Cartoon, Mattel Play Nice

Cartoon Network has inked its largest licensing deal ever, covering licensing and merchandising of Mattel Inc. toys based on network properties, targeting kids 6 to 11.

John Friend, senior vice president of Cartoon Network Enterprises, the global branding and licensing division of the channel, would not discuss the financial terms of the agreement, which is an exclusive, long-term worldwide partnership with the toy manufacturer.

Friend said the network has had individual property or single-product deals before, but the Mattel pact marks the first “umbrella approach.”

The toy maker will have the right to develop vehicles, action figures, play sets, board games and electronics items. Cartoon Network executives will have final say on the toys sent to market.

The first product lines expected to roll out will be based on Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends. Those toys should hit the stores in 2007, followed later that year by items based on Ed, Edd 'n’ Eddy, Camp Lazlo and The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy.

Although Mattel has a first look option to create toys, Friend said it will have no impact on program development.

“They’re just taking our shows and making them three-dimensional,” he said.

The deal is so new that the co-promotional details have yet to be set, he added. “But I have a senior creative person at Mattel right now working on a toy in development,” Friend said.

The deal is not so inclusive that Cartoon Network will be unable to take advantage of other opportunities, such as fast food chain tie-ins, Friend said. He classified those agreements as promotions, rather than the licensing and manufacture of premium toys and games.