By the time Wild Grinders from L.A.-based Home Plate Entertainment launched on NickToons US this past April, kid viewers were attuned to the 26 x half-hour comedy created by US skateboarding pro/icon Rob Dyrdek, star of MTV reality show Rob & Big and Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory. Beginning in 2009, a raft of animated shorts had aired independently across multiple platforms, and last September NickToons debuted the first full episode.
A brand is born Spawned from an episode of Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory that focused on creating a toy line, the skateboard champ came up for the concept of Wild Grinders as a toy line and TV series based on his own childhood experiences as a fledgling skater and his crew of misfits. When he brought the idea to Home Plate Entertainment CEO Bill Schultz in 2008, then an executive producer at Moonscoop, Schultz says his goal was to seed the brand with shorts and online games as the toys rolled out and the TV series was produced. NickToons turned out to be the perfect fit for the MTV star’s series. And Home Plate now counts Moonscoop as a co-production partner, along with Agogo, Telegael and Copernicus Studios.
A good partnership Last winter, the Nick crew visited Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory studio in L.A., where they staged and shot a huge party scene complete with wrestlers, dancers and confetti that aired alongside Wild Grinders‘ launch on April 27, and later as a series of promotional snippets.
For its part, producing the series in Flash allowed Home Plate to pull out digital assets that could be used by Nick for promos on-air and online. Schultz says his prodco also ponied up to finance promos for the show. “We shot Lil’ Rob interviewing the real Rob on a chair in the Fantasy Factory, which we rotoscoped in, and they have used it on-air a lot,” says Schultz. He adds that this interview and other promo spots were aired hundreds of times on NickToons from January through April.
Last month, the second batch of 13 episodes launched on NickToons. At press time, Schultz had just delivered the eps along with a fresh batch of Flash promo materials, and distributor Moonscoop was in discussions for further territory sales.
It’s Rob’s world “We wanted buyers outside of the US to be able to see the ratings results and the huge fan base and community we have,” says Shultz, adding that viewers in European territories including the UK, France and Germany are already Dyrdek fans through MTV. Dyrdek’s new TV series, Street League Skateboarding, partnered with US youth sports training camp, Camp Woodward, which recently opened a location in Beijing. It has since piqued the interest of Chinese broadcasters. For good measure, Rob has almost four million likes on his Facebook page and more than 2.5 million Twitter followers. “We’re building a global franchise that is creeping up on everybody. It might take a year, it might take five years, but it’s going to happen,” says Schultz.