Earlier this week Disney held a special event at Toy Fair 2013 in New York promoting “Monsters University,” the upcoming Pixar prequel. At the event, Disney Consumer Products debuted its product lines from Spin Master and Fisher-Price along with a new trailer for the film, joined by its director Dan Scanlon, Producer Kori Rae, and star John Goodman, voice of James P. Sullivan.
The event lasted around half an hour on Monday, February 11, 2013, offering invited guests and press a chance to take a first look the toy lines that will hit store shelves when the movie releases to theaters in June. A combination of high-tech and simple but amusing, these new products will support what will surely be another in the long line of successful Disney/Pixar movies.
It all began with a marching band performance taking a stage in the Javits Center, shouting phrases like “Go! Scare! Win!” kicking off the “freshman orientation,” followed by on-stage conversations and a chance for attendees to get hands-on with the new toys. The full presentation can be seen in the video below, as well as a few highlights, followed by a closer look at the products.
Video: “Monsters University” event at Toy Fair 2013
Video: “Monsters University” marching band performs at Toy Fair 2013
Video: John Goodman talks “Monsters University” at Toy Fair 2013
Disney has worked with toy makers Spin Master and Fisher-Price to develop a strong line of innovative products inspired by the series that begin with 2001′s “Monsters Inc.” Returning for the prequel, now in college, are Mike Wazowski and James P. Sullivan, or Mike and Sulley for short, voiced once again by Billy Crystal and John Goodman. Joining them are a new cast of characters, many of whom were introduced by Scanlon and Rae during the presentation, each featuring their own hilarious personality.
Concluding the event, both Billy Crystal and John Goodman were scheduled to attend but Crystal was unable to make it, though Goodman more than made up for his absense with his own big personality and sense of humor, lighting up the room with his presence.
Though he does command attention with his booming voice in many of his roles, he did admit voice acting is tough, having to compress all of his acting abilities into his words alone. But he had no problem stepping back into the role of Sulley, only having to modify his voice to sound a bit younger. In an interview immediately following the event, Goodman laughed when Scanlon mentioned that Mike and Sulley are more vibrant in color in the new film, finding it a bit sad that monsters’ colors apparently fade as they get older. (Tune in to Show 411 for the full interview.)
To conclude the on-stage portion of the event, Disney presented Goodman with a one-of-a-kind version of a Sulley “Roll-A-Scare” toy that speaks his own voice.
Moving beyond the “freshman orientation,” Disney mocked up the “Monsters University” campus itself, complete with amusing student bulletin board, as a product showcase featuring many of the toys they were debuting at Toy Fair.
Representatives from Spin Master and Fisher-Price were on hand to excitedly talk about their products, seen in the video demonstration below.
Video: Tour of “Monsters University” toys at Toy Fair 2013
The centerpiece of the product line is Scare-Off Sulley ($79.99, available fall 2013), which unfortunately was represented only by a non-working prototype at Toy Fair. This interactive toy will feature five different modes of play, the ability to sense its environment, and offering kids a chance to play against him in a “scare off” encouraging them to scream as loudly as possible - sure to be a gem for parents.
A particularly advanced plush version of Sulley speaks when squeezed, has different modes (scary and not scary) and opens his mouth and moves his eyebrows.
Another highlight is the Sulley Monster Mask ($24.99, available spring 2013) offering kids a chance to become James P. Sullivan controlling the mask’s eyebrows and lips with by moving their jaws up and down. Sadly, it’s designed to only fit the smallest of faces, so big-headed adults won’t be able to use it.
There will also be a pair of simpler Mike and Sulley masks without the extra features.
Action figures big and small will be available with a variety of features, including the Speak N Scare line ($34.95, available June 2013) that will work with a free digital app to control their scaring actions with more than 40 phrases. The figures will even be able to converse with one another.
Other figures include a new character called Squishy, whose figure will indeed be squishable, though the prototype on display at Toy Fair wasn’t.
Roll-A-Scare Monsters and the accompanying play set feature a visual style somewhat inspired by the world of vinyl collectibles, offering a fun twist on a typical figure. These plastic characters roll up into balls that can bounce open when placed on a flat surface or after racing against each other in a play set.
New and familiar places from the world of the “Monsters” movies are also represented in Fisher-Price sets, aimed at a younger audience with plenty of moving parts and opportunities for play, including the Monsters University Row Playset ($29.99, available spring 2013).
The rest of the “Monsters University” product line features more than 1,000 products from 125 licensees, including apparel, plush, and much more. Just a sampling was on display at Toy Fair.
“Monsters University” filmmakers were careful to embrace the comedic, but touching tone of the first movie when crafting the new one and judging from the new trailer, the laughs will certainly still be there as audiences follow Mike and Sulley, along with a gang of new and returning favorites through what seems like will be a fun new adventure. And just as Pixar’s animated films are created with all ages in mind, its toy lines are an interesting assortment that are aimed at children, but will certainly entertain fans of all ages.
More photos from the “Monsters University” event at Toy Fair 2013:
(Photos by Ricky Brigante and Michelle Moss)