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Toyetic is a term referring to the suitability of a media property, such as a movie, for merchandising tie-in lines of licensed toys, games and novelties. For example, Saturday morning cartoons in the early 1980s and 1990s were well known for this.
In 1977, Kenner Toys advertising and development executive Bernard Loomis discussed the marketability of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, a film in preproduction by director Steven Spielberg. Loomis told Spielberg that his Close Encounters sounded great, but it wasn't "toyetic." Spielberg conceded and told Loomis to license the Star Wars property, made by his friend George Lucas, instead, which Loomis later did.
Notable examples of "toyetic" properties include:
- Thunderbirds: while this mid-1960s series was originally not tied into a single range of toys, like other Gerry Anderson series, it heavily featured vehicles that were strongly toyetic, and from its original run onwards through subsequent re-runs in many decades that followed, it was accompanied by extensive merchandise in both Europe and Japan. This was most notable in the UK during the run-up to Christmas 1993, when demand for The Tracy Island toy set so massively outstripped supply that it became headline news and the example cited every Christmas since as the archetypal mistake the whole toy industry must avoid.
- Hot Wheels: The first known television series to be produced to promote a toyline, these toys were featured in a 1969 animated series conceived by Mattel exec Bernard Loomis that led to new FCC rules on Saturday morning cartoons.
- Pokémon: Another controversial toyetic property, due to some of the instances that have surrounded the anime series, as well as unintended cultural offenses.
- Star Wars: Although George Lucas wrote the Star Wars saga without considering the toyetic potentials of the film, he insisted that he would keep the merchandising rights before the first film was released. 20th Century-Fox underestimated the potential of the film and allowed George Lucas to do so, and the film turned out to be a toyetic phenomenon. The six films have spawned a massive merchandising empire, with everything from toys, action figures, and video games to non-toy merchandise, such as beer steins, spoons, and replicas of the lightsaber hilts.
- He-Man: He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, as well as all characters in it and in its spinoff She-Ra, Princess of Power, were created to promote various Masters of the Universe toylines. Many characters, like most of She-Ra foes, were first toys before they appeared onscreen, and as a result, many characters appear vastly different from the toys supposedly based on them. It is widely credited for jump-starting the boom of mid-1980s toy/TV/movie tie-in series aimed at boys aged 7–13.
- Power Rangers: The hero, villain, and robot designs are designed by toy company Bandai, a major sponsor of the Super Sentai shows in Japan filmed by Toei, which the Power Rangers series is adapted from. This is a case of a toy company creating a show in order to sell toys related to the show. Commercials for the toys are shown during the Super Sentai program's commercial breaks, a practice which would not be allowed in American television broadcast for Power Rangers as this would make the show a program-length commercial.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The property originally started as a comic book created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird in 1984. It was then adapted into a 1987 animated series produced by Fred Wolf Films. In 1988, Playmates Toys signed a contract to make toys based on characters from the (upcoming) films and cartoon franchises. The toyline was scaled back in 1993 due to the waning popularity of the television series, focusing on figures of the Turtles, Splinter, and Shredder. In 2003, with the debut of a new television series produced by 4Kids Entertainment, the toyline was again expanded.
- Batman & Robin: According to a November 14, 2000, article, as well as the DVD commentary and the documentary Shadows of the Bat: Batman Unbound (on disc 2 of the Batman & Robin: Special Edition DVD set), director Joel Schumacher admitted that he was told by Warner executives to make Batman & Robin "more toyetic."
- Transformers, G.I. Joe and My Little Pony: Three franchises from Hasbro, each with a number of iterations in television and film, all of which are accompanied with a toyline. The Transformers Wikia dubs toyetic tendencies, "To Sell Toys".