Nickelodeon Announces Return of Blue’s Clues, Greenlights Pony
Nickelodeon will bring back the puppy Blue in a remake of its groundbreaking series, Blue’s Clues. Picked up for 20 episodes, the new Blue’s Clues will have a refreshed signature look and casting for the new host will begin this month, including an open call in Southern California on April 14. Production on Blue’s Clues will commence this summer.
“With Blue’s Clues, Nickelodeon launched what became TV’s first generation of interactivity for preschoolers and set the bar for quality, curriculum-driven shows we have made since,” says Cyma Zarghami, president, Nickelodeon Group. “The new, modern version of Blue’s Clues will capture all the original’s creativity and visual identity for a whole new audience ready for its fun adventures and expertly designed problem-solving curriculum.”
The new Blue’s Clues series centers on the energetic girl puppy Blue who invites viewers into her animated world to help solve the day’s puzzles with the help of a live-action host. Preschoolers are encouraged to interact with the action on-screen by answering questions, pointing out clues, and playing along.
The original Blue’s Clues series launched in September 1996 to critical praise from educators, parents and preschoolers and ran for six seasons. Created by Traci Paige Johnson, Todd Kessler and Angela C. Santomero, Blue’s Clues‘ interactive viewing helped change the way kids watch television and has remained one of the most popular preschool shows of all time. The series also explored advanced preschool subject matters such as sign language, geography, physics, emotions, and anatomy.
The classic Blue’s Clues library is currently available on NOGGIN, Nickelodeon’s video subscription service for preschoolers, and short-form content can be found on the Nick Jr. App and NickJr.com.
Nickelodeon also announced a 20-episode order for Pony, an original 2D-animated comedy that follows the life of an average girl, Annie, her (almost) average family and what happens when a talking pony comes to live with them in their city apartment. Pony is the first animated comedy series to be greenlit for the U.S. from Nickelodeon International. Created by Ant Blades, Pony is based off a short of the same name from Nickelodeon’s 2015 International Animated Shorts Program, a monthly themed outreach effort for original content to fuel its development slate.
Barbie Celebrates International Women’s Day by Honoring 17 Sheroes
Ahead of International Women’s Day, Barbie is honoring 17 historical and modern-day female role models from around the world through its Shero program. These women who have broken boundaries in their fields and have been an inspiration to the next generation of girls with a one-of-a-kind doll made in their likeness. Global honorees announced include:
- Patty Jenkins, Filmmaker, USA – The first woman in history to helm a film with a budget in excess of $100 million for Wonder Woman, which broke the record for Biggest Grossing Live-Action Film Directed by a Woman (domestic and worldwide)
- Chloe Kim, Snowboarding Champion, USA – A first generation Asian-American snowboarding champion and the youngest woman to win a gold medal in snowboarding at the 2018 winter games at age 17
- Bindi Irwin, Conservationist, Australia – International award-winning wildlife conservationist and celebrity who inherited her father’s passion for wildlife and is dedicated to inspiring the next generation to make a difference in the world
- Nicola Adams, Boxing Champion, UK – Two-time gold medalist who is Great Britain’s most successful female boxer of all time and is the only female boxer in the history of the sport to have held all four amateur titles
- Çağla Kubat, Windsurfer, Turkey – Champion windsurfer and member of the Fenerbahçe sailing and windsurfing team who founded her own windsurfing school for young surfers
- Hélène Darroze, World-Renowned Chef, France – Inspirational fourth-generation French chef with three restaurants and two Michelin stars
- Hui Ruoqi, Volleyball Champion, China – Fifteenth captain of the Chinese women’s national volleyball team that won gold in the 2016 summer games
- Leyla Piedayesh, Designer and Entrepreneur, Germany – Iranian immigrant and founder of fashion label lala Berlin
- Lorena Ochoa, Professional Golfer, Mexico – Athlete, mother, entrepreneur and promoter of golf in Mexico
- Martyna Wojciechowska, Journalist, Poland – TV presenter, magazine editor, author, director and the second Polish woman to conquer the Seven Summits
- Sara Gama, Soccer Player, Italy – Captain of Juventus and Italian national soccer team, member of the Federal Board, and President of Commission for the development of women’s soccer
- Xiaotong Guan, Actress and Philanthropist, China – Ambassador for World Life Day, a joint campaign by the United Nations Environment Program, International Fund for Animal Welfare, and The Nature Conservancy, who is also known as the Nation’s Daughter in China
- Yuan Tan, Prima Ballerina, China – Prima ballerina and principal dancer at the San Francisco Ballet and guest principal dancer at the Hong Kong Ballet
- Vicky Martin Berrocal, Entrepreneur and Fashion Designer, Spain – Leads the creative direction of Victoria company with collections that include festive costumes, flamenco dresses, gowns, handbags and jewelry.
Mattel also introduces the Inspiring Women Doll series, a line of historical dolls that come with educational information about the contributions each woman made to society and their respective fields. The first three dolls in this series are:
- Amelia Earhart – First female aviator to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, challenging the conventions of the times by breaking and setting aviation records
- Frida Kahlo – Artist who gained recognition for her unique style and perspective, and became a celebrated artist, activist, and symbol of strength
- Katherine Johnson – Pioneer in mathematics who broke through barriers of race and gender, and joined a pool of women hired by NASA to work as ‘human computers’ to calculate the trajectory of the first American-manned flight into space
Asking fans to share #MoreRoleModels, Barbie is sparking a global call to action by asking fans to tag and share the female role models that inspire them.
Barbie has previously honored women, including Ibtihaj Muhammad, Misty Copeland, Ava DuVernay, Eva Chen, and Ashley Graham. Through the program, which started in 2015, Sheroes are given the Barbie brand’s highest honor, a one-of-a-kind doll made in their likeness, in celebration of their roles.
Spin Master to Acquire GUND
Spin Master announced the purchase of GUND from Enesco LLC, a portfolio company of Balmoral Funds, a private equity firm.
The acquisition of GUND marks Spin Master’s 20th acquisition since the company was founded, and the ninth since its initial public offering in 2015. The purchase consideration is $79.1 million, which will be settled utilizing Spin Master’s internally generated cash resources and its credit facility. The acquisition of GUND is expected to close on April 1, 2018, bringing to an end GUND’s 10 year run under the Enesco company.
“GUND’s iconic portfolio of toys has won the hearts —and hugs— of children around the world for more than a century,” says Anton Rabie, Spin Master Co-Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder. “We are thrilled to welcome GUND former owner and industry veteran, Bruce Raiffe, into the Spin Master family as our values closely align. We are focused on preserving GUND’s excellent reputation rooted in quality product and cherished memories that last a lifetime.”
Spin Master Global President and COO Ben Gadbois adds, “GUND further diversifies our product line and opens up significant opportunities for broader distribution. We will also be able to drive international growth leveraging our well-established global infrastructur. GUND introduces Spin Master into the gift business as plush offers a tried-and-true play value for kids to enjoy with their parents during everyday moments.”
Established in 1898, GUND is one of the leading plush toy manufacturers in the world, and universally known for its iconic “Gotta Getta GUND” campaign. GUND has also held more than a dozen licenses including popular properties such as Grumpy Cat, Pusheen, Peter Rabbit, We Bare Bears, Gudetama, and Studio Ghibli anime characters including My Neighbor Totoro, Spirit Away, and Kiki’s Delivery Service. Raiffe, who has been president since 1993, will stay on with the company.
Spielwarenmesse to Restructure Product Groups for 2019
Coinciding with its 70th anniversary event from January 30–February 3, 2019, Spielwarenmesse will restructure and reconceptualize some of its product groups, including Festive Articles, Carnival, Fireworks and Model Railways and Model Construction. Electronic Toys will also debut in 2019.
“These steps are necessary if we are to respond to the changing market and reflect the needs of buyers and retailers,” says Ernst Kick, CEO Spielwarenmesse eG.
Initial talks with exhibitors took place at the last event. The response so far has been positive, particularly with regard to the biggest move: merging Model Railways and Model Construction in Hall 7A, says Spielwarenmesse. This move will allow the fair to reflect under one roof the international diversity of both sectors, offering a wider portfolio to their identical target groups. Both well-known brand manufacturers and smaller niche suppliers will come together to create a comprehensive mix of products. At the same time, the profile of the Model Construction segment will be raised by relocating those suppliers whose ranges target the toy trade as opposed to stores specializing in model construction. They will be moved to Hall 4A.
A new product segment for Electronic Toys will be created encompassing R/C vehicles, drones, planes, robots, and more. This new distinction aims to provide independent retailers and buyers with guidance in the field of technology and digitalization,. The foundations for this latest move were laid in 2017 when the Tech2Play activity area was first introduced.
The product group Festive Articles, Carnival, Fireworks is likewise undergoing change. The toy retail sector is an important sales market for this segment. Extra space and the growing international composition of this sector will allow for this product group to be reflected more broadly. The new highlight, a roughly 657 ft² Activity Area, will give exhibitors the opportunity to showcase their products at fashion shows and presentations for maximum exposure.