With the dramatic opening of the last film in the Harry Potter series opening this weekend it seemed appropriate to mention a little bit of the history of the relationship between the movies and Scriptorum Fonts. Way back when the first movie came out we were cotacted by the merchandising team and a deal was struck where a set of six of our fonts would be the official merchandising fonts for all consumer products associated with the films. The title would remain the standard hand-drawn logo derived from the book title, but the titles and captions on all packaging for action figures, toys, games and novelties would be done with our fonts, with a special emphasis on the Valdemar font.
A memo was circulated to all of the associated manufacturers and promoters about the special font set and the idea was that they would purchase those fonts and by using them they would produce a consistent look and feel for the packaging on all the merchandise associated with the movie. It was a great pan, but it was largely a failure. With no real effort at enforcement most of the vendors decided to replace most of the fonts with whatever they had already purchased which was similar and so instead of using Buccaneer for the text they used whatever text font they had around and instead of using Guilford for captions they just dragged out whatever brush script they had on hand. The one font they really couldn’t replace was Valdemar because its look is so peculiar and so unique that there’s really no other font which can come close to passing for it.
So the deal ended up being a lot less exciting than it appeared at the time, and though it was a good idea, execution kind of fell through and in the early years of the films the merchandised product came out with a very inconsistent and haphazard look to them, rushed into production without serious attention to details like using the right fonts. We were disappointed, but the whole thing had basically just dropped in our laps and there had never been any real guarantees, so we shrugged and moved on.
Now, as we’re reaching the end of the movies and really the height of Harry Potter frenzy among the fans, high-end merchandising items are being released and they are being produced with much more of an eye to quality packaging design, including the return of extensive use of the various versions of the Valdemar font for titles and headers on the packaging. I spotted one great example of this in my local Barnes and Noble last week when I found several items in a series of high end souvenir wands manufactured for fans of the movies.
This series of collectible items from the Noble Collection features the wands of all the major wizard characters in the movie with tips which light up in response to motion. They sell for $35 each. Interestingly, although Valdemar is used prominently on the box cover and the interior for the main titles on the package as you find it in the store, all of the advertising materials for this product line not only omit any of that text but also show different art on the boxes, so if you order one of these off of Amazon.com don’t expect it to look like what you saw on their site when it arrives.
Though I wish the merchandising guidelines on Harry Potter products had actually been followed more consistently and we’d seen a lot more of our fonts in use, these wands are a high-end product with very nice production values and an excellent showcase for Valdemar so I can’t complain too much.