Activision’s brainy toys take over

At E3, the huge video game trade show that kicks off in LA on Tuesday, the main attention usually falls on first-person shooter titles aimed at teens or young male gamers. Games targeted at children can easily get lost under the bright lights.

Activision Blizzard, known for “Call of Duty” and ”World of Warcraft” is trying to change this by backing its new kids game, “Skylanders” with a hefty marketing push at E3.

“It’s getting the full triple-A treatment,” said Laird Malamed, a senior vice president of development at Activision.

“I don’t rememeber a triple-A product launch of new intellectual property like this,” said Malamed, who added that he helped launch the first ”Call of Duty” game in 2003.

“Skylanders,” which is aimed at 6- to 10-year-olds, features action figures that come to life onscreen when you hook them up to consoles. A chip inside the figure stores its characters’ achievements and progress within the game. ”Skylanders,” which also goes by the nickname ”toys with brains” was written by Toy Story scribes Alek Sokolow and Joel Cohen.

Disney Stores get face lift for Earth Day

 The Walt Disney Co rolled out a new look and mission for its North American Disney Stores in an Earth Day celebration designed to reposition the chain it bought back from The Children’s Place last year as a “light education” destination, Jim Fielding, president of Disney Stores Worldwide said.

 Disney reacquired the 225 stores after Children’s Place fell behind on a pledge to invest millions to fix up the outlets. Disney had a tough time making the stores profitable before it handed them off to Children’s Place, but Fielding said he just completed the chain’s five-year plan and is “optimistic” about its prospects, even in one of the worst retail environments in living memory.

In addition to a new store design to be rolled out over the next year, the chain is looking for new digs in cities where bankruptcies and foreclosures have reshaped communities and the commercial real estate surrounding them.  “We are still repositioning that portfolio to make sure we are in the right malls, in the right cities, and the right states,” Fielding said.