Sunbow Entertainment was an American animation studio, founded in 1980 and owned up until 1998 by Griffin-Bacal Advertising in New York. The first animation efforts by Griffin-Bacal were producing the 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. One of Sunbow's most well known productions is the long running syndicated series The Great Space Coaster, and perhaps their least-known is The Brothers Flub.
Sunbow is noted for many cartoons aired during the 1980s. Although it is not limited to Hasbro's various toy line products its reputation is tied to the many 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 1988, most of Hasbro's toylines were losing money and various internal struggles forced the company to end popular series such as G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, The Transformers, and Jem. Two of Sunbow's animated movies, (Transformers: The Movie and My Little Pony: The Movie (1986)) flopped at the box office, forcing G.I. Joe: The Movie to be released directly to video and an animated Jem movie to be shelved entirely.
In a bid to produce original material, Sunbow produced several cartoons through the early 1990s such as The Nudnik Show, The Tick and Conan the Adventurer. Of these, only The Tick managed to gain popularity and critical acclaim.
On April 28, 1998, Sunbow Productions was bought by Sony Wonder, a division of Sony Music. Sunbow's distribution arm remained open, and began to distribute Sony Wonder's TV series alongside their own in Europe.
In March 2000, Sony Wonder entered into an exclusive deal with the German-based company TV Loonland AG (who previously co-produced Fat Dog Mendoza for Sunbow) in which the latter would distribute the former's content in German-speaking countries and selected CEE countries. The partnership culminated with TV Loonland acquiring in October of the same year Sony Wonder's TV assets for US$10 million dollars, with Sony retaining North American home entertainment and worldwide audio rights to the catalog.
In May 2008, Hasbro purchased the Sunbow TV series based on the toy company's propertiesnote ; these shows were an important part of The Hub (now Discovery Family). In December 2009, TV-Loonland AG filed for bankruptcy and in early 2011, most of the rights to the non-Hasbro Sunbow Entertainment shows (along with the rest of TV-Loonland shows) were acquired by m4e AG, which soon became a division of Studio 100.
Previously, Rhino Entertainment owned the US home video distribution rights to the Sunbow catalogue. The rights then changed hands to Sony Wonder with its acquisition of Sunbow. However, Sony Wonder was shut down in March 2007 and absorbed into Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
Among the various series produced by Sunbow are (co-productions with Marvel Productions are marked with a *):
- The Great Space Coaster (1981)
- G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero* (1983/84, miniseries; 1985-86, series)
- G.I. Joe: The Movie* (1986)
- The Transformers* (1984-1987)
- The Transformers: The Movie* (1986)
- My Little Pony TV Specials* (1984/85)
- My Little Pony: The Movie (1986)*
- My Little Pony 'n Friends* (1986-87; anthology series)
- Super Sunday* (1985-86; anthology series)
- Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light (1987; co-production with TMS Entertainment)
- The Nudnik Show (1991)
- Bucky O'Hare and the Toad Wars! (1991) (co-production With IDDH, Abrams-Gentile and Continuity Comics)
- My Little Pony Tales (1992-93)
- Conan the Adventurer (1992-93)
- Conan and the Young Warriors (1994)
- The Tick (1994-96, co-production with Fox Children's Productions)
- Littlest Pet Shop (1995) (1995, co-production with C&D)
- The Mask (1995-97; co-production with Film Roman, Dark Horse Comics and New Line Television)
- The Adventures of Hyperman (1995-96)
- G.I. Joe Extreme (1995-97)
- Deepwater Black (Mission: Genesis in the U.S.) (1997)
- Salty's Lighthouse (1997-98)
- The Brothers Flub (1999-2000, co-production with Ravensburger Film + TV and Sony Wonder Television)
- Fat Dog Mendoza (2000-2001, co-production with TMO-Loonland, Sony Wonder Television and Cartoon Network Europe)
- Generation O! (2000, co-production with RTV Family Entertainment and Sony Wonder Television)
- The Cramp Twins (2001-2004, Series 1 Only, Co-production with TV-Loonland AG and Cartoon Network Europe, Telemagination took over for Series 2)