Expect to see Barbie Keepsake Ornaments in Hallmark Gold Crown stores in July — the exclusive headline product from a new licensing agreement announced Wednesday between Hallmark Cards Inc. and Mattel.
The new deal, which includes Mattel’s Hot Wheels, Monster High and Ever After High brands, also gives Hallmark the right to make other ornaments and plush products with wider distribution in the United States and Canada.
Hallmark’s planned Barbie products include eight Barbie ornaments, starting with a Celebration Barbie Bonus Pack that offers 2013 and 2014 Holiday Barbie Dolls, as well as a tiny plush Barbie doll, to be sold only in the Gold Crown stores.
Barbie also will be introduced to Hallmark’s itty bittys brand line, a collection of more than 50 popular characters fabricated in 4-inch-tall plush figures. Sales of the collectible characters, also a Gold Crown exclusive, were 600 percent higher in 2014 than 2013, Hallmark said last fall.
Other products are under development, Hallmark said..
Hallmark and Mattel had licensing agreements from 1993 to 2012. But “in 2012, after 20 successful years of working together, our licensing strategies reached a point where they would not align for future years,” said Hallmark spokeswoman Kristi Ernsting.
“The properties were always very popular with our consumers, so we continued to talk with Mattel,” Ernsting said. “We’re thrilled that we were able to negotiate this new agreement that works for both companies.”
Financial details were not disclosed.
The Barbie ornaments could, indeed, be a sales shot in the arm for both companies. Hallmark’s popular Keepsake Ornaments line is a good income producer for the company that is challenged by flagging sales of its core paper greeting card line. Collectors flock to buy each year’s new ornaments during their premiers.
Mattel also is looking for a Barbie bump. It reported last fall that Barbie merchandise sales had plummeted 21 percent on a third-quarter to third-quarter comparison. Some of the company’s doll traffic had gravitated to its Monster High line and its Disney-licensed toys, particularly “Frozen” merchandise.
But Mattel’s rights to “Frozen” toys will be lost in 2016, when Disney enters a new deal with Hasbro, so Mattel has made no secret about looking to shore up toy sales in other ways. In the fourth quarter Mattel introduced a line of “Star Wars” cars under the Hot Wheels brand.
Hallmark said plans for other Mattel merchandise will be revealed later this year.