Toy Fair 2014 kicked off on Sunday, February 16, taking over the entirety of New York City's Javits Center for four days of toys, games, more toys, more games and lots of cool collectible action figures and models. We've posted most of our pictures already, but for those who don't feel like perusing through the nearly 1,000 pictures, we've selected a few of the cooler things we saw while walking the convention floor.
One of the big things we noticed this year was that movie-licensed toys, action figures and games were being a lot more cautious about allowing press to take pictures, so if something was associated with Marvel Studios' Guardians of the Galaxy, there was a very good chance they would not let us photograph them… with a few exceptions.
After having an early morning breakfast at the LEGO booth to peruse their new product lines, we ended up roaming the various halls of the Javits Center for hours trying to find the coolest movie and TV-related toys and games at Toy Fair 2014.
(Note: If you want to be very clever, you can open a second browser window to the photo gallery all the way at the bottom of this article and look at some of the pictures while reading our write-up!)
As always, our first stop was National Entertainment Collections Association, better known as NECA, who always have a well-placed booth at the front and off to the side of the Action Figures section, and though they're always in the same place, we noted how much their booth has changed since we first visited it seven years ago.
We've already posted pictures of NECA's action figures tying into the upcoming sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which you can see here, as well as a line of action figures from the classic Planet of the Apes movies with prototypes on display that showed off the highly-detailed work they do in designing the figures. NECA was also showing off a 18" Knifehead Kaiju from Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim and we talked a bit with the company's Director of Product Development Randy Falk about our respective experiences going to the set of the movie and what a warm and wonderful person del Toro is to be around. We were also impressed by the giant figure for the Diablo video game, which is coming out in May, and the motorized Patriot toys from BioShock Infinite.
Our good friends at USAopoly, celebrating their 20th Anniversary this year, have really been branching out in the six or seven years since we first visited their Toy Fair booth when they were still best known for their collectible Monopoly games. They've since been branching out doing collectible licensed versions of other games like Risk, Clue and Yahtzee. It's really quite impressive what they all have in the works – little of which we were allowed to photograph sadly. Waugh waugh. Cindy Saylor was nice enough to take some time to give us a tour regardless.
While I was never really a fan of Risk, they're finding ways of integrating the distinctive aspects of their licenses like Plants vs. Zombies and "The Walking Dead" comics to create some interesting variations on the game. The company is really starting to see a boom with their customized collectable Yahtzee games, each which feature a different collectible dicer shaker. They started simply with a game that used a Pac-Man shaker and they're now branching out into their other licenses, so for instance, there is a TARDIS dice roller in their Doctor Who Yahtzee game and the recent Yahtzee game for "The Hobbit" has a pretty neat goblet with very Tolkienesque dice. For "The Walking Dead," they already released Monopoly and Risk games, so they're making a Yahtzee game using a "super scary" zombie head dice shaker that opens up to show its brains. They're also doing a couple of card games in association with "The Walking Dead" comics, a variation on Bang and their own developed game called TacDex, which Cindy described as "War on steroids."
Other things at the USAopoly booth included chess sets and a Connect Four game featuring Nintendo's popular characters. Even Joss Whedon's popular television show "Firefly" is back in the mix and getting some love as USAopoly are making a variation on the game Clue as well as a Yahtzee games based on the popular cult show and characters, the latter to include an extra-large dice shaker shaped like the Serenity spaceship.
Funko was back in their usual place with a full line of their distinctive Wobblers (bobbleheads, essentially) and Pop! Vinyl figures and they're also branching out into 6" action figures with some interesting choices of licenses from "Game of Thrones" to Back to the Future to again… Joss Whedon's "Firefly"! They continue to add to their "Walking Dead" Wobblers with two Merle Dixons, sort of his "before" and "after" (spoilers!) as well as a new sculpt of his brother Daryl. They have a couple of new Wobblers for Guardians of the Galaxy, specifically Rocket Raccoon and Star-Lord, and "Sons of Anarchy" fans will have their choice of Wobblers with Jax Teller and Clay Morrow being the first ones offered. Even so, the movie buff in me is more psyched about the Alfred Hitchcock Wobbler.
It wouldn't be Toy Fair without a stop at the booths for Diamond Select Toys and Collectibles and DC Collectibles, who were even more comfy and cozy than usual this year. Zach Oat was nice enough to make some time during his lunch to show us what Diamond's been up and what they have coming up–sadly a lot of it we couldn't photograph–but we're happy to tell you what's new and exciting from them.
Diamond continue to offer their usual assortment of hyper-articulated and detailed action figures for upcoming movies like Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and continuing their Mini-Mates figure lines for just about anything you can think of. (We couldn't take pictures but the Mini-Mates sets for Guardians of the Galaxy and X-Men: Days of Future Past will be must-haves for collectors!)
Some of the more interesting licenses Diamond are getting into are doing action figures and Mini-Mates based on movies like Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill, though sadly we were only allowed to take pictures of the Mini-Mates. The likenesses of the 6" action figures were terrific to the point where you can tell it's Uma Thurman's The Bride even if you covered up her distinctive yellow jumpsuit. They're also releasing figures based on Lucy Liu's Oren Ishii, the awesome Gogo Yubari and a few members of the Crazy 88. Again, we wish we could show you these cool action figures, but hopefully Diamond Select will release images soon.
But the absolute winner at the Diamond Select booth has to be the classic Godzilla bust banks with a full sized 1959 Godzilla and half-sized bust 1989 version (available in March and April). Easily the coolest part of the series, which should be available soon as well is the three-headed Keizer Ghidorah bust bank, very striking with its bright gold paint job. They also have another full-size Godzilla, this one a burning version, planned for the fall.
Diamond are also getting into the collectible Monopoly game business (uh oh) with Sin City, Back to the Future and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back sets in the works, all which could make for interesting gameplay. They also are continuing their attempts at fueling the needs for collectors who also happen to be alcoholics with a neat flask and shot glass set tying into Frank Miller's "Sin City." And like everyone else, they have stuff that ties into "The Walking Dead" although like USAopoly, they're doing stuff based on the comics rather than the television show.
We then walked a few short steps to the small area taken up by DC Collectibles and lucky us, for a second year in a row, we got DC Design Director Jim Fletcher as our tour guide. No one knows more about what goes into designing all DC's great action figures than Jim, so it was great to have him showing us DC's latest models and figures.
They're continuing their line of Batman Black and White and Superman series based on different artist interpretations, but even cooler were the three figures on display for the upcoming "Wonder Woman: Art of War" line with version of the character based on art by George Perez (of course), Adam Hughes and Yanick Paquette. The figures looked so great, we half-wished DC Comics would take a cue from them and do a mini-series of books similar to "Batman: Black and White" with different artists taking on the Amazon warrior. The other exciting new thing they were showing off were the first two figures from the action figures they're developing based on the original "Batman: the Animated Series," which will come out this November. Apparently, these are the first action figures based on the show as well.
Otherwise, DC had a pretty good handle on what they want to be doing, including figures based on the popular TV show "Arrow" and iterations of the DC characters from the new "DC Infinity Crisis" game. They also had on display an absolutely ginormous Clayface with a Joker head from the "Arkham City" game. We enjoyed seeing that they were also continuing the Bombshells series with new takes on Stargirl and Zatanna, out in July and November respectively. The retro designs are very cool and quite distinctive from the other DC variations we've seen.
Some of the odder things included a Dead Man doll that's not exactly cuddly as well as a brand new concept of making wooden toys of Batman and Superman with interchangeable heads (depending on your mood) that would be perfect things for someone's office desk or coffee table.
But absolutely by far, the coolest thing DC had on display was the new Batman Villains poker set, which is quite a steal at $99.99–but don't tell DC I said that–with all the cards drawn by artist Kevin Nowlan, some as sketches and some fully inked and colored. That poker set is a part of DC's new "man cave" line that includes pool cues with Batman and Superman logos (and matching cases) as well as a Batman chess set and even a dartboard!
Dark Horse is still grinding away with their license for HBO's popular fantasy-dramas "Game of Thrones," while McFarlane Toys is mostly capitalizing on their license with the hit TV show "The Walking Dead" to slowly roll out figures based on all the characters. Dark Horse has a large-scale bust of The Hound from "Game of Thrones" that looked pretty cool and they have statues based on the feisty Arya Stark and the White Walker on the way. The coolest thing McFarlane Toys had to show was a fish tank containing walker heads that decorate The Governor's inner sanctum as well a Tree Walker that apparently is going to be part of the deluxe packaging for the Season 4 Blu-ray set. They also continue to roll out great-looking figures based on the popular "Assassin's Creed" and "Halo" video games as well, having just released a Hidden Blade Gauntlet that ties into the former.
Some of the real joys and surprises at Toy Fair every year are finding new companies and that was the case this year with companies who were attending Toy Fair for the very first time, Japan's Good Smile Company and Kasual Friday, a company founded by Hasbro vet Scott George. George started by doing licensed apparel, but now he's returned to his action figure roots and has launched a cool series of small scale-action figures based on classic movie characters from the ‘80s and ‘90s with some great licenses like the original ‘80s Robocop, Flash Gordon, The Phantom and a very cool figure based on Bruce Campbell's Ash from Army of Darkness (available next week, in fact). They also had a series of figures from Rocky III including a first look at Mr. T's Clubber Lang coming in the next series. Kasual Friday also can boast having one of the most obscure figures we've ever displayed at Toy Fair in our seven years attending… Chuck Norris as Matt Hunter in Invasion USA!
At first glance, the Good Smile Company seemed like just another Japanese company putting pretty female Manga and Anime-based characters into all sorts of compromising sexualized positions, but you know what? All their statues look absolutely amazing and they were displayed nicely, unlike some of their Japanese peers who decided to put bright white-lighted shelving that made it almost impossible to photograph their figures. My favorite thing was an alluring character with bright blue hair on some sort of contraption with lots of loudspeakers on it – we suggested having an input for one's iPod as those would definitely sell. They also had a hard-to-miss giant Titan figure from "Attack on Titan." You can see both of these in the gallery below.
I honestly have never heard of any of the Anime on which any of the figures are based, but the company has clearly been around for a long time with a lot of licenses and as you walk around the booth, a lot of the bright, cheery figures actually DID make you smile. Anyway, it was a nice break from all of the "Game of Thrones" and "Walking Dead" stuff that was pervasive, and sadly, they didn't get all their booth promotional materials in time for Toy Fair due to the snowstorms and resulting Fed Ex foul-ups. We hope to see both these companies at Toy Fair next year and would love to see them continue to grow as well as companies like NECA have.
You can view photos of all the cool things discussed above in the gallery below and then check out our jam-packed Toy Fair Photo Gallery with over 600 photos to see everything from the companies mentioned above (or at least what we could photograph).
That's pretty much it for ComingSoon.net/SuperHeroHype from Toy Fair 2014. If for some reason, you missed any of our previous galleries, you can check them out at the links below: