Toys still matter - ask Cartoon Network

So last week, Cartoon Network announced its lineup for next season. There's some crap on there, and a lot of good, but at least one show that isn't included drew some attention.

Sym-Bionic Titan, Genndy Tartakovski's current show, is not going to be back next season. It started in the Friday night block, where it was propped up by Clone Wars and a couple of other so-so action cartoons (Generator Rex and Ben 10 reruns, I think?), and so it had decent numbers. Then it went on a mid-season hiatus, came back on Saturday mornings or Tuesday evenings or something, and was pretty much forgotten by everyone.

The show looked very nice, and we tried very hard to like it. Genndy + Voltron should = total awesomeness, right? Well, it didn't. It was clunky, formulaic and way too slow moving. Samurai Jack could get away with that pace, because it was a single man in the wide-open world; Sym-Bionic Titan is a team of alien teenagers in a major city, and it needed to be more kinetic. When the best episode in the series involved using the power of drift racing to fight a giant dragon monster, you know something's wrong.

Anyway, the show's ratings apparently weren't terrible, but it's still not coming back. Why? Well, a post over on The Animation Guild's blog quotes a CN insider as saying:

"Genddy's moved on to Sony Pictures Animation. Titan got competitive ratings with other action shows, but what shut it down was it didn't have enough toys connected to it. If you don't have them the studios don't want to renew for another season."

It's nice to know that toys matter so much, but it does raise a very important question: if the lack of toys was the problem, why didn't Cartoon Network just make some? They've got that deal with Mattel, so why didn't anyone from the network ever call over to El Segundo and tell them to get on it? The designs aren't terribly toyetic, but they're not awful by any means, and have done okay.

Cartoons are the advertising force behind a toyline. If there are no toys, you don't cancel the show - you start making the toys! We won't be terribly sad to see Sym-Bionic Titan go (mainly because we won't be seeing it - it'll just fade away, unwatched), but hearing specifically that toys could have saved the show is really intriguing.

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2 Responses to Toys still matter - ask Cartoon Network

  1. Newt says:

    Doesn't surprise me. I really liked the first few episodes, but I can't hardly keep up with cartoons anymore. When they moved it to mornings or whatever, I never could find it and while I probably could have set the DVR, it slipped my mind.

    TOYS, though, was a big factor. I thought that show was made for toys. It should have had toys right out the gate. I realize some people don't want to do toys in order to protect their artistic integrity or whatever, but it was a missed opportunity. When I was a kid, I loved watching cartoons/TV shows and then going and playing with my toys of them.

    Sym-Bionic Titan was never going to have that sort of Sym-Bionic relationship with it's youth base (or even us old farts) without some toys. Seemed like a good line for Playmates, but I guess not.

  2. ferris says:

    Maybe no toy companies were interested in the property/thought it would sell?

    I remember hearing crappy toy sales were a factor in cancelling the last Spider-Man cartoon, which wasn't surprising (great show, lousy toys). I'm also worried about getting a full roster (or just more than 2!) of these new 'classic' Thundercats figures if the new cartoon, or the modern toyline attached to it, tanks.

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