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Big deals, movie postponements and the small matter of a $53m fine…it’s the Friday blog!

Published on: 20th September 2013

You can tell that Brand Licensing is just around the corner, as a couple of major acquisitions have already come to fruition in the licensing field this week. First there was the news that Ragdoll had been purchased by DHX Media for a cool £17.4m. The deal covers all the key Ragdoll brands including Teletubbies, In the Night garden and The Adventures of Abney and Teal. The following day it was announced that Dreamworks had acquired Chapman Entertainment’s library, featuring Fifi and the Flowertots, Rory the Racing Car, Raa Raa the Noisy Lion and Little Charley Bear. No figures have been mentioned in any of the press material we received for this particular deal, but I think it’s safe to assume that a sizeable sum of money changed hands. Whether the respective owners can breathe new life into some of these classic brands will certainly be interesting to keep an eye on. I guess we’ll find out more about the plans they have for their newly-acquired brands at Brand Licensing, but both pieces of business will no doubt be welcomed by existing licensees.

Not quite so warmly welcomed by licensees was the news that for the first time in nearly a decade, a year will pass by without a new Pixar film in theaters, and that year will be 2014. The hotly anticipated Good Dinosaur movie was originally scheduled to hit cinemas in May of next year, but this week the studio announced that the release date has been delayed until November 2015. The studio is also delaying Finding Dory – its Finding Nemo sequel – from a November 2015 release date until June 2016. These latest postponements follow the recent news that Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales had been pushed back after the poor performance of The Lone Ranger, while Jurassic World, the next instalment in the Jurassic Park film series, is now scheduled to appear in 2015, a year later than originally intended.

We were delighted to be able to bring you an exclusive first-look at the new Smyths Christmas TV commercial on the Toy World website this week. If you missed it, it can be viewed here. Personally I think it’s an absolutely cracking ad, and I’m sure it will have the desired effect of raising awareness of the Smyths Toys Superstores brand in the UK.

I’ve been hearing rumours that some pre-Christmas shipments from China could potentially be subject to significant delays. Ongoing labour shortages are inevitably being blamed, and factories are said to be having to prioritise orders across their global customer base. The interesting aspect to this rumour is that suggestions have been made in some quarters that certain UK retailers are developing  a reputation for being – how can I put this politely – a little over-demanding, with the result that UK shipments may be falling further back in the pecking order.

Beanie Baby supplier Ty’s annus horribilis continued this week when company owner Ty Warner was found guilty of tax evasion which could theoretically see him face up to five years in prison. Admitting the charge, Mr Warner’s lawyer said his client had agreed to pay a $53m fine. Mind you, as his net worth is estimated by Forbes magazine at a cool $2.6 billion – making him the 209th richest American – I guess he’s not going to end up on a street corner any time soon.

Finally, it has been announced that potty-mouthed chef Gordon Ramsey is branching out into the world of children’s TV voiceovers, playing a cook in the forthcoming series of Phineas and Ferb. What could possibly go wrong? Mind you, I bet the outtakes will be amusing….

You can follow John on Twitter @Baulchtweet.