Nickelodeon Face(1994 - 2004): The Most Popular Nick Jr. Mascot of All Time

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What strikes your mind when you think of Nick Jr.? Me, I just can’t get Nickelodeon Face out of my mind. Yes, I mean the classic nostalgic Nick Jr. Face, not the updated version. Although I have nothing against the updated face. But I fell in love back then with the original face. It was one of the things that kept me glued to the TV on weekends and late at night.

Back then, we used to appreciate and celebrate very small things. Those were days before social media and YouTube as we know them today. It was the cool days when you could actually listen and “talk along” a TV cartoon series of over 20 episodes. If that is not enough, we still had time to play without toys! Good old days!

Face was undeniably the most popular Nick Jr. Mascot of all time. Right off the bat, Face would make you laugh at any joke he makes, just by making faces. No wonder we used to find it amusing. Combined with his fancy colors that fill up the screen, Face was the favorite of many kids. Most likely he was the easiest character to paint on the school walls or on the back of the seats on the bus. We would go on and on competing on who drew the best facial expression of face. Sometimes I look at the little yellow emojis and think they must have gotten their inspiration from Face.

It was around this time that Nickelodeon had become one of the top-most watched Cartoon Channel in the world. Whit hundreds if not thousands of shows and shorts.
Red Face, Yellow Face, Blue Face, Pink Face! All faces of Face were just magical. And did you realize he sometimes sneezed! that was the interesting bit about Face. He could do some outrageous thing and go away with it. I wonder why the producers made him do that. Anyway, we still loved him. With the pandemic around, I think they would be more careful with the sneezing bit of Face!

The nostalgia of Face is so strong. I remember back then, my favorites were banana sandwiches and peanut butter, just because Face loved them. These memories of Cable TV give goosebumps, just by talking about them. In the last two or so decades, I have been watching cartoons on various TV channels, but none seem to amaze me the way Nick Jr’s Face did.

I remember myself and my sibling sitting watching shows through summer. My mom would yell “Go out and enjoy the day”! But that did not make sense because we were so madly in love with Nick shows that we could sacrifice the good sunny day for it. Even as we grew up, we still spent time watching these shows on Cable TV. Trust me, these did not go well with my parents. They usually thought that they were way too childish for us. But that did not worry us. We would still sit and watch and only change to playing video games afterward.

All you need to Know About Nick Jr.’s Face
For over a decade (199 – 2004), Face was Nick Jr.’s mascot when Piper took over as the new presenter from 2004 to 2007. He would frequently perform songs and indicate which TV show would be on next. On rare occasions, he would interact with a character from Nick Jr. show or shot (which he is announcing), like Blue and Periwinkle from Blue’s Clues, the character from Little Bill, Bob from Bob and the Builder (Offscreen), and also Philomena Fly from What’s the Buzz with Philomena Fly.

His Characteristic phrase was really his imitation trumpet noises, which he frequently performed after saying the programming block name Too Too Toot. Which was sometimes mistaken as brr brr brr on a subtitle caption and fans, generally followed by a giggle.

Face was used in the United Kingdom until 2004, German until 2006, in Mexico he was referred to as Cara, and France as Visage from 1995 to 2004. Face was voiced by David Holt in the UK, and Charlie Adler in Australia from 1998 to 2006.

Face’s final episode was aired on Nick Jr. on September 12, 2004, with Maurice Sendak’s Little Bear. After that, they showed a Piper Possum preview, followed by the last Nick J. bumper and Nickelodeon’s Sunday programming. Face would continue to feature on the Nick Jr. block in Australia until 2006.

Face was replaced as the Nick Jr. mascot in September 2004 by Piper Possum. Previously, beginning in September 2003, Face was overhauled with a new mouth, eyes, voice, and brows. The revamp was not well-liked, and they quickly returned to his former style. He is the only Nick Jr. mascot who has been there for more than three years and can still be seen on a couple of Nick Jr. website’s games.

On December 31, 2011, he also made a few cameos on a special New Year’s Eve edition of The ‘90s Are all that with Stick Stickly. During easter 2016, he again attempted to locate the Easter Bunny.

Face’s Commercial Bumpers

Face was among the most played Nick Jr. mascot at the time. He appeared in a very man commercial to promote Nick Jr. at the time. This was at a time that cartoon shows on all cable TV networks were fighting for dominance and increase airplay.

Nickelodeon was not left behind, as it had a lineup of interesting commercials on almost all cartoon series. But Face stood out because he combined fun, color, elegance, and cheekiness to bring out a personality that was really likable to the kids at the time. Not forgetting the frequent sneezes and peanut butter!

Besides being one of Nick Jr.’s most popular mascot, some children, particularly those with autism, were terrified of him as a child (especially after his removal), comparable to DQ’s commercial mascon from 2003 to 2011, a mouth. This may have triggered dreams at night.

The same terms may apply to other applications, such as the song “Stadium Rave” which featured in SpongeBob Squarepants episode “Jellyfish Jam” and the THX’s Deep Note” audio log used before the start of the film on certified home media (and even in the scene during the 2006 Dreamworks film, Over the Hedge.

Face and Stick Stickly made a return to the ‘90s Are All That on New Year’s Eve of 2012. His appearances consisted of out-of-context video of him appearing inebriated or making vulgar remarks like ‘Yea, grow a pair. Following that, Face appeared on NickSplat one the Easter of 2016. This time around, his presence comprised of snippets in which he appeared to ask viewers if they saw an Easter Bunny.

Why Face and Nick Jr. have Remain Popular Until Now

The history of Nick Jr. dates back to the late 80s, however, Face was introduced somewhere in the mid-'90s during the revamping of the entire channel. Let us talk a little about the history of Nick Jr., where it came from, and how it managed the stiff competition of the 80s through to the 90s.

Cartoon shows are among the fastest-growing in the entertainment sector. The rapid growth of the entertainment industry in the 90s was attributed to technological advances in the equipment and production of cartoons at the time. Also, with the rapid development of the internet and video media, the cable TV industry also grew tenfold.

Nick Jr. is one of the leading cartoon media to have witnessed and be part of this rapid growth. It has never been left out of the development. Every CEO ever to be employed at Nickelodeon was keen on technology adoption in improving the quality of its programming and development of shows. This made Nick rank among the top Cable TV cartoon networks at the time.

Background History of Nick Jr. TV Channel
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Viacom CBS domestic networks division’s Kids and Family Group operates Nick Jr., an American Pay television channel. It debuted on Nickelodeon’s long-running preschool programming block of the same name in September 2009 and is primarily aimed at preschoolers. The channel’s schedule includes a mix of original programming as well as previously and concurrently aired series.

The channel took over after Noggin which was relaunched as a video streaming service in 2015 and now operates as a separate sister brand. Noggin’s programming differs from that of Nick Jr.'s channel; at its launch, it primarily aired pre-teen-oriented shows, and its 2015 streaming service includes a variety of exclusive series.

Both the Nick Jr. channel and the Nick Jr. block are currently active. The latter airs on Nickelodeon weekdays from 8 am to 2 pm ET. The hours of the show may vary during summer, other school break periods, and major national holidays, with traditional commercial breaks for certain programs. Nick Jr. was available to over 70 million pay-TV households in the US by 2018.

Evolution of Nick Jr. from the ‘80s to now
Photo: Listchallenges
Nickelodeon’s channel space has been airing preschool-oriented programs since its inception in the mid-'70s. It featured Pinwheel as one of its first original series. These are usually played on weekdays morning when older kids were in school. It used to run from around 8 am to 2 pm. Nick debuted a new name for its preschool block on January 1988 called Nick Junior On-air, the name was later shortened to Nick Jr. around September 1988 and Mid-1989.

At first, the block primarily showed imported series bought from other TV channels. Nick’s first original series for the block was Eureeka’s Castle. Brown Johnson, Nick Jr.’s former vice president, stated in an interview in 2000 that after Eureeka ended production, Nick Jr. became a forgotten case in comparison to Nickelodeon.

In September 1994, Nick Jr.'s block relaunched with Face as its first host. The second and third original Nick Jr. series Gullah Gullah Island and Allegra’s Window debuted around this time. They resulted in a 50% increase in rating for the block. Nickelodeon continued to create its own productions for Nick Jr. after that, and foreign-made imports were phased out. Blue’s Clues and Dora the Explorer became rating powerhouses for both and Nickelodeon overall.

Before gaining its own network, the Nick Jr. block appeared on several other networks, including CBS from 2000 to 2006 and Noggin from 2003 to 2009. In September 2006, CBS replaced Nick Jr. programming with KOL Secret Slumber Party, and the Nick Jr. on CBS block came to an end. Nick Jr.'s series continued to air on Noggin until 2009 when it was replaced by the Nick Jr. channel.

The Journey Continues (2009 – now)

Photo: Reddit
Nickelodeon announced in March 2009 that Noggin would be replaced by a channel named after the Nick Jr. block. The goal was to align the channel with the Nickelodeon brand identity. Nickelodeon unveiled new standardized logos for its fie channels in July of that year, with the goal of creating a unified look that could be conveyed more efficiently across the services.

In September 2009, the Nick Jr. channel debuted, along with a new logo designed by New York-based creative director/designer Eric Zim. Although the use of an orange adult and blue child figure in the new wordmark logo was discontinued, the tradition of the Nick text being orange representing the adult ant the Jr. text remaining blue representing the child was maintained.

Until 2012, the Nick Jr. Channel used Noggin on-air branding style and aired several of its shows, including the mascots Moose and Zee. It also refused to accept traditional advertising and relegated closing credits to promote other shows on the channel.

Gretel Inc. designed a fresh redesign for the Nick Jr. channel in March 2012. Jessica DiCicco took over as network announce, and the Moose and Zee mascots were phased out after nine years, removing one of Noggin’s last vestiges; as a result, some of the interstitial learning activities that originally featured Moose’s narration (such as the Puzzle Time segments) were recycled and replaced by her narration. Nick Jr.'s slogan was modified from “Its like Preschool On TV” to “The Smart Place to Play”. This was the one that was used as the branding for the Nick Jr. block.

Pinky Dinky Doo, The Upside-Down Show, Oswald, Jack’s Big Music Show, Franklin, Toot & Puddle, Miss Spider’s Sunny Patch Friends, and Olivia were also dropped from the network’s schedule; the last eight would return later that year, while the first was still available on Nick Jr. website at the time.
At this point, the Nick Jr. channel’s programming began to be presented by characters from the Nick Jr. series. On that same date, the Nick Jr. channel began incorporating programming promotions and short features seven months later, on October 2012, the Nick Jr. channel began airing limited traditional advertising for companies like:

  • ABCMouse,
  • Kmart,
  • Chuck E. Cheese’s,
  • Nabi,
  • Clorox
  • Walmart
  • Lysol, and
  • Playskool
These were in form of underwriter sponsorships airing in-between shows, whereas its parent net did not. In May 208, the channel upgraded their imaging with new interstitial pieces and updated curriculum notification and began to promote themselves audibly and visually as the Nick Jr. Channel to avoid confusion with the Nickelodeon block. The first shows to feature this design were two Dora the Explorer episodes, “Dora Rocks!” and Boots’ First Bike.

NickMom, a four-hour block of parent-targeted entertainment, aired on the Nick Jr. channel from October 2012 to September 2015. It broadcast between 10 pm and 2 am ET. In 2011, the NickMom moniker began with a humor website, and the four-hour time period showed comedies such as Instant Mom and NickMom Night Out.

NickMom’s social media channels announced in September 2015 that the four-hour weeknight block on the Nick Jr. channel as well as the NickMon website, would cease operations by the end of September 2015 due to Viacom’s 2015 cutbacks involving acquired programming and also due to NickMom’s low ratings with the time vacated by NickMom returned to traditional Nick Jr. channel programming. NickMom ended its two-year run-on in September 2015 with a screening of the movie Guarding Tess. There was no ending message; instead, it faded immediately into an episode of Yo Gabba Gabba! After the film Guarding Tess.
Since then, repeats of Dora the Explorer, Blue’s Clues, Team Umizoomi, and Bubble Guppies have filled the four hours abandoned by NickMom, whose previous internet address is now utilized as a redirect to Nickelodeon’s site for parental information.

Since the closure of NickMom, the Nick Jr. channel boosted the amount of traditional advertising it aired, but also began scheduling programs in an inversion of the off-the-clock pattern which the network shortened some of its commercial breaks in order to air more programming. Previously, many Viacom networks, including TV land, Nick at Nite, MTV, MTV2, and Paramount Network, used the of the clock concept.

Final Thought

You cannot talk about Nick Jr. without mentioning Face and vice versa. Face became an enterprise on its own. Thanks to the Nick Jr. programming and commercials. The popularization of Face was almost predictable since he was funny and full of energy. I still have memories of us watching the Face promos with enthusiasm as if they were part of the show. We used to sing along and verbalize everything he said.

What are your memories of Nick’s Face?

Did you have a chance to watch Face back in the late ’90s to 2000s? What do you remember?