The Legend of the Seven Seas
by Graziella Carbone
2004 – The Adventurous from Sinbad
Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas is a 2003 animated film, made using both traditional 2D animation and drawing animation, produced and distributed by DreamWorks, which incorporates the legends of the eastern area linked to the mythical and adventurous figure of the sailor.
Sinbad, the hero of the Seven Seas, was the protagonist of the new Mulino Bianco collection with a fascinating title: The Adventurous. 15 characters and fantastic scene settings to relive their mythical adventures. In the packs of Cerealix, Flauti, Tegolino, Trancino, Saccottino and Crostatina you could find as a gift the 15 3D characters, some with movable parts (Dritto, Roc, Cetus), others transparent and made of soft materials and glitter (Scorpion, Sirena, Fly , Lizard), and other special characters: the fish, with the addition of a small weight inside it, could float in water; the bird Roc, if you pressed a lever on its back, flapped its wings; the Book of Peace lit up and, thanks to a small switch and a battery, the upper part gave off a suggestive light.
In the packages it was also possible to find three cardboard background settings – the tower of the Book of Peace, the frozen island and the city of Syracuse – on which to place and move the characters to relive the adventures of Sinbad.
The first prototypes we made did not satisfy me. They were beautiful, but something was missing… While I was working on this project, a special exhibition was held in Bergamo at the Teatro Sociale in Città Alta. Featuring an oval plan and built entirely of wood, the theater spread over three tiers of boxes and a gallery. It was inaugurated in 1807 and survived – between ups and downs – until 1929, when it was definitively closed. During the visit to the theater I understood what the Sinbad backdrops were missing: the preparatory works did not suggest depth. It was therefore a question of moving the scene, creating panels and floors.
It was a complex and difficult job. We were dealing with paper, but the various models of theatrical wings inspired the solutions and made the project possible. In practice, using only two sheets of paper overlapped and glued, but not over the whole area, and pre-punched, it was possible to raise the scenes in sequence, forming a real stage, where our characters could move. The ice island pop-up even had a kind of ice loft on the right where you could place the characters. On the back of each scene I included the related part of the story.
In addition to the scene settings, we included the Chimera ship – to be cut out and built entirely out of cardboard.
As with other previous promotions, such as Shrek and Spirit, many themed games were printed on the packages for the Sinbad promotion.
On the wave of the previous year’s success, in May and June the “double pack” operation was revived with a series of objects characterized by the Sinbad atmosphere of adventure, called “The Treasures of Sinbad”: a clock with a compass (Bussorologio or Compassclock), a mysterious object to be worn on the wrist that sprayed messages with water – it had special codes to communicate with friends – (Spruzzamessaggi or Messagesprinkler) and binoculars with a light (Brillocolo or Brilloculous).
In September, the in-store operation featured a beautiful backpack, a hat (just the model that sailors wore) and a pair of gloves. Hat and gloves were made of fleece. A reproduction of the Chimera ship was also made, that needed to be assembled. Indeed, the original idea was that it should float … but if you put it in the water, after a few seconds it sinked! So it remained only as a toy object to complete the scenario.
2004 – The Shrek Magnetic Characters
In the wave of success of the first Shrek film of 2002, DreamWorks set out to continue the story. Shrek 2, which premiered in December 2004, scored its third best result on its debut weekend in cinema history, beating the previous record for animated films, becoming one of the most successful films of the year.
Mulino Bianco wanted the promotion linked to the film to represent in its own way the “encounters and clashes” that characterized the entire plot of the story.
Thus was thought of a series of 3D characters, based on the law of attraction of magnets – negative and positive poles.
When two magnets are placed in proximity to each other, an attractive or repulsive force is generated, depending on the ends that are neared. Each magnet has two ends (or two faces) with opposite properties, where the forces are particularly intense: they are called the north and south poles.
The characters, made with a round base in which a negative or positive magnet was inserted, should have attracted (if friends) or repelled (if enemies). The game was also complemented by “pusher pawns” to push the characters along the path of the game.
In all the packs of Flutes, Saccottino, Tegolino, Crostatina, Trancino, Pan Goccioli and Cerealix was inserted one of the ten characters of Shrek 2 or one of the three special elements (two pusher elements and a door). With two packs of snacks it was also possible to immediately have the beautiful round Snack Box made of tin and hinged, or a VHS cassette with the new adventures of Shrek.
The trays played an important role in the promotion. At first a series of “finish line” games was designed. Then boards were created with paths on which to make the characters move and run. By freely joining multiple boards and placing obstacles at will, you always got a different and exciting path to play with Shrek Magnetic Characters.
I had designed a set of bases that, joined as many puzzle pieces to fit together, gave the possibility to build a giant board with different paths from the world of Shrek (the swamp or the field of sunflowers), completed by a series of obstacles which – when cut out of the trays and positioned along the path – made the game different every time. Children would have fun have fun moving the Magnetic Characters on the base, as these could attract or repel each other.
To complete the world of the fairytale, other 3D elements were added, always to be cut out of the trays and to be built: the house of Shrek, the house of Gingerbread Man, the Far Far Away Castle and the carriage-onion of Fiona, a true jewel in paper converting.
To enrich Shrek’s house with an extra touch, a real door in plastic material was created, to be inserted into the cardboard. The door, which contained a hidden magnet, opened “magically” or remained closed in relation to the character who presented itself in front of it.
I am particularly fond of this promotion, a real challenge in implementation. I had been waiting for the opportunity to make a promotion using magnets. And this opportunity manifested itself with Shrek.
In addition, a couple of cards with the characters of the film were also printed on each tray; by collecting them it was possible to play a Memory Game.
The in-store operation consisted of a backpack and a hat (customized with Shrek’s ears) made of fleece.
The promotions tied to DreamWorks films ended Shrek 2 and the Magnetic Characters.
2004 – The games of tradition: the Pan di Stelle teddy bear
Among the games most loved by children of all ages, one of the first places is certainly occupied by stuffed teddy bears. One of the most traditional toys, it was born in the United States at the beginning of the twentieth century (Teddy Bear). A well-known German company immediately produced a wide range and in many cases, these supplanted the gift of a doll or a toy soldier for Christmas.
In 2004 – precisely on the occasion of Christmas – Mulino Bianco combined Pan di Stelle products with the Bear that appeared in the TV commercial (the girl soaked a Pan di Stelle biscuit in milk and tenderly handed it to the Bear). The success was incredible: all the children wanted it and the offer ran out in no time.