Blue's Clues and Hello Kitty join paws

America's favorite puzzle-solving dog, Blue, is getting together with Hello Kitty, Japan's most famous cat, in a partnership announced Wednesday.

Toys, clothes and stationery decorated with the floppy-eared blue canine and the bubble-headed mouthless white kitten will arrive in stores here next spring under a licensing deal between Sanrio Co. and U.S. licensing business Nickelodeon & Viacom Consumer Products, the companies said in a statement.

Under the deal, NVCP has granted Sanrio the master license for the character that won fame as the star of "Blue's Clues," an animated educational series.

NVCP President Leigh Anne Brodsky said this is the first time her company has joined one of its icons with a counterpart from another firm.

"It's a very exciting idea to have this creative collaboration, kind of East meets West, dog meets cat," she said in a telephone interview during a trip to Tokyo to announce the partnership.

Creators from both sides will work together on products targeting young Japanese women, with an eye to later exporting goods to the rest of Asia and perhaps to Europe and the U.S., she said.

Although tying together mascot characters isn't without its risks, the artistic styles of "Blue's Clues" and Hello Kitty blend well because Blue's creator was influenced by Hello Kitty, Brodsky said.

"Hello Kitty was a tremendous inspiration in the creation of 'Blue's Clues' and has been one of my favorite characters since childhood," said Blue co-creator Traci Paige Johnson.

"Blue's Clues" has ranked continuously among the top five preschool commercial TV series in the U.S. over the last decade. It has generated $ 3.6 billion in retail sales since 1998 and sold more than 35 million books.

Hello Kitty, invented by Sanrio in 1974, adorns everything from diamond-studded jewelry, Fender guitars and digital cameras to lunchboxes, T-shirts and stationery.

Britney Spears, Paris Hilton and Mariah Carey have been spotted with Hello Kitty gear.

Earlier this year, NVCP began selling products in Japan with SpongeBob SquarePants, a yellow square-shaped cartoon character popular in the U.S.

The Japan Times
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