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Disney's newest princess makes a grand entrance at the 2009 American International Toy Fair

Disney's newest princess makes a grand entrance at the 2009 American International Toy Fair

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What a difference a week makes. Just seven days ago, as you walked up to NYC’s Jacob K. Javits Center

Photo by Jeff Lange

… you couldn’t help but notice the enormous “Up” that was draped over the convention center’s main entrance.

Photo by Jeff Lange

Of course, that was because Comic-Con was in town. And Walt Disney Studios' marketing department wanted to make sure that everyone who visited the Javits over NYCC’s three-day run knew that Pixar’s latest would be opening in theaters on May 29th. In Disney Digital 3D, no less.

But this week, it’s the American International Toy Fair that has set up shop inside of this cavernous convention center. And it’s not fanboys who are now wandering these exhibition halls. But – rather – anxious retailers. Who – in the face of last year’s 3% drop in toy sales – are all desperate to find the next sure thing.

Which -- as far as the folks at Disney Consumer Products are concerned -- isn't Carl Fredricksen (i.e. the cranky 78 year-old balloon salesman who stars in “Up”). Which is why the folks at DCP have been soft pedaling Pixar’s latest and instead talking up Walt Disney Pictures’ big release for Christmas 2009. Which is “The Princess and the Frog.”

Indeed, the big news coming out of Toy Fair yesterday was that Mattel had just unveiled its upcoming "The Princess and the Frog" product line. Tony Award-winning actress/singer Anika Noni Rose (i.e. the voice of Princess Tiana) was on hand Monday as all of these dolls, play sets and role-play dresses which were inspired by her character from this new animated film were then rolled out. Here's a shot of a few of those products.

Copyright 2009 Disney / Mattel. All Rights Reserved

Mickey is really counting on "The Princess and the Frog" (Which will introduce the Company's first new Princess in more than 10 years) to re-energize its 10 year-old Disney Princess franchise. For while the Mouse did enjoy $4 billion in global sales of DP merch last year, the toy industry also experienced a 10% drop-off in doll sales over that same period. Which -- given the millions of Disney Princess dollies that Mickey tries to move on an annual basis -- isn't exactly a healthy trend

Mind you, some of that drop-off could be attributed to a sameness in the marketplace. The same old tired / safe product on store shelves. Which is why Mattel is really hoping that Tiana – what with being Disney’s first African-American princess and all – will really stand out from the crowd. Break through the clutter & abundance that you find at those Big Box stores.

Look for the first wave of “The Princess and the Frog” merchandise (which will include apparel, home décor, consumer electronics, school supplies and personal care products) to start rolling in in late October / early November. Just in time for the holiday shopping season.

Of course, if you just can’t wait to learn more about this upcoming Walt Disney Animation Studios release (Which will be Mickey’s first hand-drawn full-length animated feature since “Home on the Range” had its theatrical debut back in April of 2004), you might want to consider making your way to the Moscone Center in San Francisco on Friday, February 27th. Where – on the first day of WonderConCraig Sost and Marlon West will be hosting a panel on “The Art of 2D Visual Effects.” Which will make use of a key scene from “The Princess and The Frog” to help illustrate WDAS’ distinctive production process.

Copyright 2009 Disney. All Rights Reserved

And if you’re still kicking yourself because you missed out on that “Up” panel that was presented at NYCC, don't worry. Pete Docter will be hosting another panel about this upcoming Pixar Animation Studios release at WonderCon on Saturday, February 28th.

For further information on these upcoming “The Princess and the Frog” & “Up” panels, as well as all of the other entertaining events that will be presented at this year’s WonderCon, please click on this link.

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  • I've gotta say, that last picture you posted is just beautiful.  I cannot wait for this pic to come out.  I have no problem with digital animation but I just dig hand-drawn.

  • Even hand-drawn is digital these days, Pinto.  I suspect you meant computer animation.

    Anyway, while certainly no one has been *added* to the Princess marketing since Mulan in 1998, Princess Kida *was* a princess and debuted within the last ten years.

  • My bad.  It was late when I posted.  Yes, I meant computer animation.

  • I'm salivating over dolls...what's wrong with me? Keep the articles coming, Jim. I can't wait for "The Princess and the Frog". I really hope this film returns 2D to its former glory.

  • Actually, Giselle was the most recent Princess, even though she married the New York guy. And to be technical, his ex-fiancee Nancy was a Princess too. What happened to Enchanted? It's like it never happened.

  • I loved Enchanted but I'm not sure it fits into the animated canon.

  • hooray for movie spoilers! :D

  • You know, I was AT ToyFair, and I really didn't see very much fuss over Tiana.  Perhaps this is because I won't touch Matel with a 10-foot pole, but I did not see a single booth featuring her.  Meanwhile, CGI Tinkerbell was plastered over everything... especially cheap products.

    I could rant at length about which companies Disney makes liscencing agreements with, but I'll spare the length.  In the whole of ToyFair, it was almost entirely Wal-Mart quality vendors [that includes Matel] that used the Disney images.  I was hoping to at <i>least</i> see some neat science kits featuring WALL-E, given the sucess and popularity of the film, but I was again dissapointed.

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