In America today, when an animated or cartoon figure becomes popular, the merchandising for that figure “goes through the roof.” So it should come as no surprise that toys, games, pictures, books, videos, puzzles and accessories such as wallets and bags are “selling like hotcakes.”
That’s the way it is in the United States, in Europe, as well. If an animated or cartoon figure (or a live actor and TV show) becomes popular, the producer of the show or the cartoon finds many willing partners anxious to produce the toys or other merchandise; people who are also ready, willing and able to provide the producer with “a handsome cut of the profits.”
The way it works is really quite simple. The manufacturer meets with the producer to discuss and plan a line of toys or games or even clothing and clothing accessories to take advantage of the character’s immense popularity. They reach an agreement about what will be produced and offered for sale. And then … the manufacturer signs a “licensing agreement” that gives him exclusive rights to produce the merchandise and market it.
What does the producer get … generally he or she gets a very significant fee or, in some cases, a built-in share of the net or gross profits from all of the merchandise sales. It’s a great deal for the producer because he or she has no investment in this process … absolutely no money at risk.
Most often, such deals work out well for the manufacturer, too. When kids “adopt” a TV character its popularity lasts a long time. That’s what has happened with Monkey D. Luffy and his many friends in the “Straw Hat Pirates,” the group he leads in weekly adventures. As I said, kids love these characters and they “show that love” in toy stores and other places where Luffy and “Straw Hat Pirates” merchandise is sold.
There is so much to choose from. And, as has happened with other popular items in the past, some of the merchandise being produced has become “collectible.” It is even offered on websites like EBay where, toy figures like Elasti Luffy command impressive prices. Yes, it’s not surprising that Luffy toys can be costly. It is also not surprising that there are people willing to spend big money on these toys.
There are many manifestations of very popular Luffy “rubberized” or plastic figures (most standing about 12 inches high) that parents have gone crazy trying to purchase … especially at Christmas time. Other popular purchases are Luffy wallets … personalized or customized bags … clever and fun-filled jigsaw puzzles … key chains (for the Straw Hat Pirates, too) … lovable plush dolls … and, of course, Straw Hats.
There are even colorful telephones, books, videos and more. Will this selling phenomenon last forever? Of course not, but it’s hot right now. People are making money on the merchandise. And for the kids, price doesn’t matter. As is always the case with youngsters, when they like an animated or cartoon character and there is merchandise available for that character… well, the kids have got to get it. Some things never change.