February 24, 1997 |
Add 101 Dalmatians to 17,000 different products and multiply by every pre-teen in the multiplexed world. How much doggone money can you make? It's the Licensing Game and it is the biggest thing in the toy business these days. The rules are simple: Pick a movie, TV show or some other cultural icon, make toys in their image and - voila! - the bottom line turns magically black. No messy assembly time - or creative research and development - necessary. The Toy Manufacturers of America estimate that half of the 2.99 billion toys sold in the United States in 1996, accounting for more than $7 billion in sales, were licensed products.
December 27, 1996 |
As the holidays wind down, the last things you probably want to see are more toys. But here they are. And they're skating, too, at the CoreStates Center in a snazzy show through Jan. 5. It's a major deal, from the outsized title - Walt Disney's World on Ice: Toy Story - to the production itself: 43 skaters, 18 mutant toys, 24 Martians and 25 Green Army men (complete with "plastic" stands), a 34-by-70-foot stage, a 14-foot-high remote-control car, and an 18-foot-high Martian rocket ship.
October 28, 1996 |
A Clifton Heights woman was charged with retail theft yesterday after state police pulled an all-nighter searching her home and found 10,000 items, worth more than $250,000, which they believe were stolen from local toy stores and Hallmark shops. Police said representatives of Alston's Hallmark spotted Eileen Iovannacci on Saturday at a flea market in Middletown Township selling licensed Hallmark items at "below discount price" and suspected the merchandise had been taken from their stores in the Granite Run and Springfield Malls.
June 21, 1996 |
God is great, God is good, God is . . . pink. Probably not the color Cardinal Bevilacqua would choose right at this moment, but it's official - God is pink. This comes from the second-highest authority in the universe, Disney, which assigns a color scheme to divinity in its new animated feature, "The Hunchback of Notre Dame. " God's visage is Notre Dame Cathedral, an imposing edifice that provides shelter to the poor and unfortunate, protection for the innocent and punishment for the wicked.
May 1, 1996 |
Jim Wiley has been going through his second childhood for 25 years. That is how long ago Wiley, a retired high school math teacher, started the mechanical toy collection that has made his one-story ranch house one of the borough's more unusual sights. Wiley's living room, like the rest of his house, is a jumble of books and toys. With classical music playing in the background, Wiley explained, in a teacher's lecture tone, how he got "hooked" on collecting. "I used to collect coins, but that wasn't very exciting," said Wiley, 66. Then a fellow teacher at Neshaminy High School gave him a small copper elephant and a few other trinkets.
March 28, 1996 |
In the 1930s, cutting-edge virtual-reality technology was a new attraction called planetariums, where the stars and planets were projected onto a domed ceiling using a fancy light box. In the 1990s, that technology stacks up about a notch above Lite Brite in a market increasingly filled with real-time, explosion-laden, you-are-there video adventures. But Spitz Inc., a Chadds Ford planetarium company that helped spur the boom in planetariums in the late 1940s, hopes that a new virtual-reality video projection system will bring people back into planetariums.
March 12, 1996 |
This hammy little piggy has a beef. If a toy Babe had been on store shelves at Christmastime - the way Pocahontas dolls, Lion King plush toys and Batman action figures were - he, too, might have been taken home. In a world where the characters in a movie are usually in the stores even before the movie opens, this absence of buyable Babes was unusual. "It wasn't that a toy Babe didn't exist last year," says John Dumbacher, vice president of licensing for MCA/Universal.
December 7, 1995 |
In the crowd of excited kids spilling out of Disney's smash hit Toy Story, Art Sill came out with a smile and a look of how'd-they-do that? amazement on his face. But in his well-worn Eagles cap and jacket, the burly, bearded 31-year-old salesman from South Philadelphia looked like a guy you'd expect to find in the R-rated upper tiers of Veterans Stadium, not at a G-rated Disney movie. "I had a great time," said Sill, outside the United Artists RiverView on Columbus Boulevard.
December 7, 1995 |
It's a long coil of steel that winds and wiggles and makes sounds like chink and chunk and even flips and flops and walks down stairs. It's Slinky. A toy that's so low-tech it's timeless. Slinky has wiggled in and out of fashion for the last 50 years, wedging its way firmly into the American fabric. And now, Slinky's gone Hollywood. There's a stunning scene of Slinky on the stairs in Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls that rivals Scarlett O'Hara's tumble down Tara's staircase in Gone With the Wind.