With opposable thumbs at the ready after scoring massive success in the UK in the past year, New York-based Animation Collective’s quirky live-action short series Thumb Wrestling Federation: TWF is gearing up to re-enter the US market.
The show debuted in the US in 2006 on Nicktoons. The net picked up two seasons of the series focused on battling thumbs and Al Ovadia & Associates became its licensing rep. Toyco Spin Master came on board, but the property did not generate the heat necessary to drive a mass-market phenomenon. However, a funny thing happened overseas.
Thanks to landing a slot on BBC, kids in the UK are soaking up the TWF battle between the Dexteras and the evil Sinistras, and local agent Bulldog Licensing has been signing deals, most recently bringing on toyco Sambro to produce a line of toys. And as season one of the series takes to US airwaves today on Cartoon Network, Animation Collective and Ovadia are looking for lightning to strike twice.
Seasons two and three are set to run in succession, and season four is already in production. Moreover, the entire CN two-hour after-school block is being branded The Thumbtastic Afterschool Event. It will feature promotional bumpers from the series’ announcers Dick Thompson and wrestler Colonel Cossack, welcoming their viewers back to the programs and introduce them to the network’s other series. Also, the 3.5-minute wrestling bouts that follow TWF’s 56 wrestlers as they throw it down in the ring will pepper the block along with one-minute wrestler bios and 30-second gags. And for its American audiences, Cartoon Network will air TWF Rewind a new, half-hour wrap-up show on Saturdays, which will contain a variety of content, such as wrestler bios.
On the licensing side, US and global agent Ovadia is looking to capture the same excitement that’s taken UK consumers by storm. Though he already has a few licensees on board, such as Spin Master for toys, Ovadia’s looking to broaden the program that’s currently set across the pond. He’s in discussions with some folks, but has an eye out for partners in handheld video games, board games, accessories, apparel, domestics (bedding, towels), stickers, publishing, posters, calendars, for a mass spring 2009 rollout.
Ovadia’s in the early stages of promotional planning, but says that he’s working with Spin Master on organizing potential mall-based TWF competitions with regional opportunities.
Edited for clarifications on Nov. 3, 2008