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.
[singlepic id=1558 w=1600 h=120 float=right]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.
[singlepic id=1508 w=160 h=120 float=left]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.
[singlepic id=1554 w=160 h=120 float=right]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).
[singlepic id=1551 w=160 h=120 float=left]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.
[singlepic id=1567 w=160 h=120 float=right]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!
[singlepic id=1553 w=160 h=120 float=left]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.
[singlepic id=1501 w=160 h=120 float=left]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.
[singlepic id=1510 w=160 h=120 float=right]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 id=1511 w=160 h=120 float=left]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
Disney’s California Food & Wine Festival will create a kaleidoscope of culinary experiences for guests of every palate April 16-May 31 at Disney’s California Adventure park and select locations across the Disneyland Resort.
Chefs, winemakers and brewmasters will celebrate The Art of Flavor at this year’s tantalizing festival, which features entertaining culinary demonstrations, outstanding wine and spirits seminars, and delicious food, wine and beer. General sales for Festival events began Feb. 16.
Look for chefs Guy Fieri and Cat Cora of Food Network, along with Disney culinary masters and special guests as they present their gastronomic talents in a full menu of complimentary demonstrations and signature paid events. The signature events include winemaker dinners, Sweet Sundays, Napa Rose Cooking School and Taste Food-Wine-Life, a night that celebrates the essence of the festival with a mosaic of food, wine and live entertainment.
Opening weekend features celebrity chef Guy Fieri, the popular television personality and “food dude” who appears on shows such as “Guy’s Big Bite” on the Food Network. Fieri will conduct complimentary food demonstrations on the Festival’s main stage.
“Disney’s California Food & Wine Festival is a great time,” Fieri said. “Of course the kids love Disneyland, but now this is something extra for the adults. It’s incredible chefs, great wines from around the world and Disney. You’re gonna dig it. See you there!”
Some events, including culinary demonstrations, are included with admission to Disney’s California Adventure park. Signature events are separately ticketed and require reservations. For details, visit www.disneyland.com/foodandwine.
Disney Interactive Studios today officially announced development of Toy Story 3: The Video Game, supporting all major platforms and featuring a fun, new way to enjoy the Toy Story universe. Unveiled at the American International Toy Fair in New York City by Mary Beech, general manager and vice president of franchise development and marketing for Disney Consumer Products, Toy Story 3: The Video Game will feature film adventures along with Disney’s first open-world gameplay for kids. Inspired by the upcoming Disney•Pixar animated film, Toy Story 3: The Video Game is due on retail shelves June 15, 2010.
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Legendary entertainer and reigning ‘Dancing with the Stars’ champ Donny Osmond joined Fisher-Price at the International Toy Fair in New York yesterday to help launch their newest product, Dance Star Mickey.
Introduced by Mattel Brands President Neil Friedman, Donny burst onto the stage with Mirror Ball Trophy in hand and immediately set the room on fire, regaling those in attendance with details of his lengthy relationship with The Walt Disney Company beginning with the Osmond Brothers being discovered by Walt himself.
Before long, Donny was joined by special guest Mickey Mouse himself who fearlessly accepted a dance-off challenge issued by Osmond. After a little tap dancing and a bit of disco, it was the Mouse’s split that sealed the win.
At last it was time for the curtain to rise, revealing the real star of the presentation, Dance Star Mickey, Fisher-Price’s most technologically advanced toy to date. Using a new, innovative mechanism, Dance Star Mickey is able to move and gesture in a very fluid and life-like way.