26 Jul / It’s Toy Story Come to Life!
The annual Comic-Con International convention in San Diego maintains the title of largest comic book and popular arts convention in the world. It has become one of the most highly anticipated events for fans and toymakers alike, attracting nearly 125,000 people this year. The population has swelled to include representatives from an array of entertainment industries such as video game designers, Hollywood producers and celebrities.
Toymakers have discovered that the winning strategy for standing out amongst the crowd is in effective marketing. Major toymaker companies Hasbro and Mattel sought to get closer to fans this year through packaging that evoked a pleasant sense of nostalgia. The 2011 convention featured packaging adorned with lights, sound effects and larger deluxe versions that could not be found in stores.
In the New York Times, Mattel marketing director Jill Nordquist stated that “it really is about the presentation” of the toy rather than the functionality of it. Enthusiasts are seeking “something special, something they can display at home.” And these companies certainly have some eye-catching displays to offer!
Some of this year’s most unique package designs included the Marshmallow Man from “Ghostbusters” box, which was shaped like a suitcase and came complete with a city diorama. The Star Wars Revenge of the Jedi set was not outshined in a box designed like a Death Star, and Blazing Sword Voltron models came in packaging that played a sound bite from the opening soundtrack of the original series.
So, why is it literally the thought that counts and not what is inside the box? Mattel’s art director, Frank Verela, believes that “packaging is not just something to hold the figure.” For dedicated fans that make the annual pilgrimage to Comic-Con, it’s a reward for their loyalty and a special way of enhancing the experience of toy- ownership. Until next year…
Above: Marvel Universe Sentinel, Marshmallow Man and Star Wars collector’s set as seen in the New York Times