Tagged: Toy Fair

Molly Jackson: It’s Toy Time!

Yesterday was the last day of Toy Fair. I spent the past four days running through the Javits Center here in New York City playing with toys, hanging out with companies, and trying to steal a giant Chewbacca. I failed at that last venture… this time.

As always, I attended Toy Fair with my [insertgeekhere] site partner, Andrea. The over-arching theme for this year was Collectibles. It was even named as a major trend for the rest of 2017 by the Toy Industry during their trends briefing. For full disclosure though, I missed that event because I was at an actual collectors event. Collecting has always been a big part of the geek world and it is totally reflected at Toy Fair.

I spent a long time checking out statues and figures that are mainly for display. Quantum Mechanix has been rolling out figures that reach fandoms other companies won’t focus on, like Supernatural. They are also working on a Millennium Falcon that could rival the real deal in detail. I was also blown away yet again by Mezco Toyz One:12 Collective line. With the addition of female characters like Wonder Woman, these figures are some of the best on the market, and one of the few to have real clothing rather than sculpted.

As you might expect, blind boxes are still climbing in popularity for another year. They were everywhere. New companies and the old favorites were all about the blind surprise items. My favorite definitely was the DC Shoebox Collection line at Cryptozoic, sculpted by Shephan Ehl. Super creative and well representative of the women in DC Comics. I am also a big fan of Cryptozoic because they always credit the designer and/or sculptor with all their pieces. I was also a big fan of the upcoming Classic Nickelodeon line from KidRobot. They probably had the best-looking Ren and Stimpy that I have seen in years!

My absolutely favorite items were at the LEGO booth. LEGO Marvel is hitting it out of the park this year. My two greatest loves are things that I haven’t seen before: Agent Coulson in a flying Lola should be a fan-favorite because of how beloved that character is. Plus, I would love to see Clark Gregg playing with it. No one loves Lola like him! And the possibly best thing period is the LEGO Ms. Marvel with the giant arms. I love love love Kamala Khan and to see her added to the LEGO universe is just awesome. March 1st is when I finally get to add them both to my own personal collection.

This is just a small taste of the things that made me squeal with joy throughout the week. Every year, I am just amazed by the ingenuity of the designers and how excited these companies are to make the fans happy. It is going to be a great (and pricey) year for toys!

Ed Catto: Playing Fair with Your Toys

Aw Yeah at Play Fair 2016

Toy Fair, the Toy Industry Association’s annual convention, has been held for years in New York City and offers purchasing agents from different retailers the opportunity to preview toys from different manufacturers. Retail buyers evaluate toys, games and “youth entertainment products” and place orders with their manufacturers for upcoming selling seasons.

Wall of Lego Toyfair 2016Having their orders in hand, the manufacturers would then scramble to make the toys and meet the delivery dates. But the world has changed so much in many ways:

  • Both retailers and toy companies have consolidated, while niche manufacturers continue to emerge
  • The Internet has transformed the way toy consumers shop, as it has for every other industry. For toys, this translates into a whole new way of managing inventory demands and producing the initial quantities of products. Online toy retailers don’t need to stock their shelves the way brick and mortar retailers once had to.
  • Buyers and sales reps don’t really need to meet once a year in New York. The world is smaller and communicates more regularly. Why would a salesperson want to wait until an annual event to speak with buyers?

And as we know from Geek Culture, super passionate consumers and fans are eager to know what’s going to be on sale in the future. In our anticipation-driven economy, teasing is a standard part of the game. It’s not enough that a retailer’s buyer plans ahead for what the store will be selling in the months to come – consumers want to know too.

Playfair 2016And that’s why this year saw the debut of Play Fair. Created by Left Field Media, Play Fair is a consumer show bolted onto the traditional Toy Fair. It provides an opportunity for fans and families to enjoy a sneak peek at the upcoming toys.

Toy Fair has always had a “business person only” policy. In fact, their site posts this admonishment in bold letters:

Toy Fair registration is open to the trade only; Toy Fair is not open to the public. NO ONE under the age of 18, including infants, will be admitted.

The publishing industry’s Book Expo had a similar policy, although it was enforced to a lesser degree. But recently they added a consumer element to their convention, and actually welcomed their industry’s most enthusiastic supporters. It was a great success and helped breathe new life into a stodgy show.

Left Field Media’s management is the team behind that new welcoming strategy. And these folks are also responsible for the launch of New York Comic Con, C2E2 and the ReedPop consumer events division or Reed Elsevier. They understand fans and consumer events.

I saw so many smiling families just loving Play Fair. Bone-chilling temperatures didn’t deter families – it was a big event with enthusiastic kids and parents celebrating toys and playtime.

Pikachu Ed Toyfair 2016Play Fair’s inaugural debut showcased so much, including the newest cinematic Batmobile, Target’s new line of Super Heroine merchandise and play areas hosted by family friendly companies like LEGO.

But back at Toy Fair, another big takeaway was the overwhelming influence of Geek Culture on the toy industry’s merchandise. The days of a brand created by a toy company (for some reason Hungry, Hungry Hippo comes to mind) seem to be fading. Instead, creative toy designers are more likely to embrace a pop culture license and show the world the unique spin they offer upon it.

So this year, for example, Toy Fair showcased a myriad of Batmobiles from a myriad of companies – expensive Batmobiles, big Batmobiles, small Batmobiles, radio controlled Batmobiles, TV inspired Batmobiles, movie-inspired Batmobiles, silly Batmobiles, bottle opener Batmobiles – the list goes on and on.

Similar examples can be provided from all the pillars of Geek Culture – Superheroes, Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who, The Walking Dead and more. And of course, Underground Toy’s unique Star Wars lightsaber BBQ grilling tongs debuted last year, but they are still the perfect example of this trend.

It was especially fascinating to see newer Geek Culture brands like Deadpool, Dr. Strange and Spider-Gwen on the Toy Fair exhibition floor at multiple manufacturers.

Toy Fair offers a glimpse of the future. And looking ahead, it’s clear that the toy industry and retail sales are going to continue to be driven, in a very big way, by the passion that fuels Geek Culture.

Molly Jackson: Highlights from Toy Fair

DC Super Hero Girls

Wow, Toy Fair was an amazing time. Over four days, I saw my wallet cry in pain over how many things I wanted. Have you ever seen a wallet cry? It’s just devastating. But forget the feelings of an inanimate piece of fabric. Let’s talk about some of my highlights from my four days of awesome!

I attended the Manhattan show with my [IGH] site partner, Andrea and we noticed a friendlier tone than past years. Company representatives remembered us from previous years, which meant that it was more like greeting old friends. So, on top of a great experience of hanging out with some cool people, we also got some tidbits that we can’t share. What was really great, especially at the geekier booths, was that companies started asking for our opinions. There were more than one booth were people pulled out their notebook or phone and started quizzing us for ideas! Hopefully we inspired some great toys to come out.

As you might have guessed, I was on a Star Trek hunt. I scoured the floors for 50th Anniversary items. I was a little disappointed that many locations told me that new products were coming but not available for the show. Many places made a point to tell me that they would be unveiling around August for the major Star Trek convention in Las Vegas. However, I was pleased that some of my favorite toy companies were already showing a few pieces to excite and delight me.

Quantum Mechanix, who has done Star Trek pieces for a number of years, unveiled some amazing Kirk and Spock figures. They also said that Dr. McCoy is on the way. Mezco Toyz also showed off their Star Trek additions to their One:12 Collective line, which includes Kirk, Spock, and Sulu. They also mentioned that female characters are on their way to the One:12 line so that means Uhura! And my favorite piece, the ST: TNG Phaser was being shown by Diamond Select Toys. I really want to own that. They were also showing TNG figures, like Deanna Troi and the Borg Queen.

The top of the list was still Wood Expressions Multi-level Chess set, modeled after the TOS chess set. It is smaller than the one on the show, and while it is playable (even comes with Star Trek game rules!), would also make a fantastic display piece.

You may remember a couple weeks ago, when I was talking about my excitement about the changing tide of gender representation in toys. That has definitely held true. A few years ago, when I would ask about female characters, there was always a hesitation by toy makers. Now, companies seemed eager to talk about the female toys added to their line, or the gender-neutral nature of their toys.

Both companies that I mentioned in that last piece, Mattel and IAmElemental, were eager to speak with me about their role in the toy industry. I spoke with the creator of IAmElemental, Julie Kerwin, who radiated energy and excitement to see other companies following her charge to bring girls and women into toys. I also had a chance to speak with a number of reps from Mattel, who all seemed excited by the changes in Barbie and the introduction of the DC Superhero Girls line. Now, when going through their booth, I got to hear things like “Girls want to explore space” and “Girls like to shoot things too!” I know that there are still steps to be made, and battles to be fought. But this year, with even more companies like these, it felt like a cosmic shift in how the industry feels about girls.

So, I’ve barely scratched the surface of everything I saw and loved and wanted to steal. It was an amazing time! The toy industry is bright this year, and I can’t wait to see how everything develops.

Molly Jackson: Barbie’s Back! Or… Barbies’ Back?

happy to be a kid again

February is always a busy month for me. With the start of the year behind us, I am faced with planning and organizing for the spring. The big event for my winter/spring is Toy Fair in a couple weeks.

Yes, Toy Fair is a major industry event that gives the buyers and press a chance to see what’s coming for the year in the toy world. Now, every year I’m excited to go but this year, I admit, I am definitely more excited than ever before. It took a little while to discover the reason, but it is pretty simple. It’s because of Barbie.

In case you missed the announcement last week, Barbie revealed their line expansion of new body types and racial markers for their doll line. Now you can buy a curvy, tall, or petite doll. You can buy multiple skin types, hair types, or eye colors. Barbie is finally showing that there is more than one type of woman. It may seem like a small change but pairing those image changes with the new career choices and this Barbie would look down on the toys of my generation.

I was never a huge Barbie fan as a kid, but I played with them and I always recognized their cultural significance. I still own some collectible Barbies, including my Star Trek Barbies. But to have Barbie, and by extension Mattel, recognize me and millions of other types of women? That is huge in my book.

The past year or so has seen toy manufacturers start having to listen to their consumers. It has also included campaigns to add women into toy line ups. I personally was part of the We Want Widow flash mobs, where we cosplayed as Black Widow in public to show toy manufacturers that she should be included more in Avengers toy sets. More recently, we got to watch manufacturers stumble over themselves as they rushed to put out Rey toys for the new Star Wars movie. They were shocked and surprised that kids and adults wanted to play as the lead role in the movie.

Fast forward to this year’s Toy Fair. Mattel, one of the major toy companies, has updated one of their oldest toy lines to bring it into a new age. Toy companies like I Am Elemental are still going strong among the sea of other options. In case you don’t know, I Am Elemental is a line of female superheroes action figures based on female figures from history. There will be a panel discussing if the gender divide in toys is justified. The best part is that the toy makers will be there to listen and hopefully learn.

It is true that I might be overly optimistic. The changes won’t be happening tomorrow, or probably even this year. But there is a chance that this change is real and is making an impact right now on the toy world. Encouraging the next generation of women through toys would give us a stronger and better generation to take us into the future. I have to hope that this mindset will stick and if it does, I will be happy to support them. And also play with their toys.

Molly Jackson: Where’s MY Science?

Wheres my science

Many, many months ago at Toy Fair they announced that a major trend for 2015 was dinosaurs. This was due in part to the upcoming Jurassic movie. Now, fast forward to last week. I bit the proverbial bullet and went to see Jurassic World.

I admit I didn’t have high hopes for the movie. Let’s be honest: you don’t really go for the plot. Almost everything people are complaining about is true. Poor character development mixed with the misogynistic undertones of the 1970s and the anti-war/government sentiments make for a poor plot. Not to mention, Chris Pratt is wearing eyeliner the whole movie which looks so weird.

Even through all of that, when the dinos came on screen, I loved it. I loved every poorly plotted minute of it.

After the fact, in chatting with some friends, I began to realize part of the reason I loved it was because I saw the original film at the right age. The original Jurassic Park made the happy feelings I had from watching the new one, only because they reminded me of what I felt as a kid. Jurassic Park is the movie my generation just loved. A film that had a leading female scientist as well as a young teenage female computer whiz. That film encouraged young girls like me in the sciences.

The new Jurassic World has no female scientist and the only featured scientist is portrayed as an evil, greedy loon. After my extensive years of enjoying science fiction, I know that good science fiction can encourage kids into exploring science. This film did not follow in the steps of its predecessor. It seemed to discourage scientific discovery and promote destruction.

I don’t mind destruction in my movies. I love it, in fact. Still, science fiction used to have the rare talent of showing the wonders of learning without kids realizing it. Educating them in a fun and unassuming way. Now, we just threw it out the window for a bigger killer with more teeth.

Now, going back to that tidbit about Toy Fair. There were some science toys but mostly destructive action figures. Let’s keep hoping those kids pick up the science toy first.

Molly Jackson Is All Growed Up

Worf TNGI spent time a few weeks ago at Toy Fair. For those not in the know, Toy Fair is one of the industry’s largest trade shows and gives us all a look at what’s coming in the toy world. This is an entire convention center filled with toys and games, and I was one of the first people to see them! It is an amazing show to attend.

There is a whole section of the floor dedicated to collectibles. Not surprisingly, it is where I spent most of my time. In this section, you see the target market turned on its head. I’m the average consumer, not an eight year old. It’s a weird feeling to know I’m targeted by toy companies. These companies know that I’m interested in nice packaging and numbered limited edition sets. That I want it display worthy right out of the box, or be able to modify it to my own worthy standards.

The whole time I’m checking out statues and figures, all I can think is “Where are the toys I can play with?” I can’t be the only adult that still wants to play with action figures. In fact, I know I’m not. But adults are not targeted for playtime; they are only targeted for high price display pieces. This is a trend I saw throughout presentations at Toy Fair. When companies presented their upcoming lines, they had their kid-friendly and their collector lines. They specifically mentioned what they thought would be good for adults.

Brick BoyI want to sit down and play with toys. And that’s not to say companies aren’t making action figures for adults. In particular, Diamond Select Toys definitely targeted me with a Star Trek: TNG Worf action figure. In the past, they’ve had even more superhero figures to tempt me. Another company is Thinkgeek, who has products that showcase hands on creativity, like the upcoming Brick Boy. Still, it is rare for a company out there to encourage an adult to play.

Admittedly, I still love display pieces. I have some statues that I cherish and some toys I absolutely won’t take out of the packaging. And to have companies recognizing adults like to reclaim lost pieces of their youth through toys is a nice thing. Still, playing is not a bad thing. And as a supposed-adult, which I still don’t believe that I am (even in my 30s), I think that it would be great to see more companies appeal to my playfulness. Hopefully next year, I see companies targeting more than just my wallet.

The Point Radio: Is That James Woods I Hear?

The Point Radio: Is That James Woods I Hear?

We are back (finally) from Toy Fair with some verbal tours of the visual fun, plus DC’s newest direct to DVD feature (JUSTICE LEAGUE:CRISIS ON TWO EARTHS) hits this week and actor James Woods tells us about life as OWLMAN and William Shatner turns to s*it – really.

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The Point – February 16th, 2009

The Point – February 16th, 2009

We are on our way to Toy Fair 2009, but in the meantime join us for a behind the scenes look at NBC’s CHUCK, a trip to the comic store where this week we try and expand our horizons and a lesson in why CAPRICA is a big risk.

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ComicMix Radio: The Dark Knight Storms Stores

ComicMix Radio: The Dark Knight Storms Stores

Chances are if you are serious about comics or pop culture, you’ll be buying Dark Knight on DVD today or soon, but this week’s haul at the comic shop has some other things worthy of your wallet’s attention including that little goodie to the right. We preview them, plus:

  • Classic Star Trek comics come to the iPhone
  • Late Night With Jimmy Fallon has already started
  • Toy Fair is sooner than you think

All that and more – but only when you Press the Button!

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