News Column

Summer Movie Merchandise

June 15, 2013



Fans loved Shirley Temple's movies, so dolls were manufactured and people stood on line to buy them. After "Star Wars" was phenomenally successful in the theater, its action figures revolutionized the toy industry.

Moviegoers loved the films, then followed that by going to the store for toys. The retail no longer comes after the theater release -- and seeing the movie is now optional. Many of the toys stand on their own, offering the ability for kids to create their own narrative regardless of the film's story.

Big blue Sulley masks have been staring back from store shelves for weeks and "Monsters University" doesn't hit theaters until Friday.

This summer, with Iron Man and Superman flying across the big screen and three big family films -- "Monsters University," "Despicable Me 2" and "Planes" -- stores seem to be overflowing with licensed toy lines related to movies.

"Superman products continue to be a favorite among kids and collectors. Superman's story has been reinvented and expanded upon over the years, making it an evergreen property," Toys "R" Us senior vice president and general merchandising manager Lisa Harnisch wrote in an email.

The Wayne-based company is excited about this weekend's release of "Man of Steel," as well as the upcoming animated movies.

"There are definitely some great movies this summer which we expect to translate well in the toy aisle and help kids re-create their favorite scenes along with their favorite characters," Harnisch wrote.

This blockbuster season kicked off with "Iron Man 3," which was released May 3.

"Iron Man is always fun," said Adrienne Appell, trend expert at the Toy Industry Association. "It transcends across a lot of different ages."

Collectors and kids alike love the cars and action figures, a genre of toys that took on new life after the popularity of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia.

" 'Star Wars' was the property that launched the licensing portion of the toy industry [to what it is now]," said Appell. "It was the first that really resonated."

Movie toys are a hot market, but not necessarily a sure thing for retailers, even when the movies are a hit.

" 'Monsters, Inc.' didn't do great in toys the first time out," said Chris Byrne, content director for Time to Play magazine. "You have to think about what it is from a kids play perspective. Who does a kid relate to? The toy that sold really well from 'Monsters, Inc.' the first time was Boo, the doll, the girl. How do I play with the monster as a figure?

"What we've seen certainly going back to Harry Potter is kids don't want to play with the action figures so much as they want to inhabit the story," said Byrne. "You don't want to have a Harry Potter action figure. You want to feel like you're at Hogwarts."

Bring on the Sulley mask that lets a kid put on the face and be silly or scary, working the eyebrows and the mask.

"Despicable Me 2" seems to have one of the year's biggest favorites in the Fart Blaster. Already flying off the shelves at Toys "R" Us, kids will have to wait until July 3 to find out what it's used for in the sequel.

For the toy industry's bottom line, though, the movie doesn't always matter anymore.



The hot gets

Here are some of the toys connected to the summer's blockbuster movies. It started with "Iron Man 3" long before Memorial Day. Now shelves are stocked with lines of toys connected to "Man of Steel," which opened this week, as well as coming family films "Monsters University," "Despicable Me 2" and "Planes," which plan to make money off fans before and after they leave the theater --or even if they never see the movie at all.

Iron Man 3

Released: May 3

Toy: Ridemakerz customizable car

How much: Starts at $38

Available at:

Man of Steel

Released: Friday

Toy: Movie Masters figures

Recommended age: 4 and up

How much: $14.99

Available at: Target, Toys "R" Us

Monsters University

Release date: Next Friday

Toy: Sulley Mask

Recommended age: 3 and up

How much: $24.99

Available at: Target, Toys "R" Us


Release date: Aug. 9

Toy: Pilot Pals Dusty Crophopper Remote Control Plane

Recommended age: 3 and up

How much: $39.99

Available: In August

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(c) 2013 Record, The; Bergen County, N.J.. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.

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