When ShoPro Entertainment introduced its cute Japanese preschool import Deko Boko Friends to the U.S. market last June, it was initially counting on publishing – not TV – to drive the property. But that changed late last year when Nickelodeon purchased 60 episodes of the interstitial for Nick Jr., Noggin and Nicktoons to air this year. And backed by such sizeable broadcast muscle, it’s not surprising that Deko Boko Friends is ready for merch lift-off.
New York’s Simon & Schuster and Toronto, Canada-based toyco Spin Master have already signed on for publishing and master toy duties, while New York-based Baby Boom will produce cuddle pillows. ShoPro’s VP of consumer products, Cynthia Money, says publishing and toys will be key program drivers, and she’s also looking for stationery, educational arts & crafts and electronic
learning licensees to round out the core group.
Because Deko Boko revolves around 12 characters, each with their own quirky personality, ShoPro and its licensees are currently testing the waters via informal focus groups to see which Friends kids connect with most. Music is also an integral part of the show, and down the road, Money thinks it would be a great fit for wireless applications. She envisions kids’ favorite Deko Boko pals popping up on-screen with unique ringtones.
Although ShoPro can’t say much about its distribution partners yet, product will launch via a retail exclusive this fall, before a wider rollout hits in 2006.