NEW YORK — Toys and games based on movie licenses were out in force at the recent Toy Fair New York 2019, and included everything from the upcoming “Pokemon: Detective Pikachu” from Warner to “Toy Story 4” and other properties from Disney. The Toy Industry Association (TIA), producer of the annual Toy Fair, singled out toys based on movies and other entertainment properties as one of the top six toy trends of 2019.
Dubbing the trend “Explosive Entertainment!,” TIA pointed out in a news release that the entertainment industry — especially Disney — has several “family-friendly” movies slated for theatrical release in 2019 that stand to make this a “busy year not only on the big screen, but also for licensed toys and games.”
The many family-friendly movies coming this year include live-action remakes of that studio’s “Aladdin” and “The Lion King,” “Toy Story 4” and the latest entries in Disney’s “Avengers” and “Star Wars” film series, as well as its “Frozen II,” TIA noted.
“Licensing continues to be a huge part of the toy business, representing about 30 percent of all U.S. toy sales,” TIA said, adding: “These playthings continue to be enhanced – infusing popular licensed properties in all types of unique products from plush to playsets to tech toys.”
During the annual Toy Trends Briefing at Toy Fair Feb. 17, TIA trend experts pointed to several standout examples of new toys and games based on movie licenses, including toys from Pillow Pets based on “Toy Story 4” and USAopoly’s Captain Marvel: Secret Skrulls, a new, $24.95 hidden identity card game based on the upcoming Disney/Marvel Studios film “Captain Marvel.”
For its second year as master toy licensee for the Pokemon brand, Wicked Cool Toys has created a full line of products based on “Detective Pikachu,” including action figures and plush toys. The latter toys include a talking Detective Pikachu featuring the voice of actor Ryan Reynolds, who also provides the voice for the character in the movie that’s being released May 10.
A prototype of the plush talking Detective Pikachu, targeted at kids three and older, was demonstrated at the show. It will have a suggested retail price of $34.99-$39.99 and be sold at all major U.S. retailers, according to Jeremy Padawer, Wicked Cool Toys co-president.
The “Detective Pikachu” toys include six products that start at $14.99 and will become available starting in April, Padawer told the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA) at Toy Fair Feb. 18, adding a “very significant” marketing campaign will help support the products. He didn’t specify how much money will be spent on the campaign.
“Pokemon is a year in, year out business — it’s a very significant business at retail for both kids and collectors,” he said, adding: “The movie line allows us to celebrate Pokemon in a way that has truly never been celebrated before because Pokemon had never really talked. ‘Detective Pikachu’ gives Pikachu a voice — the voice of Ryan Reynolds. And our product line celebrates that.” He predicted the movie is “going to be a top film for the year and the consumer products should follow” on that success.
Stressing just how significant Pokemon has been as a retail brand, he went on to say it’s “the largest retail-driven property of all time,” with a total of $59 billion on all products spent in 22 years. That puts it ahead of No. 2 “Star Wars,” he said.
Other new toys at Toy Fair based on 2019 movies included a collection of 16 building sets from Lego based on Warner’s “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part.”
Nowhere was the close link between movies and toys more apparent than at Marvel’s huge toy showcase pavilion upstairs at the Javits Center, where new products included additions to its product line based on Universal’s 2018 film sequel “The Lost World: Jurassic Park.”
Its Jurassic World Dinosaur action figures received TIA’s Toy of the Year (T.O.T.Y.) award in the action figure category at the show. Mattel expanded the line for 2019 with a new Dino Rivals theme supported by a Jurassic Facts mobile app and more than 40 new dinosaurs to collect, it said.
Just ahead of Toy Fair, Mattel also announced: It teamed with Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures (MGM) to develop a live action movie based on Mattel’s American Girl line of books and dolls; entered into a three-year international licensing deal with Illumination and Universal Brand Development for the “Despicable Me” film franchise that gives the toy giant license rights in North America and key international markets for a large variety of products as part of a line inspired by Illumination’s upcoming “Minions” sequel that will debut at retailers globally in time for the movie’s global theatrical premiere in summer 2020; and signed deals with Warner to bring Marvel’s Hot Wheels toy racing car and Barbie product lines to the big screen in the first live-action feature films based on those lines. The Barbie movie will star Oscar-nominated actress Margot Robbie.