Vicenzi launched the special edition of the new Grisbì, where the smooth Baileys cream is wrapped in delicious shortbread biscuits. For a moment of pure taste and pleasure, Vicenzi has created the perfect break in the day. Effective communication with the ‘Unveiled pleasure’ campaign also contributed to the success of the product, which was highly appreciated by the customers.

Maurizio Distefano, President of the agency, says: “We are very proud of the results we have achieved in this first part

of the year. In particular, we believe more and more in the possibilities of food brand licensing, which surprisingly can be applied to other categories. However, our hard core remains and confirms us as the agency with the most successful animated series of the moment: suffice it to say that Masha and The Bear, Bing and Bluey consistently rank among the top 3 most-watched programs by families on various platforms.”

NEWS 46
Bauli’s colomba with Baileys

Costume characters, the new allies of socialemotional learning

Atlantyca Entertainment holds the international rights of many book-based IPs such as Geronimo Stilton and it is a benchmark in the development of properties not only for publishing but also for animation and consumer products. Its beloved characters are able to create strong emotional bonds with young fans, thanks in particular to the presence of costume characters in various engaging contexts, contributing greatly to their social-emotional development.

The presence of a costume character allows young fans to establish a direct emotional relationship with their favourite character, moving from fantasy to reality. As in the case of Geronimo Stilton in the Kingdom of FantasyThe Musical, an All Entertainment production under exclusive licence by Atlantyca Entertainment, which recently made its international debut The musical is faithfully based on the bestselling, world-renowned book series of the same name, published in Italy by Edizioni Piemme. The show, which made its debut in Spain in 2024 after conquering audiences at major Italian theatres, recounts the adventures of Geronimo Stilton, who, along with gnomes, goblins and dragons, must rescue the Fairy Queen Floridiana.

Geronimo Stilton’s recent success at Madrid’s Teatro La Latina has further enhanced his starring role, confirming how natural it is for characters born within the world of publishing to ‘come to life’ and be real, genuine actors, albeit with fur and moustaches.

In addition to the theatre, GS’ costume character appears as a celebrity in various capacities, such as the guarantor of the Italian language during the Settimana della Lingua Italiana nel Mondo (Italian Language Week in the World), on a mini-tour that toured Ireland, the UK and Scotland. GS was then the star of the Italian Navy’s Amerigo Vespucci stopover in Marseilles to promote the beauty of Italian culture and territory; he was also a guest at the Tunis Book Fair and at an event held

in Kenya and organised by the Italian Cultural Institute of Nairobi. The mouse journalist also landed at the Italian Embassy in Paris to talk to children about respect for nature and biodiversity as part of the pre-COP26 events. The successful GS story was replicated in the development of the character The World of Mr Water. Although with a different objective and purpose, Atlantyca carefully designed the corresponding costume character, which met with immediate interest from shopping malls: in collaboration with licensing partners such as Leftloop and Inscenando, events dedicated to Mr Water were created in various shopping malls. There are also numerous educational workshops in various parts of Italy: on the Riviera Romagnola,

NEWS 48
ATLANTYCA ENTERTAINMENT

in Puglia, in Lazio, in Tuscany and in Piedmont.

Even before Mr Water, Geronimo’s topesque footsteps were followed by Bat Pat, the monster-friendly bat writer, star of a series of books and two seasons of animated tv series, who teaches children about the many resources of diversity.

On one hand, Geronimo Stilton with his international interventions promoting Italy, on the other Bat Pat with his ‘monstrous’ friendships promoting acceptance of self and others, and Mr Water with his science experiments, share all together an educational mission and become important ambassadors of Social Emotional

Learning (SEL)

Internationally, content creators are increasingly aware of the need to provide children with tools to manage their emotions in social contexts, from school to leisure and sport.

Children become more confident and assertive when they learn to consciously identify and experience their own emotions in relation to their human and Geronimo Stilton conquers European museums with Artefatto

Atlantyca Entertainment has recently signed a licensing agreement with Artefatto, the leading Italian company in the production and distribution of museums merchandising. Artefatto has been working in the cultural heritage sector since 1995 and can boast a number of important assignments in this field, such as the collaboration with the Egyptian Museum in Turin. The new project between Artefatto and Atlantyca Entertainment involves the development of ad-hoc merchandising for the Geronimo Stilton IP in whole Europe, which is already present in several museums through its books. The products of the popular mouse will be promoted and distributed in the best European museums, thanks to a section of Artefatto’s vast catalogue entirely dedicated to Geronimo Stilton.

natural environment. They also feel less influenced by their own emotions and more able to manage those of others. Meeting the costume character of their favourite character generates the most positive emotions and encourages the transmission of content and values, as Geronimo Stilton has taught and other characters such as Mr Water are beginning to do.

NEWS 49

Studio Bozzetto: Blazing New Trails in Animation with The Game Catchers

In the realm of children’s animation, Studio Bozzetto stands out not just for its longevity but for its continuous innovation. The studio is now capturing imaginations with its latest offering, The Game Catchers.

From the streets of Milan and Bergamo, Italy, Studio Bozzetto has been redefining the frontiers of storytelling for over six decades, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of audiences worldwide. The studio, which also brought the world the globally distributed project Tip The Mouse, is now capturing imaginations with its latest offering, The Game Catchers

The Game Catchers, a series that has quickly become a beloved addition to the children’s programming lineup on international networks such as the

NEWS 50
STUDIO BOZZETTO Top image: Andrea Bozzetto and Pietro Pinetti. Other images: Tip The Mouse, The Game Catchers

BBC’s CBeebies, RTÉ, YLE, and more, is the embodiment of Studio Bozzetto’s vision. The series, co-produced with Sphere Animation, a Canadian company, seamlessly blends 2D characters with 3D backgrounds to create a visual feast that transports viewers to an array of extraordinary worlds.

This successful series, in its inaugural season, has already achieved remarkable TV shares across the globe, resonating with audiences from Canada to Singapore. The secret, it seems, is in the unique blend of educational content, cultural respect, and boundless fun. The series doesn’t just entertain; it introduces young viewers to the joys of exploration and the value of teamwork, celebrating diversity and friendship at every turn.

With a second season on the horizon, boasting an additional 52 episodes teeming with inventive characters and rich planetary settings, The Game Catchers is not just a show but a growing universe ripe for licensing opportunities. The strategic direction of the series, with an eye toward toy development and interactive play experiences, has opened up a realm of possibilities for merchandise that extends beyond the screen.

Studio Bozzetto prepares for the release of The Game Catchers second season, they are poised to implement a similar

NEWS 51

comprehensive licensing program, expanding the reach of their endearing game-catching characters.

Moreover, the books based on The Game Catchers, published by Giunti Editore, have enjoyed such success that new titles are slated to coincide with the show’s upcoming season. This continued focus on the publishing category speaks volumes about the series’ narrative strength and the studio’s commitment to educational content.

Looking ahead, Studio Bozzetto aims to foster deeper connections between viewers and The Game Catchers through an online experience that offers a galactic game instruction database, further bringing the show’s vibrant universe to life.

“The global response to ‘The Game Catchers’ has been nothing short of phenomenal. We’re seeing a wonderful engagement from children who are not only watching the show but are eager to immerse themselves in its universe through the games and products inspired by the series”

Studio Bozzetto’s journey with The Game Catchers highlights the studio’s adeptness at combining its storied past

with a forward-thinking approach to content creation.

NEWS 52

2024, the year of Stumble Guys

In Italy, a year after its launch, Stumble Guys has become a real phenomenon, welcoming a growing number of partners and fans. To find out more, LM interviewed Giada Paterlini, President, and Isabella Barone, Managing Director, at Starbright Licensing, the agency that launched and develops the brand in Italy.

Can you tell us what is behind the Stumble Guys phenomenon?

Stumble Guys is a knockout multiplayer online game - up to 32 players simultaneously - where players stumble through unique maps round after round until a winner is crowned. The game is enjoyed by tens of millions of players every week and has quickly become a global viral phenomenon.

The game continues to grow thanks to its fun and fast-paced gameplay suitable for all ages, its ever-growing collection of characters and maps, its large community of creators and its monthly collaborations with famous IPs and brands (e.g. NERF, Barbie, Monopoly,

Tetris or the famous Gen-Z creator Mr Beast, who recently became a character in the game!). In a very short time, the Scopely team has expanded the game and entered the world of licensing and merchandising, where it met a great success and still has enormous potential.

Stumble Guys has attracted a large number of players of all ages. What is its strength?

It is not easy to sum up in a few words the success of this game in the consumer products: the Stumble Guys licensing programme was launched last spring, in 2023, transforming a

primarily digital experience (playable on mobile phones) into something real with physical products capable of capturing the interest of consumers.

Can you tell us more about this first year of brand development in Italy?

We were the first licensing agency in the world to recognise the potential and adaptability of this IP in consumer goods. We therefore made our knowhow available to the licensor to create an innovative licensing project in Italy. We were able to achieve excellent results in a very short time, thanks to our partners who believed in the project from the outset, invested in it with their products and took up the challenge!

INTERVIEW 54
STARBRIGHT LICENSING
Diramix Monsterflex

So far, we have already signed several licensing agreements in Italy, among which we can mention Diramix for trading cards, stickers, 3D mini figures, and stretchables; Poolover for back-toschool; Grani & Partners as preferred supplier for promotional and loyalty products; Preziosi Food for chips; ELG Food for confectionery, Easter eggs and seasonal products; Clementoni for puzzles; RollyBrush for oral care and Pon Pon Edizioni for publishing.

In terms of international partners, PMI (master toys) and Panini (stickers) have already started their global launch programme, planned in 2024, together with Diramix for the stretchables and 3D collectibles in flow and blister packs.

In particular, Diramix launched cards and 3D minis on newsstands in the Spring of 2023, with immediate consumers’ success. The plan was then strengthened in 2024 with the launch of stickers, new collections of 3D minis and Monsterflex, the first collection of Stumble Guys’ stretchables, which was a huge success!

Fashion, thanks to OVS and Calliope, together with publishing, coming soon, contribute to increasing the brand’s visibility in the respective channels, reinforcing its presence, and we are only at the beginning!

The arrival of PMI toys, distributed in Italy by Rocco Giocattoli, gave a further boost to the licensing development programme.

What other variations of the brand are possible, according to you?

There are no limits, neither for the product nor for the target audience. Stumble Guys appeals to all audiences because it is gender neutral: diversity and inclusion are key elements of the game, which appeals to all ages and genders. The list of over 500 characters (with new ones added monthly) keeps the brand fresh and trendy, with enough variety to make consumers want to collect them all!

Stumble Guys has had and will have co-branding partnerships with Barbie, Hot Wheels, Smurfs, to name a few. How will these collaborations evolve into products or events outside of the game?

These partnerships are designed for a limited period of time during which players will have the opportunity to play with their favourite characters in unique worlds and special events.

The key to success is the constant renewal of new partnerships that inspire new experiences for players. This is certainly one of the keys to the game’s success.

INTERVIEW 55
Diramix mini 3D Figurines Diramix Monsterflex Più Buono Chocolate mini eggs

What marketing and communication campaigns support the launch of new Stumble Guys branded products?

The licensor is strongly committed to supporting the launch of products with marketing activities and aims to constantly renew the products in line with the evolution of the game. Scopely, the licensor, is focusing on trade marketing initiatives to be planned worldwide. In 2024, Stumble Guys will be everywhere!

The brand has generated more than 45 billion views on social media channels such as TikTok, YouTube and Discord with original content, fan art and more. How do you plan to harness the power of Stumble Guys on social?

From TikTok to Discord to YouTube, the viral elements of Stumble Guys on social media make it extremely appealing, especially to those partners looking to engage the Gen Z audience

and create products specifically for them. The official Stumble Guys content creation programme is an example of how fans spend hours every week telling others about the game, the new maps, characters, and other exciting events that are released in the game each month. The Stumble Guys community is one of the most loyal in the world.

Currently available on mobile, Stumble Guys will soon be available even on more platforms, as Xbox, PC and Twitch. How will this expansion into new gaming media impact the brand?

I think this expansion will further enhance the playability, brand awareness and target audience of this brand, providing an expanded gaming experience on multiple levels. Having a presence not only on mobile, but also on PC, Xbox and Twitch is an important milestone in its growth

trajectory and we are excited to see what new things the licensor will reserve to us!

Besides Stumble Guys, what are the other novelties you showcase in Bologna this year?

For this edition of BLTF/K, we have decided to focus on the brands already

well established and included in our portfolio, such as Dragon Ball, Hello Kitty, Stumble Guys, together with the other selected anime that complement our offer. This choice is also reflected in the placement of each brand in its own unique and exclusive place in our stand, which we invite to visit during the show. The new products that we present and invite professionals to discover are the ones offered by the brands we already represent, in an ongoing dialogue with the market.

INTERVIEW 56
Chips by Preziosi Food Blister 3D Mini Collection by Diramix Pandorini by Più Buono

The new Smurfs x Emporio Armani Spring/ Summer 24 collection

After the first back-to-school fashion collection in June 2023, Emporio Armani continues its collaboration with the Smurfs for Spring/Summer 2024.

Blue and cute, The Smurfs stand for team spirit, loyalty, optimism, fun and respect for nature.

Born in a comic book in 1958, Peyo’s little blue characters are still a solid and successful brand today: The Smurfs animated series (2021) is airing worldwide on Nickelodeon and is available on Netflix, and a new Smurfs movie produced and distributed by Paramount Pictures/Nickelodeon Animation and starring Rihanna as Smurfette, has been recently announced, with a global release date of February 2025.

It is precisely because of their global relevance and the important values they convey that Emporio Armani, one of the world’s most important fashion brands, was keen to start a collaboration with The Smurfs, which began last June with a first autumn collection of clothing and eyewear designed for the back-to-school season.

Emporio Armani and The Smurfs (UN partners working towards the 17 Sustainable Development Goals as part of the 2030 Agenda) are teaming up once again to create a selection of cheerful, colourful garments and accessories for little ones, made from materials that have a lower environmental impact. A collaboration that confirms the brand’s commitment to sensitive environmental issues

The spring/summer collection for boys and girls includes sweatshirts to pair with trousers or shorts, dresses with elasticated waists in soft jersey, white t-shirts and matching cotton baseball caps, all customised with special graphics showing the Smurfs on holiday by the seaside. The ‘gummy’ palette is clean and captivating: pink, yellow and light blue combined with more classic whites.

The range is completed by eyewear made from materials with sustainable characteristics (nylon fibre and rubber, both partially bio-based), available in light blue and pink, with Smurfy summerthemed graphics on the temples, contrasting with the Emporio Armani eagle logo.

The apparel and eyewear collection was launched in March, sold in custom-made boxes, and is already available in stores. The specially designed packaging is also in line with the Armani Group’s eco-

strategy and the ASV protocol, which defines sustainability requirements for materials and processes.

NEWS 58
IMPS/LAFIG

Looking ahead to 2024 and 2025

Warner Bros. Discovery is now the second largest publisher in EMEA, with a multi-platform portfolio of over 60 linear channels and 16 streaming brands. Here are some company’s plans for 2024 and 2025.

Two years ago, Warner Bros. joined forces with Discovery - a leading distributor of news, sports and lifestyle content that operates in 220 countries and 50 languages - to create Warner Bros. Discovery. The new company is the second largest publisher in EMEA, with a multi-platform portfolio of over 60 linear channels and 16 streaming brands, reaching over 400 million people across the region in the first half of this year.

This also enabled the Italian division to increase the number of touch points with

fans and reach a very large audience in Italy. In this area, they also launched a thematic channel on free-to-air TV, the WB Channel (channel 37).

WBD properties are loved around the world. DC is one of the top franchises, along with Classic Animation IPs and Harry Potter. In Italy, too, the company is focusing heavily on these three key areas, while also identifying great growth potential for other properties such as Game of Thrones - which has a large local fan base, and has seen

the release of a new highly successful jewelry collection by Pandora - and Rick & Morty, the animated hit comedy series on Adult Swim that allows to target a very valuable and hard-to-reach audience: teenagers and young adults.

To promote its IPs, the company uses various activities and initiatives: themed and immersive areas, retailtainment activities, consumer competitions, and dedicated communication campaigns. Promotion is based on film launches, seasonality, or franchise tentpole moments such as Batman’s 85th anniversary, Batman Day, or Back to Hogwarts. In 2024, there will be anniversary celebrations for several iconic films and TV series: The Matrix 25th anniversary, Gremlins 40th anniversary, The Wizard of Oz 85th anniversary, Friends 30th anniversary.

With an extensive portfolio and unlimited licensing opportunities, Warner Bros. Discovery has a lot of news planned for the next two years.

The Super Hero franchise, DC DC has 540 million fans worldwide. In terms of content, this year will see the release of “Joker: Folie À Deux,” the follow up to 2019’s critically acclaimed, billion dollar Oscar-winning “Joker.” Directed, co-written and produced by

NEWS 60
Harry Potter, Hogwarts Castle by LEGO DC Comics Batman Adventures Action Figure by Spin Master

Todd Phillips, the film once again stars Oscar winner Joaquin Phoenix alongside Lady Gaga.

But that’s not all; after the incredible success of “The Batman” in 2022, filmmaker Matt Reeves is bringing another iconic character to MAX with “The Penguin.” This new TV series, announced for the end of 2024 and dedicated to one of the most popular DC Super-Villains, will see Colin Farrell take on the role of Oswald Cobblepot in his rise to power in Gotham City. Also currently in production is “Superman” from filmmaker James Gunn, scheduled for theatrical release in July 2025.

DC has expanded its offering to include family and even preschool content. Recent TV launches include DC and Warner Bros. Animation’s new animated series “Batwheels,” which introduces

younger viewers to the world of DC; new animated series dedicated to Superman (My Adventures with Superman) and Batman (Batman: Caped Crusader, BatFamily, Merry Little Batman); and new seasons of the hugely popular Teen Titans Go! series.

2024 is a very important year for DC Super Hero, Batman, as Warner Bros. Discovery marks his 85th anniversary. Anniversary activities will begin in March and continue throughout the year, culminating in September with Batman Day, a well-established and highly anticipated moment for fans around the world when Batman is celebrated with live events, special programming, activities in stores, and digital and social activations.

The year 2025 will celebrate the 90th anniversary of the DC Studios, with a range of activities and special products planned to mark the occasion.

Lastly, one of the most successful activities in Italy, now in its 3rd edition, is the DC Superhero Academy: a real oneday ‘superhero school’ where children can train to become the little helpers of Batman and the other members of the Justice League, by overcoming various challenges. How to participate? This year’s lucky participants will be the winners of the national competition launched in February in all Italian retail outlets.

Classical Animation Properties

This year, Looney Tunes fans will also be able to enjoy the 4D experience of Beep Beep and Wile E. Coyote at Gardaland New TV content is also planned, such as Bugs Bunny Builders, a new pre-school series (80 x 11’) in which Bugs Bunny, together with Lola Bunny and the other Looney Tunes - Daffy Duck, Tweety and Porky Pig - will be involved in creating fantastic and ingenious constructions. There is a lot of news for 2025, including other characters. The 85th anniversary of Tom & Jerry will be celebrated.

NEWS 61
Batmobile: Batman vs The Joker chase by LEGO Tweety Sweater by OVS Harry Potter, Talking Sorting Hat by Spin Master MAX&Co. x Looney Tunes LOONEY TUNES and all related characters and elements © & Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. WB SHIELD: © & ™ WBEI. (s24)

Following the huge success of the Japanese kawaii characters, the catmouse pair will star in a series of new social media content in a very ‘cute’ new guise, Tom & Jerry Gokko, aimed at teens and YA audiences.

Harry Potter

Although more than 20 years have passed since the release of the first Harry Potter film, the fan base continues

to grow. The franchise continues to be fuelled by new and original ways of telling the stories of the world of Harry Potter: events and experiences, digital content, apparel, toys and video games. The latter in particular is a very important area for this IP. Last year

saw the launch of Hogwarts Legacy, an open-world role-playing video game that was an unprecedented success. New video game launches are planned for the coming months. Fans are also excited by the announcement of a Max Original Harry Potter TV series

New immersive experiences in Europe

Warner Bros. Discovery is set to boost live experiences across EMEA. Fans are craving new ways to interact with their favourite brands and, especially after the pandemic, live experiences that offer unique moments are among the most requested and appreciated activities.

Last year, the Friends Experience opened in Paris; Batman Escape by Dama Dreams, a 3,000 square metre escape room with three different sets inspired by the adventures of the Dark Knight, also opened in the French capital. In the UK and Brussels, Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience - a family experience that includes a night walk through a light trail inspired by the Forbidden Forest to discover the magical creatures of the wizarding world.

Also in the UK, can enjoy an immersive and interactive experience with the Warner Bros. Studio Tour in Leavesden, Hertfordshire. Furthermore, a new interactive experience - Harry Potter: The Exhibition - opened last year in Vienna and is now touring Europe, and another interactive experience for fans - Harry Potter Visions of Magic - recently opened in Cologne, Germany.

NEWS 62
Harry Potter, Hedwig Interactive Plush by Spin Master
WORLD and all related trademarks, characters, names, and indicia are © & ™ Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc WB SHIELD: © & ™ WBEI. Publishing Rights © JKR. (s24) All DC characters and elements © & DC Comics. WB SHIELD: © & ™ WBEI. (s24)
WIZARDING

Arnold and the Benchwarmers, the successful new IP from Almond Entertainment

LM interviewed Dario Maria Gulli, Creative Director of Almond Entertainment, an IP creation and development company with a presence in more than 70 countries and a library of worldwide successes such as Diary of a Nerd and Martin’s Adventures, both created by bestselling author Philip Osbourne.

After the success of Diary of a Nerd (now The New Diary of Phil the Nerd), whose second publishing life has just begun, with the new book series published in Italy by Mondadori and distributed by leading international publishers in over 50 countries, what is Almond Entertainment’s focus now?

Phil the Nerd remains our strong point. We will soon be announcing the production of the live action, which will be an international co-production. We will also be launching an animated web series of Phil the Nerd next month, as well as a comic book version for our customers.

Martin’s Adventures, another Philip Osbourne’s bestseller, is also achieving unexpected success. With the 2D animated film about to go into production, involving award-winning

TV writers and some of the world’s most important show runners, we will be working on a new book series and novelisation, as well as many forms of licensing development, licensed to Enanimation.

But our new hit is called Arnold and the Benchwarmers. We believe, and the figures back us up, that in 2024 and 2025 it will be the strength of Almond Entertainment and Almond Sports and New Technology.

What kind of IP and licensing development is going on for Arnold and the Benchwarmers?

Arnold and the Benchwarmers, like all our IPs, began as a publishing work. We first tested the work by publishing it in bookstores, which was done with Edicart, then we tested the project on

newsstands, entrusting reprinting to the SAE magazines. In the meantime, we have also disseminated the work internationally, with Albanian, French and Turkish publishers. The good success allowed us to rebrand the work, which was called Bomber and the Benchwarmers, and to set up a real IP development plan. Now Arnold has entered the world of real football and has become a testimonial through special publications distributed in stadiums with clubs of Serie A, B, C and football leagues. Historic and important clubs such as Genoa, Ternana, Pisa, and the LND (Lega Nazionale DilettantiNational Amateur League), have started us on a very important path. Arnold will also continue his path of growth with the football world in France and England.

NEWS 64
ENTERTAINMENT
ALMOND

We are at the beginning of a project with enormous potential. Over 700,000 copies in stadiums and bookshops and distribution in more than 20 countries are the first great results we are proud of.

How will the Arnold brand grow in other media and product areas?

We have just concluded an agreement with Gruppo D’NL, a company specialising in food for large retailers. Arnold will represent good and healthy eating for children, associated with a gluten-free snack. We are very pleased with this agreement as it will take Arnold beyond the stadiums and bookstores and into great distribution. Arnold will also become an animated web series, which will have its world premiere thanks to an agreement with Ternana Calcio (a company run by Giuseppe D’Aniello, a director with great vision, and Nicola Guida, a president who is very attentive to social issues and new ideas). Immediately after the launch with Ternana Calcio, the animated web

series will land on the main sports networks. In addition, we will soon announce the Arnold magazine, which we will distribute free of charge with a major player in the world of sports entertainment. We have also received two proposals for the production of an Arnold live action movie. We will carefully evaluate the best partner for the development of the TV project.

How can companies interested in licensing and/or publishing and TV rights work with Almond?

We have a technology development department, which we pursue with partners such as DigiXL and Lepton Studio. We will soon be launching very innovative educational publishing apps and platforms, and we will also be making this new division available to our customers. In addition, we work in the sale of our rights and develop IP development plans for other realities, also providing connections and presence in markets, and going beyond the agency role. TV producers

can buy our rights, but also ask us for the novelisation of their works, which we will bring, after creative realisation, to the various markets. The ways to work with us are many and varied, and we have spin-off companies all over the world, from South Korea, with the newly founded Blue Earth Plus, to England, where we are working to have one of our IP development offices up and running with a local processing team from May.

NEWS 65
Contact www.almondentertainment.com mary@almondentertainment.com
Arnold Crisps by Gruppo D’NL

From the new Elastikorps lines to Naruto’s Boomez board game

Cicaboom presents the new Elastikorps collections, together with the great novelty Boomez, the Naruto board game

Cicaboom is an Italian company with a presence in several countries around the world, well-known for developing fun and innovative toys. It constantly expands its product line with amazing new additions.

Elastikorps, Cicaboom’s beloved stretchable toys designed for a 4-10 target audience that can stretch up to three times their original shape, welcome the new Zombie Hand

collection from March 2024. These spooky hands all have Glow in the Dark features, besides being super stretchy. There are two sizes available: six 13-centimeter Zombie Hands, and four in the Giga format measuring 20 centimetres. The monstrous hands are designed for young and old, who can enjoy stretching, and creating funny shapes, or use them as a stress-reliever.

Elastikorps Fighter Extra Force is the brand new collection of 14 stretchable fighters, in the 16 cm Giga-size. The great novelty of this line is the extra strength of the fighters, guaranteed by

the new accessories, incredible armour that can be collected and exchanged on all characters, assigning them ever new powers.

Each Fighter then assumes a dynamic pose of a real fighter and can have Gold & Silver, or Glow in the Dark characteristics.

Elastikorps Fighter Extra Force also have a Maxy size, which measures 23 cm and weighs about 2 kg. The Maxy product has become the star of viral videos on TikTok and YouTube with millions of views. In one of the latest clips, an influencer tries to stretch an Elastikorps

NEWS 66

together with his girlfriend, measuring a good 1.50 m in length. The video has aroused a lot of curiosity because it shows how far you can stretch the Elastikorps without ever destroying them: they always return to their original shape, providing endless fun.

After developing a line of incredible animal fighters such as dragons and tigers, and a collection with Mattel’s Master of the Universe brand, Cicaboom enhances the Elastikorps brand by acquiring The Smurfs’ license for young children, developing four iconic Maxys: Papa Smurf, Hefty Smurf, Baby Smurf and the Azrael cat.

Another novelty is the agreement with Toei for the exceptional One Piece license. Four Elastikorps variants, each with unique accessories, will be released for the main character Luffy, who already has powers of elasticity in the manga’s story. These versions include the ultratrendy Gear 4 (Snakeman, Boundman, Tankman) and G5 (Sun God Nika). The line is currently available online and at the best toy stores, with a September 2024 release date scheduled.

The squishy characters of the new Elastikorps Heropop line are distinguished by their iconic big round head and small body. The first collection includes 12 normal-sized characters (10 cm), and 4 Maxy characters (16 cm), available in 2 colours. In addition to being able to manipulate them with their hands, they are also very fun to throw or squish on the floor, and it is always entertaining to see how the big head takes on funny expressions. The company has provided each pack with a branded target to hit, with which you can challenge your friends, following the American trend of cornhole, a game in which you throw cloth bags, usually filled with corn, at a wooden platform with a hole in it, trying to get the bag into

the hole.

The first Heropop characters are available at newsstands, toy shops and in mass distribution, with Cicaboom’s Elastikorps characters, such as Gold Tiger, Finny, Dark Panther, Sharky, Dragold, Silver Lika, Rango... New collections have just been released dedicated to Spider-Man, with 6 regularsize characters and 3 Maxy (Spider-Man, Venom, Miles Morales); and to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, with Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo and Raphael in regular and Maxy sizes.

The Boomez are 3D collectible figures with a unique and iconic design created by Cicaboom. Using character cards, Cicaboom adds simple, fun and innovative gameplay to collectibility. Each wave is made up of all-new characters in regular or variant versions, with precious finishes and limited editions for true fans. In each wave there are exclusive characters to be found inside the Flowpack Blind, giving an added value for collectors.

The new Naruto Boomez collection will soon be launched in Italy and France, with many characters including Itachi, Rock Lee, Minato... In addition, a Naruto

boardgame is in the works and will be presented at Modena Play. An additional game level, which will be precisely sold in a box typical of classic board games, containing numerous elements such as a game board, obstacles, 40 support cards, dice, 240 fiches and 4 of the bestloved characters: Naruto, Sasuke, Sakura and a Kyubi Gold created especially for this 8+ board game.

There are also 14 passport sheets: each one represents all the specific abilities of each ninja, allowing players to experience a true adventure in the world of Naruto and an ever-changing gameplay experience depending on the character chosen for the game.

NEWS 67

Toncar innovates the paper industry with the introduction of the exclusive PURE.TECH© technology

Toncar presents a world exclusive PURE.TECH© technology: a primer suitable for paper surfaces with off-set printing that has the property of neutralizing the main atmospheric pollutants such as CO2, NOX and VOCS, purifying the air we breathe.

Toncar, Reshaping the future together

Toncar is a leading company in the promotional sector, and in the vast world of paper and packaging.

With offices north of Milan and in Shanghai, Toncar employs a team of professionals capable not only of finding any product available on the market, but also of developing new ones, taking into account the specifications of the sector, and driven by the constant search for innovative ideas and technologies.

Toncar’s mission is to provide highquality personalised consultancy and to become one of the first points of reference in the sector, building longterm, trusting relationships with its

customers. It offers a wide range of products, including stickers, cards, 3D collectables, mini toys, gadgets, 3D printing and packaging/luxury packaging, produced in-house or by selected suppliers.

Thanks to its dual role as manufacturer and trader, the company ensures perfect control of product quality, while offering commercial flexibility to adapt to market changes and customer needs.

Toncar meets PURE.TECH: it’s not magic, it’s pure reality

Toncar is proud to announce its exclusive worldwide collaboration with PURE.TECH© by Noumena, an innovative product based on cuttingedge technology that will revolutionise the printing and converting industry. This solution has a multi-stage action: through a catalytic process, it converts

NEWS 68
TONCAR

CO2 into inert carbonates that operate continuously 24 hours a day, without the need for UV light; simultaneously, photocatalysis transforms the main greenhouse gases into carbonates, nitrates and nitrites, guaranteeing the safety of the environment. Once this transformation is complete, the new minerals are released into the atmosphere, helping to purify the air.

PURE.TECH©: Limitless Adaptability for Sustainable Industrial Production

A key added value of Pure.Tech© is its extraordinary capacity to integrate into existing industrial production chains without the need to add new equipment. This aspect plays a crucial role in preserving the product’s distinctive and superior quality characteristics. This approach, which focuses on

optimising existing resources, not only avoids additional costs and complexity in plant management, but also allows established production guidelines and processes to remain intact.

The synergy, between Pure.Tech©’s innovative technology and the preexisting industrial infrastructure, creates an environment conducive to large-scale production, without the constraints of technical or logistical limitations. This translates into a large and versatile production capacity, capable of meeting the market’s growing needs in terms of volumes and delivery times.

Furthermore, the ability to integrate Pure.Tech© into existing production lines underlines its key role in facilitating the transition to more sustainable and environmentally friendly practices in the

industrial sector.

The integration of Pure.Tech© represents a significant step towards more efficient, sustainable and costeffective industrial production while promoting the competitiveness of companies in the global marketplace.

Stickers & Cards, Cover Magazines and Board Games: small pieces of the future in the hands of children

At a time when we need to think more and more about the future of children, it is essential to consider the role of stickers and trading cards, magazines and board games. These are not just objects of entertainment, but an important emotional link between the little ones and the world around them. With Pure.Tech© technology, every single piece of ‘coloured paper’ takes on a new dimension: it becomes not only an object of play, but also a true symbol of commitment to environmental sustainability. The beating heart of this technology does not just improve air quality, but also provides sustainable and longlasting solutions. This is why it is so important to think of children when designing and producing products for them.

These ‘simple pieces of printed paper’ not only bring joy to the little ones, but also a message of love and care for the Planet that they will share with future generations. Every Choice Matters, every Breath Counts.

NEWS 69

Embracing Tomorrow: the Eco-Revolution in Packaging Technology

At a time when environmental awareness is a critical priority, packaging has an important role to play.

With Pure.Tech© technology, product packaging becomes a meaningful gesture for the Planet that protects and elevates its contents while offering a positive ecological footprint.

From being a ‘pure container’, it too becomes a valuable ally for sustainability: enriched by this innovative technology, it not only preserves the product, but continues to operate until it is completely disposed of, helping to improve air quality and offering sustainable, long-lasting solutions.

Pure.Tech©: Measuring Absorption Efficiency in comparison with Indoor Plants

The assessment of Pure.Tech© absorption capacity is based on the absorption activity carried out by trees.

The data for each application are derived from third-party analyses (EPA calculator, from the United States Environmental Protection Agency).

In order to make the absorption assessment of Pure.Tech©’s more comprehensible, Toncar undertook a comparison with common plants that are routinely found in everyone’s home. In this study, the effectiveness of Anthurium in reducing CO2 in an indoor environment was evaluated by comparing it with 6x9 cm stickers and cards.

This study shows how a single Anthurium plant absorbs 111 ppm per year in an indoor environment, quantifying the plant’s ability to reduce the concentration of a substance, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), in the surrounding air over the course of a year. This means that the plant is capable of reducing the concentration of CO2 by 111 parts per million (ppm) in one year. For example, if at the beginning of the year the CO2 concentration in the environment is 400 ppm and then the Anthurium plant is introduced, by the end of the year the CO2 concentration will have decreased by 111 ppm to 289 ppm. This suggests that the Anthurium plant has a significant capacity to absorb CO2 from the air during the course of a year, thus contributing to improved indoor air quality.

In comparison to stickers and cards, the production of 1 million pieces with Pure.Tech© technology is equivalent to the reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) produced by 27,500 Anthurium plants in one year

Toncar will be present at the Bologna Licensing Trade Fair/ Kids (Hall 29 Mall 2, Licensing Business Lounge), from 8 to 11 April 2024.

For more information: www.toncar.net commerciale@toncar.net

NEWS 70

Children Forever

Sbabam, a leading multinational company in the field of collectible toys and an important partner of major licensors in the world of entertainment, is pleased to present a preview of its latest products at the Bologna Licensing Fair/Kids 2024.

Sbabam is dedicated to the conception, design, newsstands and large distribution, of fun, colourful and trendy accessories, toys and products, often based on licenses. The company’s slogan is Children Forever, because it believes that it is possible to change the world of today and the future for the better by never stopping to play.

Sbabam’s main objectives for 2024 is to launch its first Toy catalogue, expand distribution to new channels (large retailers, toy stores, stationery shops and other alternative channels), and prove its presence in the newsstand channel with collectible toys. In achieving this goal, the company will continue to cultivate excellence in the use and knowledge of certain materials and exclusive product types on which it is focusing its activity, confirming its position as an absolute leader in certain toy categories.

Sbabam will be exhibiting all its latest products at the Bologna Licensing Trade Fair/Kids (Hall 29 Mall 2 Stand F/14 - G/7), from 8 to 11 April 2024.

For further information:

www.sbabam.com

info@sbabam.com

Three important new products are currently being launched. At the forefront, the new partnership with Chupa Chups has led to the creation of the Chupa Chups Extendezz Volley Dolls collection. Aimed at the female public, this range features four girls from the Chupa Chups volleyball team, with stretchable bodies, glitters and an irresistible fragrance.

Another innovation is Qube Heads, a uniquely designed product. Each character features a magic cube-shaped head and an articulated body: on the one hand, users can have fun solving the magic cube, which challenges their cognitive skills; on the other hand, they have a fully functional action figure, and can collect an exclusive product that will appeal to a wide audience of all ages.

Finally, one of Sbabam’s best-selling formats is enriched with the new Disney Princess Tea Party collection. With these magical teacups, you can organise unforgettable tea parties with your friends: when you pour water over the cup, a charming, squishy princess appears, a fun idea for unforgettable playtime.

NEWS 72

The PEA Phygital Way

Once again, Pea confirms its presence at the Bologna Licensing Fair/Kids, following its success at the CES event, which took place in Las Vegas earlier this year.

With the launch of the digital start-up Kintana, the company continues to experience an important period in its professional journey, begun at the end of 2022; an exciting adventure full of challenges, successes and, above all, growth for the entire Pea team.

Gianluca Aprile di Cimia, CEO at Pea, comments on the success of this new venture: “Last year we took an important decision: to create Kintana, a start-up that would not only embrace digital innovation, but also break barriers and expand Pea’s capabilities. Our goal was clear since the beginning: to create something extraordinary, something that would leave its mark on the world of technology. Now, looking back at all the work done so far, passion and commitment we have invested in the last 14 months, we are very happy to

share what has happened in the first part of this 2024, starting with Kintana’s participation at CES in Las Vegas last January, as one of the representatives of the Italian Pavilion, selected among the 50 most innovative start-ups in our country. Looking ahead, we know that the journey has just begun and that CES is just one of the many milestones we intend to reach in our journey of innovation and pursuit of excellence”.

While Kintana venture is further confirmation of Pea’s strategic direction, the heart and soul of the group remains anchored in the production of consumer goods projects and the development of innovative concepts for publishing, loyalty and toys.

The Bologna Licensing Fair/Kids is the perfect place for Pea to celebrate

WHERE TO MEET PEA IN BOLOGNA

You can meet Pea Srl and discover its innovative offer for licensors and licensees at the Licensing Pavilion at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, that is the Bologna Licensing Fair/Kids, Hall 29 Mall 2, Stand F22/G15.

its new phygital business approach, grouping together its two souls, the product and the digital. This time of encounter with established and long-standing customers and partners allows the company to demonstrate the effectiveness and synergy between these two dimensions and the resulting opportunities that can be generated through gamification and customer loyalty mechanics.

This is why the heart of the stand in Bologna is the TATA® world, an extraordinary project that perfectly embodies the union between the physical and digital dimensions, representing the best of both worlds. The TATA® world is the result of an

NEWS 74

exciting and challenging journey that began with the first “physical” edition created for De Agostini as part of the Disney branded collector’s project for the kiosk channel, Magiche Storie Sonore (Magic Sound Stories), distributed in over ten countries around the world, and then continued to evolve, renewing itself in the world of toys and loyalty with the

MORESTECH

development of digital technologies.

In fact, Play Around, Pea’s Toy Company, has developed an OEM model that allows any player, distributor or retailer to offer its own audio box as a continuous product, supported by unique digital content, with or without a licence. TATA®, with its established technology and integration of artificial

Morestech is the project presented by Kintana at CES 2024 in Las Vegas last January 2024.

It is a “phygital” assistant that revolutionises childcare and learning approach, offering parents advanced supervision tools based on the Token Economy behavioural programme. It integrates several functions, including: the Calendar, an agenda where the child’s daily activities and progress can be recorded; the Make a Story function, an app that allows the child to create endless stories thanks to an artificial intelligence system. Other functions include: Mission, a section based on the token economy that allows the child to be encouraged to behave in a positive way and to be rewarded when he achieves his goals; Baby Monitor, which is the function that allows you to connect remotely to the child’s room in order to communicate or check the state of health through specific sensors; Diary, another app that allows parents to record all the information related to the child’s growth and health, such as weight, height, allergies, and more.

intelligence, is emerging in Europe as the most effective and efficient solution in the industry. Its latest version, with a brandable digital ecosystem, allows easy connection between the physical device and specific digital content via RFID/NFC/AI technology, transforming TATA® not only into a simple device, but into a true multimedia platform.

NEWS 76

Nicole Miller, a full lifestyle brand

Nicole Miller, a leading name in American design, has evolved from a dress company to a full lifestyle brand with more than 45 product categories. One of the most important innovations in 2024 is the relaunch of the Home collection.

Nicole Miller has grown to be a premier name in American design. There is an emphasis on signature graphic prints and luxe fabrics that cultivate a feminine look with a touch of edge. Echoes of art, travel, as well as pop culture, combine in these unique patterns and imaginative use of color.

“I design for the uptown girl with a downtown attitude. Cultivating a look of elegance with a hint of rebellion, I bring accessible luxury to the modern consumer,” said founder Nicole Miller Making a mark with over four decades of iconic styles, Nicole Miller has evolved from a dress company into a full lifestyle brand with over 45 product categories

Strategic Partnerships

Finding strategic partners that create

Spring/Summer 24 Collection

quality products while maintaining the Nicole Miller brand integrity is at the core of the licensing strategy. Gordon Brothers, the global advisory and investment firm, made a majority investment in the Nicole Miller brand in 2022 and by doing so provided the resources to the company to partner with best-in-class licensees. By 2023 Nicole Miller extended beyond her celebrated women’s apparel and accessories collections to partner with leading licensees in over 45 fashion and lifestyle categories across beauty, men’s, kids, home and more.

Carolyn D’Angelo, Senior Managing Director at Gordon Brothers, stated “When Gordon Brothers invested in the brand, we changed the model to an asset-light licensing model and found A-list licensees to take over

businesses that were formerly made in-house. We have focused our efforts on supporting our licensees with design inspiration from Nicole’s archive of over 40 years, marketing initiatives to keep the brand relevant, providing active brand management, and helping secure distribution for the brand. While fashion and accessories are at the core of Nicole Miller, we see great expansion potential in kids, home, and men’s.”

2024 plans

Plans for 2024 are to create integrated marketing campaigns that support its retailers and partners while filling white space categories with key licensees. Home and Men’s are two strategic areas of growth for the brand this year.

“We have a lot lined up in 2024 for Nicole Miller. In Q1 we are relaunching our

FASHION & LIFESTYLE 78

Glassware and barware line - Home Essentials

home collection to elevate every room inside and out. Along with our existing offerings of bedding, bath, indoor and outdoor furniture, and home decor, we now offer wallpaper and glassware. Additionally in Q1 we are launching men’s sportswear. Looking ahead to Q2, we will have expanded distribution strategies with some exciting new announcements to come. In Q3, we’re reintroducing men’s ties,” says Zina Zegans, EVP of Brand Management at Nicole Miller

Home category relaunch

Gordon Brothers and Nicole Miller are delighted to announce the highly anticipated relaunch of the Home category, with an expanded product range that includes the introduction of wall coverings and glassware alongside its existing offerings with new partners for bedding, bath, decorative pillows, and throws.

Nicole Miller is enthusiastic about the expansion, “My home is an extension of my creative outlet and I’m thrilled

Spring/Summer 24 collection

The new peel & stick wall covering collection from licensee Graham & Brown offers a diverse array of patterns and textures, ranging from bold geometric prints to delicate floral motifs, designed to add depth and character to any room.

Complementing the home assortment, the introduction of glassware from Home Essentials highlights a fusion of style and functionality. From sleek tumblers to colorful ombre wine glasses, each piece is crafted with precision and care, offering both aesthetic appeal and practicality for everyday use or special occasions. The line will continue to expand into dinnerware in the Fall.

to be adding new categories to help infuse more color, design, and joy to our customer’s homes.”

Spring is often tied to new beginnings, the perfect time to introduce new home categories. The company is welcoming Britannica (bedding, baby bedding, utility bedding), Dream Home (throws, decorative pillows, accents), Avanti (bath), Home Essentials (barware, glassware, and dinnerware), and Graham & Brown (wall coverings) to licensees’ family and believe this will drive further growth to the already highly successful enterprise.

“As we head into Spring, we wanted to give our consumers a new set of high-quality, design-forward products. We have had great success with some existing licensee partners, but wanted to take our offerings to the next level with cohesive cross-category product extensions that could decorate every room in your home. This has been years in the making as we identified best-in-class licensee partners to help spearhead this mission,” said Carolyn D’Angelo, Senior Managing Director at Gordon Brothers.

FASHION & LIFESTYLE 79
Bedding set - Britannica

The remarkable girl Pippi Longstocking turns 80 in 2025

Pippi Longstocking may only be 9 years old, but next year she will celebrate her 80th birthday: 2025 will be the year to Be More Pippi and use your Pippi power to make the world a little better.

It all began in a remarkable way, when Astrid Lindgren’s daughter Karin was sick in bed: “Tell me about Pippi Longstocking”, she pleaded, and in that instant Astrid invented what would become one of the world’s most famous children’s book characters. “Since the name was remarkable, it had to be a remarkable girl”, Astrid said. And what a remarkable girl she is. Consistently voted one of the world’s favourite children’s characters, Pippi Longstocking is a symbol of freedom, strength, kindness, courage and justice. She’s independent, quick-witted, brave, strong, generous and never lets anything - or anyone - shake her confidence or take advantage of her. This is how she has changed the world for the

better since 1945 and now it is time for everyone, young and old, to join in and face the world in Pippi’s way!

2025, with the 80th anniversary celebrations, is the year to Be More Pippi and use your Pippi power to make the world a better place. Coordinated by The Astrid Lindgren Company, which represents the works of the acclaimed Swedish author Astrid Lindgren, along with partners and licensees globally, the campaign will use the messages and images from Pippi Longstocking books and films through marketing activities and charitable donations, along with hundreds of Pippi products across a number of categories.

Martinex Oy is one of the first licensees to work with the campaign materials.

Frödinge’s frozen cake

“We have been working with Pippi for a long time, so naturally we wanted to celebrate her on this anniversary year. Our Be More Pippi t-shirts for children and adults will celebrate Pippi’s wonderful qualities, such as strength, kindness, and courage. Additionally, we are launching Be More Pippi clothing in all our collections throughout the anniversary year.”

Pippi Longstocking remains popular globally. Last Christmas, a Swedish TV special aired featuring new animated Astrid Lindgren stories alongside scenes from the original film. Nearly 20% of Swedish households tuned in live. The Astrid Lindgren Company and Qvisten Animation are producing new illustrations in the style of Ingrid Vang Nyman, the original illustrator. The first book released as a result of this collaboration topped the bestseller list in Sweden at the end of 2023, and there are plans to publish in other languages.

Find out more at astridlindgren.com and reach the licensing team directly at licensing@astridlindgren.com

PUBLISHING 80

Adapting tales to tech: Charting the impact of consumer trends on children and family-centric reading experiences

In the world of entertainment, digital platforms reign supreme, captivating audiences of all ages. As children navigate through screens of various sizes, from TVs to smartphones, tablets and even eReaders, distinct usage patterns emerge, showcasing the unique role each device plays in shaping entertainment consumption habits.

It can be seen that each device is dedicated to a specific use, which sheds light on the nuanced interplay between technology and entertainment preferences.

Amidst this digital revolution, mobile phones emerge as indispensable companions for children, evolving into personalized entertainment hubs tailored to individual tastes and preferences. This trend emphasizes the growing prominence of mobile phones and the potential for personalized entertainment experiences. With ownership rates skyrocketing, particularly among 10 to 14-yearolds, but also reaching 39% among the younger 7 to 9 years old children, mobile phones offer a diverse array of entertainment options, from streaming videos to social media interactions. This trend reflects the evolving interests of tech-savvy youngsters, highlighting the need for curated content.

Moreover, technology revolutionizes children’s publishing, enhancing the reading experience through interactive e-books and immersive storytelling

apps. The future of children’s publishing lies in embracing technology, with versatile formats catering to modern family lifestyles.

Alongside digital platforms, “reading stories” devices like Yoto and Toonies have surged in popularity, encouraging reading and storytelling among children. These devices, equipped with audio capabilities, provide dynamic alternatives to traditional books, fostering a love for storytelling.

As technology advances, we anticipate further personalized entertainment experiences driven by AI algorithms AI-powered algorithms analyze user behavior to deliver tailored content recommendations, enhancing overall entertainment experiences for children.

In the publishing world, this can lead to hyper-customization, where each child will have their own story read by the device, according to their tastes and preferences.

In response, publishers must reimagine traditional narratives for the digital age, infusing stories with magic to captivate young readers. The convergence of

storytelling and technology offers opportunities for collaboration and bonding, fostering shared experiences among families.

Contact info:

Philippe Guinaudeau, CEO, BrandTrends Group

Philippe.guinaudeau@ brandtrends.ai

www.brandtrends.ai

PUBLISHING 82
BRANDTRENDS

The Power of Audiobooks in developing Fandoms

Audiobooks offer a shared experience that can help you nurture and develop your brand’s fandom and act as a catalyst to much deeper engagement from your audience.

Today, children, and increasingly parents, are engaging with audiobooks in meaningful ways. 63% of parents are pleased with the amount of audio content available to their child, in part because it is often of high quality.

The first day of the International Kids Licensing Days at the Bologna Licensing Fair/Kids will feature a themed session curated by Kids Industries: The Power of Audiobooks in developing Fandoms - How an unseen brand touch point has a very visible impact on your licensing programme.

In this lively session, Gary Pope, CEO and founder of Kids Industries, will explore the reasons behind this trend and how companies can meet the expectations of families. He’ll also unveil some never-before-seen data and look into the future of what parents and children want from their audiobook experience; you can see a sneak preview in the graphics on this page. By the end of the session, you will take away a host of new insights that you can use to increase the power of your brand through the wonder of audio.

To learn more: https://www.kidsindustries.com/

“The power of the spoken word to ignite the imaginations of children is nothing new. The fact however, that they are choosing this medium, that they can control it and that they have almost limitless choice is very new and something that all band owners need to get onboard with.”

- Gary Pope, Co-Founder, Kids Industries and The Family Family Marketing, UK -

PUBLISHING 84
Gary Pope

A smile in the mind

The artist Federico Monzani has brought to life the creative world of Papaco, full of irreverent characters born to make you smile. This amusing universe gives rise to various editorial and stationery products.

The illustrator Federico Monzani has created Papaco, a world of pop aesthetics with irreverent and funny characters.

In the Papaco Planet, the quirky characters live poetic and surreal adventures, making fun of everything around them, but never judging. Through their stories they promote peace, respect for the environment and love of life.

Among them are ghosts, aliens, robots with hearts, pot-bellied dragons, and many other animals of all kinds, as well as natural elements.

They take care of the galaxy and all its planets, defending them from all kinds of adversity, always with a positive attitude, with the slogan A smile on your mind! Indeed, the main purpose of Papaco’s stories and characters is to make people smile.

Papaco Planet has produced stationery, editorial products and accessories, divided into two lines: Papaco for adults and Papaco Heroes for children. The goods currently include children’s books for ages 6 to 11, colouring books for ages 3 to 12, notebooks, diaries, puzzle cards, jigsaws, bookmarks, magnets, greeting cards, trading cards, a memory game, small paintings, mugs, stickers, and much more! Art toys and carpets have also been produced in the past.

“I like to think of my drawings as a door that opens to fantastic worlds made of small stories and simple characters. I draw what I see, I find inspiration in everything and everywhere”
- Federico Monzani, creator of Papaco -

Papaco’s products can be purchased on the dedicated website, and there is also a mono-brand corner store at the INNSiDE by Melià - Milano Torre Galfa hotel

Papaco will also be present at the Bologna Licensing Trade Fair/ Kids in the Licensing Business Lounge, and will also participate at the Big Buyer 2024 with its own stand, next fall, in Milan.

For further information:

http://www.papacoplanet.it info@papacoplanet.it

PUBLISHING 86

The Kingdom of Santa Claus, all the magic of contemporary Christmas

Born as a modest Christmas decoration shop in 2012, the Kingdom of Santa Claus in Vetralla, Italy quickly captured the hearts of thousands of visitors, becoming an icon of contemporary Christmas.

From a 150 m2 gazebo to a vast area of 8000 m2, the Kingdom of Santa Claus has demonstrated steady growth, becoming a national attraction visited by more than 600.000 people from September to January of each year.

The Kingdom of Santa Claus is an original world (already available in the international English version) with valuable content and strong identity

made up of stories and characters (Buddy and Pretty the Elves, Rudy and Lampo the reindeer, Henry the Nutcracker, Steve the Candy cane, the little star Lucy, the grumpy Dr Krampy, etc.

For further information:

www.ilregnodibabbonatale.it

www.thekingdomofsantaclaus.com

FB: Facebook.com/ ilregnodibabbonatale

IG: @ilregnodibabbonatale

The identity and characters of the Kingdom of Santa Claus have also given rise to many brands, such as Elfidea, an international brand of decorations and products. The Elfidea catalogue contains more than 700 gift products based on the identity of the Kingdom of Santa Claus. It specialises in personalised gift decorations, soft toys, puzzles and clothing. There are currently 100 Elfidea retailers around the world.

The Kingdom of Santa Claus, facts and figures

• 70,000 views of the animated book Lucy’s Story and the Mystery of the Magic Lost on YouTube and 70,000 copies of the illustrated book distributed;

• 12,500 tickets sold for the musical;

The founder and creator of the characters, identity and stories belonging to The Kingdom of Santa Claus is Giorgio Onorato Aquilani Giorgio takes care of The Kingdom of Santa Claus project thanks also to the enthusiasm of the rest of the Aquilani family (Enrico, Stefania and Anna).

The rich content of this magical world is available for licensing to carefully selected partners around the world. Potential licensees or partners of The Kingdom of Santa Claus may include product brands wishing to characterize their Christmas line with the Kingdom’s identity, amusement parks seeking the license for their initiatives, publishers, directors, and TV/Cinema producers who can license the rights to our classic stories and characters cherished by children around the world.

• 11 Original characters developed and registered;

• 1 Digital Book Every Day is Christmas (1 million downloads ITA + EN);

• 2 Main Children’s Stories;

• 10 Comics/Short Stories;

• 1 Educational Book, ELFABETO funny learning;

• Magazine Elfidigest - Fun and Facts from the Kingdom of Santa Claus - digital circulation approximately 1 million accounts (social media + internal & partners’ newsletters).

PUBLISHING 87
THE KINGDOM OF SANTA CLAUS

Rebel Girls, licensing on the girls’ side

In 2016, two Italian authors, Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo, decided to create a new editorial product called Rebel Girls, with the aim of revolutionizing the narrative for girls today. Now the Rebel Girls IP is expanding beyond books into additional categories for Licensing in Italy.

Rebel Girls tell the stories of women who have achieved significant goals and fulfilled themselves in different fields, often against the tradition that some activities and professions are only for men. The desire was to offer realistic models of inspiration instead

of the fantastic or archaic ones of fairies and princesses for girls.

The series of illustrated books The Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls was at first financed through Kickstarter, a crowdfunding platform. The books sold

over 10 million copies and became best sellers in various countries; they were translated into 50 languages and distributed in over 100 countries, surpassing all initial expectations. In Italy the series was published under the name Storie della buonanotte per bambine ribelli and sold more than one million copies, ranking as a #1 bestseller across all books. Five volumes have been published by the Italian publisher Mondadori, all bestsellers among children’s books. Mondadori has also published two guides for Rebel Girls: Discovering the changing body and Conquering the world we want, a board book, a cookbook, and also an interactive notebook.

The Rebel Girls books also generated podcasts and digital content , with 23 million podcast downloads and 23 million views, and the Rebel Girls APP won the Apple Design Award for Social Impact

The Rebel Girls age range has thus expanded: the first books with bedtime stories were mainly purchased by parents to read to their younger daughters aged 5/7 years. With the inclusion of digital content and the new guides, the interest of girls up to the age of 14 was found.

The Rebel Girls project has had great support from international celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Malala Yousafzai, Drew Barrymore, Ashley

PUBLISHING 88
PREMIUM SRL

Fiolek, Sky Brown.

In Italy audio content has had excellent narrators: Luciana Littizzetto, Paola Turci, Jasmine Trinca, Paola Cortellesi, Levante.

Rebel Girls has given rise to many events and collaborations, with licensing development in multiple product categories, from gaming to toys, to apparel and much more.  Among the brand’s future collaborations, the one with Walmart , which will distribute 7,500 copies of the Rebel Girls Handbook as part of their

summer reading program starting from June 2024, an initiative also supported by in-store displays. Additionally the brand has formed content partnerships with Google and Nike, among others.

Thanks to the Premium S.R.L. agency, Rebel Girls has also decided to enter the world of Italian licensing. Representative Grazia Bussandri is thrilled to have the opportunity to help spread the Rebel Girls’ messages of

female empowerment, developing inspired partnerships with all the companies that want to support this important project. The rich material offered by the brands, graphics and contents of the Rebel Girls allows for the creation of great product lines and promotional campaigns of notable social value at an international level. An important contribution in the still ongoing fight against gender discrimination and in supporting the building of young women’s self-esteem.

PUBLISHING 90
Rebel Girls book series published by Mondadori in Italy

The latest releases and trends from the thriving world of children’s publishing

The Children’s Publishing sector continues to show excellent signs of prosperity and is also an area of increasing use in related licensing programmes.

The global children’s publishing market size is valued at USD 9670.72 million in 2024 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 3.0%, to reach $11.544,96 million by 2031 (InsightProbe). The sector continues to show excellent signs of prosperity and is also an area

of increasing use in related licensing programmes.

Children’s books new releases

Love Writing Co. has announced the launch of the PAW Patrol Collection, its newest product collection with Paramount, which was made possible with the assistance of early childhood education specialists.

With the aid of their beloved TV characters, the line hopes to inspire a love of reading and writing in young readers. It will feature ethically sourced and sustainable products, a prewriting skills workbook, a handwriting book, ergonomic tripod-grip writing pencils and erasable coloring pencils.

Love Writing Co.’s products are ergonomically designed to comfortably fit in a child’s hand for extended lengths of time by being the right length and width and featuring a tripod grip. Currently, 50% of under-11s are not

PUBLISHING 92
TRENDS
PAW Patrol collection by Love Writing Co. Top image: Sugar Shoes

meeting literary guidelines, nearly three million children per year. The goal of The Love Writing Co. is to help overcome these statistics by making writing an enjoyable journey for kids.

Award-winning Cardiff indie Candy Jar Books has acquired the rights to publish brand new books based on the classic children’s animation series The Raccoons. For children who grew up in the mid-’80s, early ’90s The Raccoons was required viewing. Mixing anarchic humour with great storytelling, this classic Canadian animation TV series focused on the exploits of Bert Raccoon, his best friend Cedric Sneer, Melissa and Ralph, Schaeffer the dog, and, of course, the dastardly pink aardvark, Cyril Sneer. Created by Kevin Gillis, The Raccoons was originally shown in the UK on the BBC. Although the show first hit screens in 1985, its message still resonates today. With Over 80% of young people eager to take action to

Timo and the sky

help the environment, the stories about the greedy aardvark millionaire Cyril Sneer, who regularly tried to destroy the natural balance of the Evergreen Forest in his quest to make a fortune, are more relevant than ever. The Raccoons TV series has recently been restored and remastered from the original 35mm films to 4K and relaunched on BritBox/ ITVX and The Roku Channel.

Over the years The Raccoons TV company, Run With Us Productions, has signed a number of licensing deals including t-shirts, hoodies, games, toys, hot cocoa, mugs, as well as colouring and activity books, but it has never ventured into children’s novels, until now. The three books (Cry Wolf!, The One That Got Away, and Blast from the Past!) are written by John Peel (author of The Secret World of Alex Mack, The Lucy Wilson Mysteries and Doctor Who), Iain McLaughlin (the former editor of Britain’s longest-running comic, The

Beano, and author of books based on The Tomorrow People, Dennis the Menace and Doctor Who), and Chris McGuire (who produced the Hannah Montana spin-off series, Hannah-Oke, and developed and wrote the BAFTAwinning Me:TV and Emmy-winning Pet School for CBBC).

The books are specifically created to encourage parents to read along with their children. Each easy-read novel has seven chapters, one for each day of the week. Alongside this, the books feature QR codes which allow the reader to access additional interactive video and music content. Published in March 2024, the three books are distributed by the Books Council of Wales and are available from Gardners, Peters, Waterstones, Amazon...

OWL Agency represents some of Europe’s leading illustration and animation professionals, working with brands, publishers and projects from all over the world. The agency has a strong focus on book licensing and is promoting three Slovak children’s books – Timo and the sky, Spooks, Sugar Shoes - among the novelties presented at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. Timo and the sky shows children, but also their parents, how pleasant and liberating they can feel when they tilt their heads up in the evening. The main character of the book is the poodle Timo, who lives in a city illuminated by lamps. However, when he and his family go on vacation to the mountains, he is speechless with amazement. So many lights in the sky! Just then, the bat Strubik flies over the spruce tree. Strubik will take care of Timo and shows him

PUBLISHING 93
Timo and the sky

the secrets of the night sky.

Every house has its boogeymen, you can find them everywhere. On the balcony, in the washing machine, under the elevator, and right behind you. What they’re doing there, you’ll find out in Spooks, a picture book meant for all kids who can laugh and still haven’t stopped being afraid. Sugar shoes tells a story about the love for sweets and the consequences of overeating candy. The book shows that we can control sugar cravings, and if the sweets are made of healthy and local ingredients, they will be that much tastier.

An intriguing storyline that shows children in a non-violent way that goodies don’t have to be eaten all at once, you can save something for tomorrow, too.

From kids’ books to reality

In the UK, the children’s book market is highly regarded, so it is not surprising to find its characters in the real world. After working together on the We’re Going on a Bear Hunt art trail in Leeds in 2023, Walker Books, an independent children’s book publisher, and Wild in Art, a global art producer, are going to start a creative partnership this year. As part of the ongoing partnership,

ten bear sculptures will visit the Greater London town of Kingston and be installed alongside Kingston First from March 29 to June 7. Residents, workers, and visitors are encouraged to search for the sculptures in Kingston’s streets, parks, and landmarks. After that, the sculptures will travel up the M6 to Birmingham city centre, where they will be installed as part of a trail funded by Central BID Birmingham, from July 1 to September 30. Additional details will be announced later in the year.

The Peninsula Hotel, which overlooks Hyde Park, London, has unveiled a collection of experiences on the occasion of the Easter season, with the participation of Peter Rabbit, the character created by British author and illustrator, Beatrix Potter. In celebration of the famous rabbit, The Peninsula will exclusively offer a Peter Rabbit-inspired afternoon tea, themed room package and family-friendly cinema experiences from March 25 through April 28.

The family-friendly Peter Rabbitthemed afternoon tea features a collection of English dishes inspired by Mr. McGregor’s Garden and the Lake District. The menu will include preparations like Battenburg cake with raspberries, carrot cake pots and cream cheese and rhubarb chutney sandwiches. All will be served amid springtime, Peter Rabbit-themed décor, with coloring books featuring Peter Rabbit gifted to children.

The Peninsula is also offering families the opportunity to experience a Peter Rabbit-themed stay at the hotel from March 25-April 28. Children’s soft toys, handcrafted  chocolates, and exclusive Peter Rabbit bathrobes are all included in the London Adventure package. Additionally, there will be other Peter Rabbit-themed activities for guests to partake in all across the hotel.

The exclusive global partnership between The Peninsula and The World of Peter Rabbit has been developed under license from Penguin Ventures on behalf of Frederick Warne & Co. Ltd (Beatrix Potter’s publisher and owner of The World of Peter Rabbit).

Finally, a new Poetic Brands apparel collection was launched in early March, dedicated to the Little People, Big Dreams book series. The partnership was promoted by Rocket Licensing, the global licensing agent for the IP.

PUBLISHING 94
Peter Rabbit afternoon tea at Peninsula Hotel Bear sculpture by Walker Books & Wild in Art Little people, big dreams - Frida Kahlo

Children’s books, from Slovenia to the world

6000 books are published in Slovenia every year. Of these, over 900 are for children and teenagers, accounting for almost a quarter of total book production.

The stories in Slovenian children’s books deal with universal themes, which makes them very suitable as international titles. Some topics of recent releases are the relationship with the natural environment, the management of ups and downs in life, and the body positivity.

The Triestine writer Marko Kravos published with Založba Pivec the book Zlatorog (The Golden Horn), based on various folk tales and historical sources that tell of legends and myths from Alpine highlands. By reworking old narrative motifs, he wanted to remind both young and adult readers of the Slovenian fairy-tale tradition, while at the same time reviving in them a relationship with the natural environment. The Golden Horn represents a mythical creature with

Slovenian authors nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award

This year, 245 candidates from 68 countries are competing for

the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Prize, open to authors, illustrators, storytellers and reading promoters. The winner will be announced at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair on 9 April, live from a press conference in Stockholm. Three Slovenian authors have been nominated. Jana Bauer won the Kristina Brenkova Award and was nominated for the Tenpenny Award for her original Slovenian picture book How to Hug a Hedgehog, created with illustrator Peter Škerl. The picture book Swampers, with Peter Škerl’s illustrations, were among the 250 best books in the world. The artist has won the Kristina Brenkova Prize four times. Last year, Ana Zavadlav won the Levstik Prize for Original Illustration for her works in the book Italian Fairy Tales 1, 2 by Italo Calvino, and she was nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Prize.

PUBLISHING 96
SLOVENIA

eternal life force in its blood and horns.

Frogs 2, a young adult illustrated book by VigeVageKnjige, created by the author and illustrator Dora Kaštrun, is the new release of the successful satirical title Frogs. As in the first book, the main characters are frogs, and they perform a variety of roles throughout the book, such as lovers, friends, parents, and so on. We also encounter other characters, such as a stereotypical mother figure, a dog, God, and the absolute star of the book, penguin Marko. The latter appears only infrequently, but his grumpiness serves as an important counterpoint to the mostly cheerful frogs. The book is notable for its striking, eye-catching pictures and its witty playfulness with words and their metaphorical power. Through this, the author addresses various topics: homophobia, pollution, art, workers’ rights and suicide, among others.

Nataša Frank invented the character Mišek Bami (Bami the Mouse), who is not your typical mouse. He is very curious and encounters many obstacles, which he solves ingeniously. Through the pages of his books one also learns about the three primary colours, yellow, red and blue, and their endless combinations. Children ages 3 to 9 are the target audience for this book. For kids ages two to eight, a wooden educational toy inspired by the narrative of Mišek Bami has also been created. Workshops and events with a theme are also often scheduled.

Skrivnosti Neli Smrkolj is a very engaging young adult novel for readers aged 10 and up, lively, humorous, and wittily illustrated.

Primary school student Neli moves from the city to the village of Senožet, which means not only new rooms in a new house, but also a new school, classmates and friends. How will she cope in her new environment? Will she make any friends? And how will it be when two new family members come

to the house? There are ups and downs, sadness and joy, bad moods and good moods, which of course win out in the end.

The ever-dynamic story is divided into chapters, which are spiced up with cute illustrations by Ana Razpotnik Donati.

Helena, the protagonist of Pikica (Mohorjeva Celovec), is a happy-hearted girl. But there is something quite unusual about her: you can see that her face is covered in white freckles, because Helena suffers from skin disease vitiligo. When other children notice them, Helena doesn’t like the white spots anymore and wants to scrub them off her skin in the bath - but to no avail! But her family and friends are careful to explain to Helena that her spots are something unique and beautiful - like snowflakes, a star in the sky or a dinosaur egg. The story tells - in the spirit of body positivity - how every child is beautiful in their own way.

Bologna Children’s Book

Fair 2024: Slovenia Guest of Honour

Bologna Children’s Book Fair welcomes Slovenia as 2024 Guest of Honour: an opportunity for publishers from all over the world to learn about the country’s rich editorial scene, which will be promoted throughout the fair. There will be an exhibition showcasing the work of 59 contemporary Slovenian illustrators, in a special area designed by Sara&Sara (Sara Badovinac and Sara Škarica); plus, numerous panels discussing Slovenian publishing, and many activities in the city for the general public.

For more info: www.sloveniabologna2024.com

PUBLISHING 97
Mišek Bami educational toy

AFRICA

Youth Books: Spotlight on Africa

Africa offers Youth Books full of adventure and excitement, with many interesting stories that help in the search for personal values. Here are some of the latest releases.

Masobe Books has recently published two young adult novels. In Time to Shine at the River School, Jummy and Caro are thrilled to be working with their Nile House

friends on the school corn-planting competition. But as they try to grow the biggest crops, they realize the beautiful Shine-Shine River is running low. The two girls will have

The 2023 Children’s Africana Book Awards (CABA)

For over 30 years, the Children’s Africana Book Awards (CABA) have honored the best of those published in the United States, thanks to Africa Access, which is based in the Center for African Studies at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Bottle Tops: The Art of El Anatsui, one of the 2023 winners, is a fascinating book with lively mixed-media images that tells the true story

of El Anatsui, a vibrant artist; Lion Lights: My Invention That Made Peace with Lions, a compelling, inspiring picture book, in which Turere, with Shelly Pollock, tells his own story of how his love of tinkering with electronics led to his invention, at age 12, of an affordable, portable system of blinking lights that scare off encroaching lions. Instead of focusing on modern America, the latest Kwame Alexander book for readers aged 10 and up, The Door of No Return, is set in the Asante Kingdom of the 1860s, which is now known as Ghana. Mischievous 12-year-old Kofi Offin loves swimming and his village’s laid-back lifestyle—that is, until his brother gets to face a formidable opponent.

to step up if they want to save the river and its wildlife – and win the school prize in the process… In Onyeka And The Rise Of The Rebels, Onyeka and her superpowered friends must race against time to save themselves and the Solari. Having exposed head teacher Dr. Dòyìnbó’s hidden agenda behind the Academy of the Sun, Onyeka and her superhero friends are living as fugitives, laying low as they try to figure out their next move. Onyeka’s parents have not been found, despite their best attempts, and the Academy pupils continue to be in danger. Onyeka, however, is left with only a small number of rebels known as the rogues as allies, and they must resort to them when their safe home is found.

Narrative Landscape Press presents The Kaya Girl. Abena spends her summer holidays working in her aunt’s shop in Makola Market (Ghana), a place she and her rich

PUBLISHING 98

friends would never normally go. Faiza is a Muslim migrant worker from the north who ekes out a living in the market as a porter, carrying goods in a bowl balanced on her head. When the two girls meet, they forge an unlikely and powerful friendship. So different in their experiences, each opens the door to an unseen world for the other - and is forever changed by what they discover.

A-Files, Eyeshadow and Lipgloss is the second book in the A-Files series following two sisters, Nita and Adesuwa. Things are looking up for Nita - brilliant student columnist, superlative best friend and a brand new business idea. Then the flamboyant Dienye twins team up with an old enemy and annoying older sister - Adesuwa. Amidst a series of pranks, mischief and sabotage, Nita fights her way back through a haze of powder, glitter and shimmering blush. She is confronted with a shocking revelation that forces her to question everything

she thought was true.

Among the latest releases recommended by Soma Nami Books, Strong Like Me, a picturebook story about finding what makes YOU strong.

Kamara loves being super strong, but her classmates and their negative words make her question how strong she really is. Strong Like Me is a timely picture-book debut by writer, social commentator and podcast host, Kelechi Okafor. This inspiring story aims to help children discover their power, stand up for themselves and be unapologetically confident in who they are.

Bologna Children’s Book Fair, the third edition of Spotlight on Africa

In 2024, the Bologna Children’s Book Fair (BCBF) will host the third edition of Spotlight on Africa, the programme developed with the support of ITA - the Italian Trade Agency and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, which will offer around 30 excellent African publishers from all over the continent a prominent space in a dedicated exhibition area within the BCBF. In addition to a packed programme of events, an online illustration course for African illustrators will be launched thanks to the collaboration between the BCBF, Aké Arts and Book Festival (conceived and curated by the British Nigerian writer and publisher Lola Shoneyin with the aim of promoting and developing creativity on the African continent locally and internationally) and Mimaster Illustrazione.

PUBLISHING 99
Strong Like Me

Cartoon Movie 2024: a discovery of European creativity

The 26th edition of Cartoon Movie (Bordeaux, 5-7 March 2024) once again brought all the European creativity on screen with 55 daring film proposals from 16 countries. These are a few intriguing projects at different phases of development.

In Concept

In The Little Prince of Shangri-La (Mad Entertainment), written and directed by Alessandro Rak (Cinderella the Cat), the 13th Dalai Lama of an imaginary Tibet has just died, leaving the country in a desperate situation. The story is the tale of a real spiritual journey, led by a group of friends who go in search of the new Dalai Lama. It is an improvised and apparently ill-assorted team consisting of Alexandra, a very young French explorer, Aphur, a young warrior monk, and Kewstang, an elderly and very friendly Lama.

Dark Horses by Ibrido is an anthology feature film with five chapters, revolving around dark emotions of tormented souls. In different times and places: a man loses his mother; two girls find each other during WWII; a thorn grows from the hatred of the heart; a

horse-jumping champion finds herself captive; two primitives re-discover one another, before language. All their experiences converge into a single story, that of human existence, and it’s all about learning to ride these emotions, finally moving on. A horse, a symbol of strength and freedom, appears in every chapter, guiding the transformation, carrying a deeper meaning.

In Development and in Production

The story of Flamingo Flamenco by Studio 100, set in The Fuente de Piedra lagoon in Spain, follows one of the largest flocks of flamingos in Europe. Once a year, the adolescent birds perform a dance that looks like... flamenco! But when the flock is attacked by hateful podencos (wild dogs) our heroine Rosie, a fun, dance

crazy flamingo, loses her beloved sister and the flamenco is cancelled henceforth. But in time, with the help of the exuberant lizard Carlos, she will find her way back to herself.

In The Defects by Fabrique d’Images, Hope Movasi is a creative 12 year-old living in Newtopia, a retro-futuristic city run by Mayor Mann. Sent to a summer camp to get training for a role in Newtopia, she befriends other children: Ivy, Rudy and Fudge. The kids accidentally stumble upon a terrifying truth: Replazoids (look alike robots) are

ENTERTAINMENT 100
Top image: Flamingo Flamenco

about to secretly replace humans. All Rights Entertainment, based in Paris, Hong Kong and L.A., has acquired the worldwide rights.

In the magnificent, animated adventure

The Polar Bear Prince (Maipo Film) we meet the curious, and adventurous girl Liv, who longs to escape from the forest where she lives. She chooses to pursue a white polar bear she comes across in the bush one day. In his ice castle, a warm friendship blossoms between the two, a friendship that could turn into love. The white bear is not just a bear; he

Niko - Beyond the Northern Lights

pizzeria’s heir. Her falsehoods get bigger as her yearning to escape gets stronger. However, as her web of lies gets out of control, she exposes her family to serious risk by opening a gateway to a fantastical but dangerous underworld. After the first two popular films, the adventures of the reindeer Niko are continued in Niko - Beyond the Northern Lights (Animaker). Niko bids his family farewell with tears and boards Santa’s Flying Forces to join his father. It’s a dream come true, until Stella, an unidentified competitor, shows up to take Niko’s place. Further deals in key regions, including Spain, North and Latin America, Portugal, the Middle East, and Ukraine, have been closed by the sales agent Global Screen. In October 2024, the movie will be released, first in Scandinavia.

In Sneak Preview

The 2D 85’ movie Kensuke’s Kingdom (Mélosine Productions) is inspired

by the homonym book of Michael Morpurgo, one of the world’s most successful children’s authors. Young Michael and his family leave home to travel the world by boat. Michael is pushed overboard during a storm and washes up on an island where he has to learn to survive on his own. Gradually, though, he begins to sense another presence and discovers that this planet harbours wonders and perils beyond his wildest dreams.

In the film SuperKlaus (3D, 88’), which is produced by Smartrek Films and other partners in Spain and Canada, the title character is a fearless and intelligent super hero who possesses amazing powers. The third installment of the popular SuperKlaus movie series is much anticipated by thousands of kids, including Santa Claus, who is a huge fan of the series. So much so that he thinks he is SuperKlaus himself and causes chaos everywhere he goes after taking a heavy blow to the head with his sledge.

ENTERTAINMENT 101
is also Prince Valemon, enchanted by a sorceress. The narrative of the Mediawan/Palomar animated film Twisted centres on the feisty Italian adolescent named Angelina. She worries that defying convention will crush her parents’ affection because she is the renowned

Superprod, a jewel in the animation sector

A major player in French animation, Superprod has become a reference in international animation over the last 14 years.

LM interviewed Jérémie Fajner, Managing Director and Clément Calvet, CEO, Superprod, to know more about the group’s work and plans.

Superprod was founded fourteen years ago. What do you think your greatest accomplishments have been, and what future developments do you have planned?

The greatest achievement is to be surrounded today by a team of fantastic collaborators with whom we have built a group capable of developing, producing and distributing premium films and series for the global market.

Since 2021 Superprod’s series work has been honored with 14 Emmy nominations and 5 wins, as well as 4 Annie nominations and 2 wins for shows such as Go Go Cory Carson!, Spirit

Rangers, Paddington, Batwheels, and Ghee Happy

How is the Group currently organised and what are its divisions?

The group is organised by type of production: Animation mainly (Superprod Animation), but also live action films (Superprod Films), Live action Drama (Superprod Drama), Music (440Hz) and Sales (Superights); and by territories: US (The Co-production Company), Italy (Red Monk Studio) and more to come! The philosophy is to be as close as possible to talents, both artists and producers, to produce the best content.

In which other countries in the world do you now operate in, and how?

The group is made of seven companies deployed in Los Angeles, New York, Paris, Angoulême, Milan (and more soon). They are all independent entities on their own territories and we have created a lot of synergies between them which ease our capacity to create produce and sell as efficiently as it is possible.

What are your latest projects, particularly in the kids’ area?

Superprod is currently producing two theatrical features: Astérix for M6/ SND and The Sunrise File, an adult animation movie. The group is also working on five TV series, Miffy with StudioCanal, Mercis and Canal+, Batwheels 2 with Warner Brothers, Lego and Friends 3 for Passion Pictures, Underdog with M6/GULLI, RAI and DreamWorks Animation Television, and Harrison and me for France Télévisions.

What is Superprod’s approach to the issues of sustainability and gender equality?

We have been very active in promoting equal opportunities within our group. Superprod obtained a 98/100 score at the official gender equality index for the last three years, and women are paid 1,3% more than men. We also have put in place a CSR plan named Superprod Impact which has been deployed for a few years, with concrete actions in many aspects of our activities, and it means a lot ot us and our employees.

ENTERTAINMENT 102
SUPERPROD

How to conquer the tween/ teen market

What does it take in terms of content, business alliances and distribution strategy to reach the elusive 11+? At the last Cartoon Business in Gran Canaria (November 2023) there was a themed session, with a case study of the Joy Eternal teen TV series. LM spoke to its producer, Helsinki-based Juha Fiilin, creator of Fiilin Good Films.

To whom would you recommend the Cartoon Business experience?

I would recommend it for producers who want to keep up to date with industry trends and meet colleagues in an intimate event.

You centred your speech on the Tween/ Teen market. What are the current characteristics and demands of this target group?

It’s the hardest audience to captivate, whilst it’s the one that spends most time playing games and scrolling through short videos. Sadly, they’re also creating a dopamine addiction to these distractions.

What creative and marketing solutions can companies implement to attract Tween/Teen audiences?

If you’re looking for young eyeballs, the short scrollable videos are the guaranteed food for stimulus, i.e., TikTok, Youtube and Meta Reels. Our challenge is to create something ethical and meaningful that stands out from the constant stream of distractions without just adding to the toll.

You can add creative elements such as novels, comics, sustainable merchandise, fashion collaborations or edgy board games supported by relevant influencers.

Whatever you do, you’ll need to market on social media to find the audience, but external links are heavily penalised by the algorithms so you’ll need to find ways around this.

Can you tell us how the animated series Joy Eternal came about and what is the current status of the project?

We’ve been developing the project with Yle for years, and when we started to show it outside Finland, the story and the world immediately resonated as something really unique. The series

is streaming on Yle and will soon be available on 3Cat, with Pink Parrot Media handling distribution. We are planning to extend the series with games, comics, digital publishing and social media to better engage the young audience.

What else is Fiilin Good Films working on at the moment?

The first issue of our Joy Nadir graphic novel is going to printers along with tote bags and T-shirts.

We’re developing an anime inspired adult series called Thinkies, where Harmony’s (21) thrilling quest for her family’s rights takes her to a dangerous investigation inside a mega-corporation. The closer she gets, the more secrets she becomes privy to and the more compromised her loyalties become.

In Earth 2.0, an animated film in development, we follow the journey of Joe (16) in a sci-fi fantasy adventure. Desperate to save his ailing brother, Joe makes a Faustian pact, transporting them to a realm without pain or death. But their paradise is threatened, forcing Joe to confront his true intentions.

ENTERTAINMENT 104
FIILIN GOOD FILMS
Juha Fiilin. Other images: Joy Eternal

Trapped in a Video Game books to be adapted into a series of films

Nelvana is working with Andrews McMeel Entertainment to develop Trapped in a Video Game, a series of films based on the popular book series. LM spoke to Athena Georgaklis, Vice President, Nelvana Studios, to find out more details.

Nelvana, one of the world’s leading international producers, distributors and licensors of animated and liveaction children’s content, is partnering with  Andrews McMeel Entertainment to develop Trapped in a Video Game, a series of films based on the beloved book series. In the books, 12-yearold Jesse Rigsby finds out just how dangerous video games – and the people making those games – can be. The movie series will deliver the nonstop action, huge plot twists and tons of humour that fans know and love from the books. With the first film in development, Nelvana and Andrews McMeel Entertainment are looking for international partners. LM interviewed Athena Georgaklis, Vice President, Nelvana Studios, to know more on this exciting new project.

How did the collaboration for this Trapped in a Video Game film project come about?

The Trapped in a Video Game book series is published by Andrews McMeel Publishing. We met with the team at Andrews McMeel Entertainment and in that first meeting we quickly expressed interest in adapting the books into a series of films. Soon after, we met the

author Dustin Brady and were a little star struck! Our business and creative relationship began almost immediately. As content creators and development executives, the universe Dustin created was the ultimate playground for us to thrive. We then spent the necessary time optioning the property and waiting patiently to begin the fun stuff. Once we were given the opening to start working, we jumped in wholeheartedly.

How many movies would you like to make?

There are four books in the series at this time. Our goal is to develop all four into movies. The stories are so much fun and tie into one another in a seamless way. We’re starting with the first book, and ultimately plan to adapt a companion to each of the books in this franchise. Working with the Andrews McMeel Entertainment team alongside the author has been a real joy.

Which features of the books would you like to enhance in the audiovisual versions?

Animation is of course our main focus in the first book.  We want to develop a world within the video game, beyond any avid readers’ imagination. Our goal is to enhance what is not only evident on the pages of Dustin’s work, but the moments in between - the moments that are undoubtedly in his imagination and not yet projected onto the page.  We have yet to decide if we will create a 2D or 3D environment , or perhaps a combination of both. The world will come together as we begin the very important look development of this exciting adaptation.

For broadcast and merchandise licensing opportunities, e-mail info@nelvana.com

ENTERTAINMENT 106
NELVANA

The Bubble Takes A Bath

When I was young and dumb I used to refer to the licensing business as “the dark side of the force”, which was another way of saying that I believed that my own occupation - the creation of educational children’s content - was as noble and benign as the green salad at McDonald’s.

Well, now that I’m old and have suffered the indignities of having my beloved Emmy-winning shows cancelled not because the ratings were bad but because the toy sales were bad, I’ve adopted a more moderate, nuanced and, some might even say, humbled point of view.

I now view content and licensing as more like conjoined twins: They have different personalities and habits but they’ve no real choice but to coordinate their efforts if they want to go to lunch. And, if you try to separate them - as I so foolishly did - you risk the unfortunate demise of both.

So, what happens to the licensing twin when its conjoined twin of content stumbles?

At last Kidscreen Summit (where my only complaint was that the Starbucks wasn’t open when I needed it to be), there was a healthy representation of

content and licensing folks and the one thing they all agreed upon was the unhealthy state of the industry, which I heard described alternatively as broken, recalibrating and, in the words of one sad Parisian, The End Times

I won’t waste my word count on why things are so bad because by now everyone knows - or should know - that the Streaming Wars created the thrilling but false narrative that there would always be as much cash flowing through the system as there was hubris. Well, the spigot stopped, the bubble popped, and now buyers and sellers from LA to Bali are - to use the current Orwellian parlance - rightsizing, and the best minds of my generation are out looking for work.

So, where does the licensing business go from here?

Since I’ve never been an expert on the disposition of this particular conjoined

WHO IS JOSH SELIG

Josh Selig is the President of China Bridge Content and the creator of many original shows including Wonder Pets! and Small Potatoes. He was the Executive Producer of Super Wings! Josh lives with his family in New York City and has contributed to the New York Times, The Dallas Morning News and The South China Morning Post. To learn more you can visit his website www. chinabridgecontent.com

twin, I reached out to a few trusted folks who are the following.

“The U.S. is the most impactful marketplace for kids’ entertainment as it translates to licensed products,” said Steven Ekstract, CEO of X Tracks Licensing Forums. “2023 was the beginning of the end for the golden age of streaming. All the major streamers are shifting to an ad supported content model. History always repeats itself, in the kids’ TV business, we are seeing programming that is ad supported. Who are the companies that are the largest advertisers around kids programming?

Toys and brands selling to kids. From a licensed products perspective, all the major toy companies produce significant amounts of kid’s content...If you then add into this mix top licensing juggernauts (aka the Hollywood Studios)...the content market that has licensing potential becomes quite crowded. Now,

ENTERTAINMENT 108

additional competition in the licensing space is coming from major videogame companies. All these content producers have one thing in common, they understand that to be successful in the kid’s entertainment business you need to build franchises that translate from content to products to experiences.”

And Maura Regan, President of Licensing International - and the only industry exec I know with more frequent flyer miles than myselfobserved, “While evergreen film and television brands will always serve as inspiration for licensing, the lack of new original content means families (and retailers) are looking to other sources of entertainment. We have seen video games and sports emerge as significant launchpads for new licensed offerings, for example, and that shows no signs of slowing down.” Regan emphasizes authenticity: “Kids are completely unfiltered—if your consumer product doesn’t feel authentic to their favorite IP, they will let you know!”

These themes were echoed by Ken Faier, El Presidente and CEO Epic Story Media Inc., who noted, “The goal has always been on being where kids are,

which includes YouTube and other AVOD platforms that draw viewers. Additionally, we at Epic have always focused on gaming as an important area to ensure our properties are represented, via mobile games and on Roblox. We recently launched a Roblox game development studio, called Freeground. This, in combination with linear stories, allows us to build fandom. From there, we focus on play patterns that drive interest in toys and merchandising....While mass market retail is a challenge, there are other ways to reach your fans with product, that is via direct to consumer. It’s a lot of work, but, it is very rewarding. Over 50% of toy sales are done online. If your property doesn’t have enough behind it for mass, you can still build a sizeable business direct to fans.”

Everyone I spoke with agreed on the current market demand for well-known properties or reboots. As media veteran Steven Denure said, “In a word, these are UNCERTAIN times...With uncertainty, the default is to go back to the tried and true. A focus on existing properties with a built in audience or relaunching legacy brands will define the CP world for some time.”

But here’s the rub with reboots:

According to Brian Welk at IndieWire, Tubi’s recent streaming insights survey found that “74 percent of millennials and Gen Zers prefer to watch original content rather than franchises or remakes.” In other words, out with the old, in with the new

So, what does an industry do when it finds itself caught in between a rock (reboots nobody wants to watch) and a hard place (originals nobody wants to finance)?

Personally, I find solace - as well as guidance - in the fact that the very few shows that have worked for preschoolers in recent years - Bluey, Paw Patrol, Cocomelon - are all creatordriven IPs with themes that are truly meaningful to this demo: family, community, and friendship.

Viewed through this lens, I would argue that the kids’ market isn’t actually saturated at all. To the contrary, it’s thirsting for original shows that speak to what kids really care about, and they shower riches on the few brands that currently do. As Maura Regan said, “The most important thing content producers and their licensing partners can do is understand their audience.”

ENTERTAINMENT 109

Starship Licensors: How IPs can gain passive benefits from market trends

It’s near-impossible to accurately predict what the next ‘big’ pop culture hit will be. Trying to convince audiences in the early 00s that a Tolkien-style fantasy franchise would dominate the minds of everyone - regardless of their genre preferences - would have been a hard sell.

Game of Thrones, despite concluding over five years ago and with a lacklustre final season, still ranks as one of the top five most popular shows.

Equally, trying to tell people ten years ago that the success of an 80s pastiche TV show would affect music charts and increase searches for Dungeons & Dragons by 600% would equally be met with skepticism but here we are. It’s not always clear how IP like Game of Thrones or Stranger Things can affect the hearts and minds of consumers - let alone the ripple effect these IPs have with other, similar brands.

We’re seeing this trend happen again - this time with science fiction. The recently launched multiplayer game Helldivers 2 has dominated charts and spiked in popularity within game communities. The game features giant bugs, a parody of a super-patriotic Earth government and countless hoo-rahs to boot.

If you think this all sounds very familiar, you’re right. For many, this game is

an immersive version of the cult 1997 movie Starship Troopers - and the inspiration is not lost on the creators or players. When Helldivers 2 launched, it caused a huge spike in views for Starship Troopers. At one point, it was the 25th most popular film online, according to Television Stats, despite no direct licensing activity taking place.

So what can we learn from this besides how popular shooting giant bugs can be? Well, for licensors, we all strive to achieve this passive effect from Helldivers 2’s popularity with our licensing efforts. In many ways, the spike in Starship Trooper’s popularity outlines some lessons that licensors should take into their discussionsespecially if it relates to the video game industry.

The running up the hill moment

Before we examine exactly what Helldivers 2 did to increase Starship Trooper’s popularity, it’s first important to see how this trend has happened elsewhere. When a well-known IP incorporates content from other media sources, it’s common for those brands to see increased attention. What can be surprising is just how popular these pieces of content have become.

According to Spotify, when Stranger Things incorporated Kate Bush’s Running Up The Hill into its official soundtrack, the 80s singer skyrocketed into the charts and caused streams for the track to increase by 8000%. Similarly, games like Alan Wake have driven new viewers to TV series such as Twin Peaks and The Twilight Zone. While not official licensing activities, they have had the same effects - albeit passively raising awareness of IPs.

A common thread between these

MEDIA & DIGITAL 110
Chris Illuk and Rachit Moti, founders of Layer Licensing. Top images’ credit: Sony, Arrowhead Game Studios

examples is how natural these pairings feel. An iconic 80s song in a show about iconic 80s things, a surreal TV show set in a small town within a surreal game set in a small town. The relationship between both these IPs is complementary and feels organic. Helldivers 2 is no different - the bombastic and silly gameplay feel at home in the equally zany world based on Starship Troopers.

Know your audience

When it comes to Helldivers 2, another factor is also in play: an officially licensed game. Despite Starship Troopers having had an officially licensed game for almost a year, the movie did not see an increase in popularity until Helldivers 2.

Does this mean licensed games don’t work? Of course not. But they need to be handled appropriately. A game needs to attract both fans of the IP

Having your own Helldivers moment

Perhaps most importantly, the creators of these ‘passive collaborations’ have intended to use these existing IPs as inspiration or references in their work. There is clearly a love for these IPs, which is why the creators have chosen to include them in games, TV and film without payment. Audiences can sense that passion, which makes for a compelling suggestion when looking for a new IP to engage with.

But this doesn’t mean that IP holders or licensors can’t capture that same magic - it just means they need to be more thoughtful about their collaborations. Licensors need to avoid the spray-andpray approach, jumping on any popular IP and finding partnerships that matter. Going further, they need to keep their fingers on the pulse regarding pop culture, finding those a-ha moments that

and newcomers to build momentumsomething that the licensed Starship Troopers game may have failed to capitalize on. In contrast, the 2022 Dune strategy game Spice Wars saw a spike in popularity following the release of the movie this year - no doubt a result of newcomers leaving the film and wanting to play the game.

Where possible, finding a timely hook that can draw in a wider audience can really help an IP collaboration. When that can’t happen, the activity should cast a broad net - appealing to diehard fans and complete novices.

can draw in a wide audience. Even in this most recent case, Starship Troopers actors have been vocalising their wish to get involved with the game or even do an official crossover, which would be an ideal opportunity for the official IP holders.

In short, Helldivers 2 shows that successful collaborations can happen even when they are not intended. For licensors, it’s a lesson that finding the right collaboration at the right time can gain significant traction.

MEDIA & DIGITAL 111
Credit: Arrowhead Game Studios/Sony Credit: HBO Credit: Eurogamer/ Television Stats

In toon with the planet

Animation is an area of increasing awareness over its role to play in educating and empowering children on the subject of climate change, the landscape for mission-led children’s animation and IP is in a state of evolution.

There’s some pretty overt messaging out there. Obki – the Sky Kids alien mascot for sustainable living among young audiences has been greenlit for a new series; Meteoheroes continues to go from strength-to-strength with plans to next take on the children’s climate education system in the US; while Future Chicken is picking up international recognition for delivering education with a hefty dose of comic relief.

Each of them is a necessity. With children experiencing increased levels of climate anxiety owing to the lack in accessible climate education in schools, the need for IP that delivers this positive messaging is very real.

But there’s now a spectrum of animated (or live action) children’s IP that deal with the subject of sustainability, and many IP within that sliding scale is now beginning to take a more surreptitious approach.

Two Daughters Entertainment’s Moley – now airing on Bop – is one such children’s series. Whereas a programme like Meteoheroes will hit viewers over the head with issues of climate change and extreme weather in a move to empower children with awareness and understanding, Moley goes for nuance.

In this sense, there’s something quintessentially British about it. Yet it boasts a universal language. Here’s what we mean…

Moley is set in an anthropomorphic society in which everything is built using cast-offs from ‘the Great Above’ – a place where humans discard of their items. Everything within the mole society – down to the clothes they wear – is therefore made from repurposed, upcycled materials that find their way down the molehill.

But rather than talk about ‘recycling’,

SUSTAINABILITY 112
ANIMATION
Future Chicken Top Image: Obki

Moley presents this as inventiveness, innovation, and creativity.

“Moley is not a show about recycling, it’s a show about community and collective responsibility,” says Rob Goodchild, Licensing Director at Two Daughters Entertainment “This show isn’t meant to be a hard-wired piece of education about ‘recycling’ or reuse and repurposing, but it is a depiction of a world where that is the collective responsibility of the mole society. It’s a sustainable society in operation.”

Depicting a functioning society with reuse at its centre, the Moley universe boasts something quite unique. Ironically, however, this isn’t the first time Rob Goodchild has found himself approaching a children’s IP from such an angle.

“We had a similar experience with Shaun the Sheep when I was with Aardman,” he says. “You look at the show and try to work out what elements work well when you try to build a licensing programme. The repurposing of these discarded items, it isn’t the show itself but it’s crucial to the world they inhabit. So, it’s a nice angle to have and one we want to use and work with.”

Earlier this year, Two Daughters Entertainment signed its first licensing partner for Moley in the sustainable fashion and apparel brand, Teemill selected not only for its approach to print-on-demand ecommerce but its “integrity” and its “suitability” to the approach Two Daughters Entertainment is going for in developing a licensing programme as sustainably as possible.

“We know there is such strong emphasis on things like re-wear and ruse and even at a more local level, places like libraries are hosting clothes swaps, that it is becoming popular to make, mend, reuse, and re-wear,” says Rob. “So, it totally suits the brand as our first partnership to bring to life and set the tone for Moley.”

It’s an example of how licensed product tells the story of the brand, inhabits an IP’s ethos, and goes the distance to deliver something led by purpose. It’s also a way in which climate conscious can start to have impact.

Above and below images: Moley

For the Canadian production company, Wind Sun Sky that impact is being delivered in the first instance through gaming. More specifically, through its Roblox audience. Its animated IP, Future Chicken is a mixed media series developed to ‘foster hope and positivity’ among young viewers that is ‘grounded in evidence-based planet positive solutions.’

Its cast of characters, which includes a chicken, an egg, a soil-loving worm,

and a grumpy catfish deliver this is in a nicely wrapped, and comedic packaging.

“All our stories and content have educational light takeaways around climate justice and steps that can be taken woven throughout,” says Catherine Winder, CEO, EP, and founder of Wind Sun Sky. “The Future Chicken characters each communicate in a fun, entertaining, and positive way that provides organic, non-pressured learnings around how kids and families can make a difference.”

Those ‘non-pressured’ learnings expend to the Roblox gaming platform where kids engaged in the Future Chicken universe can play games that focus on simple climate actions that can be taken at home.

The Future Chicken Roblox game has, therefore, seen over 170,000 taps turned off to save water and windows closed to keep heat in; over 120,000 apple cores places in the compost rather than the trash; over 85,000 light switches turned off’ and more than 80,000 TVs unplugged to save energy.

“And if these small actions stick in the mind of players then, hopefully, they will recall them after they’ve finished playing and, at home, will unplug that device, turn off the light, or think about food waste a little more,” says Catherine.

Children’s animation – and the worlds of extended content, publishing, and consumer products they touch – is all becoming a conduit for change. By driving awareness of collective responsibility, it’s an area that really is now embracing the heavy lift it has to do in supplementing children’s climate education.

SUSTAINABILITY 113
Future Chicken

High-profile exhibitors at Toy & Edu China, Baby & Stroller China and Licensing China

At the Toy & Edu China, Baby & Stroller China and Licensing China fairs, over 1,400 premium exhibitors are set to unveil their latest offerings across the whole spectrum of these three industries.

Featuring everything from educational products, to in-trend toys, baby and childcare essentials, and a variety of licensing and licensed products, the concurrent fairs Toy & Edu China, Baby & Stroller China and Licensing China will be held from 8 – 10 April 2024 at Shenzhen World Exhibition and Convention Center.

Fuelled by evolving consumer preferences and technological advancements, the toy, baby and maternity products, as well as licensing industries have witnessed significant growth and innovation in recent years.

As educational value, interactive features, and sustainability have become key elements in response to rapidly shifting consumer demands, many companies have taken measures to continually adapt to the changing business landscape. At the upcoming

fairs, renowned international brands and emerging industry players from all sectors will take centre stage, with displays of a variety of innovations spanning 130,000 sqm across four halls.

Among over 1,400 premium exhibitors there are amazing companies.

Popular brands such as B.Duck, Dream Castle, Iconix, Medialink, Space China,

EVENTS 114

Youyang, and many more will be showcasing again at Licensing China, with IPs such as Naloong and Trolls to appear for the first time. The presence of pavilions from Korea and Taiwan will be bringing in more cultural diversity on the product selection for licensing buyers. Respectively, the pavilions are organised by Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA), the Taipei Multimedia Production Association and the Taiwan Character Brand Licensing Association.

Burago (Italy), Jawbones (USA), Plus Plus (Denmark), Theo Klein (Germany) and more toy exhibitors will be returning to the Toy & Edu China: fair; with 4M and Welly from Hong Kong, Bandai and Sega from Japan, plus Bangwool and Joyworks from Korea making their debuts at this edition.

BBH, Rastar and Roadmate will once again be part of the Baby & Stroller China fair. Joining them will be new exhibitors such as Abon, ACLOSMIL and coolbaby. Beyond the lineup, there will be special launches for the Spring 2024 season featuring the following brands: HONEY KIDS, Rezlli, TUSUNNY and Xingmuzai (Smart products), Allobebe and Helian (Children’s riding products), DBitoy, vsuch and Yuanyile (Indoor family entertainment products).

With the diverse range of exhibitors featured at this year’s joint event, the platform has already garnered enthusiastic pre-show response from international buyers from more than 30 countries, particularly those from Asia, with Korea and regions from

Southeast Asia topping the list. Four buyer delegations from Korea, Myanmar, Taiwan and Thailand, will also join this global industry event next month.

The comprehensive trading platform has introduced several value-adding features. In addition to guided tours designed for VIP and group buyers, and a list of industry networking events

held onsite, the already well-utilised business matching service continues to maximise opportunities between exhibitors and buyers. This service will assist participants in identifying and connecting with potential business partners who align with their needs and interests, and matched parties will have the opportunity to arrange onsite meetings during the fairs.

Toy & Edu China, Baby & Stroller China and Licensing China are organised by the Guangdong Toy Association, Guangzhou

Li Tong Messe Frankfurt Co Ltd and Messe Frankfurt (HK) Ltd. For more information, please visit en.chinatoyfair. com, en.chinababyfair.com and licensing-china.com.

Toy & Edu China, Baby & Stroller China and Licensing China

Date: 8 – 10 April 2024

Opening Hours: 09:00 – 17:00 (Day 3 open to the public from 12:00 – 15:00)

Venue: Shenzhen World Exhibition & Convention Center, China

EVENTS 115

Shoptalk Europe Returns to Power Retail’s Digital Transformation

Shoptalk Europe is returning to Barcelona in June, following a hugely successful relaunch in 2023, with the purpose of facilitating the digital transformation of the European retail market.

Shoptalk brings together retailers, brands, technology innovators and investors, at a senior level, and over 3,000 leaders joined in 2023.

At the heart of the event is Shoptalk’s agenda-setting content programme, and in 2024 it will tackle the industry’s biggest questions to unpick how tomorrow’s consumers will discover, shop and buy, and how retailers and brands will meet their expectations. Here are few of the themes of Shoptalk Europe 2024, and examples of the great speakers who will be addressing them. Getting beyond the AI hype to share real-world case studies of which applications of artificial intelligence will be most transformational to the industry. Tian Su, VP Personalisation & Recommendation at Zalando, is heading Zalando’s market-leading work on utilising AI to deliver personalised shopping experiences; she is just one of 11 fantastic retailers and brand leaders sharing their experiences on a content track dedicated to Groundbreaking AI Applications in Retail.

What is Unified Commerce, what sectors is it relevant for, and what technologies and capabilities are needed to deliver it? Hear a Track Keynote from Maria Jose Barrera Rojas, Global Chief Digital Officer & E-Commerce Director, Massimo Dutti, Inditex at Shoptalk Europe talking about how she is leading the delivery of consistent cross-channel experiences to their customers.

How are brands driving differentiation, loyalty and demand and how are they using the ecosystem of retail, wholesale, marketplace, DTC, and aggregators to fulfill that demand? One of the most compelling brand stories of 2023 was Mattel’s repositioning of Barbie. Hear from Sanjay Luthra, EVP Managing Director Mattel EMEA & Global Head Direct to Consumer International, Mattel, on what they are learning from their direct-to-consumer platform, Mattel Creations, as a powerful catalyst for digital transformation and greater consumer connection.

The content of Shoptalk is different from other events. The agenda is entirely editorial driven and the programme is based on industry feedback, including from their Advisory Board of leading retailers and brands. They don‘t accept payment, all 175+ great speakers for 2024 are selected on merit!

Come and join Shoptalk Europe’s community of retail industry decision-makers in Barcelona from 3-5 June 2024.

More Info here:

https://hubs.ly/Q02jjj3R0

See agenda here:

https://hubs.ly/Q02jjh_K0

Get tickets here:

https://hubs.ly/Q02jjh_R0

EVENTS 116
SHOPTALK

Discovering Cartoon Next 2024 projects

The three-day event Cartoon Next (Marseille, France, April 9–11, 2024), is entirely devoted to the most recent advancements in the animation sector. As well as various conferences, there will be presentations of brandnew cross-media animation projects. Here are some of them.

No Pets! Tinies Rule the World by Nuvole e Strisce (Italy) is one of the projects aimed at children (up to 9 years old). The idea behind this TV show is to follow kids and their parents as they begin to explore their environment, with the small fauna as an absolute protagonist. The concept lends itself well to multiplatform development (gaming in particular), with interactivity at all levels of the project.

Sidi Kaba - Guardians of the 1000 Kingdoms is a 2D cooperative platform puzzle video game designed for casual gamers, accompanying the release of the animated film Sidi Kaba and the gateway home. The game takes place in locations parallel to the events of the film and is artistically directed by Fabrice Nzinzi. It’s the first game developed through a partnership

between Special Touch Studios (France) and École de Condé Marseille.

The game Cloudy & Stormy by Laniakea Pictures (Poland) is aimed for a family audience and provides potential for comic book and television series development. Two dog influencers are capturing the world from a pawsitive perspective, all while their owners are out of the picture.

Joy Eternal, a multimedia project from Fiilin Good Films (Finland), is being produced as a TV series for the teenage audience, with previous gaming and comics developments. An action-packed story about 16-year-old Joy and the

afterlife.

Young adult/adult projects include Deco’s records (Wiggleywoo - Ireland), a music-themed TV series, and Green as Hell (6x2 - Italy), a feature film set in the Amazon rainforest at the end of the 19th century.

14 memorable Keynotes

In addition to the 8 pitching sessions of the animation projects, Cartoon Next 2024 also offers 14 keynotes, creating a 3-day immersive experience with top international experts discussing the future of animation. Topics include the importance of licensing in animation, with licensing agent Max Arguile of Reemsborko, and the rise of adult animation, with the Bobbypilss studio. Plus, iPhone and 3D animation, video games, new audiences, sustainability, publishing, A/R VR, Pan-African and Hungarian animation, and much more!

EVENTS 118
CARTOON NEXT
Sidi Kaba - Guardians of the 1000 Kingdoms

MIPTV 2024 new line-ups

Over 130 exhibitors from around the world are set to host stands on the exhibition show floor to meet with thousands of buyers and producers over five days to screen, license and acquire new television series for local and global distribution.

Beta Kids & Family presents Pumuckl’s new adventures. In his uncle Master Eder’s carpentry workshop, Florian Eder meets the little goblin Pumuckl, who never leaves his side. The TV show respectfully continues the story of the 1980s TV series about a lovable puck named Pumuckl, whose inimitably anarchic behavior is sure to delight a new generation of children. A touch of magic also characterises SnowfallNoah’s Wish, a series dedicated to the magic of Christmas and the strength of bonds, starring ten-year-old Noah. Nippon TV has announced a landmark partnership with Prime Video for the distribution of its its eagerly awaited survival action thriller series, ACMA: GAME (“AK-muh” Game), based on the popular manga of the same name by Meeb. and set to premiere on Prime Video Japan on April 7th. Three further intriguing formats are as follows: Trespassers is an exciting dramedy from the creators of the acclaimed Rebooting series; Alice in Wonderful Kitchen is a compassionate drama-mystery about the life of an extraordinary chef who copes with autism; Stars on the Shelf is a cuttingedge business/observational reality format that taps into celebrities’ creativity as they develop and compete with new products in a trendy store. Millimages, one of the oldest independent animation studios and

IP developers in Europe, has been appointed as the worldwide distributor (excluding Italy, Germany, LATAM, Austria, Israel, Portugal & Spain) for Movimenti Production’s newest animation series, Spooky Wolf (26 x

13’). With production completed, Spooky Wolf will headline Millimages’ MIP-TV offerings alongside their latest project in development, Camp Farmcreek (52 x 11’), a 2D animated comedy aimed at 6-9 year olds.

This year is the last edition of MIPTV in Cannes

Event organiser RX France announced on 26 March that it will close its annual MIPTV market after the April 2024 edition in Cannes. RX has announced that it will create a new event called MIP London, which will take place from 24-27 February next year at the Savoy Hotel and IET London: Savoy Place. The February dates coincide with the London TV Screenings (24-27 February) - making it convenient for international companies to attend both in one trip.

EVENTS 120
MIPTV
Spooky Wolf Camp Farmcreek. Top images: Pumuckl’s new adventures

SUMMER INDUSTRY EVENTS

Must-Attend Events From May To July 2024

As the April issue is out, we are already projecting the events not to be missed this summer, which for us will start soon, in May, with the launch of the next issue of Licensing Magazine at the Licensing Expo in Las Vegas (21-23 May 2024), where LM will be present as a Media Partner with distribution bins and a dedicated stand.

But, in addition to the unmissable appointment with the US market, Licensing Magazine will, as usual, make a full tour of the must-see events in Europe and Asia, before a decidedly intense back-to-school period. Let’s go in order.

Back from Sin City, we will prepare to attend the only event dedicated to European retail, Shoptalk Europe, in Barcelona, Spain, at the beginning of June (see dedicated article on page 116). An unmissable event for those who want to meet the key players in European retail, including an indepth conference programme and an impeccable matchmaking service. June will be very intense with other events ranging from animation to fashion and, once again, licensing. Back from Spain, we will be ready to immerse ourselves in the colourful world of animation by travelling to Annecy for the Annecy International Animation Festival

and Market - MIFA which will take place from 11 to 14 June. At the world’s leading event dedicated to animation, we will launch a brand new editorial project dedicated to European animation (read more on page 124) and spread the word about the importance of dialogue between animation and licensing. Always in June, we will be meeting with the fashion industry in Florence at Pitti Uomo and Pitti Bimbo, from 11 to 14 June and 19 to 21 June respectively. In June, on the licensing front, on the German side, Licensing Magazine can’t miss out to attend BrandMate in Offenbach am Main (south of Frankfurt) on 19 and 20 June, the must-attend event for anyone wishing to enter the German licensing market. Still on the licensing theme, towards the end of the month we will be travelling to Paris to attend another leading event for the regional licensing industry, that is the French Licensing Day, on 27 June,

WRITE TO US IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO JOIN US ON THIS JOURNEY!

Licensing Magazine will be present at all these events with its summer issue, which will be published in May. If you would like to join us on this journey and give your brands and services maximum exposure and visibility at these events, please contact us at info@brandsmedia.com . Submissions to be part of the summer issue of Licensing Magazine close on 22 April!

which includes the Licensing Awards dedicated to the French market. Can’t wait!

July is no less busy. For the first time, we will be travelling to Tokyo to attend Content Tokyo from 3-5 July, the latest addition to our busy calendar of events. We are looking forward to discovering the Japanese content and licensing market first hand at the leading event in this region. In the middle of the month, still on the content side, we are back to Sheffield to immerse ourselves and discover the latest trends in children’s audiovisual productions at the Children’s Media Conference (9-11 July). Still in the UK, the summer edition of the Brands&Retail Conference will be held in Birmingham on 2nd July, another event aimed at facilitating meetings between retailers and licensors, mainly for the UK market.

EVENTS 122
subscribe to our newsletter FOLLOW US @LM_LicensingMag @LMLicensingMag @Licensing Magazine @lm_licensingmag @LicensingMagazine

EUROPEAN ANIMATION JOURNAL

Why a new publication dedicated to European Animation

With over 24 years’ experience in the children’s entertainment industry and a decade’s experience in developing trade publications devoted to the world of publishing, licensing and animation, the BM team has decided to launch a new specialist publication dedicated entirely to the world of European animation and its entire supply chain.

Objectives

The goals of this brand-new editorial project are many. Some of them are:

• To give an authoritative voice to all the protagonists that make up the rich European animation community, from talents to producers, from broadcasters to schools and events.

• To create a multi-platform media tool that can build a bridge between European animation and the rest of the world.

• To create a network where all industry professionals in Europe and beyond can connect and create new business opportunities.

Eaj Added Values

The European Animation Journal stands out and is different from other entertainment trade publications in Europe for the following reasons:

• It is the first publication to deal vertically with the rich world of European animation, as no one else has done before.

• It already has an extensive network of partner events and a rich database of industry professionals from around the world.

• Its content will be curated by a European team of journalists, giving voice to the individual protagonists of Europe’s rich animation community.

• All-news and insights will be disseminated through its network of media, from website

to newsletter, from social media pages to magazine (digital and print formats), to give maximum exposure to each news and insight.

• Thanks to the publisher’s expertise, the world of animation will be brought into contact with complementary and related worlds such as publishing, licensing and toys.

The Content Of EAJ

The sections that will be developed online and in the magazine are numerous and have the ambition to cover the main topics of the industry. With a team of journalists based in the main European territories, EAJ will talk about:

• Leading TV and film producers present in the European market

• Novelties, challenges, and characteristics in the different European territories

• Distributors and agents in Europe

• Animation schools

• Direct access to European and international festivals and markets

• European broadcasters and streamers

• Upcoming animation productionsTV series

• Upcoming European animated films

• Talents in Animation (directors, animators, etc.)

• Beyond animation. Building IPs and crossovers with publishing, toys and licensing industries

• Tax Credits, Laws, Associations

and all the politics issues related to Animation in Europe

The Launch Of EAJ

The European Animation Journal already boasts strategic media partnerships at international level for the industry, such as ANNECY INTERNATIONAL ANIMATION FESTIVAL AND MARKET and MIFA, the must-attend events organised by CARTOON MEDIA (including Cartoon Forum, Cartoon Movie, etc.) and MIPCOM

The experience and international network developed by BM will allow the magazine to be present at the most important events in the ANIMATION, ENTERTAINMENT, PUBLISHING, LICENSING and TOY sectors.

The launch of the website, social media pages and newsletter is planned for April 2024, while the eagerly awaited launch of the digital and print magazine is scheduled for June 2024, on the occasion of the Annecy Animation Festival and Market, where EAJ will be present as a media partner!

HOW TO JOIN EAJ!

Do you want to be part of this brand new editorial adventure? Write to info@brands-media. com to find out more and to request the special EAJ Media Kit.

EAJ 124

Keep up-to-date with industry news from all over the world

Licensing Magazine is one of the only trade publications that:

- Reaches over 110 countries,

- Has over 80,000 monthly readers on its digital and print magazines, weekly newsletters, social media pages and allnews website,

- Offers transmedia coverage on the licensing, digital, entertainment, animation, fashion and publishing industries,

- Presents “outside the box” insights on the hottest trends and themes,

- Is a fully integrated media platform, with a magazine (print and digital format), all-news website, social media pages, and weekly newsletter accessible to its readers around the world 24/7,

- Is the Media Partner of over 30 leading B2B licensing, entertainment, fashion, toy and animation trade events in Europe, USA and Asia.

The next events to follow!

... And where you can find us!

CHILDREN’S MEDIA

Barcelona, Spain

Annecy, France

Offenbach, Germany

Paris, France

Tokyo, Japan

Birmingham, UK

Sheffield,

SAVE THE DATE 126 EVENT LAS VEGAS LICENSING EXPO SHOPTALK MIFA BRANDMATE THE FRENCH LICENSING DAY
TOKYO
RETAIL UK CONFERENCE
SUMMER ED.
CONTENT
BRANDS
-
CONFERENCE PLACE Las Vegas,
USA
UK DATE 21 - 23 May 3 - 5 June 13 - 16 June 19 - 20 June 24 June 3 - 5 July 4 July 9 - 11 July CATEGORY Licensing Retail Animation Licensing Licensing Licensing Retail, Licensing  Entertainment WEBSITE www.licensingexpo.com shoptalkeurope.com www.annecyfestival.com/the-mifa brandmate.converve.io www.francelicensingday.com/fr www.content-tokyo.jp/hub/en-gb.html www.brandsretail.uk
www.thechildrensmediaconference.com
Follow us and you will receive our weekly newsletters, LM e-news, to keep updated on the latest industry news. WHAT’S NEXT
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.