Thanks to Half Shell Heroes, pre-schoolers aren’t missing out on any TMNT action. Billy Langsworthy talks to Marianne James, vice president, consumer products UK and Ireland and European retail sales and marketing at Nickelodeon Viacom Consumer Products, about adapting the Turtles for a younger crowd.
What makes the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles a great fit for the pre-school sector?
Historically, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise has appealed to boys aged six to 11, with the main themes of the show focusing on action, adventure and brotherhood.
As a winning formula for boys, it was discussed that the core components of the show could appeal to a pre-school audience too if the show was adapted visually and the combat was toned down.
So work began to transform the Turtles into brighter and friendlier looking characters with rounder edges for a softer visual appeal for the pre-school market.
Half Shell Heroes gave rise to the perfect platform from which pre-schoolers can interact with the Turtles and as they grow up, they can move onto the core animation series.
The new segment to the brand also resonates strongly with mums who are now able to purchase a brand with nostalgic appeal to them, but feel confident that the pre-school version is one they are comfortable allowing their kids to play with.
How has the Half Shell Heroes toy line performed since launch?
The unprecedented success of the Half Shell Heroes toy range has taken the pre-school toy market by storm.
Given that at the launch of the range, kids and parents had not seen any content relating to the toys, the strength of the Turtles franchise alone created an immense level of interest.
With just over a year of sales the brand has taken over £1.4m at retail and according to NPD data is the number one new pre-school property in action figures which is an incredible achievement.
The success of the toy range can really be summarised by the fact it appeals to a brand new audience and the toys have not taken away sales of the core animation range.
How was the TV special received last year?
We aired the Half Shell Heroes TV Special, Blast from the Past, at the end of January. The content gave fans the first glimpse of the Half Shell Heroes in action as they were transported back to the pre-historic ages and must battle their way through Dinosaurs and Triceratons in order to find their way back home.
With a storyline far removed from the core Turtles animation, the show was able to appeal to pre-schooler’s with an action packed yet light-hearted feel. On air the show outperformed the slot average by over 11 per cent, a strong result for a new one off episode of an animated show.
Coming up next will be the launch of the DVD as well as plans for a further special and short animation sequences that will be used to support the product range on air and across digital platforms too.
Do you think the Turtles can become a major player in the pre-school market?
Our pre-school portfolio has grown rapidly over the past couple of years and has been able to do so because each brand has a very clear and different proposition that makes it unique both on air and from a consumer product perspective.
Currently there is no other pre-school property that offers consumers with something similar to the Half Shell Heroes. As characters they are unique in style whilst being humorous and lighthearted.
With the strength of the Turtles franchise behind it, the brand is trusted and loved by parents, which has helped to strengthen its position within the pre-school market.
Over the next three years, you will see continued investment from us and product development across a number of new categories to ensure the expansion of the brand within the pre-school market for many more years to come.