Disney is really good at a lot of things. One of those things is taking a beloved property and refreshing it, breathing new life into it, and turning it into a must-see movie or must-have property for a new audience of kids. They do it every year with Disney Princess (Last year was Cinderella, this year is The Little Mermaid). The film comes out of the vault, and the already incredible powerhouse that is Disney Princess (the No. 1 toy property ranked by annual 2012 dollar volume according to The NPD Group), launches an expanded program of licensed products focused on the Princess of the year.
However, Disney works some its best magic on the big screen, and Monsters University—due in theaters June 21—has success written all over it. Billed as a prequel to 2001′s Monsters Inc., the film follows fan favorites Sulley and Mike on their journey to becoming scaring professionals at Monsters University. (If you’re interested in attending, visit http://monstersuniversity.com/edu/.)
At American International Toy Fair in New York, I attended Disney’s presentation on its plans for the property and was treated to a sneak preview and a brief meet-and-greet with John Goodman, who plays the voice of Sulley. (One of the highlights: Goodman gave a great big belly laugh when I asked him whether they asked his input in designing any of the Sulley toys that are being manufactured for the film. I’ll take that as a “no.”)
From what they showed of the film, it is sure to be another Disney Pixar hit (not that you even need to see the preview to jump to that conclusion, but here’s a trailer), and the toys—launching May 10, with more to come in the fall—are a lot of fun. Some of the highlights presented were the Scare-Off Sulley feature plush and Sulley Monster Mask with a moveable mouth and eyebrows (shown), both from Spin Master, and the Imaginext Monsters University Playset, from Fisher-Price. Mike and Sulley will also be among the first available figures for the new Disney Infinity video game.
John Lasseter, chief creative officer of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, joined the event via video to reveal some of the most innovative toys to the audience.