E.T. phone Toys `R’ Us
E.T., Steven Spielberg’s 1982 feel-good sci-fi flick, which, among its myriad achievements, inspired Neil Diamond to pen the schmaltzy hit song Heartlight, will soon find a home at Toys `R’ Us. DreamWorks’ Amblin Entertainment and Universal Studios recently signed a three-year exclusive worldwide licensing agreement with the toy retailer permitting it to develop and market a variety of merchandise based on the property. TRU will create E.T. toys, games, puzzles, sporting goods, apparel, accessories, gifts, collectibles, party goods, school supplies and electronics, which it will start distributing internationally next fall through all of its Toys `R’ Us, Kids `R’ Us, Babies `R’ Us and Imaginarium stores and on toysrus.com.
To mark the film’s 20th anniversary in spring 2002, Universal will rerelease E.T. theatrically, replete with digitally enhanced footage and scenes that were cut from the original movie. Other than its deal with Toys `R’ Us, Universal isn’t looking to sign a ton of licensing and promotional partners for E.T.; however, the studio is reportedly on the hunt for a publishing licensee and a QSR partner.
For Toys `R’ Us, the E.T. deal is the latest in a series of corporate- and entertainment-brand licensing agreements it has signed in the last year in an attempt to try and differentiate its product offering from that of competitor chains. In a separate agreement, TRU also recently signed a sponsorship deal with Victory Entertainment’s TV show Ed McMahon’s Next Big Star. The program, which hit the airwaves in October as a one-hour syndicated TV special, is an updated version of McMahon’s `80s show StarSearch. The agreement will see TRU promote Next Big Star through in-store signage, on toysrus.com, and by allowing the show’s producers to hold auditions in some of its stores. The deal also gives TRU the option of developing licensed product based on the program.
Shelcore’s Surf Blaster poised to soak the competition
Let’s face it, the problem with most water soakers on the market today is that they don’t make cool sounds when you fire them. Somerset, New Jersey-based toyco Shelcore Toys claims to have licked that problem with its new product Surf Blaster. The dual-purpose toy, which transforms from a boat to a water soaker when you turn it over, features an electronic chip that will emit five sounds: a sonar-like pinging sound (in boat mode) and rat-a-tat-tat, quick shot, laser and blaster sounds (in water soaker mode). Powered by air pressure, which you build up using the toy’s built-in pump, Surf Blaster will travel 40 feet in the water (as a boat) and can shoot distances of up to 30 feet (as a water soaker). Shelcore is scheduled to release Surf Blaster (US$19.99) to toy and mass retailers-including Toys `R’ Us and Wal-Mart Canada-in February. A Surf Blaster TV commercial will begin airing in the U.S. in spring.