“Are you here for the cartoon thing?” I’m asked by the lady behind the customs desk in Las Vegas McCarran Airport, and although I consider explaining that Licensing Expo is a little more comprehensive in its coverage of the whole licensing world rather than just cartoons, I decide to not to complicate proceedings and just answer yes. In many respects, it is indeed the cartoons I’m here for. Although this year’s keynote speech is being given by YouTube sensation Bethany Mota (don’t worry, I had to look her up too), and there is just about every licence under the sun represented, I’m here to look at properties and developments which will specifically be of interest to the UK toy community, and cartoons – in the broadest sense of the word – play a key role.
There have already been several interesting announcements on the opening day of the show: Jazwares has been appointed as the master toy partner for Fremantle’s reboot of iconic British series Danger Mouse. Jazwares is fast becoming a real player in the toy market: after its initial success with Minecraft, it has proved that wasn’t a flash in the pan by picking up a series of strong licences, of which this latest deal is perhaps the most eye-catching, at least from a mainstream toy perspective. I saw a whole episode of Danger Mouse yesterday, and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it. I believe Fremantle has achieved the delicate balance of respecting the brand’s heritage while successfully updating it for a modern audience: the British sensibility remains, as does the wit and humour of the original. It’s also edgier than I might have imagined, in a good way.
It has also been announced that a brand new series of Ben 10 will be launching on Cartoon Network’s international channels next autumn. The press release promises a fresh take and a reinvention, and I’ll be intrigued to see just how closely the new iteration follows the original series, given the fact it has not been away from the market for that long.
There will no doubt be plenty more developments to talk about over the coming days. I just wanted to finish today’s Blog with a few comments on the news that Hasbro will not be exhibiting at the 2016 Toy Fair. I gather that MGA will also not be showing, although we are still awaiting their official statement. The truth is that some fallout from the change in dates of the Nuremberg Toy Fair was sadly inevitable: however, I think it’s good to keep things in perspective. Those companies which haven’t been able to find a way around the date situation for next year will hopefully be back the following year. Furthermore, given the time pressure that all visitors are under, it will free up gaps to allow buyers to visit another half a dozen or so companies, ones which may otherwise have dropped off the bottom of the list. It’s never nice for a show to lose big names, even temporarily, but there will be other opportunities for retailers to see their ranges – whether in Nuremberg or at previews – and there will still be well over 200 exhibitors to see in three days, which is a monumental task in anyone’s book.
You can read statements from Hasbro and the BTHA here.
Back tomorrow with more news from Vegas.