‘Noddy’ marketing wakes up

Itsy Bitsy licensing revs up land of tie-ins

NEW YORK — The licensing/merchandising machinery is starting to roll for the Pinocchio look-alike “Noddy,” the half-hour-series mix of live action and animation, which has just kicked off its new five-a-week schedule on PBS. The show spent its rookie year in a low-profile weekend timeslot.

The Itsy Bitsy Entertainment Co., which has the right to license the characters, has signed with Gund to manufacture stuffed animals and beanbags representing Noddy and his animated friends in the series. HarperCollins’ entertainment-book division will publish instructional cartoon books with titles like “Learn to Count with Noddy” and “Noddy & the Great Cake Bake-off.”

Novelty books with buttons that, when pushed, deliver sounds to go with the pictures will come out of Publications Intl. Learning Curve Toys will produce picture puzzles detailing scenes from some of the episodes.

Polygram has picked up the rights to distribute two videocassettes, “Noddy Makes a New Friend” and “Noddy Gives a Birthday Party.” Each cassette consists of three animated stories and two original music videos.

Memory games will come from Intl. Playthings. Play by Play will do the honors for Noddy plush dolls. Systema UK Ltd. has thought up a toy car rigged with electronic sound to simulate engine startup, a beeping horn and screeching brakes. The CD-ROM is a production of Havas Intl.

Itsy Bitsy will have all of these products in stores in time for the Christmas buying season. Licensing revenues get split among the BBC, PBS and the estate of British children’s book author Enid Blyton, who wrote a series of Noddy books in the early 1950s. A previous group of eight-minute Noddy cartoons ran on the BBC in 1991.