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It's A Wrap

This fall, kids could turn the new cartoon series "Mummies Alive" into a licensee's dream.

It happens every fall. A slate of new TV programs for kids hits the airwaves accompanied by a flurry of expectations and promotional build-ups. The stakes are high, the competition plentiful. And for those shows that catch on, the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is the money to be made from licensed merchandise.

Of course, picking the winners from among the also-rans is anything but easy. Would you have bet on the appeal of, say, a band of warrior turtles from the sewers of Manhattan? Or what about a pair of lovable bananas decked out in striped sleepwear?

"If this were an inherently predictable business, there would be fewer mistakes made," says Martin Brochstein, executive editor of The Licensing Letter, a bimonthly newsletter. "There is no accounting for the tastes of American children--or adults, for that matter."

Go figure: Both the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Bananas in Pajamas struck a chord with young viewers. How will these same youngsters respond to the cast of characters in this fall's TV lineup? Whose likenesses are destined to appear on lunch boxes or be turned into toys and action figures?

Alas, there's no telling. But because the children's licensed properties industry is such big business for small businesses, we thought it would be interesting to go behind the scenes of one of this season's most highly anticipated shows. If you've ever wondered exactly what goes into the making--and merchandising--of a syndicated TV series for kids, follow us into the mysterious world of "Mummies Alive."

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This article was originally published in the September 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: It's A Wrap.

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