A blast from the past …it’s John Baulch’s Friday Blog!

I trust you all had a wonderful Easter break, and I very much hope that trading over the Easter holidays has lived up to expectations. In our neck of the woods, we have had just about every kind of weather imaginable this week (from getting sunburn on an Easter Sunday walk to a nasty sleet storm on Wednesday), so whether you are a retailer who believes footfall is better in either good or bad weather, there has literally been something for everyone.

Over the past week, social media has been awash with people having fun with the Barbie selfie generator – and for those asking, ‘my’ Ken doll (which appeared at the end of last week’s Blog) is already on clearance at Smyths. Life moves fast…

As I mentioned last week, it’s a big movie year for the toy market, with numerous family-friendly films about to hit cinema screens. As well as the Dungeons & Dragons and Barbie movies which I referred to, there is also a new Paw Patrol movie, and of course the highly anticipated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film, which I am really looking forward to. And looking a little further ahead, we are now being promised live action remakes of both Moana and Lilo & Stitch – plus a hugely ambitious project from Warner Bros Discovery’s new Max streaming service, to produce a decade-long television series based on the Harry Potter books.

With Lilo & Stitch going straight to Disney+ and the Harry Potter series being produced specifically for a streaming platform, we appear to be moving into new territory in terms of where entertainment projects from the major studios will engage with their audience. And while I completely understand the artistic and commercial logic of reimaging classic properties, this approach also comes with great responsibility: I never forgave The Damned for their awful cover of ‘Eloise’ (if you haven’t heard it, don’t bother – stick with the Barry Ryan original), and similarly there is a whole generation of fans who idolize the original Harry Potter books and movies, as well as the Moana and Lilo & Stitch films (I am happy to confess to being a huge Stitch fan myself). For the new incarnations, get it right and the rewards could be immense – but get it wrong and there are an awful lot of people out there who won’t forgive you. Let’s hope the updated versions of these blasts from the past will live up to the promise of the iconic originals…


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