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Disney Marks Entry into Robotic Toy Market with New Line of Programmable Toy Robots
Disney: Jay Cochran - 2008.04.30
Disney Consumer Products today announced its entry into the robotic toy market with an innovative line of robotic toy products created in collaboration with Pixar Animation Studios, Thinkway Toys and WowWee.

The robotic toys are inspired by WALL·E, the adorable robot from the Disney·Pixar theatrical release of the same name set to debut this summer, and Tinker Bell, the beloved Disney Fairy. The iDance WALL·E dancing boombox will be available in June; the Ultimate WALL·E robotic toy and the remote control Tinker Bell flying toy will be available this fall. With life-like movements and features designed to impress and delight fans of all ages, these new robotic toys are anticipated to be big hits with holiday shoppers this year.

Disney has been a pioneer in the area of entertainment robotics and Audio-Animatronics™ technology since the early 1960s, beginning with the opening of Disneyland’s famed Enchanted Tiki Room, where a chorus of colorful tropical birds moved their eyes and faces to music, and at the 1964 World’s Fair, where a life-like Abe Lincoln recited famous speeches at the “Great Moments With Lincoln” exhibit. Audio-Animatronics technology has since become a ubiquitous feature of Disney's Theme Parks and Resorts. More recently, Walt Disney Imagineering has debuted such innovations as Lucky The Dinosaur and The Muppet Mobile Lab – free-roaming Muppets capable of interacting with park guests.

The new line of WALL·E and Tinker Bell robotic toys carries on this tradition and seeks to bring its characters and their personalities to life through advanced movement and programming that entertains and delights kids by making them feel as if they are interacting with a real Disney character.

"Walt Disney and the Imagineers invented Audio-Animatronics, and Disney has been a leader in robotic entertainment in our theme parks for decades,” said Chris Heatherly, vice president of Technology & Innovation for Disney Consumer Products. “We’re excited that there is now the ability and technology to bring that experience into people’s homes. With robotics, we have a great opportunity to bring our characters to life in a very realistic and new way. If kids can interact, learn and play with our characters and they become an extension of their family, we will have done something that is truly magical.”

The WALL·E line of robotic toys was developed in collaboration with Toronto-based Thinkway Toys. In addition to the Ultimate WALL·E and iDance WALL·E, Thinkway will bring to market additional WALL·E-inspired robots, action figures, playsets, a role-play WALL·E robot arm, novelties and collectibles.

Disney’s new line of robotic toys will debut at Maker Faire, a popular, ever-growing gathering for die-hard geeks of all ages and tech do-it-yourselfers, which will be held May 3-4 at the San Mateo Fairgrounds in California.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to work with Disney on WALL·E,” said Albert Chan, president and CEO of Thinkway Toys. “This exceptional story is filled with classic Pixar humor, adventure, and characters that are endearing and inspirational. The team at Thinkway Toys has been fast at work with Disney, integrating these key elements into the new WALL·E line of robotic toys.”

Based on the title character from this summer's highly anticipated Disney·Pixar theatrical release, the Ultimate WALL·E is an advanced robot that truly brings the character to life. Designed and developed through a close collaboration between Disney, Pixar animators and Thinkway, the Ultimate WALL·E features 10 motors, giving it a high level of movement and animation. The remote control makes it easy for kids to program WALL·E’s movements. An innovative touch programming system lets kids direct WALL·E simply by making patterns on the remote's touch pad. With voice activation and a follow-me mode, WALL·E can follow the sound of a human voice and detect someone entering a room. He also has several emotional states and an easy system for programming thousands of combinations of movements with the remote. Numerous sensors allow him to detect and respond to his environment, including infrared sensors that allow him to detect obstacles and steer around them, sonic ears that detect sound direction, and touch sensors. The Ultimate WALL·E is also MP3 compatible and features built-in speakers. USB cables and rechargeable batteries are included. The Ultimate WALL·E will debut this fall at ToysRUs and www.disneyshopping.com; SRP $189.99.

The iDance WALL·E talks, dances and has animated eyes that move and groove to the music. Its audio in-jack works with any iPod or MP3 player. It features sound activation functionality, action and play. It will be available at ToysRUs, Target, Wal-Mart, Blockbuster and www.disneyshopping.com this summer; SRP $24.99.

Disney Consumer Products also collaborated with WowWee, a leading developer of innovative hi-tech consumer robotic and entertainment products, for the creation of an elegant flying toy wonder inspired by Tinker Bell.

Disney Fairies fans will get big thrills this fall with the new Tinker Bell featuring WowWee’s FlyTech technology, a vertical flyer featuring enchanting flight patterns, graceful wing design and a flower wand remote controller designed specifically for children’s hands. Users can control the height and speed of the Tinker Bell flyer with ease, allowing her to soar, dive and glide. Her light-weight, crash-resistant materials prevent her from getting into mischief.

WowWee’s award-winning FlyTech line of aeronautical products launched in 2007 with FlyTech Dragonfly™, the world’s first commercially available radio-controlled ornithopter and one of TIME Magazine’s “Best Inventions of the Year” (2007). Featuring the same dual wing design to provide lift and propulsion, the Tinker Bell flyer brings the magic of flight to the hands of a younger generation of girls. SRP $39.99, available at ToysRUs, Wal-Mart, Radio Shack and other major retailers beginning this fall.
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