will be interesting to see what hap-
pens.” She notes that Masha’s unique-
ness is appealing. “It’s quite different
from anything out there. The hall-
mark is its humor and storytelling.
Preschool humor today is so safe, but
this takes some risks, in an appro-
Other publishers involved with
streaming-only properties include
Lion Forge, which is producing a line
of comic books based on Voltron:
Legendary Defender. The property, like
Spirit, is a Netflix-distributed pro-
gram from DreamWorks Animation,
Streaming series based on book properties are also on the rise.
A Genius Brands–licensed and –produced TV series based on
Penguin’s Llama Llama books by Anna Dewdney is on Netflix,
for example. Similarly, the Mattel-owned American Girl brand
has a new spin-off series on Amazon called Wellie Wishers, with
associated toys from Mattel and other licensed products on the
market, as well as American Girl books. American Girl has been
expanding its brand licensing activity of late, signing partners
such as Scholastic and DK in publishing and Fashion Angels for
crafts and accessories. It has also been partnering with Mattel
and other sibling companies within the Mattel family, such as
MegaBloks for American Girl construction kits.
Other streaming properties at Toy Fair ranged from preschool
examples such as the literacy-based Word Party, licensed by Jim
Henson Productions, to those for teens and older, such as RWBY,
licensed by Rooster Teeth.
Focus on Films and Franchises
Franchise-based films are particularly prominent among licensed
entertainment properties in 2017. In anticipation of My Little
Pony: The Movie, set for release in the fall, licensed products were
spotted all over Toy Fair’s show floor. The movie tie-in publishing program encompasses 30 titles from publishers involved in
the My Little Pony franchise, including Little, Brown; IDW;
Phidal; and Bendon. The on-shelf date is August 29. “This is
International Toy Fair.
Books or comic books are often among the first products on
the licensee list for this type of series. Not only do traditional
books and comics help expand the world of the show, as is true
of any tie-in program, but they give consumers more ways to
discover the property in a fragmented media landscape.
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers is the licensee for two
streaming properties, Masha and the Bear for preschoolers and
Spirit Riding Free for girls 8–12, both distributed on Netflix.
The Spirit books, written by Suzanne Selfors, will release simultaneously with the show this spring.
“A lot of readers will come to the books even if they’re not
familiar with the show,” says Kara Sargent, editor-in-chief of
brand, licensed, and IP publishing at LBYR. “They recognize
Suzanne, and they love books about horses. Others may come to
the books from Netflix, or because of the toys in the fall.” Just
Play is the master toy licensee, and Reeves International’s Breyer
division will sell model horses.
Masha, meanwhile, is a Russian TV series that has become a
top property for viewership and licensing in its home country.
It is still building in the U.S., where it has been on Netflix for
about a year and has also attracted an audience on You Tube. Toys
from Spin Master were introduced at Toys R Us in the fall and
expanded into other retail outlets this January, and Little,
Brown plans storybooks, 8 x 8s, and leveled readers.
“It’s a little riskier than some properties,” Sargent says. “It
Tracking Tie-in Trends
Streaming properties, franchise films, and collectibles are catching publishers’ eyes
By Karen Raugust
Publishers are considering streaming entertainment such as American Girl’s
Wellie Wishers for publishing potential.
Publishing and toys are
typically the first categories
to sign on to streaming properties such as Voltron.