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Licensing News - May 2006


20th Annual Surtex Show

New colors, patterns, and fresh takes on traditional motifs .

Nearly 400 exhibitors from the US and 14 other countries showed art and designs ready for licensing applications in a broad range of product categories. A sampling :

- Paul Brent (Panama City, Fla.) said the retailer plans to offer two boxed sets for holiday 2006 after a successful debut of his Coastal Christmas patterns on ceramic dinnerware at Kohl's last year. Each four-piece set, one of dessert plates and one of mugs, will feature four separate Coastal Christmas themes. Brent's colorful, painting-based work is also featured in shower curtains and bath coordinates by Ex-Cell Home Fashions. He is currently seeking a new wall coverings licensee.

- Robin Zingone (Chester, Conn.), whose lounge-style designs update 1950s and 1960s pop art themes for modern tastes, has had her artwork made into shower curtains by Saturday Knight, which have made their way to shelves in some of the more trend-forward mass market stores. Now, Zingone is opening up to interested manufacturers across all home textiles categories.

- Dawn Zero Erickson (Red Wing, Minn.), whose hand-crafted patterns have been featured on bedding at cataloguers Garnet Hill and The Company Store, is offering a wealth of woodblock print, textural painting and collage designs to manufacturers to interpret for the full range of home textiles categories.

- Nanc Gordon (Waban, Mass.), a former exhibition graphics designer for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, leads with color in clean, organic patterns inspired both by nature and by textiles design. As a decorative painter, Gordon has created limited lines of furniture, giftware and floor cloths; she now offers her designs for textiles products for every room in the house.

Bratz Movie

MGA Entertainment, Inc., Avi Arad Productions, and Crystal Sky Pictures are teaming up to bring Bratz dolls to the big screen. A screenplay, tentatively titled Bratz, is in the process of being written with a targeted production start date of late fall 2006 in Los Angeles.

Peppa Pig

Rubber Duck Entertainment and its U.S. agent, The Joester Loria Group, named Shelcore the North American master toy licensee for preschool property Peppa Pig. First products, including a line of interactive special feature plush toys and play sets, are due on shelves in spring 2007.

Fenton Glass Offers Special Mother's Day Gift Item

5/11/06 - A Burmese Purse Treasure Box from handmade colored glass producer Fenton Art Glass will make Mother's Day gift givers happy. The box bears a floral motif designed by Stacy Williams and has a special message inside: You're a Treasure.

Mother's Day is Precious Moments Day at Chicago's Wrigley Field

5/11/06 - For 10,000 women attending the Chicago Cubs baseball game on Mother's Day, each will take home an exclusive Precious Moments figurine created especially for the occasion. The event coincides with Y-ME's Mother's Day events throughout the country, including the Y-ME race in Chicago and Y-ME will share in the festivities at Wrigley Field. The first 10,000 women 13 years and older will receive Moms Always Support Their Cubs, a porcelain bisque figurine based on the iartwork of Sam Butcher. The vignette depicts a teardrop-eyed girl with her little bear cub, each proudly sporting Chicago Cubs fan fare, and is valued at $30.

Demdaco Introduces Hope, a Special Charity Piece to Benefit Johns Hopkins

5/11/06 - Demdaco unveils its largest summer product launch ever with more than 500 new skus including Hope, a special charity piece that has been added to Nancy Carter and Chris Brooks' Journey of Grace collection. This new piece is available in both the six inch size as well as the smaller three inch size. Demdaco along with the family of Nancy Carter will donate a portion of the proceeds from these special pieces to benefit the Johns Hopkins Mood Disorder Center and its mission to aid in the prevention of depression and other mood disorders.

April Cornell Teams with Now Designs

5/10/06 - April Cornell, best known for her women and children's apparel designs, has signed a licensing agreement with Now Designs, a primary supplier of kitchen textiles and table linens to better stores in the United States since 1968. The company will sell Cornell's feminine collection of table linens, kitchen textiles and home products to retailers in North America.

The collection will feature four strong color stories incorporating tablecloths, placemats, napkins, table runners, aprons, oven mitts, potholders, tea towels, cushions and throws.

Available for shipping in early August, the line will soon be on display at Now Designs showrooms in all major centers.

Blyth Selling off European Home Fragrance and Candles

5/10/06 - Staff at the Colony Gift Corporation in Lindal, UK were told yesterday that American owner Blyth Incorporated is selling off all its European home fragrance and candles companies. A second big Barrow candle factory owned by Blyth Inc at Sandsale, CCW Ltd, is not affected and will continue as part of the US group. It makes a different type of candles, sold via PartyLite house parties.

Syratech Buyout

5/10/06 - Lifetime Brands Inc. completed its acquisition of Syratech Corp., a tabletop, home decor and frame vendor. The acquisition came at a price of $37 million in cash and $12.5 million in stock. Lifetime also acquired tabletop assets from Salton Inc. in September 2005, Excel Importing Corp. in July 2004 and The Pfaltzgraff Co. in July 2005.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Holiday Collection

5/9/06 - Enesco Group is creating a co-branded holiday collection of Jim Shore-designed Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer home decor figurines and ornaments, capturing favorite moments from the Rankin/Bass television special. Each piece will include a character from the animated story and will be available in specialty gift retailers for holiday 2006.

Tinkerbell Chic

5/9/06 - Disney and their new retail partner Bergdorf Goodman think she's just the fairy for the job. Tinkerbell and friends are featured in the new oversize, silhouetted, and sometimes gemstone-paved Disney Fine Jewelry by Victoria Casal line.

Capel Launching Country Living Line

5/2/06 - Capel has expanded its line with innovative designs and inspired a new co-brand partnership with Country Living magazine. Capel also is delivering new domestic and imported area rug collections from its in-house creative team with introductions in the casual, contemporary and traditional categories. "Our co-brand partners look to Capel because we are unmatched in our creative, marketing and sourcing capabilities," said Eric Birnbach, president and CEO of the company. "Capel's design team leads the industry." Capel's Country Living launch includes two core collections and a Country Living Getaway contest.

Chatsworth Collection Acquires Blue Mug Designs

5/2/06 - The Chatsworth Collection has acquired Blue Mug Designs, a 14-year-old company featuring the illustration and artwork of Renee Pastolove. Blue Mug Designs will relocate to The Chatsworth Collection facilities in North Hollywood, CA. Pastolove will remain as the company's artist and illustrator and will focus full attention on her design work.

The combined efforts of The Chatsworth Collection and Blue Mug Designs will be showcased at the upcoming National Stationery Show in New York City, May 21-24, with the introduction of a new personalized holiday album. Blue Mug Design's products will be shipping from The Chatsworth Collection facility immediately. Blue Mug Design's phone and fax numbers (914-734-9289; fax: 914-736-9864) remain unchanged, and orders should continue to be sent via fax.

KN Karen Neuburger signs with Dginventive

5/2/06 - The KN Karen Neuburger lifestyle brand has signed a licensing agreement with Dginventive to produce a collection of social stationery, notecards and more, to be distributed through finer department, gift and specialty stores. Dginventive will launch the collection through its Mara-Mi line. The KN Karen Neuburger brand's comfort-inspired prints and distinctive imagery will be featured on tri-fold notecards, thank-you cards, boxed note papers, paper caddies, mayfairs, address books and lined journals, retailing from $3.50 to $15.

Candice Olson updates classics - HGTV designer debuts licensed lines in High Point,NC

5/1/06 - Taking traditional and classic cues, Candice Olson pares down home furnishings, gives them a contemporary twist, adds stylized dressmaker details and brings them up-to-date to meet the needs of today's consumers.

Buyers are seeing lush fabrics from the Kravet Portfolio Collection on her upholstered designs in the Norwalk Furniture showroom . Five of Olson's sofas are debuting, along with two dining chairs, two ottomans and one wingback-style headboard shown in both leather and a feminine fabric for dramatically different appearances. All the pieces are eclectic rather than in suites.

"What I wanted to show with the whole furniture collection is really a philosophy of how I approach design and in response to what I'm hearing from my clients," Olson said. "Everyone's leaning more toward contemporary, but they're petrified that contemporary is going to mean severe, cold and sterile. So the look of each one of these programs -- lighting, rugs, fabric -- blossomed out of my approach, which means contemporary, modern, pared down but comfortable - visually and physically comfortable."

Younger Buyers Fuel Vera Bradley's Growth

5/1/06 - With 200 employees and another 800 contract sewers churning out hundreds of thousands of items each year, Vera Bradley barely resembles its beginnings in 1982, when founders Patricia Miller and Barbara Bradley Baekgaard sold their first quilted cotton purses out of their homes

Annual sales surpass $100 million. More than 3,500 U.S. retailers and several international shops carry the handbags, which are so popular that an estimated 40,000 people descend on the company's annual outlet sale, scheduled for May 4-6 this year. Now, the design house plans to introduce eyewear, pet gear and home decor, hoping to convince even more people that quilted is cool.

"Vera Bradley is becoming more of a lifestyle," said Baekgaard, whose mother, Vera, was the inspiration for the company's name. "I think it is the sorority element. When you see someone with the Vera Bradley bag, there is a sisterhood there." That sisterhood has fueled a 30 percent growth in sales each of the past five years, company officials say.

Vera Bradley's popularity has been a boon for retailers as well. Woodstock, Conn.-based Crabtree & Evelyn, Vera Bradley's largest retail customer, says the company's products have helped boost growth of its accessory division by 20 percent since 2001. Vera Bradley products are among the company's top 10 sellers, said Scott Sincerbeaux, vice president of Crabtree & Evelyn's North American retail division. Every Crabtree & Evelyn store carries at least four Vera Bradley fabric patterns in 26 styles, he said.

Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst with the Port Washington, N.Y.-based NPD Group, said affordability plays a big role in Vera Bradley's success. Prices for the company's bags and luggage lines range from $13 to $126 per item, compared with Coach purses that can retail for $800. "Not everybody is going to get a Coach bag," Cohen said. "Even if I want one, I'm not going to be in a financial position to afford it. There's affordable luxury and then there's true luxury. (Vera Bradley) fits into the affordable luxury category."

Christmas Licensing

4/25/06 - Batman, Barbie, Superman and Shrek are not traditional Christmas characters, but holiday suppliers say these pop culture icons are among a long list of licenses that in recent years have become an important part of the Christmas business. Cartoon characters, pop culture icons and licensed images created by well-known artists have joined such traditional holiday motifs as Santas, snowmen and reindeer on a wide variety of products.

The growth of Christmas licensed products in general points to a greater tendency among consumers to allow their personal identities - or those of recipients - to be reflected in the decorative holiday items they purchase. Department 56 continues to expand its assortment of Coca-Cola themed collectible villages, and Kurt S. Adler's line includes a new ornament depicting M&Ms characters wearing Star Wars uniforms. Christopher Radko's ornament collection includes Jaguar and Ford Motor Co. car designs.

Christmas licensing has become particularly important in the mass and mid-tier segments of the retail market. Such merchants as Target Stores are creating sections devoted entirely to ornaments, indoor and outdoor decor and trim that display everything from cartoon character likenesses to Nascar logos.

There is also greater interest in Christmas ornaments and collectibles geared toward children. Parents desire to share with their children the characters they remember from their own childhoods. Parents are now open to incorporating non-traditional and non-religious ornaments, figurines and related product in their Christmas decor.

The same flexibility that is increasing purchases of licensed Christmas product for kids is also boosting sales to adults, according to a Hallmark spokesperson. While some manufacturers are appealing to kids with licensed holiday merchandise based on popular TV shows and new movies (e.g., Kurt S. Adler will roll out Shrek ornaments this coming year and Roman, Inc., offers Shrek themed holiday yard art), vendors appear to be gravitating more toward classic properties.

Kurt S. Adler's Inc.'s 2006 collection will include Superman glass ornaments targeted at the mass market. Seasonal Specialties has a license to produce a Harry Potter blown glass ornament. Department 56 continues to do well with its Disney-themed villages and, in 2006, will introduce a "Christmas In the Hundred-Acre Wood" village based on Disney's Pooh and Friends.

Sports licensing is a huge category in retail and has also made inroads in the Christmas industry. SC Christmas offers an extensive line of sports themed holiday products, from St. Louis Cardinals holiday wine bags to Michigan Wolverine glass ornaments. Kevin Aldridge, vice president of the firm, says sales in the category are "phenomenal." "People are fans. They want to belong to something."

Olivia to Star in New Holiday Book

Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, will publish "Olivia's Christmas," a fifth picture book starring Ian Falconer's piglet heroine in October 2007. The book will show what Olivia loves about Christmas: the family spirit, presents, decorating, presents, caroling, not to mention presents.

Wedgwood Purchases Remaining Vera Wang Tabletop

4/25/06 - Wedgwood purchased the inventory and rights to the license of Vera Wang flatware, metal and giftware from Syratech yesterday. Wedgwood already produced Vera Wang dinnerware and crystal. "This gives us the entire Vera Wang business," said Peter Cameron, Waterford Wedgwood PLC's chief executive officer, at the tabletop market.

Furniture Maker to Bear New Product Line

Pulaski Furniture Corporation signed a master licensing agreement with Build-A-Bear Workshop to develop the nation's first line of furniture, as well as a full complement of home items, that will be designed by kids for kids. Working with Build-A-Bear Workshop and select furniture retail partners, Pulaski began recruiting an official Build-A-Bear Workshop children's furniture Cub Advisory Board.

TLC Sweetens Jelly Belly Licensee Portfolio

The Licensing Company North America has signed deals with Senario for home fashions (due in fall '06), Jerry Leigh for branded apparel (spring 2007), Penguin Young Readers Group for infant board books (Valentine's Day 2007), and Shonfeld's for food and beverage gift baskets (spring 2007). Additional licensed deals currently under development by TLC include loungewear, plush, fashion bags and backpacks, crafts, stationery, and an array of products in the lifestyle and food and beverage categories.

Janlynn Introduces New Disney/Pixar Movie 'Cars' Character Products

Hobby & craft product manufacturer Janlynn Corporation is proud to introduce its newest craft kit line of products featuring designs licensed from the new Disney/Pixar movie "Cars."

The Company is introducing "Cars" themed products including paint by numbers kits and pillowcase art kits targeted to children ages 5 to 12. The line also includes "Cars" themed counted cross-stitch kits. "Cars" characters highlighted in the new designs include Lightning McQueen, Tow Mater, Red and Sheriff.

"The addition of 'Cars' to our Disney line of licensed products is very exciting for us," said Janlynn CEO John Kozub. "Our craft kits are a fun and creative follow up activity for movie lovers and their parents." Janlynn's new "Cars" licensed products will be available in June in USA and Canada.

--Janlynn is a family owned business located in Chicopee, MA. Founded in 1979, Janlynn's concentration is products for the craft, memory, and rubberstamp markets, with distribution around the world. The company's 2006 product line features 180 Disney licensed products.

Home Depot to Acquire Home Decorators Collection

4/25/06 - The Home Depot expects to double the size of its direct-to-consumer furnishings business via the acquisition of home decor company Home Decorators Collection.

Under the deal, made public this morning, Home Decorators Collection will become part of Home Depot's Home Depot Direct unit, which sells furniture and decor through in-store and mail-order catalogs and Web sites. Home Depot said the deal will immediately double in size and significantly increase its presence in the affordable home decor category with about 65,000 new home decor products and about 185 new global sourcing relationships. Terms and the sum of the deal were undisclosed.

Martha Stewart Finds a Home at Macy's

Martha Stewart will launch a full range of home products in fall '07 at Macy's as one of several new labels headed to nearly 850 stores over the next 18 months.

The Martha Stewart Collection will include bed and bath textiles, housewares, casual dinnerware, flatware and glassware, cookware, and holiday decorating and trim-a-tree items. Other products that could be added to the mix include home furnishings, holiday celebration concepts, bridal registry items, and an assortment of how-to books and cookbooks, as well as new merchandise categories such as outdoor entertainment and holiday-specific food preparation. Martha Stewart Everyday will continue to be sold at Kmart.

United Media to Rep Doodle Bear

United Media partnered with Ed Kaplan Associates to represent the Doodle Bear property in the United States. With an initial focus on complementary game and toy formats, publishing, apparel, room decor, and promotions, United Media will strategically expand on the already successful toy program of activity plush and related products launched by Play Along in 2004. New products headed to shelves in 2006 from Play Along include Doodle Dinosaurs, Doodle Ponies, Secret Stylinâ Doodle Bear, and Jumbo Doodle Bear.

Ragdoll Initiative Inspires Kids to Exercise

4/25/06 - Ragdoll Ltd. is getting kids up and moving as part of its sixth annual Teletubbies National Day of Exercise May 17 on PBS KIDS. The day will be marked by the broadcast of Go! Exercise with the Teletubbies and events at local PBS member stations around the country.

New Jewelry Line Is in the Pink

Pink Desire Ltd. launched the Pink Panther Collection, the only fine jewelry collection licensed by MGM Consumer Products. Created as an homage to the Pink Panther Diamond, the subject of Inspector Clouseau's search in The Pink Panther. The collection includes Pretty in Pink, natural pink and white diamonds in white and rose gold; Precious Pink with pink sapphires and white diamonds; and Tickled Pink, pink semi-precious gems. The collection also will offer two rubber bracelets, each with a sterling silver ID plate bearing the Pink Panther's face or the Pink Panther Collection logo. The Pink Panther Collection can be found exclusively in the Caribbean and Alaska at Diamonds International and on the Web at

Masterfoods USA Inks New Deal

Masterfoods USA signed a deal with The Bonnie Bell Co. for a line of M&M chocolate candies-flavored Lip Smackers that includes an eight-piece party pack; five single-piece Lip Smackers; a trio pack; a special-edition three-piece pastel collection for spring; a three-piece chocolate lover's lip gloss collection in a keepsake bag; and several holiday offerings.

New Digital Broadcast Channel on PBS

PBS will launch a 24-hour digital broadcast channel for early elementary school-age children called the PBS KIDS GO! Channel in October 2006.FETCH! with Ruff Ruffman premieres during PBS KIDS GO! on member stationsâ national broadcast service beginning May 29 and will be a part of the PBS KIDS GO! Channel in October.

The show focuses on real-world science, following kids as they ask questions, conduct experiments, and actively investigate the world around them. Other new additions to the PBS KIDS GO! Channel will include: Kidsworld Sports, Wishbone, and Krattsâ Creatures in 2006, and Animalia in 2007.Each also will have a new companion site on Current programs such as Maya & Miguel, Postcards from Buster, Arthur, Cyberchase, Zoom, and Dragonfly TV also will be a part of the channel.

The PBS KIDS GO! Channel will be home to a one-hour Spanish language block called Vayan!. It will include existing PBS KIDS GO! series, such as Maya & Miguel and Cyberchase in Spanish with English subtitles.

New Deal Is in the Cards Warner Bros.

Consumer Products and Hallmark Cards are expanding their two-decade-long relationship, with Hallmark creating greeting cards, gift wrap, partyware, and ornaments for properties such as Superman Returns, Happy Feet, The Ant Bully, and Hanna-Barbera, as well as preschool programs including Krypto the Superdog, Firehouse Tales, and Harry and His Bucket Full of Dinosaurs. The Superman Returns product will launch in spring 2006, and Happy Feet product is due fourth quarter 2006.

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