Kidvid distributor FUNimation won’t technically belong to recent buyer Navarre Corp until May, so the Fort Worth, Texas-based company is making hay while it can by moving ahead with plans to expand its licensing activities.
In November, FUNimation landed the North American video and merch rights to Paris-based Moonscoop’s Code Lyoko, the combo 2-D/CGI series that’s been signed for a second season on Cartoon Network’s Miguzi block. Licensing director Bob Brennan says he’s looking for master toy, trading card game and interactive licensees to drive the first phase of the program, which should launch at retail in spring 2006.
But adding third-party properties that complement FUNimation’s boys action portfolio (which includes Dragon Ball Z) is only part of the plan. The company is also aiming to pick up younger-skewing properties to pad its Our Time preschool brand.
To this end, FUNimation has inked a video distribution and North American licensing deal for Chorion’s Noddy. The new CGI series, based on Enid Blyton’s books, is scheduled to debut on PBS Kids in July, with home video releases coming out in time for the holiday season. Plans were still being hammered out at press time, but Brennan says his first priority is to sign a master toy licensee, and then he’ll build the program out from there.
Also on Brennan’s plate in the coming months is a mandate to ramp up programs for Our Time co-productions currently underway. Time Warp Trio, co-produced with PBS’s Boston-based affiliate WGBH, will be the first one to hit the airwaves when it premieres on NBC’s Discovery Kids block in April.