Shocker: Toys taking over television

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A recent story in the East Valley Tribune by Scripps Howard News Service looks at The Hub, a joint venture between Discovery Networks and Hasbro Toys that launches 10 a.m. Eastern time Sunday in 60 million homes. It will effectively replace the existing premium network Discovery Kids.

It’s caused some controversy, because it gives the toymaker a direct channel — literally! — to plug its products in front of America’s children. Transformers, G.I. JOE, Pound Puppies, My Little Pony and Strawberry Shortcake get an instant new home, and the launch series Family Game Night draws on Hasbro’s line of classic board games. Next year there will be a live-action mystery series based on the game Clue, and a series based on R.L. Stine’s “Haunting Hour” series of books is in production in Canada for airing later in the year.

It will be interesting to see if Hasbro eventually decides to use The Hub to promote some of its more niche properties that don’t get a lot of marketing love — like Dungeons & Dragons? I remember a lot of chatter a few years back about a D&D TV series that would have used the “Forgotten Realms” setting. There was talk it would be produced by the people behind Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess. That never materialized; what did was Legend of the Seeker, based on Terry Goodkind’s fantasy novels — which has just fizzled after two seasons.

Then there’s this TV retro-tastic ad that has shown up online for the new D&D Red Box starter set, in addition to a prominent national webvertising campaign that dominated websites like Wired’s GeekDad blog:

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