YouTube’s Vlad & Niki surpasses 200m subscribers worldwide

The global ‘kidfluencers’ have so far racked up over 113b total views, with their amusing antics already translated into toys from Zuru and Playmates.

Vlad & Niki, an imaginative live-action YouTube pre-school series that showcases the everyday antics of young brothers Vlad and Niki, has surpassed more than 200m subscribers worldwide, with more than 71m on its English channel and over 253m monthly views in the United States. A global property, Vlad & Niki has been localised on 21 channels and translated into 18 languages, resulting in a total of more than 113b views.

Starring eight-year-old Vlad Vashketov and six-year-old Niki Vashketov, the short-form content is packed with everyday brotherly activities, non-stop adventures, creativity and plenty of fun. The key pre-school learning themes include family fun, discovery play, home adventures, indoor and outdoor play, singing and dancing. Each episode is produced with an innovative mix of live action, animation and music to create comedic videos perfect for the pre-school demographic. Adding to the family comedy is the boys’ real-life mother Victoria Vashketova, and toddler brother Christain.

New Vlad & Niki toys and play sets created by Zuru Toys and Playmates Toys are available in retailers such as Target, Walmart, Amazon and Smyths in Europe. Fans can become fully immersive with Vlad & Niki on the website, where they can watch videos, play games and purchase exclusive merchandise including apparel, accessories, drinkware and home goods. Vlad & Niki’s mobile application games for Android and IOS have been downloaded more than 66m times.

Vlad & Niki continues to be well received by critics as well as the public. The duo has picked up three more prestigious awards in 2021: Best Web Series for Kids at the National Parenting Product Awards (NAPPA); Best Influencers & Celebrity YouTube Campaign at the Shorty Awards; and Bronze Winner in the General Children’s Online category at the 42nd Annual Telly Awards. The latest honours bolster earlier recognition from the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences’ 10th Annual Lovie Awards, where the kidfluencers where shortlisted in the Outstanding Work category. The two young brothers have also received numerous YouTube Creative Awards, commonly known as Play Buttons.

Vlad & Niki was launched in English in 2018 by Content Media Group FZC, LLC/Vlad & Niki co-founded by Sergey and Victoria Vashketov, the parents of the property’s global superstars.

Lego and Queer Eye reveal fabulous new set featuring the Fab Five

Hot on the heels of the company’s first LGBTQ+ Lego set is the Queer Eye – The Fab 5 Loft Set, which celebrates individuality and creative expression.

The Lego Group has once again shown it is a leader in promoting positivity and individuality with the release of a new set made in honour of the TV show Queer Eye.

The Lego Queer Eye – The Fab 5 Loft Set is a 974-piece model of the apartment that serves as the group’s base in the show. It features minifigures of Bobby Berk, Tan France, Antoni Porowski, Karamo Brown and Jonathan Van Ness, who first assembled as the Fab Five to embark on a mission to change people’s lives for the better.

Each Queer Eye show features a ‘Hero’, someone who learns different skills and perspectives from each of the Fab Five which helps rebuild their confidence and has a positive, lasting impact on their lives. The Lego set aims to showcase each of the stars’ skills and celebrate their artistry and individuality.

In June, the Lego Group launched its first ever LGBTQ+ Lego set at the start of Pride Month. The Everyone is Awesome set includes 11 monochromatic, non-gendered minifigures, set against a backdrop comprising the colours of the pride flag as well as pale blue, white and pink – to show support for the trans community – and black and brown, to highlight diversity within the LGBTQ+ community.

Commenting on the Queer Eye set launch on LinkedIn, Eloise Bradley, senior global licensing manager for the Lego Group, said: “By far the most proudest moment in my career signing this deal and I’m so proud that Lego are the first toy company to support the LGBTQIA+ community – the fight continues for acceptance and equality, and with partnerships and products like these they will make a huge difference.”

The set, available from 1st October, has been created with Queer Eye creators Scout Productions in a partnership conceived by the show’s licensing agency IMG.

Matthew Ashton, vice president of design at the Lego Group and lead designer of the new set, worked closely with the Fab Five and is proud of the collaboration and what it stands for.

He said: “Queer Eye has had such a positive impact on so many people’s lives which is why we are excited for this collaboration. It reminds us that we need to take time to celebrate kindness and help build each other up. In this set we’ve captured themes central to both the Lego Group and the show – caring, creativity, learning and fun. While the Fab Five rebuild people’s lives, we are on a mission to inspire people to get creative and help rebuild a more positive world.”

Bobby Berk, the group’s interior designer, added: “Lego bricks played such an important part in my childhood. Clicking those little bricks together really sparked my imagination and creativity. Collaborating with the Lego team was an absolute dream come true. It would be any kid’s dream and now it’s my reality.”

BLE collaborates with Products of Change to spotlight sustainability

Six zones will showcase innovation in fashion, material and retail sustainability and more. 

Brand Licensing Europe is partnering with Products of Change to spotlight sustainability in a new activation at this year’s event, which takes place in-person at Excel London from 17th-19th November, followed by an online event on 30th November to 1st December.

The 220sqm BLE Sustainability Activation, in partnership with Products of Change, will be front and centre on the show floor and feature six unique zones (outlined below) set to inspire the industry to move towards a more sustainable future. The zones will highlight the inroads brands, retailers and manufacturers are already making in fashion, product, material and retail innovation, as well as the impact this can have on the global licensing industry, consumers, and beyond.

1.       Fashion Innovation

  • Sustainable fashion company and apparel licensee Teemill will showcase its circular innovation, bringing to life the process of shredding material to re-use.  The award-winning manufacturer is a fantastic example of a business committed to making the circular economy a reality.
  • Brand Fashion Swap: To highlight the increasing popularity of fashion rental/clothes swapping, BLE organisers are asking visitors to bring an old item of branded clothing to the event, donate to industry charity The Light Fund, and swap it for another piece of apparel.

2.       Material Innovation

The Material Innovation area will illustrate the processes behind recycling materials, such as turning plastic into new products, stone into handbags and hay into lamps. The area will also showcase the latest technology platform for material impact scoring from Brand Conscience.

3.       Retail Innovation

Learn about Asda’s George for Good strategic approach to sustainable production, including its core sustainability pillars, licensed product ranges and 100% sustainably sourced school uniform ranges, along with its new 3D technology to reduce waste in production.

4.       Product Innovation

Visit the sustainable licensed products showcase, featuring brand owners and licensees from across the brand licensing industry, including Hasbro, Mattel, Lego, Keeleco, Character World, Dreamtex, Discovery, and Tesco. The deadline to contact BLE about participating in the showcase is end of September – please email ella.haynes@informa.com for more information.

5.       Brands for Social Change

This area will highlight how brands are working together to drive social change and will include a room set from The Eden Project, Cornwall’s hugely successful eco visitor attraction, through to inspiring products from The Natural History Museum and BBC Studios.

6.       Products of Change 121 Clinics

Visitors to BLE are invited to drop in for a free ‘121 clinic’ with the experts at Products of Change, including founder Helena Mansell-Stopher and a plethora of POC ambassadors, who will provide valuable advice and guidance for every stage of the sustainability journey.

The activation will also host a Health & Wellbeing lounge for attendees to take a welcome mental break away from the show floor.

On the outside walls of the activation, BLE attendees can read up on the United Nation’s 17 life-changing Sustainable Development Goals. The graphics will be supported by stats on why being sustainable makes sense for individuals, organisations and the planet provided by Kids Industries, and information about Informa Market’s own initiatives to be more sustainable.

“Brand owners, retailers and manufacturers have all been making purposeful and practical commitments to improving the sustainability of their products, businesses and the sector as whole through a range of initiatives focused on putting the planet before profit, and we can’t wait to showcase these at BLE in November to inspire others on their sustainability journeys,” commented Anna Knight, VP of Licensing, Informa Markets.

Helena Mansell-Stopher, founder & CEO of Products of Change added: “With both Covid and Brexit hitting business hard this year, it has been extremely encouraging to see the industry still focusing on transitioning to a more sustainable production model, as well as incorporating a large proportion of the UN 17 Sustainable Development Goals within their sustainability frameworks. I cannot think of a better place to celebrate the industry’s achievements than being able to physically show them at BLE this year. It is a real honour to be working with the progressive team at Informa to bring this activation to life, and I’m really looking forward to inspiring more businesses to come on the sustainable journey with us”.

WildBrain brings back Strawberry Shortcake for new generation

Global rollout will reimagine Strawberry Shortcake for today’s digital-savvy kids, with original animated series, SVOD specials, a Roblox game and consumer product.

First launching over 40 years ago, Strawberry Shortcake came to be adored by generations, who cherished the little dolls with their signature strawberry scent.  Now, WildBrain is pleased to announce that Strawberry Shortcake is back, with a new look and confident, savvy attitude for today’s kids in a new animated series, Berry in the Big City, plus a brand-new global franchise programme of events, toys, games, books, music, learning and experiences that kids can share with their mums and friends.

Michael Riley, chief brands officer, WildBrain, said: “While staying true to what makes Strawberry Shortcake special – her sweetness, scent and joyful strawberry motif – this new vision aims to inspire today’s girls with relevant and empowering themes of diversity, sustainability and entrepreneurship.”

WildBrain has teamed up with a selection of brand partners and has a schedule of events, social campaigns and activations lined up.

The relaunch marks the beginning of a new era for Strawberry Shortcake. In the early 1980s, the brand was licensed annually across US$ 500m worth of consumer products and went on to sell over 5m dolls, generating more than US$ 4b  at retail to date.

September 18th will see the premiere of WildBrain’s original new animated series, Berry in the Big City, in an exclusive double-episode event on the official Strawberry Shortcake channel on WildBrain Spark, the company’s leading AVOD network on YouTube and YouTube Kids. Fans of Strawberry Shortcake can enjoy a sneak peek of the series in a trailer unveiled on the official channel, where new episodes will drop each Saturday following the premiere.

Produced by WildBrain’s Vancouver animation studio, Berry in the Big City finds Strawberry Shortcake traveling to Big Apple City. Along with her cat, Custard, she teams up with her new “berry besties” – Orange Blossom, Lime Chiffon, Lemon Meringue and Blueberry Muffin – as well as their lovable pets, on adventures filled with laughter and singing as they strive to “bake the world a better place.”

Michael Vogel, executive producer and showrunner on Berry in the Big City, said: “Working with WildBrain Studios to reimagine Strawberry Shortcake for Berry in the Big City has been a dream come true. This is a sweet and funny series, with modern, inclusive storytelling that I think today’s kids are going to love.”

Season one delivers 40 all-new four-minute adventures and a second 40-episode season has already been greenlit. WildBrain Studios is also in development on a slate of new, CG-animated 44-minute Strawberry Shortcake family specials for a major streaming platform.

From October, kids can enjoy WildBrain’s brand-new Roblox game, Baking with Strawberry Shortcake, which marks the brand’s debut on one of the popular 3D digital gaming platform.

WildBrain will roll out a new global franchise and licensing programme for the brand, featuring new toys, apparel, books and more, plus celebrity spotlights, social media activations, brand partnerships, baking demonstrations and competitions.

Central to the new consumer products programme, WildBrain has appointed Moose Toys as Master Toy Partner. Moose has been developing a line of new Strawberry Shortcake toys and playsets to be unveiled in the UK in A/W 2022.

Menal McGrath, vice president, Global Licensing, Moose Toys, said: “This aspirational, fun and fresh reimagining of Strawberry Shortcake gives us an incredibly exciting platform to deliver never-before-seen, ‘wow’ products that will redefine how consumers see and experience the brand.”

Visit Strawberry Shortcake at: www.strawberryshortcake.com

 

Lego adds to Super Mario universe with 64 ? Block set

The ? Block opens to reveal microscale levels, including Peach’s Castle, Bob-omb Battlefield, Cool Mountain and Lethal Lava Trouble as well as several microfigures.

Coming 25 years after the initial launch of the iconic Super Mario 64 video game, The Lego Group is to launch the Super Mario 64 ? Block, a  nostalgic new set which opens to reveal four different, but instantly recognisable, levels from the game.

The introduction of the ? Block is the latest build on the partnership between the Lego Group and Nintendo, which has seen the release of other sets in the popular Lego Super Mario product line.

Along with featuring the different levels from the game, the 2,064-piece ? Block set includes several microfigures of iconic characters such as Mario and Princess Peach. Fans can also add their Lego Mario or Lego Luigi figures for music and sounds from the video game, plus seek out the hidden Power Stars that reveal secret reactions from the figures. Hints for how to find the Power Stars can be found in the building Instructions.

The Lego Super Mario universe launched last year with a Starter Course featuring an interactive Lego Mario figure, which players can use to collect digital coins and enjoy instant responses via LED screens and a speaker, while earlier this year, the Lego Group launched the Lego Adventures with Luigi Starter Course to encourage social play as the two characters can now interact with one another and jointly collect even more coins. The Lego Super Mario universe also includes Expansion Sets and Power-Up Packs, allowing builders to expand, rebuild and create unique levels in new interactive ways.

“We know how much Super Mario fans have loved the Lego Super Mario experience, and wanted to tap into even more elements of the traditional game play capturing the immersive play experience of Super Mario 64,” said Pablo Gonzalez Gonzalez, senior designer at the Lego Group. “It’s difficult to imagine the Super Mario Universe without the classic game’s iconic levels full of discovery and secrets. With this amazing set, we’re building on the exciting play experience of Lego Super Mario, both to bring a bit of nostalgia for those who played the Super Mario 64 video game, but also to introduce these wonderful levels to a whole new audience of Super Mario fans.”

Fans will be able to get their hands on the Lego Super Mario 64 ? Block set exclusively from Lego stores and Lego.com from 1st October and from other retailers in 2022.

Panini UK scores big with Premier League Adrenalyn XL trading card game

Panini says there has been huge demand for the latest collection, which is out-selling the very successful 2020 trading cards. 

Panini UK says it has been taken aback by the demand for its brand-new Premier League Adrenalyn XL Collection this season, with sales even out-performing the hugely successful 2020 collection and continuing to grow week on week.

The latest collection builds on the success of both the Premier League Adrenalyn XL 2020/21 trading cards and the Premier League 2021 stickers and the company says there has been a extremely positive response to design innovations such as the new signature and 3D Lenticular cards.

Chris Clover, Panini UK’s head of sport marketing, said: “We are delighted to see how UK and Irish collectors have responded to our new Premier League Adrenalyn XL 2021/22 Trading Card Game. Sales have flown out of the blocks and we are now doing our best to keep up with demand.

“There is a huge sales opportunity here for this season, and all retailers interested in selling collectibles should ensure they are stocking the only official Premier League trading card collection and displaying the products prominently. Premier League Adrenalyn XL is by a distance the top-selling trading card brand in the UK, and football fans both young and old are not accepting any substitutes.”

Starter Packs include a two-player gameboard and poster, a high-quality collector’s binder, 18 trading cards, plus a guaranteed Limited Edition and 3D Lenticular card. Trading card packets include six trading cards and a QR leaflet.

Hasbro’s Licensed CP team welcomes Gabrielle Sims as head of Softlines business

Gabrielle says she is ‘thrilled and extremely proud’ to be working on brands and properties that were important during her childhood. 

Hasbro has announced that Gabrielle Sims will be joining its UK Licensed Consumer Products team as head of Softlines business. Gabrielle brings a wealth of experience to this new role, having worked in the licensing industry for over 15 years across some of the largest agencies including IMG and, most recently, leading the licensing programme in-house for fashion brand FatFace.

Throughout her career, Gabrielle has built a colourful and diverse network and knowledge of the industry. She has been instrumental in driving the evolution of many entertainment brands, sporting events and character properties into long-term successful licensing programmes and has won numerous awards for her work.

“I am thrilled and extremely proud to be joining Hasbro and being able to work on an iconic roster of brands and entertainment properties, some of which were a big part of my childhood growing up,” said Gabrielle. “The timing couldn’t be more poignant for me, as I’m experiencing that magic and power of character all over again, but this time as a new parent. It greatly excites me to be returning to this area, particularly to be joining such a fantastic team and I can see so much potential and opportunity within the Hasbro portfolio.”

“We have big growth plans for our UK business and are thrilled to be adding such strong talent to our team,” added Sally Carnota, category Licensing director at Hasbro UK and Ireland. “Gabrielle’s exceptional creativity and commercial experience will take our Softlines business to the next level. We look forward to welcoming her to the team. Exciting times ahead,”

Launch of new Tonies including Masha and the Bear and Mr Bean

The additions to the children’s audio system include the iconic Mr Bean and characters Marshall and Skye for pre-school hit Paw Patrol. 

Tonies is adding new Tonies to its range this month including Masha and the Bear, Mr Bean and Paw Patrol’s Marshall and Skye.

The Masha and the Bear and Mr Bean Tonies will be available to purchase from today (8th September), while Paw Patrol’s Marshall and Skye will be available from 16th September.

Set in Adventure Bay, Paw Patrol features the antics of six heroic pups who use their skills to work together on high-stake rescue missions. The Marshall Tonie includes stories Pups Find a Genie, Pups Save a Tightrope Walker, Pups Save a Goldrush, and Pups Save the Paw Patroller, while the new Skye Tonie features stories Pirate Pups to the Rescue and Pups save Puplantis.

Comedy character Mr Bean has also been transformed into a Tonie, bringing his collection of catchy songs to children.

Kids can also follow the adventures of Masha and the Bear, with the new Tonie which features a funny and entertaining story about friendship, based loosely on a Russian fairy tale.

The Tonies and Tonieboxes operate through a wireless digital system which connects to an NFC chip within each Tonie using Wi-Fi. Each Tonie is beautifully hand painted, making them desirable and collectable for kids.

Pinky Laing, UK Partnerships at Tonies, said: ‘’Tonies is committed to helping children ignite their imagination through the power and magic of storytelling. We are delighted to have released our new Tonies for the month of September. The iconic Mr Bean and newer favourites Paw Patrol and Masha and the Bear are sure to keep little ones entertained for hours on end.”

Pokémon the Movie: Secrets of the Jungle to hit Netflix in October

The trailer for the new animated Pokémon movie is available to watch now, with the release set for 8th October. 

The Pokémon Company International and Netflix announced today that the next animated movie in the Pokémon franchise will premiere on Netflix around the world with the exception of Japan, China, and Korea on 8th October, 2021. First revealed in November 2020, Pokémon the Movie: Secrets of the Jungle marks the 23rd animated Pokémon movie in the franchise.

The first official international trailer for the movie was released today and can be viewed here. It features Always Safe and No Matter What, two original songs written and recorded for the movie by music artist Cyn. Fans can look forward to hearing these songs during the movie on 8th October or can stream them on popular music platforms from today. Cyn is also one of the many notable artists participating in the P25 Music program celebrating 25 years of Pokémon, for which she wrote and recorded another new song, Wonderful.

“During Pokémon’s 25th anniversary year, we wanted fans to have the opportunity to experience the newest animated Pokémon movie simultaneously as a global community,” said Emily Arons, senior vice president of licensing at The Pokémon Company International. “Pokémon animation is a much-beloved pillar of the franchise, and Netflix is the perfect partner to once again help us deliver a worldwide moment for fans as we celebrate 25 years of action and adventure with Ash and his Pikachu.”

The synopsis for the movie is as follows: Deep within the Forest of Okoya, the Mythical Pokémon Zarude live in a troop and maintain a strict rule that forbids outsiders from entering their territory. Elsewhere in the jungle lives Koko, a human boy raised by a lone Zarude who left the troop. Koko has grown up never doubting that he is a Zarude. But one day, a chance meeting with Ash and Pikachu leaves Koko with his first human friend. Is he truly a Pokémon? Or is he, in fact, a human? When danger threatens the jungle, the bonds between Pokémon and human -and the love between parent and child – will be put to the test.

To further celebrate the announcement, from today Trainers will be able to receive Dada Zarude and Shiny Celebi – both as featured in the movie – in their Pokémon Sword or Pokémon Shield games by signing up for Pokémon Trainer Club email notifications. Trainers who register in this way by 25th September 2021 will receive a Pokémon Trainer Club email containing a distribution code for both Pokémon on 7th October 2021.

Fans can also look forward to a crossover with Pokémon GO celebrating the global launch of Pokémon the Movie: Secrets of the Jungle on Netflix. More details will be announced soon. In the meantime, fans can visit the official movie website at Zarude.pokemon.com/en-gb/ and join the conversation online with #Pokemon25.

Full-Size Corgi Aston Martin DB5 created to celebrate latest Bond film

A full-size Corgi box housing an Aston Martin DB5 will be on display to the public until October at Battersea Power Station.

The full-size Corgi box housing an Aston Martin DB5 will be on display to the public until October.

Marking one month to go until the cinema release of No Time To Die, a life-sized Aston Martin DB5 Continuation Goldfinger Edition car, complete with working gadgets, has been put on public display in South West London, presented in a giant Corgi box. James Bond’s famous DB5 is just one of four Aston Martins featured in the upcoming movie.

Corgi first produced a model of the DB5 as featured in 1964’s Goldfinger, which retailed at 50p, and has produced replicas of most James Bond vehicles ever since. The DB5, designated Corgi model number 261 and produced in gold instead of Aston Martin’s Silver Birch finish, was last reissued in 2014 to celebrate 50 years since Goldfinger hit the big screen.

The full-size boxed car was revealed outside Battersea Power Station in South West London on August 31st, at an event attended by Chris Corbould, a special effects technician best known for his work on 15 James Bond movies, and Aston Martin chief creative officer Marek Reichman.

The DB5 Continuation is a newly-built, fully-functioning vehicle, taking 4,500 hours to complete and featuring a real bulletproof screen rising from the trunk, rotating licence plates, realistic front-facing machine guns, a smoke screen, navigation system and even a roof panel that can be removed to simulate the original’s ejector seat. Although not road legal and priced at over £2m plus taxes, all 25 of the limited edition models built by Aston Martin have been sold.

After many pandemic related postponements, No Time To Die is now slated for release on 30th September. The vehicle will be on display until that date.