Girl power was a key theme at the 36th annual Licensing International Expo, which was held in Las Vegas from June 21 to 23. Many of the 5,000 characters and properties on display are aimed at inspiring girls to feel empowered and exude self-confidence, as well as to participate in science.
Female superheroes had a high profile at the show. Zag Studios’ Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir TV series has achieved big ratings around the world, including on Nickelodeon in the U.S., and has 60 consumer products licensees globally. Action Lab will debut the Miraculous comic book line in July.
Warner Bros. Consumer Products was touting DC Comics’ Wonder Woman character, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year and will be the basis for a feature film in summer 2017, with related books from Scholastic and Random House planned. WBCP also highlighted its DC Super Hero Girls line, which was developed to inspire girls to find their own super powers through reading, play, and on-screen content. RH is among the roster of licensees.
Valiant Comics, which is expanding its publishing franchises (aimed at teenagers and adult readers) into film, television, gaming, and other media, was in attendance at the show to preview its properties to potential licensees. One of its comic series being developed for film is Harbinger, created in 1992. A breakout character from that franchise is the optimistic and plus-size superhero Faith. After a successful comic book miniseries, Faith will be getting her own solo series of comics, launching this summer.
A reboot of The Powerpuff Girls debuted this year on Cartoon Network, representing one of the few Cartoon Network properties with strong licensing potential for young girls. Penguin Books for Young Readers will release chapter book, activity/craft, and Mad Libs titles later this year, followed by more books in spring 2017.
Coding and technology were core themes of several girlcentric properties exhibited at the show. Jim Henson Productions launched a licensing program for Dot, a TV series inspired by the Randi Zuckerberg book of the same name, published by HarperCollins. In the show, which will debut on Sprout in September and on Hulu 90 days later, lead character Dot and her friends use technology—always in an age-appropriate manner (e.g., avoiding social media) and with parental supervision—to solve problems as they explore the world. A full publishing program is planned.
Meanwhile, Goldie Blox, a building toy marketed to girls, exhibited at the show for the first time. Its mission is to encourage girls’ interest in engineering. Random House is the property’s first licensee for original fiction, with products in all categories set to follow.
A few of the other properties pitched at the Expo included DreamWorks’ feature film Trolls, with Random House and Papercutz among the licensees; A&E Networks’ roster of shows, including Tiny Houses, for which Abrams signed a two-book deal; and Nickelodeon’s Shimmer & Shine, with books from Random House and Bendon, among others.