Although most of the attention at the recent Toy Fair here was focused on merchandise tied to recent and upcoming motion pictures, a number of cable characters also generated their fair share of buzz.
Some properties — like Cartoon Network's Powerpuff Girls
and Scooby-Doo— will appear in theatrical films this summer, and those releases should stir attendant merchandise sales.
Overall, the Toy Industry Association is sanguine about retail prospects for 2002, projecting that toy sales will advance 6 percent, after notching just a 1.7 percent increase to some $25 billion in 2001.
Trendmasters Inc. holds the master toy license for the animated Girls, while H.J. Heinz Co.'s Kibbles 'N' Bits will tie its new Scooby Snacks for dogs in with the live-action Scooby-Doo
Cartoon is also looking to license its series Samurai Jack
as a property that appeals to boys, while Hasbro Inc. will introduce mechanized-beast toys based on another series, Zoiks.
Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius —
the holiday film now contending for an Oscar in the new animated-feature category — is slated for series duty on Nickelodeon this fall. Mattel Inc. plans to add to its roster of Jimmy Neutron
toys this year, while Burger King Corp., one of several promotional partners, will hinge a Kids' Meal promotion on the skein.
Nick also has licensed Mattel's Fisher-Price division to promote the new bilingual "We Did It! Dancing Dora" doll, inspired by Dora the Explorer. Meanwhile, Hasbro will target boys with action figures from Nick's Butt-Ugly Martians.
Hasbro, Playmates Toys Inc. and Thinkway Toys USA Inc. will be among the marketers promoting fashion dolls, play sets and other wares under The Walt Disney Co.'s "Disney Princess" umbrella.
The line will involve heroines from the classic Disney movies Cinderella, Snow White
and Sleeping Beauty, plus the more recent Beauty & the Beast, The Little Mermaid
and Aladdin. The latter two have been spun off into series on Toon Disney.
For Care Bears, another Toon Disney show, Play Along Inc. will relaunch dolls that were first popular in the 1980s.
Elsewhere within the Mouse's marketing machine, Applause LLC has been signed to merchandise a line of fashion dolls and accessories linked to Disney Channel's Lizzie McGuire
series. The Jim Henson Co. said Sbarro Pizzerias is offering a children's dinnerware giveaway for preschoolers at 700 outlets, tied to that network's series Bear in the Big Blue House.
For its part, Discovery Networks U.S. wants to expand its roster of licensees. Animal Planet was beating the bushes at Toy Fair to find promotional tie-in partners for its live-action Crocodile Hunter
movie, due this summer from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. And Green Board Game Co. was plugging the board and trivia games sparked by the Discovery Channel/British Broadcasting Corp. co-productions Walking with Dinosaurs
and Walking with Prehistoric Beasts.
In the science-fiction realm, a second set of collectible figures from Henson's Farscape
series on Sci Fi Channel will soon be on retail shelves.
Similarly, MGM Consumer Products is looking for more toy-related licensees for two other Sci Fi series: Stargate SG-1
and The Outer Limits.