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Collectibles boost IP role in toy industry


Demand from adults for high-quality items linked to media content creates opportunities.


Anime, TV drama and movie characters attract millions of enthusiasts around the world. Copyright owners, through intellectual property sales and licensing, repackage and design characters to create a variety of trendy products, including this year’s hottest range, collectible toys.

Hong Kong has a robust IP protection regime, conducive to cross-regional and cross-industry cooperation.

Wong Kim-fung, founder of Hong Kong toy manufacturer Threezero (Hong Kong) Limited, achieved success through IP licensing. He collaborated with internationally renowned brands like Marvel and Hasbro in the production of collectible figurines. He pointed out that people often believe toys are just for children. In fact, the toy market has developed a collectible sector that also targets adult customers. These customers expect high quality standards in the products they purchase, whether in design, development or production.

“Toy products like ours are all derived from the IP of movies, TV shows, animation, etc. We often watch out for popular IPs, then try to reach out to copyright owners, hoping to obtain licence on copyright for figure production,” Mr Wong said.

After the company reaches an agreement with the copyright owner for rights to produce a certain character or appearance, the entire process from development, design, production to publicity must be communicated with the copyright owner for approval to ensure quality. Mr Wong said the process often took two years before the final products reached customers.

To win the favour of international brands, world-renowned designers and artists so as to conduct IP sales and licensing, the awareness and degree of protection of IP where the contract is signed also impacts the confidence of licensors.

“Hong Kong’s well-established legal system based on the rule of law offers strong protection for IP. This is especially beneficial to us when negotiating with copyright owners in the licensing of their IPs.”

As a regional centre for intellectual property trading and international trade, Hong Kong protects investors’ IP rights and ensures all parties can conduct commercial activities in a fair environment, cooperate on a free and fair basis, and jointly promote trade development.

Hoping to further develop overseas markets, threezero once again participated in the Hong Kong Toys and Games Fair organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) in January this year. The company joined the fair for the first time in 2020 and received more than 100 enquiries from overseas buyers.

The company also joined the HKTDC’s Chill 11 Christmas cultural and creative event last year, as well as the Chic Hong Kong Shopping Festival co-sponsored by the HKTDC and the Shenzhen Municipal Government, to explore additional business opportunities.

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