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.

Spin Master’s Air Hogs Offers Custom 3-D Printed Armor Piece

Feb3.HeliCageArmorWith the growing popularity of 3-D printing, Spin Master offers a custom part for its Air Hogs Heli Cage Armored Edition, a helicopter featuring removable plastic armor. Samples of the part were built using a MakerBot 3-D printer, which creates real 3-D objects by laying down drops upon drops of plastic material and building them from the bottom up. The custom part was also flight-tested by engineers and tweaked for weight balance.

Spin Master now provides an open source 3-D file of the armor part online at the Air Hogs blog. Makers can download it for free and print it using a 3-D printer. For those who do not have direct access to a 3-D printer, Air Hogs recommends Sculpteo, which will print from the 3-D file and ship the part to customers. For the very technically inclined, the 3-D file can be fully manipulated to create a truly customizable piece.

COMMENTARY: Toys to Brave the Chilly Weather

Fall is one of the most beautiful times of the year, but it can also start to get very chilly. I know that in New York City, I’m layering my clothes and bundling up, preparing for (an always windy) winter. Fall for kids means back to school and less outdoor play, which can lead to a bummed out little one. Outdoor play is fun because it’s physical—you run faster, the toys fly higher, and of course there’s always the option of shooting water out of most of those toys. But just because the play is moving inside and becoming a little less physical, doesn’t mean it has to be less fun.

The holidays mean gift-giving, and while guides like our Toy Insider 2013 Holiday Gift Guide are packed with a ton of options, including scooters and flying toys, I’ve also got some suggestions of toys to give that kids can enjoy right away—without having to play in the cold weather.

drawsomethingThe Draw Something Party game, from Hasbro, is a great game for the whole family. Based on the popular app, Draw Something Party allows players to draw on the double-sided, glowing drawing screen with their finger or the stylus included. The person drawing selects one of the three words on the card, holds the glowing screen between him or herself and the guesser, and places the card with the scrambled letter facing the guesser. As the screen glows and the drawer draws, the guesser tries to figure out what is being drawn using the scrambled letters as a guide. And just like in the app, the difficulty of the word yields a different amount of coins when guessed correctly. [Read more...]

Wide Range of Disney’s Planes Toys Ready to Take Off

PlanesToyRangeCoinciding with the release of Disney’s Planes in theaters, My Baby Excels and Thinkway Toys have launched an interactive range of high-quality toys and plush of the movie characters including Dusty, Ripslinger, and El Chupacabra. All toys are suitable for kids ages 4 and up.

U-Command Super Charged Dusty: This deluxe infrared remote-controlled Dusty has interactive features including Dusty’s original film voice and phrases, sound effects, and moving eyes and mouth. Kids can control Dusty with joysticks or by pressing the wireless remote to make him talk, move, and turn in more than 1,000 action combinations.

Dusty Bubbles Plane: Thanks to the bubble attachment on his wings, bubbles come out when Dusty is launched into the air. The package includes bubble solution and dipping trays.

Rubber Band Sky Gliders: A combination slingshot sky glider and rubber band launcher. Kids can race their favorite plane among Dusty, Bravo, and Ripslinger, each made from light, soft, harmless materials.

Plush Toys: Kids can cuddle up to their favorite Planes character with 10-inch plush figures of Dusty and Skipper.

The interactive Disney’s Planes toy range is available across leading stores and e-commerce websites.

COMMENTARY: Different Licensees Mean Different Toy Takes on Pac-Man

Quite a few companies are taking on Pac-Man, the character featured in the classic arcade game by Namco. It’s easy to see why, as Pac-Man is the most popular video game of all time, not to mention a global icon that inspired a slew of merchandise during the ’80s. One current toy licensee is Paladone, whose recent Pac-centric products have included the radio-controlled PAC-MAN Racers Set, a plush doll, a candy dispenser, and much more. These toys are based around the basic character design: a yellow spheroid with a missing wedge for a mouth. Other than having eyes (shaped like small Pac-Men) and a handy third dimension, he doesn’t look all that different from Pac-Man in the original game.

Paladone Pac-Man and Ghost

Pac-Man original game

I passed on the candy dispenser (it still being swimsuit season), but as for the Pac-Man Racer, it is great fun on smooth surfaces. You control Pac-Man using a remote cleverly styled like an arcade joystick. There is a bit of a learning curve: For example, in order to get Pac-Man to turn, you have to move him forward or backward, and then bank hard left or right after he picks up some speed. Meanwhile, moving him out of certain tight spaces is not so dissimilar from parallel parking with a car (which is potentially good news for adults who need the practice). [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Skyrocket Toys Lights Up R/C Aisle

As I wandered the R/C aisles at Toy Fair this year, I noticed the hobby-grade trends trickling down into mass market toys. R/Cs were starting to become more focused on flying, instead of only ground transportation. Toy companies were trying to discover how to make quality products, such as those found at the hobby grade level, at a price point that was affordable for toy shelves. And the result is tons of cool R/C products that are unlike anything we’ve seen in this category before.

One of the stand-out companies I saw, and then had the chance to meet with later, was Skyrocket Toys. Skyrocket has three new major R/Cs coming out for this holiday season, and I think they exemplify the movement to increase the quality of product at an affordable price point.

SkyViperQuadCopter_SkyrocketToysThe Sky Viper QuadCopter follows one of the hottest trends in R/C right now—four-blade copters. With hobby-grade precision and computer-controlled, six-axis gyro and accelerometer stabiliazation, the 16-inch Sky Viper is constructed for indoor and outdoor use. The Sky Viper features a foam body and carbon fiber frame that make it lightweight, but still sturdy as it performs stunts with one touch. The 2.4 GHz remote operates the copter with knob that has three different difficulties, so it can be used by flyers ages 12 and up at all skill levels. The rechargeable lithium plymer batter and fast-charging A/C adapter are included. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Battling Robots Pack a Punch

Radio-controlled “battles” have traditionally been thought of as races in which people compete to see whose car, plane, or helicopter can go faster. However, a new sort of battle is making it’s way to the R/C category: the battling robot.

Blue

Tomy’s Battroborg robot

This shift in the competitive nature of R/C toys is very cool to me. Two of my favorite battling robot products this year were Tomy International’s Battroborg line and Wow! Stuff’s Combat Creatures Attacknids. The Battroborg line was like R/C Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots. Battroborg is the first battling micro robot brand of its kind, which two-handed motion-controlled nunchucks that let the opponents control the robot’s motion with their own jabs. The Battroborg robots register hits and indicate when the ultimate battling champion has been victorious.

Whether you’re battling one-on-one, or in a battle royale of up to 10 robots in the three-in-one Battle arena, the Battroborg robots get the player to be more active with the R/C. It may be my competitive nature, but the brief battle has the fighter racing with quick jabs, trying to avoid hits with their whole arms, as opposed to just the thumbs with a traditional R/C controller. Battling robot lines get the player more involved in the “race.”

BLACK DOOM RAZOR-HI-RES

Wow! Stuff’s Combat Creatures Attacknid

The Attacknids are six-legged battling machines and the first in Wow! Stuff’s new Combat Creatures line of battling robotics. The Attacknids are 10 inches tall and move with realistic spider-like movements. Their Battle Head rotates a full 360 degrees. Their Bolt ‘N Battle Combat Armor explodes off when hit and their interchangeable blasters fire up to 30 feet and can be raised or lowered. The Attacknids’ weapon system includes three different rapid repeat blasters, which clip on an off in seconds and include Dissector Discs, Snyper Darts, and Destroyer Spheres.

Controlled by a wireless R/C handset with 2.4 Ghz chip technology, thousands of robots can battle at one time. Multiple Attacknids can also be controlled from the same handset. These creatures were incredible to see in action and were different from the usual R/C vehicles I saw up and down the aisles at Toy Fair.

For more commentary from Ali, check back each Thursday afternoon. Views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Toy Book as a whole. We hope that you will share your comments and feedback below. Until next time!