Inspired by the snackable online and TV trend of creating music/karaoke videos and other short-form playlists, Cleveland, Ohio-based American Greetings Entertainment is launching a short-form initiative of its own featuring its iconic IP Care Bears, ’80s toy-based brand Madballs and animated series Tinpo.
First up, AGE is tapping into its long history of collaboration with the Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) through a new partnership with the school’s animation department that will see students create five one-minute Care Bears shorts in the fall semester for delivery on the official Care Bears YouTube channel in 2017.
The theme for the development project, which is partly inspired by Toy Story and unboxing videos, centers around Care Bears having to help in scenarios where humans aren’t aware that toys are solving problems.
“It’s a chance for us to work with some great young local talent and maybe give them some visibility towards a future career with AG,” says Sean Gorman, president of AGE. “The people who run the illustration division in the animation department are former AG employees, as is the teacher who is leading our initiative. He will delegate directing, writing, lighting and other responsibilities amongst the senior class and we will provide some assets, rigging and a pre-production pack.”
If all goes well, AGE plans to create new shorts with CIA every semester.
For Madballs, a strategy is in motion to relaunch the gross-out IP, which originally launched in 1986 by AG subsidiary AmToy.
Working with L.A.-based Oddbot, AGE is currently in production on a gag-driven, 15 x two-minute mixed-media series aimed at boys six to 11 that is self-funded. It is expected to premiere later this year, followed by a toy range from licensee Just Play in 2017.
“It’s a good opportunity to keep things creatively close within AG, and we can make it quickly and efficiently. The first three shorts will be introduced at MIPCOM,” says Gorman.
Finally, AGE has secured co-pro support from the BBC for Tinpo, a brand-new 25 x 35-second engineering- and imagination-themed preschool series, based on a previous AG series of the same name, that is now available on CBeebies’ YouTube channel and has been snapped up by Spain’s Clan TV. According to Gorman, if the series rates well, a long-form TV version will head into the hopper.
AGE’s shorts initiative follows the company’s rebrand from American Greetings Properties last fall to emphasize its focus on Care Bears and the development of other multiplatform characters and entertainment IPs.