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.

Phil.April23.HikariTMNTThis 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...]

COMMENTARY: Pool Time Is the Best Time

Some of my fondest childhood memories were conceived on sunny days spent splashing around in the pool. Back in the day, it was tradition for my family to fight over the one noodle that wasn’t chewed up by my dog, or to constantly cheat during a riveting round of Marco Polo (The thing was, we were kind of bored and thoroughly enjoyed torturing each other). Today, lazily floating around on the water is my most anticipated summer activity, but the pool is still a prime spot for play.

As companies gear up for swimming season, here are some of the latest toys that keep kids engaged at the pool and earning those pruned fingers:

TMNT Water WeaponsLicensed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Sewer Spewer Water Weapons, by Playmates, combine classic ninja moves with an impressive soaking effect. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: These New Japanese Toys and Games Aren’t Just for Kids, Part 1

Phil.April18.2014.1I may not be the biggest aficionado of Japanese pop culture, but I do consider myself a fan, having devoured lots of manga and anime over the years. What I also appreciate are the toys: Japan has some of the most exquisitely-made action figures and giant robots ever made, and in their native land, these items are generally aimed at adults.

Now when it comes to toys and games, Japan has long enjoyed a healthy foothold in North America—think of all the Pokémon, Hello Kitty, and Power Rangers products that have made their way over. So far in 2014, that trend has continued, with several new properties either just launching or expected to launch soon. But these are Japanese imports, meaning they’re sophisticated enough for grown-ups, even if they look like they’re for kids. [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.

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.

Paper Punk Signs Deal with Nickelodeon

Jan29.PaperPunk.SpongeBobPaper Punk has inked a deal with Nickelodeon to develop paper-based construction and craft kits inspired by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and SpongeBob Squarepants. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles kits will be introduced at the American International Toy Fair in New York City.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles kits will feature all four turtle characters and include a kit containing 16 punch-n-fold shapes, more than 30 stickers, and 40 adhesive dots to construct a 3-D paper figure. It will be available early February. The SpongeBob Squarepants kit will feature the two main characters from the show and include eight to 16 punch-n-fold shapes, more than 120 stickers, and 40 adhesive dots to construct a 3-D paper figure. It will be available mid-year.

Comic Images Launches Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Plush Line

Jan22.TMNTComic Images will launch a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles plush line in advance of the animated film in development. The products include key chains featuring Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo, and Raphael; Back Pals 3D backpacks featuring Leonardo and Raphael; and Golf Club Head Covers featuring Raphael and Leonardo. The products will be available in major retailers this spring.

The TMNT products will be just a part of the wave of nostalgic properties made new again. This spring, Comic Images will also feature six Classic DC Comics characters key chains and Batman and Superman Back Buddies Backpacks in time for next year’s Batman-Superman film.

Nickelodeon Suites Resort Hosts Power Rangers Weekends in February

PowerRangersSuperMegaforceNickelodeon Suites Resort will host Power Rangers weekends with two Power Rangers Super Megaforce-themed celebrations on February 14 to 17 and February 21 to 23. These weekends include activities for guests such as a super-charged Power Rangers lunch, featuring training sessions with all five Power Rangers; up close and personal meet and greets; Power Rangers-themed activities and crafts; and a sneak peek screening of an all-new episode of Power Rangers Super Megaforce.

In addition to the Power Rangers, SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will be on-hand to celebrate these weekends with meet and greets, live shows, games, and prizes.

Guests can book a Power Rangers Super Megaforce weekend stay by visiting NickHotel.com/Power-Rangers.

Survey Shows Children Want Game Systems, iPads for Holidays

Non-traditional items are finding their way onto children’s wish lists this year, according to a National Retail Federation (NRF) survey conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics. For the first time, iPads are among the most popular gifts for both girls and boys, with slightly higher demand among the former.

Among the other results from NRF’s 2013 Top Toys survey: 44.3 percent of holiday consumers plan to buy toys as gifts this holiday season; children are still asking for timeless items such as Barbie and dolls (No. 1 and 2 among girls, respectively) or Lego and toy cars (No. 1 and 3 among boys, respectively). And the younger generation is clearly technologically savvy, asking this year for tablets/iPads, smartphones (girls’ No. 11), and game consoles like Xbox One (boys’ No. 5) and PlayStation 4 (girls’ No. 10, boys’ No. 6).

Other popular toys for girls include Monster High Dolls, Disney Princess, and American Girl. The hot new item for boys this year is Skylanders, a hugely popular interactive video game that allows kids to play with a toy action figure at the same time. [Read more...]