Jeffrey Dunn Named President and CEO, Sesame Workshop

sesame-workshopVincent Mai, chairman of the board of trustees of Sesame Workshop, announced today the appointment of Jeffrey Dunn as president and CEO of Sesame Workshop, effective September 29. Dunn, formerly the president and CEO of Hit Entertainment, will succeed Mel Ming, who announced his retirement earlier this year.

Dunn currently serves as a 2014 Advanced Leadership Initiative Fellow at Harvard University with a focus on media and education. Previously, he served as president and CEO of Hit Entertainment from 2008 until 2012. Before joining Hit, Dunn served as group COO of the Nickelodeon Networks group and the president of Nickelodeon Film and Enterprises, where, among other things, he built Nickelodeon’s international networks business and oversaw the growth of Blue’s Clues, SpongeBob SquarePants, and Dora the Explorer into three of the world’s largest licensed property brands.

All Aboard for Thomas Land in North America

Thomas Pop-Up CardA full-scale Thomas & Friends attraction is set to debut in South Carver, MA next summer. This marks the largest permanent Thomas & Friends attraction in North America.

This family amusement park – which is currently in development with HIT Entertainment, a division of Fisher-Price – will be conveniently located within Edaville USA, near the greater Boston and Providence areas.

Thomas Land will cover 11.5 acres and feature 14 rides based on the Thomas & Friends Island of Sodor. The rides will feature iconic characters Thomas, Diesel, Toby, Cranky the Crane, and Harold the Helicopter.

HIT Entertainment Will Produce First Little People Series

imageHIT Entertainment, in collaboration with Fisher-Price, has announced that a new CG-animated series, Little Peopleis now in pre-production and is set to launch late next year. The new series is based on Fisher-Price’s Little People brand, and is being produced out of HIT’s UK content hub.

This is the first collaboration between HIT and Fisher-Price since Mattel acquired HIT in 2012.

The Little People line encourages open-ended, imaginative play among preschoolers, with environments built around familiar people and favorite places such as the zoo and farm. The Little People brand has been the No. 1 property in preschool playsets in the U.S. for the past two years, according to NPD Group data.

Thomas & Friends: Explore the Rails Traveling Exhibit Debuts at Minnesota Children’s Museum

image003The world’s most popular blue engine is rolling out on a 10-year North American traveling exhibit tour, which emphasizes the importance of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning. Thomas & Friends: Explore the Rails is an interactive exhibit created by Minnesota Children’s Museum that is inspired by the children’s series on PBS Kids. The tour will be in St. Paul beginning on June 14 for three months.

The STEM-focused exhibit was designed to engage children and families in foundation skills that encourage thinking mathematically, making comparisons, experimenting to solve problems, thinking creatively, and reflecting on actions and results. Visitors to the 1,500 square foot exhibit will enter iconic Thomas & Friends locations. Children will help Thomas and his friends solve challenges to test their abilities.

The museum was created in partnership with HIT Entertainment and 5-year national tour sponsorship with 3M.

Fireman Sam to Be Sold Exclusively at Amazon

FiremanSamFireman Sam, a HIT Entertainment product, will now be sold exclusively at amazon.com. Episodic content, apps, and eBooks launched on June 3, while the physical products will launch in October of this year.

“This new agreement takes Fireman Sam fans through the entire consumer journey from first engaging with the brand through content on their Kindle Fire or Amazon Fire TV to fulfilling the demand for a deeper brand experience via books, toys and more,” said Sid Mathur, vice-president of HIT Entertainment, the Americas.

Cardinal Industries Turns 70

cardinalIn 1944, a young Les Berger, the founder of Cardinal Industries, started the company in Brooklyn. With his knowledge of plastics, Berger began manufacturing dominoes poker chip racks, hula hoops, and Mah Jongg sets.

Seventy years later, Cardinal has grown to become one of America’s top signature board game and puzzle companies offering more than 400 items including traditional games such as dominoes, checkers, and poker sets, as well as an extensive line of licensed games and lenticular, wood, and basic puzzles. With a worldwide reach Cardinal products can be found throughout North America, Europe, and Austraila. Cardinal has excelled in the licensed puzzle and game arena working with Disney, Marvel, Nickelodeon, Sanrio, Twentieth Century Fox, NBS, Warner Bros, Sesame Street, HIT Entertainment, Lucas, Mattel, and Hasbro, among others.

Season 2 of Mike The Knight Gets Greenlight from HIT Entertainment, Nelvana

HIT Entertainment and Corus Entertainment’s Nelvana have approved a second season of their preschool phenomenon, Mike the Knight.

MTK_GROUP_CastleThe second season, comprising 52 x 12-minute episodes, is in production and is set to begin delivery to broadcasters in late Spring. HIT Entertainment and Nelvana Studio will produce the series jointly. In the second season, viewers will be introduced to Mike’s father and role model, the King of Glendragon, who has been away exploring faraway lands.

Treehouse in Canada, CBeebies in the UK, and Nick Jr. in the U.S. have committed to air Season 2 of Mike the Knight starting in May in Canada, this summer in the UK, and later in the fall in the U.S.

Season 2 will also see additional product rollout. For more information, visit www.miketheknight.com.

Fisher-Price Debuts First Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway Line

Kids can explore the Gold Mine with Thomas and Salty, two of their favorite Thomas and Friends characters, with the Wooden Railway Gold Mine Mountain playset. This 34-piece playset features a Gold Mine Mountain, Cranky the Crane, Troublesome Truck, Salty, and a gold dust-decorated Thomas engine. Suitable for kids ages 3 and up.

HIT Entertainment and Fisher-Price have announced that Thomas & Friends embarks on a new adventure as Fisher-Price launches its new Thomas Wooden Railway line at toy retailers. The new product line marks a return to Fisher-Price’s heritage in wooden toys.

The Thomas Wooden Railway debuts with 108 SKUs launching in the U.S., UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, Japan, and Italy. Additional products will be released in the fall. [Read more...]

HIT Entertainment Announces Michael Carrington as New Head of Content, Production

HIT Entertainment, one of the world’s leading children’s entertainment producers and rights owners, has appointed Michael Carrington to the newly created position of head of content and production, HIT Global Brands.

Based in HIT’s London office, Carrington will be responsible for enhancing HIT’s center of excellence for content and development, reporting into Edward Catchpole. Marion Edwards will continue in her role as executive producer of HIT’s brands, reporting to Carrington.

Carrington joins HIT from Turner Broadcasting where he headed up the EMEA kids content team. Previously, he was controller of CBeebies and responsible for developing some of their most successful pre-school brands. A date has yet to be announced for his arrival.

HIT Entertainment, Discovery Bay Games Announce Thomas & Friends Steam Team Station App, Accessory for iPad

HIT Entertainment and Discovery Bay Games have announced a new game and accessory for iPad: Thomas & Friends Steam Team Station. This Thomas & Friends-branded Duo accessory is compatible with the new Thomas & Friends Steam Team Station Duo App, available now on the App Store.

Thomas & Friends Steam Team Station gets kids jumping, skipping, and racing with all of their engine friends. The app comes with three games: Steam Engine Relay, Sodor Spot-It, and Seek & Find Adventure. Six engine cards, including Thomas, Percy, and James, along with other engine favorites, interact with Steam Team Station.

Designed for children ages 3 and up, the Thomas & Friends Steam Team Station accessory is now available at Apple Stores and Apple.com, Amazon, Target, and Toys”R”Us. The Thomas & Friends Steam Team Station Duo App is available for free from the App Store.