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Nelvana to scout for partners at Toy Fair; inks deal with Enemes

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MUMBAI: With North American broadcasters on board for its new 2-D animated comedy Grossology, Nelvana will be on the hunt for toy partnerships at Toy Fair 2006.

Nelvana has also entered into a partnership with Korean studio Enemes for the production, distribution and merchandising of 3-D animated fantasy-adventure series Z-Squad.

"This property naturally lends itself to the novelty toys, confectionery and activity toys categories, and we'll be looking for partners that can translate the irreverent humour and gross-out action of this series into a unique and engaging merchandising program," said Nelvana executive vice president business development Doug Murphy.

"This futuristic series explores the universal adolescent themes of social status, friendship and finding your place in the world, with fantasy, adventure and magic woven throughout a captivating storyline. Z-Squad combines all of the elements necessary to creating an aspirational brand that lends itself to a whimsical toy line," said Murphy.

Targeted for kids ages 6 to 14, the show chronicles the adventures of tween girls Chaney, Haemi and Jeanie, and their newfound, cuddly alien counterparts (Zoots) as they search for 144 enchanted crystals in a quest to save the Earth and Z-Nation from a cast of bumbling baddies.

"Enemes is thrilled to have this opportunity to partner with Nelvana. With our first original animated series Z-Squad, Enemes hopes to become the flag bearer of the Korean animation industry, particularly in the 3-D arena," said Enemes president and CEO Jin Choi.

After previewing the brand to potential toy partners at Toy Fair 2006, Nelvana will market Z-Squad to broadcast buyers at MipTV.

The company recently inked 26-episode broadcast agreements with Discovery Kids in the US and YTV in Canada for Grossology.

Based on the book series by Sylvia Branzei, the show follows the crime-solving adventures of brother and sister team Ty and Abby Archer, who report to the secret government Department of Grossology.

Nelvana is currently sourcing US partners and expects to make announcements early in 2006 around their popular preschool consumer products program Max & Ruby.

Nelvana knew that it had a loyal audience for Max & Ruby, consistently a top-ranked program on Canadian Treehouse. But it wasn't until live character events began drawing record crowds of up to 5,000 attendees that the company realised the brand's merchandising potential.

"Max & Ruby, our two favorite bunnies, have taken the Canadian licensing world by surprise. We plan to launch in the US next year and expect the same level of industry and consumer buzz," said Nelvana vice president licensing, the Americas Mark Northwood.

Max & Ruby airs on Treehouse in Canada and Nickelodeon's networks in the US. Max & Ruby DVD titles distributed under the Treehouse Presents label by Nelvana Home Entertainment and kaBOOM! reached platinum-level sales in their first year (2004-2005).

Products from Canadian master toy partner Danawares debuted in major Canadian retailers in spring 2005 and continues to perform well. The program expands this holiday season, and product from Adorable Kids (sleepwear) and Dan River (bedding) is slated to hit shelves in 2006.

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