The Mixel In­va­sion Has Be­gun!

Car­toon Net­work and LEGO join forces to in­tro­duce the world to cute, col­lectible mon­sters called Mix­els. by Ramin Za­hed

Animation Magazine - - Content -

Car­toon Net­work and LEGO join forces to in­tro­duce the world to col­lectible mon­sters called Mix­els. by Ramin Za­hed

Last sum­mer, right around Comic-Con, LEGO fans were thrilled to learn that Car­toon Net­work was plan­ning a ma­jor new project with the Dan­ish toy giant. In Fe­bru­ary, af­ter months of an­tic­i­pa­tion, the prop­erty, which is called Mix­els, makes its pre­miere on the toon ca­bler, as well as launch­ing its pres­ence on­line and in toy stores.

So, what ex­actly is a Mixel? Well, this is what we know: They are cute, lit­tle (and, of course, col­lectible) mon­sters that can be mixed and matched in nu­mer­ous com­bi­na­tions. The col­or­ful first tribe, which ar­rives in Fe­bru­ary, is made up of three dif­fer­ent kinds of Mix­els: The In­fer­nits, which pro­vide fire; the Crag­sters, which are builders; and the Ele­croids, which fight dark­ness with elec­tric­ity. Oh, and they will be bat­tling some other set of crazy mon­sters called Nix­els. There are three char­ac­ters in each tribe, and they all can “mix, max, or murp” to­gether to pro­duce seem­ingly un­lim­ited vari­a­tions.

Three tribes will be in­tro­duced in each re­lease wave. But what re­ally sets this fran­chise apart is how it re­ally hits the ground run­ning with well­laid plans for mul­ti­me­dia dom­i­na­tion. Mix­els will com­bine an­i­mated con­tent on­line air­ing on Car­toon Net­work, a mo­bile game and col­lectible mini-sets of the char­ac­ters (priced at around $5 or $6),

“We em­barked on this plan to de­fine new ways to de­velop con­tent here which would take the strength of what we do at Car­toon Net­work — an­i­ma­tion and an­i­ma­tors, and the abil­ity to create new worlds and char­ac­ters — and ap­ply that to our part­ners who are in other busi­nesses,” says Rob Sorcher, the ca­bler’s CCO. “What sets this apart is the way it re­ally hits ev­ery touch point: dig­i­tal plat­forms, TV, toys.”

To help create the vi­sion for the an­i­mated se­ries, Sorcher tapped TV vet­er­ans John Fang and Dave Smith. “John had been more on the ac­tion side of the things, and Dave worked on the com­edy shorts pro­gram at Car­toon Net­work. They didn’t know each other, and I se­cretly hoped that they would get along. For­tu­nately, they did, be­cause we wanted Mix­els to be a com­edy but also have the play dy­namic of an ac­tion prop­erty.”

Sorcher says not only did Fang and Smith get along per­son­ally and pro­fes­sion­ally, they also bonded over their love for LEGO. “Most an­i­ma­tors tend to love LEGO, be­cause it takes them back to their child­hood, when they found the toys to be one of their first forms of cre­ative ex­pres­sion,” he says. “We told them we don’t want you to just de­sign the show, we want you to create a com­plete world. It could be­come a TV show, a se­ries of shorts, an app, a game. We wanted to put real an­i­ma­tors at the core of this project, even if it didn’t end up be­ing a se­ries. We be­gan to de­sign this world and the key char­ac­ters, and the LEGO team would also build their own build­ing­block ver­sions for the toys. There’s the dig­i­tal an­i­ma­tion team in At­lanta, as well as a team in Canada that pro­duces the gam­ing ver­sion of Mix­els.” (The an­i­ma­tion for the 2-D se­ries is pro­duced by Van­cou­ver-based Atomic Car­toons [ Rocket Mon­keys, Pi­rate Ex­press] us­ing Toon Boom’s pop­u­lar Har­mony soft­ware.)

Be­cause there are so many dif­fer­ent ver­sions of the same char­ac­ters, the cre­ative teams had to work closely with each other to stay on the same page. “It was a com­pli­cated process, but it was made easy be­cause there was very lit­tle fric­tion be­tween the teams, and ev­ery­one im­me­di­ately un­der­stood the con­cept. It was a sim­ple con­cept,” says Sorcher. Sur­pris­ingly enough, it only took about 14 months from that first trip to Den­mark to de­liv­ery date of the prod­uct and the se­ries.

This month, Car­toon Net­work will de­but the first wave of Mix­els as a col­lec­tion of shorts, in var­i­ous lengths from 30 sec­onds to five min­utes. The shorts will then be for­mat­ted as a 22-minute

spe­cial on the air and go into a se­ries ver­sion. The char­ac­ters also are be­ing in­tro­duced on­line at­els and mix­ There will be ex­clu­sive con­tent on Car­toon Net­work and in the gam­ing ver­sion of the prop­erty. “If you like these char­ac­ters, you can send them to a lot of places,” says Sorcher. “The toys will al­low you to get spe­cial ac­cess to the web­site, where you can see more of the char­ac­ters. We re­ally wanted to pro­ceed in a non­lin­ear fash­ion here. We take our cue from the con­tent — if it needs to be two min­utes long, then we have a short; if it needs to be a longer story, we have the se­ries for­mat. It’s all go­ing to be an­chored by the core of what we think we’re good at — an­i­ma­tion and the cre­ation of new char­ac­ters and worlds.”

“We know that kids want funny shows and fun games wher­ever they go,” says Chris Wal­dron, vice pres­i­dent, Car­toon Net­work Dig­i­tal. “Mix­els gives them both by let­ting them play the gor­geous Call­ing All Mix­els mo­bile game and let­ting them watch the videos on mix­els. com when­ever and wher­ever they want. The re­sult is a new brand that is fun, funny and feels en­tirely na­tive to this dig­i­tal gen­er­a­tion.”

“What I love about the show is that we knew we had these great char­ac­ters with fan­tas­tic com­bi­na­tion pos­si­bil­i­ties, but we didn’t know what they would do, what they would sound like,” says Sorcher. “What re­ally amuses me now is how these sto­ries are play­ing vis­ually. Both David and John are not re­ally ver­bal guys, so they came up with this hi­lar­i­ous cave­man-type lan­guage for them. They use ba­sic words and tele­graph their sen­tences. They grunt things like, ‘Taste good. Me go there!’ Of course, we also hired great voice ac­tors like Tom Kenny, but the whole cave­man-type lan­guage of the Mix­els re­ally makes me laugh.” Mix­els will launch Feb. 12 on Car­toon Net­work dur­ing Teen Ti­tans Go!

Got to Catch Them All! Car­toon Net­work and LEGO’S Mix­els in­tro­duces view­ers to sev­eral tribes of col­lectible lit­tle mon­sters that can be com­bined in nu­mer­ous ways to make more mis­fit crea­tures.

Rob Sorcher

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