Silvergate launches a consumer program for the innovative series.
In September 2018, a blue-haired little girl named Hilda made her Netflix debut, spending a day in the forest sketching a rock troll with her pet deer-fox Twig, cozying up to drink tea by the fire, and saving her world from a species of tiny, invisible people — and that’s just in the pilot episode.
In each episode of Hilda, a 2D animated series from Silvergate based on the series of graphic novels by Luke Pearson, Hilda explores the magical wilderness and world around her.
The series, with its unique visual style and color palette and its adventurous titular heroine — voiced by Game of Thrones’ Bella Ramsey — gained popularity and found an avid, niche fanbase that includes both kids and adults. Its second season is set to debut this year, with a third season already in the works.
According to Lisa Macdonald, senior vice president of consumer products and content sales at Silvergate Media, Hilda is successful for a variety of reasons. In many ways, she says, the show follows the trend of anime and anime-like properties becoming more popular. However, she says Hilda also breaks many of the stereotypes typically found in female-led properties.
“[Hilda] offers a fantastic alternative to the kind of pink, girly-girly, more mass market and often movie-led heroines that are out there currently,” Macdonald says. “She’s a very strong and positive role model. She has a huge amount of empathy, which I think is incredibly important, particularly in the current climate, for both the world around her and the creatures within it.”
At the end of last year, Silvergate Media opened up the Hilda brand for licensing opportunities. The show’s consumer products program started with a print-on-demand Zazzle shop in September, but it officially kicks off with GUND, its first partner for licensed products, early this year. GUND, a Spin Master subsidiary, is known for creating premium plush characters for the specialty market. Its Hilda line will be based on creatures and characters from the show.
“We’re huge fans of Hilda and admire the magical connection she has created with kids,” says Lauren Duchene, vice president of marketing and global business unit lead at GUND. “Together with this partnership, we believe that there is an amazing opportunity to connect Hilda’s characters beyond the screen and into the homes of fans, creating a special bond.”
Amy Koudelka, senior vice president of product development and brands at Silvergate, says GUND is the right fit for Hilda because the plush line will appeal to both kids and adult collectors, and because GUND is more of a specialty brand. “They can get a lot of the great features and little Easter eggs in the product that you wouldn’t necessarily get with other places,” she says. “So it’s great.”
This specialty component is something Macdonald applies to the entire Hilda property, calling it a more niche program. “We’re mindful of the kind of place where Hilda will fit, …” she says. “We’re sort of not billing it as this big, mass-market property. We’re billing it as this great niche property for the fans.”
Looking into the new year, the Hilda team hopes to expand licensing into additional categories, including apparel, accessories, toys, collectibles, and games. Koudelka’s dream products would be a Hilda tent or fashion lines, while Macdonald is excited about stationery and dress-up possibilities.
“Once people get into [Hilda], they’re really into it. It seems that there’s not a half-way,” Macdonald says. “The consumer products range is really exciting in terms of launch because it gives another angle for fans to get involved with Hilda’s world and to own a piece of that world. … And that’s important for us as well to make sure that we constantly engage with and give those fans a little bit extra.”