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Cyberspace, DVD Plans Unveiled at Toy Fair

26 Feb, 2008 By: Anne Sherber

NEW YORK – Toy Fair 2008 not only slimmed down, but it decamped to the cyber universe. As a result of the enormous the success of Neopets and Webkins, license holders and licensees are creating online environments for all of their hottest properties.

Chief among companies in this category is Disney Interactive. Following the successful launch of the “Disney Fairies” line of DVDs and other consumer products, Disney Online announced that it will extend this successful franchise with the creation of Disney Fairies Pixie Hollow.

Visitors to the new online world will be able to explore Pixie Hollow, chat with fairy friends, go on quests for Tinker Bell, play games, earn badges, and craft jewelry and clothes. The site is scheduled to launch later this year. In concert with the virtual world, the company announced that it will create a new line of Disney Fairies Internet-connected toys.

Among the DVD announcements at the show:

  • Hit Entertinment will release a new “Thomas the Tank Engine” DVD. The feature-length DVD, The Great Discovery, will street Sept. 9, and will be narrated by Pierce Brosnan, who will also lend his voice to the new PBS series launching in September. Toy partners Learning Curve and HIT Toy, as well as publishing licensee Random House, will be supporting the title with tie-in products to be released in advance of the DVD.

  • Scene It?, a popular line of DVD-based trivia games, continues to dominate the category. According to Carrie Peters, director of public relations, the company will partner with Disney for two new editions as well as a new travel edition. Peters says that the company has sold more than 15 million games since its launch at Toy Fair in 2002.

  • Several popular Scholastic properties are being refreshed with new programming and new merchandising programs, according to Leslye Schaeffer, SVP, marketing and consumer products for Scholastic. The company is reviving its highly acclaimed and enormously popular Scholastic Video Collection. Newly re-branded as Scholastic Storybook Treasures, the first six titles will be Chicka Chicka Boom Boom; Chrysanthemum; Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type; Curious George Rides a Bike; Good Night Gorilla; and Harold and the Purple Crayon. Each title has been refreshed, reauthored and repackaged. Each will include a read-along function and will be available for $14.95.

    In honor of Clifford's 45th birthday in publishing, the big red dog will be starring in a new special on PBS. There will also be new audio books and two recently released new DVDs from video licensee Lionsgate Home Entertainment.

    Goosebumps, a publishing juggernaut in the 1990s, is showing new signs of life. R.L. Stine, the series' author, who, at the height of his popularity, sold close to 1 billion books, has written 12 new titles. Scholastic will expand the line of consumer products available to promote the new books with a new multiplatform interactive game, and new DVD, audio and apparel lines.

    And the company is grooming Word Girl, a loquacious superhero currently starring in her own PBS program, for her video debut some time next year. Schaeffer said the company will announce a video partner for the property soon.

  • The Zula Patrol, an environmentally-relevant science and astronomy property aimed at 4-to-8-year-olds that has been airing on PBS, will launch a new line of DVDs in March. Two titles, The Zula Patrol: Explore Science and The Zula Patrol: Explore Weather will be available at Borders exclusively for 90 days before becoming widely available. According to Dr. Deborah Manchester, the series' creator, each DVD will contain four episodes from the series as well as an interactive game.

  • March 29, 310 theaters in the top 50 markets will have Saturday morning screenings of 5 episodes of the progams, Manchester said, and the screenings will be trailered in 650 theaters all through the month of March.

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