For someone who’s used to comic cons, Toy Fair is disorientingly bizarre. Gone are the heaving masses of sweaty Cloud Strifes, jabbing you in the junk with their Buster Swords as they bend over back issue bins, negligent to the space they occupy. Instead, it’s filled with math. It’s a bunch of people haggling over exclusives and minimum purchases and quality of resin casts. What the hell do you call places where those things happen? Oh yeah. It’s a trade show.
Weird for me, but also incredible. The biggest trade show might not be an opportunity to churn up a room full of fanatics, but it is a place for toy makers to show off the best stuff they have for the next year. Be sure to check out our Facebook page for all of the photos we took from the floor (warning: some of them are super crappy), and now behold the 26 coolest things we saw all weekend…
1. DeLoreans Everywhere
It’s not too surprising that Back to the Future is so hot right now, what with every day being Back to the Future Day. Diamond Select and Mattel both had incredible-looking DeLoreans on display. Mattel’s had add-ons with it that would let you turn it into the machine from any of the 3 movies, while Diamond had the car and they also had a to-scale Mr. Fusion device which I sadly discovered – after a half a pack of gum – did not actually function. Sorry, Diamond Select booth!
2. Holy Kitten (We Love Fine)
I know there are at least 3 Lumberjanes fans here right now who are going to refresh the hell out of We Love Fine until we can buy this stuffed deity from the book.
:goes off to refresh:
3. NECA Cel Shading
I prefaced this on Twitter with a “toy n00b rant incoming,” so forgive me if any of this is obvious, or so little of a deal that I’m getting worked up over nothing. The coloring on these NECA retro toys – Predator 2 Predator, the Dog Alien, Godzilla, Rambo or Rocky – is amazing. It (deliberately, I’m told) hearkens back to the 8- and 16-bit games (and in one case, comic) that the characters starred in. The Dark Horse Comics Debut Predator is featured here because he looks the best, but this cel-shading-esque technique looks incredible on toys.
Every toy line had some sort of interactivity built in, to deepen the playing experience. TMNT had a set of figures that reacted to hits on their body with pre-recorded phrases, while Hasbro had a bunch of figures that sensed the presence of other toys in the line and responded accordingly. Bandai even had an AR app for ipads that let you scan crystals from the current wave of Power Rangers toys to turn yourself into a Power Ranger.
The most substantial example of this was Anki Overdrive, a track racing game that lets you level your cars through an app on your phone basically lets you turn an RFID-enabled racing game into a full on video game experience. None of this is new, but it’s all deeper, more functional and more interesting than it’s been in the past, and it’s a fun way to compromise between “go outside and play” and “it’s ok sweetie you sit right here on your ass and play.”
5. Shawn Michaels WWE Elite (Mattel)
I’m not a complicated guy. I like my beer fast, my women cold and my mullets wavy. Anyone who can sculpt such a glorious mullet deserves accolades.
6. The Joy the Hasbro People Have for Their Jurassic World Stuff
The Transformers section of their presentation was like a museum, with security guards and hushed tones and dudes with selfie sticks being escorted out. And the Marvel area was like a model building session. But the second you got into the part of the Hasbro room that had Jurassic World toys, it was like going back in time to 1993, because the Hasbro reps working on that line were very enthusiastically playing with everything they had. I almost shook hands with someone wearing the raptor gloves, and you couldn’t get the guy to put Indominus Rex down. When people clearly love their work like that, you’re almost guaranteed to see good stuff coming out the other side. How do you not love your job when you get to use a dinosaur puppet to try and eat strangers’ hands all day?
7. Kotobukya X-Men
They haven’t chosen any colors yet, but Kotobukiya announced that they’re making statues of Magneto, Rogue, giant Soulsword Magik, X-visor Cyclops, Savage Wolverine, Emma Frost and beastly Beast. This is amazing for many reasons: X-visor Cyclops is the most over the top X-costume I could have imagined being made into anything; Magik needs more exposure (not body exposure. She could probably stand to throw on a sweatshirt); but mostly I’m psyched for how accurate a ridiculously expensive Emma Frost statue just naturally is.
8. Stuffed Legion of Super-Pets (DC Collectibles)
Hoppy the Marvel Bunny! This is clearly the best timeline, because I never thought I’d see the day when we got a stuffed Hoppy. Now all we need is a stuffed Comet the Super Horse and a Supergirl alternate figure dressed like Catherine the Great and we can reenact entire swaths of the Silver Age.
9. I Guess the Dark Knight Really Has Returned.
Diamond had a fantastic looking animated version of Dark Knight Returns Batman in bust form, while Mezco had one of their three DKR Bats fighting the Mutant Leader (in almost an actual mudpit, which was impressive). It’s great to see a surge in attention for the story, and the resultant art that’s coming out of it. And that mutant leader fig, it billy berserk man.
10. Bladebuilders (Hasbro)
With all the absurd variations on lightsabers that are out there – I’m looking directly at you, Lumiya – it was only a matter of time before someone created a DIY lightsaber building kit. True to the idea, what Hasbro has introduced is impractical, absurd and a ton of fun. I am buying this, and I’m going to take the foam blades and I’m going to make LightKnuckles. Lightsaber brass knuckles, that is, not a laser version of the echidna from Sonic.
11. Mortal Kombat X figures (Mezco)
There are about 30 slots for new characters when Netherrealm shows new builds or characters for the next game in the Mortal Kombat series, so Mezco isn’t going to have any problems finding new characters to add. I’m just glad they got to sneak one onto the floor for Toy Fair. Kotal Khan looks totally badass, even if he is the son (?) of THE CHEAPEST GODDAMN BOSS IN ALL OF VIDEO GAMES SHAO KHAN WAS BULLSHIT ON STORY MODE.
12. Fone Bone (Cryptozoic)
Cryptozoic, the same people making the Ghostbusters tabletop game, also has made a vinyl Fone Bone figure from the comic. I’ve never seen Bone figures before, so I got squeaky and panty and shouty when I did.
13. Ultra Magnus (Hasbro)
The perpetual Autobot bridesmaid of the cartoon hasn’t even really rated as a flower girl in the toy world, but from the looks of it, Hasbro is trying to change that. He’s coming with Minimus Ambus inside his chest, mirroring our lives, like how we pretend to be more substantial than we truly are in order to feign significance in an uncaring, murderous world (note to self: Walking Dead in the background while I write makes me nihilistic).
14. Terminator: Genisys (Mega Bloks)
I’m legitimately worried that if I buy this Mega Bloks T-800 model, Sarah Connor and her wisenheimer kid are going to show up at my house and shoot the hell out of me.
15. Limited Edition Dragon Ball Z Figures (Bandai)
Bandai is bringing some extremely limited runs of high end (reeeally nice looking) figures over to the US. They’ll have Sailor Moon, DBZ, and One Piece figures in three different sizes available at specialty stores soon. They already sell some of these in Japan, but they sell them in vending machines. The logistics of getting their vending machines set up over here AND getting the sign-off to sell the panties in them are just too complicated.
16. Retro Everything From Funko
Their vinyl stuff was definitely a highlight of the show, to the point where the display was so entertaining to look at that I understood why people obsessively collect the Pop figures. But the best stuff out of Funko was their batch of “they’re not really Kenner, but they’re totally Kenner” action figures. Some Gremlins are in the picture above, but they have everything – Big Trouble in Little China, Breaking Bad, Tomorrowland. And I have some advice for you, Funko, if you want to expand those lines, too – David Lo Pan was the Chinese ambassador to the White House in The West Wing. They even used the same name. That means that they both took place in the same universe and you can start printing West Wing action figures, and I only demand a small portion of the revenue.
17. Power Loader Ripley and the Alien Queen (NECA)
Get into my apartment you BITCH.
18. 3D Printing and Collectors’ Doom?
The folks at Formlabs hire high-end artists to draw potential figures. They then give those designs to 3D modelers, who make a model that you can buy and download, and in the space of about 5-10 hours (depending on its complexity), print it out.
The first thing that popped into my head when I saw this 3D printer at work was comics. Which is fair, since the first thing that usually pops into my head when I see things is comics. But in this case, what I was thinking about was how the easy availability of trade paperbacks, and later how digital made it so everything remained in print forever, killed the aftermarket for comic collectors. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that we’re seeing so much incredible work out of people when they’re freed from the constraints of creating for an insular group of fanboys, and I wonder if that may happen with action figures if something like the ability to print your own figure in hours on demand changes the whole market – the best designers will be able to sell directly to the consumers? With how heavily the toy market relies on licensing (and with how expensive those damn 3D printers are – $3200 each, hot damn), I don’t think that’s an imminent danger, but there are definitely distinct styles from designer to designer, and the advent of the new technology is going to be very interesting to watch.
19. Hulkbuster Everything.
Hey, did you know that Age of Ultron is coming soon? Normally I’d complain about oversaturation, but really, have you looked at how cool the Hulkbuster armor is? The Hasbro version has fists that punch out. There’s also an incredible Lego version, and the Kotobukiya statue that I posted on the TR Twitter feed. That was the hardest shot I got all weekend, since there were usually at least two people licking the glass display case at all times.
20. That Thing That They Had at the DC Booth That I’m Not Allowed to Talk About.
I’m not one to lord secret reveals over people (note: yes I am), but DC was sneaking everyone peeks behind their production curtain at a secret prototype all weekend. I had my camera and my phone confiscated, and I was asked (implored) not to reveal anything beyond that they were in fact showing a secret thing to people at Toy Fair, and that it will probably be debuted around SDCC. I’m going to go a step further and say that when it is finally revealed, y’all should be pretty impressed.
21. Star Trek Purses (The Coop)
I don’t understand why they made them in more colors than gold.
22. Dropping Spoilers in Toy Reveals
|Click to ENHANCE
I’m fairly certain that I’d never seen Vision’s white and pink color scheme before this weekend, where I saw it 9 different times. The same goes for the Iron Legion, those blue and white Iron Men floating around the background of a bunch of our Facebook pictures. And…well, look at this picture really closely and tell me that doesn’t at least inform you of some later movie shenaniganry.
23. Lego Death Star: The Final Duel (Lego)
Lego has made a ton of cool Star Wars stuff, but this set of the throne room in the second Death Star is almost as good for me as the Millennium Falcon model they put out. This is my favorite scene from the entire series, and the best lightsaber fight to boot. Now I can reenact it all day long.
24. TAS Batmobile (DC Collectibles)
Everybody’s been sweating the Phantasm figure, and rightfully so. Once we get a good Grey Ghost, we’ll have action figures from all the secretly best parts of Batman: The Animated Series. But you have to admire DC’s commitment to building a fully functional line – this Batmobile, in addition to being the perfect translation of the show’s design aesthetic to the physical world, also is fully functional, with working brake lights and turning front wheels and even turn signals in case you want to throw someone off your tail.
25. METROID! (Jakks Pacific)
Jakks Pacific is making great use of the Nintendo license – at the Facebook link, you’ll see a Wind Waker Ganondorf that finally does figure justice to the best boss fight in any video game I’ve ever played. But the best thing about the Jakks booth is the squishy, posable Metroids. I was a little surprised when I threw it at someone in the hall and it didn’t latch on and start draining their life force.
26. Devastator (Hasbro)
Did you really think, after the minor Twitter meltdown I had after the Hasbro presentation, that this could be anything else? If there were anything that could have been presented at this show that would have made me collect toys again, it would have had to be spectacular. It needed nostalgia with a heavy dose of modern sensibility (and manufacturing ability), combined with just enough IDGAF to make it a borderline irresponsible purchase. Devastator costs more than I paid for my Wii, and I will have him. Shit, that came out sexual.
Devastator costs more than I paid for my Wii, and I don’t care. I’m going to buy him and I’m going to put him on my desk at work and shit it’s still sexual.
Devastator is irresponsibly expensive and like the majestic honey badger, I ain’t care. I’ve wanted good Constructicons all my life, and I’ll pre-order the first good Constructicons ever. I DID IT! NO INNUENDO! HOORAY FOR DANDY!
Previously By Jim Dandeneau
The 7 Best Ways to Clean Up Comic Continuity Errors
4 Reasons Why We Shouldn’t (and 4 Why We Should) Get Excited About the Kirby Settlement
TR’s 2015 NY Comic Con Preview
The 14 Biggest Highlights from NYCC
12 Other Events Marvel Should Revisit for Secret Wars
10 Things We Learned from Scott Snyder About Wytches
The 20 Best Comics of 2014