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Universal combines horror and high tech for new toy action

According to Tim Rothwell, senior VP of domestic sales at Universal Studios Consumer Products, the Mummy brand, being heavily boy-targeted, will highlight the action-adventure nature of the feature film....
February 1, 1999

According to Tim Rothwell, senior VP of domestic sales at Universal Studios Consumer Products, the Mummy brand, being heavily boy-targeted, will highlight the action-adventure nature of the feature film.

Influenced by Todd McFarlane’s action figure lines, including Spawn and X-Files lines, the Mummy toys are fully articulated, notes John Schulte, president of Pangea Corporation. Creating toys that are functional and fun to play with, yet have a collectible look, reflects the trend begun by McFarlane, which Schulte dubs ’cause-and-effect action.’ Features include voice chips, wind-up mechanics and movability of the figures and play sets-playing upon a ‘you cannot kill that which is already dead’ theme.

Universal is aiming to make this toy line a stand-out by creating truly unique play patterns. For example, the mummy figures offer various means of dismemberment and desiccation to be achieved during play. This activity orientation gives the line lasting play outside the film release period.

The Mummy and its toy line capitalize on Universal Studios’ most successful franchise: its rich heritage of horror movies, which is expected to benefit the toy line. Specifically, the film is a retelling of the epic action-adventure film of the same name that was launched by Universal in 1932. Other classic Universal horror

films include Frankenstein, The Wolf Man and The Bride of Frankenstein. ‘This [movie] is the first major investment in reinvigorating Universal’s horror franchise,’ notes Rothwell. The film’s classic monster motifs com-

bined with state-of-the-art technology are reflected in the toy line’s cutting-edge feel. As in the movie, the toy creators abandoned the ‘wrapped in bandages’ look from the original movie in favor of an approach that shows the mummy in six stages of decay.

Property: The Mummy

Hot Buttons:

* The live-action/CGI special effects from Industrial Light & Magic will attract young adults and teens, as well as older adults, to the movie.

* The popularity of this Raiders of the Lost Arc-type action-adventure genre among the target audience.

* Pangea Corporation, following on the heels of its successful development of the DreamWorks Toonsylvania line, developed the line for Toy Island.

Licensor:

Universal Studios Consumer Products Group

Toy Licensees:

Toy Island: master toy licensee; action figures and play sets

Freeze: monsterwear and mummywear costumes, boys and men’s T-shirts and sweatshirts

Long King Printing: novelty stationery, stickers, sticker albums, address books

Western Graphics: posters

Rubie’s Costume Co.: masks, costumes and accessories

Inkworks: trading cards

Playing Mantis: plastic model kits

Tiger Electronics: electronic games

Target Audience for the Toys:

Primary: Boys six to 11

Secondary: Young teens and adults

Toy Availability:

Spring `99, in anticipation of a May 7 movie release

Suggested Retail Price:

Ranges from US$5.99 to US$19.99 for action figures; play sets are US$9.99

Other Licensees:

Top of the Line: Halloween props and decor

Ebury Press: ‘making of’ book

Penguin Putnam: adult novelization

Scholastic: digest junior novelization

Fruit of the Loom: men’s and boys boxers

Licensing Do’s:

* Address the older boy audience with somewhat edgy, high-quality collectible figures like those in Todd McFarlane’s actiion figure lines.

* Steer away from any products that are

girl-oriented.

* Forgo products that appeal to preschoolers. * Create toys with unique features. For instance, one of the action figures allows the head to be pulled off the mummy, causing its spine to stretch out of the body, then retract.

* Create toys that give great play value that will extend the line’s viability beyond the film release period.

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