New York -- Cable characters -- primarily cartoons -- are
coming out to play at the annual Toy Fair here this week.
Nickelodeon plans to showcase its No. 1 show, Rugrats,
as well as its second theatrical movie, Rugrats in Paris -- The Movie, with a party
tonight (Feb. 14) at upscale toy store FAO Schwarz in Manhattan.
The network has licensed a full line of movie-related
products from Mattel Inc., which will be on display at the Toy Fair, Nickelodeon vice
president of hard goods Samantha Freeman said.
The new Rugrats toys by Mattel include "Karaoke
Angelica," "Cheer Me Up Chuckie," "Bouce 'N Babble Dil" and
a line of fashion dolls based on a wedding scene in the movie.
Mattel is the master toy licensee for all of
Nickelodeon's properties. The toy manufacturer also plans to introduce a line of toys
based on the network's hit cartoon, The Wild Thornberrys, including a doll
called "Expedition Eliza."
Nickelodeon has also licensed Flying Colors to create
activity products for some of its properties. Other companies showing Nickelodeon-branded
merchandise at the Toy Fair include Mattel's Tyco and Fisher-Price units and Eden
Toys, which is expected to debut a new Blue's Clues character -- Perriwinkle,
the talking cat -- sometime in the fall, in conjunction with the character's on-air
Discovery Communications Inc. will debut a line of toys
based on Animal Planet's hit series, The Crocodile Hunter, according to DCI
vice president of merchandise and promotion licensing Robin Sayetta.
"Kids want to emulate the Crocodile Hunter,"
Sayetta said. "He lives his life like an action figure." She added that the
show's star, Steve Irwin, lives in a lair surrounded by exotic animals.
To call attention to the new line of toys, DCI will
recreate the Crocodile Hunter's lair on one-half of a city block outside of the Toy
Fair. "It will be warm in there," Sayetta said. "We'll be serving hot
N2 will be the master licensee for Discovery this year,
although Tiger Electronics Ltd. and Fun for All will also show products.
FAO Schwarz plans to launch a Discovery Channel-branded
boutique in its store here this week, Sayetta said. DCI is also expected to announce other
news during the Toy Fair at a Tuesday-morning press conference co-hosted with Toys R Us
The programmer sells some of its branded merchandise on its
own Web site, Discovery.com. The company is also looking at making merchandise available
to its cable and direct-broadcast satellite affiliates to use as premiums for their
customers, although "we have to be careful not to cannibalize the partnerships with
our retailers," Sayetta said.
Cartoon Network's ThePowerpuff Girls will
make its licensing premiere at the Toy Fair this week. While the network has had a very
minimal presence at previous Toy Fairs, "2000 is really the year for us," senior
marketing manager Julie Gibbons said.
Trendmasters Inc. is the master licensee for Powerpuff
Girls and several other Cartoon properties, including Dexter, Johnny Bravo
and Cow and Chicken. Other Cartoon toy licensees include Applause, Hasbro Inc. and
Cartoon does not have an electronic-commerce component to
its Web site, although it does link to a Warner Bros. Studio Store site, where viewers can
buy Powerpuff Girls merchandise.
Disney Channel plans to send a couple of its marketing
executives to the Toy Fair next week, "just to put our finger on the pulse of
what's happening," vice president of marketing Adam Sanderson said. The network
plans to have a larger presence there with its Playhouse Disney properties next year, he
Disney Channel owns the merchandising rights to Rolie
Polie Olie and PB&J Otter, and it is pursuing licensing and retailing
partnerships for those, Sanderson said.
"We're not in the consumer-products
business," he added. "We're in the entertainment business." The
network pursues merchandising opportunities as a way to reinforce its on-air brands.
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