Crossrip Episode #309 - Talking with the Playmobil Creative Team!

This week on the show, we talk with the German team behind the Playmobil toys and trailers! Joining us around the 30 minute-mark are Alex Ruff (Licensing and Marketing, Product Management at Playmobil), Peter Ohegyi (Project Management, Animated Shorts and Games Apps at Playmobil), and Regina Welker (Creative Director at Woodblock) to talk about the upcoming line-up, the functionality and design of the toys, the future, and a little behind the scenes on the amazing four "reveal trailers" the team created to announce the toy line. But first, some quick news including Saturn Award nominations, Ghostheads out doing good deeds, and more!

Listen here now!

A February 14th to Remember

In what will probably be the first of many eventful days to come surrounding the release of Ghostbusters (2016), Sunday February 14th proved to be quite eventful for Ghostbusters fans. Far from the end of the world that Elaine once predicted on World of the Psychic, February 14th was instead filled with the promise of future releases down the line that are tantalizing and intriguing.

Trailer and Poster Release

In the early morning hours Sunday, immediately following the west coast airing of Saturday Night Live, Ghostbusters (2016) Director Paul Feig updated his Twitter profile photo with "The End is Nigh." The switching of Feig's Twitter avatar photo has become something fairly common as it has revealed first-looks at LEGO tie-ins and props the fan community has anxiously been awaiting to see for the first time. 

Embedded in light font at the bottom of profile photo was a shortened link (with a numerical value that's a cheeky reference to the 09:17 running time in Ghostbusters II when Elaine makes her admission of alien encounter resulting in a date for the end of the world). Typing in that link sent fans to YouTube where they were met with a Trailer Announcement that, not only gives us our first look at footage from the actual forthcoming film, but announces that a full trailer will be released on 3/3/16.

Shortly after the video made rounds around social networks and movie blogs, a new one-sheet poster was revealed. The poster is similar in style and tone to the original Ghostbusters teaser poster from 1984 that proclaimed they were "Coming to Save the World." The new one-sheet also features the same redesigned No-Ghost logo that was unveiled at the tail end of the Trailer Announcement, which presumably will continue to act as the main logo for the film's marketing from this point forward.

Toy Fair 

It comes as no surprise that the marketing blitz starting a few months out from the film's release also happens to coincide with the Toy Industry Association's annual International Toy Fair held in New York City this weekend. Mattel, Funko, Cryptozoic, Diamond Select, NECA, and several others have unveiled their merchandise planned for the next year including action figures, housewares, and a whole lot more. The products range from those specifically tied to the Ghostbusters (2016) release to those still modeled after the "Classic" Ghostbusters. Details in the products also give hints of what is to come in the upcoming film, including what is believed to be the reveal of the new main villain, so beware spoilers in the below gallery are abound. (All photos courtesy of ToyArk).

Licensing-a-Palooza 2016

It all started out innocently enough, a quick Tweet from a fan to Paul Feig (in good fun riding on the "Where's Rey?" trend) in which it was asked if all four of the new 'busters would receive the action figure treatment and his response was a first glimpse of the new Mattel action figures. That enough got the buzz machine going all throughout the internet but shortly on that image's heels was a licensing event held in London by Rocket Licensing in which new props and gadgets were displayed, footage was shown, and potential developers were enticed with the possibilities of things to come this July that they might be able to hitch their wagons onto. While many of the new props haven't been clearly defined (pistol guns? is that our first look at the trap?) it certainly can get discussion going. 

Below is a gallery of images (courtesy of Rocket Licensing, Mattel, and Paul Feig's Twitter account) from this week's event. Any thoughts what we might be looking at in all of these? 

The Private Sector: Pride, Prejudice, and HFCS

The following article appeared on and on March 24th, 2010 as part of my syndicated weekly column, The Private Sector:

There were few things that you looked forward to in any given elementary school day: recess, getting to see the cute sixth-grade teacher Mrs. Bull who was a good twenty years your senior, running home from the bus to catch cartoons in the afternoon, and… oh yeah, before it became un-cool to bring your own lunch to school -- lunchtime… 

I was among the fortunate who were blessed with a new lunchbox every year, and looking back – it was interesting the gimmicks and devices that were used to sell things to us to occupy those lunchboxes year after year. 

I’m sure you already know where I’m going with this: Ecto-Cooler. 

But bear with me while I build dramatic tension a bit… Gotta give the people what they pay for. Wait; do I get paid for this? Guys? Anyway… 

I could wax nostalgic for pages and pages about all the food stuffs that were available for my school lunch as a kid (Dunkaroos, Fruit by the Foot), but from around 1981 to 1990ish, there was a war being fought on the grocery store shelves. 

The war to be the sugar water “drink” of choice in kids’ lunchboxes. 

Think about it, Hi-C, Kool-Aid, Squeez-It, Capri-Sun, I could go on and on with the options that were available for kids to implore their parents to buy for them. Each, of course, had some sort of a gimmick that set them apart from their competition in the hopes that maybe leading you to obesity or diabetes in pouch form would be more appealing than the other guys. 

I remember, as a kid, the “juice” isle stretched as far as the eye could see, with all sorts of juice box, pouch, and bottle options to choose from. It only makes sense that the marketing folks would spend countless dollars to make you identify their brand above all others. (Now, juice boxes are relegated to an end cap or a small shelf next to the “real” juices… interesting, no?). 

But while Squeez-It and Capri-Sun had unique packaging that was immediately identifiable, Kool-Aid and Hi-C stuck to the tried and true juice box format. So what could they do to get notice? Kool-Aid opted for awesome advertising with the oft Seth MacFarlane parodied Kool-Aid Man, who became more identifiable than any of the flavored drinks they sold. Plus Kool-Aid devised the genius idea of Kool-Aid points, which you could redeem packages of their juices for “Kool” (nyuck, nyuck) usually Kool-Aid Man themed gear. 

Hi-C, on the other hand, had me sold the minute they developed a Ghostbusters themed beverage in Ecto-Cooler. 

It’s a pretty genius idea, actually. When you think about it on the simplest level, the drink has absolutely nothing to do with the Ghostbusters property. The first thing that comes to mind when seeing the mucus-like ectoplasm in the Ghostbusters film and in the animated show isn’t “citrus tangerine goodness.” (Unless there’s something the fan community isn’t telling me?) The drink wasn’t even really the same green color as your favorite paranormal entity and mine. But it didn’t matter, the minute they slapped Slimer on the packaging and named the flavor “Ecto-Anything,” it was sold to me. 

This is what Star Wars did to us… but I digress… 

Having had parents with a strict “milk once a day” rule – Ecto-Cooler at lunch meant that I had to endure drinking low-fat milk for dinner every night, but I didn’t care. It was worth it. Ecto-Cooler made me feel cool. Like I was drinking an officially endorsed drink from the Ghostbusters. No matter what a dweeb I actually was in real life, I was a Ghostbuster at lunch. Which, okay, arguably still made me quite the dweeb. But endearingly so, right? Right? 

I would beg and plead with my mom at the grocery store for Ecto-Cooler like a Mogwai wanting a snack after midnight. When Hi-C stated selling two liter cans of their beverages, the thought of cracking open one of those cans gives me more joy than tapping a keg of the finest brew as an adult today. Ecto-Cooler was the drink of choice when friends came to visit, just like scotch is for the suits in their executive offices. “Hey Brian, thanks for coming over, can I offer you an Ecto-Cooler? Boy, did you see Mrs. Bull today?” 

It probably makes me beyond shallow, but Ecto-Cooler became associated with childhood, it became associated with a simpler and more enjoyable time. Much like a generation before me drank YooHoo, I drank Ecto-Cooler. 

Of course, once the bane of our existence known as “nutrition” became a concern for families everywhere, the portion sizes of Ecto-Cooler slowly diminished. The boxes went from being monolith-sized, to matchbox-sized. Shortly after that, it ceased to be a juice and became a soft drink. It even suddenly became “An Excellent Source of Vitamin-C” (and pure sucrose by the tablespoon, probably) before eventually disappearing completely. It was missed, but life went on as juice boxes gave way eventually to Kool-Aid Koolers, which eventually gave way to it being cool to buy my lunch and drink school sanctioned milk, which gave way to a soda machine in high school, which eventually gave way to… I don’t know… girls. 

There was a time around 2002 or 2003ish that Ecto-Cooler made a quiet and understated return, re-themed and renamed Screamin’ Tangerine. And I’m not ashamed to say that I, Troy Benjamin, at that time about to graduate from college, bought juice boxes by the case full. It was all a desperate attempt to take myself back to that moment in my childhood that Ecto-Cooler reminded me of. 

Okay, well and when we discovered how good Ecto-Cooler and Vodka combined; it also became a means to inebriation. 

But it’s strange to think that a marketing ploy during a highly competitive era where beverage companies were throwing everything at the wall to see what stuck became associated in such ways. 

And it’s funny how much I want it back. 

Come With Us to the Ghostbusters Spooktacular VAULT

Back in its hey-day, Ghostbusters HQ was home to a wide variety of materials related to the Universal Studios Florida "Ghostbusters Spooktacular" show, that was closed down and replaced by a Twister attraction in the late-90s. I'm not entirely sure why I had so much material on the show, I think it might have been partially because we had visited on a family vacation in the early-90s and I didn't end up getting a chance to see the show before it closed down, so naturally I wanted to know all about it and began accumulating photos, interviews and a whole lot more.

Since that time, I've actually gotten to become good friends with one of the key cast members who continues to share her personal insights and photos with me, which maybe some day she'll be gracious enough to allow me to post (or, who knows, maybe I'll finally get around to making a documentary on the show like I've always planned). But in the meantime, enjoy what materials were originally on GBHQ with the Ghostbusters Spooktacular Vault, recently unarchived here on Ghostbusters HQ to take you on a trip down memory lane.

The vault can also be accessed by hitting the drop-down Ecto-Containment Unit menu as well.