Profitosaurus is ready to pounce from the park

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The Independent Online
TOY SHOPS hoping to cash in on Jurassic Park, Steven Spielberg's new blockbuster movie, have been warned that they may not receive all the stock they want and that most deliveries will be delayed until after the film opens on 16 July.

Chris Burgin, sales and marketing director of Kenner Parker, which is part of the US toy giant Hasbro and has the worldwide licence for Jurassic Park toys, warned retailers last week that it would be short of stock because of the launch of the film in the US.

The letter, a copy of which has been obtained by The Independent on Sunday, shows that Kenner Parker plans to supply the toys in staged deliveries, only one of which takes place before the film opens. Mr Burgin requests that no merchandise be put on show before 12 July to limit demand.

Retailers, which have been caught short of Thunderbirds and Ninja Turtles products in the past, expect a barrage of demand for the toys, which include plastic models of characters in the movie and of the dinosaurs.

Mr Spielberg's everyday tale of genetically recreated prehistoric monsters running amok in a theme park broke records when it opened in the US, grossing dollars 48m ( pounds 32m) in three days.

Since thenmore than 100 companies have been licensed to sell more than 1,000 products, including Jurassic Park boxer shorts, pyjamas, video games, dollars 225 baseball jackets, breakfast cereal and stuffed animals, all proudly bearing the slogan: 'If it's not Jurassic Park, it's extinct.'

MCA/Universal, the film's makers, and Spielberg's production company, Amblin, will receive 10 per cent of all merchandise earnings in royalties.

Jurassic is aiming to outstrip Batman's global merchandise turnover of dollars 1bn, four times the amount the film grossed at the box office.

The Profitosaurus is now ready to pounce on the UK. Around 50 companies are poised to unleash more than 250 products on the public.

If you liked the film, the thinking goes, you will love the Jurassic Park 'plush fun slippers', sandwich boxes, roaring building bricks, stationery, sweets, swivel office chairs, toothpaste, bed headboards, computer games - oh, yes, and dinosaurs. Kenner Parker expects, supplies permitting, British sales of its Jurassic Park toy dinosaur range to reach pounds 11m by the end of the year.

Mike Staines, an account director at Clarke Hooper Communications, a leading sales promotion agency, believed that companies wishing to cash in on the generic popularity of dinosaurs did not need to buy into Jurassic Park.

A brief stroll down the High Street reveals all manner of dinosaur paraphenalia already filling the shelves: Tyranno Toes slippers and the 'Dinosaurs Gotta Love Me' board game, both at Harrods, dino ties at the Natural History Museum, and walking, roaring baby pterodactyls at Hamleys. And while Jurassic Park's 'fantastic' promotional potential was obvious, so too, Mr Staines added, were the dangers. 'What you'll get is an undoubted overkill.' According to Barry McIlheney, managing editor of the film magazines Empire and Premiere, merchandising is now asbig a part of the film experience as going to the cinema: 'Films are becoming more like pop music with bands now more dependent on the merchandise sold at concerts.

'Like at the Stones you've spent pounds 30 before they come on. The difference is that you have to see and enjoy the film first. If it's a hit, people can't get enough of it.'

The last time dinosaurs were this big, they were roaming the earth. No one seriously expects them to stick around for as long this time.

Except perhaps for Keith Isaac, merchandising vice-president of MCA/Universal, who said: 'Dinosaurs are a continuing trend and through Jurassic Park they've come to life and are here to stay.'

Which roughly translates as: 'Look out for the sequel.'

(Photograph omitted)

The man who turned down Jurassic Park: Business, page 36