So this story has been a while in the telling. Oy September, you vex me so!
You might remember I mentioned that earlier this month, I had the opportunity to run off for a quick trip to Toronto to visit with the lovely peeps from Mom Central Canada and Fisher-Price. If you remember, the first week of September was abruptly and unseasonably cold, but the day I zipped off to Toronto was like a little reminder of summer – warm and near 30C but with enough of a breeze off the lake that it seemed just about perfect.
Any day that begins with a view like this has to be good.
From here I went down the lakeshore to the headquarters for Corus Entertainment, where we were having our meeting. Even if you’ve never heard of Corus, you’re probably familiar with some of their media properties: Nelvana, Treehouse, YTV, Teletoon, Q107, the Edge, Kids Can Press and many many others. As part of our day, we were taken on a fascinating backstage tour through the Nelvana offices of the 3D animation team behind Mike the Knight.
Do your kiddies watch Mike the Knight? Lucas really likes it, and I find that it’s one of the rare kid shows that’s not painful to watch as a grownup (as compared to such other Nelvana fare as Max and Ruby, which Lucas also inexplicably loves.) The Fisher-Price team shared some viewership stats that showed clearly Lucas and I are not alone in our appreciation of the goodhearted little knight: it’s the top-rated show for boys and girls ages 2-5, boys ages 2-11 and kids 2-11. (Don’t ask me about the demographic breakdown – different assessment tools, maybe? Anyway, it’s clear that Mike’s popular across the kiddie landscape.) It’s popular with parents, too (apparently the #3 show with the mom audience), probably largely due to the positive themes around encouraging kids to champion their responsibilities and inspiring kids to do the best of their abilities. And hey, what kid doesn’t like kings and queens, castles and dragons?
Did you know Mike the Knight is a Canadian creation? I had no idea! The concept came from the same fellow who created Bob the Builder (my boys’ first favourite show) and Lunar Jim, and the show – a co-production between Corus, Nelvana and HIT Entertainment – is created entirely in Toronto. Mike the Knight was launched 24 months ago, but was recently picked up by US network Nickleodeon, which led to the merchandizing launch supported by the folks at Fisher-Price.
The studio tour was wicked cool. We got to visit see several stages in the 3D animation process, from storyboarding to animating to the addition of textures, lighting and special effects. I don’t know if I ever mentioned that Beloved worked for a few years in the animation industry, so I have more than a passing knowledge about animation, but I’d never seen the 3D animation process up close. Once I got past coveting the hardware (giant monitors that act like tablets – you can draw right on them!), I was entranced by watching how 2D drawings are rendered into 3D figures. I think because of Beloved’s old-school animation training (flipping back and forth between key drawings and in-betweens, etc) I have never really appreciated what goes in to 3D animation – it’s a completely different process.
Anyway, all that to say, between the gracious animation team at Nelvana, the fun tech toys, and the spectacular Corus building on the lakefront (they have, among other things, a lakeside patio, several foozball tables in the lounge and a two-story indoor slide) by the end of the afternoon I was wondering if it was too late to consider a career change. I could learn to be an animator, if perhaps maybe I could dredge up some artistic talent from somewhere, yes? No, eh? Okay, then, I suppose uprooting the family and moving to Toronto is not the best plan ever after all.
The rest of the day passed in a blur. We had some great conversations with the Fisher-Price marketing team and with the terrific team from Mom Central Canada. We had an a-maz-ing dinner on a lakeside patio. And it was just when we arrived at our hotel for the evening and I went to check in that I realized that somewhere between the Porter gate at the Ottawa airport 12 hours before and the hotel lobby in Toronto — my driver’s license had disappeared. With a familiar sinking sensation in my stomach, I checked and rechecked every pocket and pouch, but it was gone. I clearly remember having it as I settled into my seat on the plane, and I clearly did not put it back into my wallet where it belonged.
This would be troublesome enough, but it also happened to be my only piece of photo ID. And they’re not really flexible on that whole “you need a piece of photo ID to get on our airplane” thing. I called Porter in a panic, and after a bit of hemming and hawing they confirmed that I needed to visit a local police detachment to file a report, and the occurrence number on that report would get me on the plane.
So that’s how I found myself on an unexpected quest that involved not knights and dragons but traversing Dundas Street in downtown Toronto from Jarvis across Yonge Street to the community police station near Dundas and University. My fellow Fisher-Price Ambassadors Caroline and Jody were kind enough to escort me on my quest through an unexpectedly busy downtown. Caroline was nice enough to document this, my first-ever visit inside a police station.
It’s not an adventure until the cops are involved, right? Suburban moms gone wild, I tell ya! And seriously, if you ever need an entry for your gratitude journal, I recommend the six block walk back and forth through downtown Toronto on a humid September evening. Yikes!
So it’s a good thing I had such a great time hanging out with Mike the Knight and my fellow Fisher Price ambassadors and the Mom Central Canada team, because after the travel snafus from Mexico (disappearing bank card) to Jamaica (hurricane) to Orlando (hurricane AND missing tickets), I’m pretty sure I’ll never again be invited to another Fisher-Price trip!
I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind you that you and your little ones can catch Mike the Knight on Treehouse up to 27 times per week, or on his very own website on Treehouse.com and you will find the full line of cute Mike the Knight toys at a store near you starting this fall.
Disclosure: I receive special perks as a part of my affiliation with the Fisher-Price Play Ambassador program with Mom Central Canada. The opinions in this blog are my own and I take full responsibility for my ongoing travel misadventures as well.
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