China Toy Fair


Exclusive Pics from 2014 Licensing Expo

Licensing Expo, the annual meeting place for the global licensing industry, occurred last week in Las Vegas. The exhibitors included a number of the top toy companies, which were on-hand showing off upcoming play products and making announcements about new licensing deals.

Check out this exclusive gallery, which features lots of the licensed toys that we’re all sure to be excited about in the months ahead. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Animation Has Long Been a Promotional Vehicle for Toys

BrandonEngel1by Brandon Engel

You’ve likely heard about the massive success of The Lego Movie, and maybe you were even one of the millions worldwide who have gone to see it. Despite its financial success, some have blasted the film for essentially being a glorified, expensive commercial for Legos. I don’t think that anyone can deny that The Lego Movie is obviously commercially motivated, but does that make it wrong? Is it all that different from children’s movies selling toys based on the film?

BrandonEngel2Last Christmas, the Frozen Castle Playset and matching Barbie dolls from the Disney film Frozen were at the top of many children’s lists for Santa. Every time a commercial appeared for the movie or the toy, they advertised each other. Is The Lego Movie any different just because the toy existed before the movie? Here is the bigger question: In an age where almost no image is spared licensing of some form, where does the line get drawn between entertainment and commercial? [Read more...]

USAopoly to Release Smurfs-Branded Monopoly

5.0.3USAopoly is set to release Monopoly: The Smurfs Collector’s Edition, under a license from Hasbro, in conjunction with Sony Pictures Consumer Marketing and the cartoon studio of Lafig Belgium. The game celebrates more than 55 years of the Smurfs and comes as the Smurfs prepare to return to the big screen in The Smurfs 2, the sequel to Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Animation’s hybrid live-action, animated family comedy.

The game board includes 22 Smurf Village locations such as Clumsy’s Forest, Grouchy’s Mushroom House, and Brainy’s Library. Boardwalk and Park Place, the prime properties in classic Monopoly, are replaced by Papa Smurf’s Lab and Smurfette’s Flower Garden. The traditional “chance” and “community chest” cards are transformed into “potions” and “surprises” cards. Monopoly money is transformed into Smurfberries, and game tokens include Papa Smurf, Smurfette, Lazy, Brainy, Vanity, and Handy. The game is designed for players ages 8 and up and will be available on amazon.com and at specialty retail stores across North America this month.

The Smurfs Celebrate “America the Bluetiful” to Help Preserve the Environment

SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT AMERICA THE BLUETIFULIn anticipation of the worldwide release of Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Animation’s The Smurfs 2 on July 31, and in honor of the Smurfs’ message of harmony with the environment, the studio is orchestrating a nationwide series of environmental efforts celebrating “America the Bluetiful,” in which kids and their parents can meet the Smurfs as they clean up their local parks, encourage recycling, plant trees, and discover other ways they can help “bluetify” the U.S.

Highlights of the initiatives include:

  • Boston: the Smurfs will join in cleaning up Canal Park at CambridgeSide Galleria and planting blue flowers
  • Minneapolis: the Smurfs were a part of the Grand Old Day celebration, where Twin Cities residents were encouraged to recycle
  • Chicago: the Smurfs were at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, where staff was on hand with ecology activities and community ecology information
  • Philadelphia: kids and Smurfs will clean up a recreation center and bluetify a city garden
  • Atlanta: kids have taken a pledge at Georgia Aquarium to bluetify the country
  • St. Louis: the Smurfs will help pick up trash in Kiener Plaza
  • San Francisco: the Smurfs will work with San Francisco Recreation and Parks to plant, mulch, and clean up Strawberry Hill in Golden Gate Park
  • San Diego: the Surfs and kids will participate in a beach cleanup day

As the Smurfs check in to each city, audiences can participate online at AmericaTheBluetiful.com, where they can vote on their favorite landmarks to “bluetify”—literally turning them blue online.

Smurfs to be 2010 Macy’s Holiday Ambassadors

More than 50 years after the iconic blue images of the Smurfs were introduced into American pop culture, the classic characters are being reintroduced with a feature film set to be released by Sony Pictures on July 29, 2011. The film combines a childhood classic remembered fondly by many with a plethora of current favorites, ranging from Neil Patrick Harris and Glee’s Jayma Mays to pop star Katy Perry. As the odd-yet-intriguing combination brings the Smurfs back into the spotlight, the characters will also become Macy’s 2010 Holiday Ambassadors.

The Smurfs will adorn Macy’s throughout the holiday season, from windows and countertops to a giant balloon and an exclusive plush collection. The talking plush collection will be dressed in holiday gear. It will be available in mid-October and retail for $14.95. Marketing support will also include half a million custom designed shopping bags to be distributed at the flagship location at Herald Square in New York City. In addition to a 47-foot helium balloon Smurf and Smurf float that will return to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, a cold-air inflatable Smurf will adorn the marquee at the entrance to Macy’s Herald Square.

Past characters to be featured in the Macy’s Holiday Ambassador tradition include Babar the elephant, Kermit the Frog, Scooby Doo, Snoopy, Shrek, and Mickey Mouse.

NPH Casted for Smurfs Movie

Neil Patrick Harris (Doogie Howser, M.D.; How I Met Your Mother; frequent awards show host) has signed on for the upcoming live-action/CGI movie based on The Smurfs. Harris will not play a Smurf, but will star as the lead live-action character.

The cast of Smurf voices include: Comedian Jonathan Winters as Papa Smurf, Alan Cummings as Gutsy Smurf, George Lopez as Grouchy Smurf, and Katy Perry as the lone female Smurf, Smurfette.

Filming is set to begin in April.