Wonder Pets is an animated series for pre-schoolers, which began life on Nick Jr. in the US in March 2006. The show has been a massive hit with pre-schoolers across the world and is now availble in 75 countries. There are 40 episodes of Wonder Pets currently available, with a further 20 in production.
The show features three all-singing, all-dancing classroom pets - Linny the Guinea Pig, Turtle Tuck and Ming-Ming Duckling - who double as superheroes, travelling the world to save young animals in distress.
The show uses a ground breaking technique known as ‘photo-puppetry’, a style of animation created for the series that allows animators to manipulate photographs of real animals. Music is also hugely important to the show as the dialogue on each episode is almost entirely sung. A live orchestra performs each episode, and the music is written by some of Broadway's top composers. In 2008 this led to Wonder Pets winning a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction and Composition.
The show is the brain child of the talented team at Little Airplane Productions, which originally created a series of short films entitled The Adventures of Linny the Guinea Pig. With the addition of extra characters, this was later developed into The Super Singing Power Pets and then, with input from Nick Jr., finally became Wonder Pets.
The focus of the programme is very much on teamwork, with each character adding something different to the group: Linny has wonderful leadership qualities; Ming-Ming is very confident and is becoming a good flier; and Tuck is the heart and soul of the outfit.
Despite the characters being animal superheroes, it was a deliberate decision not to give them any ‘special powers’: "Children don't have superpowers, at least none of the ones that I know," co-creator Josh Selig has said. "What the Wonder Pets do have is an excellent command of teamwork. When they work together, they are able to accomplish some very amazing things. I guess you could say their superpower is teamwork."
A UK licensing programme is already in place and debuted in March with an irresistable range of toys from Fisher Price, which are available from retailers in every channel of distribution.This is just the start of an extensive consumer products roll out, which will continue throughout the year and include Wii/DS games from 2K Play, toys from Martin Yaffe and David Halsall, books from Simon and Schuster, Ty Beanies, DVDs and apparel. The first DVD and the console games are due out at the end of March and much of the product will be supported by a TV advertising campaign.
"Wonder Pets has struck a massive chord with both pre-schoolers and parents and is hugely popular as a result," observes Clare Piggott, VP of Consumer Products at Nickelodeon UK. "The kids love the cartoons because they are great fun and parents appreciate the fact that they are teaching the value of teamwork.
"From a licensing point of view things are looking extremely positive – the Fisher-Price toys are already doing very well and it seems likely that the rest of the consumer products will be just as successful. I believe that Wonder Pets is set to go from strength to strength in the rest of 2009 and beyond."