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...]

Skylanders Trap Team Brings Digital Characters into the Physical World

SkylandersTrapTeamActivision’s newest installment to the $2 billion Skylanders franchise, Skylanders Trap Team, redefines the toys-to-life phenomenon with a new ground-breaking innovation. Unveiled today, the new game will reverse the magic of bringing toys to life by allowing kids to pull villains—including Kaos—out of the digital world and into the physical world.

In Skylanders Trap Team, Kaos continues his ongoing quest to rule over Skylands. He has discovered the location of the legendary Cloudcracker Prison—a fortress built entirely out of the magical substance, Traptanium, and home to Skylands’ most nefarious villains. In an attempt to build his own army of foes, Kaos blows up the prison, releasing the baddies and blasting shards of Traptanium to Earth in the form of Traps. Now it’s up to Portal Masters to recapture all of the escaped villains using powerful Traptanium Traps and defeat Kaos. The new adventure delivers a diverse and dynamic story-driven gameplay experience, filled with adventure, combat, puzzles, mini-games, activities, platforming, and drop-in/drop-out co-op play—all set within new compelling, breath-taking environments.

With Skylanders Trap Team, Portal Masters seek out and defeat the most-wanted villains in all of Skylands, pulling them out of the game and into living rooms by capturing them in the magical crystal traps. Players can then send the trapped villains back into the game where they will fight for good. The latest installment will include the Traptanium Portal, a new ring of magical energy that enables kids to not only bring their Skylanders to life, but also magically capture villains using the new traps. Once they’ve defeated the villain in the game, kids will be able to place a Trap into the new portal to capture it. They will also be able to hear the villain inside the Trap, furthering the magic of Skylanders in 2014. [Read more...]

Jakks Pacific and Nickelodeon Enter into Licensing Agreement for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

NickTMNTJakks Pacific Inc. has entered a licensing agreement with Nickelodeon to manufacture, distribute, and market a line of specialty figures and toys in the U.S. based on the network’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series. The agreement will include Jakks Pacific’s Hero Portal TV video game platform, Plug It In & Play TV Games products, and large-scale figures.

The new line will launch this fall, coinciding with the August 8 release of Paramount Pictures’ feature film, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

COMMENTARY: Now Every Kid Can Be Captain America

Phil.04.03.Cap6inchLegendsThis weekend, everyone’s favorite re-animated World War II super-soldier returns in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, from Marvel Studios. (PLEASE NOTE: THIS OPENING MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS.) Having seen a preview of the movie, I won’t give too much away, but suffice it to say, it’s a good time, precisely because the captain faces conflicts that aren’t just fisticuffs. At a certain point, both he—and the other Marvel Comics-based heroes who appear—must decide whether to turn on their own government. Admittedly, it’s not that difficult a choice, since saying no means a terrorist organization descended from the Nazis gets the power to kill millions with the push of a button. But a moral quandary is, nevertheless, a moral quandary, and gives the movie a kind of complexity that isn’t always found in summer blockbusters. (END SPOILERS.)

It also results in a character that kids of all ages can—and should—aspire to become more like. (Did I mention that Captain America also learns to trust his friends? This film’s full of valuable lessons for young ones!) To that end, Hasbro has released an impressive line of Captain America: The Winter Soldier toys and accessories that allow for all kinds of pretend play. Since not every movie protagonist is a fit role model for kids, having found one with product support from the toy industry, I feel it is this column’s responsibility to highlight said product as much as possible. Cap, you’re welcome. [Read more...]

Captain Action Returns to Action, Courtesy of ZICA Toys

CaptainActionZICA Toys and Action Enterprises have teamed up to produce a series of retro, 3.75-inch Captain Action figures, vehicles, and play sets. They will be on sale internationally late this year.

Stan Weston created the original Captain Action figure in 1966 for Ideal Toys. It came equipped with a wardrobe of costumes, allowing Captain Action to become many different heroes such as Batman, The Lone Ranger, and the Green Hornet. The line proved popular that it was expanded to include a sidekick, Action Boy, and villain, Dr. Evil. The first wave of new toys will include Captain Action, Action Boy, Dr. Evil, and the Silver Streak vehicle.

WWE Slam City Launches with Mattel Toy Line

WWESlamCityMattel Inc. and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) recently launched WWE Slam City, a new kids property that includes a complete line of WWE Slam City merchandise as well as an original animated short-form series co-produced by WWE and Mattel’s Playground Productions. WWE Slam City toys, including action figures, ring sets and more, are currently available at major retail stores. In addition to toys, books and graphic novels will be available by year’s end, while a WWE Slam City mobile game will be in stores next year.

Episodes will be aired on WWESlamCity.com, Cartoonium, and YouTube in addition to TV broadcasts, live events, digital version, and social media. Other platforms include Hulu, Mattel.com, iTunes, and Playstation.

The series was filmed in the next generation of stop-motion animation. A new WWE animated character will fire all of the WWE Superstars and send them to Slam City to find day jobs. The characters, including John Cena, Randy Orton, and Sheamus will have a new lifestyle outside of the ring but will stay true to their personas.

Jazwares’ Gravity Falls Toys to Arrive This Fall

Jazwares.GravityFallsJazwares has created a new Gravity Falls toy line based on the popular Disney TV series. The line-up will include figures, plush, role-play, and play-set toys, and the first wave will see release this fall at retailers across the U.S.

The initial retail focus of the toy line will be in specialty stores nationwide. Currently, Gravity Falls is a top-rated show on Disney Channel among kids ages 2 to 11 and 6 to 11, and tweens ages 9 to 14. It follows the adventures of Dipper and Mabel Pines, twins spending the summer with their eccentric great-uncle Stan in the town of Gravity Falls, Oregon, where things are never as they seem.

Jazwares to Release Minecraft Series 2 Figures

Minecraft-gamesJazwares is expanding its core Minecraft action figure line to feature core-scale figure packs of Diamond Armor Steve, Iron Golem, Blacksmith Villager, and a deluxe Animal Mobs 6-pack.

The Diamond Armor Steve pack will include Steve with removable helmet, diamond sword, and diamond ore block. The Iron Golem pack will come with accessories including a poppy flower and a block of iron, while the Blacksmith Villager pack includes a removable apron and an anvil accessory. Meanwhile, the Animal Mobs 6-pack will include one of each of the following: Cow, Sheep, Tamed Wolf, Pig, Ocelot, and Chicken. The Series 2 items will all be available at retailers this spring.

Activision Partners with Crayola on New Skylanders Products

The Activision Booth at American International Toy Fair

The Activision Booth at American International Toy Fair was a welcome sight for Skylanders fans.

Activision Publishing Inc. will be collaborating with Crayola on new products for its popular Skylanders franchise. As a result of the new licensing agreement, Activision and Crayola will introduce a Skylanders-branded line featuring Crayola’s signature Color Wonder, Giant Coloring Pages, and Xtreme Coloring formats. These will be available during the upcoming holiday season.

To date, Skylanders’ licensing portfolio features a total of more than 175 licensees. The recent announcement follows a highly successful 2013 for the toy and video game franchise, which outsold all action figure lines worldwide for the second consecutive year.

Jazwares Melds Super Heroes and Athletes into NBA Heroes

Feb.20.JazwareslogoJazwares has entered a licensing agreement with the National Basketball Association (NBA) to create the first-ever line of NBA Heroes action figures, play sets, and role play toys. The line will be available in both the U.S. and Canada this fall.

These new basketball player-based toys will feature classic action figure attributes fused with super-heroic alter egos. The collection’s tagline helps establish character duality: Stars of the game. Heroes off the court.

NBA Heroes will start its lineup with some of the NBA’s top players, including LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose, Carmelo Anthony, and Deron Williams. Each fully articulated figure will be done in six-inch scale proportionate to each player’s height and build, and the collection will be accompanied by a separate, feature-filled environmental play set.