2015 is being touted as the year of the blockbuster, but summer 2014 has a few tricks up its sleeve. Billy Langsworthy takes a look at the blockbusters, the toy lines and whether retail looks like benefitting

Sun Screen: 2014 summer movies and tie-in toy lines

While is being made of 2015 being the biggest year ever for big screen blockbusters, next summer boasts a number of big movies, each with toy ranges to boot.

Disney and Marvel may be attempting to start the blockbuster rush early with Captain America: The Winter Soldier in late March, but the following summer months are equally brimming with major licences.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Godzilla are hitting cinemas in May, while June brings with it How to Train Your Dragon 2 and Michael Bay’s Transformers: Age of Extinction. Bay then concludes his summer takeover with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie (which lands in US in August, but has been delayed in the UK).

Spin Master has the toy licence for How to Train Your Dragon, while Worlds Apart has ranges based on both The Amazing Spider- Man 2 and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

The firm is releasing a Spider-Man Junior ReadyBed and the Spider- Man Go Glow Pal, a soft Spider-Man with light up eyes and the night light automatically switches off after 15 minutes.

Joining this range is the Spider-Man Hero by Go Glow, a product that allows kids to record a warning message with a fun voice recorder that changes their voice. They can then hang the Hero on the door handle as they leave their room, and the Spider-Man Hero will shout out the recorded message should anyone attempt to enter.

Lucy Wynn-Jones, head of licensing at Worlds Apart, believes after experiencing success following the first Amazing Spider-Man movie, summer 2014 should prove equally lucrative.

“It certainly will be big,” Wynn-Jones tellsToyNews.

“With Spider-Man last time, we had a couple of very strong lines and we’ve refined our range to really target the strengths of the last movie.”

The firm also has a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles range, including Freezeez, a Turtle Shell Raiser Feature Tent, a Turtle Readybed and a Turtles Hero by Go Glow.

Wynn-Jones believes this release helps give Worlds Apart a continuous spread of releases throughout the summer. She adds: “With Turtles, the Flair toys are doing really well and I think everything else with Turtles will really pick up in 2014.

“With The Amazing Spider-Man 2 coming in April, that gives you a good spring/summer with the DVD release following on. That leads you into Turtles so it works very well in terms of timings.

“And it’s just as much the DVD release as the cinema release. It gives it another boost, probably around 40 per cent.”

With Disney and Nickelodeon on board for The Amazing Spider-Man and TMNT respectively, Worlds Apart feels consumers will be all too aware of these properties come summer 2014.

“We tend to support films where there is a long term franchise,” states Wynn-Jones.

“Both Disney behind Spider-Man and Nickelodeon behind Turtles are putting in a huge amount of marketing themselves that will drive consumers and we’ll be supporting with TV marketing on both of those as well with the Spider-Man Go Glow pal and Turtles Go Glow hero.”

While Spider-Man and TMNT will be appealing to a pre-existing fanbase, Warner Bros and Legandary Pictures will be hoping to draw in a new audience with a Godzilla remake, and Bandai is releasing an accompanying range of action figures and play sets.

“This licensing program is an augmentation of the filmed entertainment experience, and while it will rally the powerful base, Godzilla will introduce a whole new generation of fans to this franchise,” said Joel Chiodi, executive vice president, theatrical marketing at Legendary Entertainment.

But movie merchandise retailer Cinema Store owner Neil Palmer questions whether the likes of Godzilla and The Amazing Spider-Man are strong enough brands to make an impact at retail.

“They’ve rammed everything into 2015,” Palmer tells ToyNews.

“You’ve got the likes of The Avengers 2, Bond and Star Wars all crammed into a space of six months.

“We sell a lot of gaming products like Assassin’s Creed and TV-related products like The Walking Dead, Doctor Who and Breaking Bad, so we’re looking more towards that because with something like the Godzilla remake, there is a massive question mark over whether anyone will care.”

But for the toy stores without a focus on movie merchandise, next summer is something to get excited about.

“There’s a very exciting line-up for movies next year,” The Entertainer’s Stuart Grant tells ToyNews.

“The one movie that did have huge demand this year was Despicable Me 2, but it had no product. But it should be good next year because we have exciting properties.

“You have Postman Pat and Planes: Fire and Rescue that will perform because kids already know about the brand.

“For me, the big one is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It will be huge. There isn’t actually a specific movie line, but they are using the movie to drive the whole property which is a smart move. Spider-Man has been gaining momentum over the last few years and the new movie should help give it a kick.

“But we’ve also found that cinema releases don’t drive the type of excitement they once did. We’ve found the peak for the DVD is bigger than the peak for the movie because more kids get more sight of the film.

“The industry has a great opportunity next year with these summer releases. We’ll have a very good spring/summer and a great first half because of the excitement these will bring.”

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