Since the first film’s release in 1995, Toy Story merchandise has brought in more than $8 billion in global retail sales.
It’s a phenomenal figure – and puts the Disney-Pixar property up there as one of the most successful film franchises of all time, animated or not. However, it’s by no means the final total. Disney Consumer Products has been vocal in its belief that it expects the launch of Toy Story 3 this summer to be the licensing event of the year.
“We have a very broad range of Toy Story 3 products,” says Dominic Worsley, director of franchise marketing, UK and Ireland, at DCP. “Toys play, obviously, a key role in this franchise, as they are the protagonists of the film, but the characters are so charming and beloved that they translate well to all other product categories.
“Key categories will include our Lego range, action figures, t-shirts, pyjamas, bedding and lunchboxes.”
Following a strong start in the US, Toy Story 3 hit UK cinemas this week (July 19th). Even before this, it had become the UK’s fifth largest toy licence and best selling movie-based toy licence year to date. Notably, it has contributed more to retail sales in the first six months of this year than some of last year’s biggest movie-themed toys were able to sell in 12 months (source: NPD).
Research from The NPD Group shows Toy Story 3 toys have sold an estimated £11 million at retail in the UK during the first six months of 2010 (January 3rd to July 3rd), overshadowing its predecessor’s sales by £7 million over the comparable 25-week time period (Toy Story 2 was released in the UK on February 14th 2000).
At the super-category level, action figures represent nearly one-third of all Toy Story toys sold in the UK, with building sets, outdoors and sports toys, youth electronics and games/puzzles also representing a sizeable amount of total sales.
The top selling item at the start of July was the Woody and Jesse Figure Assortment from Mattel, with Lego’s Woody and Buzz Rescue second.
“With so many different types of product on offer for Toy Story 3, there’s something for everyone, aiding high expectation for strong sales of toy products for this licence,” comments Jez Fraser-Hook, UK toys director at NPD.
Worsley also believes the combined marketing support behind the film, video game and DVD will give the overall consumer products programme an even bigger boost. “All major retailers are involved in Toy Story to some extent and it is certainly a central part of retail activity following the World Cup. There will be a second phase of activity to tie in with the DVD.
“Marketing around the film will drive awareness and demand for products.”
A number of licensees outside of the toy sector have also already said they expect Toy Story 3 to be their top selling licence of the year; the latest is Character World which has created duvet sets, curtains and beds, plus a special 3D range available in time for Christmas. “We have phenomenal distribution at retail for our new Toy Story 3 range with mail order, grocery and online retailers buying into it and are confident that it will be an even bigger seller than our current Toy Story range, launched for the first two movie re-releases,” says Danny Schweiger, joint MD at Character World. “We’ve updated the look, giving the design a modern twist and it has been well received.”
“Children like to take the characters they see on film and surround themselves with them in their own homes,” Worsley concludes.