Which came first, the toy or the movie? Normally, toys don’t hit shelves until there’s a solid, financially successful film or TV show to back them up. But when you own a collection of iconic, instantly-identifiable characters, you don’t have to abide by such rules.
DC Comics is proving this right now with its latest project: Variety recently reported that DC Comics and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment have announced two new animated projects. Said projects are being produced in correlation with toy companies Fisher-Price and Mattel to promote new toy lines.
Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts
The first animation project to be released will be Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts, set to be released direct-to-DVD in May 2015, with a sequel film coming in the second half of the year. Along with the films, DC is working on 22 two-minute shorts, due to be released on a bunch of digital platforms, along with a new app to watch them on.
DC and Warner Bros. haven’t released many plot details; we do know, however (thanks to Comic Book Resources), that the film will feature Batman, The Flash, Green Arrow, Nightwing, and Red Robin facing off against The Penguin and his new band of robot animals. Judging by the new trailer, it looks like the animators are leaning toward the heavily-stylized look of the classic 1990s TV show Batman: The Animated Series. The animation looks a little rough, but it also looks as if the film is fast-moving and action-packed. Either way, DC, Warner Bros. Consumer Products, and Mattel are all hoping that the films will help move lots of toys off the shelves.
DC Super Friends
The second project DC and Warner Bros. have in the pipeline is DC Super Friends. DC and Warner Bros. are working on 15 three-minute shorts, based on Fisher-Price’s Imaginext toy line of the same name. No solid date has been set for the release of these shorts, but we do know that they’ll be coming sometime in the spring, along with another app meant exclusively for watching those shorts.
No footage from the shorts has been released, but the name brings back memories of the classic Saturday morning cartoon of the same name. Knowing that the toys are being marketed toward young children, it’s probably safe to assume the shorts will keep the same tone as the classic series: straightforward tales of clean-cut, straight-laced heroes vanquishing villains easily and quickly.
Other Marketing Plans
The two animated projects are just a small part of the marketing blitz surrounding the two toy lines; said blitz also includes dress-up costumes and gear, other role-playing toys by Thinkway, and more toys from Mattel and Fisher-Price that are yet to hit store shelves. However, the animated films are the centerpiece of the marketing plan.
Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts and DC Super Friends are coming in the middle of a huge whirlwind of DC promotions, with Arrow burning up the Nielsen ratings and the Batman v Superman movie on the horizon. It’s nice to know, however, with Animal Instincts and DC Super Friends, that good, old-fashioned 2D animation still has a prominent place in the marketing pool. That which is great never truly gets old, and it’s good to know that DC, Warner Bros., Mattel, and Fisher-Price are keeping that adage in mind as they bring these classic superheroes to new generations.
Are you excited for these new projects? Will you be watching them (or buying the toys they promote)?
Edited by: Hannah Wilkes