The Hobbit Toy License goes to…

What about this seemingly out of nowhere announcement for the Hobbit toy master license?

The Bridge Direct!

 

…wait …who?

 

Comingsoon (and lots of other sites) are reporting the following news about the Hobbit toys:

Warner Bros. Consumer Products has awarded The Bridge Direct, Inc. the Master Toy License for Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: There and Back Again. The toy line will launch in the fall of 2012:

Warner Bros. Consumer Products is pleased to announce today that it has awarded the worldwide master toy and game licensing rights for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: There and Back Again to The Bridge Direct, Inc., the global children’s consumer products company. The Bridge will develop an exciting array of products inspired by the two films being directed by Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson—who previously brought Middle-earth to life with the award-winning blockbuster The Lord of the Rings trilogy—including action figures, playsets, and role play accessories, which are expected to debut at retail in fall 2012 prior to the December 14 release of the first film, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

“We’re thrilled about our partnership with The Bridge Direct, which produces engaging products that will recreate the storyline with stunning detail,” said Karen McTier, Executive Vice President of Domestic Licensing and Worldwide Marketing for Warner Bros. Consumer Products. “Thanks to many of the same creative minds behind The Lord of the Rings trilogy products, we’re looking forward to unveiling a robust toy line for the two films that captures the excitement of the beloved adventure and delights loyal fans of the series.”

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: There and Back Again promise a timeless story, a broad range of appealing characters, thrilling action and the incomparable movie magic brought to life by master filmmaker Peter Jackson, all of which will make for an amazing toy line,” said Jay Foreman, President and CEO of The Bridge.

Timed to reach consumers prior to the December 14, 2012 release of the first film, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Bridge will debut a multi-category toy line. The battle begins with Basic Action Figures, Adventure Packs, Beast Packs, and highly detailed Collector Figures. Fans can become real-life heroes with premium role play items including a Basic Sting Sword, a Basic Orcrist Sword, a Dwarven Battle Axe, and a Deluxe Sting Sword that features a blue glow just like in the film, bringing the thrill and the fantasy of the two films to life. The Bridge will reveal the 2012 product line to key retail partners in the coming weeks.

 

This news has been met with gloom and doom by just about every toy blog and news site out there. How did the company known mostly for the fad of Zhu-Zhu pets and Justin Bieber dolls get the high profile Hobbit licence?

Toy Biz had the license for the standard figures the first time around (for LOTR) and made a masterful collection of amazing figures. I still have a large display of them in my office, and my kids love coming over and playing with and looking at them. Yes, I let my children play with my collectibles. Well… some of them, at least…

But people/fans seem to have forgotten that Toy Biz was not the only player for LOTR merchandise back for the first movies. The license was split and different companies got different pieces of the merch pie. Toy Biz had 6-inch figures, Playmates had LEGO-like “building sets”, and a company called Play Along Toys had a small-scale figure line called “The Armies of Middle Earth”. These were small but articulated figures and environments that were pretty nice, in my opinion. I still have the Balrog set on my movie shelves in my family room.

Lord of the Rings Shelf

So what, you may ask? Well, the head of The Bridge Direct, Inc. is Jay Foreman. Jay Foreman was formerly the President of Play Along Toys, the same company that created the Armies of Middle Earth figures. Also, the GM of New Business Development over at The Bridge is George Vorkas, who was a senior executive over at Toy Biz. I’m not certain, but I’m willing to guess he was there during the Toy Biz LOTR run. You can read the management bios for The Bridge over at their website.

In case you doubt that they do in fact have the Hobbit license, you can read the section on The Bridge’s site about their toy lines and if you scroll down you can see the Hobbit in that list.

Side note, the Bridge Direct are also planning to make stuff for the Annoying Orange, which makes me laugh and kind of freaks me out at the same time.

Back to the discussion at hand, I think it is way too soon to be spazzing/freaking out/upset about this announcement. It looks like the team behind the Hobbit toys has the experience with LOTR needed and the company certainly knows how to handle large and popular toy lines.

I look forward to seeing what is in store and I am certainly hoping for the best!

 

UPDATE: 10/14/2011

I had posted this article over on the Bridge’s Facebook page and got a response!

Here it is form the Bridge Direct, erm… direct!

“Rest assured that our team – from the CEO to the designers – has plenty of experience from the LOTR and other action figure lines, and the Hobbit is going to be great! Thanks for your support!”

 

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About Wugmanmax

Hailing from the Twin Cities, Wugmanmax is an avid toy collector, graphic designer, husband, father of 3, and a loose cannon that doesn't play by the "man's" rules.