There’s no precise mathematical formula to tell you when to take your property into consumer products, but having a hit series and an international slate of broadcasters lined up is usually a good place to start.
That’s where One Animation is currently sitting as it prepares to enter the consumer products realm after a few whirlwind years, which saw the first season of its one-minute sketch-inspired animated series Oddbods catch on like wildfire. Now, the Singapore-based studio is busy creating a 20 x half-hour season (60 x seven minutes) for a raft of global broadcasters. Since the show’s comedy is derived from physical action and expression, season two will retain its key dialog-free component.
“We greenlit season two of Oddbods in June 2015, and within 12 months we will deliver the 20 half hours. I think that’s where the technology piece really comes in,” says One Animation CEO Sashim Parmanand, about the studio’s speed to market.
To quickly move from concept to creating a story universe and ultimately delivering the extended episodes, One Animation turned to its team of in-house engineers, who have developed production tools to reduce animation development time. For example, its shader software automatically shades and lights different surfaces (i.e. glass, metal, water, fabric) so it does not have to be done manually, and special detection software recognizes the physical space a character is in so that it will automatically have its feet on the ground or walk up and down a hill, without needing manual placement.
Season two launches on Cartoon Network & Boomerang EMEA in February, then heads to Canal+ (France) in April, ITV (UK) in May, and Super RTL (Germany) in September. Other broadcasters on board include Disney Channel (Asia), SVT (Sweden), Boing (Italy), Youku/Toudo (China) and Cartoon Network & Boomerang (LatAm).
With distribution securely in place, One Animation is now taking its seven colorful characters into consumer products, with a primary target of boys four to nine. Parmanand says the L&M possibilities are endless because of the rich world One Animation’s writers and animators have created around the characters—the way they act with one another, the situations they get into, and their individual personalities. For example, green character Zee, who is obsessed with food and sleep, is ideal for categories like branded snacks and bed linen. And as a group, Oddbods are a natural fit for plush toys since they are already furry, she adds.
Setting up toys as the driving category, One Animation signed RP2 as Oddbods’ master toy partner for Europe. The Essex, England-based toyco is currently developing a range that includes collectible 30-millimeter figures, several plush sizes including a voice-activated interactive product, the vehicles the characters drive in the show, the houses they live in, and a 45-millimeter figure that allows kids to manipulate its face to make three different expressions.
“The second season is kind of a deeper engagement with each of the characters’ personalities,” Parmanand says. “We found kids generally resonate with one or the other. For example, pink is the hip, techno-savvy fashionista, blue is sort of the prankster, and the red one is the alpha male. As we develop the show, we’re going to highlight the different personalities, and we feel like kids will gravitate towards their favorite at retail.”
The toy line launches across Europe in May and then heads to Asia and Latin American shortly thereafter. One Animation is now looking to expand into categories like stationery, back-to-school, apparel and publishing. “When you have a non-dialog property you have to be quite innovative about how to represent it in the publishing realm, so we’re looking at different formats,” she explains.
As for representation, One Animation has laid the groundwork in terms of signing international licensing agents, with CPLG tapped for most of EMEA, Tycoon and IMC in Latin America, and Pacific Licensing and Dream Theatre in Asia. In the US, One Animation has been approached by potential partners, but is still working on its entry strategy. “We don’t want to go too early. We want to make sure the timing is right,” Parmanand says.
This article was originally published in Kidscreen’s February/March 2016 issue.