Walk down any toy aisle and you’re likely to see a strong turnout from Nickelodeon brands such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and SpongeBob, and there’s more to come as Paw Patrol hits shelves. ToyNews chats to Marianne James, VP Consumer Products UK & Ireland/European Retail Sales & Marketing

Channel takeover: Nickelodeon’s Marianne James talks Turtles, SpongeBob and Paw Patrol

How was 2014 for Nickelodeon Consumer Products in general?

2014 was a very strong year for Nickelodeon & Viacom Consumer Products. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was fully rolled out into all categories while the theatrical movie was tremendously successful.

2014 saw SpongeBob SquarePants grace the catwalks, reaffirming his high-fashion status while, for our pre-school offering, 2014 brought us the on air premieres of Paw Patrol and Dora and Friends, the latter launching as Nick Jr. UK’s most successful- ever launch.

We’ve been preparing trade for the launch of Paw Patrol and Dora and Friends and the popularity of both programmes on air means that we are set for a brilliant product rollout.

In terms of the toy?space, what Nickelodeon Consumer Products activity has there been over the past 12 months?

We have had strong presence in the boys’ aisle with the Turtles, including new waves of product, new segments and of course the movie line which featured the impressive Turtles movie action figures.

We expanded our Turtles games and outdoor offer, as well as new innovation in back packs and activity sets.

How many licensees do you have in the sector??

We have over 50 licensees now in the toy sector in the UK which is up on last year. This is driven through our expansion of our secondary toy Turtles toys as well as SpongeBob SquarePants.

Have you moved into any categories which you haven’t previously been in?

We have expanded our presence in outdoor and inflatables and we are also very excited about a 3D digital printing innovation that we are launching in early 2015.

What are some of the main challenges that you’ve faced in the toy space?

Maintaining levels of space against a very competitive climate, particularly in the boys’ aisle, where 2014 has seen some key releases.

The excitement surrounding Paw Patrol has been phenomenal. When can we expect to see product on shelves?

We’re very excited that the Paw Patrol toys launch this month at retail. Product has been flying off shelves in all of the territories where it has launched so far and with the demand we’re already seeing, we expect the same reaction here in the UK.

How will you look to build on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles property further in 2015?

We are expanding into three new toy segments: Half Shell Heroes which takes us into the pre- school space, Die Cast and Mutations (the most successful segment ever in the history of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles).

2015 also sees strong and exciting new content as, in series three of the show, the Turtles find themselves in new environments, taking part in new adventures and battling new mutants. All of the on air action makes for a robust toy programme, ensuring that the content our viewers see on air,they can find on product in store.

In 2015 we will also be preparing for the second movie release (summer 2016) building on the successful movie line of 2014. 2015 is also a year that we’ll be amplifying our focus on promotional opportunities and wider category expansion.

What new Nickelodeon brands are you confident can make an impact on toy shelves in 2015?

Paw Patrol will fill the void that retailers and customers are feeling right now for newness in pre-school for boys; the Spin Master toy line is incredible and really brings the characters in the show to life.

Always innovative and true to the brand, we will have a new line of toys from Simba supporting our focus on SpongeBob as we move through the year.

We are also excited for the new Dora and Friends dolls from Mattel; they are beautifully crafted with special value added elements focusing on the magic of the show.

What are your main aims for 2015?

One focus is for Paw Patrol to launch strongly and gain share across the toy market and to make a real splash in pre-school with the launch of Dora and Friends product.

The upcoming theatrical SpongeBob movie is a massive opportunity to drive positive halo effect across the brand in all categories, while the continued success of Turtles will be a priority as we gear up to our second instalment from the film franchise in 2016.

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