China Toy Fair


COMMENTARY: Digital Properties and Toys Are a Match Made in Heaven

Today’s culture of apps and Internet memes has spawned a new category for licensees. These new digital brands have inspired toys that carry the excitement, reference, or joke of a digital property beyond its original state and into the physical world. Smartphones, apps, and the Internet have allowed people of all ages to swap images, play games, and contribute to digital communities faster than ever before. The appeal of a licensed toy can largely be attributed to an emotional connection—such as victory, challenge, or humor—to the property by a consumer. When I see a toy (or any other type of product) that I identify with a funny meme or a favorite app, I’m instantly drawn to it, almost like being in on an inside joke.

For the past few years, many a birthday card that I’ve given and received has featured cringeworthy images of a person (or several) in an array of ridiculous outfits, making odd facial expressions, in questionable poses, and more. Since 2009, Awkward Family Photos (AFP) has accrued nearly 2 million Facebook fans and currently offers plenty of products for fans to enjoy. AFP has also expanded its brand to include Awkward Family Pet Photos, adding a whole new hilarious dimension to the theme. Fans can purchase the AFP puzzle in either the pets or siblings versions, which feature 999 puzzle pieces and come together to create a collage of several awkward images.

afpboardgame

Fans can also enjoy a rousing game of ridiculous photos, questions, and answers with the AFP Board Game, from All Things Equal. A player flips over a card featuring an Awkward Family Photo and reads an open-ended question aloud. The other players must come up with their own answers; the player with the best answer wins the round. [Read more...]

Funko and Underground Toys Announce a European Partnership

Funko LLC, creators and manufacturers of entertainment-related toys, has partnered with London-based global entertainment merchandise company Underground Toys Ltd. This U.S. and UK company alliance will allow Underground Toys to incorporate the Funko line of products within their range of licensed merchandise to be distributed among European retailers, including Toys “R” Us, Tesco, ASDA, Carrefour, and FNAC.

With licenses for more than 70 different franchises, including Star Wars, Hello Kitty, Walking Dead, Disney, Marvel, WWE, and Teenage Mutant Ninja TutlesFunko currently services many U.S. retailers such as Hot TopicBarnes and Noble, FYE, and Walmart. With this new partnership, the products will be distributed by Underground Toys in Europe.

Fisher-Price Continues as Master Toy Partner for Silvergate Media’s Octonauts

OctonautsUK independent entertainment company, Silvergate Media has signed a renewal deal with Fisher-Price Inc. to continue as master toy partner for its preschool property Octonauts.

During its first term, branded toys have hit shelves across the UK, France, Germany, Australia, and the U.S. with an exclusive Toys “R” Us launch.

The animated adventure series has been sold in more than 100 territories and is broadcast on CBeebies in the UK, Disney Junior in the U.S., ABC in Australia, and SuperRTL’s Toggolino in Germany. The extension of the master toy deal will not only bring new toys, but build on the successful broadcast platform as well.

Dark Horse Announces Upcoming Game of Thrones Figures

tyrionDark Horse has partnered with HBO Global Licensing to provide the Game of Thrones audience with a line of collectibles from the hit series. Building on a collection of highly anticipated figures, three new Game of Thrones characters are making their worldwide debut this week: Tyrion Lannister, Ned Stark, and Khal Drogo.

After public display at New York Comic Con, all three will appear in Diamond‘s Previews catalog later this month for retailer and collector advance orders. They join the already-solicited figures of Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen, unveiled this summer at Comic-Con International: San Diego, in Dark Horse’s growing Game of Thrones figure line. The non-articulated figures measure from 6.25 to 8.75 inches in height and are based on the likenesses of the respective actors, all of whom have approved the sculptures. The paint application reproduces the nuances of each character’s overall appearance.

The figures will be presented in deluxe window-box packaging, further underscoring the aesthetic of the HBO series with their graphic design. These figures arrive on shelves in April.

COMMENTARY: Power Rangers Toys Power Up for 20th Anniversary

When I was a kid, I was in love with the Power Rangers, from Saban Brands. I was a huge fan of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series in the ’90s and I was even The Red Ranger one year for Halloween (They were all out of The Pink Ranger costumes and Kimberly was my favorite, so I had to compromise). I recently re-watched some episodes of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers when the series was on Netflix, and you know what? I still thought it was great in all of its ’90s glory.

However, the lucky kids of today get to obsess over two Power Rangers series of their own—Power Rangers Super Samurai and Power Rangers Megaforce. Power Rangers Super Samurai, which began airing in 2011, is about a new generation of Power Rangers that must master the mystical and ancient Samurai Symbols of Power, which allow them to control the elements of Fire, Water, Sky, Forest, and Earth. Aided by their devoted animal Zords and guided by an all-knowing mentor, these Power Rangers battle the dark forces of the Netherworld and a mysterious Warrior out to destroy.

Power Rangers Megaforce is the 20th season of Power Rangers, coinciding with the series’ 20th anniversary. This season features Gosei, a supernatural being who has protected the earth for centuries with his robotic assistant Tensou. When evil Warstar aliens begin a massive invasion, the Gosei calls upon the Power Rangers Megaforce to form the ultimate team. When morphed into the Power Rangers, the five teenagers gain superhuman strength and mastery over martial arts.

In light of the recent news of Saban extending its agreements with both Nickelodeon and Bandai America to keep the Power Rangers franchise alive, here are some great licensed toys from Bandai America that celebrates this new season of the Power Rangers series, as well as the brand’s 20th anniversary: [Read more...]