Sunbow Entertainment

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Sunbow Entertainment, LLC
IndustryTelevision production and film studio
FoundedJune 23, 1980; 41 years ago (June 23, 1980)
Defunct2004; 17 years ago (2004)
FateFolded into TV-Loonland
HeadquartersNew York City, United States
Key people
Tom Griffin and Joe Bacal
ParentGriffin-Bacal Advertising (1980–1998)
Sony Wonder (1998–2000)
TV-Loonland AG (2000–2001)

Sunbow Entertainment was an American animation studio and distributor, founded in 1980 and owned until 1998 by Griffin-Bacal Advertising in New York City and in the United States. Griffin-Bacal's first animations were animated commercials for Hasbro's G.I. Joe toy line. The success of the animated commercials led partners Tom Griffin and Joe Bacal to form Sunbow Productions. Due to their close working relationship with Hasbro, Sunbow came to be recognized as the toy giant's unofficial television arm.

Company overview[edit]

Beginnings and Partnerships with Hasbro and Marvel Productions (1980–1992)[edit]

Sunbow is noted for many cartoons aired during the 1980s. Most of their work was co-produced with Marvel Productions. Although it is not limited to Hasbro's various toy lines its reputation is linked to the cartoon series tied to them. Its animation was initially produced by the Japanese animation studio Toei Animation, supplemented by the South Korean animation studio AKOM later on. By 1987, most of Hasbro's toy lines were losing money and internal struggles forced the company to end popular series such as G.I. Joe and Transformers. Two of Sunbow's animated movies, The Transformers: The Movie and My Little Pony: The Movie, flopped at the box office, forcing a third project, G.I. Joe: The Movie, to be released directly to video. Sunbow also worked with TMS Entertainment with Hasbro's Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light.

Troubles with Original Material (1992–1998)[edit]

In a bid to produce original material, Sunbow produced several cartoons through the early 1990s such as The Tick and Conan the Adventurer. Only The Tick managed to gain popularity and critical acclaim.

Sony Wonder Ownership (1998–2000)[edit]

On May 4, 1998, Sony Wonder, a division of Sony Music, bought Sunbow Productions[1] in order to expand to more original programming for their television division. In May 1999, Sunbow took over European distribution of Sony Wonder's TV IPs.[2]

TV-Loonland ownership, Dormancy and Closure (2000–2009)[edit]

On October 3, 2000, German-based company TV-Loonland AG purchased Sony Wonder's television business assets including Sunbow Entertainment.[3][4] In exchange for the purchase, Sony Wonder retained US distribution rights to the Sunbow catalogue. Previously, Rhino Entertainment owned the U.S. home video distribution rights to the Sunbow catalogue. The rights then changed hands to Sony Wonder with its acquisition of the catalogue.

In September 2001, the company announced a co-production deal with Rumpus Toys to produce Kappa Mikey, with TV-Loonland holding worldwide and home video distribution rights.[5] In May 2002, the project was picked up by Noggin for its teen-oriented programming block The N.[6] Noggin/The N signed a co-development deal for the series,[7] For unknown reasons, Sunbow and TV-Loonland would later silently pull out of the deal, with the final produced show having no involvement with the two companies.

In October 2001, Sunbow announced a co-development deal with Nickelodeon to produce Skeleton Key, an animated series based on a comic book of the same name[8][9] for an initial run of 13 episodes. However, the series never materialized.

After the announcement that The Cramp Twins' second season would be produced by fellow-Loonland owned studio Telemagination in 2002,[10] Sunbow became dormant with no current productions being done at the studio, although they still remained as a company until at least 2009.[11]

In March 2007, Sony Music Entertainment announced they would shut down Sony Wonder, leaving the US deal under limbo.[12] However, on June 20, 2007, it was announced that Sony Wonder had been moved into Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.[13][14] However, the Sunbow licenses were not included in the purchase.

On May 14, 2008, Hasbro announced that it had obtained the rights to all the Sunbow Productions animated series based on Hasbro properties for $7 million. This includes Transformers, G.I. Joe, My Little Pony, Jem and the Holograms, and many more.[15][16][17][18] These titles are currently managed as part of the Entertainment One library.

TV-Loonland filed for bankruptcy in 2009;[19] its catalogue was acquired by German distributor Made 4 Entertainment in April 2011.[20] In February 2017, a Belgian production company Studio 100 purchased a majority stake in m4e.[21]



Show Year Network Notes
The Great Space Coaster 1981–1983 Syndication Co-production with Metromedia Television
G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero 1983–1986 Syndication Based on the Hasbro toyline of the same name. Co-Production with Marvel Productions[22]
The Transformers 1984–1987 Syndication based on the Hasbro toyline of same name. Co-Production with Marvel Productions[22]
Super Sunday (aka Super Saturday) 1985 Syndication based on the Hasbro toyline of the same name. Co-Production with Marvel Productions[22]
Jem and the Holograms 1986 based on the Hasbro toyline of the same name. Co-Production with Marvel Productions[23]
Inhumanoids 1986 based on the Hasbro toyline of the same name. Co-Production with Marvel Productions[24]
My Little Pony 'n Friends 1986 Syndication based on the Hasbro toyline of same name. Co-Production with Marvel Productions;[22] first half of the show was My Little Pony while the second half was a wheel series[25]
Bucky O'Hare and the Toad Wars[26] 1991–1992 Syndication co-production with Abrams/Gentile Entertainment, Continuity Comics, IDDH, and Marvel Productions
My Little Pony Tales 1992 The Disney Channel based on the Hasbro toyline of the same name. Co-production with Graz Entertainment
Conan the Adventurer 1992–1993 Syndication co-production with Graz Entertainment (Season 1), Créativité & Developpement (Season 2) and AB Productions (Season 2)
Conan and the Young Warriors 1994 CBS co-production with Graz Entertainment
The Tick 1994–1996 Fox co-production with Graz Entertainment and Fox Children's Productions. Currently owned by The Walt Disney Company through BVS Entertainment
The Mask: The Animated Series 1995–1997 CBS co-production with Film Roman, Dark Horse Entertainment and New Line Television. Currently owned by Warner Bros.
Littlest Pet Shop 1995 Syndication based on Hasbro toyline. Co-production with Créativité & Développement, and AB Productions. Currently owned by Mediawan Thematics
G.I. Joe Extreme 1995 Syndication based on Hasbro toyline. Co-production with Gunther-Wahl Productions, inc. and Graz Entertainment
Salty's Lighthouse 1997 TLC co-production with Sony Wonder Television
The Crayon Box 1997 Syndication co-production with Chiodo Bros. Productions, Random House Studio, Sony Wonder Television and PolyGram Television
Deepwater Black 1997 International distribution only. Co-production with Sony Wonder Television
Student Bodies 1997 Fox Season 1 international distribution only. Produced by Telescene and 20th Television
The Brothers Flub 1999–2000 Nickelodeon
Super RTL
co-production with Ravensburger Film + TV, Videal and Sony Wonder Television
Fat Dog Mendoza 2000 Cartoon Network co-production with TMO-Loonland, Cartoon Network Europe and Sony Wonder Television
Generation O! 2000 The WB (Kids' WB) co-production with RTV Family Entertainment and Sony Wonder Television
The Cramp Twins 2001–2004 Cartoon Network co-production with TV-Loonland AG and Cartoon Network Europe. Series 2 was produced by Telemagination


Original specials[edit]

Airdate Title Network Notes
October 25, 1983 The Charmkins syndication based on Hasbro toyline of same name
April 14, 1984 My Little Pony: Rescue at Midnight Castle syndication based on Hasbro toyline of same name
March 23, 1985 My Little Pony: Escape from Catrina syndication based on Hasbro toyline of same name

Hasbro properties

Note: All programs based on Hasbro properties are co-productions with Marvel Productions. These programs are owned by Entertainment One.

Theatrical films[edit]

Airdate Title Notes
June 20, 1986 My Little Pony: The Movie with Marvel Productions[22]
August 8, 1986 The Transformers: The Movie with Marvel Productions[22]
1986 Inhumanoids: The Movie DTV with Marvel Productions[22]
April 20, 1987 G.I. Joe: The Movie DTV with Marvel Productions[22]

TV Specials[edit]


  1. ^ Schneider, Michael (May 1998). "Sony Wonder gets animated". Electronic Media. 17 (19): 75.
  2. ^ "Sunbow takes Sony Wonder product to market".
  3. ^ Meaux, Francoise (2000-10-03). "MIPCOM: TV-Loonland acquires Sony Wonder | News | Screen". Retrieved 2016-01-18.
  4. ^ Variety Staff (2000-10-03). "TV Loonland buys up Sony Wonder units". Variety. Retrieved 2016-01-18.
  5. ^ "Sunbow and Rumpus to Produce Kappa Mikey Series".
  6. ^ Godfrey, Leigh (May 29, 2002). "Sunbow and Noggin's The N to Co-Develop Kappa Mikey". Animation World Network. Sunbow Entertainment and The N, Noggin's new network for tweens, have signed a co-development deal for the anime comedy KAPPA MIKEY.
  7. ^ Fraser, Fiona (May 23, 2002). "The N comes onboard Sunbow's Kappa Mikey". C21Media.
  8. ^ "Sunbow and Nick to Develop Skeleton Key".
  9. ^
  10. ^ "The Cramp Twins Picked up for a Second Season".
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Transformers DVD news: Report Says Studio with "Transformers" License is Shutting Down -". Archived from the original on 29 March 2007. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  13. ^ Variety Staff (2007-06-20). "SPHE absorbs Wonder label". Variety. Retrieved 2016-01-18.
  14. ^ "Sony Home Ent. Takes Over Sony Wonder | Animation World Network". 2007-06-21. Retrieved 2016-01-18.
  15. ^ "Hasbro Reacquires Sunbow Cartoons". May 15, 2008. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
  16. ^ Arnold, Thomas K. (2007-03-13). "Kids label Sony Wonder going under: sources". Reuters. Retrieved 2016-01-18.
  17. ^ Arnold, Thomas K. (2007-03-14). "Sony ceases Wonder label". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2016-01-18.
  18. ^ Ryan Ball (2007-03-15). "Sony Wonder Closing Shop?". Animation Magazine. Retrieved 2016-01-18.
  19. ^ Scott Roxborough, AP (9 December 2009). "TV Loonland files for bankruptcy protection". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  20. ^ "M4e acquires TV Loonland content library".
  21. ^ "Studio 100 Takes Stake in m4e". 25 January 2017.
  22. ^ a b c d e f g h Gelman, Morrie (September 17, 1986). "Sunbow Takes To Marvel Like Duck To Water In Animation". Variety. Cahners Business Information. p. 81. Archived from the original (jpeg) on February 14, 2012. Retrieved October 18, 2011.
  23. ^ a b Swenson, John (December 22, 1987). "Cartoon Character Puts Singer Into Spotlight". Sun Sentinel. Tribune Publishing. United Press International. Retrieved February 24, 2017.
  24. ^ a b Webber, Tim (December 10, 2016). "15 Cartoon Superheroes Who Jumped To Comic Books". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved February 24, 2017.
  25. ^ a b Imbesi, Pete (May 5, 2017). "15 CLASSIC Cartoons Marvel SECRETLY Produced". Comic Book Rescoures. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
  26. ^ Reddish, David (September 1, 2016). "15 Animated Superhero TV Shows You Completely Forgot About". Screen Rant. Retrieved February 24, 2017.

External links[edit]