Some toys are notoriously subject to fadism, where they seemingly overnight become massively popular before rapidly fade into the background rarely to be seen again. Remember Furbys? Yeah, like that.
It comes a as a bit of a surprise to hear that Dreamworks is developing a new film based on the (surprisingly mature) line of Trolls dolls. Things could go either way for the film. Some of you out there may well remember the 80s, where it seemed like every cartoon on TV was using a line of toys as their inspiration.
Creativity suffered as a result, writers and animators were limited by what the toy companies dictated the characters could and could not do. While people remember those cartoons with fondness today, in the grand scheme of things, they don’t hold a candle to the likes of SpongeBob Squarepants.
Personally, I believe that cartoons should drive the merchandising. They are a stronger starting point and allow for a far wider choice of products, or at least potential products. This case, however, is probably more closely related to Toy Story than anything from the 80s. There is an established set of toys (read, everyone in Toy Story besides Woody and Buzz) who can be worked into almost any story and have a line of merchandising ready to go.
It would have been ideal if Dreamworks would have decided to develop an entirely new set of characters. Time will tell which celebrities are drafted in to voice the little guys. Anyone want to give odds on Tom Cruise? The film has only just been announced so there are still a few years until we even see anything close to resembling animation. That’s an awful long time in animation and a lot can happen in the meantime.