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Toy Fair Wrap-Up: The Good, the Black and the Unnecessary

Categories: Toy Fair 2013
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Published on: February 19, 2013

The 2013 American International Toy Fair closed its doors last Wednesday and left us with an idea of what toys we’ll be seeing on store shelves over the next 10 months.

This is a big year for movie action figures with Hasbro releasing lines for G.I. Joe, Iron Man 3 and Thor, NECA has Pacific Rim and The Lone Ranger, Mattel and others will be offering up Man of Steel and even Lego is on board with Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and The Lone Ranger, not to mention their continuing Marvel sets.

The Good

GI Joe EaglehawkLego showed off some really fun toys for 2013, both in existing lines such as Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, but also in new, The Lone Ranger, and revisited, Castle, properties.  The Stagecoach Escape (79108) from The Lone Ranger line is excellent.  It seems to capture all the fun elements you could want from a western theme, and it’s still reasonably priced for a quality Lego build.

I also like the looks of the new Play Arts Kai series of DC Comics superheroes from Square Enix.  The highly stylized action figures of Wonder Woman and Batman feature lots of articulation and accessories.  Their take on the Flash is interesting and not something I think we’ve seen before.  I’ll also be interested in seeing final production pictures Batgirl.

Being a G.I. Joe fan, it was exciting to see Hasbro take a shot at one of my favorite vintage vehicles, the Tomahawk.  Now called the Eaglehawk, the helicopter features some updated seating and rotor blades along with classic features such as the winch and opening rear door.  General badassery also still included.

The Black

R2-D2 6 inch Black SeriesHasbro’s Black Series of action figures, covering both the new 6″ scale and the existing 3.75″ figures, may turn out to be decent lines of toys.  Hasbro is promising nothing but new sculpts for the smaller line while the larger line will have a moderate release schedule and stick to the most iconic heroes from the Saga films.  With 2013 almost being a lost year due to changes in the 3D movie release schedule and residual problems from 2012, I’m hoping Hasbro can take a beat before coming back stronger in 2014.  Next year will probably be a transition year before they have to delve into the new Disney Star Wars films and there’s the possibility we could see them check off a lot of characters from their infamous “parking lot.”  

The Unnecessary

In a toy market that’s seen a lot of price increases in the last two years, I can respect a company for looking at ways to keep costs down.  Going to 5 points of articulation (PoA) for a full line of action figures where you’re only creating new versions of existing characters may not be the best way to go about it.  Hasbro was already reducing PoA on their Clone Wars line, which I feel suffered an unnecessary cancellation, where it seemed to be working, but to come out with a new Saga Legends line to tackle Saga characters?  Throwing in Anakin, meaning they’re tripling up on him this Fall, along with Yoda and a Super Battle droid, which already have some basic articulated versions, may not be the best choices for launch.

I will give them this; the new Saga Legends look, and according to Hasbro, feel, like the vintage Kenner toys a lot of us grew up with.  They do look to be sculpted well and as long as they make decent toys, there could be a market for them.  Even with assembly costs rising, Hasbro already has quite a few figure versions available to them that feature fewer points of articulation and I have to wonder why they don’t try to leverage those before investing in brand new sculpts and tooling.

Also, the 12″ line of Hasbro Star Wars figures?  Completely unnecessary.  There’s no argument for them.

What They Said

I reached out to Friend of the Holocron, Bill Cable, of CreatureCantina.com to get his take on what he saw at this year’s show.  I asked him what he thought were the one best and one worst Hasbro offerings and one best and one worst offerings from any license, any company at Toy Fair.

Tamashii Nations C-3PO with Bill CableOn the best of Hasbro:

I’ll go with the 6″ Black Sandtrooper.  Fantastic sculpt and spot-on deco.  Looks gorgeous in person.  Runner up would be the LEGENDS 4″ figures, just because they turned out way better than I expected and they really take me back to Vintage toys.

On the worst of Hasbro:

The LEGENDS 12″ figures are awful. Even the Hasbro guys were making excuses.  ”Intended for foreign markets” and such.

On the best of Toy Fair:

No question there: Tamashii Nations Perfect Model 3PO.  When they say perfect they mean it.  It’s the most amazingly crafted Star Wars toy I’ve ever laid eyes on.

On the worst of Toy Fair:

Now that is a tough one.  I mean, the 12″ LEGENDS figures are right up there… but it feels like a cop-out to go with that.  There were these awful rectangle face-shaped soft zipper pencil case-type things where the zipper made a mouth and you could pull a tongue out sometimes.  But the “flesh” of the face was all stretched out and folded kinda like something you’d see in Hellraiser.  They were intended to be “gross” and were really just ugly. I can’t imagine anyone ever buying one. I didn’t get the name though, so that’s probably not very helpful.

 

Toy Fair – NECA Lone Ranger

Categories: Toy Fair 2013
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Published on: February 14, 2013

NECA makes some of the nicest licensed toys for movies, video games and comics and they’re always on top of new properties.  This year, NECA will be producing several scales of toys for the upcoming Lone Ranger and Pacific Rim movies.

We really like the looks of the Lone Ranger toys.  NECA will have a 3.75″ line of action figures, including some incredible looking horses shown here, as well as 7″ and 1/4 scale action figures.  Look for these in May.

Photos courtesy of Joe Kersavage

Toy Fair – Square Enix

Categories: Toy Fair 2013
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Published on: February 14, 2013

Square Enix has some of the most detailed, articulated and interesting large action figures on the market.  Their Play Arts -Kai- line of DC Comics figures really stand out for their unique takes on some of our favorite heroes such as Batman, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman.

They also do villains, like Poison Ivy and the Joker, but we didn’t photograph them, there was a lot to take in with only one day.

Photographs courtesy of Joe Kersavage

Toy Fair – MZB imagination

Categories: Toy Fair 2013
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Published on: February 14, 2013

You may not have heard of MZB imagination before, but if you’ve ever picked up a Lego pen or have seen the lightsaber pens on ThinkGeek, you’ve seen their products.

MZB imagination was showing the lightsaber pens at Toy Fair along with some lap desks, clicker pens, markers and pencil cases.  The pencil cases, including a fuzzy Chewbacca version, are pretty cool.

Photos courtesy of Joe Kersavage.

Toy Fair – Kotobukiya

Categories: Kotobukiya, Toy Fair 2013
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Published on: February 14, 2013

Kotobukiya has come a long way from the early vinyl model kits they started with, now producing some of the more interesting statue collectibles of the Star Wars property.  But they also have a huge presence in the Marvel and DC Comics field and are no strangers to video game properties.

At Toy Fair they teased a new General Grievous ARTFX+ Statue that could possibly be the best version of him since Sideshow’s incredible Premium Format statue.  The detail looks really good on the prototype they showed, and with paint and final details, could be a home run.

Also on display was their new Jango Fett statue and his son, Boba.  Darth Vader, the Royal Guards and a contingent of Stormtroopers joined them.

Kotobukiya’s first Bishoujo Star Wars statue is out now, Jaina Solo, and Mara Jade is next on their list.  During Joe’s Q&A with Koto, they mentioned Leia was next on their list but not exactly what version, only that it won’t be her Return of the Jedi bikini.

Also, if you’ve seen their excellent Han in Carbonite business card holder, good news, it should be coming to the U.S. market.

Comics and game fans take note, Koto was showing off a prototype for a Kitty Pryde Bishoujo statue, coming in June, and artwork for Black Canary, due in the 3rd quarter.

Last week was the release of the new Visceral Games and Electronic Arts game, “Dead Space 3,” and Kotobukiya will soon have a statue available of the main character, Isaac Clarke.  The 12″ tall statue features lights and will be out in June.

Photos and additional reporting by Joe Kersavage

Toy Fair – Fantasy Flight Games

Categories: Toy Fair 2013
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Published on: February 12, 2013

Fantasy Flight Games is another recent member of the Star Wars family, coming on board  in 2011, releasing their first product, X-Wing Miniatures Game, in August 2012.  Since then, they’ve announced a role playing game, Star Wars: Edge of the Empire, and a cleverly named card game, Star Wars The Card Game.

Four expansion sets have been released for the X-Wing Miniatures game so far; X-Wing, TIE Fighter, Y-Wing and TIE Advanced.  Four more have been announced; A-Wing, TIE Interceptor, Millennium Falcon and Slave I.  These were shown off at Celebration VI and Fantasy Flight Games had them on hand for Toy Fair.  Look for these four this coming March.

The nice thing about the miniature ships is that Fantasy Flight Games is treating them as mini replicas for collectors.  The sculpt and paint detail is very intricate and fans of miniature lines such as Micro Machines, Action Fleet and Titanium should give them a look.

Photos courtesy of Joe Kersavage

Toy Fair – Revell

Categories: Toy Fair 2013
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Published on: February 12, 2013

Revell, originally called Monogram, has been making model kits since 1945 and has been a part of the Star Wars family for several years.  While their model kits are not always found in the larger brick and mortar toy stores, Toys-R-Us has been carrying a selection of their Star Wars kits on and off or the past few years.

At Toy Fair, Revell was not showing off any new model kits but will be carrying forward, with new packaging, many of the sets that are already on the market.

When asked about Star Wars Episode VII, Revell said that they are in talks to license new sets from the upcoming movies.

Photos courtesy of Joe Kersavage

Toy Fair – Bladez Toyz

Categories: Toy Fair 2013
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Published on: February 12, 2013

New to the Star Wars license are Bladez Toyz, who were attending Toy Fair to show off their new line of inflatable, radio controlled droids.  Their first offering is R2-D2, who stands about 2 feet tall and can be directed by a remote control that looks similar to a game controller.  Each droid comes with a pump to inflate them.

Bladez Toyz was also showing off a approved prototype of R5-D4 and an as yet unapproved 1:1 scale R2-D2 which stands over 3 feet tall and includes sound effects.

While not Star Wars related, Bladez Toyz also makes radio controlled helicopters and cars.  One of their newest products is a helicopter that has a bubble machine.  That joins the Bladez Transporter and Bladez Water Blaster choppers that are already on the market.  Bladez is in talks with ThinkGeek to pick up the new bubble helicopter.

Pictures and additional reporting by Joe Kersavage

Toy Fair – Play Visions Lego

Categories: Lego, Toy Fair 2013
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Published on: February 12, 2013

Play Visions produces licensed products for various companies, including Lego.  Their line of Lego branded key lights and figural LED Lites can currently be found in stores such as Target.

At Toy Fair, Play Visions was showing off their minifigure sized key chain lights, head lamps and new, larger room lights.

Photos courtesy of Joe Kersavage

Toy Fair – Uncle Milton

Categories: Toy Fair 2013
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Published on: February 12, 2013

Uncle Milton debuted their Star Wars line of science toys four years ago at Toy Fair with items like the innovative Force Trainer, Jedi Projector and Dagobah Frog Habitat, and this year they’re back with several new inventions.

Several favorite sets, including the Mustafar Volcano Lab, Force Glove and Mini Lightsaber Techlab, look to be coming back and will be joined by the Infrared Force Battle Trainer, Darth Vader Voice Lab and Force Lightning Energy Ball.

The Infrared Force Battle Trainer comes with two targets, Battle Droid and Destroyer Droid, and a wrist controller that shoots an infrared beam which you can use to “push” the targets from their base.  The learning curve for this set is with infrared technology; how far away can a child go and still knock the targets off, can you shoot the infrared force beam off a mirror or glass and still have it work?

The Darth Vader Voice Lab is for all the young and aspiring Ben Burtts out there.  It features a Darth Vader helmet and base shaped like his chest box.  The Sound Lab has an audio mixer that allows you to apply effects to your voice.  Kids can learn how sound works and how to alter it.

Finally, the Force Lightning Energy Ball includes an electric plasma globe on a stand with Yoda graphics.  This set allows kids to learn about energy and what attracts it.  Touch the ball with your fingers or other objects and see what attracts the lightning and what doesn’t.

Pictures and additional reporting by Joe Kersavage

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