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Mattel Takes a Swing at a Whac-A-Mole Game Show

Toy giant Mattel is working with America’s Got Talent producer Fremantle to develop a frantic new game show based on the Whac-A-Mole game it acquired in 2009.

Mattel and Fremantle say the Whac-A-Mole game show will be a wild, physically challenging elimination competition in which opposing teams will use their skill, strength and endurance to become the Whac-A-Mole champion. The unscripted reality series will include a life-sized Whac-a-Mole, races and obstacle courses.

“Whac-A-Mole is a beloved, action-packed arcade game with a deep fan following, and the interactive nature and comedic energy of the game makes it a great franchise for episodic television,” said Adam Bonnett, Executive Producer, Mattel Television, who is leading the development project for Mattel. “Jayson and the team at Fremantle have had unparalleled success creating iconic reality television series and are the perfect partners to help us bring this classic game to life in new ways.”

Jayson Dinsmore, President of Alternative Programming and Development at Fremantle, says the game is ideal for the types of highly physical game shows that have become increasingly popular on television.

“We’re so excited to have the iconic Whac-A-Mole brand as our newest playground,” Dinsmore said. “Partnering with Mattel to bring this classic game to television in a dynamic and synergistic life-sized world is a dream come true.”

Whac-A-Mole originated as a popular arcade game in 1976 and consists of a cabinet with five cut-out holes cut with moles hidden in each. They pop out randomly, at which time the player whacks them with a large, soft mallet, hence the name of the game. In addition to its arcade roots, Mattel first turned Whac-A-Mole into a tabletop game in 2009. This spring, Mattel will be re-releasing Whac-A-Mole, the original tabletop game, as well as introducing Whac-A-Mole Match-A-Mole, which incorporates the traditional gameplay into a matching card game.

Along with Whac-A-Mole, as reported last month in The Licensing Letter, Mattel is also developing The Uno Game Show based on the card game, with Ben Silverman, Howard T. Owens and Greg Lipstone of Propagate, the production company behind successful reality TV franchises like “Charmed,” “Running Wild with Bear Grylls” and “Chopped,” and John Quinn, producer of “Card Sharks,” the iconic “Let’s Make a Deal” and “Match Game”.

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