Monday, February 02, 2015

Super Heroes

There's more to spandex-covered muscles than Marvel:

... Inspired by Mattel's new toy line, Batman Unlimited will launch in 2015 with new made-for-video movies and shorts that will extend the play experience for kids. DC Super Friends, inspired by the Fisher-Price Imaginext toy line, will also offer original content as a series of shorts launching in spring of 2015. Bringing dimension to the action figures and playsets available in toy aisles globally, each program will engage millions of young fans around the world like never before.

Batman Unlimited will debut as a made-for-video animated movie entitled Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts that stars Batman alongside key Super Hero allies such as The Flash, Red Robin and Green Arrow, coming face to face with DC Comics Super-Villain, The Penguin. ...

Adding to the slate of new Batman Unlimited content, Warner Bros. will release 22 stand-alone, two-minute shorts. Featuring additional story elements, the shorts will be available for fans to enjoy online for free on dedicated channels. ...

Also debuting in spring 2015, Warner Bros. Animation will release a slate of DC Super Friends animated shorts featuring designs inspired by the popular Fisher-Price Imaginext DC Super Friends toy line. The 15 three-minute shorts will extend the characters' storylines for fans to enjoy online for free on dedicated channels. ...

I'm willing the wager the "online for free" option will include advertising. Because there's always some kind of price tag.

But this is largely about supporting character-driven merchandise. Ever since Mickey Mouse dolls leaped into the marketplace in the early 1930s, animation has been a big driver of games, toys, costumes, lunch boxes and you-name- it. Disney has reaped billions from the merchandise money-stream over the years. DreamWorks Animation is now trying to do the same.

Thirty years ago, Filmation built two highly successful animated series around action figures. He-Man and then She-Ra won the hearts of the elementary school set and pushed the studio to new heights. Until then, toys had followed the creation of a cartoon, not the other way around. But Lou Scheimer's cartoon company broke that mold. It also blazed new trails syndicating both shows, producing sixty-five episodes at a whack, a business model that was copied and improved on by Disney Television Animation several years later.

Whether Warners is following the Filmation-Mattel model ... or only making it seem that way ... will need to be determined by somebody who is more expert in these matters than I am.


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