Another cold, wintery Toy Fair is behind us, and while we understand the reasons behind having it in New York in February, there has to be some workaround where we aren't under a blizzard warning every year and don't have to explain to our spouses or significant others why Valentine's Day for a toy geek actually falls the next Saturday after Toy Fair. But we digress.
This year's event had its share of wows, gollee gees, wtf's, and huzzahs. For Hasbro, we heard the word "underwhelmed" tossed around a lot. 2011 is a Blue Ray year and one that is also a little more focused on the perceivably younger audience of The Clone Wars. While older fans and collectors have understandable fatigue collecting the modern line since 1995, Star Wars has been a bigger part of the cultural zeitgeist now more than ever. With the rise of the internet, social media, and overall digitization, there's no reason to believe that Lucasfilm and Hasbro, unlike the limited points of access they faced in 1985, can keep this train rolling through the 3D re-releases. There's an untapped resource of new fans out there.
Here's our rundown of the Best in Show for Toy Fair 2011:
With 35 more Vintage Collection figures coming this year, collectors have a lot to look forward to. We have high anticipation for the Expanded Universe vintage style cards, though it looks like they will share the same generic header.
He has the death sentence in 12 systems, but Doctor Cornelius Evazan finally gets his rightful due in plastic for The Vintage Collection. Now, mind you, he may face the Yarna syndrome, but you can't deny that Hasbro did a remarkable job with the headsculpt. It's too bad that his partner in crime, Ponda Baba (the artist formerly known as Walrusman) wasn't displayed with his swappable hands in all their glory. Adding to your Cantina diorama, Bom Vimdin also turned out quite nicely.
Hasbro continues their great Luke headsculpts with Dagobah Luke in Pilot gear, and the new Rebel Fleet Trooper is all that it was hyped up to be with ball jointed articulation and removable helmet.
Last, but certainly not least, Captain Fordo looks fantastic with a unique headsculpt. We also like the inclusion of both Phase I and Phase II helmets.
For The Clone Wars, Barris Offee and Eeth Koth look stunning as expected. Hasbro has done a bang up job with secondary Jedi players for the TCW line in the past, and that tradition continues with these two figures. To that point, the rest of 2011 Wave 3 look like absolute winners as well with the newly deco'ed ARC Trooper and the Riot Gear Clone. There was a little disappointment in not viewing a Savage Opress and Mother Talzin figures, but hopefully that will come at Comic-Con.
Vehicles...or lack thereof
This category certainly fell short this year, with the majority of new vehicles displayed being part of The Clone Wars Deluxe assortment. We do like the Attack Shuttle with Obi-Wan Kenobi and Clone with Scout Speeder for their "mini-rig" appeal. The Castas figure with the speeder also looks great.
We are hoping more mid sized vehicles, particulary those of an OT nature, will be revealed at Comic-Con
It's BIG, but
The Republic Attack Shuttle is clearly geared for play value and a younger audience. It certainly lacks the emotional appeal and iconic nature of an AT-AT, but we can't knock Hasbro for adding some nifty transformy type features. At a $79.99 pricepoint, it's a little bit less expensive than other BIG vehicles of the past, but it also falls short in terms of the WOW factorness for older collectors.
Packaging, packaging, packaging
Until we finally get that actual modern Death Star playset we've been salivating for, it's all about what's on the outside for the Comic-Con Death Star "Revenge" 12 Pack exclusive. This is gold if you're a package collector or completist and bonus points for the "Revenge of the Jedi" twist. 1500 pieces at Comic-Con will not go past the 2nd or 3rd day, though the pricepoint may prevent potential scalpers from buying multiples or having it fit in their Vega. Now, getting this sucker through TSA is another problem altogether. Will Hasbro come up with a direct mail alternative? Stay tuned.
We like the beautifully done packaging for the Blue Ray 4 packs. That is all.
For the past few years, LEGO has always impressed us with their show exclusives. This year was no different with their Collector Party exclusive Miniland Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Boba Fett. While getting ready for an event that starts at 8 am, particularly for west coasters fighting jet lag, can be a bit of a struggle, this certainly was a great hook.
With the no shows of Sideshow and Gentle Giant the past couple of years and Hasbro cost consciously giving out Transformers posters for this show, we tip our hat to LEGO for continuing a tradition of great, unique Toy Fair exclusives.
Kotobukiya impresses with their garrison of 1/10 scale Stormtroopers lined up behind Darth Vader as well as the mini freezing chamber diorama. Their booth was not sizeable like some of the bigger players, but it had impact, was effective, and sent a strong marketing message that this product will be hot in 2011.
Curiously, we find
Uncle Milton's R2-D2 Microviewer appealing to our geek sensibilities. Chewbacca fur and lightsaber crystals through a microscope? Sure!
Down the street from Javits Center, on the corner of 11th and 46th there's Daisy May's BBQ. Best in NYC. Huzzah!