COMMENTARY: Boo! Halloween Toys That Outlast the Season

by Laurie Schacht, Toy Insider Mom

zombieLast year was a pretty tough Halloween on the east coast. Just a few days before the holiday, Hurricane Sandy shut off our lights, devastated our coasts, and in my neck of the woods, pretty much canceled parties and trick-or-treating. So this year I hope to see all our favorite ghosts and goblins make a big comeback.   

Who will you be this year? The Marvel superheroes will be strong sellers. Lets face it: what kid doesn’t want to save the world—and what adult doesn’t want a few hours to be “that hot” at a grown up party dressed up as Iron Man or Wonder Woman!

For little girls, if you haven’t purchased their Doc McStuffins or Sofia the First costumes yet, good luck finding them. I’ve yet to meet a 4-year-old girl that hadn’t loved one or both of these new favorite characters. Boys are loving Jake and his Never Land Pirates, Skylanders, Trash Pack Kids, and Slugterra.

But it’s not just in the costume. There are some great additions to the two hottest video games with Halloween themes this year that I need to share. Skylanders Giants released their special Halloween edition called Eye-Brawl. It’s sports a pumpkin head and a skeleton head at his feet. Disney Infinity will let kids build their own Halloween town in Toy Box mode, with the Pumpkin King throwing pumpkins at other characters, including the newly released Jack Skellington. [Read more...]

Lego Marvel Super Heroes Launches with Massive Character Line-up, Lego Big Figures

Lego.MarvelLego Marvel Super Heroes has launched in North America for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U, and Windows PC. Lego Marvel Super Heroes: Universe in Peril is also now available for the Nintendo 3DS and PS Vita handheld systems.

In Lego Marvel Super Heroes, players take on the role of their favorite Marvel characters, such as Spider-Man, Iron Man, Wolverine, Thor, Captain America, and the Hulk, as they assemble to battle some of the most menacing Marvel supervillains. More than 100 playable characters are unlockable, and players can also choose from bonus heroes, such as the Guardians of the Galaxy, the Punisher, Squirrel Girl, and Deadpool.

Lego Marvel Super Heroes offers players a chance to show off their super skills by using weapons, such as Captain America’s shield, Thor’s hammer, or Hawkeye’s bow, during action sequences. Players will also be introduced to different character super abilities, such as Doctor Strange’s magic powers, Professor X or Jean Grey’s mind control, and more. Lego Marvel Super Heroes features some of the more legendary locations from the Marvel Universe, including Iron Man’s Stark Tower headquarters and the Daily Bugle. For the first time in a Lego game, players can clobber and smash bricks with super-sized Lego big figures, including Colossus, Iron Man’s Hulkbuster Armor, and the Thing.

The handheld Lego Marvel Super Heroes: Universe in Peril offers a different gameplay experience that includes challenging time-based missions, performing combo moves, and getting assistance from your superpowered tag team partner.

COMMENTARY: Big Rewards for a Little Bit of Cash

Sometimes kids deserve a special little treat—whether they refrain from crying at the dentist, got an extra star on their homework assignment, or behaved well on a long shopping trip, it’s nice to reward them for good behavior. Candy is a cheap, instant, and enjoyable treat, but we all know kids can do with a little less sugar (and, in turn, fewer painful dentist visits!).  There are some great inexpensive toys with lots of play value that will help reward kids for good behavior without breaking the bank or causing cavities.

ABSW Telepods Jedi vs Sith Multi-PacksAngry Birds Star Wars Telepods, from Hasbro, are sold in two-figure packs for less than $10. Kids can teleport the collectible figures right into the Angry Birds Star Wars II app, from Rovio Entertainment, on iOS and Android devices. Each figure has a unique QR code on the bottom, so kids can distinguish their characters from their friends’, even if they have the same ones. With more than 30 figures to collect, Hasbro also has compatible play sets at higher price points. With both virtual and physical play, Telepods is a great choice for a quick treat that will keep kids engaged for a long time. [Read more...]

Rubie’s Develops Marvel Costume Line for U.S. and Canada

RubiesRubie’s Costume Co. Inc., a leading manufacturer and distributor of Halloween products, will be developing a line of Marvel costumes for the U.S. and Canada starting next year. Rubie’s currently produces Marvel product lines throughout Europe and other international markets.

Rubie’s plans to create a broad collection of Marvel Universe products for Halloween, including costumes, dress-up accessories, masks, makeup, high-end collector costumes and accessories, pet costumes, animatronic decorative props, costume shoes, seasonal décor, and more. Costume products will be available in toddler, child, tween, teen, and adult sizes.

The officially licensed products will encompass both classic Marvel properties and new Marvel films, including Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Ant-Man, and The Avengers 2: Age of Ultron. Rubie’s will also produce costumes for the new ABC live-action TV series Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Zuru Creates Creepeez Wall Crawlers Toy Line with Marvel Super Heroes

imagesInnovative toymaker Zuru has announced that it will be creating Creepeez wall crawlers featuring Marvel’s characters from both Spider-Man and The Avengers. The official, Marvel Creepeez hit stores this month at Toys “R” Us and Dollar General stores across the country.

The line will feature fan favorites, including The Hulk, Iron Man, and Captain America, all with creepy sticky feet and the ability to tumble down walls while performing stunts or racing against one another.

COMMENTARY: Oldies but Newer: Upcoming Video Game Sequels to Look Out For

With the impending release of the Playstation 4 and the Xbox One, it’s only natural to be on the lookout for new video games to try on these latest platforms. However, games from other consoles and devices shouldn’t be excluded either especially with the forthcoming distribution of newer versions of old classics. Whether it’s a sport, action-adventure, or fantasy game, there’s a game out there geared towards any gamer in any genre. The best part is that the timeless games players have grown up with are being revamped to ensure a different gaming experience than previous versions. Before eliminating these new editions to opt for a newer series, it might be worth it to consider what these current renditions have to offer. Here are some classic franchise games getting ready to put out their latest publication that might capture your interest.

FIFA 14

fifa14The annual soccer game is back for another year filled with players across the world in various leagues and tournaments. The FIFA soccer video game series premiered in 1993, and is still going strong. This latest addition to the line will be available for a multitude of platforms including Xbox 360, PS3, and PC download on September 24 in the U.S. An early release version is also available for the PS3 and comes out on September 20. The game will also appear on the PS4 and other Playstation and Nintendo devices including the PSP and the Wii. The Xbox One however might arguably be the best deal for the console which FIFA 14 debuts on for free (at least in Europe anyway—with a preorder of the device) and comes with FIFA Ultimate Team Legends, which features legends of the game. Now, you can play with players of today and yesteryear, and can in fact see Pele tackle the ball from Cristiano Ronaldo—if that’s your preference. [Read more...]

Disney Launches Back-to-School and Party Goods Ranges

billboard_cars

Disney Consumer Products has launched range of back-to-school items inspired by Disney, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, and Marvel characters. The range includes apparel, backpacks, school supplies, home décor, books, and digital apps. The items from the back-to-school collection are available at retailers including Target, Walmart, Kmart, jcpenney, Forever 21, Hot Topic, Nordstrom, and Claire’s as well as the Disney Store, disneystore.com, and the iTunes store.

Disney has also partnered with Hallmark for the Hallmark Dream Party products line. The line features Disney, Pixar, and Marvel characters and goes beyond plates and napkins to include party favors, décor, activities, and accessories. Some of the themes in the line are Disney Princess: The Royal Event of the Year, Disney-Pixar Cars: The Birthday Grand Prix, and Spider-Man: Spider Heroes Unite. The party collection can be found at Walmart and other party specialty stores.

Hasbro and The Walt Disney Co. Unveil Partnership Plans

Hasbro-logo-jpgHasbro, Inc. and The Walt Disney Co. are expanding their merchandising relationship for major Disney entertainment properties Marvel and Star Wars.

The Marvel amendment extends Hasbro’s global rights to Marvel characters for an additional two years running through 2020. Hasbro will continue to develop a wide range of toys and games for Marvel’s global Universe of more than 8,000 characters, including Spider-Man, The Avengers, and Iron Man.

Following the acquisition of Lucasfilm by Disney, the two companies sought to align the terms of both the Marvel and Lucasfilm agreements. The Marvel extension is in line with the term for Hasbro’s rights for the Star Wars franchise, which also runs through 2020. Both agreements cover entertainment, including all film and television properties, for the respective franchises during the period and include similar product categories.

COMMENTARY: Comic-Con Exclusives Bring the Fantasy Home

Comic-Con: A once-in-a-lifetime (annual) experience. Fans come from all over to get autographs, take photos, and experience the thrill of oversized Lego structures and men-in-costume. A place full of Hobbits, heroes, and happiness, Comic-Con allows consumers to share their love of all things fantasy. Best of all, the licensed merchandise and exclusive product offerings are abundant. These products allow consumers to get a little bit closer to the franchises they love, bridging the gap between fictional worlds and reality. From classic brands like The Power Rangers, to new favorites like Game of Thrones, the product arrays are seemingly endless, and everyone comes eager to take home their piece of Comic-Con history. Here are some of the limited edition and exclusive products we were most excited about in our office:

LEgacy Power MorpherThe Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers was by far my favorite show growing up. Though the brand has expanded to include multiple modern versions, the classic series is still my favorite. For other nostalgic Power Ranger lovers, Bandai America released the retro-style, limited-edition Legacy Power Morpher in a Green Ranger/White Ranger Edition. The 24-karat gold-plated Morpher comes with two die-cast coins. With only 1,000 available, each Morpher is individually numbered.

Spider-Man, Iron Man, the Hulk, oh my! Though Marvel superhero merchandise is never in short supply at Comic-Con, the limited-edition Marvel exclusives are always something to look forward to. In preparation for the upcoming film, The Wolverine, hitting theaters this Friday, Diamond Select, in partnership with Marvel, has unveiled the Marvel Minimates Wolverine Saga Box Set. This four-pack features 2-inch versions of Symbiote Wolverine, Spacesuit Wolverine, Ultimate Wolverine, and Logan-san in Japanese robes with a variety of interchangeable parts. [Read more...]

Hasbro Showcases Pop-Culture Brands at Comic-Con

Hasbro_logo_new 3.20.28 PM

Hasbro returns to Comic-Con International in San Diego to showcase its pop-culture brands, including TransformersMy Little PonyKre-O, and G.I. Joe, as well as licensed toy lines for Angry Birds Star WarsMarvelStar Wars, and Star Trek. Hasbro will celebrate its popular brands and characters with a lineup of panels, autograph sessions, special edition toys, giveaways, and more.

Fans will also be able to experience the Telepods platform, a fully-integrated play experience for the mobile generation that “teleports” physical characters into digital gaming and app experiences. The Telepods line will be released this fall, and will be fully integrated into the new Angry Birds Star Wars II app, from Rovio Entertainment and Lucasfilm. The Telepods line uses new technology to allow kids to play in two ways—in the physical space, and through integration into top-tier apps. [Read more...]