I woke up this morning a little hoarse – and I haven’t even been singing (yet!). A potent combination of permanent air-conditioning and too much talking has reduced my voice to a croaky shadow of its usual self. And it’s the legendary Brits night out at the New York New York Piano Bar this evening, so I dread to think what state it will be in by the morning (of course, some may say my inability to talk is not necessarily a bad thing).
It’s not just the lack of daylight or fresh air which makes Vegas a slightly unusual venue – at which other trade show would you see entries on people’s schedules which actually say ‘pool time’ and ‘casino night’? Not BLE, that’s for sure. Sea World even has a fully fledged Ice Bar on its stand (not that I’ve been in…honest. No drinking before blogging is still the rule).
I’ve picked up numerous interesting snippets today: Fremantle has appointed Giochi Preziosi as master toy licensee for Tree Fu Tom; Hit has appointed Fisher Price to be the global master toy licensee, except for the UK – where it will remain with Character Options – and Japan; Wow Stuff will be releasing an Angry Birds version of its popular Air Swimmer line in time for Christmas, and Richard North also hinted at some potentially significant developments with its new Combat Creatures range, but he swore me to secrecy about the details. In fact I’ve been sworn to secrecy quite a few times over the past few days, which of course I always respect, but as a journalist inevitably find frustrating. There are some things I’d love to shout about, but all in good time I guess.
Thankfully, there are plenty of things I can talk about. BBC has major plans for Dr Who’s 50th anniversary next year; the aim is to have something big happening each month from the start of the year, building towards the big day on November 21st. There’s also a Walking with Dinosaurs 3D movie in development, which will surely be a huge success, and I do like their new Pre-School brand, Something Special.
It was also great to catch up with Sesame Street and to hear how enthusiastic they are about their partnership with Hasbro. I’m told there will be some interesting promotional activity to look out for over the coming weeks involving Elmo and the Olympics, and that Abby’s Flying Fairy School will be a focus for Sesame Street next year, having established itself as a favourite on Milkshake over recent months.
I also spoke to Edward Catchpole about the post-acquisition developments at Hit Entertainment. The full interview will appear in the July edition of Toy World, as there is far too much interesting information to fit in here. But as a taster, all those licensees who have expressed concern about what might happen have nothing to worry about; in fact, it all sounds extremely positive for Hit’s team, licensees and retail partners. The global restructure has been finalised and the UK team remains completely intact, and Hit remains an autonomous entity within the Mattel organisation. Edward spoke of the desire to maintain the culture and essence of Hit, with the crucial addition of significant investment from the parent company which will allow them to really drive the brands forward globally. It’s quite staggering to learn, for example, that Thomas currently has a significant consumer products presence in only 7 countries across the globe, but it airs in over 200 countries, so the growth potential is, in Edward’s words, “colossal”. Much more to come on this in our next edition.
Tomorrow is my final day in Vegas, and Friday’s blog will wrap-up proceedings, so I hope to have some interesting nuggets from tonight’s event to share with you. Unless I’m sworn to secrecy…