Two of the world’s most iconic brands are joining forces as The LEGO Group, world leader in high quality construction toys, and Marvel Entertainment, LLC, a global character -based entertainment company, announced a wide ranging strategic licensing deal. Through the multi-year agreement starting as of January 1st, 2012, Marvel has granted LEGO Group the rights to develop a distinct Marvel branded construction toy collection — LEGO SUPER HEROES — which will bring the characters, vehicles and action of Marvel’s renowned universe to the world of LEGO® build-and-play adventure. The LEGO SUPER HEROES Marvel collection’s initial construction sets, minifigures and buildable characters are scheduled to launch in May of 2012.
We first introduced you to the life-size Captain Jack Sparrow LEGO sculpture at its reveal with actor Ian McShane (Blackbeard) at a Disney Consumer Products event earlier this year. Since then, we had a brief encounter with Jack once more at the New York International Toy Fair, but we were still nonetheless surprised encountering Jack at one of his first public installations — the world famous FAO Schwarz on Fifth Avenue.
Just a day or two ago, FAO had replaced all of its LEGO sculptures with new ones including a life-size Indiana Jones and a monumentally-sized Statue of Liberty.
Although it seems like just two weeks ago that LEGO master builder Erik Varszegi unveiled his impressively detailed salute to Captain Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of the Caribbean films, yesterday morning saw a reveal that left jaws at the New York International Toy Fair on the floor: a lifesize replica of Lightning McQueen from Disney/Pixar’s Cars 2, just in time for the launch of its new line of LEGO sets honoring the franchise. Requiring more than 2,000 man hours to complete, the LEGO Lightning McQueen is made up of more than 325,000 LEGO bricks, measures 12.5 feet long, 6.5 feet wide and 4.5 feet high and weighs about three tons.
Earlier this evening, Disney Consumer Products debuted new lines of toys from LEGO and JAKKS Pacific for this summer’s blockbuster, Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides. Highlights of the event included appearances by production designer John Myhre and Ian McShane who takes on the role of Blackbeard, the pirate all pirates fear.
As part of the event, Disney and LEGO unveiled a six foot tall ‘life-size’ statue of Captain Jack Sparrow, the first of its kind. The highly detailed statue, which includes a removable sword, consists of approximately 150,000 LEGO bricks and took more than 200 man hours to design and build. Approximately 70 of those hours alone were used in the creation of Jack’s head which was all done without the assistance of computers.
LEGO announced today that come spring 2011, they will be launching an initial collection of rightbuilding sets based on Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. This marks the fourth Disney film/franchise that LEGO will be producing products for since Disney terminated the licensing agreements with competitor MEGA Brands in early 2009. Since LEGO signed on, they have produced playsets for Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story, Jerry Bruckheimer’s Prince of Persia as well as DUPLO playsets for Cars with LEGO brand playsets for Cars due out in 2011. Prior to the licensing change, MEGA Brands did produce playsets based on the Pirates of the Caribbean series through the third film.
Find out what happens when a video game begats a blockbuster action movie which begats a mini-adaptation featuring LEGO bricks and figures in this CG mini-film premiering on Disney XD May 7 at 8:09 pm ET/PT.
Check out the mini-film mini-trailer below:
Inspired by the image on the theatrical poster, LEGO enthusiast Stefan set out to re-create this iconic Jack Skellington scene from Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas as an entry for an online musical-themed contest.
Needless to say, his amazing piece took top prize and we’re thrilled he was willing to share it with us (the image that is, not the prize — not quite as happy about that part).
To check out some of Stefan’s other LEGO work and photos, be sure to visit his Flickr page.
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.
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.