The big film tie-ins this year include Pixar's Cars, Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest, and the much awaited Christmas blockbuster Happy Feet.
Movies debuting in 2007, which are all likely to have manufacturers champing at the bit, are Spider-Man 3, Pirates of the Caribbean 3, Transformers The Movie, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Enchanted, Ratatouille, the new The Simpsons movie and Fairies. The hottest cartoon and TV licences to watch are likely to include established characters, including Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob SquarePants and Barbie. Old favourites such as Thomas The Tank Engine, Bob the Builder and Winnie the Pooh will also continue to have widespread appeal. Newer kids on the block to watch out for include The Backyardigans, Pimp My Ride and Bratz.
?Scooby-Doo, which is licensed by Warner Bros Consumer Products, is one of the hottest cartoon licences. The canine sleuth and friends appear on a number of confectionery brands in the UK, including ranges due to come out for Hallowe'en within the next few weeks, as well as on a range of frozen ready meals.
?Disney Pixar animated films continue to have successful links with food and drink products and have been responsible for some of the most important brand tie-ins over the past decade. Recent animated films have included Finding Nemo, Toy Story 2, The Incredibles, and Cars, whose characters have appeared on products ranging from chocolates and biscuits to juice drinks and mineral water. Characters from the films such as Lilo & Stitch and Chicken Little have also been used extensively in confectionery, especially during Easter.
?SpongeBob SquarePants continues to appear on products, bolstered by the success of a full length movie of the cartoon back in 2004. The most recent products his image has graced are confectionery lines and cereal bars, as well as fruit and vegetables.
?Spider-Man, Superman and other Marvel Heroes have been used extensively on products over the past year in a bid to attract young boys. Superhero-branded products that carry their images include a range of fruit smoothies, mixed fruit bars and a range of vitamins. They also appeared on Easter Eggs in 2005 and are likely to do so again next year due to the popularity of the film X-men: The Last Stand.
?The Mr Men licence celebrated its 35th birthday this year and remains an important weapon in the armoury of manufacturers making products for children. Mr Men and Little Misses characters have given rise to a diverse range of licensed products, ranging from Mr. Bump plasters, Mr. Funny's Runny Honey and Mr. Messy baby bibs to Little Miss Naughty t-shirts. There are more than 45 licensees in the UK.