Up Next: What’s developing in kids production

Monster Animation digs up Fluffy Gardens
April 1, 2005

Monster Animation digs up Fluffy Gardens

Featuring crudely drawn animal characters with big googly eyes, the design aesthetic of Monster Animation’s newest 2-D animated short series Fluffy Gardens meets preschoolers on their own artistic level. The 52 x five-minute series is based on a concept dreamed up in-house by Monster’s creative director Jason Tammemagi.

In each short, the spotlight shines on a unique quirk that makes each of the animal characters different from the rest of their species. Pablo the cat, for example, does all the usual feline things, like scratching his claws on his favorite chair and playing with a big ball of wool. But he’s also a book addict who loves to curl up with challenging tomes such as The Advanced Guide to Molecular Physics for Felines. The reams of knowledge he’s accrued over the years makes him the brainiac of the bunch, and in one episode, it even helps him save a drowning penguin.

Each five-minute episode of Fluffy Gardens is budgeted at roughly US$25,000, and Monster thinks the series will be ready for delivery by Q3 2006. On top of scouting for a publishing partner to take the characters for a whirl in print, Monster is looking for a commissioning broadcaster to come in on the project.

Agogo wages microscopic battle in action toon Nanoboy

When Nanoboy (working title) hits airwaves in late 2006, nano- and microbiology may become household words. In this co-production from Hong Kong’s Agogo International and Singapore’s Scrawl Studios, the namesake hero lives carefree in the germ-free city of Neopolis. But when microscopic villains bent on destroying the balance between the nano-organisms and humans invade the territory, Nanoboy joins forces with misfit nanos to save the city. In each 12-minute episode, a gang of rogue bacteria use their minions to infect the citizens of Neopolis with diseases or rearrange the city’s molecular structure to distort reality. But Nanoboy and his team break up the villains’ party by altering the DNA of their troops.

Although the show’s underlying theme will make its target audience of six- to 11-year-olds think about the unintended consequences of tampering with nature, it’s really a combo of light humor and action that drives the narrative in this 2-D animated series. At 52 x 12 minutes, Nanoboy is budgeted at roughly US$150,000 per episode, and Agogo is actively pursuing presale deals.

Tokyopop bigs up pastoral Japanese short series Stray Sheep

Since its ’94 debut on Japan’s Fuji TV as a series of shorts designed and directed by Tatsutoshi Nomura, Stray Sheep has developed a significant fanbase of adults and kids from merchandising pastures in Asia. In fact, the property has grossed US$20 million at retail since its launch, with 300 licensees currently involved in the program.

With the script-writing expertise of Craig Bartlett (Hey Arnold! and Johnny Bravo are just a couple of his past projects), L.A.’s Tokyopop is now working on expanding the shorts into a 26 x half-hour series for a global six to 11 audience. The longer concept stars two displaced sheep from New Zealand living ‘on the lamb’ in an American suburb. They’re sarcastic, they have expert opinions on grass, and they tend to hide in garbage dumpsters when they’re feeling low. In the first episode, Merry and Poe find out their new locale isn’t New Zealand, but a park in New Jersey. This doesn’t deter them, however. In fact, they’re thrilled because New Zealand and New Jersey sound so much alike they reason they must be close to home. Tokyopop is looking for cable broadcasters with terrestrial distribution for the show, which comes in at US$250,000 per episode and should be completed in late 2006 or Q1 2007.

MarVista tackles tough toddler queries in Ribert & Robert

Preschoolers ask some of the trickiest questions ever posed, such as ‘What is color?’ Looking for the answers in a magical theme park inhabited by the world’s wisest experts are Ribert and Robert, the stars of a same-name live-action/CGI series from L.A.’s MarVista Entertainment. In the color episode, live-action host Robert and his CGI frog friend Ribert travel to WonderWorld to visit a scientist, who shows them how colors can be mixed to create new shades, and an artist who helps them explore color in paintings. MarVista is close to signing a U.S. terrestrial broadcaster for Ribert & Robert, and has partnered with New York’s Red Sky Entertainment to develop a licensing program. The 13 x half-hour series is completely financed at US$300,000 per episode, and it should come out of post-production in September.

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