Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Interesting Hook Ups Among the Toy and Media Giants

Two news stories caught my eye this morning, both written by Emily Claire Afan for Kidscreen Daily, and both describing new, somewhat unlikely partnerships between some pretty heavy hitters within the children's (media and toy) industries. The first, an announcement that Disney/Pixar is getting in on the branded Lego action. As Afan writes:
Three Disney and Disney/Pixar properties will be getting the Lego treatment, thanks to a multi-year licensing deal that grants the construction toy company access to develop product for Toy Story, Cars and Prince of Persia.

The plan for now is that all three Disney branded construction sets will be released in 2010. Toy Story-themed construction sets (for kids aged 2 to 12 yrs) featuring themes and characters from the first two films will launch in January 2010. Additional sets will appear in May 2010, coinciding with the big screen release of Toy Story 3, slated to hit screens in June of that same year. The Prince of Persia Lego sets will be released in April 2010, just prior to the cinematic release of the videogame-based film Prince of Persia: Sands of Time in May. And the Cars sets will appear in June 2010, likely somewhere around the same time the Cars MMOG goes live.

The second story involves videogame giant EA and toy manufacturer Toy Island, who are entering into a multi-year deal to produce branded sporting goods for kids. According to Afan:
The multi-year deal will see the toyco developing a new line of branded sports equipment for three demos - three to six, six to nine, and nine to 12 - set to launch this coming fall. It's the first merch deal of its kind for the game label, thanks to its partnership with IMG Licensing, the exclusive worldwide CP and brand licensing agent for EA Sports.

In addition to the obvious associations with EA Sports games, the partnership represents EA's attempt to compete with the Wii in the exergaming arena. As described in the EA/Toy Island joint press release:
"The unique and differentiated EA SPORTS-branded products will bring classic sports activities to life in a whole new way, utilizing infrared, motion and equilibrium sensors. The products, which will serve as a virtual coach as they instruct the user on form and technique, speed and power, and more, are in development for baseball, football, basketball, soccer and hockey. Products will include:

• a line of interactive training tools featuring voice commands and instructional coaching elements designed to take budding stars to the next level;

• a complete game-in-a-box containing all the equipment necessary for kids to practice and play a sport;

• a line of sports toys that will utilize electronics to reward young athletes with cheers when they use proper techniques;

• a basic line of high density-foam balls to help kids develop throwing and kicking motor skills at an early age.

The products will be available for three youth categories: ages 3-6, 6-9 and 9-12. Other sports are expected to follow this year’s launch."

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