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Licensing beachhead: Wimzie goes plush

MONTREAL: After 30 years of newspaper syndication and a year-long animated series run in Canada, the US$5.2 million budgeted Animal Crackers cracked the international market when it debuted on the Fox Family Channel in August. Cinar's 26 x 30-minute animated series...
November 1, 1998

MONTREAL: After 30 years of newspaper syndication and a year-long animated series run in Canada, the US$5.2 million budgeted Animal Crackers cracked the international market when it debuted on the Fox Family Channel in August. Cinar’s 26 x 30-minute animated series Animal Crackers has been sold to a staggering 111 other countries since, opening the door for major global licensing opportunities that will be handled by Tribune Media Services (TMS).

Elyce Goldstein, director of licensing at TMS, is currently looking for new licensing partners, now that most of the old agreements have expired. She is already talking to plush and apparel manufacturers such as Applause, Eden and Gund, and hopes to attract licensees for products aimed at both kids and adults. For the kids market, she is looking for manufacturers of games, action figures, plush toys and clothing. For the adult market, she is thinking more along the lines of coffee mugs, calendars and greeting cards.

Goldstein is also tracking down international agents, and says she is particularly interested in manufacturers with international distribution networks.

Cinar also inked a deal with New York-based toy manufacturer and distributor Eden LLC to produce a line of plush toys for the preschool series Wimzie’s House.

The deal, combined with Wimzie’s ranking as the third most-watched preschool series on PBS (following Arthur and Barney and Friends), creates a U.S. licensing ‘launching pad’ for an upcoming book publishing deal, additional toy lines and apparel products, says Dan Tierney, Cinar’s director of business affairs. According to Tierney, Eden has an enviable track record for ‘picking winners, particularly within the PBS system.’

‘Wimzie’s House is the only new property we have acquired for 1999,’ says Richard J. Miller, president and CEO of Eden. Miller says the series was selected for its ‘unique daycare setting and its commitment to the emotional intelligence of children.’

Eden will have the new Wimzie doll line ready for buyers at the New York International Toy Fair in February 1999, with product expected on North American store shelves by that summer.

The initial plush items will be based on characters such as Wimzie and her four-year-old buddy Horace. The line, ranging in size from six inches to life-size, will be comprised of both traditional plush dolls and interactive dolls that talk and sing.

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