Master Moley ‘will drive a major licensing roll-out’ but timing for the property will be key

The new British-made children’s property, Master Moley – that witnessed a successful premiere on WarnerMedia’s Boomerang channel just last month – has been the focus of ‘several proactive approaches from publishing and toy partners’, as the creative team behind it promises to be meticulous in its licensing strategy.

Master Moley made its debut in November as a TV special on the Boomerang channel that launched to more than 100 territories across EMEA. Following a ‘phenomenal start’, the show’s creator James Reatchlous is among the team now in production on a full Master Moley animated series.

The Misadventures of Master Moley will comprise 52 episodes and will continue the adventure of Master Moley and his friends. In addition to this, a feature-length film is also in development.

“Master Moley has got off to a phenomenal start,” Reatchlous tells Licensing.biz. “We’ve already received proactive approaches from both publishing and toy partners. We are in a good position and making sure each step that we take is exactly the right one for this unique property.

“All of the elements are there for a full, cross-category merchandise programme and as soon as the time is right, we’ll be in discussions with the key partners straight way.”

Master Moley follows the adventures of the titular hero, a mole residing under the foundations of Windsor Castle, who finds himself on far-flung escapades as children and audiences travel with him, exploring the world and different cultures.

Here, Licensing.biz catches up with Master Moley creator, James Reatchlous to learn more about the plans for the British-made children’s property, the perks of launching an IP through Roblox, and why timing will be key to the success of the IP’s comprehensive licensing programme.

James Reatchlous with his two daughters, for who he created Master Moley

Hi James, and first up – congratulations on the strong positive reception to Master Moley. That must be very encouraging as you start to look at wider licensing plans for the IP. What do you think Master Moley brings to audiences and to the licensing space?

Master Moley has got off to a phenomenal start. We are really thrilled with the reaction the TV Special has received following its premiere on Boomerang in November. Viewers in over 110 countries across EMEA met Master Moley, and I couldn’t be more delighted.  The feedback and response has been incredible, it’s a really strong start for us.  I’m confident that this is just the starting point as we build our audience ahead of the launch of our commercial plans.  

 I truly believe that Master Moley is just what we all need right now – bright colour, optimism, kindness and adventure. At its core it is a fun and wholesome entertainment show that appeals to the whole family, and crucially it really sparks the imagination of young viewers. The underground world of MoleTown is a rich creative canvas that enables our characters to have adventures all around the globe – something we’ll see a lot more of in the series.  

Moley is such a charismatic character, but he also has lots of friends in the TV Special and upcoming series, so there really is something for everyone. A wide variety of characters, gadgets, and locations will feature in the series  and we’re supporting the growth of the audience through high profile digital led initiatives right from the outset.    

The partnership with Roblox looks brilliant. Why does this mark an important step in building out a licensing programme for Master Moley? How does this deal help you tap into the core audience for the property?

We couldn’t be happier with the Roblox computer game, it’s great fun and a fantastic way for children to find and engage with new content safely. We wanted to start building the brand outside of the TV space, and so we worked with specialist agency Dubit to develop the Roblox game. This was a strategic move to go to where the children already were, to raise the brand recognition.  

We launched the game just before the special aired on Boomerang to capitalise on the audiences who tuned in, and vice versa, for those who found the content via Roblox, it encouraged them to go and watch the animation on Boomerang. It was a great success with over 60,000 plays in the first week. We have followed the launch with some great videos by Roblox influencers who have capitalised on the excellent start that we’ve made and grown our player base even further.

Roblox serves an incredibly important role for us – not only does the platform enable us to introduce Master Moley to their incredible user base, it will also continue to build the Master Moley fanbase in between the premiere of the 30-minute special on Boomerang and the series launching in 2021. Roblox provides both a bridge between the special and the series, where children can discover and engage with MoleTown and the universe of Master Moley, and visibility when he’s ‘off’ our TV screens, driving enthusiasm for the series during this time.  

You’ve mentioned to us before that you have extensive licensing plans for Master Moley. Could you talk us through these? Where would you like to take Master Moley?

There’s a rich universe in Moletown which brings in elements of upcycling alongside exciting locations and innovative vehicles… the lives of the characters in the show and the items with which they interact, really provide a great opportunity for similar lines of product in the real world.

We are very well aware that the commercial world revolves around the ability of a brand to reach its audience. Whilst we believe we have a brand with huge potential and there is tangible excitement among our commercial partners, the licensing roll out will be slow and phased and we will only begin pitching to partners in earnest once we know the audience reach is there to enable our licensees to be successful on shelf. Watch this space as the audience is set to grow quickly.

What sort of partnerships do you think will be the integral to the licensing success of Master Moley? Are you looking for toy partners for the property, and if so, what do you think Master Moley can bring to the toy space?

We’ve already received proactive approaches from both publishing and toy partners. We are in a good position and making sure each step that we take is exactly the right one for this unique property. We already have a movie special and a 52-episode TV series, not to mention a feature film in the works, all of which will support the growth of the brand creatively.

We are completely focused on delivering the audience. All of the elements are there for a full, cross-category merchandise programme and as soon as the time is right, we’ll be in discussions with the key partners straight away.

Ultimately, Master Moley is a brand which will be able to drive products from major toy lines to publishing, soft lines and home… but timing is key and we have brought in a team of the industry’s leading professionals to ensure we get this right… your readers will no doubt be hearing from them.

What do you think is key to Master Moley’s success on the international scene? As Master Moley continues to grow in the international markets, how will you maintain the core values of what makes it unique?

Master Moley is truly international. He might currently reside under Windsor Castle in England but his adventures take him all over the globe, which will appeal to audiences worldwide. Children can travel with him exploring the world and different cultures.  And there are plans to have episodes take place in different countries, to widen that appeal.  

The beauty of animation of course is that you can translate it into different languages. We have a stellar British cast for the English-speaking territories, including Gemma Arterton, Warwick Davis and Julie Walters, but we can cast amazing international actors for different languages and territories. It opens up enormous possibilities for Master Moley to become a truly global powerhouse. 

At the heart of Master Moley are charismatic characters, whose values are shared around the globe – kindness, enthusiasm, friendship, adventurousness, love… all with a desire to learn, meet new people and find a positive way out of slightly sticky situations. That is a key thread throughout each episode.  

What’s the next step for you?

We are currently in production on the Master Moley series, The Misadventures of Master Moley, which will comprise of 52 x 11-minute episodes and continue the adventures of Master Moley and his friends – including lots of new friends and places to explore. In addition to the series, we are developing a feature-length film adventure for Moley.

The world is Master Moley’s oyster! 

About Robert Hutchins

Robert Hutchins is the editor of Licensing.biz and ToyNews. Hutchins has worked his way up from Staff Writer to the position of Editor across the two titles, having spent some six years with both ToyNews and Licensing.biz, and what now seems like a lifetime surrounded by toys. You can contact him by emailing robert.hutchins@bizmedia.co.uk or calling him on 0203 143 8780 You can even follow him on Twitter @RobHutchins3 if ranting is your thing...

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