February 19, 2008

Fair Play 2008

Filed under: Feature,Reports — Tags: , , , , , , — Joe Hennes @ 8:14 am


This past Sunday, I had the amazing opportunity to attend the New York Toy Fair, where all of the toy companies come out to show their wares. ToughPigs’ own Martha and Andrea were with me as we used our finely-tuned Sixth Sense to spot anything with a Sesame or Muppet logo. And that Sixth Sense was invaluable, as there were hundreds upon hundreds of booths. We were lucky enough to see some great toys that are coming out in the next year, and what kind of friend would I be if I didn’t share the news? A pretty crummy friend, that’s what. Well, crummy ain’t in my profile, so here’s some fun things to whet your whistle.

Master Replicas/Corgi

It’s times like these that I wish I had a business card with the ToughPigs logo. Because dropping the “I write for a Muppet fan website” shout-out is apparently good enough to get us inside Corgi’s closed doors, but not good enough to take pictures or ask detailed questions. Thankfully someone out there was able to grab photos, so you can see what I’m talking about.

The Kermit, Animal, Gonzo, and Fozzie Master Replicas photo puppets were on display. It was the first time I’d seen the Animal, Gonzo and Fozzie ones up close. There’s a lot of good to be said for Animal, though I’m still convinced that his facial hair is all wrong. But the ostridge feathers are very pretty, and they flow like he’s alive when there’s a breeze. Gonzo looks great, with the exception of his nose, which is not-so-arguably the most important feature to get right. I understand the problems that arise when using foam, but I would have much preferred if they caved in and built a nose out of hard plastic. Fozzie, as TP’s own Martha put it, makes up for all of the ugly Fozzie merchandise we’ve ever had. He’s beautiful and perfect. I can’t think of anything bad to say about him. He’s a little shorter than I pictured him, but it fits with the sizes of the other photo puppets. I can only hope that he’s affordable, as I pretty much need to own one.


The other Muppet product in Corgi’s hidden room was five small Electric Mayhem figurines. They were very pretty, but the design was just flawed enough to make a shopper second-guess. The person I spoke to didn’t have any details, but she said that the figures will be sold on the higher-end. Meaning that if they aren’t perfect, and they’re a little more expensive, they’ll probably sell approximately 3 of them. And they’ll all be Animal, because everyone loves Animal. Eat drums.

Gund

The Gund showroom was also closed to the public, so we decided to be sneaky and see how much we could see before someone noticed us. Most of the toys were nothing new. Dolls and puppets and some Abby Cadabby stuff. What caught my eye was a beautiful Count von Count doll. He really looked just like the puppet, and I’ll shell out some dough for it. Another new (to me, at least) item I saw was Twiddlebug finger puppets. It’s an idea so natural, I’m upset with myself for not thinking of it first. At that point, someone realized that we weren’t important and we were shown the door. Well, the joke’s on you, Gund, because I’m promoting your products anyway! Ha HA!

MINDstyle/Dark Horse

MINDstyle and Dark Horse had two booths across from each other, so forgive me if I didn’t bother to tell them apart. They had all of the City Critters out on display, which are very nice. Not quite as Muppety as I’d like, but they’re fun little toys. There were three Dark Crystal statues on display, including a pretty statue of Jen and Kira with the Crystal Shard. But the highlights were the Fraggle Rock toys.

First off, there is an 8″ Doozer. And he’s beautiful. Though Doozers are so simple, I’d imagine they’d be hard to mess up (I’m sure that won’t stop the toy companies from trying). They had just received the Doozer that morning, so they didn’t have any details yet, but they said he will probably be on a slightly higher-end than an action figure. I’ll do some research to try and find out more about it.

The other Fraggle surprise was the upcoming Fraggle Rock blind-boxed figures. They’re maybe about 2 1/2″ tall, slightly stylized, and very very pretty. Characters include: Gobo, Mokey, Wembley, Boober, Red, Traveling Matt, two Doozers on a Doozer construction, the Trash Heap’s head, Pa Gorg’s head, Sprocket’s head (with bowl), and two generic Fraggles. I’m a little surprised that they included the two generic Fraggles above Junior or Ma Gorg, Cantus, Convincing John, or even some sort of variant (Boober dressed as the Old Gypsy Lady?). The other strange part is that each character is placed on top of an alphabet block. I’d think that these would be marketed toward an older crowd, so the “educational” value might be better left off. Plus, I have no idea what learning letters has to do with Fraggle Rock. But other than that, these figures are terrific, and I can’t wait to own them. I’m not excited about the blind-boxes, but a Muppet fan’s gotta do what a Muppet fan’s gotta do. And that’s spend a lot of money.

Toy Vault

The good people at Toy Vault were nice enough to let me take pictures, so I’ll let them speak for themselves. And in case my photo skillz aren’t good enough for you, here you’ll see a pillow with the Dark Crystal logo, a plush Fizzgig (with giant, scary opening mouth), plush of Rygel from Farscape, Labyrinth Door Knocker plush (I can only assume the other one will be produced as well), and a Talking Ludo plush (unfortunately, the demo didn’t have the voice chip yet, but he’s adorable anyway).

Deal Makers

This is a Dutch company that makes Sesamstraat wooden toys like scooters, toy trains, toy cars, and the like. Their American counterpart will soon be selling these toys (with the Sesame Street logo, I’d wager), and I happen to think they’re cutie patootie. I especially like the cars, which wobble as they roll. They’ve got a vintage look to them, and I’m a sucker for toys that don’t even try to be “realistic”. Just a wooden ball with Ernie’s face painted on it, that’s all I need. Also pictured are some Sesamstraat bicycle bells. Not yo-yo’s, as I originally assumed.

Putumayo Kids

The last booth we visited was Putumayo Kids, which specializes in international CDs and DVDs. They had a video playing of their new release, called “Sesame Street Playground,” which is a compilation of songs and skits from all of the different Sesame Street productions from around the world (subtitled for the mono-lingualled like myself). The video looked like a lot of fun, and it’s always interesting to see Elmo trouncing about in some foreign nation. The DVD will come packaged with a CD, so get ready for some new-to-us material from Sesame Workshop! The art in the image is the final album art without the text added yet.

Unfortunately, we were not able to get access to the Fisher Price room where they were unveiling the new Elmo Live doll. But you can see some video of the unbelievable living Elmo here.

So, I hope you enjoyed this quick review of Toy Fair, and I hope you feel like you were there too. If you do, you owe me $8 for the cab. C’mon man, we said we were splitting it! Don’t be that guy.

Click here to get all excited over toys that won’t hit the shelves for another 8 months on the ToughPigs forum!



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