With its ambitious sandbox video game Disney Infinity, Disney has hit upon a way to generate sales -- to the tune of $500 million worldwide -- and to further promote a range of movie properties, ranging from The Pirates of the Caribbean to Frozen to The Incredibles (version 2.0 arrives next week, bringing the Avengers, Spider-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy into play). But could it also be quietly marketing comic books? Well, at least Marvel comic books?
Introduced in August 2013, Disney Infinity allows players to bring an assortment of characters into the game by purchasing $13 figurines and placing them on a special scanner, and to create their own world within the Disney universe using “Toy Box Mode.”
Preparing to review Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes for Forbes, Andy Robertson wanted to see how his children responded to the figurines from the Avengers and Guardians play-sets -- characters with whom they're largely unfamiliar (they knew Spider-Man from his cartoons). Robertson's daughter was drawn to the Avengers, with its mix of male and female heroes -- "although she was less keen on the 'model-like' body shapes" -- while his youngest immediately (and perhaps unsurprisingly) glommed onto Rocket Raccoon.
Here's the really interesting part: "I found that my kids wanted to know where these characters all came from. As they are still a little young for some of the related films, we talked a little about how they related to older comics and graphic novels. Unexpectedly this turned out to be a revelation. They hadn’t realized that many modern films and characters started life (and continued to exist) on the flimsy pages of carefully crafted comics. It wasn’t long before online hunting turned into requests to visit a real world comic store."
It's certainly an intriguing, if anecdotal, development. Read Robertson's full article, which comes complete with videos.