Toy Fair not kidding around with hot summer pic tie-ins

Show hits: 'Spider-Man,' 'Pirates'

Entertainment-themed toys again generated most of the buzz at the annual Toy Fair gathering amid expectations that three proven film franchises will yield blockbuster toy sales this year via "Spider-Man 3," "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" and "Shrek the Third."

"Transformers," the first live-action movie based on the popular 23-year-old toy line from Hasbro, also had Toy Fair abuzz this week, as did Disney Channel's runaway hits "High School Musical" and "Hannah Montana."

"There's a lot more buzz this year at Toy Fair, and the biggest reason why is the entertainment properties," said Scott Goldberg, promotions manager at toy company Zizzle, Disney's master toy licensee for "Pirates." "It's a summer of threes — 'Spider-Man,' 'Pirates' and 'Shrek' are the most anticipated."

While not expected to be in the same league as "Spider-Man 3" from Marvel/Sony Pictures or Disney's "Pirates," other film-based toy lines with strong sales potential included "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer," "Ghost Rider," "Ratatouille," "The Golden Compass," "The Simpsons Movie," "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" and "Bratz: The Movie."

There also are new toy lines for "Star Wars" commemorating the 30th anniversary of the most successful film franchise of all time and for Disney's "Cars," which according to the studio sold $900 million worth of merchandise in fiscal 2006 and is expected to sell close to $1.5 billion in fiscal 2007.

"Spider-Man 3," with its array of villains Sandman, Venom and the Green Goblin and Spider-Man's new all-black garb are expected to fly off the shelves this summer, industry experts said.

"The combination of the Spider-Man black costume along with the regular red and blue costume that's been out there is going to take Spider-Man to the next level," said Jonathan Samet, publisher of Toy Book and Toy Insider.

To drum up excitement for DreamWorks' and Paramount Pictures' "Transformers," Hasbro hosted an event Tuesday night with director Michael Bay, screening four scenes and 22 minutes of footage for a packed theater of Toy Fair attendees.

"I thought if I could make this totally real, it could be a really fun movie," Bay said of turning the top-selling action toy line into a film.