'Toy Story 3' toys, details revealed

11:09 AM PST 02/14/2010 by Georg Szalai, AP

Lasseter, filmmakers speak as Toy Fair kicks off

NEW YORK -- Pixar and Disney chief creative officer John Lasseter, "Toy Story 3" filmmakers, actor John Ratzenberger and a one-of-a-kind Lego head of Lasseter -- that was just part of the star lineup that came together here Sunday to unveil the toy line for and new details about "Toy Story 3" at an off-site event as Toy Fair kicked off.

The event took place at Manhattan's Gotham Hall, near the Javits Convention Center that hosts the annual Toy Fair.

In an emotional moment, Lasseter, who on Saturday had been inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame by the Toy Industry Assn., an honor he shares with Walt Disney, received a surprise gift -- a Lego head resembling him.

"I'm a Lego," the "Toy Story" creator and self-professed lifelong toy fan said to laughs. "That's fantastic!"

"Toy Story 3," set to open June 18, kicks off a multi-year deal between Pixar/Disney and Lego, Vince Klaseus, senior vp, global toys for Disney Consumer Products, told The Hollywood Reporter after the event.

Mary Beech, vp and general manager, global studio franchise development for Disney Consumer Products, had earlier told the crowd of reporters, Disney/Pixar executives and kids that "Toy Story" merchandise has brought in more than $8 billion in global retail sales since the first film's release.

At the event, Disney/Pixar unveiled the first of nearly 250 "Toy Story 3" toys, created in partnership with more than 20 toy companies, including Thinkway Toys, Mattel, the Lego Group, Hasbro, Jakks Pacific and Fisher-Price.

"Toy Story 3" brings back the franchise's popular cast of toy characters along with more new characters than any Pixar film to date, which also means more toys.

"More original characters means more opportunity," Klaseus told THR. "Kids always look for something new, so this should keep the toy line interesting and add to "Toy Story's" longevity."

While a vast majority of "Toy Story 3" merchandise buyers will be kids, there are also collectors and college kids who are attracted by the nostalgia factor after growing up with "Toy Story," Klaseus told THR, citing some tracking results. The movie plot captures a similar sentiment as Andy, the owner of cowboy Woody and Buzz Lightyear goes off to college.

A deluxe Buzz Lightyear toy at the correct movie size that can say famous lines from the film is the biggest single "Toy Sales" toy item over the franchise's history, according to Klaseus.

"Toy Story 3" director Lee Unkrich and producer Darla K. Anderson on stage Sunday talked about how they spent the last four years crafting the summer sequel.

Unkrich later told THR that he still has more work to do on "Toy Story 3." The film is currently being scored, and some animation and special effects work still has to be done.

He told THR that Pixar took the unprecedented step of sharing its animation computer data with toy makers to allow them to produce toys that are "pitch-perfect and like in the movie." He said Pixar is likely to use a similar approach for future movie-based toys as well.

In the latest movie, when Andy goes to college, his toys get donated to Sunnyside Daycare, which ends up being more "like a retirement home for toys," Unkrich told the crowd Sunday. A new trailer got a very positive reaction from press, kids and parents in the audience.

Tom Hanks, Tim Allen and other stars and fans had been asking for years when "Toy Story 3" would happen, and so they were particularly delighted to finally bring it back to the silver screen, said the filmmakers.

The film's new characters highlighted Sunday are Ken and Barbie and purple teddy bear Lotso.

The Pixar team on Sunday introduced Ratzenberger, who voiced piggy bank Hamm in the "Toy Story" movies and has been in every Pixar film, as "our lucky charm and good friend."

Ratzenberger lauded Pixar for producing films using not focus groups, but instinct in what he says is a throw-back to the golden age of Hollywood. "It all comes exactly from the heart," he said.

A troupe of actors dressed as the "Toy Story" Green Army Men toy soldiers also made an appearance at Sunday's event, descending from the ceiling in "take-over" mode to assist the Disney/Pixar team in highlighting some of the new toys.
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