In an attempt to extend kids’ entertainment experience with the Saban Entertainment’s Power Rangers in Space series, Iwerks Entertainment has designed a mobile ride that simulates space flight. ‘Kids get to ride into space with the Power Rangers,’ says Susanne Lee, senior vice president of licensing and merchandising at Saban. The ride, co-sponsored by Saban, Bandai and Iwerks, was launched last month at the American International Toy Fair, and will visit Wal-Mart stores in 14 U.S. cities.
‘In the virtual reality ride, the Power Rangers find out about an evil plot to take over the universe,’ explains Lee. ‘Young people who go onto the ride are told [by the Power Rangers], ‘you have to help us save the universe.” At least one Power Rangers actor will be in attendance for each of the 14 Wal-Mart stops.
Also on hand at each site will be a Saban marketer noting how many kids attend and attempting to gauge the success of the event. ‘The kid reaction was great at Toy Fair,’ says Lee. Each seat on the reactor has been designed to tilt individually, ‘so you get more of the real feeling of rocketing around,’ she explains.
Another interesting promotional feature of the Power Rangers in Space series is its partnership with NASA, which was reflected in the first installment of the tour when Apollo 12 astronaut Pete Conrad was there to explain how elements of the series relate to real-life space experiences. The aim of the NASA partnership is to impress upon kids the importance of space exploration.
According to Lee, the idea for the ride stemmed from a need to extend Power Rangers in Space beyond the television screen. ‘In this day and age, we look for extensions of entertainment beyond the TV format.’ While books, Web sites and additional media are typically used to achieve this, an interactive ride was particularly appropriate for this property, says Lee. ‘Another dimension is to work with NASA to give them the real [space] stuff.’
Toy partner Bandai sees its partnership in the ride as a way to boost sales. ‘We believe that giving kids a chance to experience Power Rangers in Space firsthand will make them more excited for the show and the toys,’ says Brian Goldner, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Bandai America.
ï Bill Nye launches Lanacane’s Itching to Know Science Contest
Children and teachers across the U.S. have until April 1 to submit entries for the Lanacane Itching to Know Science Contest, a new program sponsored by the Lanacane Itch Information Center in cooperation with the Association of Science-Technology Centers. The program, which hopes to spark children’s interest in science, was kicked off early this year by an event at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan with popular television scientist Bill Nye the Science Guy.
The contest focuses on the weather and its effects on health. Elementary school students are asked to send in their ‘itchiest’ (most perplexing) question about the weather, while teachers will submit their best original science lesson plan on how the weather affects health. Winners will receive software, family memberships in local science museums and autographed science pictures and books. Winning teachers will also receive cash prizes.
ï Cadbury and Cartoon Network partner in India
This month, Cadbury and Cartoon Network will extend their promotional partnership in India with a second joint effort. Cadbury will promote Cartoon Network programs Scooby-Doo, Tom & Jerry, Captain Planet and The Flintstones to kids by including a tattoo sheet of the characters with packets of Cadbury Gems. The tie-in will be supported by advertising on TNT and Cartoon Network, as well as point-of-purchase merchandising. This initiative follows a seven-city trial promotion launched in December.
ï New Barney video taps NASA for cross-promotions
Lyrick Studios’ new video, Barney in Outer Space, has joined the ranks of a growing number of kids entertainment properties partnering with NASA to promote both the product and the space program.
The video, guest starring astronaut Ken Reightler, pilot of two Space Shuttle flights, will be supported by a number of cross-promotions with NASA, including a national consumer sweepstakes in which the grand prize is a three-day, two-night, all-expense-paid trip for a family of four to the Space Center in Houston, Texas.
A NASA space shuttle toy featuring a picture of Barney will be enclosed in the packaging of each video, and a six-foot rocket-style retail display will further emphasize the link with NASA.