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Barney the purple dinosaur is coming back with a new show — and a new look

Mattel released a preview of Barney's new animated look on Monday, alongside news that the dinosaur would star in a new global series in 2024.
Mattel Inc.
Mattel released a preview of Barney's new animated look on Monday, alongside news that the dinosaur would star in a new global series in 2024.

Barney, the polarizing purple dinosaur who was a mainstay of many millennial upbringings, is making a triumphant return to TV screens next year — but this time, he'll be animated.

Mattel Inc. announceda "comprehensive revitalization of the Barney brand," saying that a new flagship television series will air globally in 2024. Also in the works: a film, YouTube content, music, toys, books and apparel for kids and kids-at-heart.

And while the new and improved Barney may have bigger eyes and a more maneuverable jaw, the lessons he delivers through song and dance will be familiar to many former fans, Mattel says.

"Barney's message of love and kindness has stood the test of time," said Josh Silverman, Mattel's chief franchise officer. "We will tap into the nostalgia of the generations who grew up with Barney, now parents themselves, and introduce the iconic purple dinosaur to a new generation of kids and families around the world across content, products, and experiences."

The original Barney and Friends series began airing on PBS in 1992 and continued until 2010, a testament to the show's popularity among preschool-aged children.

But, perhaps inevitably, the violet-hued, anthropomorphic T. rex behind sugary songs such as "I Love You"wasn't everyone's cup of tea. A wave of dark adult humor followed Barney's success, kickstarted by a 1993 Saturday Night Live skit in which basketball star Charles Barkley body-slams Barney on the court.

Barney's reboot is Mattel's latest attempt to resurrect its heritage brands for new audiences. Most recently, Mattel re-launched its 1980s Masters of the Universe franchise with two animated shows on Netflix and a new line of action figures.

Other major Mattel brands, like Barbie, Hot Wheels and Thomas & Friendshave endured in popularity over the decades, but are struggling to carry the company through the latest wave of inflation.

Last week, Mattel projected its 2023 earnings would be below expectations as its shares continued to drop. Net sales were down 22% in the company's fourth quarter from a year earlier.

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Emily Olson
Emily Olson is on a three-month assignment as a news writer and live blog editor, helping shape NPR's digital breaking news strategy.
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