Alfons Åberg and his pretend friend Mållgan in the new film. Foto: Nordisk film

Alfons Åbergs ends up on marketing products

"We'll take great care"
3:00 min

Last year, the much loved childrens' character Alfons Åberg turned 40, and last week, the first feature length Alfons film opened at cinemas around the country. Now the publisher Rabén and Sjögren plans to launch a range of Alfons products to support the international release of the books.

The little boy Alfons, who lives with his dad, his cat Pussel and his pretend friend Mollgan, has a special place in the hearts of many Swedes. The books, written and illustrated by Gunilla Bergström, are about situations well-known to anyone who has been a child, and a quiet haven for parents who want to be reminded about what a respectful and authentic relationship with a child can be like.

In the books, and the ten minute Tv-episodes, we see: Alfons, 4 years old and refusing to go to bed - or a little bigger Alfons feeling guilty after he hit a little boy - or Alfons wrongly accused of being a theif - or Alfons afraid of the dark. Etc etc

The newly released film is based on a new script, but in line with the characters and their personality, even with a few references to the old books. The fact that the film contains several different voices, and not just the actor Björn Gustafsson's calm and warm voice from the shorter films - well it did cause a stir among the Alfons-enthusiasts - will it really work?

Well most critics seem to give the film thumbs up. But now things are stirring again with the news that the publisher will allow the characters from the story to feature on different products, as a way to strengthen the international release of the books. As Swedish Radio's culture department put it. "Alfons Åberg is for sale".

But Ann Sköld Nilsson, publisher at Rabén and Sjögren says this is nothing to worry about.

"These kinds of product is not a new thing," she says. "There are dolls and soft toys and mugs and so on what is new is that we have tied these sales to us as the publishing company. We see that as an advantage that we know the characters very well, and we can see to that the products are in accordance with the characters and the stories."

The international children's book market is dominated by foreign characters and Ann Sköld Nilsson would like to see more of the Swedish childrens' character out there as well.

"We hope that there is a potential because there are so many big international companies, like Disney, that rolls out enormous amounts of products and I do not take that as a role model, but just to say that there is a market and we think that the Swedish children's book characters, with their good personalities, should have a place as well.

Asked if there is a limit to where Alfons may next appear, could he end up in advertisement for a burger restaurant or different kinds of films, Ann Sköld Nilsson says it is only a select type of products that will come in question.

"We take great care that the products are in line with the original character and all of these products have to be of good quality," she says.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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