Disney 'Tron' toys defy gravity at down-to-earth price
Even while riding the success of Toy Story 3, the Disney merchandising machine never rests. The Mouse Factory this week gave WalletPop a preview of its next wave of movie tie-ins. We came away impressed with two high-tech, but low-priced toys tied in to Tron: Legacy(Dec. 17) and a new doll collection that will accompany the Rapunzel-inspired Tangled (Nov. 24). All will be available in the fall at the Disney Store and major retailers.
The Tron Zero Gravity Light Cycle ($34.99, ages 8 and up) made even the jaded kid in me say "wow". It drives on the wall and upside down. It can also engage other vehicles in gravity-defying combat, one rep said. Disney added that it is the first movie-based toy to sport Air Hogs technology, which uses vacuums to keep the cycle on the surface as it rolls via remote control.
The Tron action figuresalso boast a heapin' helping of innovation. The faces of the characters come alive, talking through an embedded digital projection device. Even better, the image takes on a holographic dimension that really dazzles. The Tron dolls speak lines from the upcoming 3D movie about a rebel (Garrett Hedlund) who visits the digital world where his father (Jeff Bridges), an old-school video game inventor, got trapped decades earlier. The original Tron opened in 1982, so basically, the franchise is rebooting. That means having to hook kids with imagination-grabbers that Mom and Dad can afford. The $14.99 price for the 7.5-inch-inch figure that talks is a great way to start.
The multi-jointed dolls are supposed to be for ages 4 and up, but we suspect older collector geeks will muscle in on the action for this and the zero-gravity rides.
Away from the cyber-sleek world of Tron, Disney is also working its tradition. Tangled will provide the platform for launching an as-yet-named line of the major Disney princesses ($29.50 apiece) singing their empowerment song (think page 60 in a screenplay). Disney invited all the singers back who voiced the originals to perform a cappella versions for the dolls. For the doll from the new release, Mandy Moore sings Rapunzel's big number in three 15-second clips. Other royalty include Tiana from The Princess and the Frog, Ariel from The Little Mermaid and Jasmine from Aladdin. Tiara-wearers from older franchises such as Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty get new vocalists. One Disney marketing executive told WalletPop that for now he was calling the heritage collection "Princess Power." We think Disney should run with that one.