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Artisan, MGM to Release Kid Stuff

14 Jul, 2003 By: Holly J. Wagner

Home video suppliers are having a baby boom, making deals with toy companies and kidvid suppliers to create lines that will take babies from the cradle to, well, kindergarten anyway.

Artisan's Family Home Entertainment, which developed the Baby Einstein line of baby development videos that recently sold to Disney, has forged a new partnership with Fisher-Price to bring out the toy company's first branded video line that is not attached to a toy product.

“Back a few years ago, we were the company that introduced the industry to the Baby Einstein line,” said Glenn Ross, president of Artisan's Family Home Entertainment division. “We have always wanted to get back into that market, and it's been a very successful market for us. We looked at a lot of product over the past two years, but none of it had the brand power or the quality that Fisher-Price has.”

The deal not only extends Artisan's presence in toy departments and specialty stores, it will also put the Fisher-Price brand into video specialty stores.

“I've never gone into toy stores and not seen the Fisher-Price brand on the shelf,” said Ross, who has a 4-year-old of his own. “Video specialists will embrace the product because they know that parents coming into their stores will immediately recognize the Fisher-Price name.”

Titles in the as-yet-unnamed series will feature poetry, puppets, a variety of music and live footage of babies. Highlights of the collection include: Baby Moves, which encourages even the tiniest of physical accomplishments; Musical Baby, with classical music and more; Nature Baby, with the sights and sounds of the great outdoors; and Baby's Day, with everyday sights and sounds. The line should comprise about two new titles every six months, said Kathy Gill, VP of marketing for Fisher-Price.

“We are certainly committed to providing mom with product to help her baby develop,” Gill said. “We realized it was a growing trend with moms, and we worked to make sure it is really beneficial to babies.”

In addition to the main program on the videos, each will have an introduction with a child development expert telling parents how to reinforce the learning and use the video to interact with the child. They will also include booklets with play-along games.

Meanwhile, MGM has just announced the launch of the “MGM Kids” line and deals with 10 child product suppliers in recognition of the emerging DVD migration to children's rooms.

The “MGM Kids” line will pick up where the Artisan/Fisher-Price titles leave off, catering to 2- to 5-year-olds, and will sport a specially developed lion cub logo. Suppliers partnered for the line include Scholastic Entertainment, DIC Entertainment, NBC Enterprises/The Jim Henson Company, WGBH, Broadway Video, Monster Distributors/Brown Bag Films, The Film Consortium, Nelvana Limited, The Mad Science Group and Southern Star Sales.

“As DVD players make their way into family rooms, kids' bedrooms and automobiles, the potential for children's products in this format continues to grow at an accelerated rate,” said David Bishop, president and COO of MGM Home Entertainment. “Given this growth, we are actively seeking products and brands to bring to the family home video marketplace.”

The line will feature popular children's characters, including Miss Spider, Peep and the Big Wide World, Hello Kitty, the Care Bears, Inspector Gadget, Dennis the Menace, the Muppets and more, as well as a who's who of celebrity voice talent.

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