Disney wrote the playbook on getting fans hooked early. Marvel is no slouch in that department, either. Put them together, and you get… Avenger Tsum Tsums.
With Avengers: Age of Ultron on home video, New York Comic Con in full swing, and the holidays on the radar, Disney has rolled out its “Marvel Superhero Spectacular” initiative, a multimedia merchandising blitz that aims to please fans of all ages. Notably, the entertainment powerhouse is translating its mightiest movie stars and their stories into kid-friendly fare.
Here are four super ways Marvel is worming its way into your child’s imagination.
1. Cutest. Heroes. Ever.
In 2013, Disney introduced Tsum Tsums (pronounced soom-sooms) — sausage-shaped plushies based on the Mouse House’s classic cartoon characters — in Japan. The insanely adorable creatures were an immediate sensation, selling out in stores (selling close to 2 million figures during that launch year in Japan) and finally arriving in the U.S. last year, where they quickly disappeared from shelves. Now, the Avengers have been transformed into the cutest little heroes you’ve ever seen. (Marvel Tsum Tsums are now available at DisneyStore.com for $4.95 each.)
2. We Are Iron Man
Remember Laser Tag? Well, Disney’s Playmation is like a Hulked-out version of that. The innovative toy-game system from Hasbro, in stores this week, combines a high-tech wearable Iron Man gauntlet, talking electronic base stations with swappable heroes, and an app for your smartphone or tablet. Players receive various missions via JARVIS communications on the gauntlet (and even more on the app) that involve actual running, ducking, jumping, and hiding.
Sensors on the accessories track your movement — if you don’t avoid an attack, for instance, you’ll take a hit; likewise, you have to carefully time your counterattacks on the base stations. The system is designed to be expandable, with various characters, wearables (up next: Hulk hands!), and the Ultron Prowler Bot, a robotic accessory that follows you around the house like a lethal Roomba. Future sets will feature Star Wars and Frozen themes. (The Playmation starter pack sells for $120 at most major retailers; each additional figure is $15.)
3. Lego Avengers Assembling
Lego already makes a bunch of Marvel-based building sets, including several based on Age of Ultron. This morning, Lego and TT Games unveiled the new trailer for Lego Marvel’s Avengers (below), which covers individual Avenger and team storylines from the MCU. Aside from the main team featured in the two Avengers films and their celluloid sidekicks and nemeses, the Lego game will feature dozens of other playable characters, including such potential future big-screen heroes as Ms. Marvel, Squirrel Girl, and the female Thor. (Lego Marvel’s Avengers will be available Jan. 26 for most major game platforms, $50-$60.)
4. Who Is That Unmasked Man?
Before Captain America: Civil War arrives on May 6, Disney Interactive will release Marvel Battlegrounds, a play set for the recently released Disney Infinity 3.0. The set will feature a new sculpt of Captain America (sans cowl to more resemble that chiseled Chris Evans look).
Unlike the level-based gameplay of the other Infinity sets, this one is a pure arcade-style brawler in which up to four players can take on heroes and villains (Hulkbuster Iron Man and Ultron, among them, as well as existing characters from both the Infinity 2.0 and 3.0 games). The game is loosely structured around a non-movie scenario in which Loki and Ultron band together to swipe an Infinity Stone from Asgard.
With one of the backgrounds set in Wakanda, expect Black Panther to be one of the upcoming characters. (Marvel Battlegrounds will hit stores in March and requires Disney Infinity 3.0, which is available now for the major gaming systems.)