If you’ve been following our Twitter account today, then you are already well aware that the 2016 Toy Fair is underway at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City. The plaything equivalent of the Super Bowl, Toy Fair is the place where deals are made, swag is swug, and the public is introduced to what products will be the hits (and, in far too many cases, the misses) of the coming year. For the third year in a row, we sent writer Chris Cummins to check out the festivities and report back on his findings. Focusing on action figures and other collectibles, he discovered an array of products that will have you salivating and your wallet hurting. Here’s his take on the event’s most notable finds.
This year’s Toy Fair was a paradise for the action collector. All of the major companies pulled out the stops, showcasing products that will have tongues wagging for months to come. Unfortunately, larger companies such as Lego, Playmates, and Bandai were unable to accommodate our requests to check out their merch. (Mattel’s press event happens tomorrow). However, we were able to see a variety of other companies:
This year, Funko continued their commitment to their Pop! vinyl toys by showcasing new items featuring a diverse range of characters that includes everyone from Travis Bickle to the Pac-Man characters. Even more are on the way, including, believe it or not, The Golden Girls Pop! toys. Thank you for being a friend, Funko.
Elsewhere, the company debuted Mymojis, emoji-inspired toys for licenses like Ghostbusters and Minions that are as goofy as they are adorable. And speaking of adorable, the Funko Dorbz line continues to grow, with this year’s new cute characters including many from the Disney stable as well as the Belcher family from Bob’s Burgers, and the Fabrikations line will bring Baymax, Maleficent, and other friends and foes to life through their fabric-based design.
A collaboration with Playmobil will result in 6-inch figures of characters from Doctor Who, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Ghostbusters, and other iconic properties done in the company’s own inimitable style.
Yet into every life, some rain must fall, and the sad news coming out of Funko seems to be a massive scaling back of the company’s ReAction Figures line, with only a Ripley in Power Loader and Queen Alien from Aliens on display. However, the company isn’t getting out of the action figure biz, as they showcased some Game of Thrones figures and a Wall playset that are the clear evolution of what Funko has released before. Great stuff all around.
In the wake of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, all eyes were turned to Hasbro to see what they would be doing next. Unfortunately, the answer was a bit underwhelming as right off the bat attendees to the fantastic look at Hasbro’s slate for 2016 were told that they would not be seeing any merchandise from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. That was where the disappointment ended however as Hasbro quickly unveiled new Black Series figures of, amongst others, Princess Leia and the Snowtrooper that were jaw-droppingly great. There was also the action figure debut of Maz Kanata, sadly though it isn’t a talking version that says “I like that Wookie.” More Star Wars offerings can be glimpsed in the gallery above. There was also a new Star Wars-based version of Clue! Han Solo, in the Falcon, with a Rathtar!
Transformers continues to be the franchise that is more than meets the eyes with a barrage of figures from the Titan, Robots in Disguise, Rescue Bots, Generations and Prime Wars Trilogy series’. Of these, the most impressive included the “Titans Return” Fortress Maximus that stands 2 feet tall, features Battle Station and Autobot City Mode, and includes a detachable Cerebus head that becomes Master Emissary — or, if you prefer, Spike. This thing is nothing short of an 1980s fanatic’s dream come true.
Meanwhile, in the Marvel Universe, Hasbro unveiled their latest traditional Legends figures and showed off a continued commitment to the 3 3/4 figures with ones based on Gamora, Living Laser, Rage, Morbius, Quasar and others, as well as variety of new comic packs. Also demonstrated were some roleplay toys highlighted by a Toys R Us Exclusive Black Panther set and high-end items geared towards the cosplay community that include a magnetic Captain America Shield and a light-up Iron Man helmet that are both movie accurate and incredibly cool. Cosplay long ago came into its own, so it is fascinating to watch companies realize this and gear products towards cosplayers. These are strange and wonderful times we live in folks.
Oh NECA, year after year you continue to make us drool with your plastic pleasures. Once again the company proved that while the Terminator film franchise may be kaput, the toy line lives on with new action figure offerings. They also will be having a toy Battle of the Bands with plastic versions of Weird Al and Tom Petty (which was released last year in the Simpsons 25th anniversary line that also included, wait for it, Weird Al).
Nintendo cheat code aficionados will appreciate the Contra figures, and other retronauts are bound to applaud the E.T. Spaceship Launcher, a vintage toy original released by LJN in 1982 and reborn for the new millennium.
Other licenses handled by NECA include Gremlins, Predator, and Batman v Superman, with movie vehicle fanatics to take notice of their new Cinemachines line that pays tribute to the greatest rides in sci-fi history.
And then there are some items that defy characterization:
What we have here is a variety of figures and other items we encountered at Toy Fair, from fantastic new releases from DC Collectibles to a Spock figure from Mezco’s One 12 line that might be the greatest Star Trek toy we have ever seen. Plan your budgeting accordingly, because this year is going to cost you. And now, it’s time for our annual REST IN SHOW:
Best 1980s Nightmare Fodder
Whatever the hell this Pac-Man Fever Dream from Toy Tokyo is.
Winner of the 2016 Who’s Scruffy Looking Award
Underground Toys’ Talking Han Solo doll. Says things like “Ouch,” “I’m a shitty father,” “I got paid $34,000,000,” and “Now I really never have to do another one of these.”
Greatest Repurposing Of The Hulk Hands Mold
Bigmouth Inc’s The Drink Hugger, which practically screams HULK DRUNK.
Best Rock Icons Recreated In Toy Form
Over the past couple of years, Bif Bang Pow! have become industry leaders in the retro toy revolution. One of the trends we noticed at Toy Fair this year was a renewed interest in releasing figures based on rock stars. While this desperately makes us want a box set of David Bowie figures spanning his many ch-ch-ch-changes, we were more than content to admire toys based on Freddie Mercury and the aformentioned Weird Al offerings.(NECA is even releasing new Bill & Tedd figures, so even fictional musicians aren’t immune to this). These are all great, but to tell you the truth we want to shout it out loud that Bif Bang Pow!’s KISS 3/34 line is a dream come true for those who came of age in the 1970s. Just imagine having these in ’78 to play with alongside of your Star Wars figures, oh man. They have built a Kiss Alive-era stage that comes complete with built in lighting and bluetooth technology that allows you to create a makeshift concert from the group whenever you want. Now all we need are some Phantom of the Park follow-up figures and we’ll truly be set.
Best Use Of Yetis And/Or Zombies
Diamond Select’s Yeti Zombie from the Plants vs. Zombies line. Truly the best of both worlds.
Blind Box Item Of The Year
Dark Horse’s Snoopy offerings, which reproduce Charles Schulz’s timeless comic strip dog in an array of colors that have us frothing at the mouth like rabid beagles.
Best Retro-Inspired Line
Bif Bang Pow’s new Peg Pals scratch that nostalgic itch with Fisher Price-esque mini figures of characters from Marvel, DC, Star Trek, and Kiss that will be the hot collectible in the year ahead. Delightfully retro and priced at under five bucks, the Peg Pals will have you reliving your Little People past.
Happy Toy Fair everyone, and we’ll see you back here in 2017!