Friday, February 28, 2014

Needless Things Podcast Episode 20: 2014 New York International Toy Fair

I’m handling Needless Things’ Toy Fair coverage a little differently this year. Rather than doing the podcast and an exhaustive post recapping what I was able to glean from other websites’ coverage, I am combining the two.
The biggest reason for this is that we were experiencing a huge ice storm while Toy Fair was going on and didn’t have internet at the house, so I wasn’t able to follow along like I normally do. I had planned to do my full post anyway, but it turns out that most sites’ coverage is pretty jumbled and difficulty to sift through once Toy Fair is over. I had a lot of difficulty pinning down details about things that I wanted to discuss and it got frustrating very quickly.
That’s why I’m so glad that I have a pool of great toy experts to rely on. This past Sunday I got online with Mr. Beau Brown (SciFiJanitors.com), Ryan Schweck (Evil), Jay Hornsby (The Belligerent Monkey), Josh Wilson (The Oncoming Storm), and Reverend Dan Wilson (Poddy Humor) and we all talked toys. Check it out:

There were a few things that I wanted to be sure to mention here, so I went ahead and threw some stuff together as a sort of half-assed post; but the podcast is definitely the Main Event today.
Please be sure and check out Needless Things’ panelists’ other ventures, as well:
Belligerent Monkey – Twitter, Facebook
Reverend Dan Wilson – Twitter, Facebook
Josh Wilson – Twitter, Facebook
Mr. Beau Brown – Twitter, Facebook
Procrastibate” by LeSexoflex.com

Bif!Bang!Pow!

BBP continues to work with some very cool licenses, though their release schedule continues to be questionable. I admire this company for continuing to come up with different, kitschy ways to represent its various properties.

Well, except for this one:
Big Bang Theory: Ugh. BBP is cashing in (wisely) on the retro action figure craze with a line of old school 3.75” scale figures from this show.
The Venture Bros.: There are 3.75” figure and 8” retro cloth lines for the best show on television, but I'm not collecting either because the releases are too far apart and the future of the lines too uncertain for me to invest. 
 
The Ambiguously Gay Duo: Retro cloth figures and some sort of smaller scale piece of the duo in flight are scheduled for this year. I am tempted.
DC Collectibles

DCC had a lot of exciting stuff to show, but I’m going to begin with the most exciting things, possibility-wise – their action figures of Batman and Catwoman based on the Timm/Dini DC animated universe.
If you don’t know, Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, and the Justice League Unlimited cartoons all inhabit the same universe; one created by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm and perpetuated by Dwayne McDuffie. It produced what I consider to be definitive interpretations of a massive number of the characters in the DC Universe. As a matter of fact, my decisions to buy a large number of Mattel’s DC Universe Classics figures were influenced mainly by their characters’ depiction in those cartoons.
DC Collectibles showed two figures from what is presumably a new ongoing line drawing from that animated universe – Batman and Catwoman. What is interesting is that the figures are being designed based on Timm and Dini’s original concept sketches and the two men are themselves overseeing the line and choosing which versions of what characters are used. On display were Batman as he appeared in The New Batman & Robin Adventures and Catwoman as she appeared on Batman: The Animated Series. It was explained that Timm understands that some of the redesigns done for the latter show weren’t the best and that he will be using the preferred designs. Hence the grey Catwoman over the black-suited one with the green face (which I never understood).
What’s so exciting is the potential for this line. If it does well (which these first two releases almost certainly will), we could see DCC producing quality figures of a huge number of the DC animated universe characters. This could render my DC Universe Classics line obsolete, as the animated style is what I always preferred. I just didn’t like the way Mattel did their Justice League Unlimited figures.
Funko

A company that I have never even bothered covering before has ended up making the biggest splash at this year’s Toy Fair. Funko has long been known for their bobbleheads and cutesy Pop! vinyl figures. I loathe bobbleheads and generally avoid things that can be described as cutesy, so I’ve never mentioned Funko’s stuff before. But this year, as far as I am concerned, the company has totally owned Toy Fair.
With the vast number of licenses in their new 3.75” ReAction range and the much-demanded properties in their 6” Legacy collection, Funko blew minds just before the annual toy exposition. Not just because of the massive reveals, but because of how soon the product was going to be ready to go. The first post-Alien ReAction figures will be hitting in April and the Game of Thrones Legacy figures are available at Barnes & Noble right now.
ReAction: I covered this about as thoroughly as I need to last week. You can check that out here. I am going to do my best to show restraint with these since I technically do not like this style of figure, but I already preordered a few from BigBad.
Legacy: The Game of Thrones figures are already out and the Firefly figures were for-real officially announced. I already posted my review of the mostly great Daenerys figure and couldn’t be more excited about this new range. Well, if they were cheaper I would be more excited. But better these than another DC sub from Matty! 
 
Hasbro

It pains me to say this, but Hasbro has pretty much lost me over the past year. As excellent as the 6” Star Wars Black line is, I just don’t find it as appealing as the 3.75” line. A Star Wars line without vehicles just does not appeal to me. And the smaller Black line didn’t do much for me, either. I bought Biggs from the first wave, but there wasn’t one other figure that I wanted. And even him I just bought because I needed one to go in his Toys R Us Exclusive X-Wing. 
 
GI Joe has been floundering for years now. There have been occasional exciting releases, but overall the line has had spotty distribution and issues with the consistency of quality and design. 
 
But then there are the Marvel Legends. My interest in that line has been wholly reinvigorated by the freshness and renewed effort of the new Infinity movie tie-in series. There are still a fair number of shared parts, but it seems like more thought is put into the designs. I’ve been extremely happy with the Captain America and Spider-Man figures I’ve picked up (reviews coming soon). I hope that Hasbro can sustain this new paradigm and I’m excited to see what this year’s Toy Fair has in store.
Star Wars: The 6” Black line is still a big deal, though all of those Monkey Leias and admittedly nice Greedos warming pegs are making some folks nervous. Not Hasbro, though! They showed 6” scale versions of Jabba the Hutt and an Imperial Speeder Bike with a Scout Trooper. These are a pretty great deal at $40 apiece, but you’re going to end up with a Jabba that just sits on your shelf – not throne or hookah or Salacious Crumb or anything. Of course, they might make the full playset a SDCC Exclusive, but we all know how that goes.
The Rebels line is interesting and that Boba Fett looks spectacular. I mean, I’m gonna buy a Boba Fett no matter what, but this one really looks great. I honestly haven’t been following production on this show too closely, but I am excited for another entry into the Star Wars televised universe.
GI Joe: Much to my surprise, Hasbro is actually observing the 50th anniversary of the franchise with a Toys R Us Exclusive line this fall. It’s mostly new-ish versions of characters we already have, but there are a few like Leatherneck that I’m excited about. Some retooled vehicles are also scheduled. 
 
Marvel Legends: The first big thing I saw was the set of Guardians of the Galaxy Legends. The Dave Bautista likeness on Drax is amazing. It occurs to me that Hasbro didn’t do one of these Legends lines for Thor: The Dark World and I think that’s a shame. It would have been great to have Odin, Sif, Malekith, or really anybody else from the movie. Or their comic book counterparts.
Mattel

So… somehow Mattel managed to blow it with the Batman TV Masters. I have no idea what happened. This line should have been a huge success. 
 
MattyCollector.com
Masters of the Universe: This year’s secondary sub is a Princess of Power subscription, which I am totally stoked about because I can skip it and use that money to buy toys from NECA and Funko. Between this and not having to pay for a crappy DC sub that’s a lot of xenomorphs, Kaiju, and Browncoats.
The figures shown were Double Trouble (called Double Mischief due to one of those trademark issues), Entrapta, and an admittedly awesome looking Light Hope. They also had what I understand is Sweet Bee’s helmet, which I do not care about.
As for the regular sub, the only new figure shown was Rio Blast. He looks great and I can’t wait to have him.
The Mini Masters are here! The first set of Battle Armor He-Man and Mer-Man were offered this month and the rest were shown at Toy Fair. They look outstanding. I’m ordering a set for me and a set for Lil’ Troublemaker. 
 
DC Universe Club Infinite Earths: Well, I guess I’ll be spending some money after all. I can’t miss out on Damian or Ice. I am not a fan of Doomsday, so even if they were doing a regular one instead of the sucky version nobody wants I’d skip that one. 90s Aquaman looks great, but is not a figure I need. Especially not for $25.
Speaking of ridiculous rip-off pricing, Mattel announced a Matty-only DC Universe Classics Super Powers line. The figures are all repaints except for Mr. Mytzlptlyk and the Kalibak build-a-figure and are $30 each. Fucking absurd. The packaging looks fantastic though, and I’m sure some hardcore collectors will be won over.
Other Stuff: Every few months Matty will be offering a super deluxe Total Heroes figure. Firestorm with accessories and multiple heads, a Green Lantern Corps figure with the same,and a couple others that I don't think have been nailed down yet.
 
Retail Lines

Not as much to report as last year.
Kid Stuff: There’s a line of totally crappy looking 4” figures out now. No, not the Multiverse line – I mean different crappy looking figures than the line with the movie figures. These would barely qualify as good Happy Meal toys.
The Total Heroes line is actually pretty great so far. There are a lot of shared parts, but we like the figures we have gotten so far. I’m curious to see who else gets released and whether or not they will do a Wonder Woman in this line that is unquestionably oriented towards kids. They did in Imaginext, so I don’t see why they wouldn’t here.
NECA

Like last year, some of NECA's coolest offerings were in their large-scale figure range – an Alien Queen and the Power Loader from Aliens. The ingenious thing here is that they are taking advantage of the 18” format to make large figures in scale with the 7” line. Obviously these both look awesome and I will be buying them.
The company also displayed new quarter scale figures of Batman from Arkham Origins and Joker from The Dark Knight.
The biggest announcement was that NECA has secured the rights to produce figures of Ellen Ripley with Sigourney Weaver's likeness. None were ready to be shown, but at least three different versions will be released – presumably one will be made to go in the Power Loader. I tend to doubt we'll see a rendition of her look from the end of Alien.
Another HUGE deal is NECA's acquisition of the Godzilla license – for both the new movie and the classics. This is awesome for multiple reasons. First because we know that NECA will make kick-ass toys, but also because it means affordable versions of the kaiju from the old movies will finally be available. I recently canceled preorders for the Godzilla 2000 and King Ghidorah from the SH MonsterArts line because I just could not justify spending the money on them. Now I might be able (if the line lasts) to own both of those and several more for the cost of those two. Also, I know there are scale issues, but this means we will have Godzilla and Pacific Rim lines from the same company.
Speaking of Pacific Rim, a new 18” Knifehead was on display and plans for a large-scale Cherno Alpha were announced. I've been having a lot of trouble finding this line at retail; I hope it can continue for a long time. Shipping costs are keeping me from ordering the current series.
The Predator line – NECA's longest-running single license – will continue with more Kenner throwbacks and some new comic book versions. But the big news – fucking crazy news, actually – was the announcement that NECA will be releasing the Blade Fighter vehicle. This is... just nuts. Nobody makes vehicles for collector lines without lamenting how difficult it is.
Also in the realm of craziness is the fact that NECA is releasing a RoboCop from the third movie. The terrible third movie. But then you realize it's RoboCop with a jetpack and a giant cannon and it seems like an awesome idea.
New entries to NECA's Mego-inspired line were also shown, but I have been steadfastly avoiding such things despite how awesome they are. I can only work so many hours, people. And this gig sure doesn't pay.
Random Thoughts

Overall it seems like the companies I care about are saving their big stuff for San Diego Comic Con now. 
 
I don’t want to give up on Doctor Who toys, but it looks like Character/Underground is seriously losing interest in the Classic/5” scale. With the announced inclusion of classic Who characters in future 3.75” lines I think I might be done collecting toys from my favorite franchise.
Is there any way possible that Warner Bros. is happy with Mattel’s handling of their DC Comics license?

Best In Show – Toy Fair 2014
  • Best Single Figure – NECA’s Alien Dallas in spacesuit
  • Best Vehicle – NECA’s Predators Blade Fighter
  • Best Role Play Item – Hasbro’s Guardians of the Galaxy Rocket Raccoon mask
  • Best Line Overall – DC Collectibles’ Batman Animated line
  • Biggest Surprise – Funko’s range of ReAction figures
  • Best New Line – Funko's ReAction
  • Best Company Overall – DC Collectibles
  • The One Single Thing I’m Most Excited About -NECA's Godzilla line
The sites with the best coverage were CoolToyReview.com, ToyNewsI.com, TheFwoosh.com, and ActionFgiurePics.com. I’m sure there are more, but those are my standbys.

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