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Video a Big Part of Toy Fair

24 Feb, 2005 By: Anne Sherber

Lions Gate, which distributed the first Care Bears feature, will distribute another.

NEW YORK — While the majority of licensed product moves from the big and small screens to toy shelves, the number of properties that begin life as toys and migrate to video continues to grow, licensees noted at the 102nd American International Toy Fair, held here Feb. 20-23.

Many licensees noted that video has become one of the tent pole licenses with which license holders now build brands.

Lions Gate Home Entertainment had a strong presence at the show. In addition to the news that the company would release the next full-length animated Barbie movie (see HMR, Feb. 20-26), it is in negotiations with Scholastic Entertainment to distribute “Maya and Miguel” on video, according to Anne Parducci, EVP of family entertainment and marketing for Lions Gate. The program, which airs as a daily strip on PBS, has recently received a 65-episode commitment from the Corporation from Public Broadcasting, according to Leslye Schaefer, SVP of marketing and consumer products for Scholastic. Lions Gate and Scholastic already have partnered for “Clifford the Big Red Dog.”

Lions Gate is also on board to distribute the next full-length, direct-to-video Care Bears movie, The Care Bears Big Wish. Lions Gate distributed the first Care Bears feature, which shipped more than 1 million units, according to Debra Joester, president of the Joester Loria Group, the property's license holder.

David Luner, VP, licensing of Freemantle Media, the license holder of TV series “American Idol,” enjoying its fourth season as an entertainment juggernaut, is launching its licensing program with “American Idol Barbie.” Three sets of dolls will roll out over the next 12 months, each representing a stage in the “American Idol” audition and competition process. Luner also notes that the company is in negotiations with a video company to release the first three seasons of the program on DVD. Although he said the companies are close to an agreement, he declined to name the potential partner. Ventura Distribution released the first season on video.

Paramount Home Entertainment and Hasbro announced that the two companies will extend their partnership, producing direct-to-video programming based on popular Hasbro toy properties, including the Weebles, The Transformers, Duel Masters and Candyland, the popular preschool board game.

The Weebles: Welcome to Weebleville, Duel Masters: The Good, the Bad and the Bolshack and Transformers: EnergonOmega Supreme and Shockblast Unleashed are in stores now. Candyland: The Great Lollipop Adventure will street March 8. Paramount and Hasbro partnered last year on G.I. Joe: Valor vs. Venom, a full-length direct-to-video program starring the popular action figure.

There were also many products from Buena Vista Home Entertainment's upcoming releases Bambi and Cinderella, both scheduled for their DVD debuts.

Several companies promoted games that use DVD players as consoles. Jason Tenenbown, marketing and business development manager for Snap TV, said players require only a DVD player and a remote control to use Snap TV's games. The company has licensed footage from the NCAA for its football and basketball trivia games and from National Geographic for its nature-based trivia games.

Hasbro has licensed footage from Fox to create The Trivial Pursuit DVD Star Wars game, which includes more than 2,400 questions from all six “Star Wars” movies. The game will also feature selected “Star Wars” fans acting out various scenes from the “Star Wars” saga.

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