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A Safety Craze You Can Bank on

Written By Brian Hicks

Posted January 30, 2014

Like other professional sports leagues, Major League Baseball is showing increasing concern for player safety. Over the past few years, player safety in all major sports has become a hot topic of debate, and player protection is going through a period of evolution. isoblox baseball cap armor

Part of this evolution took form last week, when MLB approved a new padded cap design for its pitchers. The newly approved caps will be first made available in Spring training in the coming season, and their use is optional.

In major league baseball twelve pitchers have been hit in the head by line drives in the past six seasons. While that may not seem like a lot, each and every one of those instances shocked a whole stadium full of people. For the pitcher at the receiving end of the play; the guy writhing in pain; that play could be career-, or even life-threatening.

Take former Oakland A’s pitcher Brandon McCarthy, who is one of the pitchers that has been working closely with MLB and the creator of the new cap, isoBlox of 4Licensing Corp. (OTCMKTS: FOUR).

McCarthy needed emergency brain surgery after a “comebacker” struck him in the head on September 5, 2012. He also suffered a seizure in June 2013 that doctors say was related to his head injury.

The good news is that it wasn’t a career-ending injury. The right-hander now hurls for the Arizona Diamondbacks, and despite the serious brain trauma, he is readying himself for the upcoming season with hopes to be better than ever.

The Problem

But Brandon McCarthy won’t be donning the new safety cap any time soon. McCarthy has been isoBlox’s right-hand man for the past eight months, working closely with and testing the technology, which he says isn’t quite ready for the major leagues.

The cap reportedly does work, and it has been shown to help, but for McCarthy, some problems still need to be ironed out.

The first of which is its size. The cap is simply too big and wide for a pitcher to feel comfortable up there on the mound. Unlike a modern day baseball cap, you could almost forget it’s there if it wasn’t on your head. The new protective cap is a little more than a half-inch thick in the front, and an inch thicker on the sides, to protect the temples.

Another issue is that the cap is too hot. With all the extra padding the new cap has an added seven ounces of weight on top of what a traditional cap would have. And that’s not very conducive to a sport played in the scorching summer heat. For a pitcher in Arizona like McCarthy, this is a major issue.

Then there’s the overall feel of the cap. Baseball players, notorious for being superstitious, aren’t going to want to wear a cap that doesn’t feel the same as the one they’ve worn their whole lives – it won’t stick.

The Technology

This first cap can be seen more as a prototype than a final product; get a feel for what players around the league think about it, and at the end of the day, go back to the drawing board and fine tune the product.

IsoBlox, the name behind the company and also the new material, has its hands all over the sporting world and is capitalizing on the increased popularity of sports safety.

How it works: With any kind of impact, energy from one moving object has to be transferred to another object. It is the job of isoBlox to displace that energy from our person, and using a system of protective plates, that energy is dispersed and absorbed and the possible harm is lessened.

IsoBlox not only protects the athlete’s body, but eases his mind as well, so that he can focus and perform at a high level.

The Company

What may be even more interesting than isoBlox and its technology are the fact that they exist under the parent 4Licensing Corporation – an entertainment company previously known as 4Kids Entertainment.

The company currently operates in three segments: Licensing, Advertising Media and Broadcast, and Television and Film Production/Distribution. It became 4Licensing after it merged with 4Kids Entertainment on December 21, 2012.

The company previously found itself in hot water after a lawsuit surrounding its children’s Japanese anime franchise Yu-Gi-oh! Soon thereafter, the New York Stock Exchange delisted 4Kids (NYSE: KDE), and on April 6, 2011, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

By December of 2012, the company had emerged from bankruptcy, changed its name, and today is back on Wall Street’s good graces.

The company was started by Mike Germakian, one of the creators of 80’s cartoon Thundercats, along with Stan Weston who helped bring us the popular G.I Joe cartoon.

Over the years they’ve teamed up with Mattel (NASDAQ: MAT) that gave them the rights to the monster truck Grave Digger; Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) to license children’s video games exclusively for the Xbox 360, and they’ve even taken ownership of the American Kennel Club.

The Investment

The burning question: Is 4Licensing a viable investment?

I’m going to give it a solid MAYBE. The portfolio of properties under the company is somewhat irregular right now. It has a handful of cartoon licenses, none of which are really noteworthy. They seem to be nothing but a vestigial organ related to the company’s previous form as a Kid’s entertainment licensor, and as I mentioned before, it’s got the monster trucks, video games, and AKC, for what they’re worth.

IsoBlox is actually beginning to look like 4Licensing’s most promising property. The recent book and documentary film League of Denial have turned the public eye to a “concussion crisis” in the NFL which has started a huge wave in safety gear reform. As professional sports organizations are forced to take safety more seriously, so too will amateur leagues and schools. The company is poised to cash in on a safety craze.

Unfortunately, the company’s stock in its current form has only been trading for one year, so historical data is weak. However, we’ve seen 4Licensing suffer at the hands of a huge licensing mistake that put it out of business. It’s unlikely that it’ll make the same mistake again. They’ve hit rock bottom and are still here, but are now reaching a hot new customer base.

And as even Brandon McCarthy would tell you, this is “a step in the right direction.”