SABAN TEAMS WITH MCDONALD'S FOR ITS NEXT 'POWER RANGERS': REKINDLED SERIES GETS BOOST FROM NEW LICENSEES

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Saban Entertainment's longtime franchise "Power Rangers" seeks to keep its staying power by unveiling another program transformation, called "Power Rangers: Lightspeed Rescue," next spring on the Fox Kids Network.

It will be accompanied by Saban's biggest promotional push yet, a $10 million-plus deal with McDonald's Corp., according to executives.

Elie Dekel, exec VP-consumer products and promotions for Fox Family Worldwide, a partnership between Saban and News Corp., would not discuss future promotions but said the show's latest installment will have the superheroes rescuing the world from disasters.

TEACHING SAFETY, FIRST AID

"We feel this version is timely, in teaching kids about safety and first aid," he said.

Saban will provide programs in local communities with materials for kids focusing on first aid and other rescue procedures, and produce local public service announcements as well as work with local fire and police departments.

On the eve of the Licensing 99 International show, Mr. Dekel said "Power Rangers" continues to grow with new licensees, having recently added 13 companies to the list, which now totals more than 60.

TOYS VS. 'STAR WARS'

While "Power Rangers" toys sales are up 51% vs. a year ago, it's expected to take a hit in the coming months in the boys action-adventure category in the wake of sales from products associated with "Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace."

New "Power Rangers" deals include one with toymaker Toy Biz, which will develop a line of interactive "soft" toys -- large, 2-foot-tall "Ranger" figures.

In addition, "Power Rangers" has added three publishing deals for a new line of books with Parachute Publishing, Dalmatian Press and Modern Publishing.

In the bath products arena, Equity Toys will produce a line of "Power Rangers" products called Tub Tints, which color bath water.

McDonald's couldn't be reached for comment on the promotion. "Power Rangers" worked with McDonald's in 1995, producing four individual Happy Meals promotions in a six-month period.

'NASCAR SUPERCHARGERS'

Saban also is gearing up for the launch of what it hopes is its next major hit, "Nascar Superchargers," a weekly action-adventure racing series that will run on Fox Kids Network next spring.

Following on the heels of its master toy licensee deal with Hasbro, Saban has signed several deals for the shows in publishing (HarperCollins), costumes (Rubies Costumes), shoes (Pagoda International) and gift and novelty items (Applause Inc.).

"We are taking action-adventure into racing and competition rather than good vs.

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