4Kids, MarVista patrol for Zula partners
Since picking up worldwide merchandising rights for CGI series The Zula Patrol at Licensing Show, 4Kids Entertainment has been busy hatching a merch plan. The show, created by Dr. Deborah Manchester and produced by The Hatchery, is designed to teach four to seven year olds the basics of science via a rag-tag troupe of aliens as they travel through the galaxy. Tony Reed, senior VP of marketing and licensing at 4Kids, says the series currently has 80% carriage in the U.S. thanks to a deal with American Public Television and it’s moving to strip in 2007.
Aiming for a 2008 merch launch, Reed says a broad program is in the works and her team is currently on the hunt for toy, ELA, publishing, domestics, apparel, housewares, gift & novelty, and health & beauty licensees. In keeping with the DNA of the show, all products will have an educational component or element. So, for example, a pair of pants would have a compass incorporated into the belt. While mass retail is the target channel for the boy-skewing line, Reed says science museum gift shops and college bookstores are also in her retail cross-hairs. (The Zula Patrol already had a run on planetarium screens across the U.S. in 2005 and will be part of a traveling science exhibition next May.) Additionally, there are 13 new half-hours in production to augment the existing 26. L.A.-based MarVista is handling international TV distribution and will be bringing the show to MIPCOM next month.
Drawn together – nurturing young illustrators via their fave characters
For some kids, owning the latest plush or action figure of their favorite character isn’t enough. And Laguna Hills, California-based publisher Walter Foster has given kids a chance to get to know their animated pals inside and out with books that teach them how to draw their beloveds. Foster most recently launched How To Draw UglyDoll, based on the specialty merch hit UglyDolls and is planning to issue a deluxe edition of the title that includes the book, drawing implements and paper later this month. The company now has more than 20 major licenses for its art books that teach kids how to draw characters such as Winnie the Pooh and Dora the Explorer.
The 30-person company publishes between 10 and 20 new licensed titles each year and has been in business since 1922. Instructional books for Shrek the Third, Little Einsteins, Tinkerbell, Princess Natasha, Curious George and Avatar: The Last Airbender are on deck to hit all major U.S. book retailers in 2007. And publisher Sydney Spragues says acquiring new kids licenses is always a priority for the company. In fact, he’s on the hunt for 2008 candidates right now and invites potential licensors to pitch.