This summer saw a glut of movie based toys clog the aisles of toy departments pretty much everywhere. Despite achieving (for the most part) box office success…the big summer movies failed to drive sales of tie-in merchandise at retail. Much of the product just sat…and is still sitting.
I don’t have any empirical sales data to back this up, but based upon extensive local observation it seems that the best selling movie toys of this past summer was The Smurfs from Jakks Pacific.I remember seeing the initial endcap for the Smurf figures at Target. It was full of single carded figures, two-packs and a couple playsets. I thought, another property ordered far too heavily. After repeated trips to Target I saw a little activity. They were selling, albeit slowly. This was all prior to the movie opening in theaters.
I picked up Grouchy Smurf, and he was remarkably well done. The figures obviously benefited from the digital assets…but, still, these figures looked like they just stepped right off the screen. Sure, they’re not great shakes in the articulation department, but they don’t really need it. They’ve got the basic 5 pt articulation structure and for a 2″ tall figure that’s just fine.
I intended to pick up the rest of the figures eventually. But, then July 29 came. The movie opened. It was pretty heavily panned by critics. That was to be expected really. I mean…it’s The Smurfs. My wife and I took our 6 year old to see it. My wife hated it. I thought it was ok. My opinion was likely buoyed by nostalgia for the property. My daughter? She loved it! Toywise for her, she got the Happy Meal figures from McDonalds. Those are great for her purposes. They mostly end up in the bath tub. But, I wanted the action figures.
Only now…they were gone. Targets were cleaned out except for Clumsy Smurf and a Gargamel or two. Toys R Us had a small section in the front of their stores and those got cleaned out. Walmart had the singles and double figures, and those disappeared as well. And for weeks there was nothing. To the point I was actually starting to look online for them. Amazon had the two packs for around $14! They’re $5.99 at Target.
Just yesterday I finally saw a restock of the series 1 figures, and with Series 2 due out soon I figured I’d better not wait and I picked up what I needed.
So, yeah, I don’t know the official sales numbers and whatnot…but, based upon casual observation (and a healthy dose of toy hunting) it sure looked like The Smurfs toys moved more and faster than any other summer movie-based toylines this year.
With the movie grossing over $500 worldwide (the first non-sequel of 2011 to reach the half-billion mark) and a sequel already announced, Jakks could have a real hit on their hands if they manage the line properly over the next couple years. Who woulda thunk it?