Mr Benn is celebrating its 50th anniversary not only this year, but this very day, with a raft of new deals and licensing partnerships secured by the Altrincham-based animation studio, Factory.
Among the swathe of new licensees for the property now marking its half a century is the leading distributor of collectable coins and stamps, The Westminster Collection, while Coach House Partners Ltd has got the Mr Benn DVD gift set covered. Tartan Squirrel will launch a selection of Mr Benn pins, badges, and keyrings.
Other licensing partnerships include Signature Entertainment for the original Mr Benn television series, which is now available to stream now on Amazon Prime Video in the UK, Ireland and is available to download on digital platforms including iTunes, Google and Xbox. The programme is also available to download in Australia, New Zealand, US and Canada on digital platforms.
Renowned publishers Andersen Press will be releasing four new Mr Benn books including ‘Red Knight’ and ‘Big Game’ in March 2021, and ‘Big Top’ and ‘123456789’ in July 2021. Plus a renewed deal has also been signed with The Insurance Emporium for the fifth year in a row, which will showcase the brand across its website, social, events and advertising.
Originally created by award-winning writer and illustrator David McKee, Mr Benn began life as a children’s picture book in 1967 which followed an ordinary man who had extraordinary adventures when he visited a magical costume shop.
The book went on to be transformed into an animated television series transmitted by the BBC in 1971. The TV series became incredibly popular and was repeated regularly on the BBC for almost 30 years until Nickelodeon UK aired the series for a further nine years until 2010.
On the 50th anniversary of Mr Benn, creator and illustrator, David McKee, said: “Mr Benn endures, I think, because people like the idea of being able to escape to another life, and at their heart they’re old fashioned stories which last – the elements that make up the films, the voice, the music, the story, all simple elements that endure – good old fashioned stories, with a good rhythm.
“I’m really pleased that the books are coming back in print, I’ve always liked the mix of colour and black and white in them, and I made them long enough ago now to be as if someone else did them – so it feels like a new book to me.
“I often say your characters are like your children, you potty train them and look after them and point them in a good direction, but they go off do things you don’t expect – Mr Benn is living his own life and I’m excited to see what people make of the new products that are coming – and hope a new generation of children enjoy them as much as me.”
One of the most exciting deals for Mr Benn is with the leading distributors of collectable coins and stamps, The Westminster Collection, who will be creating a range of Mr Benn 50p coins issued by Guernsey.
Launching in April, the 50p coins will be available as a variety of bespoke Mr Benn Coin Collections. Starting with a single Mr Benn Anniversary logo designed 50p, up to a collection of 5 Silver coins with stunning colour print, in a presentation case.
Anya Hollis, head of brand licensing at Factory, said: “We’re really looking forward to a year long celebration for Mr Benn’s 50th Anniversary, with a wide and diverse range of products and collaborations. Mr Benn is an all time favourite for so many people and we are delighted to be launching some new and exciting products which will, as if by magic, bring a smile to everyone’s faces.”
As well as Mr Benn, Factory Rights manages the rights to a number of other properties and art created by David McKee including King Rollo, Victor & Maria, and Watt The Devil; also Towser and Dr Xargle with Tony Ross and the particularly strong Rupert Fawcett cartoons, including Off The Leash, On The Prowl, Fred and Daddy.
Factory acquired the long-established Rollo Rights catalogue in a move that further underpins its ambition to develop a rights ownership arm that supports its studio production business and with an experienced Factory Rights team is managing and building this new division.