Film world's cast of toys teleport into digital playground
By Piya Sinha-Roy
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Those ubiquitous Angry Birds flew from the mobile screen to the toy store, hooked up with Hollywood, and are headed back to the digital world thanks to the telepod.
That is toymaker Hasbro Inc's answer to merging the physical and digital worlds of children's play in what the industry calls "toys-to-life." And like another leading toy company, Walt Disney Co, they are finding fans among the fervent audiences for action and superhero films.
Hasbro's Angry Bird telepods were a big attraction last weekend at San Diego's Comic-Con, an annual gathering of 130,000 comic and entertainment enthusiasts, with fans lining up to preview new Transformers-themed bird figurines containing miniscule codes that can be read by tablets.
The Angry Birds Transformers telepods, featuring "Autobirds" and "Deceptihogs," is due out on October 15, spinning off the success of Paramount Pictures' June box office hit, "Transformers: Age of Extinction."
Licensed toys have become a key to extending the entertainment content revenue stream, with U.S. retail sales in 2013 of $5.3 billion, according to research company The NPD Group.
In the first quarter of 2014, the top licensed toys included Disney's princess lines and "Frozen" toys, which helped Disney bring in $885 million in consumer products revenue, about 8 percent of the company's overall revenue during that time.
The new "toys-to-life" category grew 47 percent in a 12-month period ending June 2014 to $437 million in sales in the United States, according to NPD's gaming analyst Liam Callahan.
Retail analyst Stephanie Wissink at Piper Jaffray estimates that by 2018, 25 percent of toys will incorporate a digital component or integration with electronic devices. Continued...