Variety has reported interest by Walt Disney Studios in producing Prom, a comedy written by television writer Katie Wech. Citing the success of High School Musical as inspiration, the teen romp is said to be written in the vein of film legend John Hughes or Cameron Crowe. Quick to note that the project is still in development stages, Variety suggests Disney is looking at a way to produce the film for only five to ten million, significantly less than even the aforementioned Disney Channel Movie cost, most notably by casting virtual unknowns for the leads, thus heightening the film’s chances at churning a profit.
I was able to briefly penetrate the LEGO fortress (which, despite being bright yellow on the exterior, was constructed of something much more durable than plastic) and get a sneak peek at all of the new Disney branded LEGO and DUPLO sets we can expect to see in 2010.
Solidifying the recent licensing of Disney to LEGO, 2010 marks the first year that LEGO will be introducing Disney-branded DUPLO for the younger set. In this case, we have two series coming out in the first half of the year for Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story and for Disney/Pixar’s CARS. I have to confess I find the DUPLO sets to be absolutely adorable and I wish I could share photos with you but despite being in possession of the box artwork, it’s all preliminary so I’m not allowed to share, but I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.
With LEGO, we have a few more Toy Story sets being released in conjunction with the theatrical release of Toy Story 3. These sets are focused on the film and thus some of the characters and concepts behind the playsets will be spoilers. The same could be said for the Prince of Persia releases, so consider yourself warned.
In some of the biggest toy news this year, Basic Fun is breathing new life into the original Koosh and, for the first time ever, has united the iconic toy with some of your favorite Disney, Pixar, Muppets and Marvel Super Hero Squad friends.
As a Toy Story 3 licensee, Basic Fun is expanding its already established Games on the Go key chain editions of popular board games with a whole suite of new Toy Story 3 key chains and portable games including some new games inspired by the film. Games like Buzz Buzz are even electronic, allowing you to test your (or your surgeon’s) dexterity.
Swindon in the United Kingdom was officially honored at Walt Disney World when the plaque marking the twinning of the Wiltshire town with the popular Florida resort was unveiled at the famous Magic Kingdom. The twinning ceremony, which was attended by The Mayor of Swindon (Cllr David Wren), TV presenter and competition judge Angellica Bell, Duncan Wardle, VP Creative Inc, Walt Disney World, the creator of the winning Swindon nomination Rebecca Warren and her family. A plaque marking the twinning will take pride of place in the UK pavilion at Epcot throughout 2010 for visitors to see.
Buried under extensive coverage of Star Wars at the International Toy Fair, StarWars.com recently brought us news of a couple of new exclusive limited edition releases coming soon to Disney Parks.
In honor of The Empire Strikes Back which will be celebrating its 30th anniversary during Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in 2010 comes this extremely limited edition action figure of Stitch as the hologram of Emperor Palpatine. Limited to a run of only 1980 (get it?), each piece is accompanied by an individually numbered card and branded as being specific to the 2010 Star Wars Weekends event, thus it will be available exclusively at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Note: this is a continuation of an article that begins here.
After the presentation was complete, I was able to speak a little bit to Lee Unkrich who graciously posed for some photos and entertained my questions, particularly on how his recent inspirational decision to auction his own personal Pixar memorabilia on eBay to raise money for Haiti disaster relief went (he provided a guesstimate on the total and he and the legions of Pixar fans did impressively well, that much I will say). So congratulations to Lee for the generous donation as well as for the film.
I also got to speak at length with Chris Heatherly, Disney Consumer Products’ General Manager & Vice President of Toys, on various topics (all Disney) as well as received some personal demonstrations of some of the new toys.
By far, most of the toys presented at the event were from Mattel with demonstration models including the Buzz Lightyear Deluxe Action Wing Pack and the Toy Story 3 Action Links Playsets.
I was most surprised with the Buzz Lightyear Wing Pack, both for the better and for the worse. On the pro side, I was completely expecting the Wing Pack to be restricted to child size, but the backpack/strap style actually fits adults surprisingly well. On the con, the wings are motor-controlled, not spring release so they expand a bit slower than one might perhaps hope (but it’s doubtful many kids will notice or care). On the motor action, a representative for Mattel told me that there is actually a mechanism in place to respond if the wings end up being forced by small hands, so that the mechanism is virtually indestructible, so that is a good thing. Overall, it is pretty neat with large ‘LED’ lights that light up and blink when the wings expand at the press of the giant red button (which contracts the wings at the next press) and features popular Buzz phrases, both automatically and at the press of other buttons, just like the real toy. Using accelerometer technology, when the child (or adult) bends over at about 30 degrees or so (and more), the wings automatically make flying noises and light up and also respond in kind to the swaying movement as the Space Ranger-to-be runs/flies/falls-with-style around.
For the Action Link playsets, individual sets of varying sizes and prices link up to produce a wacky series of Rube Goldberg-esque events. There will be five sets at launch, of which three were on display at the event (though I did manage to see the other two at the Mattel showroom) and the gimmick is that the sets (which incidentally are purely mechanical, so no batteries needed) can be arranged in any order, changing the whimsical sequence with each arrangement. I did find resetting the sets trying my patience at times because they each operate with a hair trigger and — just like with setting up dominos — it’s frustrating to be in mid-setup and inadvertently fire off half of the sets, forcing you to attempt to reset them again. Still, there is quite a bit of fun and novelty value to it despite some of the inevitable setbacks (maybe teaching patience also makes it an educational toy).
Not presenting at the International Toy Fair, but well represented at the event was original Toy Story licensee and innovative toy developer Thinkway Toys. Of course a ‘LOT’ of attention went the way of Lotso, the overly fluffy pink male bear who happens to be strawberry scented (although maybe a tad more Frankenberry than strawberry), but Thinkway has quite a few more new exciting products to share with Toy Story 3.
There is, for example, the Toy Story Collection Mr. Potato Head. Or rather the Animated, Talking, Part Popping Action Mr. Potato Head. The very animated and vocal potato responds to voice and eagerly chats away and entertains, but he’s always just one loud noise away from exploding, sending his body parts scattering in all directions. He also has the capability of realizing when the wrong parts are in the wrong place (purely G rated of course, he is a Playskool toy afterall).
Tucked away with the rest of the Thinkway Toys on display, I also managed to catch a glimpse of both Jessie and Bullseye who have been added to the collection. Yeehaw!
But speaking of incredibly horrible reverse-segues, on the former topic of Playskool and Mr. Potato Head, Hasbro is introducing a set of Toy Story 3 themed Potato Heads including Spud Lightyear and Woody’s Tater Roundup (Reach for the Fry!) which were on display. I also understand there will even be a Mrs. Potato Head themed as Jessie.
Another product on display from Hasbro that I’m particularly excited about is a Toy Story themed edition of the classic electronic boardgame of Operation. Buzz. Aliens. Probe. Need I say more?
In the gallery of photos below, you’ll see many more of the Toy Story 3 products you can expect to see in stores within the next few months. With around 250 new products from about 20 different licensees, I promise there’s plenty more to come than just what you’ll find here, especially from Mattel who I’ll cover a bit more in a future article.
I was extremely fortunate to attend an event earlier this week in which Disney Consumer Products launched dozens of new toys from Mattel, Thinkway Toys, LEGO, Hasbro and JAKKS Pacific, just some vof the licensees for Toy Story 3 products with the aid of some very special guests.
Held at Gotham Hall in the Herald Square area, the space was magically transformed into the Sunnyside Daycare Center featuring oversized props, shrinking us all down to toy size. An over-sized chair provided an appropriate photo opportunity while Woody, Jessie and Buzz Lightyear were on hand to greet guests and to take complimentary photos.
To kick off the presentation, Mary Beech, Vice President/General Manager for Global Studio Franchise Development at Disney Consumer Products, talked about the previous night’s event at the Toy of the Year Awards in which John Lasseter was inducted into the International Toy Hall of Fame. We were shown the mini-documentary that was shown during the awards show which focused on Lasseter’s contributions to the industry and featured many of his colleagues at Pixar as well as his wife, Nancy, and his three sons who spoke of receiving a Buzz and Woody for Christmas after Toy Story had first been released.
[SinglePic not found]Lasseter took the stage next and talked about the genesis of the toy story franchise — how the idea was hatched after witnessing his niece’s approach to toys and wondering how the toys would react if they were alive. After implementing some of the concept in the Pixar short Tin Toy, he talked about how the story was made to be able to reach an older audience by giving the toys neuroses such as Rex’s expectation to be the fiercest creature on earth despite his tiny little arms or Mr. Potato Head’s chip on his shoulder because his body parts are always being removed and re-arranged. Of course, Lasseter says, a toy’s biggest fear is being outgrown, leading into a key plot point in Toy Story 3 in which the toys are led to believe that a daycare center is nirvana — a ‘retirement home for toys’ — in which there will always be a steady flow of children needing the toys and no need to become emotionally attached to the kids as they come and go.
With Tim Burton’s vision of Alice in Wonderland just on the horizon, there are naturally dozens of new and wonderful licensed toys and collectibles inspired by the film headed our way. Here’s just a taste of some of the amazing product we encountered at the International Toy Fair this year that we can all look forward to seeing in 2010.
From Tonner,we have a full line of limited edition dolls including this gorgeous likeness of Mia Wasikowska as Alice. Tonner also has Iracebeth, the Red Queen, and Mirana, the White Queen, on display. While we were unable to take photos as the final product is awaiting approval, we can certainly say they were all very impressive as one would expect from a company like Tonner. Not on display at the show is Tonner’s Mad Hatter, but we were given a sneak peek at the current incarnation and he’s naturally equally as impressive in his detail. Pending the dolls’ final approvals, we can expect to see them sometime in spring.
In celebration of the upcoming DVD and Blu-ray releases of The Princess and the Frog, Disney Movie Rewards is offering its members a free Disney Enchanted Call from Princess Tiana through March 28.
If you are not already a member of Disney Movie Rewards, now is the time to join. It’s completely free and offers many perks to its members throughout the year, the least of which being the ability to exchange reward points earned by simply purchasing most Walt Disney Home Entertainment Blu-ray and DVD releases for exclusive merchandise.
To claim your free call from Tiana, visit http://www.disneymovierewards.com/TianaCall and use magic code GUMBO when prompted.
Adventures by Disney and HarperCollins Children’s Books today announced three winners from “The Search for Flat Stanley’s Next BIG Adventure” contest. Children, ages 7 to 12, had the opportunity to win an Adventures by Disney vacation by creating a specially-themed Flat Stanley and a 150-word story describing his “Next BIG Adventure.”
Following hundreds of creative entries crafted from all sorts of material, including glitter, sand, yarn, construction paper and even jeweled stickers, three winners have been chosen from the following age groups:
- 7-8 yr-old winner Lauren Shepard from Tennessee sent Flat Stanley to Australia for a great adventure “Down Under”
- 9-10 yr-old winner Adia Chaney of Maryland designed a European-style Flat Stanley; her story highlighted the Queen of England
- 11-12 yr-old winner Destiny White from Texas captured her win with an Asian-inspired Flat Stanley and an unforgettable adventure to the Great Wall of China