Sony is going for the franchise gold with Stuart Little, whom Peter Dang, executive VP of worldwide licensing, merchandising and consumer products at Sony Signatures, likens to Charlie Chaplin’s The Little Tramp in his upbeat, but far-from-sweet personality. ‘It’s the appeal of the character that will drive all of the product,’ agrees Lorrie Browning, Hasbro’s VP of global strategic marketing. ‘Stuart has an awful lot of personality.’
The toy line is being launched as a classic franchise, rather than a one-pic wonder mouse, because of its expected longevity at retail. Hasbro’s efforts will mirror that long-term strategy, according to Browning. ‘The plan is for Sony to build Stuart Little as an ongoing character, and development of toys [will extend] beyond an event movie focus,’ she says. Hasbro plans to refresh the toy line in the spring of 2000, following the movie’s release.
Another asset at retail, according to Dang, is the fact that the movie is highly parent-friendly. ‘Stuart Little is not strictly a kids movie-it’s more a family movie,’ he says. When adults recognize the character that a child is asking for, it produces an effect that Dang calls ‘narrowing the nag lag.’ In other words, parents are more likely to purchase products from a franchise they recognize, especially one with a classic literary pedigree, and many parents grew up with Stuart Little.
The toy line, still in development, will allow children to relive the fantasy of this living, breathing character through the use of voice chip and movement features. ‘What distinguishes this mouse from Mickey is the fact that he’s live action-a mouse with fur that happens to talk and dress like a human,’ says Dang.
Play sets will emphasize the fact that Stuart Little is a mouse-sized mouse in a full-scale human world, in keeping with the storyline that depicts Stuart Little being adopted by the Littles, a human family. Stuart’s nemesis, Snowbell the cat, will also be featured in the toys. All toys will also reflect the movie’s ‘playful, comedic tone,’ says Dang.
Property: Stuart Little
* The primary hot button is the appeal of Stuart Little himself-a clever, enthusiastic, ‘can do’ guy who just happens to be a mouse.
* The property’s humor and slightly edgy tone reach kids and parents simultaneously.
* The Stuart Little character is already a classic through E.B. White’s book.
* The realism of the movie’s mouse was created via CGI utilizing live action combined with special effects, including CGI and animatronics.
* The film is directed by Rob Minkoff, director of The Lion King, one of the most successful kids franchises of the `90s.
Hasbro: master toy licensee; producing a featured plush, plastic figures and play sets
Hasbro Interactive: interactive
Learning Curve: plush, wooden puzzles, toys and felt play sets
Milton Bradley: games, puzzles
for the Toys:
Primary: Children ages zero to 12
Fall `99: upscale toy line
Holiday `99: broad mass distribution,
in time for a holiday `99 movie release
Suggested Retail Price:
Range extends from US$5.99 to US$30.
HarperCollins: children’s books
* Products should reflect that Stuart Little
is a long-term franchise, not a one-time event picture, referring to his origins in the E.B. White book.
* Toy lines should highlight the central character, recreating the live-action nature of the feature film’s ‘real’ CGI mouse.
* Toy lines should highlight Stuart Little’s diminutive size, in comparison to the human-scale world around him.