Ina Fried

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Rovio Marketing Engine Thrusts Into Warp Speed on Eve of Angry Birds Space

Rovio is definitely pulling out all the stops when it comes to promoting the next installment of its Angry Birds franchise.

The company has already filmed a video in space and taken over Samsung’s party at South by Southwest. A book tie-in, produced with National Geographic, has also sold out at Amazon (though more copies are promised for later this week).

The game itself, Angry Birds Space, is due to start arriving in app stores at midnight PT on Thursday, and is set to launch simultaneously for Android, iOS, Mac and PC. The game play is familiar to those who have played past titles, but adds the twist of new characters, as well as both zero-gravity space regions and planets with varying amounts of gravity.

Beyond the games, the company has lots of other merchandise launching, including plush toys of the new space-themed characters, some of which were on display in Austin and in a press kit mailed out this week.

Walmart is partnering with Rovio to offer bonus “Golden Eggsteroid” levels to customers, offering clues on its Facebook page and on the price tags and packaging of various Angry Birds merchandise. “We wanted to give our fans a unique retail extension to Angry Birds Space that rewards them for their eagle eyes,” Rovio CMO Peter Vesterbacka said in a statement.

Rovio is also expanding its efforts to bring the birds into the real world through various “activity parks.” New ones are launching in the U.K., following the first one in Tampere, Finland. Rovio is also working on theme park tie-ins, but those are costlier and longer-term. Plus, the smaller playgrounds are more hands-on, Rovio said.

Also, I was told on Wednesday by Vesterbacka to “expect the unexpected.”

So there may be even more products and/or hijinks afoot.

For all its ambitions to be the next Disney, Rovio is, for the moment, tied directly to the fortunes of its flagship birds and pigs, though Rovio CEO Mikael Hed last month told AllThingsD about its non-Angry Birds efforts, which include a game already in development.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus