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Mattel's Preschool Powerhouse HIT Entertainment Lays Out Plans For Investment & Growth At International Licensing Expo

On Heels of Brand Success on Broadcast and Online Platforms, as well as Live Events, HIT Entertainment Introduces New U.S. Partners for Marquee Brands Thomas & Friends® and Mike the Knight™

LAS VEGAS, June 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- With a renewed focus on exceptional storytelling, enhanced product development, and developing memorable family experiences, and a new roster of best in class licensing partners in U.S., HIT Entertainment, one of the world's leading preschool entertainment companies, is poised for its biggest year to date.  HIT Entertainment, a subsidiary of Mattel Inc., announced today plans to grow broadcast and online presence, as well as its consumer products footprint with a roster of new partners for two of its biggest brands—Thomas & Friends® and Mike the Knight™.

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"We are sharpening our focus, making key investments and introducing several game changers for HIT Entertainment," said Edward Catchpole, Senior Vice President and General Manager, HIT Entertainment.  "The success of our portfolio has always remained with pairing powerful content and best in class partners.   Now, to elevate our brands and infuse even more excitement, we are integrating our approach to content development and distribution, with brand management and product development. Along with our partners, we believe this escalated effort will resonate both with consumers and retailers."

Combined, HIT Entertainment's world-class portfolio of preschool brands including Thomas & Friends®, Mike the Knight™, Fireman Sam®, Bob the Builder, Barney®, Angelina Ballerina®, Pingu® and Rainbow Magic® reaches more 1.1 billion households in more than 185 territories around the globe, HIT's internationally loved brands connect with children around the world. HIT delivers brand experiences with business lines that span digital media, home entertainment, publishing, consumer products, and live events.

Compelling content remains a priority for Thomas & Friends in the coming year, with a planned move to a new daily schedule on PBS KIDS this fall that will reach over 95 million households each month, and the debut of Thomas & Friends video streaming at PBSKIDS.org.  The television program remains more popular than ever with Thomas & Friends rating in the top five most-watched preschool shows since August 2012.  Thomas & Friends also continues to make tracks in the realm of digital media with the recent launch of parent-focused site Parent Station, as well as plans in the works to expand social media cross-platform. 

Family experiences that connect generations and also connects kids with HIT's beloved characters will also see investment. Day Out with Thomas, HIT's multinational live event experience where children have the opportunity to meet and ride on Thomas the Tank Engine, remains stronger than ever with one million attendees in the U.S. each year. 

HIT will be introducing a host of new Thomas & Friends licensees across multiple verticals including apparel, toy, and other lifestyle products at major retailers.  The debut of the new lines follows the successful re-launch of the brand's signature Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway™ earlier this year.

Mike the Knight has also seized the day on broadcast with the highly-anticipated premiere of the show's second season this fall on Nick Jr. in the United States.  Additionally, with hundreds of kids attending each stop of a cross-country mall tour this spring, the brand has proven more popular than ever among preschoolers.  New SKUs of costumes, apparel, e-books, and other products are planned heading into the coming year as a follow-up to the well-received new book line from Simon & Schuster, toys debut from Fisher-Price, and home entertainment from NCircle Entertainment, which came to retail in early 2013.

Catchpole says, "Since joining the Mattel family last year, HIT has been laying the groundwork to make significant investments for growth in 2014 and beyond. We understand the strong affection and love that our brands have with families, and have had for generations.   Along with our partners, we are incredibly excited and focused on the important work of strengthening preschoolers' emotional bond to our characters and brands with content, product and experiences."

Demonstrating the array of products and categories that touch every area of a preschooler's life, HIT is proud to announce the following new partners in North America at International Licensing Expo for Thomas & Friends and Mike the Knight:

THOMAS & FRIENDS

Dynacraft introduces all new Thomas & Friends bicycles and scooters.  Active preschoolers can cruise along on the safe and durable bikes covered with Thomas and his engine friends for outdoor adventure fun.   Available Fall 2013.

Little engineers will be well protected during their outdoor play with new Coppertone® UV Headgear from InnoVision for Thomas & Friends®.  Headwear will include caps and bucket hats that meet the highest standards in Ultraviolet Protection with UPF 50+ for fun in the sun. Available Fall 2013 at select mass retailers.

Thomas & Friends joins with Kurt Adler for the first time to introduce a new line of ornaments, holiday stockings, and indoor and outdoor seasonal decor featuring the #1 blue engine and his engine friends.  Available Fall/Christmas 2013 at select mass retailers.

Brushing teeth becomes a lot easier with everyone's favorite Really Useful Engine.  Dr. Fresh introduces colorful new handheld toothbrushes for Thomas & Friends that will delight every little engineer.  Available Fall 2013 at select mass retailer and food and drug retailers.

Thomas & Friends socks from Planet Sox are perfect for busy preschoolers who are always on the go.  The bright, colorful socks give all Thomas fans happy feet and moms can trust their little ones with Planet Sox' no slip designs.  Available now at mass retailers.

Step 2 brings excitement on the rails right into preschoolers' homes with a Thomas & Friends Up and Down rollercoaster!  Kids can reimagine adventures on Sodor with a coaster that features a 10 foot track and non-slip steps, and a coaster car with a high back, footrests and handrail.  Available Fall 2013.

MIKE THE KNIGHT

Amscan, Inc. introduces a new line of Mike the Knight™ party goods and costumes.  The line will include everything moms and kids need to have the knightliest party of the year.  Available Summer 2013 exclusively on PartyCity.com.

This Halloween, boys and girls can dress as their favorite sibling duo with Mike the Knight and Evie costumes and accessories from Disguise. Available Fall 2013 at select mass retailers.

Adventures with Mike the Knight come alive with new sound books from Publications International (PIL).  Knights-in-training will enjoy all of the sounds of Glendragon with these interactive titles.  Available now at mass retailers.

Kids will embark on a knightly quest with the new Mike the Knight software title for VTech's range of InnoTab ® Learning App Tablets. Exciting games and an interactive e-book let little ones join Mike and his friends on a fun adventure.  Available Fall 2013.

Ravensburger introduces Mike the Knight puzzles for preschoolers.  Featuring Mike, Evie, the dragons, trolls and more friends from Glendragon, the puzzles will challenge and delight your little knights in training.  Available Fall 2013.

SOURCE HIT Entertainment

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