Sunday, August 05, 2018

Rainbow Inks '44 Cats' Toy Deal with Toy Plus [Updated]

Rainbow has inked a new licensing deal for the Italian production company's CG-animated preschool series 44 Cats with Thai Group’s Toy Plus, a Hong Kong-based company!


Under the terms of the agreement, Toy Plus will develop a variety of products including interactive plush, figurines, play sets, musical toys and more based on the music, creative play patterns and collectability featured in the series. The line of merchandise is slated to be presented in Hong Kong in October, followed by becoming available for purchase around the world in fall 2019.

The deal also sees Simba Dickie Group joining as special partner and exclusive distributor for Europe and the Middle East.

Produced by Rainbow in collaboration with Antoniano Bologna and Rai Ragazzi, 44 Cats follows the daily adventures of Lampo, Milady, Pilou, and Meatball – four adorable kittens and bandmates of The Buffycats! From their home in the Clubhouse, a garage inside old Granny Pina’s house, they make it their mission to help others and find creative solutions to everyday problems, while sharing a message of friendship, altruism, tolerance, diversity and acceptance.

“We are delighted to be working with Toy Plus on 44 Cats,” said Iginio Straffi, the founder and president of Rainbow. “I’m sure they will do a fantastic job in translating the positive values that embody this brand into a toy range. This deal is further proof that 44 Cats has all the ingredients of a major TV and licensing success!”

“This is a dream come true, as I have known Rainbow for almost 20 years and have always wanted to work with them,” added Josue Rosenzweig, the president of Toy Plus. “I’m sure that 44 Cats will soon be a top property worldwide, as it has all the ingredients of a major hit!”

The news follows Nickelodeon International acquiring the broadcast rights to the series (52 x 13-minute episodes) in May 2018. Nickelodeon International will broadcast the animated series around the world, excluding in the U.S. and Latin America, from 2019.

Earlier this week, Discovery Kids Latinoamérica picked up the series, and grabbed exclusive licensing and merchandising rights for the region (excluding master toy). Germany’s Super RTL has also bought the rights to the show for a 2019 launch.

The series is the first Rainbow Group production jointly developed with Bardel Entertainment, the Canadian animation studio it acquired in 2015, and also marks Rainbow’s (Winx Club, Regal Academy, Mia and me, Maggie & Bianca Fashion Friends) inaugural foray into preschool programming. Italian broadcaster RAI is co-producing, and will premiere the toon later this year.

Update (5/8): Rai Yoyo in Italy will host the world premiere of 44 Cats in November 2018!

Luca Milano, Director at Rai Ragazzi, commented: “Inspired by a very popular Italian kids song, 44 Cats is a combination of stories and fun that will thrill children and families around the world. We are proud that, in the autumn, Rai Yoyo will be the first network to broadcast the series, continuing the long collaboration between Rai and Rainbow. 44 Cats, created and directed by Iginio Straffi, manages to reinterpret the Zecchino d’Oro (children’s song festival) classic with a modern look and an extraordinary level of animation quality.”

The news follows Rainbow partnering with Nickelodeon Latin America (Latinoamérica) for the networks brand-new original eSports-themed scripted live-action series N00bees.

Rainbow launched 44 Cats at MIP Junior in Cannes in October 2017. The glittering cocktail party featured lots of entertainment, offering guests a taste of the show atmosphere. One of Rainbow’s artists was at the party to show how a 44 Cats character is drawn; a band performed hits including songs from the series and guests could enjoy funny moments dressing up as cats at the special 44 Cats photocall area, where an official photographer was on hand to take amazing snaps. The evening was a PAWsome success and the best way to celebrate the launch of such a meowing new show.

More Nick: Nickelodeon International Greenlights New Live Action Series 'The Covurts'!

Originally published: Sunday, July 22, 2018.

Sources: TVKIDS, License Global, Kidscreen, Licensing Source; Additional sources: Wikipedia, Animation Magazine.
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