Up Front: TOYLAND
THIS MOVIE WINDS UP OLD FAVORITES
A CHESTFUL OF OLD TOYS could get new commercial life this Christmas, thanks to the upcoming Walt Disney movie Toy Story. The computer-generated flick, which is due to appear on Nov. 22, co-stars Slinky Dog, the coiled-wire toy with a pooch's head that slinks down stairs. Slinky Dog has been in toy heaven for the past five years, but the celluloid exposure is prompting James Industries to return him to the shelves.
With fingers crossed that the film will be a success, toymakers are gearing up for a sales rush. Hasbro, whose Playskool unit produces Mr. Potato Head, has a special Toy Story version: The character sports the bowler hat he wears in the movie. There are coupon giveaways for the two Mattel toys featured, the Hot Wheels track (for tiny cars) and See 'N Say (a tot's educational game). Kids buying popcorn, soda, and candy at a Toy Story showing get a discount coupon for the toys.
For toymakers, the beauty of this movie is that they don't have to pay product-placement fees. Disney was so eager to use well-known toys that it skipped the usual arrangement, where companies pay studios big bucks to get their products shown in the theater.
Still, not all toys answered Disney's casting call for the movie. The studio says Hasbro kept G.I. Joe off the set (although Hasbro won't confirm it). Why? Because the filmmakers wanted to blow his head off.By Ronald Grover