NEW YORK, March 24, 1999 — It was a celebration rivaling famous Hollywood parties, but the stars of this bash were children, the setting was a world-famous toy store, and the guests were three feet tall and dressed in costume. Children celebrated this morning at FAO Schwarz New York dressed in Teletubbies
™costumes, with a giant greeting card, a celebration Web site and the public unveiling of the new Microsoft® ActiMates ™ Interactive Teletubbies.
Just two years ago, Ragdoll Productions (U.K.) Ltd. created and introduced “Teletubbies.” One year later, “Teletubbies,” marketed in the Americas by The itsy bitsy Entertainment Co., began airing on PBS® and quickly become a top-rated television series along with a best-selling video series. The New York Teletubbies Celebration in FAO Schwarz’s own version of Teletubbyland ™ included a giant card signed by children and was part of a nationwide celebration with parties held at FAO Schwarz stores in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Orlando, Fla., San Francisco and Seattle.
In addition, Microsoft Corp. launched the Teletubbies Celebration Web site (http://www.microsoft.com/actimates/default.htm), offering children around the world the opportunity to join in the fun with party pictures and the ability to send a personal message to the Teletubbies. Children sending messages will receive a personalized response.
The highlight of the New York party was the children singing “Happy Birthday” while the complete line of ActiMates Interactive Teletubbies were unveiled. These new dolls interact with the “Teletubbies” television series and encoded videos (with the aid of a TV Pack, sold separately) and act as interactive learning partners for children.
“The Teletubbies are a global phenomenon,” said Don Coyner, group product manager for the hardware group at Microsoft. “ActiMates and Teletubbies are a perfect fit, and we couldn’t think of a better place to show off our new dolls than at the world’s largest Teletubbies celebration, where kids from all over the world can join in the fun.”
ActiMates Interactive Teletubbies were one of the raves at this year’s International Toy Fair in New York City, and experts predict they’ll be a hit on store shelves too. Each ActiMates Interactive Teletubby features a unique vocabulary and a “magic” tummy that lights up with vivid colors, shapes and patterns in response to touch. Each doll plays 13 songs and 12 games and offers endless combinations of sounds, instruments, colors and patterns. By interacting with the television show and videos, the dolls help to even further extend the viewing experience. ActiMates Teletubbies were on hand at the celebrations, and children sang and danced with their “new friends” while a Teletubbies video played on a large-screen television.
“Children love the Teletubbies, and the nationwide party was a chance for these young fans to celebrate in a big way,” said Kenn Viselman, president, CEO and chairman of the board for The itsy bitsy Entertainment Co. “Everyone had an amazing time at FAO Schwarz, and we anticipate thousands of kids sending messages to the Teletubbies through the ActiMates Teletubbies Virtual Celebration Web site.”
ActiMates Interactive Teletubbies Laa-Laa ™ and Po ™ are available in stores now. Tinky Winky ™ and Dipsy ™ are scheduled to be available in the summer. All four plush characters have an estimated retail price of $59.95 each (U.S.). The ActiMates TV Pack, which can be used with all ActiMates characters, has an estimated retail price of $54.95 (U.S.). All previous versions of ActiMates TV Packs will work with ActiMates Teletubbies dolls. ActiMates-encoded Teletubby home videos are sold separately for a suggested retail price of $14.99 (U.S.). Disguise Inc. donated the Teletubbies costumes worn at the FAO celebration.
About the Companies
Ragdoll Productions was founded by acclaimed children’s television program maker Anne Wood in 1984 with the motto “Ragdoll Works for Children.” Worldwide, Ragdoll-produced series for preschool-age children are shown in more than 60 countries, and in the United Kingdom are screened by the British Broadcasting Corp. and the Independent Television Network. Titles include “Teletubbies,” “Rosie and Jim,” “Tots TV,” “Brum” and “Open A Door,” and recent awards include the BAFTA (British Emmy) Award for Best Children’s Series, Grand Prize at the 24th Japan Prize International Contest in Tokyo for an episode of “Teletubbies,” and the award to Anne Wood of Fellowship of the Royal Television Society. The company is based in Stratford-upon-Avon, England.
The itsy bitsy Entertainment Co. was launched to offer creators of unique properties a strong, dedicated partnership for production, distribution, licensing and marketing. Founded in 1995 by Kenn Viselman, The itsy bitsy Entertainment Co. is known for inspiring Safe haven Entertainment
programming and products that maintain the highest levels of consideration for positive parenting while enhancing children’s lives. The company’s philosophy is “To be free to learn, children must be free to dream!” The itsy bitsy Entertainment Co. is a member company of North Coast Entertainment, a subsidiary of Handleman Co. (NYSE:”HDL”).
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.
Microsoft and ActiMates are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.
PBS is a trademark of the Public Broadcasting Service.
Teletubbies and the distinctive likenesses thereof
& 1999 Ragdoll Productions (UK) Ltd. Licensed by The itsy bitsy Entertainment Co. All rights reserved.
Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.
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Visit the Teletubbies Celebration Web Site at http://www.microsoft.com/actimates/default.htm .