The following is a selective tour of some of the highlights of kids properties available at this year’s Licensing 97 International.
Nickelodeon will be presenting both an overall brand and a property-specific strategy at the show, focusing on its Nickelodeon brand and the animated television series Rugrats, as well as the preschool show Blue’s Clues.
Rugrats is heading into 13 new episodes and a feature is scheduled for the fall of 1998, along with an array of consumer products. Blue’s Clues is breaking ground as a play-along series for preschoolers that features computer-generated animation.
Jim Henson Productions will be presenting five of the company’s new properties under the theme ‘Jim Henson Productions: All Shapes and Sizes.’
The properties include the uninhibited muppet Animal, who is bound for the Olympics; a new feature film, Buddy, starring Rene Russo; new products in the Kermit Collection; as well as characters from Jim Henson’s new television series The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss, which airs on Nickelodeon Sunday nights at 8 p.m. (ET).
The Crayon Box is a new live-action/animated children’s television show that is being paired with the successful Bananas in Pajamas in distribution through Sachs Family Entertainment for fall 1997 (see story page 60). The Crayon Box is set in a toy store where toys, crayons and books come to life to explore positive life experiences. The property is jointly owned by PolyGram Video and Random House Children’s Publishing.
The Harvey Entertainment Company will introduce a new multi-level marketing program that will emphasize branding of its characters, such as Casper the Friendly Ghost, Richie Rich, Wendy the Good Little Witch, Baby Huey and Hot Stuff.
Harvey will focus on licensing and merchandising around new entertainment for kids through motion pictures, TV and video, including two direct-to-video features based on Casper and Richie Rich for release this fall and next year.
Master toy licensee Trendmasters is launching several toy lines over the next 18 months based on Harvey characters.
Abrams/Gentile Entertainment (AGE), creator of Sky Dancers and Dragon Flyz, has acquired worldwide rights to Rainbow Brite from Hallmark Licensing. A new line of Rainbow Brite and Color Crew dolls were introduced at the Toy Fair in February.
AGE is also presenting its new action/computer-animated children’s series Van-pires, about derelict cars that come to life after a meteor crashes into an auto scrap yard. Galoob Toys is introducing a new line of flying cars this month.
AGE and The Fremantle Corporation are developing an animated action-adventure series based on the classic Little Orphan Annie story, with AGE handling worldwide licensing. AGE has also hooked up with Good Sense Productions to handle licensed products for Guardians 4 Good Sense, a 26-episode half-hour children’s animated series.
Saban Entertainment is introducing a new licensing campaign for its animated series Princess Sissi, based on the real-life story and romance of Austrian Princess Sissi and Prince Franz-Josef. The story is set the 19th-century Austro-Hungarian Empire. The show is co-produced with European broadcasters FR3 in France, RAI in Italy and ARD in Germany. The master toy licensee is Giochi Preziosi.
Other Saban properties featured at the show include its continuing Power Rangers license, the live-action series Beetleborgs and the animated series Saban’s Adventures of Oliver Twist.
Cinar Films is coming to Licensing 97 with such shows as Are You Afraid of the Dark?, a series of suspenseful tales produced in association with Nickelodeon, which is now in its fifth season; Wimzie’s House, a series that teaches prosocial behavior; and The Little Lulu Show, a series based on the Marjorie Buell comic strip.
Surge Licensing is about to announce several licensing agreements in support of the new live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles television series, produced by Saban Entertainment.
Surge, which is the exclusive worldwide licensor of the Turtles, says that in addition to agreements with new licensees, current licensees are updating or expanding their product lines. Playmates Toys handles action figures, vehicles and accessories, and Random House makes coloring and activity books.
The new series will launch this fall on Fox Kids Network. The story follows the continued mutation of the Ninja Turtles into their late teens. To date, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have generated some US$4 billion in merchandise and entertainment sales at the wholesale level.
Lyrick Studios’ licensing push revolves around its successful Wishbone TV series and the enduring Barney franchise.
The Wishbone program is expanding into videos and books, and Barney is building its presence through such new ventures as its first theatrical release, which is heading into production, and the continuation of the Barney musical stage show tour.
Golden Books will be focusing on a number of properties, which the company is positioning as ‘A Gold Mine of Family Favorites.’
Three properties among its list of children’s titles The Poky Little Puppy, Pat the Bunny and Little Beasties will be expanded to include video, TV, film, new media and consumer products. The 1942 original Poky Little Puppy book series has sold 14 million copies.
Golden Books also owns the copyright to Lassie, the new TV series produced by Cinar Films, which relaunched in March as a prime-time weekly TV series on Discovery Network’s Animal Planet channel.