From the July 1999 issue of Entrepreneur

Although Winnie the Pooh has been the top dog--uh, bear--for retailers over the past few years, Disney thinks it's time its chief inspiration regained his place as a consumer icon. In an effort to make Mickey Mouse more familiar to modern consumers, the rodent has resurfaced to captivate the Saturday morning cartoon audience. Disney's Mickey MouseWorks, which debuted on ABC in May, marks the first time in 46 years a full-time crew has brought the mouse back into series television.

"Everybody wants to see the new Mickey Mouse," says a spokesperson for Walt Disney Television Animation. "He still has that great personality everyone relates to." Mickey will also be hitting theaters with Walt Disney Pictures' Fantasia 2000, a feature-length film with six new animated segments and three original favorites from the 1940s classic. The visually and audibly intense extravaganza begins its 4-month engagement January 1, 2000, at IMAX theaters worldwide.

Miniboard Mayhem

Don't let this trend slip through your fingers.

Performing "5-0s" has never been as painless as it is with Global Style's Fingerboards, which are rolling into the hands of kids ages 7 and up. Outselling the POG craze four to one, stores can't order enough of the finger-powered mini skateboards. With more than 187 hot designs and an array of tiny accessories, such as replacement wheels and miniramps, kids can "wall ride" and "smithgrind" like the pros--without breaking any bones.

Tween Scene

Not old enough to drive, but never too young to shop

Looking for a rapidly developing, powerful market with dozens of sophisticated niches? Consider an overlooked consumer--the tween.

Too responsible to be considered a child, yet too young for the rank of teenager, the tween falls between ages 8 and 12. According to James McNeal, a professor of marketing at Texas A&M University in College Station, tweens spend roughly $16.26 billion of their own money each year and influence $127.8 billion of their parents' spending.

Clueing in to this under-represented niche, 36-year-old entrepreneur Sherry Goffin Kondor's band, the Sugar Beats, records candy-pop hits like the Monkees' "Last Train to Clarksville" and the Go-Gos' "We Got the Beat"--all with a '90s flare. "I still think this type of music has some play," says Goffin. "These are songs [in which] the topics are more innocent but the music still touches [its listeners]."

Look for a feature story on tweens in our October issue.

Spellbinding

Enchanting books take literary, film and online worlds by storm.

J.K. Rowling's magnum opus, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, which details the adventures of 11-year-old wizard trainee Harry Potter, has prompted U.S. literature buffs to purchase the bestseller's sequel, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Bloomsbury Publishing), through Amazon.com's British subsidiary months before its U.S. release. The award-winning books, originally published in Britain, have generated hundreds of rave reviews on both the U.S. and UK Amazon sites, and Rowling's soon-to-be released third book, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, is bound to spark another online event. For more on this phenomenon, visit Bloomsbury Publishing at http://www.bloomsbury.com

Licensing Alert

From PlayStation to silver screen: Mudokons, Glukkons and Sligs? These interactive creatures were the first of their kind to vie for an honor previously reserved for the cinema world--the Oscar. Oddworld Inhabitants, software developer of GT Interactive's (212-726-6500) hit game Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus, submitted a movie-like short of the game's full-animation footage to Academy members last year. Oddly enough, video games may be the next big thing in the film industry.

Contact Sources

GT Interactive, (212) 726-6500, http://www.gtinteractive.com

Sugar Beats Entertainment, (800) BEATS-21