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Toy of the Year Awards

Top toys and games as well as three legendary individuals from the toy and entertainment industries were honoured this week at the 19th annual Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards and Toy Industry Hall of Fame induction ceremony. More than 700 industry executives attended the sold-out event in New York City. Proceeds from the awards program and event supported The Toy Foundation’s charitable work to bring toys to millions of children in need.

L.O.L. Surprise! by MGA Entertainment received the Toy of the Year award. Unstable Unicorns by TeeTurtle, LLC won the People’s Choice award for gaining the most votes from consumers. On the licensing side, License of the Year was also awarded to L.O.L Surprise by MGA.

In all, awards were handed out in 17 different categories including:

* Action Figure of the Year: Mattel Jurassic World Dinosaur Action, figures by Mattel, Inc. 

* Collectible of the Year: LEGO Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts Minifigure Series by LEGO Systems, Inc. 

* Construction Toy of the Year: LEGO Harry Potter Great Hall by LEGO Systems, Inc. 

* Creative Toy of the Year: Cool Maker KumiKreator by Spin Master 

*Doll of the Year: L.O.L. Surprise! Eye Spy Under Wraps by MGA Entertainment 

* Game of the Year: Disney Villainous Game by Wonder Forge by Ravensburger

* Infant/Toddler Toy of the Year: Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Smart Learning Home by Mattel, Inc.

* Innovative Toy of the Year: Botley the Coding Robot Activity Set by Learning Resources 

* Outdoor Toy of the Year: Glove-A-Bubbles by Zing 

* Playset Toy of the Year (tie): LEGO Creator Expert Roller Coaster by LEGO Systems, Inc. and L.O.L. Surprise! House by MGA Entertainment;

* Plush of the Year (tie): Scruff-A-Luvs by Moose Toys and Star Wars Ultimate Co-Pilot Chewie by Hasbro, Inc;

* Preschool Toy of the Year: Fisher-Price Think & Learn Rocktopus by Mattel, Inc;

* Rookie of the Year: Ollyball - The Ultimate Indoor Play Ball! by VICTURY Sports;

* Specialty Toy of the Year: LEGO Harry Potter Hogwarts Castle by LEGO Systems, Inc;

* Tech Toy of the Year: Arcade1Up by Tastemakers LLC; and

* Vehicle of the Year: PAW Patrol Ultimate Rescue Fire Truck by Spin Master & Nickelodeon 

During the ceremony, three exceptional individuals were inducted into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame: Brian Goldner, chairman and CEO, Hasbro, Inc, the late Stan Lee, former editor-in-chief, publisher, and chairman of Marvel Comics, and the late Joe Mendelsohn, former president of Kenner Products.

"On the eve of Toy Fair New York, a sold-out TOTY Awards gala underscores the health and vitality of the toy manufacturing and retail community as we focus on building successes in year ahead together," said Steve Pasierb, President and CEO of The Toy Association. “Honoring the contributions of Brian Goldner, Stan Lee, and Joe Mendelsohn, together with a remarkable line up of TOTY finalists, is testament to the innovation, passion, and talent seen across the toy community.  It's certain to be a spectacular night of celebration and remembrance.”

And more awards for MGAE…

MGA Entertainment kicked off the first day of Toy Fair 2019 with a record-setting number of industry awards for L.O.L Surprise! as The NPD Group presented ten awards, including being named the first recipient of 2 out of 3 global awards – this is more awards than any one company has been awarded ever! 

The accolades are only surpassed by the impressive sales figures. According to NPD Group, LOL Surprise! was the best-selling toy property in 2018, selling more than $1.67 billion LOL Surprise dolls around the world (G13)! * 

“MGAE makes history once again – 10 Top NPD awards,” said Isaac Larian, CEO and founder for MGA Entertainment.  “These awards are validation that L.O.L Surprise! and Little Tikes have achieved worldwide success. With the EU, Global and US successes combined, we have achieved 10 awards in multi-categories and multi-brands. I am very proud of the passionate MGAE team -- they consistently make the magic happen and deliver innovative products to the marketplace. We have more new, creative products planned for 2019 -- the best is yet to come!”


Moominvalley on NHK

Japan’s national broadcaster, NHK, has recently announced that it will air Gutsy Animations’ innovative new Moominvalley animation on its BS4K channel.

Launched in December 2018, the BS4K channel uses an ultra-high definition 4k image system and is described as ‘the gateway channel for ultra-high definition visual images’. It features images and audio far exceeding the levels used in conventional high definition broadcasting.

Moominvalley will premiere on BS4K on Thursday 4th April. The animation is based on the Moomin stories by Finnish-Swedish author and artist Tove Jansson and each series will consist of 13 x 22-minute-long episodes. It is directed by Academy Award winner Steve Box (Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit) and is true to the spirit and values of the original Moomin stories. A Finnish-British co-production, it is produced by Gutsy Animations in association with Yle and Sky. Season One premieres in Finland on Yle on Monday 25th February 2019 and in the UK on Sky One and Sky Kids at Easter 2019.


Animaccord close deal with Docomo Digital

Animaccord has closed a deal with Docomo Digital to develop subscription-based licensed app that will be available for download on the App Store or Google Play starting this month. The app with Masha and the Bear series as well as Masha’s Tales and Masha’s Spooky Stories will be available in 17 countries including Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Uruguay, Spain, UK, Italy, Portugal, Poland, Russia, Turkey, Australia, Republic of South Africa.

Docomo Digital will introduce this licensed app with a compelling new interactive design to let children into the world of Masha and the Bear. This app has been developed as an immersive ads-free digital zone for kids with robust parental control. The mini-games, exclusively developed by Docomo Digital, include the classic Memo game, Colouring Book and Paint activity, enriched by an interactive “drag and drop” module to allow users to create their own Masha visuals using static backgrounds and dynamic stickers. A mini-piano app enables kids to undertake music discovery as they experience dancing Masha characters. Another feature is a state-of-the-art Selfie app which provides a Masha Photo Booth to kids and parents alike.   

With extensive experience in designing rich yet safe content experiences for children, the specialist developers at Docomo Digital were focused on providing children with a feature-rich experience while giving the parents complete control and visibility.


BBC Planet and Mother of Pearl

BBC Planet and Mother of Pearl are on a mission to ensure sustainability is the number one topic being discussed at London Fashion Week this year.

The vision for BBC Studios newly launched BBC Planet brand is to enable audiences everywhere to better understand the issues affecting our planet and to deepen their relationship with the natural world.

For London Fashion Week BBC Planet and Mother of Pearl have come together to launch a flagship collection inspired by BBC Planet and created using cutting edge sustainable production methods that will demonstrate how innovation and new technology can help us to reduce the impact of fashion on the planet.

The ambition behind this partnership is to promote a more positive, sustainable approach to fashion and raise awareness of the environmental issues that surround the industry. BBC Planet will be launching a short film created by BBC Studios award-winning Natural History Unit during London Fashion Week seeking to promote a public discussion about our consumption of fashion and the environmental impact that it is having.

Alongside the launch of the collection and film, BBC Planet and Mother of Pearl have  collaborated with the British Fashion Council on a series of events that will bring fashion industry leaders together with leading BBC broadcasters and natural history film makers to discuss the impact that fashion is having on the health of our planet.

The BBC Planet collection from Mother of Pearl will feature an assortment of evening wear drawing inspiration from the colours of nature, created with a traceable supply chain and 100% GOTS certified Organic Peace silk. In addition Mother of Pearl have designed two sweatshirts that have been inspired by the BBC’s iconic Planet TV series’ working with Colorifix, a pioneering bio-synth company based in Cambridge, UK who have developed a ground-breaking new dyeing process that uses ten times less water than conventional dyeing practices.


Bruce Lee in Energy Campaign

Bruce Lee Enterprises and OVO Energy have extended the successful ‘Boost Lee’ campaign to promote the mobile app ‘Boost Power’. Beanstalk, licensing agency for Bruce Lee Enterprises, brokered the deal between Bruce Lee Enterprises and Born Licensing, OVO Energy’s licensing agency.

Inspired by the global icon, martial artist, and movie star Bruce Lee, OVO Energy launched ‘Boost Power’, a mobile app that allows customers to monitor their energy consumption and monthly bill. Advertising agency SNAP London created the clever OVO campaign with a character, ‘Boost Lee’, that introduces the product and shows consumers how to use the app. The campaign celebrates the legacy of Bruce Lee in fun, clever ways while promoting ‘Boost Power’. The product launched in February 2018 and has been extended through August 2019.

Martin Cribbs, VP Brand Licensing at Beanstalk,  said “We’re delighted that the Boost Lee campaign for OVO Energy has been extended into 2019. It’s a fun campaign and a great example of what can be done through personality rights licensing.”


Fashion and The Powerpuff Girls

Cartoon Network’s The Powerpuff Girls continues their 20th year celebration alongside cutting-edge womenswear designer Christian Cowan with an all-new collection. The partnership highlights strong women at the core of both brands, and will feature messages of empowerment through a collection of designs set to debut on International Women’s Day (March 8) in Los Angeles, California.

Christian Cowan uses his creative powers to create collections that truly stand out. He has garnered a strong celebrity following, dressing the world’s biggest stars such as Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Naomi Campbell, Nicki Minaj, Cardi B., Miley Cyrus, Ariana Grande and more. Christian’s outlook on designing makes him the perfect partner to The Powerpuff Girls.

As the original harbingers of empowerment, The Powerpuff Girls have embodied confidence and self-respect through their words and actions. From the moment they started to save the world before bedtime, these three superhero sisters, Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup, became more than characters on a show, but a global phenomenon with a powerful message that continues to resonate today.

The Powerpuff Girls and Christian Cowan shares the support for gender inequality, and the collaboration will benefit She’s the First (STF), a nonprofit organization that fights gender inequality through education.

On a separate note, Cartoon Network recently unveiled details of an all-new collaboration that pairs the London College of Fashion’s future generation of fashion designers with The Powerpuff Girls.

Cartoon Network is giving final year students the opportunity to create a Powerpuff Girls inspired statement outfit for Autumn Winter 2019.  15 groups made up of 2 to 3 final year undergraduates were selected from the college’s course to create a never before seen signature couture item that embodies female empowerment whilst capturing the key trends and elements of the AW2019 season.


Disney unveil Triple Force Friday

Disney report that products inspired by Star Wars: Episode IX and Frozen 2 will begin hitting shelves around the world on 4th. Marking Disney’s first-ever, global simultaneous rollout for two entertainment juggernauts, retailers around the world will create unique celebrations for each of the franchises to honour their individual legacies.

Triple Force Friday will celebrate the launch of a whole range of brand-new products from a trio of original Star Wars entertainment events, including products inspired by the highly anticipated, final instalment of the Skywalker Saga, Star Wars: Episode IX, the first-ever Star Wars live-action series, The Mandalorian, set to debut exclusively on the upcoming streaming service, Disney+. and the latest title from EA and Respawn – Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order – a brand-new action adventure game releasing late 2019

Products spanning categories from toys to collectibles, housewares, books, apparel and more will go on sale and stores around the world will join the festivities with in-store events and midnight openings.

“With Disney’s Frozen 2 and Star Wars: Episode IX both launching in the same year, it will be a notable time for the toy industry,” says Juli Lennett, Vice President, Industry Advisor for The NPD Group’s U.S. toys division. “If history is any indication of future success, both Frozen and Star Wars will be among the top-selling properties of 2019, just as they were in 2014 and 2015/2016, respectively.”

Kidscreen Signing

At the recent Kidscreen Summit in Miami, amongst the many deals agreed was the signing of a contract between Happyup Co Ltd from South Korea and Lion Forge Animation from the US.

The signing concerns animated property Comi & Bebe and KOCCA and the Seoul Business Agency provided marketing and distribution support.

Comi & Bebe is a music-driven preschool animation. Alongside a YouTube channel and a series of companion apps and games, Happyup Co will also create targeted holiday and special event long-form content for SVOD and broadcast.


New series of Power Rangers on Nickelodeon

Hasbro and Nickelodeon recently announced that the long-standing Power Rangers franchise is returning with an all-new television series, Power Rangers Beast Morphers premiering on Saturday, March 2 on Nickelodeon in the U.S. In this brand new season of Power Rangers, the Rangers are sporting tactical leather suits with their ‘Beast Bot’ sidekicks and elevated battle footage with an all-new cast of dynamic heroes, evil villains and imagination defying monsters.

Set in the future, a secret agency combines a newly discovered substance called Morph-X with Animal DNA to create the Power Rangers Beast Morphers team.

“We are extremely thrilled to have Power Rangers under the Hasbro family and to celebrate over two decades of this iconic brand,” said Simon Waters, Senior Vice President and GM of Hasbro’s Power Rangers franchise. “We're eager to bring exciting new products to fans this year and introduce all-new Power Rangers entertainment and content from Hasbro with the Power Rangers Beast Morphers series on Nickelodeon. From the captivating storyline to the action-packed scenes, this new series is sure to entertain Power Rangers fans and new audiences of all ages.” 


The Wiggles name WowWee as Master Toy for US

The Wiggles, have announced that they have named WowWee, as their Master Toy Partner for North America. WowWee will assume immediate responsibility for the distribution of The Wiggles existing toy range, including musical instruments, feature plush, dolls and dance accessories. Ultimately, WowWee will bring a high level of proprietary interactivity to the brand, its colorful characters, and in all future product development, along with providing manufacturing oversight, licensing and retail placement for all toy categories in North America.

“We are excited about the innovation and creativity that WowWee will bring to The Wiggles brand in North America,” said Paul Field, The Wiggles Managing Director. “Having a toy partner with the prominence and influence of WowWee will ensure that our consumer product presence in North America will be in line with the brand.”

2019 is promising to be the most visible year for The Wiggles in North America in recent years. The brand is enjoying a global resurgence with increased broadcast and streaming visibility, extensive live presence through tours, and of course, the rapidly growing popularity of the first-ever female Wiggle, Emma. Some of the North American highlights include a Wiggles tour of North America for over three-months this year, including the biggest U.S. tour in six years that will visit more than 30 cities, coast to coast.

In addition, 2019 will see the launch of Emma series 2 that is scheduled to dominate both broadcast and streaming platforms, as well as numerous Emma-centric consumer products.

The Wiggles are also continuing to grow their digital presence, uploading new content twice a week and collaborating with new partners such as Super Simple Songs, Mother Goose Club and Sesame Workshop.


KISS and emoji Collaboration

KISS has joined forces with the emoji brand to develop and launch a one-of-a-kind collaboration, KISS x emoji. The announcement was made recently by Epic Rights, the global licensing agent for KISS, and the emoji company.

Cleverly combining their strengths, the power of music and the magic of icons, the KISS x emoji brand collaboration has a dedicated brand guide including hundreds of unique icons available for licensing across categories such as apparel, accessories, footwear, electronics, figures and collectibles, drinkware, fan merchandise, home goods, stationery, and more.

Epic Rights and the emoji company have appointed a number of licensing agents around the world to represent the unique KISS x emoji program including Celebrities Entertainment for Germany, Austria, Switzerland; CPLG for France; Exim for Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay; JM Brands for Benelux; Lotus Global Market for Brazil; Merchantwise for Australia and New Zealand; Retail Monster for the United States; Segal for Canada and Tycoon for Mexico.


King of Beers UK Apparel

Apparel specialist Poetic Brands has launched adult apparel ranges into retail based on two of the UK’s most popular beers brands – Budweiser and Bud Light. 

Known as the ‘king of beers’ Budweiser is one of the world most popular beers, with a history dating back to 1876 and distinctive red and white packaging is instantly recognisable. Budweiser has a huge following in the UK and is the second-biggest selling beer brand in the country. Bud Light, first launched in 1982, is Budweiser’s flagship light beer and also enjoys a massive popularity in the UK.   

Poetic Brands has used classic imagery based on each beer to create each range, with the Budweiser line recently launching in ASOS, whilst Bud Light is now available in Next. 

“Budweiser and Bud Light are beer brands that have transcended the drinks market to become cultural icons in their own right,” says Elliott Matthews of Poetic Brands. “We’ve had great fun designing these ranges and are sure they will perform very well at retail.”


Licensed Signings for Far Out Toys

El Segundo-based Far Out Toys is making a name for itself as the fast-growing company capturing some of the world’s most popular licenses, forging major retail programs, and creating innovative play patterns – after less than just two years of operations. 

“Far Out Toys has grown dramatically over the past year, with a cross-category product range, new slate of original content and rapidly expanding distribution,” says toy industry veteran Keith Meggs, CEO and Founder of Far Out Toys. “With our in-house team of industry experts and global network of inventors and IP partners, Far Out Toys is fulfilling our goal to innovate to the outer reaches.”

Meggs set up shop in 2017, and already has attracted multiple coveted deals with licensors and brand partners including NASCAR and’s Ryan’s World to launch a diverse product line.

In 2019, Far Out Toys will introduce an aggressive line-up of new brands and original IP including NASCAR branded toys, Crash Racers vehicle sets, Pulp Heroes collectibles, the Far Out Squaire, Drone Slayer and Crazy Critters Games, and extending its Spin Blast line. Through its partnership with the massively popular Ryan ToysReview YouTube channel, the company will also offer Ryan’s World versions of its water play items Splash Out and the newly introduced Head Splat.

The company’s focus on digital & social-first marketing, along with its major licensing partnerships, positions Far Out Toys for success with e-commerce retailers such as Amazon as well as with brick & mortar channels. In 2019, Far Out Toys will have robust retail programs with Walmart and Target, in addition to wide global distribution.

TSBA Group Appoints Merchantwise as Licensing Agent for Transport for London across Australia & NZ

Merchantwise has been appointed by TSBA to manage the Tfl licensing program across Australia and New Zealand effective immediately.  They will be working closely with retailers and seeking out new licensing opportunities in all product areas for Transport for London.  Richard Woolf, International Licensing Director "

Richard Woolf, International Licensing Director of TSBA . “We are delighted to be working with Merchantwise Licensing to enhance the commercial profile and generate new interest for TfL. Arguably the world’s most famous transport system, TfL has a fantastic design heritage, with instantly recognisable logos, art and vehicles. This iconic brand is admired across all generations and we are excited to see how it will take off on the other side of the world!”


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19 February 2019

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