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Home | RaugustOnLicensing


Karen Raugust is Special Projects Editor of The Licensing Letter and author of The Licensing Business Handbook as well as numerous reports including International Licensing: A Status Report. RaugustOnLicensing will feature Karen's unique perspective on trends and news about licensing and merchandising.

Monday, Jul 28, 2014
They're Back….
By Karen Raugust
Monday, Jul 28, 2014 10:45
Trolls were one of the top fads of the 1960s, shortly after Thomas Dam created the first dolls in 1959. These originals, along with versions from other marketers, have experienced periodic comebacks, notably in the 1990s.

We seem to be on the verge of another mini troll renaissance. Universal Licensing & Partnerships is seeking licensees for The Boxtrolls, a 3D stop-motion and CG hybrid feature film based on Alan Snow's comedic fantasy novel Here Be Monsters. And DreamWorks acquired the classic Dam trolls in spring of 2013 and is planning a film release for November 2016, with Anna Kendrick, Jason Schwartzman, and Chloe Grace Moretz among the actors signed for voice roles. DreamWorks represents the property globally, except in the Nordic region, where Dam Things will retain control.

Meanwhile, the Moomins--the Finnish book and TV property created by the late Tove Jansson, whose 100th birthday is being celebrated this year--is a classic troll-focused brand that is still going strong. Recent ventures range from a line of sneakers in Finland and an apparel collection at Scandinavian retailer Lindex to new agents in France and the Benelux, among many others.

An interactive game from Norway-headquartered Megapop called Trolls versus Vikings also is on the bandwagon, capitalizing on the current upswing in popularity of both topics.

It should be noted that, unlike peak troll times of the past, when a number of very similar dolls and their associated licensing programs rode each others' coattails, each of these properties is distinct in story and look. Boxtrolls are scary-looking but quirky and lovable monsters that are clothed in boxes, Megapop's Trolls are cartoony and big-eared, and Moomins resemble hippos, while DreamWorks' Trolls are likely to be somewhat modernized but have a classic Thomas Dam-style appearance.

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Thursday, Jul 24, 2014
Remember the '90s?
By Karen Raugust
Thursday, Jul 24, 2014 10:39
It may seem (at least to some of us) as if the mid- to late 1990s was only yesterday. But this period has already entered the realm of "vintage," as children of the era are entering their 20s now and feeling nostalgia for the TV shows of their childhood, not to mention wanting to introduce their own kids to their former favorites.

As a result, some significant "classic" entertainment properties that debuted on television in the latter half of the 1990s are poised for a comeback. They include The Powerpuff Girls (which debuted in 1998), Teletubbies (1997), and the book-based Goosebumps (1995). All are being relaunched through new entertainment vehicles and licensed merchandise.

These examples follow the rejuvenation of several properties from earlier in decade, including the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) and the Power Rangers (1993).

Of course, some properties have been going strong since the 1990s with no need for a relaunch. One example: SpongeBob SquarePants, which debuted in 1999 and celebrates its 15th anniversary this year.

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Monday, Jul 21, 2014
Don't Cry for Licensing, Argentina
By Karen Raugust
Monday, Jul 21, 2014 12:35
Because of economic, political, and trade challenges, Argentina has been a tough market for foreign licensors over the last few years. But its homegrown licensing business remains vibrant across a number of property types:

• Entertainment/character. The Disney-owned, Argentina-origin live-action TV series for tweens, Violetta, is one of the top properties on the market, while Garturro is a cartoon cat created by artist Nik that appeals to boys.

• Sports. Many of the 20 teams in the Argentinian Football Association's Primera division have licensing programs--with Boca Juniors and River Plate being the most popular--as does the national team, which made it to the finals of the World Cup this year. Los Pumas, the Argentine rugby team, also drives some licensing. • Fashion. Many Argentinian fashion and retail labels including Kevingston, 47 Street, Muaa, John Cook, and Como Quieras Que Te Quiera--with most focused on tweens, teens, and young adults--have extended into lifestyle categories through licensing.

One factor driving homegrown licensing in Argentina is the presence of a strong creative community, which gives rise to licensable IP from the worlds of art, publishing, film/television, and fashion design.

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Thursday, Jul 17, 2014
All Dolled Up
By Karen Raugust
Thursday, Jul 17, 2014 01:54
The modern marriage of fashion labels and collectible dolls has been ongoing since at least the mid-1980s, when Mattel offered its first designer-inspired Barbie with Oscar de la Renta, followed in 1990 by its first designer-licensed collectible doll, with Bob Mackie. Mattel and Barbie have had alliances with more than 75 designers in total.

The relationship between designer and doll continues, with recent examples including:

• Karl Lagerfeld being the latest to join Mattel's Barbie Collector series for a doll wearing his signature outfit, from the black skinny jeans to the wide tie, sunglasses, and ponytail. The deal was announced this week.

• Russian fashion designer Kira Plastinina partnering with Rainbow for a special-edition Winx Club doll. The designer has more than 300 stores across Asia and Europe.

• Isaac Mizrahi New York and Xcel Brands teaming with The Alexander Doll Company to create a line of dolls and doll apparel and accessories to be sold in department and specialty stores and online.

Other examples over the years range from Jason Wu's Fashion Royalty line with Integrity Toys, which was introduced in 2001, to the Tonner Doll company, founded by Robert Tonner, a former designer with Bill Blass's Blassport label and his own Robert Tonner for Tudor Square apparel line. Tonner is known for its fashion dolls tied to entertainment and literary properties, from the Wizard of Oz to Twilight.

Artists are getting into the act as well. Romero Britto, for example, introduced a special-edition Britto Barbie in May, sold through his gallery and online.

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Monday, Jul 14, 2014
Venturing Into New Niches
By Karen Raugust
Monday, Jul 14, 2014 12:13
Licensors are trying a variety of new distribution channels to determine their potential for licensed merchandise sales. Some involve digital and/or social media, some offer new twists on bricks-and-mortar distribution, and some feature a bit of both.

• Sportswear company Roots debuted a collection of men's and women's tops and accessories with artist and writer Douglas Coupland in a pop-up shop on Twitter, before expanding distribution to the Roots e-commerce site and the shop of a gallery that was hosting a Coupland exhibition.

• Fisher-Price division HIT Entertainment is introducing its U.K. property Fireman Sam to the U.S. market through an exclusive deal with Amazon that includes streaming and downloading of TV episodes, which launched in June, as well as an exclusive range of e-books, toys, apparel, and other products to debut later in 2014.

• Target is introducing its September 2014 designer collaboration with Joseph Altuzarra, for apparel, footwear, lingerie, and accessories, on the luxury site Net-A-Porter.com, as well as in Target stores.

• Fashion label Indie Soul is launching a limited-edition swimwear line under the Indie Soul for Costa Hollywood Collection, a rare pairing of fashion label and condo-resort brand. The products will sell through Indie Soul's e-commerce site and flagship store, as well as at the Costa-Hollywood development in Florida, once it opens in 2015.

Another example without a connection to licensing, but with future potential for licensors and licensees, is IKEA's recent launch of a website-like Instagram account in Russia for its PS 2014 collection (see the home page at instragram.com/ikea_ps_2014). Users who register for the dedicated account can view a grid of products; clicking on a photo leads the user to that item's individual Instagram account for more information.

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