If you collect superhero-related toys and action figures, you might want to start putting some money aside or working overtime, because Toy Biz has a lot of cool new stuff planned for the coming year. As a division of Marvel Entertainment, Toy Biz makes a lot of figures and toys based on Marvel’s popular comic book and movie characters, and they branch further away from the action figures they’re famous for with new toys and games which should appeal to kids and kids at heart.
Toy Biz was kind enough to invite Superhero Hype! to get a very special sneak preview of their upcoming toy lines at their showroom in New York, as the annual Toy Fair came to town.
As you arrive at the Toy Biz showroom, it’s quite evident how big a priority Fantastic Four is to the company with posters of the upcoming movie up wherever you look. On a wall dedicated to the Marvel Studios films in development, there was a familiar image of the actors depicting the 4, as well as a new image representing next year’s X3 with Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. With the Ghost Rider movie well into production, the cool image of the character on his flaming motorcycle was quite striking, accompanied by an equally cool painting of Iron Man striking the ground with an armored fist. These images gave a pretty good idea of the priorities over at Marvel Studios and Toy Biz, and they also had prominent images for other projects in development: Spider-Man 3, Hulk 2, Thor and Silver Surfer!
With Tim (“Barbershop”) Story’s Fantastic Four movie out in less than five months, Toy Biz has kicked into overdrive with their tie-in toys and action based on the characters from the comic book and movie. There will be no less than four assortments of 6″ Fantastic Four action figures, each of them either having electronic parts or attachments to recreate their powers and scenes from the movie. These include things like the “Flame On Human Torch” which lights up and various incarnations of The Thing; some of the Mr. Fantastic figures include extensions that allow you to “stretch” him out into a 12″ figure, as well. The first two assortments will be released in May, followed by five more figures in July and the remaining assortment in October, plus there will be eight 12″ highly articulated figures with two different versions of the Thing, the Human Torch and the Invisible Girl to choose from. There are even larger figures based on the characters with one of the most obvious (and fun) toy tie-ins being the Super-Stretch Mr. Fantastic, which allows you to pull and bend him into all sorts of shapes. Younger kids may enjoy the Electronic Tuff Talkin’ Thing, a soft plastic toy that emits some of the Thing’s catchphrases.
For kids who want to pretend that they’re two of the group’s most fantastic members, there are Thing and Human Torch Dress-Up Sets, the latter having electronics to emulate his flame powers. Following the popularity of the Hulk Hands in 2002, the new Thing Hands use a similar principle, being made of soft foam and spouting some of Ben Grimm’s best known catch phrases and various sound effects when objects are hit with them. Likewise, the new Thing Feet can be put over the shoes to create loud earthshaking sound effects with every step. Another fun and a rather useful “toy” is the Mr. Fantastic Stretch ‘n’ Grab Arm, a mechanical extending device with a gripping hand on the end, great for lazy people wanting an easy way to get things off top shelves or reach things without getting out of their easy chair.
Toy Biz’s Fantastic Four line also includes a number of light-up Bump ‘n’ Go vehicles featuring the Thing and the Human Torch, but the most desired vehicle will probably be the giant modular Fantasticar, which splits up into four separate section for each of the Fantastic 4. It will come with its own exclusive 6″ Mr. Fantastic figure, but it can hold many of the other figures in the series.
Surprisingly, Sue Storm the Invisible Girl seemed to get the least love from Toy Biz with only a few action figures; maybe the rest of her toys were invisible. (Rumors of life-size Jessica Alba dolls proved to be unfounded. Sorry, guys.)
Although there won’t be a new Spider-Man film for two more years, Toy Biz continues to produce a slew of toys based on Marvel’s most popular character, with plans to release four new assortments of 6″ action figures this year, including some of Spidey’s more obscure villains like Mysterio, Buzzing Beetle and Ultimate Rhino. In May, there will be two deluxe highly articulated 12″ action figures of Spider-Man and his mortal enemy Venom, which could refuel the fire that Venom will be the villain in Spider-Man 3. Toy Biz recently released a 12″ Spider-Man Mega-Blast Water Shooter, a figure that shoots water out of various attachments to its arms, and in April, they will also have an Electronic Floor-Crawling Spider-Man that does pretty much what you might expect. Toy Biz has modified their popular Spidey web shooter into the Mega Blast Web Shooter, which shoots three streams of webbing at once, and the Webble Shooter, which shoots out bubbles. There are also two different Spider-Man Dress Up Kits, which combine mask and gloves to allow kids to play Spider-Man. All of these are now available.
The coolest new idea in the Spider-Man line is the recently introduced Spider-Man Classic Stunt System, a modular playset that allows a magnetized 3″ Spider-Man figure to literally swing his way through the city onto buildings and cars. The initial playset will come with two magnetic Spider-Man figures as well as Doc Ock and the Lizard, but you’ll be able to add onto the system with three expansion sets at $9.99 each. For those not ready to get into such a big system, there are smaller individual Stunt System pieces that can be used on their own or combined with the full set.
For the youngest kids, Toy Biz offers the new Wise Crackin’ Spider-Man, an electronic plush toy for $24.99 that says all sorts of interactive phrases depending on where you touch or hold him. (Don’t worry, they’re clean and for-all-ages!) Toy Biz is also planning on greatly expanding their Spider-Man and Friends line over the course of 2005.
In 2005, Toy Biz will add four more assortments to their popular Marvel Legends 6″ action figure line, beginning with the Series VIII, now available, with figures of Captain America, Iron Man, Man-Thing, Black Widow, Doc Ock, X-Men Storm and Iceman and four variants, each including an exclusive Marvel Versus trading card. The next two assortments have a very neat gimmick, as not only will there be a 6″ character and comic book, but each figure in Series IX and X will come with an individual piece that can be collected and assembled into a larger character. Series IX pieces can be assembled into a 16″ Galactus figure while the assembled figure for Series X will be a 16″ Sentinel. The assortment of figures in these series include Green and Grey Hulks, Deathlok, Bullseye, Dr. Strange, Black Panther, and various X-Men characters including Nightcrawler and Professor X. The last assortment of the year, available in October, will the Legendary Riders series. Based on the popularity of the Ghost Rider figures, each Marvel character in the series will come with its own vehicle. Ghost Rider villain Vengeance is a stand-out figure in this series, but it will be dominated by a number of Avengers including the “Hulk Buster” Iron Man figure, Wonder Man, Scarlet Witch and the Avengers’ deadly cyborg villain Ultron. Each of the figures in this series are quite a bargain at $6.99, considering all that you’ll be getting.
NEW IDEAS FROM TOYBIZ
Besides their popular action figures, Toy Biz continues to innovate with three new toy lines that combine their popular characters with new levels of gameplay and collectability.
Taking the concept of HeroClix to a new level, “Superhero Showdown” is neither action figures nor a game, combining both elements into something very new and different, allowing you to have Marvel characters face-off in battle using all of their powers and abilities. Players use fully poseable 4″ figures, something noticeably improved from the static poses of the smaller Heroclix game pieces, combined with characters cards and battle tiles to create an ever-changing RPG style board game with different levels of gameplay. In August, two Starter Sets will be available-Wolverine/Hulk and The Thing/Spider-Man-with a number of individual character booster packs available around the same time. Characters that can be played against each other will include Ghost Rider, Punisher, Dr. Doom, and others.
Also in August, Toy Biz’s latest toy line will take a cue from Hasbro’s popular Transformers, putting their best-known heroes into the cockpits of giant robotic toys that change into another vehicle. These “MegaMorphs” include a Spider-Man robot that morphs into a giant spider, a Ghost Rider flaming cycle ‘bot; The Hulkbot (shown above) turns into a tank and Wolverine is a ‘bot with retractable claws that turns into a jet. (The other two initial figures feature Captain America and Doc Ock.) No price has been set for these fun new toys, each which will come with their own exclusive Marvel mini-comics.
Marvel Figure Factory
Another new concept from the House of Idea’s toy division is the “Marvel Figure Factory,” miniature model sets assembled from pieces shipped inside small wooden “shipping crates” along with four random trading cards that can be collected and assembled into two 22X28″ posters featuring Marvel’s characters. The first line available in August will consist of 9 kits including Spider-Man, Green Goblin, Doc Ock, Hulk, Wolverine, Venom, and a “Mystery Figure”. Again, no price has been set for the kits at this time.
Also in 2005, Toy Biz will continue its line of figures and toys based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” as visualized by Peter Jackson, and wrestling fans should be excited about Toy Biz signing on to create a line of action figures based on the wrestlers of the TNA (Total Nonstop Action) league.
Source: Edward Douglas