Summit Entertainment, the distribution arm of New York-based 4 Kids Entertainment snapped up world syndication rights (excluding Japan) for Tama and Friends, an animated series with talking cats and dogs, from Sony Creative Products, following an almost two-decade run on Japanese television. Imitating 4 Kids Entertainment’s successful introduction of the Pokémon property into North America, Tama and Friends will be repackaged, rescored and dubbed into English. With 4 Kids Licensing arm Leisure Concepts International holding international licensing rights excluding Japan, Carlin West, senior VP of marketing and corporate communications at LCI, expects the audience for the series and ensuing collectibles to skew towards girls aged three to eight, appealing particularly to those who can never have too many Hello Kitty products.
Two new CGI series, Cubix and Flameheads, aimed at a core audience of three- to eight-year-olds are the latest 4 Kids properties. Launching on Kids’ WB! in January 2001, Cubix, a co-production between 4 Kids Productions and Dai Won Animation, tells the tale of a boy in a world of robots. With world licensing rights, 4 Kids Entertainment plans to issue a series of licensed collectible characters following the launch.
Finding inspiration in the seams of jeans, 4 Kids will develop the Flameheads series for syndication from the eponymous character found on the Kids’ extreme sport clothing label Jenco Jeans. 4 Kids Entertainment chairman and CEO Al Kuhn expects the series to be a perfect fit: ‘What’s popular (with the target audience) is extreme sports and Pokémon. We’ve got both.’
In other news, LCI has signed a licensing agreement with master toy licensee Mattel for the latter to develop merchandise based on the PACE Motor Sports line of monster trucks. West says of this previously untapped product line: ‘it [monster truck racing] is the only sports venue where 35% of your audience is 12 and under so you’ve got great license potential.’
Merchandise expected to hit the shelves this summer includes models of the PACE line of monster trucks together with a new line of vehicles inspired by and named after star wrestlers from World Championship Wrestling, following an initiation by LCI earlier this year to target the similar young male fan base of the two franchises. Skewing towards boys ages eight and up, the Hot Wheels WCW Monster Jam racing set includes models of the Goldberg and Gravedigger monster trucks as well as three flattened cars for the ultimate in simulated car-crushing fun. Non-Mattel merchandise includes inflatable trucks and monster truck-shaped backpacks, complete with tires. The potential for cross-fertilization boggles the mind: imagine Pikachu battling Flamehead in a monster truck.