For the past few years, I’ve attended Toy Fair in New York and come away with nothing but good things to say about it. However, Toy Fair is a trade-only event, accessible only to industry professionals, corporate buyers, and press. It’s not open to the general public, and kids aren’t allowed. Which is a shame – and superbly ironic, considering it’s a convention center full of toys.
Last year, however, was the first year that Play Fair arrived in the same space to fill the void. Play Fair is “a public celebration of play and entertainment for all ages [that] brings new and beloved toy and pop culture brands together under one roof for an interactive and fun-filled live event open to families, fans, and media.”
This year’s event will be held at the Javits Center in Manhattan on November 4-5 (tickets available now – Use discount code ROARBOTS to save $5 of your tickets!). If you’ll be in the region and have some time, I highly recommend checking it out.
I’m an unabashed Mega Man fanboy. Like so many others, Mega Man 2 on the NES was my jam as a kid (and still is). It’s the only game I beat multiple times, and to this day, I can play through the game and remember all of the tricks and patterns. That doesn’t make it any easier, of course. The Mega Man series is still the most difficult franchise of games ever created. Bar none. No contest.
Dons crotchety old man cap and prepares “Get off my lawn!” speech…
Kids today have no idea how brutal and unforgiving old-school NES games were. They have no idea many times we had to die just to clear a stage. I watch my kids play games like Skylanders – where it’s next to impossible to actually die – and shake my head at how easy they have it.
Another February, another Toy Fair New York. This year was a bit of a whirlwind for me, and I actually had a different focus than in years past. That meant I got to chat with a lot of different companies and learn about a lot of great new products – many of which I’ll focus on over the next few months both here and at GeekDad.
But I still made time to visit some of my favorite booths. And today, I’m here to help with a walkthrough of the Playmates booth. In previous years, Playmates has been all about the Ninja Turtles – almost to the detriment of everything else. Their booth was very green.
But not so this year! In addition to a very healthy TMNT line, Playmates has also added Ben 10 (for the newly rebooted show), Voltron: Legendary Defender, and the upcoming Nickelodeon show Mysticons.
If you haven’t seen it yet, Super 4 is a Netflix-exclusive show that is based on Playmobil designs. Not to be outdone by the countless animated series starring LEGO minifigures, Playmobil has finally jumped into the animated sphere.
The show follows a team of four heroes: Alex the Knight, Ruby the Pirate, Agent Gene, and Twinkle the Fairy. Each obviously represents a different theme, or–as the show explains–distinct island communities of their planet.
Obviously, the show is also an excuse to create a new themed toy line. And here we are.
Pokemon is a relatively new visitor in my house. Believe it or not, the franchise has been around since 1995! I’ve always been aware of it, but I was just never a fan. I never get sucked into the video games, collectible card game, or animation.
But it’s still around . . . and still more popular than ever! And, thanks to school, my kids have now discovered Pikachu, Ash, and all the rest. As of now, their exposure has been limited to the shows available on Netflix and a few cards they’ve picked up from who knows where. But somehow they still know the names of about 1,000 different Pokemon.
So it was much joy that they tore into two new Pokemon toys from TOMY: Ash’s Arena Challenge and Battle Moves Pikachu. Did they live up to the excitement?
It was literally a rainy day when we decided to take on this bad boy. The box had been sitting on a shelf, taunting and enticing us for far too long. It was finally time to bust out the modeling skills and put her together.
The Terra Kids flying dinosaur model kit comes from the good people at Haba, so you should know right there that it’ll be high-quality. Haba is perhaps most well known (at least in this house) as the company that makes fantastic kids games in those bright yellow boxes.
Turns out they also have a ridiculously extensive line of “classic” baby, toddler, and kid toys. I picked up the Haba catalog at Toy Fair back in February, and this model leaped off the page at me. My kids are dino-obsessed, and I knew we had to have it.
(This post originally appeared on GeekDad here.)
Cars are a big deal in my house. My three-year-old son has more Hot Wheels, Matchbox, and other assorted cars than any other kid I know. My mother never parted ways with all of my toy cars, so he now has all of mine in addition to a growing collection of his own. (It doesn’t hurt that individual Hot Wheels cars make perfectly reasonable impulse buys.)
In short, if it has four wheels, my son will play with it. Therefore, it was with some fascination that we saw Max Traxxx Tracer Racers. Despite the surplus of Xs in the name, these cars and track sets immediately grabbed his attention.
Promising “glow powered racing,” the sets (put out by Skullduggery) include glow-in-the-dark track and cars with small lights on the bottom. In a darkened room, turn on the lights, let the cars race down the track, and you’re rewarded with cool green streaks of light in their wake.
(This post originally appeared on GeekDad here.)
Here’s another one to file under “I wish they had these when I was a kid.” Razor, the company perhaps best known for revitalizing the “scooter industry” and making kick scooters cool again, has branched out in some surprising ways.
One of those ways? The Crazy Cart. The second I saw a Crazy Cart, I knew I had to have one. What is it? It’s essentially a drifting go-kart. OK, what does that mean? In a nutshell, it’s a battery-powered go-kart that has the ability to drift sideways, go backwards, and make complete 360s.
Have you ever wished ‘Mario Kart’ were real? Of course you have. We all have. Well, it’s time to set up the Chain Chomps and prepare the turtle shells and banana peels; Razor is bringing real-life ‘Mario Kart’ to your nearest empty parking lot. Boo-yah.
Let’s take a closer look.
If you’re a fan of Miyazaki or Studio Ghibli films in general – or just My Neighbor Totoro specifically – then anything I say from here on out will make little difference.
If you weren’t aware, Gund (the toy company famous for creating extremely huggable stuffed animals) has had a Totoro line for some time now. They have several versions of Totoro available in a few different sizes, from little potato-sized Totoros (both gray and blue) all the way up to a 13-inch behemoth. OK, “behemoth” might be stretching it a little, but it is a very good size … and it’s beyond adorable.
Just take a look:
Here’s the second in my Toy Fair 2015 booth overviews. Check out the overview of the Bandai booth here (hint: there are lots of Power Rangers). Also check out my Toy Fair coverage over on GeekDad: my Top 10 Highlights of Toy Fair and my take on a couple of this year’s Toy of the Year Award Winners.
Today, let’s take a look around the Playmates booth, which had more Ninja Turtles than I’ve ever seen assembled in one place. Seriously, I didn’t count, but there must’ve been close to a googolplex of turtles.
Apparently, Playmates has gone all in with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and they produce almost nothing else at this point. There was a small section of the booth devoted to a preschool doll line, but absolutely everything else was TMNT.
Toy Fair has come and gone. There were lots of announcements, lots of excitement, and lots of toys. I already covered it a bit over on GeekDad. Take a look at my Top 10 Highlights of Toy Fair or my view on a couple of this year’s Toy of the Year Award Winners, which were announced at Toy Fair.
I wanted to devote a couple posts here to some of the amazing booths at Toy Fair. Toy Fair is, first and foremost, a marketing and sales event. Therefore, if you’re a toy company, it’s in your interest to set up a booth that’s flashy and impressive.
One of those jaw-dropping booths at this year’s event was the Bandai booth. It was overrun with Power Rangers, big and small. Now, I’m not the world’s biggest Power Rangers fan (that honor might go to my son at the moment), but even I was impressed with their setup.
Lego 41055: Cinderella’s Romantic Castle / Disney Princess
This is the biggie from the first wave of Disney Princess sets. We had held off getting this one…quite honestly because of the price point. But then Grandpa came to visit. I think you know where this goes.
Zoey jumped at the opportunity to get the castle. Within the Disney Princess line, this is the most impressive set by far. It’s not only the biggest and has the most pieces, but it also has the highest playability factor. The castle is filled with little nooks and crannies, and it’s rife with opportunities for imaginative play once assembled.
Plus, it’s an absolute must if you’re constructing a LEGO Disneyland.
I’ve been to a lot of different conventions in my life: comic book conventions, book expos, Star Trek conventions. Until recently, I’d never been to a LEGO convention.
It was awesome.
Well, calling it a “convention” is sort of a misnomer. There’s only one exhibitor—LEGO—and it’s far more fun than your typical convention. It’s more like a huge LEGO playground. Their official marketing copy actually calls it “a hands-on, educational, all-ages LEGO extravaganza.” And there’s certainly nothing wrong with that.
LEGO KidsFest is a traveling show that’s been on tour since 2009, but it only makes seven North American stops each year. It also has a history of selling out well in advance. Therefore, if it comes anywhere near you, I highly suggest you make every effort to go.
We attended the event in Richmond, VA, which is a solid 3-hour drive for us from DC. I regret nothing.
Lego 76000: Arctic Batman™ vs Mr. Freeze™: Aquaman™ on Ice / DC Universe™ Superheroes
Otherwise known as Attack of the Trademark Symbols.
This was Zoey’s second set in the Superheroes line. It had been a while since we put together the first, so she had forgotten about the difficulty jump between these and the Friends and Disney Princess sets. The latter sets of comparable size and piece count are usually much easier to assemble. Still, she was up for the challenge.
It has a white Batman, which–let’s be clear–is what really attracted her to the set. Aquaman and Mr. Freeze were really just bonuses. But, in my opinion, they’re all stellar minifigures, and I want to say that Aquaman is exclusive to this set.
Lego 41051: Merida’s Highland Games / Disney Princess
Another entry in the Disney Princess line. I had thought this was Zoey’s “least desired” in the line, but she came home from the store with it in hand the other day (after finding some cash on the ground!).
Specs: 145 pieces (11 extras, including a cute little cookie and a cool key); 2 bags (+ 8×16 green base); 1 sticker sheet; 57 steps over 55 pages (2 books); took the 5yo Roarbot about an hour to put everything together
When my kids first became obsessed with the younger, much more kid-friendly version of the Transformers–Rescue Bots–I started to poke around in stores to see what toys were available.
Turns out there are a couple different ones. There are small PVC characters that aren’t poseable and, frankly, really not that much fun. Sam (2-year-old Roarbot) has a few of these. Aside from the availability of the human characters on the show, there’s really not much to them.
However, the larger transforming toys are a different matter entirely. Made by Hasbro under the Playskool Heroes line, there are (currently) 6 different vehicles: the 4 Rescue Bots themselves–Heatwave, Chase, Boulder, Blades–and Optimus Prime and Bumblebee.
Lego 41013: Emma’s Sports Car / Friends
It has wheels and a cute kitty. You had Zoey at hello.
Specs: 159 pieces (just a few extras–nothing special); 3 bags; 1 sticker sheet; 42 steps over 40 pages; took the 5yo Roarbot about 45 minutes to assemble everything.
Zoey’s been a fan of the Lego Friends sets for a while now. They were her first “real” Lego, and she really enjoys the sets with animals in them.
Lego 75032: X-Wing Fighter / Microfighters
Our second Microfighters set was this stubby little X-Wing. Just like the Millennium Falcon, Lego has gone for style over substance, and the best way to sum this up is: cute.
Specs: 97 pieces (4 extras–nothing special); 2 bags; 20 steps over 25 pages; and it took the 5yo Roarbot about 30 minutes to assemble
Again, like the Millennium Falcon Microfighter, there are a ton of tiny pieces packed in here. In its final form, it’s a fairly solid little guy.
Lego 75030: Millennium Falcon / Star Wars Microfighters
The Star Wars Microfighters line is a new line of six small sets that retail for $9.99. This is fairly pricey for the size of the sets, but they’re just so darn cute. We’ve picked up a couple so far (the other is the X-Wing, which will be along here shortly).The size of the minifigure gives a good idea of scale for the whole ship.
Specs: 94 pieces (8 extras–nothing special); 2 bags; 27 steps over 24 pages; and it took the 5yo Roarbot about 30 minutes to assemble.
After only 4 steps, the distinctive shape of the Falcon was already in place. Despite being such a small set, there are a LOT of small pieces buried inside this guy. It took longer to put together than we thought it would.
Lego 41053: Cinderella’s Dream Carriage / Disney Princess
Zoey just turned 5, and this was one of her birthday presents. Last year, when I first saw the photos of the new Disney Princess Lego line, I knew it would be a pain in my wallet. I was right. Zoey started in on “real” Legos late last year, at about 4 1/2, which apparently is much younger than many of her friends who are still fumbling with Duplos, if at all.
We started in with the Lego Friends line, and she fell in love with the polybagged pets sets. We’ve gone through Series 1 and 2 of those (Series 3 is in the closet, waiting), some larger Friends sets, a Superhero set here and there, and now this. At 4, she was able to assemble most of the sets entirely by herself. Now, she’s a pro.