Disney Wants to Bring Your Imagination to Life with Playmation

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Allright, that’s a vague title, and I apologize. It was the best way I could describe what I’m looking at. Disney announced a new line of products today, and they seem to be insanely, insanely cool. Basically, they’ve decided to take their action figure, roleplaying, and smart phone app toys and make them all work together seamlessly to make kids (and let’s be honest, us adults that will also be buying this) feel like they’re inside the world of The Avengers or Star Wars. It’s not a video game, not really. Right now, it’s in four parts: Continue reading

Disney Infinity 3.0: Star Wars

In what was probably the worst kept secret of all time, Disney Infinity has finally announced that their 3.0 edition will be Star Wars. Now, feel free to join me in looking at that beautiful picture up above and jumping for joy. Hit the jump for all the details and a kickass trailer!
Continue reading

Tomorrowland Trailer 2!

A tiny, tiny bit of the veil has been raised, and we finally know a little bit more about Disney and Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland. In this second trailer, see some crazy new effects, more of the story of why Britt Robertson’s character is hunting for the mysterious city, and perhaps most shocking of all, Hugh Laurie without stubble. It’s been so long, I thought I was watching Black Adder again. Check out the new trailer for Tomorrowland after the jump.


Let us know what you think in the comments!

Dan Stevens and Luke Evans join live action Beauty and the Beast

After the initial announcement that Emma Watson would be Belle in Disney’s live action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, the film briefly went dark again. Other than knowing it would contain the original Howard Ashman and Alan Menken songs, we still don’t know much about this film – but now we know a little more. It’s been reported that Dan Stevens and Luke Evans are both in talks to play The Beast and Gaston, respectively.

Stevens is a no brainer – the british actor has already basically played a prince on Downton Abbey, and we know from last year’s The Guest that he has the intensity to play The Beast at his worst. Evans is a little tougher of a sell – we’ve never seen him display the kind of comedic range necessary for Gaston. It’ll be interesting to see the final product when the film releases in the next few years.

UPDATE: Important question just occured to me! Does Luke Evans have enough hair and/or antlers for this part? Inquiring minds need to know!

DOUBLE UPDATE: It’s not been confirmed by Emma Watson’s twitter, both gentlemen are on board! Check out her adorable tweets below.

Bonjour Gaston! ❤️ Welcome! #BeautyAndTheBeast pic.twitter.com/oerhe1ilGs
— Emma Watson (@EmWatson) March 5, 2015

 

Could not be more happy that this man will be Beast!!! Welcome aboard @thatdanstevens #beautyandthebeast pic.twitter.com/F1ghG3pvcU
— Emma Watson (@EmWatson) March 5, 2015

 

New DuckTales Coming in 2017!

As posted by the Oh My Disney! blog, it’s time to get out your board shorts and dive into a pool full of gold, because DuckTales is coming back to television as an all-new series on Disney XD!

For those that have missed the adventurous tales of Huey, Dewey, Louie, and Scrooge McDuck (as well as Donald and many a faithful family member and companion) this news seems almost too good to be true, but there it is: the return of longtime favorites like Launchpad, Webbigail, and Duckworth, among many others.

2017 has never seemed so far away – if you need us, we’ll be spending the next two years humming the theme song under our breath.

Nintendo Wasn’t Ready to Be in the Toy Business

This past week, Nintendo held a call for their investors. This is standard practice for a public company, but as the contents of the call are public knowledge, it’s usually a great way for fans of a company to get access to new information. As Nintendo fans all over the world hunkered for new details on the upcoming Zelda game, or Nintendo’s efforts to bring their games to smartphone apps, one new detail made itself perfectly clear: Nintendo just isn’t ready to be a toy company.

It seemed like a no brainer. With both Activision’s Skylanders and Disney’s Infinity toys tearing up the sales charts, making a toy to tie in to Nintendo video games was a slam dunk idea. Many fans had been expecting it and clamoring for it, and when Nintendo announced their Amiibo line of toys, excitement was at an apex. These particular style of figurines – detailed and collectible, but with an RF chip to allow them to be characters in a virtual world – reach to many different demographics. Young children get a toy of their favorite characters, with a chance to be those characters in a new world. Meanwhile, collectors can have tiny, beautifully made statues to hang on their wall or use in a game.

In both Skylanders and Disney Infinity, this has worked beautifully. While there’s been a few characters that are hard to find, the majority are easily accessible and easy to collect for both types of people.

Figures are meant to sell for $15.

That’s a screenshot from this morning. As you may have guessed, it hasn’t gone as well for Nintendo.

Marth, the Wii Fit Trainer, and Animal Crossing’s Villager were the first – there was a major shortage of them at stores, and stock was gone incredibly quickly. It seemed like a temporary oversight, until the rumors started flying that no more of these figures would ever be produced. Nintendo didn’t respond to those rumors, and the fervour drove prices up even more. As the much desired Wave 2 of Amiibos approached, things changed. No one was casually walking to stores to check stocks anymore. Lines were forming. Figures were being snapped up. For a good example, let’s take a look at my buddy King Dedede.

Dedede is Kirby’s main villain. And while there’s a million Kirbys on the shelf, last Friday each store got a shipment of one or two Dededes at most. He wasn’t even offered in store at Target, and when h went for sale online he was sold through in around ten minutes. The demand and supply aren’t meeting at all.

During their investor call, Nintendo released the following information. In America, these are the top ten highest selling Amiibos:

  1. Link
  2. Mario
  3. Pikachu
  4. Kirby
  5. Samus
  6. Yoshi
  7. Princess Zelda
  8. Donkey Kong
  9. Peach
  10. Luigi

That all seems to make sense, it’s a pretty good cross-section of Nintendo’s most popular characters. Now, here’s the top ten “sell-through” Amiibos, meaning the top ten that have had the highest percentage of their stock sold:

  1. Marth
  2. Animal Crossing Villager
  3. Wii Fit Trainer
  4. Pit
  5. Captain Falcon
  6. Link
  7. Fox
  8. Rosalina
  9. Samus
  10. Yoshi

What do these two lists mean? The fact that there is almost no crossover between the most-popular list and the most-sold-through list means the Amiibos on the sell-through list have been produced in relatively tiny qualities. At first, it was believed that Nintendo was doing this on purpose – creating collectors items that would be highly desired. But after the incredibly-fast disappearing of most of Wave 2 (of all of the toys pictures at the top of the article, only three are not currently sold out everywhere), another theory comes to light.

Nintendo desperately wanted to get in on the Skylanders money. And it makes sense that they would. But they weren’t ready to try. In typical Nintendo fashion, they underestimated the demand and didn’t get ready to produce enough supply. Presumably, this problem is happening at the factory level – Nintendo has released several statements about retooling lines to reproduce Marth. It seems that Nintendo simply didn’t contract enough factory space to produce meaningful amounts of product for most of their lines.

Now when you want into a shop, there’s twenty Marios, Luigis, Peachs and Kirbys, and fifteen more empty pegs. It looks bad for the store, and when you look over to the incredibly well stocked Disney Infinity isle, it looks bad for Nintendo. Last week, during the mad rush for the new toys, one poster on a Facebook Amiibo collector group told a heartwarming story of handing the last Megaman toy to an eight year old instead of buying it himself. But the fact is, both of them should have walked away with the toy.

And they would have, if Nintendo had been ready to be a toy company.

Mike Fatum is the Editor in Chief of the Ace of Geeks, and a cohost on our weekly podcast. He belongs to way too many Amiibo collector groups now, and doesn’t have enough rares to trade for the new ones.

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Emma Watson to play Belle in Live Action Beauty and the Beast

The film world of the last ten years has been filled with reboots and reimaginings, and Disney has decided to get into that game full force. First, there was Maleficent. Then, there is the upcoming live action Cinderella, which seems to be a live-action remake rather than any kind of reimagining. And finally, Disney has now announced they’ll be doing a live action version of the Best Picture nominated Beauty and the Beast.

The good news? Belle will be played by Emma Watson, who is a talented actress and should be able to make the film something special. But it remains to be seen what, exactly, this film will be. We know that it’s being directed by Bill Condon, of Dreamgirls fame, and that it will include the Alan Menken and Howard Ashman score from the animated film. So is this just a live action remake, or will they be putting their own spin on it? Time will tell. Check out Emma’s post about the whole thing below:

 

IAAPA Day 2: A Trip to a Wizarding World

The head cold is still well in effect. So I take my Dayquil with coffee and breakfast and get ready for the day.
Boss Man wanted to use his connections get us some free passes to the parks out in the area, but things don’t always work out the way we want. The passes ended up being for Sunday… travel day. So, what is a clever professional to do? Company credit card. We call Big Boss, he Okays the whole deal, and after one swipe, we’re suddenly inside Universal Studios Orlando.
First thing we hit is the new Diagon Alley. It’s simply amazing. You stroll into a building and see a brick wall. Turn a corner and the sound of bricks pulling away distract you just enough to see an enormous opening in the wall to reveal the new addition in all its glory. The alley is so rich in visuals it’s overwhelming.
Two things hit you when you walk in. First is the character of the place. Every single park employee you see isn’t an employee, they’re denizens. You buy something with a credit card; they’ll gladly return your “Muggle Plastic” to you afterward and tell you to have a nice day. Nobody breaks character and if they did, I wouldn’t complain. It’s too beautiful in there. The second thing is the dragon. Yep. They have a dragon. It’s our friend from the Gringots escape scene in the movie and every half hour or so, it roars… then breathes FIRE! If you stand in the right place you can feel the heat.
When you’re out there, look around carefully. On the ground there are symbols, weird lines and dots enclosed in a circle. What you’re seeing are instructions. Go to the wand shop and buy a wand. They have several, organized by seasons. They’re beautiful. Take your new wand and run back to the symbols. Now, wave the wand and flourish… things happen! Sounds play, water pours, things move. It’s… wizardry. The beautiful thing is, they added these to the old Hogsmead section too.
We rode the Gringots ride as well. It’s both a 3D simulator adventure and a roller coaster. I’m not one for coasters but I rode this thing twice. Seriously. You stroll into the main hallway and the goblins are at work. Paintings on the wall entertain you as they explain exactly why you shouldn’t ever attempt to break into the place. You go down an elevator then back up a set of stairs. The whole way, you’re seeing moving pictures on newspapers and people behind frosted glass talking to each other. When you get on the ride you expect a leisurely tour through the vaults. Yeah right. First thing that happens is Bellatrix Lestrange shows up to ruin your day. With one wave of the wand, you’re on a coaster drop that sends your cart along a fantastic journey that’ll take too many words to describe. So, I’m not going to. (Plus, spoilers for those of us who’ll be there in a week or so. -Ed)
I’m going to interlude here about lunch. We ate at the park which is always deliciously fattening. The Bangers and Mash were good. Well, they were about as good as you’d expect from an amusement park. I was still feeling sickly so I didn’t want to have any Butterbeer. My stomach and head weren’t up for it. So I tried an “Orange Fizzy Drink”. Big mistake. If you like drinking what seems like a bowl of brown sugar with some orange soda and cinnamon drizzled over the top, then this is your beverage. Just to be sure you’re diabetic after, they rimmed the cup with cinnamon sugar and an orange slice to add nutrients. I drank 1 of the 12 ounces before swooning and switching to straight water. All in all, my meal alone cost $15. Combined with that of the Compatriot it was $42 after tip. Ah… capitalism.
Most people complain about how much things cost at an amusement park and it’s a fair assessment.  I hear it all the time. What you have to remember is that multi-million dollar improvements need to be paid for and the genius that designed this addition has a devilishly cruel way to do it. In order to go to both Potter attractions you have to buy tickets to both parks. To go between them you take the Hogwarts Express.
Strolling out from Diagon Alley you walk into greater London. Straight ahead is a double decker bus with a talking shrunken head and a driver that’ll have a nice conversation with you and take a picture. Taking a right leads you to King’s Cross Station. Walk through, get your hopper pass checked and… fingerprinted? Suddenly I’m back in the airport. Thank you sir, may I have another? The reasoning is purely financial. They match your pass to your fingerprint as you enter the park. That way, you can’t hand it off to somebody else and have them waltz through without paying, unless of course, you let them hack off your finger, which I doubt is worth the cost of entry. Just sayin’.
King’s Cross is fairly ordinary until you start getting near the ride entrance. There’s advertising and beautiful little details everywhere if you’re looking for them. You’ll go up a set of stairs and around a corner. You’ll see a luggage trolley sitting out. Stop right there. Let people pass you. Look past the trolley and you’ll see people walk right into a brick wall and disappear. Lots of my job involves disassembling other people’s work and seeing how they do things so that we can make our park better. I watched lots of people walk through and I know how they did it. I’ll not ruin it for you.
The line for The Express is enormous. You’re led to your row and a full size train pulls up to the station. There are six seats to a car and no photography or recording, obviously. When the ride starts, you’re shut into your car and the real show begins. Look out the window and you pass through London on your way to Hogwarts. On the inside wall you’ll see lots of character interaction including a Dementor attack. You’ll see the glass frost up as they touch it. Again… beautifully done. As you stroll off the train you’re in Hogsmead and ready to continue your magical journey. I can’t complain.
No good day ends without problems. On our way back through the park it started raining. It rained a little more. Then it rained some more. We had a business event to get to later in the day so we decided to head back to the car. We started at the exit from the Hogwarts train and had to walk back through the entire park to get to the car. That’s when the monsoon started. Have you ever been in the car when it’s raining and suddenly the clouds open up and drop so much rain on you that your windshield wipers stop working entirely? We had that for a half hour. I was wet in places I didn’t know I could be wet in. My real problem was my hat. It’s expensive and made of paper. I made a choice. I bought an eight dollar parka and cut it up to make a mini parka for my hat. It was a lot better than buying a new fifty dollar hat.
We got into the rental van, cranked the heater, and rolled back to the hotel. Unfortunately, I only brought one pair of shoes for the trip so I had to throw them in the dryer. I watched them tumble in there for an hour and I’m lucky I did. Every ten minutes or so one of them would kick the dryer door out and leap out onto the ground in a sad suicide attempt. But after a good drying, warm shoes are nice.
This leads me to our first real event of The Show. Disney decided to show off some of their new attraction with an exclusive event for IAAPA members. We walked outside our hotel room and met a very nice lady from the Disney Corporation. She exchanged our prepaid tickets for some beautiful “One Magical Night” passes and we drove out to the Magic Kingdom. Disneyworld is a big park and it’s even bigger when you get the place all to yourself. There are probably a few hundred of us, maybe more. I didn’t count. We were led into the castle for a delicious buffet dinner including all sorts of treats, free drinks, alcoholic and non. Mickey ear cookies and tarts were the desserts along with some of the best popcorn I’ve ever tasted. Then the rides: After several attempts to steer clear, I tried the new Mine Train Coaster (I know, I’m a wuss). It’s referred to as an intermediate coaster. Something to give your 9 year old a taste of what coasters could be without actually scarring them for life as happened to me when I was younger. I’ll tell that tale some other time. It was pretty tame, I know, but the turns were good and the drop was pretty decent for a kiddie coaster. Also, it was entirely Dwarf themed along with games to play in line and songs from the movie running in the background.
The whole experience was topped off with an A Capella show from some really talented fellows that were a delight to listen to. One of their crew, a Jamaican fellow, had a voice that would make James Earl Jones sound like a soprano. “Hello Ladies,” he said, and the women swooned. Next to him I sound like Mickey Mouse but then again, so do most people.
We were then treated to the “Frozen” Christmas show which was, as Disney always does, amazing. I get such park-envy when I go to these places. Elsa, Anna and their friends put on a delightfully staged routine just before they goad the audience into begging Elsa to decorate the castle. Then the music hits as lights from some unknown place shower the castle as she waves her hands. The Castle is set alight with what must have been half a million coordinated flashing LEDs. Fireworks fly and snowflakes run across the towers as the music hits a crescendo. The lights flash as one last flourish of pyrotechnic mayhem showers the sky bringing all the lights on to form a white crystal sheet over the castle. The population of this park under the age of ten is probably 2%. The crowd goes nuts.
Not wanting to waste a good daily fireworks permit, they have another epic fireworks show and immediately after, one showing the history of the park and of animation in general. I’m starting to get overwhelmed. My camera doesn’t stop taking pictures though.
The busses are beginning to head out and I snap a few shots of the park as well as some of the local fare. It’s funny, I’m used to seeing everything so picture perfect that I was almost felled at the sight of some non-standard princesses. I’m not sure why these people chose to dress up. They were part of some group that was in the park but I’m never one to miss an opportunity. I snapped a picture of a few of them and moved on. My sense of well-being returned to normal as I got to the main entrance and the real men and women in costumes appeared, clad in lusciously rich and likely, very warm costumes. Goofy was about with a group of lovely carolers that waved as I took pictures. Every employee performed flawlessly. I was thanked at every turn and I, as the customer, made sure to show my gratitude whenever possible.
Sleep was inevitable after that. Still slightly on west coast time, I lost consciousness somewhere around 12:30 Eastern Standard Time. Tuesday was going to be a busy day.

The Lopez is an Amusement Park Industry Professional, Artist, Gamer, LARP GM, Member of the Gamer Geekus gaming troupe, and occasional guest star on the Ace of Geeks podcast. You can find Gamer Geekus at www.Facebook.com/Gamergeekus or email him directly at retheon@gmail.com.

 
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