‘Superman’ toy line soars

Gotham Toy Fair showcases film-inspired figure lines

More than two feet of snow in Gotham last weekend didn’t stop Superman — along with a slew of fairies and that furry red phenomenon Elmo — from debuting this week to wow retailers at the American Intl. Toy Fair, which concludes today.

Without competition from the “Star Wars” franchise or “King Kong,” Warner Bros.’ “Superman Returns,” due out June 30, flew to the top of the heap as this year’s most anticipated movie property.

From apparel and collectibles to more than 25 figures, accessories and role-play toysproducts for the mega-budgeted “Superman Returns” are primed to glut the market.

“There are other movies coming out that might do well at the box office, but frankly have not generated much licensing business in their past films that they have done, and for whatever reason just don’t really represent significant competition on the licensing side,” WB consumer product prez Brad Globe said.

“Superman” is looking for an uncontested run now that the “Star Wars” and “The Lord of the Rings” film franchises are complete, and Warners’ money-minting “Harry Potter” property doesn’t have another pic skedded for release until summer 2007.

But Fox will try to stand in the caped crusader’s way. The studio will release the third pic in its “X-Men” franchise — “X-Men: The Last Stand” — on May 26, along with an updated toy line including two new action figure assortments.

Additional film toy properties targeting young boys are this summer’s Disney/Pixar “Cars” and the Mouse House’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.”

For older boys, New Line offers action figures inspired by its upcoming film slate, which includes October’s “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning” and November’s “Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny.”

Meanwhile, on the other side of the spectrum, little girls will be introduced to fairy franchises from companies including Disney, Mattel and 4Kids Entertainment.

Disney Fairies, bowing this fall, is the big-sister brand to the Disney Princess toy line introduced five-years ago. Aimed at girls 6-9, line is based on the world of “Peter Pan” character Tinker Bell and her fairy friends.

Mattel will roll out “Barbie: Fairytopia,” which spotlights Barbie in a new DVD and supporting toy line. 4Kids Entertainment will launch and enhanced line called Winx Club Makeover Pixies.

But away from the flying things — superheroes and sprites — perhaps the most anticipated toddler toy announced at the Toy Fair was Fisher Price’s TM-X, a follow-up to the 1996 Tickle Me Elmo. However, only the packaging was unveiled at the Fair.

Company will unleash the fuzzy force to be reckoned with, according to industry watchers, on Sept. 20.

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