FERGIE'S BUDGIE TARGETS U.S. KIDS

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Budgie the Little Helicopter will land in the U.S. just in time for the holidays.

The creation of Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, will star at Budgie boutiques opening in November in F.A.O. Schwarz's seven largest stores.

"We view Budgie as a significant licensing opportunity," said David Niggli, senior VP at New York-based F.A.O. Schwarz. "We feel Budgie is destined to become an animated classic."

Budgie will also be featured on the F.A.O. Schwarz Christmas catalog cover, and the full line will be available exclusively at the chain.

Licensing agent Launey, Hanchmann & Harris has signed on 16 U.S. licensees to manufacture Budgie toys, apparel and other merchandise.

"We love the uniqueness of the character, the expression on its face ... When you see Budgie's face, you fall in love with him," said Joseph A. Sutton, president-CEO of Happiness Express, one of the largest U.S. licensees.

The marketer will offer several Budgie items through its preschool division, including plush toys, night lights, lamps and banks.

Dobson Communications, Stamford, Conn., is handling a $1 million-plus campaign for the Happiness Express Budgie line, set to appear this fall in magazines like Parade and Parents.

More than 750,000 Budgie the Little Helicopter books have been sold worldwide and in the U.S. since 1989. A cartoon premiered on U.K. TV in January and quickly became the top-rated show among preschoolers. Now, Launey is working on bringing the series to the U.S.

Launey and Sleepy Kids, London, the main worldwide licensing agency for Budgie, will exhibit several items of Budgie merchandise June 14 to 16 at the International Licensing Show in New York.

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