In-world products, which take a fictional item from a film, TV show, or videogame and make it real, represent the ultimate way to differentiate entertainment/character-licensed goods from their competitors. In-world merchandise can assume a variety of forms, from Barco Uniforms’ Grey’s Anatomy scrubs, to Schwinn’s Stranger Things bikes, to Cubicall’s Bill & Ted phone booths, to name three recent examples.
A relatively recent trend is an overlay of technology to add a bit of magic to the merchandise:
- Warner Bros. licensed Kano to create a magic wand/coding kit. Users learn to program spells such as levitation or explosions that become reality on a computer screen with a specific wave of the plastic wand.
- Disney/Marvel authorized littleBits to create an Avengers Hero Inventor Kit. Another coding product, it allows the user to create a physical superhero gauntlet, à la Iron Man, customize it with voice commands, sound effects, and design elements, and use it to complete missions.
- Warner Bros. partnered with Wow! Stuff for an augmented-reality Harry Potter invisibility cloak. The physical cloak is black on its “visible” side and the color of a green screen on the reverse; when the latter is facing out it makes the wearer disappear in a video selfie taken within the app.
Today’s technology means users of such products, which are still in their infancy, must interact with a screen rather than having the product come to life in the real world. While this represents somewhat of a barrier to replicating a truly in-world experience, the addition of technology to a wand, gauntlet, or cloak, along with a little imagination, can make for a more immersive experience than can be achieved by other physical manifestations of fictional props and products.
Watch for this month’s edition of our Raugust Communications e-newsletter, to be distributed next Tuesday, July 16, 2019. The Licensing Topic of the Month will focus on the impact of tariffs and tariff threats on the licensing business, while the Datapoint research spotlight will examine the types of licensing-related disputes that have resulted in lawsuits in recent years. If you are not a subscriber to this free monthly e-publication, which serves as a complement to the twice-weekly trend analysis of RaugustReports, you can sign up here.