Viral sensation Grumpy Cat passes away

Internet celebrity Grumpy Cat has passed away at the age of 7.

The famous pet died following complications from a urinary tract infection. She passed away peacefully in the arms of her owner, Tabatha.

“Besides being our baby and a cherished member of the family, Grumpy Cat has helped millions of people smile all around the world, even when times were tough,” says Grumpy Cat’s family via a Twitter post. “Her spirit will live on through her fans everywhere.”

Grumpy Cat was a mainstay of the licensing industry. After becoming a viral sensation due to her permanently “grumpy” facial expression, she emerged across media in movies and comic books. She was also known for her appearances at a variety of industry events including previous Licensing Expos.


FYE, Topps cook up garbage pail kids food deal

FYE and Topps are partnering on a line of Garbage Pail Kids’ cereal, chocolate bars, candy and energy drinks.

The new food items will come adorned with Garbage Pail Kids’ characters and artwork. Along with the consumables line, FYE will launch a collection of apparel and accessories based on the brand.

Cereal in the collection will feature artwork by Joe Simko and contain two unique Topps trading cards. The candy and energy drink line is inspired by the Adam Bomb Garbage Pail Kids’ character. Card character Leady Lindsay also receives the candy treatment with a chocolate bar themed after the oddity.

“[Garbage Pail Kids’] irreverent brand essence combined with our ability to blend food with art has created products that truly brings fun and entertainment back to retail,” says Tim Lopes, DMM of consumables, FYE.

Garbage Pail Kids have been on a licensing tear in recent months. The brand recently collaborated with WWE to create apparel with wrestling superstars animated to look like Garbage Pail Kids.


WARNERMEDIA consolidate HBO and WARNER BROS. divisions

WarnerMedia has announced the transfer of HBO Enterprises and Home Entertainment divisions to Warner Bros.The realignment will also see distribution of Turner Originals in the U.S. move to the Warner Bros. team.

Jeffrey Schlesinger, president, Warner Bros. Worldwide Television Distribution, will take leadership responsibility for HBO Enterprises and the distribution of Turner content produced in the U.S.

HBO Home Entertainment will transfer to Warner Bros. Worldwide Home Entertainment and Games under the leadership of the division’s president Jim Wuthrich.

“For the first time at our company, the diverse and unparalleled portfolio of genre-defining new and library programming created by HBO, Warner Bros. and Turner will be distributed globally by one group,” says Schlesinger. “This structure will enable us to speak with one voice, as we create new and innovative ways to license our top-quality programming to networks, channels and services globally, helping them grow their audiences and subscriber bases.”

The reorganization at WarnerMedia comes following a larger executive shift that occurred earlier this year. Changes were made with the aim to reform teams around entertainment networks, live programming, content production and sales.


TOMS feels the force with STAR WARS line

Environmentally-friendly shoe line TOMS has announced plans to launch a Star Wars-themed collection ahead of the upcoming film premiere of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, due out in December, reportsWWD.

The line will include slip-ons and sneakers that are inspired by the original Star Wars trilogy. Each of the three pairs in the collection will consist of artwork sketches from the first three films. TOMS plans to launch the line in July with items priced from $34.95 to $94.95.

“The Star Wars and TOMS partnership ignites a truly unique and iconic collection founded on originality,” says Nate Photavath, men’s senior footwear designer, TOMS. “When designing the collection, we focused on details and authenticity by using original artwork from the original trilogy, but we also added a TOMS twist by adding interesting design elements that Star Wars fans will notice throughout the collection.”

TOMS’ new Star Wears footwear is not the first time the brand has collaborated with pop culture icons. Earlier this year, the company launched a 17-piece “Sesame Street” collection of shoes for women, kids and toddlers.


Hasbro unleashes Transformers Prime apparel

Hasbro has partnered with for a line of licensed apparel with classic Transformers designs.

The apparel features Japanese Kana script and classic cartoon character designs. T-shirts in the line include depictions of both Transformers heroes and villains.

“We are thrilled to be working with Zavvi, the ultimate fan destination, to launch this fantastic collection of retro t-shirts,” says Nikki Gie, director, U.K. consumer products, Hasbro, speaking to TnP Media. “This exciting collaboration comes as the iconic Transformers brand celebrates its 35th year and is the ideal gift for fans ahead of the Bumblebee DVD release in May.”


Licensing Expo 2019

Industry set to return to Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay Convention Center from June 4-6.

This year sees Licensing Expo make the move back to a June time slot – with the show itself taking place from June 4-6 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.

As in previous years, Licensing Week activity will be taking place around the main show, offering additional educational and networking events. Simply click on this link to view the current schedule.

Meanwhile, the LIMA International Licensing Awards will take place after the first day of the show (Tuesday June 4), while the Global Licensing Group Party has switched to day two (Wednesday June 5) and will be held at the HyperX Esports Arena at the Luxor.

For full details on Licensing Expo – and to register to attend – simply click on this link.


Funko unveils New Avengers Endgame merch

Funko has launched a new line of Avengers: Endgame-inspired Pop! figures based on the recently released Marvel hit.

The new line includes figurines of Thor holding Stormbreaker and Mjolnir (available as an FYE exclusive), Thor in sunglasses and sandals and a 6” shiny chromed Hulk figure wearing the Infinity Gauntlet.

Funko’s line comes following a successful opening week for the next chapter in Marvel’s film opus. The movie passed the $400 million domestic release benchmark in its first week, according to Box Office Mojo. Its successful early run made it the highest-grossing opening week of all time.

The success of the Avengers: Endgame came with other licensing partnerships with brands including Build-A-Bear and Torrid.



Mattel, Pixar expand deal to infinity and beyond

Mattel has expanded its global licensing agreement with Disney to span new titles and to develop new toys inspired by characters from Pixar Animation Studios’ film properties.

The new deal will provide Mattel with international rights for CocoFinding NemoMonstersInc., the Toy Story franchise, The Incredibles and Pixar’s 2020 release Onward. Mattel’s licensing rights expand to North America, Europe, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand. It includes a wide variety of products such as action figures, miniatures, plush, and playsets, available early 2020.

“Pixar is a legendary animation studio renowned for creating some of the most iconic and diverse sets of characters,” says Janet Hsu, chief franchise management officer, Mattel. “We look forward to bringing these characters to children of all ages so they can create their own adventures and stories through play.”

Disney’s deal with Mattel continues the companies’ long-standing partnership. Mattel has developed licensed Pixar products internationally dating back to the earliest iterations of the Cars and Toy Story franchises.


Silver Screen sips Step Brothers vodka

Silver Screen Bottling Co. has launched “Quality Vodka from Prestige Worldwide,” a nod to the 2008 Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly film Step Brothers.

The film follows the hijinks of two incompetent adults whose lives interconnect when their parents get married and who are forced to find their own place to live. In the film, the duo makes an investment pitch to their family for a company called “Prestige Worldwide” as a last-ditch effort to earn an income.

Inspired by the fictional company, Silver Screen’s new vodka has a label featuring the Prestige Worldwide logo. The Prestige vodka deal follows previous Silver Screen collaborations with pop culture brands such as “Star Trek,” Death Row Records and YouTube series “Cobra Kai.”


NatGeo, Oculus partner on Antartic VR

National Geographic and Oculus have partnered on a virtual reality experience that takes users on a trek across Antarctica.

The 30-minute experience takes explorers on a journey across the snowy tundra with a kayak ride and rock climbing included. Explorers must survive a snowstorm during their brief virtual expedition.

“National Geographic continues to experiment in the immersive storytelling space,” says Jenna Pirog, senior director, immersive experiences, National Geographic. “This latest partnership with Oculus and Force Field is in line with our mission to entertain with a purpose. We’re using the latest visual technology to spark curiosity about our world and enable people to better understand it.”

National Geographic’s VR experience will launch on Oculus later this spring. It will join other VR titles from companies such as Hasbro.