Disney-Pixar won't get caught with its action figure pants down again, announcing the creation of 250 toys and games tied to Toy Story 3. The company's chief creative officer, John Lasseter, announced the line Sunday at the opening of Toy Fair in New York.
Lasseter co-founded Pixar and created Toy Story 11 years before his company was absorbed into Disney's empire. He couldn't have forgotten that Disney made a bust of merchandising his original Toy Story, with no toys and games ready to fly off shelves for holiday wish lists when the movie debuted in November 1995.
Apparently the Mouse House didn't believe Toy Story would be a hit; few imagined that a bunch of computer animation upstarts would upstage Disney tradition. So, when Toy Story opened, anyone seeking a Buzz Lightyear or Woody of their own — or any memorabilia — settled for cloth dolls sold with Burger King kids' meals. Not even Disney Stores at local malls had anything cool with the Toy Story brand to sell.
Production of higher-grade toys accelerated after the first weekend's box office numbers were announced but couldn't match the holiday demand, causing a stampede on stores, or online brokering at higher prices. No such mistake was made when Toy Story 2 opened in 1999, with an array of merchandise including a video game for multiple formats. Toy Story 3 opens June 18, four months from now, so there won't be any merchandise shortage this time. With 250 items available, there won't be any shortage of overkill, either.
Steve Persall can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365. Read his blog, Reeling in the Years, at blogs.tampabay.com/movies.