The Brand Radar: From LEGO to My Little Pony… Why do toy brands thrive in comics and magazines?

Start Licensing’s Ian Downes speaks to Rebellion, Redan and Kennedy about toy brands’ ongoing success in magazines and comics.

One area of licensing that can be rewarding – but is also competitive and congested – is that of children’s comics and magazines. A visit to a shop like WHSmith or a supermarket shows how crowded the fixture is, with multiple titles vying for space.

The category is largely dominated by licensed titles. Although comics like The Beano and Monster Fun continue to fly the flag for non-licensed titles with pages full of their own characters and content. The dominance of licensed titles has been growing since the 1990s and now the sector relies on licensing to drive it. Licenses come from all quarters, but one of the strongest categories is that of brands from the toy and games category… Brands such as LEGO, Polly Pocket and Hot Wheels feature prominently. It is interesting to reflect on why this is the case.

Is this a new thing ? Ben Smith from publisher Rebellion – who own the Treasury of British Comics, a comic archive and imprint that curate many of the UK’s most famous comic titles – gives some insight into the relationship.

“There are so many examples of toy brands featuring in comics, however from classic British comics possibly the most prolific brand was the Action Force line that was inspired by Action Man,” Smith tells us.

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