[Editors Note: If you wish to skip my personal account of my day at the NY Toy Fair and get straight to the preview of toys and collectibles then just jump straight to the bottom of the page for the image gallery]
After 4 hours of driving (I listened to ‘Rush’ the whole way down, which one seldom gets to do), one too many red bulls and far too much junk food I had arrived in New York City to attend the world showcase that is the American International Toy Fair held at the Javits Center. It’s the largest international toy trade show in the Western Hemisphere where the newest and hottest products in the children’s entertainment marketplace are exhibited. A four day event where manufacturers, retailers, importers, licensers and reps from around the world come to talk toys. Basically, adults in the worlds largest toy store. I say adults, because nobody under 21 is allowed. To attend you either need to be in the industry or in the media.
Unfortunately, due to time and other commitments I could attend only one of the four days. I chose gods day of rest to get my fill of ‘wonderful toys'; particularly with the intent of checking out action figures and collectibles that would be rolling out in 2011. This was my first year attending and I dunno if I’d attend again. I’m accustomed to comic and sci-fi conventions. Places where my fellows geeks can meet and mingle. Toyfair was a serious affair, business people with their thumbs stuck up their asses. There were a few exceptions (primarily all the fun and whimsical peeps were either select vendors or attendees around my same age), but all the men were decked out in suits, who all oddly looked’ like the monopoly guy and the women I met sacrificed their looks and personality in favor of their professional career. It was just a vast sea of stuck-up, non-personal, business people. I guess that was to be expected, but it’s just a real buzz kill. Like, if I was at Comic-Con and I got wood lookin’ at some bad-ass super hero statue and a fellow nerd caught full view of my chub they would understand (and nod in approval). Here, I couldn’t even let the slightest bit of nerd drool fall from my chin with out fear of pure public embarrassment (geeks and nerds have no such shame). I did meet a few other nerds in the wall-to-wall floor of douchebags. Met some really nice guys from figures.com and kittypryde.com. Made some small talk and gave the non-distinct “this is pretty cool’ looks to each other. However, we each had our own agenda and with booths packed with people it was tough to make any lasting impression.
Another reason I won’t go. This place is huge and I’m far too fat and out of shape. We’re talking 350,000 square feet. That’s like 3 times the size of your average mall. This fat kid can’t walk more than 500 feet without getting short of breath and my bald head getting soaked in sweat (looks like a glazed ham). This complaint is not against the show itself, just a personal “I’m too fat” gripe. All-in-all, the show floor is pretty damn cool. 1200+ exhibitors showcasing 100,000 products, you’ve never seen so many toys. Forgetting the “business” agenda vibe in the air, it’s a sight of fantastic fun. If you block out all the serious talk, forget about being an adult in a professional environment and get your hands on a toy or two you really do feel like a kid in a toy store.
Again, I did NOT attend to see the latest balls, Frisbees, or educational games. I went solely for the purpose of gettin’ a glance at this year’s upcoming action-figures and collectibles.
Now, I actually fucked up. I missed two of the biggest vendors, Mattel and Hasbro. Mattel you had to pre-register to get into their show area. They had a whole wing of products blocked off by curtains, which could only be seen if you were accompanied by a tour guide. Actually, to pause for a moment I’d like to explain that most of the bigger name manufacturers shared in this practice. Bandai for example (makers of Power Rangers, Ben 10 and the upcoming *New* Thundercats line) had this big curtained off area. In front was a desk were gate-keepers. I could not enter the section unless I had an appointment. More on that in a minute. So, I couldn’t get into Mattel (stupid), and Hasbro I missed entirely. The makers of Star Wars, G.I. Joe, Marvel and Transformers were at the convention for Saturday only. This I did not know and I’m pissed about it. Missing this made my trip a waste. Well, almost a waste.
( A preview of Thundercats 8-inch Classics line, 4 Inch Delux figures and role play weapons)
Back to the folks at Bandai. As I said, viewing their products was by appointment only, but they were nice and squeezed me into a group in-progress. A chatty dude in a snappy suit showed us each one of their products giving a spiel on their features and benefits. He went down the line starting with Power Rangers (who I’m amazed are in their 19th season), Thundercats and Ben 10. Thundercats were by far what got my nerd juices flowing. For those that don’t know, a new cartoon based on it’s 80’s counterpart of the same name is coming out later this year (fall or summer, I don’t remember). The toys based on this cartoon are really something. They have two 4 inch lines. A standard line with multiple points of articulation and the other having limited mobility, but instead have some really cool action features. Inside the plastic bodies of the latter are magnets which allow them to interact with vehicles and play sets. Typical sounds, lights and action. The figures themselves do their own bit of action as well. Each come with a inter-actable base. Lion-O for example, when placed on his base will raise his sword of omens to his face while he says “Thunder, Thunder, Thundercats Hooo!” It’s really cool!
(since the thought of takin’ video didn’t occur to me here’s one from our friends at toynewsi)
In addition to the 4 inch line is a 6-inch collectible assortment. The main characters like Lion-O, Mumm-Ra, Panthro.. etc come with standard 4-points of articulation. No action, just detailed bigger versions. What tickled my nerdy fancy the most was the 8-inch classics line. Yes, in addition to the new animated series they will also be making a selection of figures that pay homage to the original 1980’s ones. Lookin’ exactly the same, but with modern touches. Oh, sh!t, I’m sold!!!! Lion-O and Tygra will kick-off the classics line. What I like about this Thundercats line, besides cool features and awesome detail, is it bridges two generation of fans. Bandai is bringing the franchise to a new round of kids while not forgetting about the fans of old. A little something for everyone. Consider me impressed.
The rest of the quote, unquote action figure alley consisted of Neca, McFarlane, Funco, Bif Bang Pow’s toys, Diamond Collectibles and DC Direct. There sure was a lot to see. Far too much to cover in-detail. Here’s a brief run down of the best:
•McFarlane revealed detailed 6-inch figures based of Robert Kirkman’s Zombie Comic ‘The Walking Dead’. Officer Rick Grimes, an un-painted Michonne and two zombies were shown. They are set for release in September.
•NECA is making a Duke Nukem Forever figure. “Hail to the King Baby”
•Bif Bang Pow’s toys showed off some Mego-style Venture Bros. figures. If you look close you’ll see some San-Diego Comic-Con exclusives.
•DC Direct revealed statues, busts and replicas from ‘The Green Lantern’ as well some long awaited figures from the Batman: Arkham Asylum video game. The latter capturing the most of my attention.
Here’s a video of me walking around the action figure alley. It’s a crap video. I sound like an idiot and the video quality is shit. Not only is it sized wrong (all stretched out) but half the video is of me holding my i-phone sideways. The landscape view looked fine while I was holding it. I forgot that this does not translate in playback. So you’ll have to deal with it. Regardless it’ll give you a better look at the products showcased.
I was at Toy Fair for all of 3 hours. There was way too much to cover. I missed a whole lot. Next year I will attend all four days and give a more in-depth day-to-day report.
Finally, here is a gallery of various snap-shots I was able to nab with my iPhone. Quality isn’t great. For better images and product specs take a look around the net and check out the website of your favorite manufacturer.