Martin Handford's Where's Waldo? turns 21 this fall, and is celebrating with two new books, an online presence and merchandise for the 20-somethings who grew up with the character. Candlewick Press released the sixth Waldo original, The Great Picture Hunt, in 2006, followed by paperbacks of the first five titles. Meanwhile, Entertainment Rights acquired the licensing rights last year. “They said they saw the 21st birthday as sort of a galvanizing moment,” said Charlie Schroder, Candlewick's v-p, marketing and development.
Research showed 20-somethings wanted a Where's Waldo? book they could travel with, and the result was The Ultimate Travel Collection, a digest-size bindup published June 10. A giftable slipcase containing all six originals in paperback will follow this fall.
Licensed products will include apparel, puzzles and Halloween costumes. In addition, fans can “friend” Waldo on Facebook, Bebo and MySpace; participate in a Great Online Photo Hunt at Flickr; and browse the official Web site, canyoufindwaldo.com. Down the road, Waldo's licensing program will expand to a broader audience. “We wanted to re-engage the original fans first,” said Nicole Blake, senior v-p, marketing, Entertainment Rights North America. “But the property transcends borders and it transcends ages.”