Friday, February 8, 2013

New York International Toy Fair 2013 Preview

*We now interrupt your regularly scheduled Days of the Dead recap for a special report on the upcoming New York International Toy Fair. I completely forgot I had this post ready to go for today. I mean, not totally ready, as I had to add some stuff; but planned I guess. Days of the Dead will resume on Monday.*

It’s time again to get all hyped up for New York International Toy Fair, which starts this Sunday.
This year, in addition to my usual pre- and post-event coverage I’ll also be recording a Needless Things podcast about it. It’ll be the second episode and should be great. I’ve got five guests tentatively lined up and they’re all great talkers with specific arenas of toy interest.
But right now I want to get to the speculation. It’s fun to sit down before Toy Fair and think about what might be coming up at the show. All of the toy makers will have shiny, new products that will tempt me into breaking my annual Resolution to spend less money on toys. Some things are no-brainers – Hasbro will show Iron Man 3 toys – and some are total surprises – last year’s announcement that Hasbro had snagged the Star Trek license.
            I’m okay at guessing. Not great. Looking back over my past articles I’ve called a few things and missed others. We also seem to have a gotten an unusual number of pre-Toy Fair reveals this year. Or teases, at least. I’ll get to those. For now, let’s speculate.

Bif!Bang!Pow!
These guys still get a big listing pretty much just out of habit. I have no idea whatsoever how they’re faring as a company, but if I had to guess I’d say poorly. As far as I know very few of the products they showed at Toy Fair last year have actually made it to market. The Doctor Who stuff did, but I ended up passing on it because I just couldn’t do another scale.
As a matter of fact, I even sold off my Mego-style Venture Bros. figures because I couldn’t deal with the pacing of the line and not knowing if we would ever get specific versions of characters I wanted.
Whatever else they do, I’m sure BBP! Will keep cranking out bobbleheads, a category of collectible that I despise and do not consider to be toys.
The Venture Bros.: I honestly think we’re just going to see the same things we saw last year at Toy Fair and San Diego Comic Con. I might be wrong, but it just seems like this company as a whole is losing momentum. They had an amazing presentation last year, but few of those things seem to have come to fruition.
Doctor Who: Just like The Venture Bros. line, the Doctor Who merchandise shown last year has mostly not happened. All of the new Mego-style figures that were shown have been pushed back a couple of times. Some to this March, some all the way to September. I like these an awful lot, particularly given how appropriate this style is for Doctor Four (the era they chose to pursue first); but I just don’t need another scale of Doctor Who toys. More on that when we get to Underground Toys.

Mattel
Oh, Mattel. You have the license to produce some of my favorite characters. You make some truly awesome toys. But you also fuck up so very, very frequently.
We all know that Mattel blew it when it came to Green Lantern and Young Justice cartoon toys. They completely passed on GL stuff – likely due to the wretched live action movie. And the decision to sell 6” figures for $20 - $25 and 4” minimally articulated figures for $10 killed the YJ line. What I didn’t realize was that it is basically Mattel’s fault that these two excellent cartoons are getting cancelled.
Just to be clear, this does fall into the realm of internet rumor, so take it with a grain of salt. But I have seen it in enough places and given what I know about the relationship between cartoons and toy lines I believe it enough to repeat it here. And what “it” is is that DC/Warner Bros. were not making any money off of a toy line for either show and decided to can them. Licensing is a huge part of why any media gets made. And Mattel absolutely bungled their part of the process.
This year we have some new stuff to look at as well as some established lines that might be winding down.

Mattycollector
Masters of the Universe: BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
Speaking of blowing it, Matty did it again. They posted a link to a picture of Mantenna yesterday. Mantenna looks awesome. He is almost 100% new tooling – I think his hands and feet might be old. Everything about Mantenna is spot-on and I am delighted to be getting him.
Mantenna is not where Matty screwed up.
Where they screwed up is in not securing the directory the Mantenna picture came from. Because about 1.5 milliseconds after they posted that picture, every single toy fan on the internet tracked it back to the directory and found pictures of pretty much everything Matty will be showing at Toy Fair. I was messaging with Beau about Mantenna when Evil called up and said, “HOLY SHIT” a bunch of times. Just as that happened, Beau messaged, “HOLY SHIT” a bunch of times and sent me a link. I immediately downloaded all of the pictures.
However.
I won’t be posting them. Not until after Toy Fair, anyway.
I know, I know. But those are Mattel’s pictures that weren’t supposed to go out. Somebody fucked up and I’m not going to exploit it. I’m pretty sure Needless Things isn’t on Mattel’s radar, but I don’t want to blatantly take advantage of some dude’s simple mistake which could potentially cost him his job (also, I’m pretty sure you can find those pictures if you really want to).
But I will talk about what I saw. And what I saw as interesting. Aside from Mantenna, there were a ton of other MOTUC figures, as well as a few DCSC; which I’ll get to below.
  • Batros – This is a Filmation character. He looks really stupid, but I like him. I’m a little surprised he’s part of Matty’s streamlined rollout, but there might be something else going on. The figure looks just like the animation, but isn’t too goofy to fit in with the regular line. His little wings are dumb, but no more so than Stratos’.
  • Castaspella – Looks fantastic. She comes with some sort of large magic effect (maybe) and has some really nice colors. She’s one of the Princess of Power figures I consider essential.
  • Icer – Beau told me this guy is also Filmation. I’m sure I’ve seen him, but I don’t remember. That doesn’t really matter because he is an awesome-looking translucent ice man. TRANSLUCENT. One of my major action figure gimmick weaknesses. Beau also told me that the staff he comes with is Stratos’ Staff of Avion, which I didn’t realize. This guy looks like raver Iceman on steroids, which I like.
  • Shokoti – I do remember her from the old cartoon, but not which episode she was in. The figure is very cool and unique-looking. She might be a Gar like Skeletor – I’m not sure. She comes with a hideous little monster that looks like a hybrid of a Beholder and Yog-Sothoth.
  • New Adventures He-Man – He has a helmet! Or at least, this picture of him does. Whether or not things will stay that way is up in the air. I think this figure looks great. I don’t know that it would have broken my heart if we never got him, but I’m okay with it as long as they do Skeletor as well.
  • Castle Grayskull – There were three pictures of the Castle Grayskull sculpt and it looks small. They have a Clawful (of all people) figure standing in the pictures for reference and quite frankly I’m not sure this new castle is that much larger than the old one. I do believe one of Toy Guru’s initial proclamations about the MOTUC version was that the doorway behind the Jawbridge would dwarf the figures. It looks to me like Clawful fits in this doorway almost exactly like Thunder Punch He-Man fits in the vintage Grayskull on my shelf. Even with Clawful’s knees bent, his head is taller than the archway.
It does look like the interior has plenty of room and lots of features. There’s a jail cell (a must for any good playset), the chamber for King Grayskull’s orb thingy, the astronaut or suit of armor or whatever, the elevator, the training thing, the throne (which Sorceress will never be able to sit in), and probably more I couldn’t make out. It looks like there are two secret entrances and the walkway on the side of the castle that leads to one of them does look very cool. I can see why Toy Guru mentioned it every time he talked about the castle.
Doing a little guessing and some math it does look like the castle will meet the dimensions we were promised and the entrance simply couldn’t be any bigger without disrupting the interior. The bottom line is that there’s simply no way a scale Castle Grayskull could ever be manufactured by Mattel. This is as good as it gets, and it looks pretty darn good so far.

So here’s the thing – I was a little surprised to see the three Filmation figures. I didn’t give it too much thought, but to show three non-essential figures for Toy Fair seemed weird given Mattel’s new stated intention of finishing all of the essential vintage characters by the end of 2014. But I figured it was just another case of Toy Guru’s creative dissemination of information.
And then this morning the Masters of the Universe Classics Facebook page posted an interesting thought – that maybe there was going to be a six figure Filmation sub. I would assume it would run the latter half of the year since it’s too far off for any 2014 stuff to be shown. Based purely on Batros, Icer, and Shokoti I’d subscribe. But then a commenter – who I can’t verify as a reliable source – suggested that the thread was on the right track but a little off. This led somebody else to speculate on a non-sub three pack. I don’t know how realistic that is given Mattel’s weirdness about the line, but I’d buy it if I get some kind of sub holder discount. I won’t pay eighty bucks plus shipping for them, though.
Watchmen: I’m not collecting this line because I am not really a fan of the comic or the movie, but since The Comedian was part of the leaked pics I thought I’d comment. He looks pretty good. There is some sculpt weirdness around the crotch and his torso is kind of bland, but they did a decent job.
DC Signature Collection: There were only two leaked here, and one we already knew about.
  • Huntress – This is, indeed, the Jim Lee costume. The figure looks very nice with plenty of buckles and belts and all of that. Lots of new parts here. I don’t know if I would have preferred the full-suited Huntress over this one. I guess as long as the figure looked good I really wasn’t going to care. I do think it’s funny that they’re clearly avoiding New 52 versions of characters.
  • Fire – I was genuinely surprised – and pleased – to see this Justice League Unlimited mainstay in the sub. She looks absolutely great and has enough new parts to look interesting. New boots, head, belt, and top; as well as a little fire thingy to go on her fist. This is a nice-looking figure that I hope guarantees we’re getting Ice as well.
Not bad. Maybe not the most exciting reveals ever, but solid releases and characters I will be happy to own. Not getting any duds is good enough for me.

Retail Lines
A Warner Bros. press release revealed some of what’s coming at Toy Fair. There were pictures of the Batman kids line and some Man of Steel stuff, but what I’m really dying to see… well, read on.
Man of Steel: Warner Bros. has already revealed some of the kid figures – which look like crap – and three of the Movie Masters via a press release. Superman looks great. I’ll buy him. As a matter of fact, I’m kind of wishing I had kept the Movie Masters Hal Jordan just because it would be cool to have him with Batman and Superman. Jor-El also looks awesome. I’m not sure how Jor-El-like he really looks, but the figure has some awesome armor and looks exactly like Russell Crowe. Zod looks dumb and boring. He is basically in a black, capeless version of Superman’s costume. I suppose it makes some sort of sense and might actually work on screen, but it immediately reminded me of the Kal-El/Jor-El two-packs from Superman Returns that have been sitting in Toys R Us for the last fifty years. Bland.
As far as the kid’s line goes, they are doing a line of action feature oriented figures that I am curious to see. Mattel doesn’t have the best track record with functioning action features – the Green Lantern transformer things and the Dark Knight Rises armor-up figures come to mind – so I can’t wait to see how these turn out.
Honestly, my biggest wish for Man of Steel is that I can take Lil’ Troublemaker to see it. Not just that it is age-appropriate, but that it is interesting and action-packed enough.
Batman: Here we have the 6” kids line and the Unlimited line for adult collectors that also has to appeal to moms and kids, which I just don’t get. We really like the kids line. There are some creative designs that take advantage of the toy medium to do cool things unrelated to any license. Mattel already showed pictures of 2013 product and it all looks neat. They once again showed us a picture of that excellent, 6” scale Batmobile in black. Also pictured were characters new to the line like Riddler and Superman, as well as new versions of Robin, Killer Croc, and of course Batman.
I don’t know what to say about the Unlimited line. I haven’t seen any of them at retail and WB did not include it in the press release. I hope it continues and we maybe get Ra’s al Ghul, Talia, Oracle, and some other highly-demanded figures that moms won’t recognize.
DC Unlimited: I think this is a separate line from Batman Unlimited. I’m not sure. I haven’t seen any of these at retail yet, either, but the third series is fucking horrible-looking. Darkseid and Aquaman had rotten proportions and bad sculpts. The third figure is Superman from the upcoming Injustice game and I loathe every design I’ve seen from that so far, which is kind of hilarious since it looks like we’re getting three different figures of every character. DC Collectibles is doing a 3 ¾” line, Mattel is including these monstrosities in DC Unlimited, and I believe DCC is also doing 6” versions. Yikes.
Batman ‘66: I predict this will be the highlight of Toy Fair and sold out within minutes of when BigBadToyStore starts taking preorders. I very much hope these are going to be done in the Movie Masters style. We can be certain we’ll get Batman, Robin, and Joker; but I’m hoping the line can maintain long enough to get to Riddler, Catwoman (Newmar and Kitt), Batgirl, Penguin, and some thugs. Heck, I want to see Egghead, False Face, and King Tut. But the crown jewel, the likely Best In Show for Toy Fair 2013, is the Batmobile. That’s right – a 6” scale Batmobile was announced in the Mattel press release. Holy shit, Batman.
WWE: I’ll keep an eye on the line, but I’m not buying much anymore. Lil’ Troublemaker, on the other hand, still likes the minifigures and will even watch the shows a bit from time to time. Mattel has made some very cool playsets in the kids’ line and I’m curious to see what they’ve got in store this year.

Hasbro
Hasbro is going to be struggling to get my dollars this year. They are making some poor decisions with their lines and seem to be having some serious distribution problems.
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace wave just about killed the Vintage Collection. It sat on the shelves unwanted for months, followed by the equally undesirable Attack of the Clones wave. The one wave that got me truly excited last year ended up being internet-only and is prohibitively expensive now. Actually, I liked the Walmart Exclusive wave that coincided with the Blu-Ray releases, as well. At the end of the year Hasbro introduced a new package design with a surprisingly uninspired wave consisting of monkey head Bespin Leia and four Clones. I hope they have some good things in store because I really would like to buy some Star Wars stuff again.
What I don’t plan on buying are the new 6” scale figures. Between the twenty dollar price tag, the fact that I already have a massive 3 ¾” collection, and a presumed lack of vehicles I am simply not interested. I can’t see them doing vehicles at this scale and those are an integral part of what Star Wars is all about. Don’t get me wrong – I’ll buy one of the initial releases just to check out and review and I know I’ll end up buying Boba Fett, but I’m not starting all over again with a new scale.
I do hold out some hope that characters I have missed will show up in the kid-oriented line – Movie Legends or whatever. But it’s hard to browse those at retail since they usually consist of nine hundred Clone Troopers and fifty Gungans.
GI Joe: In one of the biggest false starts in toy history, all of the new Joe toys were actually released last Summer, right before GI Joe: Retaliation got pushed back. I bought two of the figures and was relatively disappointed by the lack of deco and the big, dumb thing stuck in Roadblock’s hand. It was a great likeness, though. I don’t know that I’ll buy any of the new movie toys, but I will say this – if Hasbro decides to do a 6” Joe line I might be in trouble.
Transformers: I honestly have no idea what the fuck is going on with Transformers. But tune in to the podcast in a couple of weeks and the tag team of Josh Wilson and Gnoll will fill you in!
Marvel Legends: WHEN THE FUCK IS JAMIE MADROX COMING OUT!?! Seriously. They showed us this sculpt two years ago. Meanwhile, the Marvel Legends line is looking less special with every wave. Lots of repaints and lots of farmed parts. And their distribution seems a little wonky. I was so excited when the relaunch was announced last year, but this line has been hugely frustrating to collect. On the one hand I’d like for Hasbro to announce some exciting new characters, but on the other I almost hope they just pull the plug again.
Marvel Universe: I almost wish I had gotten in on these. Hasbro has blown me away with the quality and selection of figures in this line. They’ve hit every corner of the Marvel Universe in a very impressive way, and I’m a bit jealous that I don’t have shelves of these in the Man Room. Tune in to the podcast to hear Reverend Dan Wilson give the rundown on what to expect from this line in 2013.
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.
Iron Man 3 & Thor 2: Toys from Iron Man 3 are already hitting. I actually had the opportunity to buy the whole wave of Marvel Legends-style figures at the Atlanta Comic Con the other day and passed. I just don’t need more Iron Men. They looked good and were fairly priced for a con, but whatever. I do really like the new interchangeability that Hasbro is using for the smaller figures. It mirrors what’s going on in the comics and is a solid play feature. I’ll buy some of those for Lil’ Troublemaker.
I bet we don’t see any Thor 2 toys until SDCC. The movie doesn’t come out until November, so they’ve got plenty of time to focus on the Iron Man line.

Character Options/Underground Toys
We’ve already seen the selection of toys from the new 3 ¾” Doctor Who line. I think the only big question here is whether or not they will be distributed in America. I think they will. Furthermore, I think that’s the whole reason for the change in scale. With the fiftieth anniversary of Doctor Who going on throughout the year, it would be crazy for the BBC to not take advantage and plan a full-on toy launch. Distribution shouldn’t be an issue, as not only have they already moved special cases of the 5” figures into Toys R Us stores, Underground Toys also produces Scooby Doo toys; which take up a huge amount of real estate in the younger kids section of TRU.
Also of note are a series of eleven boxed sets of Doctors and corresponding Daleks. What is interesting is that these are Toys R Us Exclusives and that they’re 5” scale. I’m dying to see which decos they went with and whether or not they’ll hit American stores. I’m guessing they will.

NECA
And then there’s NECA, who swept in about halfway through 2012 and started demanding a lot of my money. They have amazing releases coming in the form of a new Aliens line. More Predators are on the way as well as more from Prometheus. John Rambo from First Blood should be hitting any day now and I’m sure we’ll see a version from the second movie before 2013 is over. I found out via Twitter the other day that they still have the Friday the 13th license but aren’t sure what’s coming next (I asked about Jason X). And I’m sure NECA will have a few new things to report at the show. I might be more excited about their releases than anything else. These guys are putting out extremely high quality merchandise for relatively affordable prices.

The Four Horsemen
I’m sure we’ll see something new from the Outer Space Men line, but the big deal here is the Horsemen’s relaunch of The Power Lords. I remember these from when I was a kid but wasn’t that into them, mostly because they were creepy. I’m curious to see what’s being made and how they’re going to be distributed.

Hot Toys
I’ve given up on owning very much from these guys. I’ll buy the occasional figure from time to time and still hope and pray that one day a set of Joker and Batman from Batman ’89 will fall into my lap, but I just can’t afford these things. I’ll keep track of what they release, but I’ll just have to view it all from afar.

Sideshow Collectibles
I’m sure Sideshow will have some exciting stuff, but they’re pretty much as unobtainable as Hot Toys now. Their prices – like everybody else’s – have skyrocketed over the last several years to the point where I will only buy the absolute must-have figures. This has worked out to about one per year, with Boba Fett last year and Yoda this year. I’m still hoping we’ll get Chewbacca and the Droids at some point. After that I might be done.

Playmates
Oh, how the tides have turned. Playmates has gone from being behind two of the most dismal toy line failures of the past decade (Terminator: Salvation and Star Trek) to producing the best toy line of 2012. They have already released images of a lot of new 2013 product, but I’m hoping there’s a little bit more to see. This is a great line that me and Lil’ Troublemaker are collecting enthusiastically.
I don’t know if Playmates has anything else on deck, but now might be a good time for them to pick up some new and interesting licenses. I’d say they need to stick to cartoonier, youth-oriented stuff, though.

MEZCO
I didn’t even cover these guys in my preview last year, but they’ve got a nice little arsenal of goodies on the way. I’m not a fan of MEZCO when they’re trying to release realistic products, but they are fantastic at superdeformed and stylized toys.
Universal Monsters - I’ve seen shots of their new 9” Mummy and Gill-Man figures and they look awesome. I’m not exactly sure how the Universal Monsters license is divvied up, because MEZCO, Diamond Select, and some other company that I can’t remember all seem to be making figures.
Living Dead Dolls - The Living Dead Dolls line will be getting Dracula and Norman Bates and his mother. I’m curious to see these since LDD don’t necessarily lend themselves to likenesses and Norman and Dracula are definitely distinctive.
Axe Cop(!) – The cartoon was surprising enough, but now this. I’ll leave it to the press release to describe the majesty:
Mezco will be doing a line of figures and plush toys for AXE COP. Based on a webcomic that turned into a print comic that turned into a web based animation that turned into an animated tv show soon to be on Fox, Axe cop features some of the most outlandish characters ever seen. How outlandish? Well, besides the titular axe wielding cop, there is a t-rex with machine gun arms, an avacado unicorn, and soldiers made of poo. Mezco’s Drake indicated that Mezco has a long history of producing poo based characters and with their Mr Hanky of South Park they have cornered the poo toy market. ‘No other toy company besides Mezco will be offering three separate poo based characters in 2013’ said Drake. Mezco will be producing both 3.75 inch figures and plush characters for the series.”

Mars Attacks! – I still haven’t seen the 6” figures, but I have faith that this is the sort of thing MEZCO will do well. They will be showing a new line of 3 ¾” figures at Toy Fair and also have a 24” figure on the way.
Breaking Bad – This is where MEZCO is on shakier ground with me, but the prototype of their 6” Walter White as Heisenberg figure looks really good. They’re also doing one in a hazmat suit and some plush toys. Which is weird. I wish they’d do a 3 ¾” line complete with a playset of the lab and the mobile home. Then my GI Joes could raid it. Or Walter and Jesse could end up making meth for the Drednoks. That would be rad.
We already know an awful lot about what’s going to be at Toy Fair, but I think there’s going to be a lot more to see and talk about. Keep an eye on my Facebook and Twitter pages, as well as the new Needless Things page on Facebook for coverage of the New York International Toy Fair all week long. Then come back next Friday for my full recap. We’ll be recording the Needless Things Toy Fair Podcast on the 16th, so look for that the following week. I’ve got Reverend Dan Wilson, Gnoll, Evil, Josh Wilson, and Once again the magnanimous Beau Brown; who is apparently my unofficial co-host. We’re going to have a great jam session about toys that I think you’ll enjoy.

-Phantom

2 comments:

  1. So, are you going to buy the 60's Batman Hot Toys? Those'll be even cooler than the Keaton and Nicholson figures. And they've already leaked images of Mattel's 60's Batman figures, and they look amazeballs. I mean, these are all 100% new sculpts, and they got all the little details, like West's paunch and oddly feminine legs, and the Riddler's ballet slippers! I'll give you a link, but don't click it if you don't want spoilers :

    http://toynewsi.com/news.php?catid=10&itemid=19932

    Sorry, but you can probably tell I'm super frickin' pumped for these things, and they're exactly what I've wanted ever since I started watching the show.
    Plus, the Greatest Batmobile design EVER, and it can fit the dynamic duo?! I might faint...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Your desire for Multiple Man matches my desire for Elixir. Elixir also has one of the easiest variants (his black-skin form.)

    ReplyDelete