How did Disney's Frozen get toys so right?

Frozen is the biggest brand to hit the toy industry this year. But what is it about Disney's latest big screen outing that has set the box office, and shop aisles, aflame?
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Frozen has become a juggernaut toy brand, almost out of nowhere.

Starting life back in the 1990s as a series of troubled attempts at adapting Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, Frozen finally hit screens in December 2013 and fast struck a chord.

The film became the fifth highest grossing of all time and the highest grossing animated film of all time, with a worldwide box office total of over $1.2 billion.

Oh, it also scooped a Golden Globe, two Oscars and was named the Best Film or TV Licensed Property at last month’s Licensing Awards 2014.

The Avengers and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 are also huge brands and both made more on the big screen, but neither caused chaos in the aisles of toy shops. So what is Frozen doing right?

“There is no doubt that the success of our Frozen product is down to the enchanting story and superb animation created by Disney, but equally the film reached a vast audience very quickly,” says Cornée Marlow, marketing coordinator at Ravensburger.

“Parents, children and grandparents can all enjoy the film together, and it is this universal appeal that has given our product range so much strength.”

Other toy firms have also enjoyed strong sales due to Disney’s latest, and some believe the film’s Oscar-winning songs are to thank.

“Frozen is so popular because of the soundtrack,” Sambro MD Nikki Samuels tells ToyNews. “Families and girls all round the world are singing it in their cars and front rooms.

“I defy anyone, even dads, not to be able to sing along to even one of the songs from the film. Also Frozen has the added benefit of two princesses. What more could a Disney Princess fan ask for?”

Ilan Kabalo, marketing director at D’Arpeje, agrees: “This amazing success is linked to these two modern princesses looking out for each other.

“The two sisters and their strong personalities have really touched all the viewers of the movie.

“Besides, the huge success of Let it Go has also contributed to reinforce Frozen as a hit.”

This year has also seen toy shortages send frantic parents, both in the UK and US, to eBay in search of a Frozen fix, with some limited edition dolls going for just shy of £1,000.

Mattel has seen the impact of Frozen on the doll sector first hand, claiming the brand has “taken the category by storm.”

“Fashion dolls are a core category within Mattel’s portfolio and Disney’s Frozen has taken the category by storm,” comments Denise Fillary, girls senior brand manager at Mattel UK.

“The movie has been incredibly popular and it’s the great ranges that support it that really bring the movie to life for girls.

“Mattel has a fantastic range of products that allows girls to immerse themselves in the brand, the characters and the story,” Fillary adds.

And it’s not just in the physical space that Frozen has been a hit, as LeapFrog can testify.

Gail Fisher, UK and EMEA content and licensing manager at LeapFrog, tells ToyNews: “We’re thrilled to be part of the Frozen phenomenon with four amazing apps in our award-winning library.

“Fans of the movie can sing along to their favourite Frozen songs, relive the story of the movie and even experience a brand new adventure with Ana and Elsa on their LeapFrog devices. We are dedicated to encouraging children’s passion for education and are proud to offer such fun, unique and educational content with children’s most-loved characters.”

So when will the craze for all things Frozen start to thaw?

It doesn’t seem like any time soon – a cinema re-release is coming this Christmas, there’s a regular role in ABC’s Once Upon a Time for Elsa, a new short film landing next year, as well as a Frozen area set to draw the crowds at Disney’s Epcot park.

“We are starting to take orders for spring/summer 15 availability and with no thaw in sight to sales into the New Year, are excited to see how Frozen will continue to grow, with the anticipation of Disney’s new animated short due for release in the spring,” concludes Warren Traeger, wholesale and licensing director at Icon Live.

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