Friday, February 11, 2011

Toy Fair 2011: Preemptive Strike!

Toy Fare starts this Sunday. If you’re not a collector, this means absolutely nothing to you. As a matter of fact, if you’re not a slave to the plastic you probably didn’t even know such a thing existed. To those of us who stop by Walmart at five in the morning to check out the toy aisle, or who know what day Toys R Us gets their trucks; well – Toy Fair is a pretty big fucking deal.
Every year around this time toy manufacturers from all over the world gather in New York to showcase their lines for the upcoming year. We’ll see what movies are getting toy lines and how extensive they’re going to be, which is often an interesting thing to look back on once the movie has been released. Avatar and Star Trek both got HUGE lines that are still currently clogging up aisles. The movies made crazy money; the toys failed utterly. But that’s a whole different article.
Toy Fair also gives us a look at new licenses and original properties, as well as how toy companies plan to reinvigorate existing lines. It’s always fascinating to see how years-old toy lines get freshened up year after year.

Today I’m going to look at several different companies that will almost certainly be at Toy Fair the 13th through the 16th. I don’t necessarily have a specific goal other than trying to take up some time at work, but I’ll be making predictions and voicing desires about what we’ll see at the big show.
After the (amazingly popular!) article the other day everybody should be pretty familiar not only with what BBP! offers, but also what I would like to see out of them in the future. Still, I think their lines warrant a bit of further discussion.
The Venture Bros.: Since the next four figures – Phantom Limb, Hank Venture and Doctors Orpheus and Girlfriend - have been pushed back to the Summer, I’m pretty sure they’ll be the focal point. I’m not certain how this line is doing. I know a lot of people were resistant to the MEGO style for this one, but I sure hope they got over it. It’s a fantastic line and I think the perfect choice for format. I have no idea what BBP!’s plans are, but I would like to see Shore Leave, Hunter Gathers, Molotov Cocktease and Jonas Venture, Jr. announced. Obviously there are dozens of other choices, but I think those are a decent guess. Hopefully BBP! will up their release schedule for these. Four every six months is kind of a bummer. Once they get into variants – Sphinx Brock, Dr. Mrs. The Monarch, “Older” Hank and Dean – they might move a little more quickly.
The Big Lebowski: Toy Fair might actually be where we find out if this rumored sequel is going to happen or not. If BBP! announces a ton of new product I think it’s a safe bet we’ll be seeing The Dude in a new adventure next year. At the very least they need to release MEGO-style figures of Roger and Donny.
Doctor Who: And rounding out the BBP! products that concern me, we have what is probably the Toy Fair revelation that I am most excited about. Granted, they announced their acquisition of the DW license last month, but did not announce which characters other than Tom Baker as the 4th Doctor would introduce the line. I’m guessing three additional characters with two SDCC exclusive variants, consisting of:
The 4th Doctor (some variation of the original look)
Sarah Jane Smith
Cyberman
Dalek
SDCC Exclusive 4th Doctor (John Nathan-Turner red costume)
SDCC Exclusive Dalek (a different color or possibly even a set of several)
I know the Dalek might seem unlikely given that it requires its own mold, but the natives of Skaro are the Doctor’s most popular nemeses and once BBP! produces one mold they can release a ton of variants by simply changing the color. It’s what I would do.
Mattel has gone from being a non-factor in my toy collection to being one of the top earners of my dollars over the past few years. Between their competent and practical handling of the DC license (yeah – they have issues, but overall their DCUC line is consistent and gives us an incredible assortment of characters) and the wonderful product offered on Mattycollector.com (let’s overlook the wretched ordering system for now), Mattel is a major player in the boys’ toy aisle once again. That’s not even taking into account Toy Story, WWE, The Brave & The Bold and their new (but not really) Action League figures. And Lil’ Troublemaker’s favorite, the Imaginext line. Let’s start with Matty.
Masters of the Universe: Catra and Panthor have already been announced and we’ve got a pretty good idea that Swift Wind (She-Ra’s horse) is coming as well. I’m sure Matty will have at least a couple of major announcements for the MOTUC line, though. Likely a couple of standard figures, a beast and I’m guessing the first-ever vehicle. It would be kind of lousy if Swift Wind is the beast announcement, since he’s pretty much confirmed, but I really don’t know what else could be in line. Everybody seems to agree that the Battle Wagon (?) should be the first vehicle, but I’d honestly rather have one of those fliers that Man-At-Arms always rode in. Whatever the case, I doubt we’ll see a vehicle before next year. As far as regular figures, here are some random guesses:
Flipshot from New Adventures (This just seems likely to me for some odd reason)
Leech from The Evil Horde (this is the figure I want most)
Stinkor
Ram-Man
Clawful
Who knows how Matty makes their decisions, but the above seem like decent choices to me.
Ghostbusters: I’ve got most of what I want out of this line. Louis Tully is coming soon and if he looks really good I’ll get him. Whenever they get around to Janine I’ll probably do the same. I know I’m going to be tempted by the new 12” figures with the extra uniforms and accessories, but I’m going to try and fight that temptation. And likely fail. My main concern now is the Real Ghostbusters line. I don’t know if Matty even has plans beyond the initial four characters, but if they do I sure hope they make a Sam Hain figure. Given that the Halloween-themed demon made appearances in two episodes I would have to think he’s a great candidate for a figure. The fact that he’s humanoid has got to work in his favor, as well. I wouldn’t hold my breath for Mr. Stay-Puft, though. Who knows, maybe they’ll do some sort of inflatable one. If you want my opinion on the Ghostbusters line, check this out. It’s actually one of my more popular articles.
DC Universe: I’m sure Matty will show off some new figures for the JLU line, but I don’t collect those. As far as DCUC, Matty has announced plans to continue their line of 2-packs through the website. This directly conflicts a previous statement that they would no longer offer 2-packs through the website, so who knows what this means. Maybe they’ll be offering repacks rather than original figures? I dunno.
I think we can safely assume Green Lantern will get some sort of release through Matty. My guess is a repaint or re-tooling with a ton of ring constructs, possibly the same ones from the recent Hal Jordan/Thaal Sinestro set.
Matty also has the last figure from their 12” Superman line – Lex Luthor – but the less said about those the better. Don’t cry for me, though. I unloaded my Superman and Zod on eBay for a tidy profit, despite the fact they were boxless. I love eBay.

Retail Lines
While my focus on Mattel is usually related to Matty, let’s not forget the company’s huge presence in the toy aisles.
Young Justice: While I’m sure Green Lantern will be a focal point of Mattel’s offerings, I have a feeling the scope of the line(s) inspired by the new Cartoon Network show is going to dwarf any Reynolds-related offerings. We already know that there are going to be YJ figures in both the DCUC and JLU styles. This is one of the most awesome toy decisions ever made. It’s not that I’m necessarily a huge fan of the show (so far it’s merely okay), I’m just so impressed that Mattel has chosen to integrate the characters into existing lines rather than start yet another new style or scale. I am very excited to see what the first waves will consist of. I just hope this representation of Robin doesn’t delay a good Damian Wayne version somehow. Particularly given this Robin’s horrible, pussy-ass voice. Sorry, Jesse McCartney – you’d have been cast better as Rainbow fucking Brite.
Toy Story: Given that Toy Story 3 introduced us to hundreds of new characters and we already know there is going to be a new short featuring Ken and Barbie, I think this line is going to do just fine in 2011. There are several sub-lines for this license, but I think the mini-figures and the 6” scale line will probably get the focus from here on out. We liked the Imaginext offerings, but they didn’t seem to take off at retail. I’ll admit, they did look kind of weird.
Batman: The Brave & The Bold: I think the 6” line may be just about done. History has shown that once the end of a television property has been announced Mattel tends to drop it PDQ. This latest batch of armored-up figures (featuring a chainsaw-wielding Batman [!?]) might well be the last.
We can, thankfully, count on the continuation of Mattel’s fantastic DC mini-figures. The Brave & The Bold line will continue under the “Action League” banner. The newest wave has already hit, with Black Lantern Firestorm, Firestorm, Hal Jordan, White Lantern Sinestro, Superman, Bizarro, Flash and Captain Boomerang. They look great and are a pretty amazing assortment considering they are designed for kids. The next wave has also been revealed, but I feel pretty sure we’ll see more next week. Hopefully Mattel intends to produce some vehicles and maybe even playsets. I’d love to see a Hall of Justice or a Watchtower. Even the Legion of Doom’s HQ seems likely at this diminutive scale. After the amazing job Mattel did with the Imaginext Batcave I’m pretty sure we could get some awesome toys out of this line.
DC Universe Classics: This is another one that is kind of a crapshoot. We know Blackest Night is being introduced with Wave 17, but Wave 18 remains under wraps (for now). I would love to see a couple more waves of Green Lantern Classics, but Mattel is probably waiting to see how the movie does before making further plans there. It’s not like Lanterns can’t be worked into the main line, anyway. The main DC itch I really need scratched is in the Batman department. They absolutely have to make Dick and Damian this year. I’d also really like to see Bruce’s new costume and Lord Death Man. Other than that, we need some Birds of Prey. I can’t believe we haven’t seen Oracle, Hawk and Dove yet. We definitely need Lady Blackhawk and Huntress, as well.
Green Lantern Movie: What I’ve seen of this line so far has done nothing for me. Then again, Mattel’s The Dark Knight toys (aside from the Movie Masters) weren’t very good either. The main line will likely be devoted to kid-friendly play and be oriented toward action features and flash more than likenesses and accuracy. The Sneak Peek figure offered on ToysRUs.com indicates we’ll be getting a 4” line as well as the 6” one. I’ll be very curious to see the full breadth of the line. Especially how the aliens turn out. Another thing I’m hoping for is some sort of Power Battery role play set. I think that could be a really cool item. 
Breaking News! According to TNI DC Direct is making one, but it'll probably be expensive. Here's the link.
WWE: I’m being very selective about what I buy from this line, so my interest is somewhat limited. Mostly I’m curious to see the Entrance Greats and ridiculously overpriced Signature Moments collections, but I’ll take a look at the Elite and Legends lines as well.
Lil’ Troublemaker has just gotten into Mattel’s line of WWE mini-figures, with no urging from me whatsoever. We were in Target one day and he saw the ring and went nuts. Naturally I had to buy it, along with some of the figure 2-packs. We play with them quite a bit and the ring itself is a great little toy with lots of play value. Since these are the same style and size as the DC mini-figures I wanted to bring Batman and company in for a match, but my son wasn’t having it. He said Batman would just win. So it’s wrestlers only in the Rumble ring. I’m interested in seeing what Mattel has in store for this line, but it really doesn’t matter. We’ll end up buying whatever catches Lil’ Troublemaker’s eye.
Still the king of the toy aisle as far as I’m concerned.
Star Wars: It seems like Hasbro is pretty much set for this year, with the continuation of the Vintage, Clone Wars and Saga Legends lines.
Vintage has actually gone downhill pretty fast – not in terms of quality, but in terms of how many figures I am buying per assortment. We’re seeing plenty of new sculpts and “perfect” versions of core characters, but I can only buy one character so many times. The new Mace Windu may look way better, but man. I’m all Windu-d out. I hope Hasbro announces some new characters and updates to old figures to reinvigorate this otherwise strong collection.
Saga Legends will keep chugging along, offering core characters and repacks.
The Clone Wars collection will actually be where things get the most interesting. I pretty much only buy robots and aliens from the animated-style, but I have a pretty good feeling Hasbro will make a big deal out of new figures from the recent Savage Oppress trilogy. It was a fantastic story that revitalized what had so far been a somewhat lackluster season of The Clone Wars. Not only that, it clearly introduced new characters and new designs on old characters with toy opportunities in mind. I think this will be the focus of Hasbro’s Star Wars presentation. That and the announcement of whatever their new large-scale vehicle is for the Fall. Rumors have suggested both the iconic Jawa Sandcrawler and the less-iconic but still pretty awesome Republic Shuttle (similar to the Tiderium-class shuttles the Empire uses). I’m torn on how I feel about these, but neither may materialize. Hasbro could pull out something completely different or not produce one at all. I seriously doubt the latter given the success of the AT-AT, but at the same time pressure must be high to find a suitable successor.
GI Joe: I might be more excited about Bif!Bang!Pow!’s Doctor Who toys, but I am more curious about GI Joe than any other line. Hasbro recently announced two more series in the Pursuit of Cobra line, which could technically get us through to the Fall along with the few vehicles that have been announced but still haven’t showed up at retail. My best guess for the Joe line is that it will relaunch in the Fall under the Renegades banner. Hasbro has already stated that characters from Renegades will be produced in the 25th Anniversary style, but I’m guessing that will happen via a Star Wars-style Fall refresh. I’m just not sure how much interest I have in what are essentially more simplistic designs for characters I already have. As much as I am enjoying the story of the cartoon, I still kind of hate the designs.
Transformers: I don’t really collect Transformers – just a few figures here and there. So my input probably won’t be very valuable. If you want some excellent, up-to-the-minute Transformers news, go HERE.
I will say that I’m hoping for an announcement regarding the American release of the Masterpiece Hot Rod/Rodimus Prime. It’s a fantastic toy, but I don’t want to pay $200 for one.
It looks like the new Reveal the Shield line will take us through the Spring, with toys from the new movie likely cropping up around May and taking us well into next year. I really dig the new design for Megatron and will probably buy the toy. Also, we need Shockwave, stat. Lots of him. A movie one, a reissue of the original, a new design. Whatever Hasbro wants to do, I’ll buy it. Just make him a gun or a cannon or something that looks like a projectile-firing weapon. No more Shockwave cars.
Marvel: As great as Hasbro’s Marvel Universe line looks, I haven’t bought more than a couple of the figures (and those were just ones that seem appropriate with my GI Joes). I collected Marvel Legends since the beginning and you’re not going to convince me to switch scales now. Thankfully, Hasbro does still produce 6” scale Marvel figures; just not that often. I’m guessing they’ll announce half-a-dozen or so new Marvel Legends at Toy Fair and I’m really hoping the Jamie Madrox we saw last year is one of them. Naturally, I’d buy an X-Factor set if they saw fit to make it, but I kind fo doubt that’ll happen.
Superhero Squad: I know this is still Marvel, but it is such a great line – and beloved by my son – that it gets its own paragraph. Obviously there are plenty of characters left for Hasbro to draw from, and I’m sure we’ll get movie-specific sets from Thor and Captain America. It should be interesting to see any new vehicles that get announced. Unless I’m mistaken the Helicarrier and cars that got released last year did very well, so new stuff should be coming; probably in the Fall.
Thor & Captain America: Speaking of the big Marvel movies, everything I’ve seen so far suggests Captain America is going to be the hot movie toy line this Summer. All of the toys look awesome – even at the 3 ¾” scale – and a very cool shield accessory has already been announced. Thor seems more low-key, which is strange because it seems like that would provide more opportunity for interesting toys. I’m guessing we’re going to see a lot more from that line at Toy Fair. Of course, unless we get some 6” scale figures I won’t be buying any of these for myself.
Everybody Else
Character Options/Underground Toys
I will no doubt continue collecting the 5” Doctor Who lines, even as Bif!Bang!Pow! releases their line. The Modern line and the Classics line have both improved with every single wave. I think the big star of Character Options’ presentation will be their new line of Doctor Who LEGO-compatible building sets. Oh, and these too:

I have no idea what is going on with NECA. I am so sick of their terrible choices of materials. I don’t know what’s worse – McFarlane’s figures falling apart or NECA’s figures falling over. They currently hold the Alien and Predator licenses and are apparently doing very well with them. I maintained that they needed to produce figures for Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch, but they recently informed me that that’s not going to happen. Damn.
I mention these guys only to bring up their awesome, old-school Outer Space Men toys. 
I feel pretty sure they’ll officially announce the second series at Toy Fair. They also offer some other original action figures on their website – Store Horsemen. They all look nice, but the OSM are the ones that really got me.
Hot Toys has already announced their newest licenses – the Resident Evil movies, Batman (1989), (MORE?) – but I imagine we’ll see some actual production models at the show. As much as I’m hoping they’re not going to announce Sucker Punch figures, I really hope they’re going to announce Sucker Punch figures. I’d also like to see a Hannibal King from Blade: Trinity. And I’m assuming we’ll see the acquisition of more licenses, as well.
I hate it that I’ve drifted away from Sideshow as much as I have, but they just haven’t offered anything thoroughly compelling in quite some time. Once I called it quits on the Joe line I really lost interest. Sideshow’s Star Wars figures continue to be very high quality, but they just haven’t come through with any must-haves lately. Maybe we’ll see something exciting and new at Toy Fair. Or maybe they’ll just jack up their average prices again and I’ll be done with them.
These guys need a hit. Remember the failed Star Trek line I mentioned up there? Not only is Playmates responsible for that one, they also produced the crime against humanity that was the Terminator: Rise of the Machines toy line. And believe me, I’m not trying to talk shit about Playmates. The Star Trek line was actually pretty nice, just not executed as well as it could have been. Like, say, the way Playmates executed it twenty years earlier. Also, these are the guys who have brought us all of those crazy and wonderful Ninja Turtles toys (except for the ones NECA did). The only Playmates property I am currently aware of (barring a possible Ninja Turtles re-re-re-reboot) is AAA: Lucha Libre. And I am obviously very, very excited about that. The first portion of the line has already been revealed, featuring the current crop of AAA’s top stars such as Lizmark, Jr., Mark Jindrak (!) and Tinieblas, Jr. I am hoping with all of my heart that Playmates follows the trend set by Mattel and JAKKS Pacific before them of signing the legends that went before the current wrestlers. I’m talking about Blue Demon, El Santo, Mil Mascaras, Doctor Wagner – the classic luchadores. I guess it will depend on how well the initial offerings do at retail. (Actually, we found the first series at Toys R Us the other day. I'll do reviews, but here are the masks:
As you can see, they're pretty amazing)

And there you go. I’ve probably left something out, but this covers the stuff I’m going to be checking up on starting Sunday. Follow me on Twitter or send me a friend request on Facebook and I’ll keep you updated through the whole thing.


Until next time, stay creepy,
-Phantom

2 comments:

  1. You left out bandai thundercats.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I know, and it was intentional. I can't decide how much I care about those and I didn't want to mention them with any kind of apathy. Don't worry, I'll cover them thoroughly in my Toy Fair 2011 wrap-up on Friday.

    ReplyDelete