Some of the world’s biggest toy makers — as well as some of the newest, techiest, and sportiest — descended on the Big Apple last weekend for New York Toy Fair. We spent three days roaming the aisles and assessing the toy landscape, and we saw some really cool stuff — like a robot that danced to “Gungam Style”!
That’s the Alpha 1S from UBTech. The company was at Toy Fair to show off their Alpha 2 robot, as well as its Jimu system of construction bots. (Think robots made from Lego-style bricks.) We saw a Jimu penguin that also moved and squawked, but there are three other animals in the line, including a giraffe and a scorpion. The Jimu penguin was definitely fun, and a nice way to combine your love of Lego with learning about robotics.
We’ll come back to Lego in a minute. But first, let’s talk sports. At the Franklin booth, we saw some cool gear coming this year, from a football toss-and-return kit that can be used indoors and fold up for easy storage to some great new hockey sticks to fun table-top games and slot-hockey sets. Franklin also has some new MLS-branded soccer balls in the pipeline, as well as red, white, and blue sports balls to get you ready for the 2016 Summer Olympics.
And then there were the Batman and Superman goalie masks. The hockey helmets are part of a line of Supes/Bats sports equipment Franklin will roll out soon. So if you like your footballs imprinted with the Batman logo, you’re in luck!
But those helmets were really great: super intimidating, like a goalie mask should be, with rad graphics all over them, from Batman and the Joker on one to Superman and the iconic S shield on the other.
Batman and Superman were all over Toy Fair. Of course. Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice hits theaters on March 25. As part of their Big-Figs line, JAKKS Pacific had a solid group of 20-inch and 30-inch figures from the movie — and not just Batman and Superman, but Wonder Woman, too.
The sculpts on these figures were solid, but the best of the bunch might have been the 30-inch Batfleck. I mean, this is just like staring into the face of the Dark Knight himself:
The best likenesses, though, might have been on the 1/6-scale statues on display at the DC Collectibles booth. Let’s be clear: these aren’t action figures, and at $150 a pop they’re a little pricey. But boy do they look good.
Not shown are Wonder Woman and Armored Batman, but trust us: They look just as good.
Batman was all over the DC booth, from toys based on the classic animated series — including a 34-inch Batwing! — to a set of six multi-colored Batmen taken from a classic Silver Age story where Batman wears different colored costumes.
Batman and Superman weren’t the only superheroes represented at Toy Fair. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were there, too, and nowhere were they better represented than at the Playmates booth. They had a ton of new action figures (including a crazy shark mutant creature), toy cars with Turtles (and friends and enemies hanging out of them), and blaster darts with Turtles faces on them.
Marvel characters were also at Toy Fair. And we saw some fantastic stuff at Hasbro’s showroom, including an insanely detailed Spider-Man and action figures based on the soon-to-be-released Captain America: Civil War.
The Civil War swag also included role play items like a Cap shield that turns into a Nerf blaster and an Iron Man repulser that also fires Nerf darts. For older kids (ahem, adults), Hasbro also showed off a life-size Cap shield that looks really, really authentic.
Transformers was also given a lot of space at Hasbro, with figures from all the different cartoon shows in the house. One of the best figures was Victorion, the first female Transformer (an Autobot, by the way), from the Combiner Wars series.
And just because it reminded me of the Transformers I had as a kid, I really dug the Transformer that became a boom box (not to mention the other Autobot that transforms into a cassette tape)!
While we’re on the topic, let’s get back to robots for a second. At the Skyrocket booth, one of the spotlight items was Mebo. Available in the fall, the robot has six wheels, a head-mounted HD video camera, and an articulated arm perfect for grabbing things (like a bag of popcorn) or pranking your friends and family. The Skyrocket team had a fun video of Mebo in action, but we can’t wait to see it rolling around for ourselves.
When we talk about robots, we can’t forget BB-8. The droid stole the show in Star Wars: The Force Awakens — and it seemed like BB-8 was everywhere at Toy Fair. We saw Sphero’s mini droid controlled by a new Force Band (a wearable that makes it feel like you’re directing BB-8 with the Force) and a larger remote controlled droid at the Spin Master booth.
There was also a life-size BB-8 made out of Lego, which was pretty neat. It was part of a large-scale diorama that featured life-size Lego versions of Poe, Rey, Finn, Kylo Ren, and Captain Phasma.
That’s a good lead-in to what we saw at the Lego booth — which was a lot! There was a ton of stuff from the Ninjago line, a new series called Nexo Knights, and the Friends collection. The Friends selection included maybe the best mini-figure ever: a person in a hot dog costume.
Speaking of mini-figures, Lego also unveiled the first-ever baby mini-figure, as well as one in a wheelchair, as part of a new set in the City series called Fun in the Park: City People pack.
There were also new sets based on DC and Marvel heroes, especially Batman v. Superman and Civil War, as well as cool new Mighty Micro vehicles.
Naturally, there was a lot — A LOT — of Star Wars: from the movies, from the TV show Star Wars: Rebels, from the new Lego Star Wars shorts. Some of the large-scale sets were awesome, but my personal favorites were the new Microfighters, like a sweet TIE Advanced Prototype (available in March) from Rebels, and a small-scale Bespin Carbon-Freezing Chamber (also available in March), featuring one of the all-time great Lego mini figures: Han Solo in Carbonite.
There were a lot of non-Lego construction sets around Toy Fair, too, like Laser Pegs — a building toy that has microchips built into certain pieces that light up. There were some cool sets out at their booth, like a glowing T-Rex, a glowing race car and track, and a spaceship.
We also ran into our old friends at Oyo, who showed up some of their newest products including locker room packs where players can be put into press conferences or strategy sessions and full-size hockey rink and football field sets. I really liked the camera man mini-figure that comes with the football field.
When it comes to sports toys, though, it’s hard to beat the figures created by McFarlane Toys. They’re known for their true-to-life likenesses of pro athletes from the NFL, NHL, NBA, and MLB, and what they had on view at Toy Fair kept that tradition going. I mean, their Steph Curry is just crazy good:
Let’s stick with sports to wrap up our tour of Toy Fair (finally!) and look at two cool new products from Razor. The first is the RipSurf (available in March), a variation of Razor’s RipStik that looks like a surfboard (or a snowboard) and works like a skateboard. The design of this thing is really great, and it looks like a lot of fun to ride.
The other is something you skate shoes fans might like: Jett Heel Wheels. Basically, they’re wheels that strap on to your shoes (from youth size 12 to adult size 12) to turn your everyday kicks into skate-ready footwear. They also include a nub on the heel that sparks when you run it along the pavement. And if the demo at Toy Fair is any indication, these things really light it up.
Photos: Dante A. Ciampaglia