“Moving into pre-school was a natural next step for Aardman,” says Sean Clarke, the firm’s head of licensing and marketing. “We always felt that when we had a strong enough raft of pre-school projects in development that we would focus in on pre-school and put the appropriate resource behind it.”
It seems that now is that time. The impossibly cute Timmy is already starting to make waves in the broadcast and licensing and merchandising areas. The show is due to debut on Cbeebies in 2009 and has also recently been picked up by Disney Channels worldwide, including the US.
“Timmy has been such a huge success on Shaun the Sheep, it has given us a great platform to develop his character in his own pre-school show,” Clarke continues. “It will be called Timmy Time and each episode will follow a day in the life of Timmy and his friends at nursery.”
After the success Aardman has enjoyed with Wallace and Gromit and Shaun the Sheep in the licensing arena, the firm is understandably confident of being able to sign up some big name licensees. The programme is already off to a great start, with the much-respected Vivid Imaginations coming in as master toy partner, Egmont in as master publishing and Titan producing a monthly comic for the UK and Eire.
“We are delighted to already have three world class licensing partners on board for Timmy, who share the vision with regard to the potential of the show and we will be actively looking to find partners in all other open categories over the coming months,” says Clarke. “We are developing a distinct brand identity for Timmy Time, which will capture all the values of the show and allow us to target pre-school whilst complementing what we are doing with Shaun the Sheep.
“The aim is to create products that capture and interpret the fun nursery experience and learning for all pre-schoolers that they see in Timmy Time and experience themselves.”
Next on Clarke’s list are deals in apparel, stationery/cards and home furnishings over the next few months, with a view to launching a staged programme from next autumn.
Pre-school is one of the most crowded and difficult areas to break into, but Clarke is confident that Timmy Time has its stand out points. “I can’t think of another pre-school series that produces ten minute episodes with no dialogue,” he says as his first point. “The show has great storytelling and the characters and world they live in will make this series unique and stand out from anything else. It is aimed at both boys and girls and will feature a variety of animal noises, comedy, fun and strong character animation.”
And Clarke believes that Timmy can go all the way and become an evergreen property. “In a couple of years we hope that the show will be in the top three pre-school shows globally,” he concludes.