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Licensing Diary: Noddy

The adventures of Noddy, an impish toy that comes to life, have entertained children in the United Kingdom for over 40 years, and now, Noddy and his Toytown friends Big Ears, Martha Monkey and Tessie Bear are readying to take on...
December 1, 1997

The adventures of Noddy, an impish toy that comes to life, have entertained children in the United Kingdom for over 40 years, and now, Noddy and his Toytown friends Big Ears, Martha Monkey and Tessie Bear are readying to take on the world.

More than 100 million Noddy books have been sold in over 15 countries since Enid Blyton’s creation was first published in 1949. In 1992, Noddy became a hit preschool series that ran on the BBC. Today, the BBC and the Enid Blyton Company have formed a joint venture to bring Noddy to new territories, including the United States, where it will air on PBS stations beginning in June 1998.

Noddy has proven to be a formidable licensed character in Europe since the launch of the BBC series in 1992. Today, there are more than 100 Noddy licensees in the U.K. and over 200 worldwide, covering all major categories. Top licensees include Smith and Brooks (children’s clothing), Cole and Mason (tableware) and United Optical (glasses). A soon-to-be-announced major worldwide licensing agreement for plush toys is in the final negotiation stage. Noddy will also be prominently featured at a series of U.K.-based family-oriented theme parks developed by the Butlin company beginning in 1999.

To bring the character to new territories, the BBC and Enid Blyton needed to figure out how to take an eight-minute, very British-looking and -sounding series and turn it into a half-hour show that would appeal to other markets. Producer Rick Siggelkow redid the soundtrack and added a live- action element to wrap around the animation. He had created a similar type of structure for PBS’s highly regarded Shining Time Station series. Forty episodes and a Christmas special are in production.

Licensing agents include Ellipse (France), Gaffney International (Australia), Telescreen Licensing (Benelux) and Sony Creative Products (Japan). The itsy bitsy Entertainment Company, the U.S. licensing agent, is planning a slow rollout of product that will first hit specialty stores in the fourth quarter of 1998. The company expects soft toys to lead, followed by wooden toys, home video and publishing.

Noddy will make headway into Germany next year when German publisher Xenos debuts Noddy books in that country. Germany has been a fertile ground for other book series written by Enid Blyton. The TV series has yet to be sold to other territories, but the BBC and Enid Blyton plan to make it available at markets in 1998.

Noddy Nuggets:

* 1949: Enid Blyton publishes her first Noddy book. Over the next four decades, more than 60 Noddy books in various formats are published, with sales of over 100 million worldwide.

* 1992: The BBC acquires the rights to produce an animated series based on the Noddy books.

* 1996: The rights to all of Enid Blyton’s properties, including Noddy, are purchased by the U.K.-based company Trocedero from the Enid Blyton family.

* The Enid Blyton Company and the BBC form a joint venture to bring Noddy to new territories, including the U.S. They begin signing licensing agents around the world.

* 1997: A deal is struck to bring Noddy to PBS for a June 1998 launch.

* The itsy bitsy Entertainment Company becomes the U.S. licensing agent. Noddy is unveiled at the June licensing show in New York.

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