The geeks have inherited the Earth – and anyone in any doubt need only take a stroll around the nation’s supermarkets over the coming months.
From next month until well into 2016, some form of superhero, science-fiction or fantasy-related product is likely to be found in most aisles of the nation’s grocery stores. A couple of months ago, I wrote this year would be the Big One for movie licensing, and details are starting to emerge of just how big.
The fun gets under way next month when Disney kicks off its activity in the run-up to the 24 April release of Avengers: Age of Ultron – sequel to the massive Avengers Assemble. Under the banner Avengers Hero Up!, the campaign will comprise a 30-second TV and cinema ad alongside retail and digital support. This digital activity will include the UK debut of new kids’ website MarvelKids.com following a successful launch in North America.
And, at the Nuremberg Toy Fair last week, Disney licensees announced a raft of toy lines tied in with the movie. These included a range of 2.5-inch figures and playsets from Hasbro, Age of Ultron Lego sets, and Avengers Hot Wheels vehicles from Mattel. Meanwhile, collectible card specialist Topps will be launching its Hero Attax Cards collection that will include physical card ans a digital collection that allows kids to collect and swap cards online.
Around the time Captain America and pals charge onto cinema screens, ITV Studios Global Entertainment will unleash its reboot of 1960s hit Thunderbirds. Dubbed Thunderbirds Are Go, the show has attracted licensees including Vivid Imaginations, which will produce a wide range of toys including a Tracy Island play set (anyone remember the hysteria a predecessor of this caused back in the 1990s?). Also lining up to produce tie-ins are Simon & Schuster and DC Thomson for publishing, Kokomo for personal care, and Danilo for greetings and stationery.
Other properties set to make their presence felt on supermarket shelves is the new title in the Jurassic Park franchise, Jurassic World; the SpongeBob Squarepants film; and Shaun the Sheep.
Then there’s the small matter of the (fairly) imminent return of Teletubbies to TV screens. If you want to see someone in the licensed goods business go misty-eyed, just ask them about the Teletubbies first trip around the block and what an incredible licensed property it was back then.
Talking of misty eyes, there were plenty at Grocer Towers last November when the teaser trailer for the new Star Wars movie was unveiled (there’s a lot of us of a certain age in the office). Disney is determined to build the excitement to fever pitch, and last week announced that Lego, Mattel, Jakks Pacific and Rubies would be among the licensees bringing the brand to shop shelves this year.
And there’s still another 318 days, 13 hours and 14 minutes until The Force Awakens. Profits are not far, far away.