Dispatches from the retail front line (November)

The recent 'effort' of a film based on a toy had me thinking...
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With the exception of Transformers, a toy based on a film always seems to be far better than a film based on a toy (hope you follow that).

The recent release of the GI Joe movie was not good at the box office and it appears this has also been reflected in the toy sales.

We are lucky in this industry; product ranges get millions of pounds of PR when a new film is released, advertising this industry quite frankly can’t afford, but all too often that free PR is lost in crap product.

Too often toys have come out based on a moment from a film; these moments can be limited or almost cut-out, as Lego found out with the Wookie Planet in the last Star Wars movie. But aren’t toys supposed to encourage imagination, to stimulate interaction with the child to make their own stories? It’s fantastic if a child recreates a scene, but let the play flow.

Sometimes a toy is crying out to be made into a film. Transformers is a great example of how good it could be. Honestly, if anyone in the toy trade still hasn’t seen it then they need to take their brain out and go and watch a great, fun movie.

We all try to gain as much exposure as possible when a film breaks, and the shelf life isn’t as short as some manufacturers will have you believe. I’ve always said DVD/video launches are as important as film. A DVD is watched time and time again if the movie is any good.

So how do we get the most out of a movie? If you are honest you can pick the difference in movies between adult movie and child/family movie and this in turn reflects in the sales of toys. It doesn’t matter that a Star Trek figure doesn’t do much – most of them live on the card. You only have to watch Toy Story 2 to see the difference in the markets. Adult = collectables. Child = play value.

Role-play toys are great for kids, parents and retailers. Children live in those playsuits and invent stories as they go about their daily life. I’m sure such imagination has meant Ben 10 saving many a bus from falling over the cliff and Hannah Montana must have sung in front of a mirror to tens of thousands. From a parent’s perspective they are great value. Okay, the voice changer helmets are not cheap, but they are great fun.

In recent years, advancements in computer graphics have made the possibilities for movies unlimited. So wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could offer toys that would make play value unlimited?


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News from retail's front-line

So, another round of shows over, and didn't they seem quiet? Toy Fair seemed quieter than last year, which is bad news when you consider it was not spread across two halls.

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