Adventure Time Wallets: FOR THE FANS!

Via: Animated Review

Adventure Time continues to set the bar when it comes to connecting with fans of the show (although Futurama is apparently catching up) and the latest is this rather cool project: Adventure Time wallets!

Yes, coming via Animated Review, is the series of wallets created by Poketo featuring a series of various designs including one by Pen Ward himself! Here’s my favourite:

Via: Animated Review

There’s a number of things that are cool about this kind of merchandise:

  1. They’re cheap! $20 isn’t going to break the bank for most people
  2. Their relatively customised. With 7 different designs to choose from, there’s good chance most people won’t have the same one.
  3. They’ve got the approval from the show’s creator (always a good thing)
  4. They go beyond the simple design of the show itself (and the stuff most marketing departments are comfortable with) and give fans something new.
  5. Fans can feel good about supporting a small company and awesome creative team!

The only downside? Showing off your awesome new wallet to everyone will only prove how much/little money you actually have.

Points for Effort: The Lorax Goes Green for Publicity

Via: ScreenCrave

Illumination/Universal are getting ready to release their latest film The Lorax. the two unusual things about this film are:

  1. My finacee wants to see it
  2. The merchandising/tie-ins are “green”

Normally film studios will give lip service to the idea of the green agenda. Case in point is Captain Planet, which had some decidedly un-environmentally friendly toys.

This time around though, it seems like a genuine effort is being made. From the AP:

The EPA, for instance, is using the Lorax character to help promote low-power appliances that carry the Energy Star label. Hilton’s DoubleTree hotel chain is sponsoring a trip for four to eco-tourism mecca Costa Rica. The Hortus Botanicus in Amsterdam is creating a Lorax-inspired route through its garden, which is home to a number of endangered trees.

Such tie-ins will probably do a good job of raising awareness amongst the public about environmental needs, but will they lead to lasting change? I doubt it. I mean, since when has film merchandise made a significant impact on consumer behaviour?

Normally things go great when the products are on the shelves, but like all tie-ins, their lifespan is limited, and we’ve all seen the products in the bargain bin featuring the film from 6 months ago that now look lost and forlorn. On top of that, we, as humans, are notoriously regimented in our ways. After a few months, most consumers who went green for the Lorax will be right back to their old way of doing things.

I can’t help but feel that stunts like this are more about the positive publicity than making real changes. What do you think? Is this green promotional campaign a gimmick or do you think it’ll stick with consumers?

A Few Interesting Mickey Mouse Plates

Normally I don’t give Disney merchandise a second glance, mainly because they’re a dime a dozen in addition to being just about everywhere. However, these plates caught my eye recently as I was perusing the local Target.

What did it was that they’re a break from the norm with all their construction lines that are reminiscent of the centerline technique that was popular back in the 1930s. It’s something a wee bit different from the usual, sterile stuff. Anyways, enjoy!

Mickey Mouse
Minnie Mouse


Minnie Mouse (again)
And a tray with them both!

The 6 Best Ways to Merchandise An Animated Creation

Animation’s been around for a long time, and its related merchandise has been around for almost the same amount of time (Windsor McCay wasn’t very market-savvy). Arguably Walt Disney was the finest marketer that animation could have hoped for in that he didn’t just market anything and everything (except at the start), he knew his target audience but also who held the purse-strings for them.

Animation is a funny kind of a medium when it comes to merchandising because, unlike live-action, there’s only so much you can do. Oh sure, you have the usual things, which we’ll get to in a minute, but unfortunately, any physical replica can never match the animated version directly. Yes, even CGI falls into this trap, but they do have a leg up on traditional animation in that regard.

So, unlike a live-action TV show where you simply duplicate a prop or costume from the show and flog them to one and all, what are the best ways to create a merchandising empire built on an animated offering? Here’s a few of the best ones (that work for just about anything from a TV show to an independent film to an animated feature).

1. Toys

As much as I hate to be painfully obvious, toys are incredibly important for the simple reason that any animated TV show or film aimed at kids is slap bang-in-the-middle suitable for this. Why? Because toys are tried and tested and the reason for that is that they build upon the rampant imaginations of the little ones.

Toys are enormously lucrative but they do carry a lot of risks in that they’re costly to produce and can induce horrendous losses if they don’t sell. Perhaps best left to the big boys, toys can nonetheless be for adults too, (think novelties and high-quality figurines).

2. Clothing

It’s funny to think that these days its perfectly acceptable for grown adults to wear clothes with cartoon characters on them. Hot Topic seems to be doing quite well catering to the slightly older crowd with T-shirts and other items with recent shows such as Adventure Time but also older ones like Doug and Rugrats.

Clothing (for adults more so than kids) is a way for the wearer to publicly state that they identify with a character and who that character is.

Again, this is probably more suited to the big boys, but with the likes of Cafe Press, its possible for anyone to create something and plaster it on a T-shirt (or any other kind of merchandise for that matter). Personally, I’d like to see more clothing with animated characters on them (I’d wear more too but the office has a dress code). PS see my post with some of the T-shirts I found in Ireland featuring animated characters.

3. Books

Books! Who doesn’t like a book? Animation-related books are everywhere these days, from Art of, to storybooks to colouring books to you name it! Books do fall a lot closer to toys and animation in terms of cost and risk, but the great news is that you don’t even need to print books anymore, just make a PDF and put it online as an ebook!

You can, of course, still go the traditional route, but a lot of folks these days are taking the hybrid option, that is, offer an electronic version for download and a hard copy version to sell at shows or to those out there with more shelf space than myself.

Books are an important element in helping the audience connect with a project. “Art of” books are all the rage because they offer the consumer a glimpse into the processes that went into making their favourite film (or TV show). Storybooks, comics and the like allow the consumer to engage in additional stoytelling beyond the animated story, and who doesn’t like that?

All in all, books are an important element in selling your film or TV show that have been tried and tested for decades.

4. Signed Stuff

Why do people value singed stuff? Well, if they’re anything like me, they just like the feeling they get from knowing they have something unique (or close to it). Signed stuff is relatively rare in the grand scheme of things, and while they generally cost more than a non-signed item, they can provide the owner with a great sense of self-satisfaction.

Sadly, animators tend to hide behind the cel, but thankfully those that are known can create a valuable source of income and add a little extra to every sale by personalising things for their fans.

 5. Drawings

For years (back in the early days) it was assumed that the reams of paper produced at an animated studio were next to worthless. Heck, even Disney sold the cels from their classics at Disneyland in the 1950s.

That all changed pretty quick as studios and consumers realised that what could be better than owning a copy of something than owning a piece of it.

Bill Plympton utilizes this procedure very well. He’s a drawing kind of guy and relies heavily on merchandise to fund his animated adventures. So its only natural that he should sell the various drawings that he’s used to create is films (cels too). Why? Well for one, it costs money to store things, and secondly, why not? They help him engage with his fans and make him money doing it!

This can work for anyone, large or small. Even CGI films still produce tons of paper drawings (and concept art, etc) that one could sell.

Don’t think of it as selling a piece of yourself (it’s not), think of it as selling a piece of your creation to someone who will value it a lot. That’s the kind of person you want because they’re willing to pay for the privilege.

6. Access

Lastly, access can be an avenue to merchandising success because what’re rarer than an actual piece of the film? Why some time with the animator(s) themselves! Now of course, this will depend heavily on how well you are known and how willing you are to travel.

Nina Paley engages in this a lot. She travels all over the world giving talks and classes and so forth, but she was never busier than when she was promoting her feature film, Sita Sings the Blues. Why? Because a screening of a film is more lucrative when the person responsible shows up for a meet and greet.

Obviously this isn’t just as simple as showing up and signing a few pieces of paper. Oh no. You have to engage with the audience so that they form a connection with you and your film. That kind of thing helps build relationships and help someone become more amenable to buying something if they fell they know you personally.


Need some examples? Check out these sites below!

7 Articles of Clothing That Any Animation Fan WOULD Be Seen Dead In

While in Ireland this past July, we (future missus and I) made numerous trips to that mecca of price conscious, fashion-loving regular folk that is Penneys. Quite different from the American JC Penney, Penneys is the brand for retail giant Primark in Ireland and their strategy is to sell high-quality, stylish clothing at the lowest possible price.

Let’s put it this way, even in the US, I’ve struggled to find a pair of jeans for under $10 whereas Penneys sells them every day.

Besides the low, low prices Penneys also sells plenty of licensed items, including a healthy supply of animation-related clothing that was clearly selling. It was quite a surprise to see that cartoon characters on clothing is considered much more mainstream than it is here in the States; where you either accept the wall of ‘hip’ shirts that Wal-Mart/Target has to offer or you have to duck into the local Hot Topic to what they’ve got to offer.

Anyhoo, without further adieu, here’s 7 articles of clothing that I found in Penneys that any fashionable fan of animation should not be without:

1. Japanese Mickey Mouse

2. Yosemite Sam (woefully under-represented in clothing IMO)

3. Fred Flinstone

4. Spongebob Squarepants (perfect for casual Friday)

5. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (mandatory for those in the 22-28 age bracket)

6. Mickey Mouse and Betty Boop pyjamas (Betty was on many, many more items besides these PJs)

7. Lola Bunny (no sign of Bugs though)