Though rarely considered to be an example of Pixar’s greatest work, CARS does seem to be its most enduring property in terms of merchandise and toys! Every month we get new items and pre-orders for a bunch of great collectibles based on the hit film and fans just keep snapping this stuff up! And when you take something as exciting as Cars and pair it with the equally popular building block toy, LEGO, then you can pretty much bet it’s going to be a success.

And after the success of so many of Cars’ LEGO items, they’ve moved to a similar building block aimed at the younger crowd: DUPLO!

Mack’s Road Trip DUPLO set is a 33-piece item featuring a couple vehicles and enough to build a little set-up ideal for display. It’s a great way to introduce the even younger set to a great Pixar adventure.

Disney Pixar Cars Color Changers Series

Inspired by the hit Disney/Pixar film Cars, each vehicle in this assortment features a favorite character in 1:55 scale. Play out racing and chasing scenes, and for double the fun, dunk the vehicle in warm or icy cold water to make it change color.

* Turns from yellow to red and back again
* Lots of personality and cool details
* Collect them all — and keep the adventure rolling on!

Ramone's Color Change Playset

New Disney/Pixar CARS Figures: Lenticular Eyes Series

There’s a new series of toys from the folks at Disney and Pixar, bridging the gap between the hugely successful 2006 film and its upcoming sequel. Of all the Pixar films, it seems that Cars’ Hot Wheels style merchandising has been the most successful. From individual vehicles to playsets and race courses, these items fly off the shelves whenever we get a shipment.

The latest collection is the Cars “Lenticular Eyes” series, featuring eyes that look around and give the figure even more life than the clever, film-loyal designs generally allow.

The characters available in this group include several variations of Lightning McQueen, Hudson Hornet, Lightning Ramon, Sarge, Fillmore, The King, DJ (Chase), Leak Less and more!

They join the growing collection of Disney/Pixar Cars figures we’ve got over at CmdStore. If you’re a fan of the film, be sure to check ’em out!

Meanwhile, in other Cars news, a blind item recently appeared at The Orlando Sentinel which an interesting question.

Just got off the phone with a delightful British character actress who was “running late. I was just doing ADR (voice over) work for Cars 2.”

She’s in a couple of films now making the rounds. And we don’t know exactly what vehicle she’ll play in Pixar’s Cars sequel.

But she strikes me as a Mini Cooper sort of girl. Not Aston Martin or Jaguar or Land Rover.

Anybody care to hazard a guess?

Mario Kart Wii Figures: Pull-speed and Micro RC toys!

It did seem to take a while, but North America’s finally received the a collection of toys from the massively popular Mario Kart Wii! The Mario Kart Wii figures and vehicles include both pull-speed and RC options and both Mario and the sinister Wario are currently available. The micro remote control Mario is an especially fun choice, including a banana and a red shell to foil any opponents and a spare set of wheels in case that risky driving takes its toll. Definitely a great choice for fans of the game.

Another little bit of good news, though, is the potential arrival of an SNES emulator on the brand new iPad. iSmashPhone shows us through the glory of the classic Super Mario Kart.

Put down the Visine, bunky, your eyes are not deceiving you — that IS SNES Mario Kart running on an iPad, courtesy of emulator guru ZodTTD. So with various iPad jailbreaks already popping up like so many (Mario World!) mushrooms, it may be just a matter of time before you can drop the game ROM and Zod’s snes4iphone emulator onto your pwned ‘Pad and speed away.

BUT WAIT! There’s more! Zod’s claiming he created a “legal” (i.e. no-jailbreak-required) version of the emulator, even going so far as to submit it to the App Store:

The build of snes4iphone running on my iPad as seen in the video was actually based on an AppStore app I submitted called “snesty”. Apple quickly rejected it right after pulling the NES emulator. I combined snesty with some snes4iphone features such as using the private API called CoreSurface. I used Apple developer tools and self signed it.

He also promises a version of the emulator that’ll support the iPad’s 1024 x 768 native resolution and even touchscreen controls.

Finally, if you haven’t gotten your hands on what is, after a few years, still #32 on Amazon’s video game list, here’s a link!
Mario Kart Wii with Wii Wheel

Disney and Pixar Unveil a New Virtual World

With a sequel on its way, it’s no surprise that there’s more Cars figures and toys being rolled out. We just got a group of items in that you can check out in our Cars section over at CmdStore.com. The new figures include die-cast 3-packs and a bunch of Mega-sized vehicles like Lightning McQueen, Chick Hicks, Kathy Copter, T.J. and a bunch more. Be sure to take a look if you’re a fan of the film, but read below the jump for even more good news for Cars lovers.

If you’re a Club Penguin fan on top of enjoying the Disney-Pixar brilliance that was Cars, then there’s good news ahead because the two are about to collide!

The LA Times has the full story! Or you can check out the World of Cars by clicking here!
Walt Disney Co. believes that World of Cars, its new subscription-based online community aimed at boys and based on the Pixar movie “Cars,” won’t get lost in the traffic of virtual worlds.

Things are already a bit congested. Some 200 virtual worlds target children under 12. Each competes for a slice of the 10 hours and 45 minutes a day the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that kids spend viewing media, simultaneously vying for screen time against a growing number of portable media players and smart phones that offer their own diversions.

That’s not deterring Disney, however, which is testing World of Cars for rollout this summer. The game will allow kids to create their own car persona and rub hubcaps with characters from the movie, such as Mater, the bucktoothed tow truck, or play online games such as tractor-tipping.

The launch marks the latest exercise in corporate cross-branding for Disney, which hopes it can leverage the movie’s popularity into monthly subscription payments from boys and their NASCAR dads in advance of the release of “Cars 2” in summer 2011 and the Cars Land attraction that opens in 2012 at Disney’s California Adventure theme park.[…]

World of Cars is modeled after Club Penguin, the online game of scarf-wearing penguins and igloos aimed at the juice-box crowd that Disney acquired in 2007. The site had 12 million active players and 700,000 subscribers when Disney bought it, although over the last year U.S. visitors to Club Penguin have leveled off, according to research firm ComScore Media Metrix.

Its global reach is broader, with Club Penguin attracting visitors from 190 countries as the site has been translated into Portuguese, Spanish and French. Kzero Worldwide, a British consulting firm, estimates that Club Penguin reaches as many as 35 million users globally, ranking it among the top five virtual worlds for children.

[…] The trick, however, isn’t inventing a virtual world, but designing content that keeps children clicking back.

“Kids have notoriously short attention spans,” said Steve Prentice at Gartner, a technology information and consulting firm. “They are intrigued by novelty, but unless there’s an enduring reason for them to come back, they won’t.”

That’s the challenge for Lane Merrifield, co-founder of Club Penguin, who oversees Disney’s virtual worlds.

Pixie Hollow, the virtual world in which players flutter around with Tinker Belland other characters, has grown since its 2008 debut to 1.6 million monthly users in December, up from 1.3 million a year earlier. Toontown Online, one of the first virtual worlds, saw usage spike in the summer — but the number of visitors in December fell below year-earlier levels, according to ComScore.

Meanwhile, Pirates of the Caribbean Online, the multi-player computer game that was launched in 2007, is taking on water. The number of online visitors fell below 192,000 in December from 500, 000 a year earlier, ComScore estimates.

“It’s no secret it had some technical issues. There were some hurdles there,” said Merrifield, who has been working to retool the game. “There were big downloads, and a lot of machines couldn’t carry it.”

Merrifield worked with the development team in North Hollywood to apply some of what he learned with Club Penguin. Players needed to be able to dive quickly into Pirates and play the game as soon as they launched their browser, he said, instead of waiting for a time-consuming download.

More fundamentally, Merrifield encouraged the Pirates team to depart from the game’s linear storytelling to adopt Club Penguin’s open-ended approach, in which the players have more say in the narrative and provide direction on the types of weapons, battles or quests they experience online.[…]

Allowing players to determine the action on screen, Merrifield said, provides “a limitless supply of new content” and allows kids to become the storytellers. He credits 8-year-olds with some of Club Penguin’s most popular ideas — like the addition of ninjas.

Merrifield is applying the same approach to World of Cars. Players start by designing their own car, picking from among body types (stock car, say, or sleek, aerodynamic Porsche), colors and race-car numbers. As they roll down the main drag of Radiator Springs, they can choose to interact with characters from the movie, or head to Fillmore Fields to race through a hay bale maze with friends playing online.

“My goal is to make sure that Disney, from a virtual world standpoint, has the same tradition that Pixar does in 3-D computer animation,” Merrifield said