February 22, 2008

Toyetic?? If Yo Gabba Gabba! Is Star Wars, Then I'm Steven Spielberg

ygg_kidscreen_cover.jpgGosh, how much I love Kidscreen, the trade magazine of the children's television industry [tagline: "About reaching children through entertainment"]? I'd love it even if my boys from Yo Gabba Gabba! weren't on the cover [:)] of the big, fat Toy Fair 2008 issue. [:O] Which just arrived yesterday, the day after the Toy Fair ended. [:(] It's not online just yet [;(] but when it is, I'll link to it [;)]

It's all behind the scenes all the time, written for and about people who are just in love with making TV for kids, selling TV for kids, exploiting TV for kids--it's an ongoing, insider report of the driving forces in kid's culture. [For the Oh-Noo!-TV-is-Evil curmudgeons, it's the TV equivalent of Dick Cheney bcc'ing you on all his email with the oil companies.]

Did you know that to win the master license for Yo Gabba Gabba, Ben Varadi, the EVP of Toronto toyco Spin Master, came to the pitch meeting dressed as DJ Lance Rock, complete with his big, briefcase-y boom box? And that the series' creatives are heavily involved in the design of every toy and product?

Unlike some creators, The Magic Store and Wildbrain [YGG's production co's] wanted to be involved in every step of the line's design. "Spin Master said the more you can give us, the better the toys will be," notes [co-creator Christian] Jacobs. For its part, Spin Master wasn't worried about there being too many cooks in the kitchen. Brand manager Cristy Collins, who's overseeing the Yo Gabba products, says the show is naturally toyetic and "when you miex that with creative guys, it makes it easy from a consensual standpoint."
WHOA, FULL STOP. "Toyetic"?? What is 'toyetic'? Learning new industry lingo is AWESOME! [discussion of the YGG!'s "key play patterns" can wait till after the jump.]

Hello, Wikipedia?

Toyetic is a term for an element (either a fictional character, a locale, or an object) from a new or preexisting toyline that can be easily marketed in other mediums such as motion pictures, television shows, video games, or comics, among other mediums and vice-versa.
The term "toyetic" is believed to have been coined by Bernard Loomis, former president of Kenner, and the guy who came up with the Hot Wheels animated series in 1968, licensed The Six Million Dollar Man, and then passed on Man from Atlantis [sorry, Patrick Duffy! so close!] to license Star Wars instead. Here he is talking about the Star Wars deal:
Mark [Pevers, head of licensing for Fox] added one condition: "George says, "if you do Star Wars, you can't go Close Encounters." That was the first time we heard George's name.

When someone tells me I can't have something, I want to know why. We made a date to sign the Star Wars deal at the Century Plaza Hotel In Los Angeles, a few minutes away from the Fox Studio, on a Saturday morning and out of curiosity made a date for first thing in the morning earlier in the week to go to Columbia and meet Julia Phillips the Producer of Close Encounters and the Director Steven Spielberg.

Steven told us the story of Close Encounters, and when he was through, I remarked that it sounded like a great movie but it didn't seem "toyetic" to which he said " What is 'toyetic'?" and I said "The property of being expressible in playable figures and hardware." To which he said, "well it's not Star Wars.” I asked him what he knew about Star Wars and he said he had seen it and agreed that it was quite 'toyetic.' He also said that he wasn't too upset, "George was his best friend, and they had traded pieces" In other words George owned a piece of Steven's share of Close Encounters and Steven a piece of Star Wars, which I believe for quite a while were the number one and number three grossing motion pictures of all times. When the toys went into production, George had us send one of each new toy directly to Steven.

...the series' main characters were inspired by the creators' love of urban vinyl figures and are, essentially, toys come to life. So when they all sat down more than a year ago to sketch out the line, the Yo Gabba team looked to Spin Master's expertise in identifying play patterns and the toyco turned to Yo Gabba to bring the style.

Spin Master immediately singled out music and interactive as the two key play patterns for the show, now branded Gabba Grooves and Gabba Gang in the inaugural gender-neutral lineup. When it came to create the lead music toys, along with the dancing animatronic plush toy based on the furry green guy Brobee (SRP US$34.99), the toyco wanted to make a guitar for kids looking to rock out at home.

The result: the Muno Groove Guitar (SRP US$24.99), which YGG! designer/brother Parker Jacobs redesigned to look like Muno himself:


1 Comment

I remember one of my earliest toys was a six-million-dollar-man doll. it had a bionic arm, and rubbery skin, if I recall. it was awesome.

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