BBC Studios Grows Bluey Brand with a Focus on Family and Community • The Toy Book

Source: BBC Studios/the Toy Book

All the latest Bluey news has us saying: For real life?!

The BBC Studios preschool show, which follows Blue Heeler puppy Bluey and her everyday adventures, is a runaway hit for preschoolers in the U.S. The Toy Book spoke with Suzy Raia, senior vice president of licensing and business development in the Americas for BBC Studios, about the show’s global success, its toy program, and what’s in store for Bluey this year.

Toy Book: Bluey launched in Australia and now has fans all around the world. What new markets will the brand expand to this year? How will this be achieved? 

SR: That’s right! Bluey premiered in Australia in 2018 on ABC Kids and was followed by the U.S. in fall 2019 on Disney platforms. We then expanded into key markets like the UK, Canada, and Mexico to capitalize on U.S. out-of-the-gate success. With the UK and Canada being English-speaking markets, it was a no-brainer, but we knew we needed to be in Mexico as well because of U.S. influence. Overall, we have the best possible distribution partner in the kids’ space with Disney. And, we have the opportunity to supplement distribution in some markets with really strong Free Trade Agreement (FTA) partners like Azteca in Mexico and TV Cultura in Brazil, as well as our strong digital strategy where fans can discover Bluey on YouTube and follow franchise activity on our social pages.  

The Heeler family, including Bandit, Chilli, Bluey, and Bingo | Source: BBC Studios

TB: How have the toys based on the series evolved over the course of three seasons? What has made them so successful? 

SR: Although Season 3 may have aired in Australia, we’ve only seen two seasons here in the U.S. Plus, we didn’t launch toys until Season 2 began to air, so it’s actually only been about 18 months since our toy launch. But with two holidays under our belt, we feel really proven in the toy space. In terms of the evolving toy line, it’s really just the beginning. We are still capitalizing on our core range, which focuses on the Heeler family, their home, vehicles, and, of course, friends! Brisbane is such lovely inspiration and we plan to be authentic as we develop, but I do think that there are universal components to a preschool life that will come into play and will resonate across the world. Ultimately, the show is about family and community, so you’ll see some themes and settings that truly mirror family life. I think the beauty of the show is that it’s so relatable on so many levels. 

TB: What are the new toy themes in store for this year?  

SR: This year we are focusing on School Friends. School is such an integral part of a kid’s life. It’s a place to learn and play and best of all, make friends. I love how Moose Toys, our master toy partner, has created playsets that give preschoolers the opportunity to create their own stories and play them out in endless ways.  

Dance & Play Bluey, coming out this July from Moose Toys | Source: BBC Studios

TB: What has it been like working with master toy licensee Moose Toys? What are some exciting products coming out from the company this year?  

SR: They are a fabulous partner! I love working with Moose. They have truly proven to be the ideal partner for Bluey. From a licensor’s perspective, I know we can rely on them to uphold the integrity of this special property. They are equally as passionate as we are about being authentic in their approach to developing toys and doing everything in their creative power to extend key brand sensibility and attributes into the physical without sacrificing quality. They are also proven marketers, having built Shopkins to great success. Moose has truly partnered with us to build a marketing plan that sets us up for sales success. And most importantly, they are fans — Australian fans! Who better to create an authentic line of toys than Moose? In addition to the School Friends themed range, they also will be launching a deluxe home playset, which takes the current Heeler home and quite literally adds all the bells and whistles! And, you can expect to see my personal favorite, Dance & Play Bluey, our first feature plush toy. This one feels like a natural; it’s hard NOT to dance when you hear the show-opening theme song!

Bluey and Bingo in Bluey’s Season 2 Easter episode | Source: BBC Studios

TB: What other product categories will Bluey expand to this year and beyond?  

SR: We are just beginning, honestly! We just launched our first boxed Valentine’s Day exchange cards from IG Design Group at Target with amazing sell-through! In addition, we’ve begun to launch soft lines, leading with tees and sets from Bentex, Mad Engine sleepwear from Centric, and packaged underwear from Handcraft. We’ve also got drinkware from Zak, home items from Jay Franco, and a few extensions in toys like a scooter and helmet from Sakar (that you can play keepy-uppy on!). We also have puzzles from Spin Master and crafts & activities from Horizon. We’re really excited about our Crayola relationship and continuing with the Jumbo Coloring Pads as well as some launches in Health & Beauty Aids with Centric and Colgate late this year! And there’s more: we are thrilled to be launching party goods at Party City this March and we have ornaments coming this holiday season from Kurt Adler. As I said, it’s just the beginning, and I can’t wait to share some of the other deals we have in the works as well.  

TB: Is there anything else that you would like to share?  

SR: Canada and Mexico’s toy launches were a fantastic success! We launched last year in Canada at both Toys “R” Us and Walmart (in English-speaking territories only) and both were thrilled with the performance. We are expanding our lines and store count — Walmart will go all doors in spring 2022 —  and thinking about when we might launch in French-speaking Quebec as well. Disney Le Chaine will be stripping the series next month (February), so we are keeping a close eye on viewership and may look to launch before the year is out. In Mexico, we launched exclusively at Liverpool and they were equally as thrilled at the success of toy sales so expect to see a lot more expansion in Mexico and Latin America. 

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