We just got back from Toy Fair in New York City, and we've sifted through all the pics to bring you the best coverage we can. Be sure to check out the Photo Gallery of each company, and check out what's coming your way in 2005.
Below is a write up from each company we visited with, here is the table of contents if you want to skip ahead. (The second half of the list is on a second page)
But first, Mr. Stinkhead, Jager, and Lando da Pimp point out their favorites.
All individual links will open in a new window, "Photo Gallery"s will load in the same window.
We had a great time meeting at the Art Asylum studio instead of a cramped show room. We got to see the artist's space, and the places where they sculpt, paint, and come up with packaging. The C3 line is slowing up a bit for right now. We got to check out the Miniflyers and new Batman vehicles. We also got to see the new Napster swag and a some peaks at some new lines that AA is trying out.
Coolest thing about their showroom:Their conference room now features a MillionairePlayboy.com clock. sweet!
Jager: It's a little disappointing that Art Asylum has become pretty much an art house for other companies. I'm glad that Diamond picked up their Star Trek line, and the Marvel Minimates always get me excited. The C3s are taking the hit that most construction companies are. I think the mini flyers are the ticket to get the product to the masses. It was a great tour since we walked around their studio and got a glimpse of how they go from concept to toy.
Coolest thing about their showroom: It was awesome to see how they go from idea, to design, to sculpt, to painted toy.
Lando da Pimp
It was cool to see Art Asylum studios. They welcomed us and had a great discussion about what they have coming up and what we thought about their direction. I am excited to see that even though Enterprise is leaving television, Art Asylum is not leaving Star Trek.
Fantastic work, as always. I'm not 100% sure the Napster branding is going to be all that successful, but as long as it reaches their target audience, then why not?
I was definitely glad to hear that they will be going back and redoing the Kirk, Spock and McCoy Minimates in the 2" scale to be consistant with the newer releases.
I would have loved to see the traditional Deep Space Nine outfits on the new figures, but hey... I'm not complaining. DS9 was my favorite of the Star Trek shows, and I'm happy to get any figures of that crew.
Cranium has the best games out there. Period. Their tour wasn't really a tour at all. We sat at a table and had fun playing the newest games they are producing. They have a card game coming out called Zigity that's a little like UNO. It's set to be about 15 minutes of play and has different "suits" based on the Cranium creatures (drawn by Gary Baseman). Also, there's a game called Whoonu that is made to be a party game. The idea is that you choose four cards that have things on it such as "chunky peanut butter", "the Beach", and other items and foods, etc. You choose what two the "dealer" likes better. It's not really that competitive, it's to get your party
goers talking. It's a blast.
Coolest thing about showroom: This meeting was the most fun we had! We just sat around a table and played games.
Jager and I are big fans of almost all of the Cranium games. This year we were introduced to a couple of new ones, including Whoonu and Zigity. Ziggity is a great travel game you can throw in your backpack and take on the go. Whonuu is more of a conversational game that is great for parties (both young and old, we got a kick out of it, and will be playing at our next beer and pizza night). Though both of these games were for 8 and up, we quickly snatched up the press samples they gave us and are anxious to show them to friends.
Coolest thing about their showroom: We got to meet with two of the folks responsible for developing the games, and it was great seeing how these things come to fruition, bypassing your standard corporate think-tank process, and going for the moment.
Lando da Pimp
As usual DC Direct has great sculpted figures. The big line is Batman The
Long Halloween. Based on the comic book by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale the Long Halloween figures are just as impressive as the Hush line from last year.
Jager DC Direct has really upped it's artist-based lines this year. There's the spectacular looking Long Halloween based on Tim Sale's artwork. The coup de grace of the line
is Two Face. He is gnarly! Surprisingly, Mad Hatter looks super too. There's also a line based on Ed McGuiness’s Superman/Batman comic. This has the company's first Captain Atom figure. Jim Lee's Hush line continues with some well-timed Scarecrow and Ra's Ah Ghul figures. There's also
an Alfred figure that has the best face sculpt ever! There was
plenty of Batman Begins merch, but not many action figures. In fact
there was only one. But it is a doozy! 13" of articulated goodness. They also
have a Superman figure that's the same size, that comes with Clark Kent duds.
And dig this: the hair curl on his face is bendy. Up for Clark, down for Supes. Nice. This
was a nice tour and I was happy to see that the showroom was about three times
the size as last year's.
Coolest thing about showroom: The literal unvieling of Batman Begins merch. There was an actual curtain and a pause for anticitpation.
Mr. Stinkhead I am having a full-on Jones for all these new Batman figures and statues. Though I haven't read all of the different comics, I loved seeing the Dark Knight in a whole slew of different incarnations.
Coolest thing about Showroom: Almost had a Batman related seizure, almost, but not quite.
Iron Cow What can I say? I'm a DCD-addict. One of the biggest surprises for me was just how nice the Batman Rogues Gallery figures are. I told the DCD rep (Jim Fletcher) that I had to admit, the promo shots they had released made for a terrible looking product. I was definitely surprised by how nice these were in person. I think I still prefer the Hasbro Legends of the Dark
Knight Man-Bat, but the DCD one is a very close second!
The JLU maquettes were amazing. I've been joking around that I have spots for exactly 2 more maquettes. Well, it looks like Green Arrow and Black Canary will fill those spots perfectly! But where do I put the Ace the Bathound? THAT was completley unexpected, but I'll be guaranteed to pick it up.
Critterbox has some of the best known names in Designer Toys. Gary Baseman has a new devil vinyl coming out called Hot Cha Cha. This puppy is going to be hot! He also designed the Dunces line that has different animals sitting on stools with Dunce hats on. The Dumb Luck figures continue to pick up speed as they go, but they sell out even before they hit the stores, so good luck with that. Trust me, it makes me sad too. There's also the vinyl line based on David Horvath and Sun-Min Kim's UglyDolls. The coming year debuts Ugly Dog. Very cute. Not so cute are Kozik's Smoking Bone Bunnies. These are split laterally and open up to show their ribs and spine. Not to mention it's a rabbit smoking a cigarette. Critterbox has quite the spectrum from cute to creepy.
Drastic Plastic's biggest news is the Tag the System line. These are model train cars that are made with the idea of you tagging them with your own art. You could put your own name, a cool design, or even be ambitious and build onto it to create a totally unique design. The line stems from a touring art show headed up by Drastic's head honcho, Klim. The show carries cars designed by people such as David Horvath, Tim Biskup, Mez, and Pete Fowler. Many, many more have contributed too. Check out details on the exhibit. And now you can add your flavor to the same model they used! Also showing were the ever salty Swear Bears. Each sports a face on each side of the head and interchangeable hands (the finger, goat head, open palm, etc.). But new this year were the blank versions. This company really wants to make you the artist!! Finally, there were the creepy Kiki the Fashion Tiki and Johnny VooDoo. Both would fit into your batchelor pad/tiki lounge nicely. This company got us excited with its want to give the creativity to it's patrons.
Rocketworld continues on its I.nsurgent W.ilderness G.ruppo line in style. Patrick Ma was showing three new pieces. Irra the owl comes with a laser guided missile that he can perch on (or he can stand free on the table). There's a nice feature on the missile that when you push on the thruster on the back, a laser will shine from the nose. Next up is Desmond the dolphin. He comes with a floating mine. Not many action features, but everyone was very excited about him. Humans have a kindred spirit with dolphins. The final piece of the first series of I.W.G. will be Astrid the Panther. She'll be painted with spots and one on the back will look like a skull. Here's a little known fact that Patrick shared with me: Black panthers have spots too. You just can't see them unless there's a UV light shone on them. Well, Rocketworld is planning an exclusive figure that's black, but when you shine a black light on her you can see her spots. Pretty sweet!! Also check out some of the I.W.G.'s handiwork with the dead humans booster pack you can pick up.
showing some stuff they produced and pieces they are selling. The things
they are producing looked pretty rad. They will be releasing version
5 and 6 of their mascot, the kidrobot. #5 is a graf artist (he's out now) with removable gas mask. #6 is a robber and has a classic 20's style striped shirt and a gun with a "POW" flag. He also has pantyhose that can be pulled over his face to conceal his identity (yeah right). #7 sports a Luchador mask, and mallet. It will be in three colorways. Of course the Dunny train will keep on rolling with various artists
putting their own spin on the classic shape. The prototype for Kon
Artis looked very promising. This is an interesting looking figure
with a paint brush and patterns on his face and hands. The design looked
great, and we're anxious to see the painted version. Also worth mentioning
is the MekkaBongo. This is a robot Gorilla vinyl figure. He looks
menacing and even though it was an unpainted prototype, it got our attention.
This is going to be a big year for kidrobot.
Friends with You showed with STRANGEco (they teamed up last year). They didn't have any new plush to show, but what they have is so great, it's worth checking out again. They do have a very promising line coming this year. It's the Good Wood Gang. These are wooden figures that have interchanging parts. The quirky FwY design is evident and the interchangeability is great.
Ugly Dolls's David Horvath has two new plush coming this year. One is Ugly Dog and he is about the cutest of the set so far. Also, Critterbox is producing a line of vinyl figures based on his designs and even though they aren't as huggable as the plush counterparts, they look better on your shelf. Also, Ugly Dolls has what they call soda toppers being released in Asia now and hopefully coming stateside soon. They are caps that fit snuggly on the top of your bottle (soda, but I use mine on my water bottle) and you have a little friend to make you smile whenever you get a drink. They are blind packed for fun.
In my opinion STRANGEco has its fingers in the hottest stuff to hit the western hemisphere. First
up is Mars-1's new figure based on a painting by the artist. There is also a new ultra rare red colorway of his first figure being released in very very limited runs. Also showing was Jeremy Fish's Silly Pink Bunny Van. It's out now, but still, this is a hilarious piece! Wootini has joined forces with the company to produce more figures based on artist's 2-D works. First up is Jermaine Rogers DERO. This freaky looking bear is a Shadow Creature from Rogers' paintings. The black shiny colorway is hot! Also from Rogers is the even creepier Squire. This pig-bodied/baby headed creature freaked me out and it was only the unpainted prototype! The most interesting piece in my opinion was Glamour Cat. This prototype was finished just before the show and looked just like it stepped from Scott Musgrove's painting. Truly amazing. Tree Dweller from Nathan Jurevicius' Scary Girl line looks nice too. It's a larger piece than he usually makes and depicts a lady sitting on a tree stump in his recognizable style. STRANGEco will keep cranking the Designer Toys, and believe me it's picking up some serious steam.
We also dig the Neo Kaiju project, little eggs, hold a crazy surprise figure in each one. Some are ultra detailed, others are that trademark vinyl look, all of them look pretty sweet. While we were touring their booth, people kept trying to swipe some of their limited samples.
Wheaty Wheat may be smaller than the other Designer companies, but what they have looked fresh. First up is Eggster designed by Sket One. These nasty looking eggplants make you really wish you'd have eaten your veggies when you were a kid. On display was the one of a kind Tin Man Eggster. Wheaty Wheat also produces Groob. This glob of a creature was designed by Andrew Bell and comes with four different faces that are interchangeable. There's 3 standard with each figure and you get one of five mystery faces too. Comes in nude and green colorways. Also up are some new MAD*L figures. I like these because they are blank figures they send to artists to do their own designs on (like Dunnys), but they are a very interesting shape. Speaking of artist made pieces, YOU can be the artist with your very own toy with the Cre8tive Peeples line. These are super cool designed blank figures that you paint the designs on. Now here's the coolest thingthey are having a contest and the top 20 will be made into actual living vinyl!! That's an awesome prize, my friends.
Jager I'm always impressed with the number of licenses that Diamond Select has. Their Marvel Select figures are always super nice and the coming year's are no exception. The Carnage figure is the best figure I've seen depicting the symbiote. The Marvel Minimates always get me excited, and seeing the Rogue figure made my day. But the clear Iceman took the cake. They are continuing on with their high-end collectibles with Cyclops' visor, Cerebro helmet, and Magneto's helmet. They also are starting with GIJoe collectibles with Snake Eyes/Storm Shadow bookends, a Snake Eyes wall hanging, and life sized Cobra Commander Gun and Destro mask. Unfortunately, the mask isn't wearable. But the biggest news is that the company picked up Art Asylum's Star Trek line. They are still working closely with A.A., meaning that they are designing the toys while Diamond distributes them (just like with MiniMates). They are planning to re-release some of the older figures, and also some new ones based on Enterprise and TNG. I was happy to see this license being picked back up, but was a little disappointed to see that the newer figures appear to have older bodies with newly sculpted heads. Diamond always has a great showroom and it's fun to see what they have.
Man I wish we could show you the Street Fighter Minimates! We'll have news on those as soon as we can.
Coolest Thing About Showroom: Apparently we weren't the first to ask if we could put on the Destro mask.
Iron Cow Diamond Select has such a wide assortment of offerings it's hard to tell where to begin. I'm loving
their Cyclops replica visor. If I had just a little more disposable cash, I'd be tempted to pick that up.
The Marvel Select Thanos is going to please many many Marvel Legends fans. It's a fantastic piece!
The Marvel Minimates are adorable as always, but I was thrilled to see the Deep Space Nine figures. Hopefully we'll see some more traditional outfits at some point, but for now these will thrill me just fine.
Lando da Pimp
The biggest thing to look forward to is obviously Episode III line. The
figures look great and the excitement is here. Of course I am now spoiled by what I saw. The toy to get however is Darth Tater. It's just fun.
No photography was allowed of the Chronicles of Narnia. Everything looks very impressive and should please the fans of the books.
Hasbro is on the verge of ruining the GI-JOE line. The Joes have been resized to 9 inch figures to coincide with the new cartoon. You know that can't be good. Maybe its time to put GI-JOE to rest. I am intrigued by the new Transformer line. The hopes of a new film has put some life into this
Mr. Stinkhead I haven't collected SW figures for a couple of films now, but I'm really digging the new figs, and I really like the lava playset. (The final production piece will NOT come with real lava, the showroom accident we witnessed shows us why)
The new Attactix game looks promising, though geared to younger collectors. Pick your characters, line up against your buddy's, and if your missiles knock over their characters, you get points. There are also light sabre attacks and larger vehicles.
Hey, I don't know if this is a spoiler or not, but if you look closely at this Anakin figure, it looks like it contains details that I didn't know ahead of time. I dunno. You've been warned.
It was cool seeing Prowl and a few of the other Alternators. I was a bit disappointed that there are no plans for future "Masterpiece" editions of classic GI characters, like the 20th Anniversary Optimus Prime that came out this year. But we asked
The word is no regarding new Xevoz news. This line got me through the past year. I don't know what will get me through the down times of '05. Maybe Alternators, maybe heavy amounts of hard liquor, maybe collecting drunk Transformers.
Coolest thing about showroom: watching tour guide Bob, I mean uh, "Bill" do the "no photography allowed" dance.
Lando da Pimp
Jakks' biggest line is the WWE wrestlers. The biggest news is announcement of the new body sculpts for the Adrenaline line, which looks like they intend to rename and start over with all new figures. The best line is the Classic Superstars. Watch out for the Wal-Mart exclusive Rock and ToyFare's Rowdy Roddy Piper. What was most impressive is the new wrestling ring. This thing is 2' by 2' and is based on the WWF rings of the 80's. Meeting Terry Funk was a real pleasure and its great to see a company like Jakks understand the importance of pleasing the collectors.
The other line to watch is the Plug and Play TV Games which is branching out with multiple games and will soon provide "keys" that include additional games that can be played with the controllers.
Coolest thing about showroom: Learning the true meaning of "knockers."
Though many of the companies were in Javits, these are the ones you may not know to look for by name
Jumpin' Banana has begun to distribute the Lightning Reaction brand of games that deliver a mild electric shock. We recently played the basic game (where I electrocuted my mom), and we were anxious to see what else was in store. My favorite by far are the dueling RC Tanks. Place the two tanks on the floor and use the remote control to manuver and turn your tank to shoot your buddy's tank with the infrared beam. If your hit is successful, his remote control will deliver a mild electric shock. But watch out, he can get you right back.
Lando had fun with the Laser Tag inspired game. Put the chestpiece around your neck, and if you get shot, your pistol will shock you. We liked how you could double the pain you receive when doubling the damage you deliver to your friend.
We're also anxious to try out the lie detector, that does a great job
of detecting hesitation and nervousness when the subject is answering loaded
questions. A perceived lie will deliver a mild shock, prompting the interrogated
not to lie again.
Don't like all the strategy and game play? Pick up Lightning Roulette. Four
people place a finger in one of the holes, and one of you will get shocked. That's
PlayVisions has the coolest line of squishy gross stuff, and I always
swing by their booth each Toy Fair. I love how their creative minds aren't
restricted by licensed properties or standard conventions of the toy industry.
What can make a squishy skull even grosser? Let's add a plastic bubble full
of larvae. Traditional slime is too sticky and smelly? Let's improve upon its
consistency, and add body parts and fake boogers while we're at it.
I also fell in love with their new line Stretchghetti, virtually rubber spaghetti (with worms or cockroaches), it feels very sticky and gross, but as soon as you let go, there is absolutely no residue or smell left on your fingers.
This is the great stuff you find at mom & pop toy stores when you're getting ready to check-out. I have a large bucket full of squishy stuff that I bring out at parties, and the hands start digging before too long.
We met with Geoff from Shocker Toys, and have really begun to dig his Shockini miniature figures. Offering loads of articulation and customization options, these figures are perfect for customizing your own mini-figs of your favorite characters, or yourself! Check out some of the customs Iron Cow put together for display at the booth. The Pee Wee Herman is exceptional.
We're also looking forward to the new accessorized Shockinis, like the pirate and the licensed characters like Toxic Crusader.
Iron Cow Shocker Toys approached me about doing some designs for them over a year ago. I kept dragging my feet on the project, but they finally came together just in time for Toy Fair. Overall, I think the Shockinis are a little too box-like for my tastes, but then again it allows a certain character selection that might not look as well if it were a Kubrick or Minimate. I think my Ninja Turtle is my personal favorite of the bunch, but I was surprised by how strong the feedback was for the Pee-Wee Herman. I've got to thank my buddy Stephen Morrissey (Anubis8) for the suggestion. Thanks Steve!
We've had some online companies sponsor us to make this trip to NY possible. So why don't you check them out? We wouldn't be featuring their logo all over the place if we didn't think they were good for you.