Are you a fan of PopCap games like Plants vs Zombies, Bejeweled Blitz and Zuma? Tired of seeing all those Angry Birds plushies everywhere, even in space, but not one stinkin' Pea Shooter or Squash plant plush anywhere, much less any cute(?) zombie or sunflower figure?
Well ... yeah, the time to wait is (almost) over. As of right now, PopCap have a press release detailing the agreements they've made with six different companies to license all kinds of merchandise, from apparel to plushies and more, for release as early as holiday 2012 (though the bulk of it is estimated for 2013). It's pretty exciting news because this will be the first time PopCap has ever done this, a decision that was made in no small part due to the demands of us folk who are addicted to their games.
Since I knew it'd be rather welcome news for the gamer type folk here on Tomopop and around the network, I was able to arrange a chat with some of the cool guys at PopCap and their PR to get more details and information on what we can expect from them! Hit past the jump for all the juicy details.
Note: the images contained in this article don't necessarily represent final designs for any product. This is a great opportunity for you folks to give PopCap your feedback via the comments section!
Let's start up real quick with the stuff that isn't toy-related. The companies involved to that end are Bioworld Merchandising, Walls360, MjC International and Trends International.
Bioworld is going to be bringing in the hats, tees, bags and other accessories like wallets and rubber bracelets of which I'll probably purchase like 20. Everything, of course, will be in all shapes and sizes since their games are designed for people of pretty much all shapes and sizes.
Walls360 sounds pretty much like what they're all about. Wall graphics/decals! I'm sure these will be a hilarious addition to any home or office, particularly the zombies being carried by balloons or the high-strung scholarly one with the newspaper. I could see a few cubicles sporting those, for sure.
MjC International is interested in your sleepy wear. They'll be rolling in with sleepies for adults and boxers, so you could represent the brain-loving zombies round the clock. The best part is that jammies and boxers make great gifts, so you could make a lot of nerds happy depending on things.
Finally, we've got Trends International. These cool guys will be making calendars, posters and the like to make sure you're the coolest, hippest administrative assistant in the office building. Or just to make you smile when you're working late at home, or cover up that ugly hole in the wall. Whatever the case may be, they've got you covered (*rimshot*).
Finally, let's get to the toy and collectible side of things. This is also where I come in with the extra info based on my talk with PopCap.
Considering how flexible they are with their branding and the fact that we see these pretty much everywhere, Funko Pop! figures were an easy choice for PopCap. I was also told that PopCap have always had a great relationship with them anyway simply because they're both based in Seattle and the folks that work there are pretty rad.
The best answer I got about when the first wave will come out was "soon," but I can tell you that it'll probably be two or three waves consisting of about four or five figures each. Then again, this could change from here to there, especially when PopCap have over 60 characters to choose from in the Plants vs Zombie cast alone. Things are pretty much still in the tentative stages, and for now we've just got some preliminary design images. More on this, of course, as things progress!
When I saw the name Jazwares, the first thing I had to ask in regards to it was whether they designed the zombie figure in the PvZ: Game of the Year Edition, or the Disco Zombie or the Sunflower. I was told no, that those were strictly promotional items and not licensed products, and indeed this is legitimately the first wave of licensed merchandise they'll be releasing.
Again, there are no exact details yet on whether the figures will be posable, their run sizes, physical sizes or what the character choices are. Yeah, I know, I'm being sooo specific here. But hey, we've got a sample render here, too. Check out the figures and plushies that might be hitting stores for the holidays!
After talking about what they definitely are releasing, I asked about the stuff that was passed over or, what they're still considering. Since the games are basically all ages, I asked whether they've considered making child-targeted play sets or even downloadable papercraft. All of these things have been brought up and talked about, but pretty much the default answer to a lot of my merchandise-related questions was the approach is all about quality products and doing everything the right way.
One of the things that has helped PopCap have an idea of what kind of merchandise will be successful is all the bootleg stuff that flies around on eBay. I'm not saying they drew inspiration from these products, but rather took them as an indicator that there's a market for them. I learned that even PopCap has a bunch of them lying around the offices, as well as countless one-off fan creations (which they absolutely love, I'm told).
Since the whole merchandising thing is a whole new world for them, PopCap are taking things slow and trying to be as thoughtful and deliberate as possible each step of the way. Instead of going on a licensing spree and signing with 50+ partners, they've only signed with six they've decided are the best fit, out of the hundreds of inquiries they've received over time.
One other thing I asked about, specifically since we've seen a bit of merch-for-DLC action lately or the whole thing with Skylanders, was whether any of the toys would include incentives which tie in to the game or bring in some kind of in-game bonus or character. I didn't get the "default answer" for this one, rather I got the "I can't say one way or another." answer. It goes hand in hand with what I mentioned earlier though, as they went on to say that the idea is to create a unique and meaningful experience rather than present consumers with a marketing gimmick. Fair 'nuff!
That about wraps up everything we know and everything PopCap want you to know about what they're cooking up for their fans. Again, be sure to leave any and all feedback you've got in the comments section and let your voice be heard!
Are you excited you'll be able to decorate your shelves and desks with zombies? Ready to buy a cap or buy your nephew a cool wallet? Whatever the case may be, it's pretty exciting to finally be able to sport legal, licensed duds or show off toys based on stuff we like. Plants vs Zombies isn't the end of it, either. The plan is to expand the merchandising for Bejewled, Zuma and more of the titles under the PopCap brand, so we'll be sure to keep an eye out.
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