Toys made with a touch of magic, a pinch of mischief and a dash of mayhem will look to cast a spell on preschool girls when the Little Charmers brand launches at mass retail in the US this fall. Spin Master and Nelvana are co-producing a new preschool series of the same name that debuted on Nickelodeon US and Treehouse TV (Canada) last month. And with a global Nickelodeon deal in hand, which will see Little Charmers rolling out in international territories over the next year, the partners are working on building a larger consumer products program for the property.
The 80 x 11-minute CGI-animated series focuses on a trio of friends who are coming to terms with their own magical powers. It often leads them on spellbinding adventures, where they use the magic of teamwork and friendship to fix their mishaps.
Accordingly, Spin Master is taking care of a toy line that’s heading to North American retail this fall, and has designed products that capture the individual personalities of the show’s three little charmers-in-training. There’s Hazel, the curious animal whisperer; Posie, the sweet and quirky spellerina; and Lavender, the bright and feisty potionista.
“The fact that these little girls work together as friends is a very nice message,” says Catherine Demas, global business lead and VP of design for girls and preschool at Spin Master. “Moms love that.”
Along with role-play items and costumes, the upcoming Spin Master range also includes plush animals based on each girls’ pet (cat, owl, dragon), and a full line of dolls with seasonal and special-episode outfits being made available as the show progresses. “It’s a rolling mix of new outfits, so we keep it fresh at retail,” says Demas.
Thanks to their unique partnership, Spin Master and Nelvana were able to work hand-in-hand during animation process to find a balance between toy and entertainment needs.
“This was a chance for us to sit down and say, ‘Let’s look at what the preschool girls’ universe looks like,’ and ask, ‘How can we create the kind of content that we think the audience is looking for,'” says Andrew Kerr, co-head of the studio’s commercial arm, Nelvana Enterprises.
Both sides agree the show’s ensemble cast will make it very relatable to young female viewers, and they are hopeful that this quality will set the toys apart in a crowded preschool space.
“What you get is a nice dynamic, and what you see on screen is an interplay amongst the three girls that echoes what they see in their own lives with their best friends,” says Kerr. “A lot of attention has gone into ensuring that the toys reflect the emotional and personal characteristics of each of the lead characters.”
A global English-language publishing partner is soon to be announced, and the goal will be to follow up the North American toy line with Little Charmers books in spring 2016. “I think it will really help bring the brand to life and allow little girls to engage more substantially with the characters they see on-screen,” says Kerr.
As for additional licensees, Nelvana Enterprises is looking to round out its soft goods and social expressions offerings. It is overseeing all secondary merchandising associated with the brand globally, working alongside Spin Master, which is managing the toy category. International licensees are also being sought for a merchandise rollout that will follow the Nickelodeon launches taking place across Europe towards the end of this year and into early 2016. “From a merchandising perspective, we’re a little bit ahead of the curve in North America,” adds Kerr.
This article originally appeared in the February/March 2015 issue of Kidscreen