In a surprise to no one, Disney will be filling lots of stockings with “Star Wars” and Marvel merchandise this holiday season. “Episode VII” products hit shelves on “Force Friday,” Sept. 4, at 12:01 a.m. in retailers across the globe. Fans, however, will have to wait until Dec. 18 for the film’s release.
Besides “Star Wars,” the Mouse House spotlighted a lot of their other properties in a holiday toy preview. Here are a few things to watch for:
1) With the success of the Disney Channel original movie, they’re hoping to draw “Descendants” fans of all ages.
In addition to dolls, clothes, fashion accessories and Halloween costumes for the tween-and-under set, Disney and Hyperion published a prequel novel “Descendants: The Isle of the Lost,” written by Melissa de la Cruz, noted author of YA series “The Au Pairs” and “Blue Bloods.” With talks of a sequel to the novel, Disney looks to be engaging with fans just beyond the doll-playing age. The July 31 premiere boasted 10.5 million viewers in early DVR playback.
2) Tsum Tsum characters are stacking up sales.
Not familiar with Disney’s Tsum Tsums? From the Japanese word for “stack,” the ridiculously cute plush characters feature giant heads and oblong roly-poly bodies, and are available in an easy-to-collect mini size for $4.95 as well as a medium and large size. There’s also an equally addicting mobile game for even more synergy. Many compare the craze to the Beanie Baby, thanks to limited releases. Tots and collectors stalk the Disney Store, website and the theme parks to collect, especially on Tsum Tsum Tuesdays. At D23, a $24.95 per month Tsum Tsum subscription was announced. Also introduced at their Holiday Toy preview were vinyl figure Tsum Tsums and adorable, interlocking Tsum Tsum lip balms.
3) Disney is embracing integrated technology play.
Disney Consumer Products introduced Playmation in June, an interactive wireless set that utilizes wearable technology and motion sensors. The cloud-based receiver and app utilize Bluetooth technology so that the playset can be used in any room or even outdoors.
Another featured product was Mickey’s Rocket Builder, a smart toy designed to integrate with their Imagicademy app. Children can play with a physical toy and simultaneously play with it digitally.
4) Infinity adds to the toy box.
With the launch of Disney Infinity 3.0 on Aug. 30, “Star Wars” and Marvel, two of the Mouse House’s most valuable brands will be able to play together in their toy box. The “Star Wars” gameplay includes classic trilogy characters Han Solo, Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca, Yoda; and Twilight of the Republic and Rebels characters. They join Marvel characters like Iron Man, Thor and Black Widow, as well as Pixar characters like Buzz Lightyear and Wreck-It-Ralph. The Infinity system was launched in Sept. 2013; Disney announced that more than 3 million units were sold as of Jan. 2014.
What else can we expect from Infinity? An Infinity producer told Variety that fans are always making requests to add their favorite Disney characters to the lineup. Fans asked for more princesses, so Mulan made her debut in the Aug. 30 launch. “The Lion King’s” Simba is also a fan favorite, but developers are still working on gameplay for non-bipeds.
5) The new kid on the block for tots is “Miles From Tomorrowland,” but the other kid properties are well represented, too.
Disney Junior has a bona fide hit with “Miles,” the No. 1 show across preschool networks since it debuted in February. Among the toys available were action figures, costumes, and a Stellosphere spaceship. “Miles” was well-represented at the toy preview along with other TV properties like “Doc McStuffins,” “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” and “Sofia the First.” And sorry, parents, you’ll still be buying “Frozen” merchandise until you-know-what freezes over — Elsa, Anna, Olaf and the gang are still popular on the shelves, as well as other Disney stalwarts like “Cars” and Pixar’s summer box office hit “Inside Out.”
— Janine Lew (@varietyjl) July 21, 2015