Toronto-based toy company Spin Master has nabbed an exclusive deal with Nickelodeon and Viacom Consumer Products to be the master global toy licensor for all the forthcoming action figures, vehicles, and play sets en route to the theatrical release of the Avatar: The Last Airbender movie The Last Airbender on July 2010.
"M. Night Shyamalan and Paramount have done an incredible job of adapting the mythology of Avatar, the Nick TV show, into an imaginative and visually stunning live-action big-screen fantasy adventure film," said Adam Beder, Spin Master's licensing chief.
Some fans, however, would disagree with the toy company exec, as The Last Airbender has been embroiled in a controversy over casting issues, mostly involving Caucasian actors play purportedly East Asian characters.
Protagonist Aang, for instance, who is supposedly East Asian, will be played by Noah Ringer, who is white, while Inuit siblings Katara and Sokka will have white actors Nicola Peltz and Jackson Rathbone playing their roles. Lastly, seemingly Japanese Zuko will be played by British-Indian Dev Patel, previously given to Jesse McCartney.
Nevertheless, Nickelodeon's Leigh Anne Brodsky said there still is "tremendous anticipation" for The Last Airbender. "Our co-branded product line will dive in to The Last Airbender's rich story line and promises timeless play experiences for the original series' super-fans, as well as for new fans of the film."
There are ongoing online petitions decrying the supposedly racist casting and even suggestions to boycott the film. Rathbone was quoted as saying before that, "It's one of those things where, hopefully, the audience will suspend disbelief a little bit."