THE LAST time I met with Entara for an in-depth catch up, it was October 2005 and the firm was revelling in the initial success of pre-school property Jakers! The Adventures of Piggley Winks.
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THE LAST time I met with Entara for an in-depth catch up, it was October 2005 and the firm was revelling in the initial success of pre-school property Jakers! The Adventures of Piggley Winks.

Almost two years on, Jakers has been sold into some 64 territories and the company is now sitting on a pretty healthy mixture of brands.

“The past year has seen significant developments for Entara, not only with the strong new additions to the property portfolio, but also the expansion of the company itself,” explains Karen McNally, VP of licensing and marketing at the firm.

Indeed, over the past 12 months, new property acquisitions have included Those Scurvy Rascals – a quirky short-form CGI animation recently aired on Nickelodeon – and new children’s animation The Adventures of Dex Hamilton: Alien Entomologist, which is currently in production.

Entara is also the third party agent for online teen community Habbo and Domo, a property which apparently has cult status in Japan and worldwide with over 400,000 fan websites. On top of this, toy brand In My Pocket – including Puppy in My Pocket, Kitty in My Pocket, Monster in My Pocket and Jungle in My Pocket – has just been added to the portfolio.

The firm has also launched its own in-house television distribution division which is designed to expand its reach in the global children’s media market. Also firming up its credentials in the children’s marketplace, Entara boosted its board in February with Theresa Plummer-Andrews as non executive director, who was formerly head of acquisitions and co-productions for CBBC.

The most recent talking point, however, has been the scooping of the UK licensing rights to cult classic The Magic Roundabout. Entara is now actively seeking partners right across the board.
“Our aim will be to attract a new generation of children that have never heard of the show,” says McNally.

“The aim of the new series is not to recreate the original show, but to portray the values of the old series at the same time as making it accessible to today’s children’s audience. We have already had huge interest from a number of key licensees and we expect to announce new deals in all major categories in the not too distant future, starting with master toy and publishing deals.

“The new licensing program will concentrate on the pre-school market, but given the huge heritage of this popular series there is likely to be a few lines that appeal to those people who grew up with the original series.”

Entara has also been quick to embrace the newer licensing areas – indeed, a number of its properties are very well suited to the online, video games and mobile sectors in particular. Those Scurvy Rascals, for example, has been popular in the gaming communities, according to McNally.

“The brand lends itself very well to this market and this was particularly evident when an episode was launched on www.yourpsp.com in September 2006 and this shot straight to the top ten most popular downloads. PlayStation has features an episode on ten million test discs, giving gaming fans a taster of how brilliant this boy’s animation is.”

Going forward, more expansion looks likely – with a girl’s property the most obvious gap in the Entara stable. And, again, online is uppermost in McNally’s planning: “The retail market is highly competitive and it is becoming more and more challenging to secure retail space, particularly for products that may be considered niche, like Domo and Habbo.

"I see the emergence of online retailers as a credible alternative to the traditional channels as licensors look for alternative ways to bring exciting innovative product to the marketplace.”

So, fast forward to the next Entara update, and don’t be surprised if the firm is still revelling in its much-deserved success.


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