Factory Entertainment creative director Barry Eldridge recalls that last year when the company displayed its then upcoming Beatles product at Toy Fair, many buyers were of the opinion that The Beatles had “played out” as a product line.
“We’re now seeing big interest,” says Eldridge, citing the 50th anniversary of The Beatles landing in America, of course—though as Factory president Jordan Schwartz notes, it would have been better from a fourth quarter sales standpoint had The Beatles arrived a few months earlier.
“They didn’t plan their trip around licensing!” he jokes, but all kidding aside, more buyers are “now coming aboard,” as Eldridge observes.
On hand at Toy Fair last week were a Yellow Submarine 45th anniversary die-cast vehicle and polyresin maquette, a second series of Beatles album covers splayed upon die-cast taxis and buses, and John, Paul, George and Ringo Yellow Submarine action and plush figures.
Also shown were the first in a projected series of Beatles album cover coin banks—Abbey Road and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band—which feature both front and back album cover art, though the Sgt. Pepper’s back cover is a blow up of the front cover's drum, since the song lyrics, which appear on the original LP back cover, weren’t available for license. If the first two banks do well, future entries will focus on the original artwork from Beatles U.S. album releases.
Initial releases in an anticipated line of Beatles lunchboxes were also shown, including Yellow Submarine and Beatles Signatures, the latter featuring embossed portraits of the Fab Four accompanied by their autographs. Also present were Beatles ’65 and Something New boxes, likewise centering on U.S. album art and all including “a thermos that actually works,” says Eldridge.
Maybe most exciting, though, was the Apple Boutique limited edition watch replica, to be marketed later this year in the $350-$400 range.
“Few people remember the Apple Boutique,” says Eldridge of The Beatles’ ill-fated Apple store, which opened at the end of 1967 and closed some six months later.
“It wasn’t successful, because they gave stuff away,” he says, said “stuff” including the famous square wristwatch featuring The Beatles’ Apple Records green apple logo.
“I saw that one sold seven or eight years ago for $8,000!” says Eldridge. “It was made by Old England, and ours is identical, except that it actually works this time!”
And in keeping with vegetarian Paul McCartney’s dictates, the leather watch strap has been replaced by a satisfactory non-leather one. There’s also a booklet with pictures of The Beatles and the Apple store, and a quote from McCartney.
“We hope to launch a whole line of iconic Beatles product replicas,” says Eldridge. Adds Schwartz, “We’ll have more Beatles product this year—and in the years to come.”
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