Spin Master Entertainment, the production company behind children’s franchises “Paw Patrol” and “Bakugan,” has a new character coming to the party.
Variety has learned exclusively of the launch of “Vida the Vet,” which follows a preteen as she cares for a community of animals. The animated series will premiere in the fall of 2023 on BBC’s CBeebies and BBC iPlayer in the U.K., as well as Corus Entertainment’s Treehouse and StackTV in Canada. Other international broadcasting partners, including a distributor in the U.S., will be announced at a later date.
Vida, who is 10 years old, spends her days tending to the woodland creatures that live outside her home, from a fox with a sprained paw to a turtle with an itchy toe to a tiger with an aching tooth.
“We started from wanting to mirror to preschoolers the idea of nurture,” Dodge says. “What wellness looks like, being able to model good self care and good care of others — and at the same time, alleviating fears a small child may have about their own visits to the doctor or dentist.”
“Some of the shows that we’ve done in the past are high-end, computer-generated exploration, but with ‘Vida,’ we wanted it to feel classic,” she adds. “To highlight the forest and all the animals, we wanted a beautiful color palette and illustrative 2D animation.”
Collaboration between creator Dustin Ferrer (“Esme & Roy,” “Peg & Cat”), showrunner Jennifer Oxley (“Wonder Pets!,” “Peg & Cat”) and animation studio Jam Filled Entertainment made for visually calming compositions: soft blues, greens and purples for the outdoor backgrounds; flowing orange hair and wide eyes for Vida.
Spin Master is a toy company at its core: Its entertainment arm launched in 2008, while the larger company was founded in 1984. But “Vida the Vet,” like “Paw Patrol” before it, is moving full steam ahead without a preceding toy line.
“Spin Master is comprised of three creative centers: entertainment, toy and digital games,” says Jennifer Dodge, the company’s president of entertainment. “The role of entertainment is to create content that can be a catalyst for the other two creative centers. ‘Vida’ will eventually have a beautiful toy line. But first and foremost, it’s about building story, building character, creating a world.”
Dodge says that developing ideas within the entertainment division and later consulting with colleagues who work on toys and games allows Spin Master to “bake in” on-screen elements that will be conducive to eventual merchandising.
“Paw Patrol is the greatest example of that. We were able to bring in resources that make sense — and leave the things out that do not,” Dodge explains. “For example, from a content standpoint, we wanted an area to get the call to give the pups their instructions, that first responder moment. Our toy group said, ‘We can build a tower that has a slide so the pups can jump into their vehicles, and that way we could rotate the vehicles around [when toys are made].’”
“But there are definitely times where there might be an ask from another group within the company, and if it just does not make sense for that property, then we find another solution,” she continues. “We are very protective. Everything that goes into every show has a storytelling purpose.”
“Vida the Vet” is executive produced by Dodge, Oxley, Laura Clunie, Toni Stevens and Spin Master co-founder Ronnen Harary. Season 1 will consist of 52 11-minute episodes, and “Vida the Vet” toys will debut in 2024.