news digest


Mattel takes on 'Speed Racer,' Batman

NEW YORK — Warner Bros. Consumer Products has named Mattel global master toy licensee for 2008's "Speed Racer" and the Batman sequel "The Dark Knight." Warner Bros. Consumer Products president Brad Globe made the announcement at the Licensing Show here along with Neil Friedman, president of Mattel Brands. Globe also unveiled the Mach 5, the racing car featured in "Speed Racer," and the Batpod, Batman's newest vehicle, used in the making of "Dark Knight."

DWA, Mattel cozy up for 'Panda'

NEW YORK — DreamWorks Animation and Mattel announced an exclusive licensing arrangement on DreamWorks Animation's June 2008 release, "Kung Fu Panda," with Mattel serving as the worldwide master toy licensee for the film. The deal is the first such partnership between DreamWorks and Mattel. Kerry Phelan, head of worldwide consumer products for DreamWorks, said, "We think it will have a lot of longevity in the marketplace." The toy manufacturer will be creating a wide range of products tied to the movie, featuring the voices of Jack Black and Angelina Jolie. DreamWorks also said that a Shrek balloon will make its first ever appearance at the 81st annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Shrek also will serve as Macy's Official Holiday Ambassador this year, with an exclusive plush toy available at all Macy's stores nationwide.

'Cars' gets checkered flag at awards show

NEW YORK — Disney/Pixar's "Cars" took top honors Wednesday night as the 2006 overall best license of the year at the annual International Licensing Industry Merchandisers' Assn. gala and awards ceremony at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square. Warner Bros. Consumer Products won best promotion of the year for "Happy Feet." The best film, television and entertainment brand license of the year also went to "Cars." Fisher-Price was honored as hard goods licensee for Sesame Street's T.M.X. Elmo. Costume and dress-up manufacturing group Disguise Inc. took top honors as the soft goods licensee for its "Pirates of the Caribbean" costumes for Disney. United Media's Peanuts won the best character brand license of the year and Toys "R" Us won the award for retailer of the year for "Deal or No Deal." Neil Friedman, president of Mattel Brands, was inducted into the Murray Altchuler Licensing Industry Hall of Fame for lifetime achievement.

License plates: 'Spiderwick,' 'Beowulf,' 'Igor'

NEW YORK — Paramount Licensing said that IToys Inc. and 518 Apparel Group Inc. have signed on to the licensing roster for "The Spiderwick Chronicles," scheduled for release in February, and that collectibles manufacturer Diamond Select Toys and Collectibles Llc. and comic book publisher IDW Publishing have joined its roster of licensees for "Beowulf," the Robert Zemeckis-directed film. … Exodus Film Group has awarded Corgi International Ltd. as the master toy license for its CG-animated feature "Igor," which is being distributed by the Weinstein Co. and is set to bow in October 2008.