Bob the Builder is returning to PBS in November with CGI-animation, a brand new look for both the series and its title character, and Downton Abbey‘s Joanne Froggatt voicing one of the lead roles, Wendy. Ahead of the TV show, HIT Entertainment, a division of Mattel, is welcoming back Bob with a brand new Bob the Builder YouTube channel launching today.
Fisher-Price Inc. has appointed Vinnie D’Alleva as senior vice president (SVP) at Fisher-Price Friends. D’Alleva will be responsible for the Thomas & Friends brand, as well as other HIT Entertainment properties such as Bob the Builder. He has more than 25 years of marketing experience, a majority of it spent in the toy and juvenile product space.
In addition, Steve LaBella, who currently seves as senior vice president of Fisher-Price Preschool, will also assume the additional role of being responsible for product development for licensed properties, including Dora and Friends: Into the City! and Jake and the Neverland Pirates.
Hit Entertainment has partnered with BigPlay Studios, a developer of game, education, and book apps, for the launch of Bob the Builder: Muck’s Train to Trouble for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch, available in Apple’s App store this week. This marks the first app release for the Bob the Builder brand.
Bob the Builder: Muck’s Train to Trouble is an interactive reading experience, which also features painting activities, video clips, and games. Every page includes narration, character voices, custom animations, and easy-to-read words with highlighted text.
With this first Bob the Builder app, Hit Entertainment adds to its iOS apps portfolio, which includes apps featuring Thomas & Friends, Angelina Ballerina, Fireman Sam, and Barney.
According to multiple news outlets, including the Financial Times, Mattel is in talks with Apax Partners to buy Hit Entertainment for £500 million. Two anonymous sources told the Financial Times that Mattel is in the final stages of negotiations to purchase the company that Apax bought in 2005 for £489 million. The sale of Hit will not include the group’s stake in children’s channel Sprout, but will include Bob the Builder, Thomas the Tank Engine, Angelina Ballerina, Fireman Sam, and Pingu.
SplashDown Beach Waterpark in Fishkill, N.Y. will soon feature the first permanent Bob the Builder amusement attraction in North America, as part of a new deal between the waterpark, Mega Funworks, Inc., and Hit Entertainment. The 1,600-square-foot Bob attraction, Splash Works, will open May 28 during Memorial Day weekend.
Splash Works, a themed spray and play area, is geared toward children ages 1-5, and will contain more than 50 interactive features, including a Bob’s tool shed play structure, two slides, tipping buckets, tot bounces, dancing water, geysers, and more. In addition, Bob the Builder meet and greets will be available daily at the park.
For more information on Splash Works or SplashDown Beach, visit www.splashdownbeach.com
Hit Entertainment has announced an internal realignment of its business units. As a part of the realignment four new divisions will be created. The divisions will form two new lines of business: one focusing on Thomas & Friends, and the other on HIT Global Brands (Angelina Ballerina, Barney, Bob the Builder, Fireman Sam, Pingu, and Rainbow Magic). The realignment is effective immediately.
The Thomas & Friends line of business will comprise three divisions: the New York-based “Thomas Americas,” London-based “Thomas EMEA, ” and the Hong Kong-based “Thomas Asia.” The HIT Global Brands business unit will be managed from London as one global division.
HIT’s Finance, Legal, HR, and IT groups will remain centralized staff units supporting both lines of business. As a part of the restructuring, Peter Byrne, executive vice president of International Consumer Products and Home Entertainment, will be leaving the company