Wednesday, 26 June 2013

#ReaditMD13 Theme Week - "Book Merchandising - Let's play a game (or puzzle a puzzle!)"

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle - Very popular puzzle fare!
This week we're looking at all sorts of aspects of book merchandise, products spawned by some of the most successful children's books and perhaps even some we'd really love to see.

Thanks to an excellent suggestion by the awesome Damyanti Patel (who has a brilliant book blog - MeanBoyFriend - which you really ought to go and visit!) we thought we'd take a look at games and puzzles based on popular children's books.

What better place to start than perennial creepy-crawly favourite "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle which is the sort of book that just BEGS to be turned into all manner of merchandise (in fact you name it, you can probably get it with The Very Hungry Caterpillar emblazoned across it).

One of the very first book-based pieces of merchandise we bought was a VHC floor puzzle. Jigsaw puzzles are great for children, improving their manual dexterity and of course giving them the reward of piecing together a huge picture to enjoy before they get the immense satisfaction of trashing the puzzle (often to start all over again).

The puzzle we bought was nice and chunky, and all importantly, had pieces that stayed put when put down - even on carpeted floors (how many times have we bought puzzles and watched Charlotte's frustration as the pieces all lift as each new piece is laid down! Gah!)

Think of a popular book or book series and you can bet you'll find a jigsaw puzzle of it here or here

Moving on, if board games are your thing (and there really is no electronic ipad game that can knock getting out a proper board game on a wet sunday afternoon in our opinion) again you're spoilt for choice. Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler's books seem to be popular book-to-boardgame conversions, for instance there's the awesome Gruffalo Hide and Seek game for really young children:

Spin and play, what do you know! There is such a thing as a Gruffalo!
For slightly older children there's also a Gruffalo mix and match memory game and an awesome Gruffalo themed snakes and ladders game.

So best sellers do pretty well when it comes to games, but how about the more obscure children's books? How well does a book have to sell before it becomes worthy of being turned into a brand or merchandising opportunity?

For instance, we always thought that the Richard Scarry books would be a brilliant basis for a whole range of Sylvanian Family-style action figures and vehicles - and indeed you can buy some (just check out that pickle car, it is just SO CUTE!)

Brrm! Brmm! Burp!

Lego fans fare slightly better but we think that most of the book-based Lego (for instance the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings / Hobbit stuff) is more spawned by the movies based on the books than the actual books themselves.

The Lego Hobbit Goblin King playset. J.R.R Tolkein would've played with this, fo sho!
Looking at the Lego Cuusoo programme (where lego fans can submit and suggest new ranges for lego to put into production) I'm always surprised not to see more book-based submissions appearing but there are one or two:

Nancy Drew Lego anyone? How awesome!
Nancy Drew Cuusoo Submission

The awesome Dawn Treader from The Chronicles of Narnia
The Chronicles of Narnia Cuusoo Submission

So perhaps there is more book fan demand for awesome lego-ness than we thought (this Tintin stuff really does need to be made, pronto!)

We've seen some brilliant suggestions from folk on twitter (including some potentially wallet-busting ones from the awesome Zoe at PlayingbyTheBook) but if you've got any more, pop them in our comments box below, we'd love to see them.