Spin Master's Tenkai Takeover

Spin Master Entertainment and ShoPro, producers of the wildly popular Pokémon animated TV series, films and more, are readying a new kind of kids’ TV show and products designed to roll out on a global scale.

With an action-adventure theme steadily in place, Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions (ShoPro) and broad category children's entertainment company Spin Master are teaming for a new animated television series, "Tenkai Knights," which will reach beyond the small screen to encompass a 360-degree marketing and licensing campaign, complete with multi-platform entertainment.

With its premiere already in the can on the U.S.' Cartoon Network, subsequent television placements in Japan and Asia set for early 2014 and EMEA and Latin and South America scheduled for mid-2014, ShoPro, its parent company Viz Media Europe and Spin Master are teaming to leverage the strengths of each company to develop a comprehensive boys' program targeted to kids ages 6 to 11.

Jennifer Dodge, vice president and executive producer, Spin Master Entertainment

"'Tenkai Knights' is a unique U.S. and Japanese co-production that plays to the strengths of each partner," says Jennifer Dodge, vice president and executive producer, Spin Master Entertainment. "The Spin Master Entertainment team is working hand-in-hand with powerhouse production company ShoPro, one of the best anime producers, to create a first-class, globally successful animated series. 'Tenkai Knights' has a unique style, mixing traditional 2D animation with extraordinary CGI which creates a distinct look that we feel separates it from other series. It's something we're all very excited about."

The story centers on four heroes–Guren, Ceylan, Chooki and Toxsa–who are chosen by extra-terrestrial guardians to help protect the world from Vilius, an evil warlord. Together the boys are given amazing abilities and become the legendary Tenkai Knights, the only ones who stand a chance of defeating Vilius.

The series is a first in many ways for the companies, but perhaps the most innovative aspect of the production is that it's the first time a Japanese anime series has been based on a construction toy, says Dodge.

Pascal J. Bonnet, senior director, TV sales and licensing, Viz Media Europe

"The Tenkai Knights toy line represents the first incarnation of the Ionix construction system and its never-before-seen shape-shifting building bricks," says Dodge. "Echoing the 'Tenkai Knights' entertainment series, kids of all ages will be able to bring that world to life by unleashing the Tenkai power inside each of these truly unique construction bricks that are packed with unexpected surprises–a special kind of shape-shifting, Ionix brick magic–that will allow kids around the world to experience classic construction play patterns in a brand new way."

The property debuted at Licensing Expo in June to positive response from both agents and licensees, says Dodge. First North American deals for the brand will be announced soon, with product expected to hit retail shelves in spring 2014.

The European strategy for the Tenkai Knights licensing program is intended to be all-encompassing as well, says Pascal J. Bonnet, senior director, TV sales and licensing, Viz Media Europe.

"The plan is to apply a 360-degree licensing program and brand management approach to Tenkai Knight's European expansion and carefully roll out the right category at the right time," he says. "The first products will be executed in the EU in Q3. We are focusing on a broad program across multiple categories including apparel, publishing, soft goods, back-to-school and more."

Mobile gaming, video games and webisodes are also planned for the property.

 

"We've taken a real transmedia approach to the storytelling of 'Tenkai Knights,'" says Dodge. "The center of our Tenkai Knights universe is 52 episodes that air on Cartoon Network. We are also producing 10 original webisodes that will reveal a dramatic backstory of our main characters. In addition to linear content, we have an incredibly robust online experience that lets kids interact and explore the Tenkai universe more deeply. Last and certainly not least, we have several exciting games that highlight different characters and their powers, as well as a fully immersive app that allows fans to create and battle in their own way. Each experience is fully integrated and connected to the mythology of the Tenkai Knights."

ShoPro will distribute the show and manage merchandising rights for the property in Asia (including Japan), while Spin Master will distribute the series and manage merchandising rights in the Americas. Spin Master also controls all toy distribution rights globally. Viz Media Europe is distributing the show and handling merchandising rights for the property in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

 

"We are so thrilled to be working with Spin Master, one of the most creative toy companies, on this extremely innovative franchise," says Bonnet. "We believe that this series, co-produced with our Japanese parent company ShoPro, will resonate really well with kids."

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