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.
The concept of toyetic works came from Bernard Loomis, working in the Kenner division of General Mills in the 1970s; during this time, he had read about the upcoming Star Wars films, and positioned the company to produce toys based on the film, where he introduced the term "toyetic" to Spielberg. The move was considered highly successful, with over $100 million in annual toy sales following the release of the film.
Following on Loomis' success, toyetic shows became popular in the 1980s. This was aided by the introduction of cable television that allows for more airtime for new and repeat broadcasts of such shows. The number of toyetic shows waned after 1990 when the United States congress passed the Children's Television Act which required content to include educational and instructional material for children, and targeted the type of commercial advertising that could accompany these shows.
Notable examples of "toyetic" properties include:
- 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".
- 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.
- Fleming 1996, p. 40.
- Fleming 1996, p. 94.
- "Toyetic". Dictionary.com. Random House. Retrieved March 13, 2015.
- Rebelscum.com: An Interview With Bernard Loomis
- Salmans, Sandra (February 14, 1985). "New Yorkers & Co.; A Grown-Up's Winning Touch in Toys (Usually)". New York Times. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
- Nassbaum, Emily (February 13, 2012). "It’s Good Enough for Me". The New Yorker. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
- Brooks, Xan (14 November 2000). "Second Coming". The Guardian UK. Retrieved 18 March 2015.
- Pollock, Dale, Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas, Harmony Books, New York, 1983, ISBN 0-517-54677-9.
- Fleming, Dan (1996), Powerplay: Toys as Popular Culture, Manchester University Press, ISBN 978-0-7190-4717-6