DC Universe Online: ZATANNA

The Mistress of Magic arrives as a 7-inch porcelain statue from DC Direct. Based on the art of Jim Lee, it showcases Zatanna as she appears in DC Universe Online, the MMO drawing thousands of fans together into a virtual hero- and villain-filled world.

Hand-painted, cold-cast in porcelain and measuring approximately 7″ high x 4.5″ wide x 3″ deep, this statue is packaged in a 4-color box.

World of Warcraft: THE LICH KING

THE LICH KING Arthas Menethil joins DC Direct’s stunning line of highly-detailed World of Warcraft action figures. Standing almost nine inches tall, he is yet another amazing premium edition item that fully captures the look of the game and the elaborate design of the characters.

Now, this is ONE way to take the game into the real world, but China is working on another…DigitalTrends has the news.

China’s government may not allow people access to the full and open Internet most of us enjoy here in America. And it really doesn’t care much for video games in general. But that doesn’t mean the country is entirely negligent of the needs of the computer-savvy crowd.

In China’s Wunjin district, workers are currently constructing an amusement park modeled entirely after Blizzard‘s World of Warcraft and StarCraft, reports the Huffington Post. Really.

The park theme park, called “World Joyland,” will consist of five game-centric sections: Terrain of Warcraft, Universe of StarCraft, Island of Mystery, Moles World, and World of Legend. The park will reportedly offer visitors a number of thrill rides, including a double free-fall tower and three roller coasters. World Joyland will reportedly also have a video game museum and an e-Sports center.

The park was originally supposed to open this March. But recent photos of the build site show that the park is nowhere near ready to open.

The company building the park is CCJoy, an Internet portal company. CCJoy does not appear to have any official affiliation with Activision Blizzard or WoW, and Blizzard has apparently not given its consent for the construction of the park. But as we’re sure you have already noted, this wouldn’t be the first time a Chinese company made a product based on someone else’s copyrighted material.

News of the WoW park originally surfaced on February 7 on French website GameBlog, and many thought the place might be a hoax. But with Chinese news outlets reporting the build, as well as a number of photographs taken of the construction site, the place appears to be real.

So for all you diehard WoW fans out there — and we know there are a lot of you — now would be a good time to start saving up for a plane ticket to China. We’ll let you know once the rides are actually ready to roll.

Pre-Orders: DC Universe Online Statue Figures!

The upcoming DC Universe Online MMO is looking to take the world by storm and, fortunately for collectors, that means you can expect a healthy amount of merch to go to along with it. So far, in celebration of the game, DC Direct has made four statue figures available for pre-order. We’ve got ’em all in our DC Collectibles and Statues section, so be sure to check that page out if you’re looking for either them or any of the many other awesome DC pieces we have available. Here are the statues, along with their planned releases!

BATMAN (November 2010)

CATWOMAN (November 2010)

SUPERMAN (December 2010)

GREEN LANTERN (Demeber 2010)

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

Club Penguin Gives Back!

For those unfamiliar with Club Penguin, it’s an online playground where children can chat (in a well-monitored room), play games, customize penguins and pets and explore a frozen fantasy land. Owned by Disney, it’s probably the only MMORPG out there for kids (you know, since the incredible Castle Infinity truly died) and it has recently launched a line of merchandise, which we feature over at CmdStore’s Club Penguin section.

We’ve got everything from penguin plush toys to action figures to trading cards, ready to be snapped up by adoring fans of the game. But what’s even better is that whether you’re subscribing to the club itself or just grabbing one of these adorable items, you can feel very good about the purchase because you know the money is going to a great place.

Newswire.ca reports…

VANCOUVER, Nov. 3 /CNW/ – Kids Help Phone announced today a $150,000 donation from the popular children’s virtual world Club Penguin. The gift from the Kelowna-based online playground which is owned by The Walt Disney Company, supports Kids Help Phone’s Futures Campaign, a $7.5 million national campaign that will revolutionize and expand the way Kids Help Phone helps kids by phone and online.

“This gift will have a significant impact on Kids Help Phone’s ability to enhance our counselling services and provide professional, compassionate help and hope to kids in Canada,” said Sharon Wood, President & CEO, Kids Help Phone. “Club Penguin’s contribution to the Futures Campaign will help ensure we can be there for kids as they continue to embrace web-based communication.”

Funds raised through the Futures Campaign will help Kids Help Phone transform its current website into a more robust, interactive and kid-friendly site. The Club Penguin donation will support the development of interactive, multimedia therapeutic tools (such as resiliency building and self care tools, quizzes, polls and video) to support kids as they seek help and information about a wide variety of topics.

Club Penguin is one of the largest and fastest-growing virtual worlds for children. Widely known as a trusted provider of fun for kids and peace of mind for parents, Club Penguin is also committed to giving back. A portion of the proceeds from each membership purchased on Club Penguin goes to support organizations such as Kids Help Phone that are working to improve the lives of children and families around the globe.

For more information about Kids Help Phone and The Futures Campaign, please visit http://www.kidshelpphone.ca.