The 2015 North America Toy Fair is winding down, but as it slowly marches into the history books kids and toy collectors alike have a lot to look forward to.
We were fortunate enough to attend the event at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center — the massive hall which also hosts the annual New York Comic Con — and we were wowed by the sheer enormity of it all. (Superhero pet uniforms are the new Lego knockoffs, discuss). So just as we did last year, Nerd Bastards presents a look back at the best products, most notable happenings and general greatness/weirdness from Toy Fair. Let’s take a look:
Best In Show: Mattel’s Virtual Reality View-Master
Far too often, contemporary takes on classic toy concepts fall flat. With that in mind, we’ve really got to hand it to Mattel for reinventing their iconic View-Master toy for a new generation. Utilizing a smart phone and Google Cardboard, the new version of the classic plaything basically thrusts you into a virtual reality version of Google Street View. That’s a simplistic description of the device to be sure, but it’s also the most apt way to describe what it feels like to look into the new View-Master and be thrust inside an interactive 3-D world. Of the several reels Mattel had on display, we were most impressed with one based on dinosaurs as it let us live out our Jurassic Park fantasies. We also dug the San Francisco reel, which perfectly recaptured the sights and sounds of Fisherman’s Wharf. This was easily the most impressive item that debuted at the show, and we are eager to check out a finished version when it hits later this year. And yes, we are desperately hoping that they use this new technology to re-release vintage reels like the Peanuts and Flintstones ones that were originally made using intricate models. Licensing teams, make this happen.
Best Overall Company: Funko
For the second year in a row Funko impressed us more than any other company with their joyful range of products. We were most impressed with their ongoing ReAction Figures line, one which will now add Tomorrowland, The Fifth Element, Scarface, Taxi Driver (more on that in a bit), The Flash, Arrow, Big Trouble in Little China, Jaws, Gremlins, The Boondock Saints, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Fight Club, The Karate Kid, Breaking Bad and Star Trek to its rank of licensed properties.
Elsewhere, the company’s Pop! series of vinyl toys continues with the debut of Harry Potter and Doctor Who entries, as well as a metric ton of Disney items that include the new Pixar film, Inside Out. They also debuted their new Vinyl Sugar products. Described as “the illegitimate love child between Funko and some of the best free-wheeling designers,” these cartoony, statuesque vinyl offerings will bring to toy life characters from Young Frankenstein, Shaun of the Dead, Say Anything, The Walking Dead, and many other nerd-tastic properties.
The Firefly Legacy Collection figures were also on display, but I didn’t take any pictures (here are pictures) because life is about choices and because Firefly-adulation is so 2008, and I am all about embracing the future and neglecting the past…
The All Right Hamilton Award For Best 1980s Property Making Its Toy Debut: Vinyl Sugar’s Fast Times At Ridgemont High Figures
We won’t rest until we have a Mr. Hand ReAction Figure, but until that glorious day Vinyl Sugar’s Jeff Spicoli and Brad Hamilton replicas will have to do.
Best Toy Shelf Vigilante: Travis Bickle
One more love letter to Funko and we will shut up: Their Taxi Driver figure came as a complete surprise to us, and it perfectly represents the retro joy and coolness factor that the ReAction Figure line was created for. Insert “you talking to me?” joke here.
At this point, Funko seems unstoppable. This may be great for the consumer but it is a definite nightmare for our wallets. So much to buy!
Company With The Coolest Products That Also Had Some Really Shithouse Bonkers Ones: NECA
We love love love NECA’s Aliens figures, so we were super psyched to see a Ripley in a Power Loader, a ripped apart Bishop and a Queen Alien. The company also showcased more of their figures that feature video game paint schemes — including ones from Rocky, Godzilla and Gremlins 2. And man oh man do we want every Planet of the Apes toy that this company puts out. But in the same way that James Taylor has seen both fire and rain, NECA also has some straight-up silly offerings. Does the world really need DC Comics-inspired leg lamps? Or any Jeff Dunham-based toys? Maybe you feel it does, in which case, okay then. We completely give up.
Coolest Random Collection Of Stuff Involving Superheroes: Diamond Collectibles
In that Diamond is a distributor as well, they’ve got a little bit of everything.
Most Random Celebrity Sighting: The Sopranos’ Joseph R. Gannascioli
Vito lives! And he was on the Toy Fair floor! And he’s selling lifesize plush dolls of himself! And 1/3 of this is not true but I’d still be down with buying one of those plush dolls or starting a kickstarter to make them a reality!
Best Giveaway That Was Actually A Genius Stealth Marketing Move: My Own Pet Balloons
During the course of the convention, hundreds of people were seen walking around with inflatable Minions or animal balloons floating around behind them. But why? Because the folks at Burton + Burton are marketing geniuses. They gave away hundreds of these durable (and, it must be said, adorable) walkable balloons at the show. Along the way they created a huge buzz for their product, got plenty of smiles and generally made everyone super happy about the fun that can result from having a balloon as a pet.
Other Giveaway That Was A Thing That Was Given Away: Foam finger. Purple.
Greatest Example That Game Of Thrones Fandom Has Gone Off The Rails: Factory Entertainment’s Talking George R.R. Martin Plush Doll
No word yet on if one of the phrases it says is “I promise not to die before finishing the last book.” Sorry, that joke was obvious but a gimme nonetheless.
Most Eco-Friendly Toy: YOXO Construction Kit
Following a successful Kickstarter campaign, the YOXO Construction Kit is a fun and simple toy that allows children to play with cool robots and dragons made entirely of environmentally safe materials. (Think cool-looking Lego-type world building made of cardboard). The items in the various kits offer countless play options, but more than that they teach an eco-friendly lesson about sustainability. But kids will be too busy having a good time to realize they just learned something.
Toy That Made Us Most Want A Funnel Cake: Playmobil’s Summer Fun Spinning Spaceship Ride
We’ve always had a soft spot for Playmobil products, so it is no surprise that we were wowed by their various amusement park-themed playsets. Their Ferris Wheel is cool for sure, but the best entry in this line is the Spinning Spaceship Ride that lights up, moves around and basically makes us want to devour endless corn dogs. This is a toy that perfectly evokes the feelings that comes from being at a carnival or amusement park and it is just so fun of summery joy that we are going to have to throw on Adventureland tonight to calm down.
Most License to Print Money: Hasbro’s Jurassic World Line
Star Lord is in a movie about dinos running amuck. Yep, that’ll do just nicely. Hasbro’s latest revival of their always popular Jurassic Park line includes new dino villains, great play value, a line geared strictly towards younger children and hours of people-eating fun. Clearly the highlight of the Jurassic World line will be Indominus Rex, the movie’s new antagonist and a damn cool looking toy. But you’ll see that for yourself later this year when every kid you see is chomping around with one.
Toy That Most Had The Touch, Most Had The Power, Yeah: Devastator
At the Hasbro presentation on Saturday, a group of grown-ass adults collectively lost their shit when Devastator from the Transformers: Combiner Wars figure made his debut. It was the last one shown during the Transformers portion of the afternoon and judging by the crowd’s reaction it was worth the wait. Not for us though, we were too busy being upset by the lack of Jem. Speaking of which…
Least Understandable Movie Tie-In Fail: Jem
Look, if adults can like My Little Pony then we can love Jem. Despite their being a massive banner for the upcoming Jem film in the lobby of the Times Center where Hasbro’s presentation took place, there was nary a Misfit or Hologram to be found. Fortunately, we’ll always have Sienna D’Enema’s ruthlessly hilarious Jiz videos to tide us over.
Most Understandable Movie Tie-In Fail: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
We heard a lot of fanboy moaning about the absence of any new Star Wars figures based on the film, but this wasn’t a shock to us at all given J.J. Abrams’ notoriously secretive nature. There have been a ton of leaks related to The Force Awakens so far, but Toy Fair wasn’t one of them. Rest easy though friends, we will have plenty of new product before you know it.
Toy We Will Have The Most Fun Smashing With: Hulk Play Doh
Even if we didn’t have an unhealthy obsession with how amazing Play Doh smells, we’d still want to get some of their new Marvel Play Doh sets. Our favorite on display featured The Hulk, whom naturally would beat the hell out of all the other Play Doh sets in existence ASAP.
Proof That Novelty Toys Are Now And Forever Shall Be Recession Proof: The No. 2 Pencil
Over at the Forum Novelties, Inc. booth we were struck with a serious case of the giggles after we saw a number 2 pencil that featured some fake poop affixed to its top. We are so simple sometimes, but if finding fake poo to be hysterical is wrong, we never want to be right again.
Saddest Area Of The Convention Floor: The Children’s Book Section
It doesn’t take a Book It! pizza party for us to know how amazing reading is. But there is a time and a place for everything, and maybe Toy Fair isn’t the best place to hawk new books. As if literature could compete with plastic sociopaths, turd-covered writing utensils and 40-year-old manchildren coo-cooing about giant transforming robots. We walked through this area quickly as we didn’t want to get funk drunk on the whiff of desperation that was hanging in the air.
So that’s it! What was your favorite part of Toy Fair 2015 (even though you probably weren’t there)? Sound off below!