China Toy Fair


On the Hunt with Jordan Hembrough

When you step inside Hollywood Heroes in Westwood, N.J., you can literally smell the nostalgia (for those of you who are unfamiliar, nostalgia smells similar to dust-covered cardboard and childhood memories—but like, in a good way). In the collectible toy shop, bright lights beam down on glass cases displaying superhero relics with more than 40 years under their utility belts, making these toys anything but child’s play.

Owner of Hollywood Heroes and star of the reality TV show Toy Hunter, Jordan Hembrough poses with a plush version of himself.

Owner of the shop and star of the Travel Channel series Toy Hunter, Jordan Hembrough is an expert in the art of toy collecting, with more than 25 years of professional experience dealing toys. However, toys were always an integral part of Hembrough’s life. From schoolyard selling, Hembrough entered the big-time after college, when he secured a job as a buyer for StarLog, a chain of science-fiction-focused retail stores. Despite a lack of business background, Hembrough eventually went on to launch his own company, Hollywood Heroes. “I had the passion, and I think sometimes passion will drive you more than a business plan,” he says. [Read more...]

NPD Reports Star Wars, Disney Princess among Top-Selling Toy Properties in Six Countries

npd_group_logoThe NPD Group recently released lists of the top five toy properties by country, ranked by value sales for January to June. Across the U.S., the UK, France, Spain, Germany, and Australia, Star Wars is the one property that ranks among the top five properties for each country. In the U.S., the top toy properties are Disney Princess, Barbie, Nerf, Little Tikes, and Star Wars.

Lego ranks in the top five toys for the UK, Australia, and Germany, with both Lego City and Lego Duplo on the short list for Germany. Disney Princess, meanwhile, ranks among the five top-selling toy properties in the U.S., the UK, and Australia.

“The unique cultures of a country lend themselves to unique preferences, and the toy industry is no different,” says Frédérique Tutt, global toy industry analyst with The NPD Group. “However, there are clearly messages and styles of play that resonate with a child, regardless of geography.”

Star Wars Rebels Preview Launches on Star Wars Day

StarWarsRebelsStar Wars Day, an unofficial holiday created by Star Wars fans to celebrate the sci-fi franchise, took place this past Sunday, May 4. To mark the occasion, Lucasfilm released a new minute-long trailer for Star Wars Rebels. The animated TV series is scheduled to premiere this fall on Disney Channel, and will be followed by a series on Disney XD channels worldwide.

Funko to Launch New Licensed Fabrikations, Hikari Japanese Vinyl Toys

Funko is set to launch two new lines of licensed figures this year. Fabrikations consists of 6-inch soft-sculpted figures featuring a rotating head as well as vinyl accessories. Each Fabrikation is weighted, allowing it to stand securely on a surface.

DC Universe, Marvel, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Star Wars will be the first licenses to be released in the Fabrikations line.

This spring and summer, Funko will also be launching Hikari Japanese Vinyl, a collectible line of clear Sofubi vinyl inspired by Japanese vinyl figures. Each piece will be hand-numbered, limited edition, and come packaged in a clear tube with an on/off LED light for display purposes.

Batman and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will be the first licenses in the Hikari line. Star Wars, Marvel, and Ghostbusters will follow this year.

Underground Toys’ 2014 Licensed Product Line to Debut at Toy Fair

UndergroundToyslogoUnderground Toys will be releasing new licensed merchandise at this year’s American International Toy Fair. New brand licenses include World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), Anchorman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Walking Dead, and Vikings. Highlights from these ranges include a Walking Dead apron, all-new WWE talking character plush, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles talking soft bag buddies, and a “classy” Anchorman Ron Burgundy moustache bottle opener.

Underground will also be displaying classic and new products from existing ranges, with many of the new items set for release this year. Doctor Who merchandise includes The Other Doctor’s Sonic Screwdriver, action figures based on The Other Doctor and The Twelfth Doctor (played by actors John Hurt and Peter Capaldi, respectively), and the Doctor Who Mr. Potato Head collection.

An extensive range of Star Wars gifts and home products will also be revealed, some of which will be publicized for the first time. Inserting a degree of fun into classical play, a large variety of Underground’s merchandise will now begin to incorporate movement, sound effects, and spoken phrases: For example, the plush Star Wars Action Yoda features both movement and sound.

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.

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...]

Reed Pop Launches Online Store with Star Wars Merchandise

ReedPop August 13ReedPOP, organizer of pop culture conventions including New York Comic ConStar Wars Celebration, and C2E2, has unveiled ReedPOP Supply Co.’s online store that sells ReedPOP convention exclusives and original licensed merchandise. The ReedPOP Supply Co. launched on July 26, simultaneously with this year’s Star Wars Celebration Europe, and it currently stocks a selection of original, official Star Wars Celebration goods available nowhere else. New York Comic Con, C2E2, and other ReedPOP products will be added over the coming weeks.

The ReedPOP Supply Co. presently houses more than 20 Star Wars Celebration limited-edition items, all unique, online variants of exclusives offered at this year’s Star Wars Celebration as well as at previous years’ Star Wars conventions. Exclusives include the Hoth Blue Milk Brewing Co. Glass (from Celebration V), the ABC’s of Star Wars Woven Blanket (from Celebration VI), and the world exclusive Star Wars Rebels Logo T-shirt—the logo was revealed at this year’s Star Wars Celebration Europe.

All of the ReedPOP Supply Co.’s Star Wars Celebration limited-edition items are available to ship around the world, but they are available for a limited time through midnight August 22.

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

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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...]