SHELF LIFE: Forbidden Planet Cambridge

MCV chats with Ben Stevenson-Hall, assistant manager of the Cambridge branch of Forbidden Planet, about which video game properties have proved most successful for the merchandise specialist

What video game merchandise do you stock, and what brands are most successful?

The first thing that comes to mind is Minecraft. Minecraft is huge for us. Ever since we started getting it in, it’s been continuously in demand. And that’s in no way abating. The four construction books they put out are just ridiculous in terms of sales.

With video games merchandise it largely depends on the IP; Valve and Assassin’s Creed stuff are things we give a dedicated space to because they are continuously popular.

Why have those particular brands been so successful?

It might have a lot to do with the engagement of the narrative and the detail in the characters and story. Assassin’s Creed and the universe Valve has built around Portal and Half-Life are very story-rich and Minecraft is emergent gameplay – people creating their own stories.

"Video game merchandising is very new and the publishers and manufacturers are still testing the water."

Ben Stevenson-Hall, Forbidden Planet

What do you expect to be big this year?

We’ve got some Assassin’s Creed: Unity stuff coming in, and we’re going to try with some Destiny stuff. We got bits and bobs coming in, but with actual merchandise, the publishers need to look at the success of the game before committing to making figures. The problem is there’s normally a long time, about six to eight months, before you actually start to see a decent selection. But I understand, because they don’t want to take the risk.

Do you hold any events in store?

We don’t do midnight launches, because we don’t sell the game and the stuff comes in over weeks. It doesn’t all come in at once. So it’s impossible to have a single release point or event for it. I’m not against the idea, and it could be a lot of fun, but at this point video game merchandising is very new and the publishers and manufacturers are still testing the water.

Which product categories are most popular?

Apparel continuously sees interest; Adventure Time hats and T-shirts are two of our biggest merchandise areas at the moment. Statues always do well. Pop vinyl is a huge thing for us at the moment, too. They’ve got the licence for everything and they’re putting out vinyls for everything.

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