Big hair has certainly been a staple of the tween girl experience throughout modern history (think ’50s beehives, ’70s afros and the teased-out rocker ‘dos of the ’80s), and DIC is hoping the trend will make another comeback on the coattail of its latest revival project.
The L.A.-based studio is breathing new life into the wild-haired doll brand Trolls, which has generated roughly US$5 billion worldwide since a Danish fisherman with time on his hands started whittling his little wooden troll figures more than 50 years ago. Most of the property’s sales were racked up during its last heyday as a collectible fad in the 1980s, when it cut an international swath that included Europe, North and Latin America, Australia and Asia.
This time around, Trolls will be made over as a stylish entertainment and lifestyle brand for the lucrative Gen Y girl market. DIC Entertainment’s senior VP of worldwide consumer products Nancy Bassett says the new brand was built around everything that appeals to tween girls – namely, fashion, technology and shopping. Trollz (with a ‘z’ now) will first roll out on the web in late 2004, followed by a consumer products program in fall 2005 and a TV show that’s currently in development.
Bassett says the back story being hammered out for the 52 x half-hour, 2-D animated series and the website can be likened to ‘Trollz meets The OC.’ Like Seth, Ryan, Summer and Marissa, five teen girl Trollz and their male counterparts will deal with all the angst that goes along with young love, high school life and deciding what to wear to the next big party. New to the mix is the element of magic – they’ll be able to cast spells on each other, from giving someone hiccups to saddling a Troll with bad hair.
Cutting-edge creative from London-based web developer Department X will fuel the property’s web community (www.trollz.com), where girls can design their own virtual Trollz, choosing different shoes, hair colors, clothing, accessories, etc. Checking out the site’s activities will earn girls additional web space and credits they can use to decorate their on-line pads, collect accessories and cast spells on other Trollz.
As for the merch program, worldwide master toy licensee Hasbro is set to produce a fashion doll line, youth electronics and games, while global master publishing partner Scholastic will release a range consisting of chapter books, graphic novels and a lifestyle activity book.
At press time, Bassett was close to signing additional deals for interactive/wireless and apparel, the property’s other tentpeg product categories. She says mobile devices like PDAs and cell phones that can download to Windows- and Mac-based operating systems and connect girls to the website will be a big component of the property. Fashion is equally critical, and DIC has employed a style consultant to oversee character wardrobes for the TV and web characters, as well as for the property’s style guides, which will be updated every spring and fall to reflect of-the-moment fashion trends.
Bassett expects to have secured licensees for secondary categories including footwear, backpacks, accessories and watches by the end of Licensing Show.
DIC is also looking to relaunch a classic Trolls program for collectors later this year. The only territory that will be excluded from its purview will be Scandinavia, where original owner The Troll Company still controls IP rights.