February 22, 2012
Toy Fair 2012: Comments and Stuff

Hey, guys! Sorry about the hiatus -- more content on the way, I promise. I always promise that, I know, and I always mean it. But yeah.

So, Toy Fair 2012 was last week in NYC. I didn't get to go, but like a good little toy enthusiast I was rabidly following the reveals online... and I didn't post coverage here because it's not like there weren't already a million sites reposting the same pics and whatnot! But now that it's all over and done with, I do want to talk a bit about which products I'm most anticipating... in addition to whatever other scattered thoughts come out as I write this. I'll organize my comments according to the toylines and/or properties to which they refer.

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES

If you've been reading the site for a while, this shouldn't surprise you in the least -- the TMNT reveals really had me salivating. The TMNT figures based on the new cartoon look pretty darned awesome (though not nearly as awesome as the hand-painted prototype pics Playmates released before we actually got to see the production samples in the showroom), and the superarticulated figures based on the OT (old 'toon) designs are pretty neat to boot. (If you haven't already seen the photos, you can check out pics on Ninja Pizza -- here and here -- among various other sites.)

However, my enthusiasm for these figures is tempered somewhat by the info we've gotten concerning their prices. The new 'toon figures are reported to have a MSRP of $7.99-8.99 -- not exceedingly expensive, but not nearly as attractive as the $5.99 price we heard last year. Still, I can see going for at least the Turtles in this assortment. While not superarticulated, they still appear to be fairly poseable -- and with heights ranging from 4.25" to 4.75", they seem like they could be well scaled for a 6" collection... if one prefers his Turtles short. In fact, as you can see in this video review by Pixel Dan (I hate video reviews, and I find Pixel Dan incredibly icky for some reason... but until Playmates sends a preview figure to Rose of Ninja Pizza or Michele Ivey of Cowabunga Corner or my buddy tOkKa of Terrible2z and MikeysTMNT or ME -- 'cause you know I'd totally break it down for you all thorough like -- this is probably the best if most painful look you'll get at the new figures for the time being), they're pretty much the same height as the vintage TMNT figures, which I think look pretty good next to 6" figures. The older figures were beefier and had larger heads, though, so the new toys might not look as good next to larger figures. Time will tell.

And while the classics would ideally be the go-to figures for collectors, I'm even more cautious about them. Their $14.99 MSRP is a huge turnoff for me -- 'cause while that seems to be the going price for 6" collector figures these days, it just doesn't feel justified from where I sit. Yes, that's how much Marvel Legends, 6" Thundercats figures, and the like cost... but those toys also come with BAF parts, swappable hands, and/or other accessories to justify the price. These TMNT figures look like they'll come with their signature weapons and a sewer lid base, which doesn't excite me much. Also, their heights could be a problem. Note that Playmates isn't saying that they're 6" scale -- it's saying that they're 6" figures... which could mean that we'll end up with Turtles roughly as tall as Iron Man. That doesn't work for me at all. And while their articulation in the proto pics was really impressive, something about the production figures seems less so. I don't know -- the more I look at them, the more I think I'd rather break out some of my fodder figures from the 2003 line and modify them to suit my needs.

Note that I haven't said much about the non-Turtle figures in either line -- because we haven't seen any for the OT classics lineup (but you know I wants me a superarticulated April O'Neil in yellow) and because the supporting cast figures in the new 'toon line look kinda crappy. They'll articulate the Turtles, sure... but when it comes to April and Splinter and Shredder and the like it's back to 1980s articulation. I'll pass, especially considering that those figures (I'm guessing the line itself will be a 5" line) won't fit in nearly as well in a 6" collection as the boys in green.

Moving along...

MY LITTLE PONY

Yeah, you know I'm all about ponies now -- and there were some surprising and awesome MLP reveals at Toy Fair. (Check out these pics at My Little Pony News.) Nightmare Moon, Zecora -- who apparently glows in the dark! -- Trixie, Vinyl Scratch, Princess Celestia in white... just a really strong showing from Hasbro. I could care less about the wedding-themed ponies, but little girls will probably love them. And that's really the target market, innit? 😀

(Nothing to do with the toys, but check out this video because it rulesss. :mrgreen: )

G.I. JOE RETALIATION

More awesome stuff from Hasbro with G.I. Joe figures based on the upcoming film. (Check out pics here, here, and here on HissTank.) Granted, I'll be passing on many of the figures I might otherwise have purchased because of the diminished articulation -- whereas double-hinged knees and swivel-hinged ankles became the Joe standard with the 25th Anniversary line (exceptions like Destro notwithstanding), Hasbro's going back to single-hinged knees and dropping ankle articulation altogether from many of the new figures. I guess it makes sense if they needed to make cuts, and I do have figures that remain quite poseable without ankle hinges (for example, Wave 2 Panthro from the 4" Thundercats line)... but it does diminish my desire to pick up those figures. On the other hand, figures like Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow have actually gotten articulation enhancements in that they'll be sporting the side-pivoting ankles that allow for wider stances. Actually, the ninja figures in general look like their articulation will be pretty great -- Jinx (aka Kim Arashikage), the aforementioned rivals, and a bunch of other ninjas that just look bloody cool. So even though I'm not looking forward to some figures at all, there will definitely be some that I've gotta have. I'm guessing I'll also be down for the single-carded Lady Jaye figure, even though we haven't seen what the retail release will look like yet (only the New York Comic-Con exclusive was on display).

And y'know? I think that's kinda it as far as figures I'm really anticipating! Sure, there were some great Marvel Universe and Legends reveals as well, but nothing new that had me chomping at the bit -- for example, with respect to MU, we saw Beast, She-Hulk, and Scarlet Witch last year. But there was a DC reveal that would have interested me if not for one thing...

BATMAN POWER ATTACK: The Evergreen Line

So it's not actually going to have that subheading -- apparently "evergreen" is what industry folks call a toyline that's not attached to a particular media property. (As in, there's no Batman cartoon or movie to which this line is explicitly tied.) Anyway, it's another Batman toyline. It's apparently 5", but I actually rather like the sculpts -- with the oversized hands and feet, they just appeal to me in a stylized animation sort of way. (Check out some pics here and here on Action Figure Insider.) Unfortunately, their articulation looks to be really lacking. I can forgive a line like this not being superarticulated -- it's clearly for the kiddies, and it's not like I was going to try integrating those figures into other more articulated factions in my collection. But I do like to be able to pose my figures somewhat... so it's a problem for me when a toy is stuck with T-hips and doesn't even have knee hinges.

Now, there's a conversation going on in TheFwoosh's forums about this line. Some folks are convinced it's going to fail because the articulation sucks; others are confident it'll succeed because it's the goddamned Batman and kids don't really care about articulation. I make no predictions about how well it's going to do based on those reasons. But, as I wrote:

...I always wonder how well these kinds of figures sell as is (and how much money they make) versus how well they might sell if they were better figures (more articulation, if nothing else). I mean, we can certainly come up with weak articulation that failed -- Green Lantern -- and speculate that they might have done better with more. But we can also come up with fairly well-articulated lines that nevertheless lingered on the pegs (IM2, Thor, Tron Legacy, Avatar, Microman when it made its US push). And we can think of lines with weak articulation that continue to do really well (Ben10... even though I see TONS of these figures on clearance and in discount stores).

And I do wonder about that. I mean, I have no idea what Mattel's sales figures for its Batman lines are like (and admittedly they must be pretty good since Mattel isn't improving the figures' articulation), but it seems to me that the lines that do the best are the ones that appeal to kids and collectors. So with more articulation, I wonder, would these Batman figures attract enough adult collectors to make the line even more popular and justify the added tooling expense? Or would the line still have little appeal for older collectors, especially considering that there are already highly articulated Batmen from the DCUC and Batman Legacy lines? I don't know -- but it might be worth noting that the majority of Mattel's failed superhero lines were notably lacking in poseability.

But as I wrote on TheFwoosh:

At the end of the day... I can only say with certainty that if these figs were more articulated, they'd be more likely to sell to one consumer in particular.

Namely me! I'd not only buy at least one Batman, but probably all of the villains. If nothing else, Killer Croc might make for a pretty cool Usub Gerstalk custom. 😀

And that'll do it for this post, then! More blog content to come -- and more actual site features, too. Until then, then!

-posted by Wes | 2:20 am | Comments (4)
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