Mattel's Avatar Toys Put Virtual Reality in the Palm of Your Hand
If you don't know anything about Avatar, director James Cameron's $400 million 3-D gamble, you should probably have a look at this:
Pretty cool lookin', eh?
When you have such a jaw-dropping project it is natural to do movie tie-ins of all types. Lunchboxes, notebooks, party favors, comic books, novels... Hell, I got an Avatar glow-in-the-dark T-shirt for my birthday. It's cool...
But the major cash cow of movie tie-ins would (obviously) be toys.
I remember when the movie toy-a-palooza started: with George Lucas's Star Wars back in 1977. If I recall properly, he made a deal with Kenner to get a percentage of all toy sales from his little space-opera. And he became a millionaire.
Something of the sort is in the works here, I suspect. This time it's Mattel providing the fun stuff.
But they've come around for Avatar. And they've done something that blows my mind:
The virtual toys come to life via a little card called an i-TAG. When this is scanned by a web-cam (or any camera hooked to a computer), the tag displays 3-D models of certain vehicles from the film. As you can see, the virtual toy reacts to certain commands on the little tag. What's more, when two of i-TAGs from specific "Battle Packs" are scanned together they will interact on the monitor. Battle scenes anyone?
With each physical toy, you also get a virtual toy. And that makes me happy.
You can't tell me that's not way cool.
This opens up a whole new world of gaming stuff, my friends. Picture various Customizable Card Games such as Magic: The Gathering or Star Wars: CCG utilizing this technology to visualize each player's move...
And the physical toys for Avatar are quite nice as well. Take the Scorpion for example:
This sucker has 24 points of articulation, fires projectiles, and fits all of the 3.75 inch action figures from the film.
And the action figures don't follow in the non-jointed-statue-like manner of so many figures (I'm talking to YOU Space: 1999 and Judge Dredd). Take Jake Sully, for example:
Not often do you get an action figure in a wheelchair (though Barbie and Professor X have done nicely). The important thing here - in looking at a toy - is that, though the character can't walk, his legs can bend. Other points move as well. He's not a static toy. He's an ACTION FIGURE.
And - without giving away anything in the movie - here is Jake Sully's avatar:
24 points of articulation. This is a far cry from those crappy toys that Mattel used to provide for TV/movie tie-ins.
And let's not forget the critters. I'll just show ya one.