Silvergate’s Octonauts attraction opens at Sea Life centres

An interactive brand experience will roll out at Sea Life centre in the UK, ANZ and China, ahead of spin-off series Octonauts: Above & Beyond.

Silvergate Media and Merlin Entertainments are extending their established Octonauts partnership with the announcement of the new interactive brand experience which will see activity-based Octonauts trails launch at 13 Sea Life centres and aquariums across the UK and ANZ this summer, and all year-long at Chang Feng Ocean World in China. The trails will open ahead of the highly anticipated launch of new spin-off series, Octonauts: Above and Beyond, later this year.

The interactive events will allow pre-schoolers and their families to ‘Be Captain For A Day’ as part of a themed and immersive experience which puts them centre-stage of their own Octonauts adventure, looking for Captain Barnacles alongside favourite characters from the show such as Kwazii, Peso and Inkling. Guests to the attractions will also learn about conserving the world’s oceans as they complete tasks, challenges and activities as part of their mission.

Octonauts events will be taking place at 11 UK Sea Life centre locations across the UK including London, Manchester and Brighton, Birmingham, Blackpool, Bray, Great Yarmouth, Hunstanton, Loch Lomond, Scarborough and Weymouth, from June to July.

“We are delighted to bring this latest exciting Octonauts adventure to life for fans in the UK, ANZ and China as we build towards the broadcast launch of Octonauts Above & Beyond,” said Lisa Macdonald, SVP Content and Consumer Product Sales at Silvergate Media. “Merlin Entertainments’ world-class Sea Life centres are the perfect setting for children to fully immerse themselves in the brand and learn all about saving the oceans. Visitors will be able to embark on a real-life adventure with their favourite characters for a family day out that’s both fun and educational.”

“Octonauts has such a fantastic affinity with Sea Life and our goal of inspiring guests to fall in love with the ocean and its animals through fun and education. We’re thrilled to welcome our guests to experience the event and learn about conservation with the help of the Octonauts”, added Rita Marcal, global head of Brand & Product.

The UK and ANZ events follow the recent Octonauts attraction which launched at Changfeng Ocean World in Shanghai in December 2020 and will also be hosting the new Octonauts trail throughout the year. The latest in a series of multi-territory partnerships between Silvergate and Sea Life aquariums, there are plans to extend the rollout to the US and the rest of Europe in 2022.

The second half of 2021 promises to be an exciting time for the brand, which is poised for a major relaunch. The new animated spin off series Octonauts: Above & Beyond will launch in autumn 2021, supported by a new toy line from global master toy partner Moose Toys, including figures, vehicles, playsets, plush and games set to debut at retail in 2022.


Merrylegs the Movie to bring beloved Thelwell Ponies to life

The scruffy and mischievous yet adorable ponies will star in a new live-action adaptation from award-winning UK indie film production company Blenheim Films. 

Blenheim Films has announced the upcoming live-action adaption feature, Merrylegs the Movie, based on the Thelwell Ponies and directed by acclaimed director, producer, and writer Candida Brady (Trashed, Urban and The Shed Crew, Muse).

The Thelwell Ponies, created in the 1950s by late cartoonist Norman Thelwell and widely considered to be national treasures, will appear in a feature-length adventure that promises to entertain and inspire both a whole new generation as well as those who have loved the characters for many years.

Karen Addison Associates Ltd will be handling the licensing for Thelwell and can be contacted at or on 01931 714017.

Produced by Blenheim Films, Merrylegs the Movie is the first instalment in a planned franchise that will establish the characters and Willowbrook Riding Stables, set in the beautiful remote mountains in Snowdonia, Wales. The film follows Penny and Merrylegs, a timid pony who must overcome his greatest fears to find his own place in the world.

Award-winning casting director Michelle Smith (The Runaways, Aladdin, Once Upon a Time in London) is looking for an unknown promising young talent who can breathe new life into the character of Penny, inspired by Thelwell’s daughter, and bring the endearing and exciting escapades from the pages of the beloved books to the screen. The search is also on to find the perfect pony for the leading role of Merrylegs.

A Bafta and Oscar-award winning VFX team are set to bring the ponies to life, while best in the business creatives have already begun the careful modernisation to ensure incredible results for Merrylegs and his family of ponies. Highly sought after and renowned director of photography Peter Field (the Bond franchise, Wonder Woman 1984, Fast & Furious 9) and Academy and BAFTA Award-winning filmmaker and expert horseman Vic Armstrong (The Amazing Spider-Man, the Bond franchise, Thor) are also on board.

The film is intended for a 2023 release to mark and celebrate Norman Thelwell’s centenary. One of the 20th century’s most beloved and well-known British children’s authors, his collection of 34 books continues to sell millions of copies worldwide, has been translated into a variety of languages, and remains one of the only British heritage family franchises fully unexploited for film.

Candida Brady is one of the few British female directors to have been nominated for the Cannes Film Festivals Best First Film Feature accolade, the Camera d’Or, for her debut feature, Trashed, which went onto win 11 international film festival awards.

Candida explained: “Bringing the much-loved artist Norman Thelwell’s legacy to the big screen is a dream come true. These iconic characters are universally treasured. We’ll be meticulous with the evolution of the ponies working with the very best in the field of creature animation to maintain the unique style, wonderful humour, and environmental spirit that his Norman’s collection of cartoons represented. We can’t wait to introduce new audiences to the laughter, landscapes, and hilarious antics of Penny and the mischievous ponies.”

Norman Thelwell’s daughter Penny Jones said: “I very much look forward to seeing Dad’s ponies coming to life on screen so that a new generation can discover the iconic Thelwell pony, and their parents can rediscover characters they knew from his books when they were children.”

David Thelwell, Norman’s son, added: “Blenheim Films is also developing a television series about my father’s life and work based on his autobiographies, which – just like his cartoons – were extremely popular. We still have many of the fan letters sent to him at the time. He would have been thrilled that his life and work will be turned into TV programmes and films and so are we.”

Janod teams up with conservation charity WWF

Janod has launched a toy collection in partnership with WWF to educate the next generation on the importance of protecting our planet.

Janod WWF

French toy brand Janod, distributed in the UK by Juratoys, is delighted to announce a collaboration with WWF, as a brand-new collection of toys is unveiled. As part of a wider promise to help the planet, the team at Janod says it is thrilled to be working alongside one of the biggest environmental organisations in the world.

A spokesperson from Janod UK said: “This collaboration is something we’re really proud of. Not only does it reflect the ethos at the very heart of our brand, it’s truly been a privilege to create  a range of toys that will  help educate children on the importance of looking after planet earth, as well as directly support WWF’s efforts.”

The partnership comprises more than 30 sustainably made products, from animal themed push alongs to underwater themed 3D jigsaws. Created using 100% eco-responsible materials, the whole collection is aimed at educating children aged 1-7 years and up on the importance of looking after the planet. Janod will also donate a percentage of the proceeds from every WWF product sold to support the actions of the organisation.

The collection includes the Forest Stacker, a wooden game with bright colours designed to give infants their first taste of mother nature. The Push Along Rhino and Pull Along Elephant will help little ones develop their motor skills and ignite their imaginations, while the Balancing Coloured Sloths will provide hours of fun as well as educating.

The collection also contains various imaginative games, including two timeless 3D puzzles – a Koala and a Whale – plus an Animal Stacking Game with 28 wooden pieces representing animals, trees and other objects.

Janod UK added: “We hope this range will inspire the next generation and encourage them to stand up for wildlife and the natural world in the future. We recognise that our most basic needs are dependent on a healthy natural world, which is currently under threat, so inspiring the youngest members of our society to care about the flora and fauna is essential. The protection of the planet is key; what we produce today will affect our children’s tomorrow.”

WWF commented: “The aim of this exciting new collaboration, bursting with gorgeous toys, is to make children aware of the importance of protecting the environment and to pass on to them – in a fun way – some key messages about the preservation of biodiversity. A wooden toy’s carbon footprint is 25 times lower than that of a plastic toy and by choosing these products, people are contributing to the commitments and actions of the WWF.”

Licensing Expo Virtual 2021 confirms further top tier exhibitors

The virtual event, set to take place from August 24th-26th, has already received confirmation from more than 100 exhibitors.

The first round of exhibiting companies has been confirmed for Licensing Expo Virtual. Produced in partnership with industry trade association Licensing International, the virtual event, set to take place in August, has already received confirmation from more than 100 exhibitors spanning a wide assortment of product categories ranging from Apparel, Character & Entertainment, Corporate Brands, Gaming & eSports, Publishing, to Security and Software. The latest big-name exhibitors set to attend include Warner Bros. Consumer Products, MGM Studios and Crayola, which join Endemol Shine Group, Jazwares, Spin Master, Pokémon Company International, Scholastic and WWE, among others.

The decision to host a virtual event was undertaken earlier this year and registration for North America’s most comprehensive virtual licensing showcase is now open to visitors and press free of charge.

This year’s fully online format is strategically designed to spotlight the diverse array of brands participating in Licensing Expo Virtual and facilitate IP discovery. “We have combined our collection of learnings from our past virtual events with those born from partner and customer conversations in order to produce the most productive and impactful online event to date for the licensing community,” said Anna Knight, VP of Licensing, Informa Markets. “We could not be happier with the quality and breadth of the Expo’s exhibitor lineup thus far and look forward to sharing more big-name exhibitors as we approach the event in August.”

Anna continued: “Along with its virtual expo floor and searchable IP directory that offers attendees unfettered access to the world’s most innovative brands, Licensing Expo Virtual will also host educational and topical seminars with interactive elements, networking opportunities, curated matchmaking and Digital Brand Roadshows, all produced with the same fundamental goal: accelerating licensee, retailer and licensor connection.”

To view the official exhibitor list, please visit here.

Hasbro unveils new Ghostbusters collectibles

The new Plasma Series figures will be launched to coincide with the latest movie Ghostbusters: Afterlife, which opens in cinemas this November.

Hasbro has unveiled a two new sets of Ghostbusters figures in the Plasma Series of Ghostbusters toys in the run up to the release of the new film, Ghostbusters Afterlife, which is released in the UK this November.

The company announced the two new products following the Sony TwitterSpace panel with Ghostbusters: Afterlife cast and filmmakers on 8th June: a day termed ‘Ghostbusters Day’. They are the Plasma Series Mini-Pufts 3-Pack and the Plasma Series Glow-in-the-Dark Figures (Peter, Ray, Egon and Winston). All items are now available for pre-order via

The Ghostbusters Plasma Series Mini-Pufts 3-Pack stand at 3.5 inches tall, the same size as the paranormal Mini-Pufts portrayed in Ghostbusters: Afterlife movie, and are poseable figures, suitable for ages four and up.

The Ghostbusters Plasma Series Glow-in-the-Dark figures are premium, collectible Ghostbusters figures and have returned with a new supernatural ectoplasmic glow.  Inspired by the original Ghostbusters movies, this highly poseable collection of action figures features premium design, detailing and articulation that embody the quality and realism Ghostbusters fans expect with Hasbro’s Plasma Series. Ghostbusters fans young and old can charge the figure’s glow-in-the-dark by placing it under light. Each figure also comes with three entertainment-inspired accessories, including a Neutrona Wand, Proton Pack and a glow-in-the-dark Proton Stream. They too are suitable for ages four and up.

The Ghostbuster Plasma Series Glow-In-The-Dark Figures features original Ghostbusters characters Peter, Ray, Egon, and Winston. The new products will be available from retailers in autumn/winter 2021.

There is also more good news for collectors with the Plasma Series Ecto-1 and Plasma Series Spengler’s Neutrona Wand receiving new inventory and available to purchase now.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife from Sony Pictures is the third installment in the original Ghostbusters series and sees Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Ernie Hudson and Sigourney Weaver reprising their roles. Directed by Jason Reitman, the plot centres on a single mom and her two kids who arrive in a small town and begin to discover their connection to the original Ghostbusters and the secret legacy their grandfather left behind. 


Sega Europe announces new Sonic the Hedgehog merchandise collection

Sonic the Hedgehog’s 30th anniversary will feature a whole host of new licensing partners including Wow! Stuff and HoloToyz.

Sega Europe’s brand licensing team has revealed an array of new licensing deals for Sonic the Hedgehog to help celebrate three decades of the game and tie in with the highly anticipated film sequel, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, and new Netflix series Sonic Prime both slated for 2022.

In the world of toys & collectibles, Sega Europe recently teamed up with toy innovation company Wow! Stuff, on its new award-winning Wow! Pods range, which will feature light-up characters from the Sonic universe, housed within ingeniously designed interconnecting display cases. A new deal has also been inked with HoloToyz, who will launch a range of stickers, decals and temporary tattoos embedded with augmented reality technology which can be brought to life via the free HoloToyz app. Long standing partner First4Figures will also be launching a new, limited edition 30th anniversary resin statue.

Meanwhile several deals have been inked with leading players across home, textiles and personal care including Character World for bedding, and in the gifting and greetings cards space, Fizz Creations is preparing gift sets, drinkware, electrical accessories, games and puzzles and even Christmas decorations, while online retailer Moonpig has already launched a successful series of personalised greetings cards.

The Sonic licensing programme is expanding into food & beverage with UK-based food manufacturer Finsbury Foods set to launch branded celebration cakes into major grocers later this year, and G Fuel’s Sonic branded energy drink, already a massive hit in the US, will be arriving to UK shores soon. Sega Europe is partnering with Moor Art Gallery for a series of exclusive screen-printed poster art and 30th anniversary commemorative enamel pins, all slated to launch later this year.

Sonic’s existing fashion & lifestyle business is also set to expand with a series of new collaborations including high-end fashion designer, Marc Jacques Burton. He is set to market a limited 30th anniversary capsule collection, while Global Brands Group is developing an exclusive new kids’ apparel range for leading fashion retailer Skechers, to launch throughout Europe in the near future.

“This is a momentous year for Sonic the Hedgehog and his fans, and we are incredibly proud to be partnering with so many leaders in their field across such a diverse range of product categories,” said Jason Rice, director of brand licensing at Sega Europe. “Our partners list will continue to grow throughout the year so look out for more exciting announcements in the near future.”

For more information visit Sonic’s 30th Anniversary website at

BLE License This! opens for entries with new category and US expansion

A new Inventions & Product Innovation category will be unveiled for 2021 as the competition makes its US debut.

Brand Licensing Europe’s (BLE) popular License This! competition opens for entries today (Monday).

License This! has been helping brands and designers to break into the licensing industry for over a decade and thanks to the launch of the all-new Inventions & Product Innovations category in partnership with Mojo Nation, it will now also provide a valuable springboard for inventors keen to break into the sector.

Anna Knight, VP of Licensing, Informa Markets, said: “Discovery and creativity are pillars of the Brand Licensing Europe and Licensing Expo trade shows, both of which are foundational to the License This! programme. By expanding the programme geographically and demographically we want to drive new artists, illustrators and product inventors into the industry on a global scale providing them with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to mark their place in the licensing industry.”

The competition will debut in the US market this year at Licensing Expo Virtual in August, with the same three categories open to entrants from both Europe and the US:

1.     License This! Character & Animation

2.     License This! Brand & Design

3.     License This! Inventions & Product Innovations

The Character & Animation and Brand & Design categories are both aimed at unlicensed brands and properties looking to use the platform to secure a licensing deal or agency representation. Judges are looking for new creative concepts which have the potential to spread across multiple product categories. Typically, applicants are illustrator, publishing, or animation focused.

The Inventions & Product Innovation category is about tangible product inventions that are patented or patent-pending or innovative product designs that would benefit from licensing.

Judging is based on the invention’s product design uniqueness, brand-ability of the product, and presentation and pitch of the submission video. All three categories will take sustainability into consideration for the very first time.

The European judging panel will be chaired by Start Licensing managing director Ian Downes, who takes over from Kelvyn Gardner, who very sadly passed away at the start of the year.

Anna Knight added: “I also want to take this opportunity to welcome Ian as our new chairman in Europe. Filling Kelvyn’s shoes isn’t going to be easy, but we know he’ll do an amazing job.”

Ian Downes commented: “License This! is a great initiative and is now firmly established as part of the licensing calendar. Licensing needs new ideas and fresh creativity to flourish. License This! provides a great platform for people to engage with the licensing world and to start building a network within it. I am delighted to be involved in the competition again and look forward to reviewing the entries. I am sure there will be some exciting new concepts to review. I thoroughly recommend it to the creative community.”

The winners from each category will receive a free exhibition stand at BLE 2022, one-on-one consultation with members of the judging panel, and free one year memberships to Licensing International and Products of Change.

Previous License This! entrants, both winners and finalists, have gone on to sign successful licensing agreements. 2016 winner Charlotte Reed, May The Thoughts Be With You, said: “Since winning, I signed with licensing agent Clare Piggott, and we have since signed three major deals and the May The Thoughts Be With You range from Half Moon Bay was a finalist in the gifting category at the 2020 Licensing Awards.”

Entry into License This! is free and open now online here. Closing date is Monday 11th October at 5pm.


Silvergate acquires rights to bilingual picture book series ¡Vamos!

Told in a combination of English and Spanish, the books follow the adventures of the coyote Little Lobo and his dog, Bernabé.  

Silvergate Media has acquired the rights to the award-winning, bilingual picture book series ¡Vamos!, and plans to develop it into an animated series for kids and families.

Written and illustrated by award-winning Mexican-American author Raúl (González) the Third, ¡Vamos!, is a series of imaginatively drawn picture books for children, with colours by Elaine Bay, told in a combination of both English and Spanish. The books are published by Versify, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt publishers, which has created a World of ¡Vamos! publishing line with three early readers, two board books and a further picture book in the pipeline, in response to consumer demand for new products.

The first book in the series, ¡Vamos! Let’s Go to the Market, follows the urban adventures of the coyote Little Lobo and his dog, Bernabé, as the pair make a series of madcap deliveries at a market near the US Mexican border. The book became a critical and commercial hit upon its publication in April 2019 and was soon followed by ¡Vamos! Let’s Go Eat the following year, The second book tells the story of a group of luchadores – professional wrestlers – awaiting battle, who are delivered their pre-match meals by Little Lobo and his dog.

Silvergate’s Kurt Mueller, who serves as executive producer for many of the company’s series, including Hilda, Octonauts and Chico Bon Bon, will produce the series in partnership with Raúl the Third. He commented: “We’re thrilled to be collaborating with Raúl, a true generational talent, and the fine folks at Versify, to bring ¡Vamos! to TV audiences. The books offer a seemingly infinite cast of characters and situations that celebrate frontera culture through a singular artistic lens. Every densely illustrated page is a season’s worth of great TV.”

Raúl the Third, creator of ¡Vamos!, added: “The response to ¡Vamos! in the past two years has been incredible. It’s such a personal project for me as the stories, locations and characters were based on my own childhood experiences. I’m really thrilled that kids around the world will be able to enjoy these adventures on screen as much as I enjoyed bringing them to life in the books.”

The founding editor of Versify, Kwame Alexander, who is producing for Big Sea Entertainment along with partner, Arielle Eckstut, said: “¡Vamos! struck a chord with young readers immediately and we have no doubt that an animated series will take the franchise to new heights. Silvergate Media has a strong reputation for producing high quality, original programming based on graphic novels and picture books, so we can’t wait to see what the new series will bring.”


Paw Patrol: The Movie trailer unveiled

Paw Patrol: The Movie will premiere in August and will also feature a new original song performed by Adam Levine.

Scheduled for a cinematic release on 20th August, Paw Patrol: The Movie is based on the award-winning pre-school series produced by Spin Master Entertainment and broadcast by Nickelodeon. The highly anticipated movie features an all-star voice cast including Kim Kardashian West, Dax Shepard, Jimmy Kimmel, Tyler Perry, Yara Shahidi, Randall Park, Iain Armitage, Marsai Martin and Will Brisbin, along with existing cast members of the current Paw Patrol series.

The trailer has been unveiled this week, to much anticipation from young fans of the franchise, and can be viewed below.

In the movie, the Paw Patrol’s arch rival Humdinger becomes Mayor of nearby Adventure City and starts wreaking havoc, so Ryder and the pups must step up to sve the day. One pup faces up to his past in Adventure City and the team finds help from a new ally, savvy dachshund Liberty. Armed with exciting new gadgets and gear, the movie’s action sees the Paw Patrol fight to save the citizens of Adventure City.

Spin Master Entertainment has also announced that the movie will feature an original song, entitled “Good Mood” and written By Shellback, Savan Kotecha, Oscar Görres and Adam Levine. The song will be performed by the front man of multi-Grammy Award-winning band, Maroon 5, who will lend his characteristic falsetto to the upbeat and light-hearted track.

Paw Patrol: The Movie is the first of several feature films in the works by Spin Master Entertainment.

In addition to the film premiering this summer, Spin Master’s Paw Patrol brand has a raft of exciting launches underway this year. Following the huge success of the Dino Rescue range last year, the popular pre-school brand has introduced a new range of figures, vehicles and playsets with the new Moto Pups line. The new range launched alongside the latest season of Nick Jr’s Paw Patrol programming, which hit screens last month..

Becca Hanlon, senior brand manager at Spin Master UK, commented: “Paw Patrol really continues to shine in the pre-school space, with Paw Patrol: The Movie set to be a huge summer hit, it really is an exciting year for Paw Patrol.”

Posting on LinkedIn, Phil Hooper, commercial director UK at Spin Master, said: “We’re so excited for the release of Paw Patrol: The Movie in cinemas from August. The movie looks amazing and sure to be a big hit. Paw Patrol is on a roll!”

The new trailer can be viewed here:


Disguise announces global contract with Funko to create Pop! Masks

Deal will see range of oversized masks expanded with fresh styles from additional licensors such as Warner Bros and Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Costume design and manufacturing company Disguise has announced a global agreement and innovative collaboration with pop culture consumer products company Funko, which will see them market, manufacture and distribute Pop! Masks in North America, Europe, the Middle East, Oceania, South America and Asia, from this year.  Initial designs for 2021 will feature iconic characters from top licensors such as  Warner Bros and Sony Pictures Entertainment.

The oversized masks are designed to be wearable and displayable with limited runs of each style to drive collectability. In 2022, Disguise will expand the line with fresh styles from additional licensors with more than 30 new styles.

“Disguise is thrilled to be partnering with Funko on a truly break-frame product like our wearable Pop! Masks. The iconic Funko’s Pop! style translates to a really fun wearable product for cosplay and dress up occasions. We know Funko fans and Halloween lovers will jump at the opportunity to wear, collect and display our new Pop! Masks,” said Tara Hefter, president and GM of Disguise.

Jason Bischoff, director of global licensing at Funko, added: “We’ve spent years building up our business around fan-first collectability, community, and affordability. Pop! Masks are born from that same tradition, and just like our other products, Pop! Masks can be celebrated year round. It’s another massive opportunity for fans to wear or display their fandom and connect with their fellow pop culture enthusiasts.”

Disguise says that with its continued dedication to detail and quality, these new lines are sure to hit the mark with collectors, Halloween customers and retailers alike.

Pop! Masks are now available in North America and Europe and will be available later this year on They will also be available in Australia, New Zealand and LATAM this autumn.