Exclusive: Key licences for the year ahead

Published on: 16th January 2024

With almost one-third of UK toy sales coming from licensed ranges, it’s important for licensees and retailers to choose wisely when it comes to which licences to work with.

Publisher John Baulch writes that 2023 was a good year for sales of licensed toys. According to Circana, licensed toys outperformed the rest of the toy market last year, accounting for 32% of all toy sales.

The toy category remains the cornerstone of the vast majority of kids & family entertainment-based properties, and it is more often than not the category which spearheads the licensing programme – in some cases, the success (or otherwise) of the master toy range can make or break the property.

Of course, there are exceptions to the rule. One of the most ubiquitous properties in recent years has been Disney’s Stitch. Lilo & Stitch has always been one of my personal favourite Disney movies, and Stitch has long transcended his role in the movie to become an icon to many kids who have never even seen the film. Much of the credit for that transformation has to be given to Primark and the groundwork it did via its fashion and nightwear ranges. Suddenly everyone wants a piece of the action, including many toy suppliers – I have already seen one incredible new interactive toy line due to launch this summer (on 26th June, naturally…. for the uninitiated, Stitch was Experiment 626) which looks set to be one of the hottest toys for next Christmas.

This is interesting on several levels; firstly, because it’s a hot toy based on a movie from 2002, over two decades ago. Secondly, because it shows that a character can soar in popularity without having a brand new multi-million-dollar movie or 24-part TV series behind it. Sometimes, in this brave new social media driven world, a great character can just catch fire, almost out of the blue.

To read about other hot properties for pre-schoolers, older kids, girls and boys – and probably a few adults too, click here for the full article, which appeared in the January edition of Toy World.


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