A He-Man leads the U.S.A. $yndication War$ – Page 3

Fat Albert and the Crosby Kids.

Filling a vacuum with a brand new concept, two studios have produced new syndicated programming for Sunday morning this past fall. The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera, distributed by Worldvision, contains three separate series, a group of tiny bears called The Paw Paws, Galtar and the Golden Lance and Yogi’s Treasure Hunt. Super Sunday, or Super Saturday if independent stations prefer, offered by Claster TV, features three separate ten-minute segments m each of 15 half-hour programmes. Robotix, Jem and Bigfoot and the Muscle Machines are the three ‘shows-within-a-show’, from Sunbow Productions.

Soon joining them, Lexington Broadcast Services (LBS) will distribute a new 90-minute Sunday series, Kideo TV, in April 1986 from DIC, with three components including Ulysses 31, a DICITokyo Movie Shinsha series that was very successful in France and Italy The Poppies and Rainbow Brite.

And speaking of the Sabbath, another development is recent cartoons based on Biblical stories. Tatsunoko Productions, Japan, has produced Superbook and The Flying House for the Christian Broadcast Network, which is syndicating the programmes to a growing number of religious TV stations. Entitled Hanna-Barbera’s The Greatest Adventures – Stories from the Bible, the studio has produced the first six episodes of a planned series for home-video cassettes, which also might find its way into this new market.

Actually, syndication of cartoons is nearly as old as American television itself. Van Bueren/RKO’s Cubby the Bear, Ub Iwerks/MGM’s Flip the Frog, Paul Terry/Pathe’s Aesop’s Fables and others, delighted young viewers of the early children’s shows. The market was saturated with theatrical cartoons, beginning in 195 5-1956, after the major studios sold off their pre-1948 films to TV distributors.

Groovie Goalies.

United Artists Television (now MGMIUA) acquired the pre-1948 Warner Brothers cartoons and the Fleischer-Famous/Paramount Pap eye package. Syndicated since September 10 and 14, 1956, the spinach-eating sailor and carrot-munching Bugs Bunny, respectively, have been programmed for nearly 30 years. Sold for $3 million, the Popeye cartoons recouped more than ten times their purchase cost in the first five years, and is the oldest, continuing syndicated animated series still seen regularly on U.S. television.

What’s the forecast for the future? More of the He-Man trend. At the January 1986 meeting of the NATPE, 11 new 65-episode series and others were announced for Fail 1986, and three for Fall 1987. Worldvision will distribute five programmes: Ruby-Spears’ Rambo, based on the movie, and Centurions; two mini-series: Chuck Norris, depicting the martial arts star, and Sectaurs, insect-like robots; and Hanna-Barbera’s off-network Jonny Quest, which will expand their Sunday series, Funtastic World, to two hours.

Others include Group W’s Ghost-busters, from Filmation’s 1975-1978 TV series; Marvel/King Features’ Defenders of the Earth, featuring the Phantom, Flash Gordon, Mandrake the Magician and Lothar; Sunbow/ Claster’s My Little Pony and JEM, which blends music videos into animation storylines; more episodes of Nelvana-DIC/LBS’s The Care Bears; Harmony Gold’s all-new Robotech 11—The Sentinals; another Japanese import Macron I in stereo through Orbis; Rankin-Bass!Lorimar-Telepictures’ Silverhawks; The Entertainment Network’s Adventures of Dan Cougar; Gaylord Productions! ITF’s The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers; and Hanna-BarberalTelevision Program Enterprises’ off-network package, The Smurfs.

Columbia Pictures’ The Real Ghostbusters, with animated caricatures of the movie stars Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, will circulate in Fall 1987. Announced available in Fall 1988, Cosgrove-Hall/Taffner’s Danger Mouse may be syndicated sooner, and Lorimar-Telepictures will distribute Bagdasarian and Ruby-Spears’s off-network Alvin and the Chipmunks.

Lorimar-Telepictures will mount a potentially strong challenge to the three networks’ Saturday-morning children’s line-up with The Comic Strip, a first run animated series for barter syndication in Fall 1987. It’s the first direct asault on the Saturday lock that the networks have had on the first-run cartoon business, and has already been sold to more than 80 independent stations. The elements include: Karate Kat, Mini Monsters, Street Kids, Spellsinger and The Sea Angels, five half-hour shows of 13 episodes each, to be produced by Rankin-Bass. Stations will have the option to run the shows in a strip, Monday through Friday, or as a two-and-a-half hour block on Saturday or Sunday. The company reports it will commit $20 million for the 65 half-hour programmes.

Mattel originated the concept for the omnipotent He-Man with Filmation in 1980, and their syndicated television strategy has boosted it into the same merchandising class as Disney, Snoopy, the Muppets and the Smurfs. Whether He-Man also has their staying power, is the question.

Toys on TV
The top selling toys for Christmas 1985 also star in animated children’s television series and specials. The ratings come from a recent survey by the U.S. magazine Toy & Hobby World of 3,000 retailers and wholesalers nationwide.

1. Cabbage Patch Dolls
2. Transformers
3. He-Man & Masters of the Universe
4. Pound Puppies
5. G.l. Joe line
6. Voltron
7. M.A.S.K.
8. My Little Pony
9. Teddy Ruxpin
10. She-Ra, Princess of Power

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Printed in Animator Issue 15 (Spring 1986)