'Star Wars' Empire Reaches Entertainment Earth

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Catalog retailer Entertainment Earth pushes new "Star Wars" figurines in its summer book, aiming to entice new enthusiasts to the franchise while satisfying the cravings of seasoned fans.

The 10 figurines were released earlier this year as Entertainment Earth, Los Angeles, celebrated its 10th anniversary.

"Now was the time to develop the characters as the opportunity to partner with Hasbro and Lucas Films came about," said Adam Pawlus, director of marketing and merchandise at Entertainment Earth. "Star Wars fans have been waiting for these since the movie came out in the '70s."

Mr. Pawlus was hired for the launch based on his history as a Star Wars aficionado.

The summer catalog is a 60-page book on standard-sized 8.5-by-11-inch glossy paper. The cover is titled "Entertainment Earth Times" and is designed to look like a newspaper. It displays the new dolls along with figurines from other pop culture icons like Muhammad Ali, Superman and 1980s pop group Devo.

Inside, the catalog is divided into sections such as politics, movies, "The Simpsons," femme fatales and -- the meat of the magazine at 17 pages -- Star Wars.

The new toys are characters seen in the original film as background characters. Six are lesser-known characters: R2-X2, R3-T2, R4-E1, R2-A6, R3-T6 and R2-Q2. Four are formerly nameless characters -- R2-C4, R2-M5, R4-A22 and R3-Y2 -- given a formal naming ceremony by the firm.

The characters were chosen based on criteria including staff and client favorites, factory capability and color. The brightly colored figurines were developed to attract children to the line. This strategy seemingly is working. Still, the main demographic remains veteran Star Wars collectors: men in their 20s and 30s.

The Exclusive Earth Star Wars Astromech Droids set includes all 10 figures for $74.99 retail.

More than 200,000 prospects were contacted about these new products through the firm's in-house list. Other marketing tactics employed include e-mail and search. The firm sends an e-mail newsletter with new-product updates and events four days a week to subscribers.

Affiliate links are another important marketing tool. Collectors read a handful of popular fan sites, and these sites list when new products come on the market. Mr. Pawlus cited this as a key communication with the firm's target audience.

More than half of the firm's business is done at www.entertainmentearth.com, but the catalog represents the rest.

"This is the most successful catalog to date," Mr. Pawlus said. "It is a great new way to find customers for a new kind of product."

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