COMMENTARY: These New Japanese Toys and Games Aren’t Just for Kids, Part 2

So Japan has toys that are compelling enough for grown-ups to enjoy? Figures. No, I mean action figures. As I mentioned in part one of this commentary last week, Japan has some of the coolest action figures on the planet, and much of why has to do with that country’s toy-buying market, which skews older than, say, in the U.S.

However, a lot of that sophistication is now making its way over to this country, in the form of toys that are either imported from Japan, or have their roots there. Some are kids’ items that have double appeal among older audiences, while others are purposefully aimed at grown-ups. That’s a bit of a blanket statement, of course, as any toy can appeal to lots of different demographics for varying reasons. However, we have a feeling adults will want to get their hands on these particular figures once they’ve cleared customs–probably even more so than kids will.

PrintThis spring, Funko will introduce its new line of Hikari Japanese Vinyl figures, which are inspired by the vinyl “kaiju” figures that have developed a considerable following among collectors in Japan. [Read more...]

Sony Pictures Entertainment and Mattel Bring Barbie to the Big Screen

barbie-logoSony Pictures Entertainment, Mattel, and Parkes+MacDonald/Image Nation have partnered on a live-action comedy based on the iconic Barbie doll. The film will go into production at the end of this year. In her live-action big screen debut, Barbie will be shown inhabiting many of the 150 roles she has played throughout the franchise’s more than 50-year history, including a mermaid, a movie star, and the president.

The project marks the second collaboration between Sony Pictures and Mattel, which are currently developing a film adaptation of Masters of the Universe, based on Mattel’s popular action figures. The live-action Barbie film will be written by Jenny Bicks, produced by Walter F. Parkes and Laurie MacDonald, and executive produced by Parkes+MacDonald’s president Marc Resteghini alongside Julia Pistor, who will executive produce for Mattel’s Playground Productions.

WIT Restructures, Unveils New Committees

Women in Toys (WIT), which recognizes and promotes the achievements of outstanding female leaders within the toy industry, recently underwent an organizational change and restructuring. Along with appointing Ashley Mady, president of Brandberry Inc., as its new board president, WIT’s other board appointments are as follows: Stephanie Barone, vice president of product development for Innovative Designs, as treasurer; Caitlin Gutekunst, senior manager, content acquisition and business development at LeapFrog, as regional chapter chair; Jennifer Quattrock, independent design contractor, as design chair; and Mali Baum, CEO of Beezeebee, as chair of international chapters.

WIT also has a new committee-based structure to support the organization’s goals and mission. These committees will focus on such topics as community involvement, empowerment initiatives, public relations, scholarships, and more.

Anyone seeking information about WIT should contact Heidi Schwartz at hschwartz14@gmail.com, or visit the WIT homepage.

New Ebook Further Develops Watch Dogs’ Cyberpunk World

Ubisoft will release a new e-book, Watch_Dogs  //n/Dark Clouds, authored by John Shirley and inspired by the highly anticipated video game, Watch Dogs. The e-book picks up where the game leaves off, allowing fans to further explore the world of Watch Dogs. It marks a first for Ubisoft, which conceived the e-book in-house and will release it exclusively via digital channels.

Shirley, the author of more than 30 books and short stories, is a known figure in the hacker community, as well as a pioneer of the cyberpunk movement. Watch_Dogs //n/Dark Clouds will be available in English, French, Italian, German, and Spanish at the game’s release on May 27. It will be available as an upgraded e-book version with interactive elements, including videos and image, and as a regular e-book.

Beach Chess Goes Indiegogo for Funding

BeachChessAn Indiegogo campaign has been launched for Beach Chess, which consists of one white cube and one black cube. Each of the cube’s six faces features an outline of each of the six unique chess pieces—pawn, rook, knight, bishop, king, queen.

Each cube measures about 2.5 inches square and fits in the hand. The black cube makes a fully depressed imprint in the sand, whereas the white cube only makes an outlined imprint so you can tell the difference between the “white” and “black” pieces. [Read more...]

PBS Kids Debuts Web-Original Plum Landing and App

PlumLandingRight in time for Earth Day, PBS Kids has launched a new, web-original property, Plum Landing, a digital adventure designed to engage kids ages 6 to 9 in environmental science. Plum Landing crosses multiple platforms including animated and live-action video, hands-on activities, web games, and an interactive mobile app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

Plum Landing follows the adventures of Plum, a video game designer from the desolate Planet Blorb, who longs to experience nature. To realize this goal, Plum commandeers a space ship, zooms down to earth, befriends five eager kids, and launches them on such missions as, “find a lake in the desert!” and “search for a cow that lives under water!” [Read more...]

Nintendo’s NES Remix 2 Hearkens Back to 1990 World Championship

WiiU.NESRemix2NES Remix 2 will launch exclusively at the Nintendo eShop on Wii U on April 25. The game has a new mode inspired by the 1990 Nintendo World Championship, which challenged players to achieve the highest cumulative score in three specific games through a multiplier-based scoring system.

The three games in Championship Mode include Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, and Dr. Mario. Players will take on three successive score-based challenges to achieve a cumulative total score, which they can post to Miiverse. The first NES Remix game is required to access Championship Mode in NES Remix 2.

NES Remix 2 is a mash-up of classic Nintendo games including Metroid, Kid Icarus, and Kirby’s Adventure, with added challenges and modified stages.

Marvel, Feld Entertainment Release Exclusive Marvel Comic Book for Marvel Universe Live!

MarvelLiveThis summer, Marvel Universe Live! will bring more than 25 Marvel characters together for a live arena show that will tour 85 cities, and debuts this July in Tampa, Fla.

Feld Entertainment, the producer of Marvel Universe Live!, will release an exclusive prequel comic book created by Marvel. It will give audiences insight into the story behind the show, as well as introduce a new item in the Marvel Universe that plays a key role in the live show: the Lectro Link.

Written by Frank Tieri and illustrated by Miguel Sepulveda, with color art by Jay David Ramos, the comic is available for a limited time to those who pre-order tickets. The Lectro Link, meanwhile, is being made available as a unique collectible item, which customers can either pre-order online when purchasing tickets or buy at the show.

(4/23: The headline has been changed from “Pre-Order Marvel Universe Live! Tickets, Get Exclusive Comic Book.”)

The Future of Jakks Pacific Is Looking Marvel-ous

JakksJakks Pacific Inc. will launch a line of toys based on existing and upcoming Marvel characters and properties. The collection will include R/C vehicles, electric- and battery-operated train and track sets, and handheld 3D character flashlights based on Marvel animated series Ultimate Spider-Man, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., and Marvel’s Avengers Assemble. There will also be toys based on upcoming Marvel theatrical releases, including Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron and Marvel’s Ant-Man. These products are expected on retailers’ shelves nationwide next year.

Delta Has Spidey on a Kids Easel and More

SpiderMan.MetalEaselTo mark the arrival of Sony PicturesThe Amazing Spider-Man 2, Delta Children has new Spider-Man products. The Spider-Man Metal Easel measures 23 by 23 by 39.25 inches, and can be used as either a black or white board, depending on the child’s preference.

Other products include the Spider-Man Twin Bed, which features removable guard rails, as well as 3-D graphics and colorful decals at the headboard and footboard. It’s constructed with plastic and a metal frame. Meanwhile, the Spider-Man Toy Box has a hinged safety lid to protect little fingers, and a design that sports bright and cheerful colors.

There is also a Spider-Man Desk Chair and Spider-Man Table & Ottoman Set. The latter features solid wood construction, a large and easy-to-clean table surface, and two ottomans.