The team is back from this year's Brand Licensing Europe where toy and game properties are as likely to be seen gracing the catwalk as they are the toy displays.
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What have we missed?

Yes, we're back after a week away at Brand Licensing Europe and eager to get back into all things inventors.

Now, by rights, Rob should be writing this week's piece (we take it in turns) but the swine has swanned off on holiday to Amsterdam so you've got me. 

As I've said, the reason we missed last week was because the team was at BLE, a showcase of the most exciting new brand developments in the licensing industry.

Alongside the likes of Star Wars, Minions, Playboy and the mighty The Great British Bake Off, there were a plethora of smaller brands looking to make their mark (there's some really interest Cereal Killer Cafe product on the way).

The plight of these smaller brand owners are not too disimilar from independent toy and game inventors.

After all, in today's marketplace, you're not just tasked with creating an action figure, or a board game, or a cuddly toy, but a product that has wider brand potential.

When Charles Darrow created Monopoly (or, as some claim, nabbed the idea from his pal Elizabeth Magie) back in 1935, it's impossible to imagine that he could have concieved that his property game would end up on catwalks as a high-end designer fashion line (check out the image above).

But licensing has embraced the world of toys and games and this industry has returned the love. 

We have plush and action figures based on every new blockbuster - and even on some cult hits (I'm looking at you, Funko/Super7's incredible The Gimp Pulp Fiction figure).

There's obviously a sea of branded games, spanning everything from KISS Monopoly to Despicable Me Game of Life all the way to Peppa Pig Guess Who (does he taste good in a sarnie?).

Hell, inventors are even taking licences into their own hands with impressive fan-made creations like Pulp Fiction Guess Who (boasting the immense tagline 'Does he look like a bitch?') and Guess Wu (featuring Wu-Tang Clan members and affiliated artists).

The days of sneering at such activity is also long gone. For the most part, these brand collaborations are done incredibly well and result in great product. Just look at some of the innovation on show in the latest wave of Star Wars toys. 

There is of course the argument that for every One Direction Monopoly, there's a cracking original game missing out on shelf space. But with the advent of crowdfunding platforms, many of which are being embraced by the big firms, as well as smaller independent outfits like Big Potato and Accentuate just forging ahead and doing things their own way, there's an argument for it never being a better time to be a toy and game inventor.

So, it's worth thinking ahead when it comes to those first sparks of inspiration. Whether it's positioning a creation within a company's existing brand portolio or nailing down potential brand extensions for your toy or game, considering these IP possibilities isn't a dirty thought. It's a smart one. 

And who knows, your idea's final stop might not be the toy shelf, but the catwalk.


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