It's interesting how much a week can change things. For me it's taken a generally positive opinion about a company that I've casually respected in recent months, turned it into a feeling of disappointment, and in the end, made me come to despise said company. I'm talking about toy maker GoldieBlox and their possibly orchestrated fiasco with The Beastie Boys over a viral commercial. When I first heard that they'd borrowed some Beastie Boys music without asking, and then preemptively filed a for a declaratory judgement against the living members of the group, like many, I blogged about it. The "facts" were few, the opinions were many, and all sides took their time with properly addressing anything. What we now know is that GoldieBlox seemed to have had every intention of using (whether it's "parody," "satire," "transformative," "fair use," "infringing" or whatever) the Beastie Boys' 1986 song "Girls" without any regard for the group's opinion on the matter. Their release today of a "Letter to the Beastie Boys" coupled with the removal of the offending video only solidifies that in my mind, despite their carefully-crafted, likely attorney-urged attempt at trying to save face. Whatever they spent on legal fees and the video itself, the publicity they've gained has been priceless. Everyone (myself included) is talking about GoldieBlox, and really, it's at the Beastie Boys' expense. Speaking as someone whose been "borrowed from" in the past without being asked first, that's not cool.
UPDATE: 11/24 10:40pm - I changed the title of this developing story after a representative for The Beastie Boys made a statement to the Huffington Post confirming what some (myself included) were assuming: "There was no complaint filed, no demand letter (no demand, for that matter) when [GoldieBlox] sued Beastie Boys."
11/25 9:53am: THR updated with statements from an open letter by Beastie Boys mentioning that while they were “impressed by the creativity and the message” of the Goldieblox video, “make no mistake, your video is an advertisement that is designed to sell a product, and long ago, we made a conscious decision not to permit our music and/or name to be used in product ads... When we tried to simply ask how and why our song ‘Girls’ had been used in your ad without our permission, YOU sued US."
Original story continues below...
In all areas of media, there are certain companies that operate just on the fringe of good taste, principle... and intellectual property laws. Much like those companies that put out similarly-titled and plotted films that land on DVD racks just to confuse good-hearted grandparents (I'm looking at people like Engine 15 Media, with their dubious CARS & TOY STORY knock-offs; and whoever the makers of CHOP-KICK PANDA are), there's long-been some occasional similarities in the toy department from major and minor players alike. Such is the case with "The Toon Studio of Beverly Hills" (aka United Trademark Holdings) and their "Junior Elf Fairy PRINCESS" line, which I'm sure is meant to look nothing like the famous DISNEY PRINCESS collection. Nor is their "Original Cars" line supposed to evoke images of Disney-Pixar's CARS... their "Original Monsters" supposed to resemble UNIVERSAL MONSTERS... or the "Original Fairies" supposed to be anything remotely similar to Disney FAIRIES. So what of this new FAIRY TALE HIGH collection of dolls that showed up at Walmart and Toys "R" Us this past month? Nah, they're not similar to anything else out there right now.
Updated and Added to Greatest Hits, 8/10/14
Last night, I took my family to dinner at the local Cracker Barrel Old County Store and Restaurant. It's one of our favorite places for a lot of reasons, and my oldest daughter is quick to point out that "it's like Grandma Cindy's house," and she's right. The decor, the fireplace, the smell of great food and the seasonal offerings in the store section certainly do bring my Mom's house to mind. But last night, as I enjoyed my Country Fried Steak, I realized that I have a problem with the Cracker Barrel.
Fall is here, and for most of America, that means it's Football Season. When I say "most of America," what I really mean is "Not here at Rock Father HQ." Truth is, I don't like Football... specifically, the game.
UPDATE #2 - Three+ Years Later: As of 2016, a new line of Sofia the First Toys are being created and sold by Just Play Toys, thus negating this original article... unless, of course, you happen to come across old stock that could still be floating around from 2013. And, in fairness, we did eventually buy some of the later Mattel releases and they were just fine. In fact, the Royal Prep playset is still played with regularly... years later.
UPDATE: Since posting this entry, Rachel Cooper, Senior Manager of Public Relations for Mattel, got in touch. After speaking with her on the phone this evening, I can tell you that Mattel is well-aware of the problems, and that the line has gone through a "complete overhaul." This means that new shipments of merchandise should start arriving in August as part of an inline change. Families that have purchased defective or sub-standard product can contact Mattel Customer Service for a free replacement from the new batches as they arrive. Rachel made it very clear that Mattel is sorry for any issues or disappointment.
There is trouble in Enchancia. Royally-bad trouble, I'm afraid... and as a parent - and a writer - this is one of those times where I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but more than happy to raise the flag to spread the word and hold accountable those who are responsible. Parents and Children across the country are discovering that there's BIG problems with the new line of toys based on Disney Junior's SOFIA THE FIRST. Specifically, the collection of 3-inch scale Dolls (action figures?) by Mattel, and all related accessories, including the "Magical Talking Castle."