Having achieved enormous success with Fifi and the Flowertots, when Chapman Entertainment first mooted the idea of Roary the Racing Car, the response from the trade and retail was overwhelmingly positive.
For a completely untested property, this was pretty rare. But perhaps understandable when you consider the idea had been fleshed out by Keith Chapman - who was also responsible for Bob the Builder, a brand which is now celebrating its tenth year at the top.
Luckily, the property more than lived up to all the hype. The pre-school, stop frame animation series premiered in the UK on Five's Milkshake and Nick Jr in May 2007. To date, the show has been sold into 110 countries, with licensees in the UK currently standing at 33 (including the likes of Vivid Imaginations, Character World, Blueprint, Worlds Apart, Wesco, DNC, GB Eye, HarperCollins and Trademark Collections, to name just a few).
Chapman has now started the international product roll out, with 16 different countries launching Roary merchandise this year - and another ten set to release in 2009.
Australia, France, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Benelux, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Serbia, Macedonia, Korea and South Africa will all see Roary products on shelves from this autumn.
"For a TV property to have an international roll out in 16 countries at the same time and just a little over a year since the programme premiere is an astonishing achievement and testament to Roary's incredible international appeal," says Valerie Fry, director of licensing at Chapman.
A second 52x10-minute series is currently in production at the newly opened Chapman Entertainment Studio for transmission on Five's Milkshake and Nick Jr in spring 2009.
"Roary the Racing Car ultimately appeals to young boys as he is a bright red, cheeky and energetic racing car who lives at Silver Hatch racetrack," Fry continues. "He has the spirit and sense of a young boy whose boundless enthusiasm and curiosity often lands him in trouble. The stories explore Roary's relationships with his amazing group of racing car friends and Big Chris, the karaoke loving mechanic.
"Children love to join Roary on his journey through life, learning lessons as they go; how to do the right thing, how to be positive and helpful to others, road safety, the environment and healthy living."
Chapman's plans going forward for Roary are pretty straightforward - to make sure he becomes an evergreen property.
"Roary has already achieved great success in the UK," says Fry. "We will continue to establish the brand around the world and work closely with broadcasters and retailers to ensure that Roary becomes an evergreen brand."