Two toy lines based on DC Comics’ Justice League characters are being brought to life through animated movies and short films.
“Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts” will debut May 12, as a direct-to-homevideo animated movie that features Batman, the Flash, Red Robin, Nightwing and Green Arrow as they face off against super villain the Penguin, while introducing cyber animals as new foes. A sequel film will be released around the second half of 2015.
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release the “Batman Unlimited” films on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD. In addition, WB will also produce 22 two-minute shorts around the “Batman Unlimited” toys, making them available for free on a variety of digital platforms, while a companion app also will provide young fans with access to content.
Mattel produces the Batman Unlimited action figures which are rolling out onto store shelves now, and feature a new look for the Caped Crusader.
Separately, the DC Super Friends toy line, inspired by the Fisher-Price Imaginext action figures and play sets, will be turned into a series of 15 three-minute animated shorts, also launching in the spring that will be accompanied by an app to further connect audiences to the toys and characters.
“We are excited to continue to forge new ground with our long-time partners Mattel and Fisher-Price to build on the success of these popular toy lines by bringing the play pattern to life through this original content that we will be able to offer across multiple content platforms,” said Brad Globe, president, Warner Bros. Consumer Products.
Toymakers have long seen animated series as a way to create demand around their playthings, but in most cases the traditional forms of entertainment came first. In this case, Batman and the rest of DC’s characters were already so established it enabled the company to take its time to launch a successful line of toys first and build content around them later.
“We are thrilled to be working with our Warner Bros., Mattel and Fisher-Price colleagues to create new Batman and DC Super Friends kids’ content,” said DC Entertainment president Diane Nelson. “These new animated projects will offer all new Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman adventures that seamlessly jump from toybox to screen.”
The timing of the toy spinoffs come as DC is aggressively ramping up film and TV efforts around its superheroes.
But WB and DC, as well as its toy partners, also see new programming as a way to launch a new wave of action figures with accessories, a new Batmobile, and the all-new CybeRex robot dinosaur, all featured in the “Batman Unlimited” content.
Rubie’s Costumes will also produce dress up gear and costumes, while Thinkway also has new role-playing accessories in the works that are designed around the new movies and shorts, with other licensed apparel and products planned to launch later this year.
DC Super Friends content will also receive new toys based on its animated fare, including a Joker Laff Factory, new Batcave, and books.
“Our longstanding collaboration with WBCP has given Mattel the opportunity to engage fans of all ages with the very best in DC Comics Super Hero play,” said Doug Wadleigh, senior VP and general manager, Mattel Toy Box. “It is a true compliment that our evergreen DC Comics toy lines have inspired a whole new universe of storytelling that will dramatically expand kids’ imaginative play with their favorite super heroes.”