March 29, 2012
This Week in the World of Toys
Guides to Everything Transformers. Trying to understand everything about the various Transformers iterations is an overwhelming undertaking. There are so many different characters, universes, story lines, and figures. I produced a couple new guides to help people navigate their way through one of the action figure world’s most confusing brands.
First off is the specific Guide to Transformers Prime, and there’s also a general Guide to Transformers. Keep in mind that these are both ever-evolving articles that’ll be added to as I develop new Transformers content.
I hope these guides give readers a chance to better understand Transformers and get more involved in collecting its fantastic figures and enjoyable toys.
New Transformers Prime Reviews. Transformers Prime is one of my favorite shows currently on television, and it’s just a nice bonus that it’s centered on the world of action figures. I finally got my hands on some long-awaited Transformers Prime figures, and I’ve written a few reviews for your enjoyment.
It’s quite an eclectic assortment. On the Decepticon side, there is Megatron, an incredible figure that looks like it stepped right out of my TV. On the Autobot side, I grabbed a couple of short-term guests on the show, Wheeljack and Cliffjumper. One of them is great, and the other is average. I’ll let you read the reviews to figure out which is which.
There are lots more reviews coming in the near future, from both Transformers and other properties, so don’t wander off too far.
March 23, 2012
Toy collectors rarely expect to see their hobby permeate into the mainstream media, but this week toys got their share of the spotlight in various national media outlets. There’s nothing better for the hobby in general, and there’s no better way to put a smile on my face. I absolutely love spotting toys in the news.
Before we get into all that news, I wanted to report a few additions to my collection. I’ve been in love with Transformers Prime ever since Shout Factory was kind enough to send me an advance copy of the Season One Blu-ray, and I finally got my hands on some toys this week. I picked up deluxe class Cliffjumper and Wheeljack, and the voyager class Megatron. All three are extremely fun figures that match up to their designs on the show surprisingly well.
Now let’s jump into this week in the world of toys.
The Four Horsemen in the New York Times. If you’re unfamiliar with The Four Horsemen in regards to toys, they are the sculpting team that’s currently responsible for Mattel’s DC Universe and Masters of the Universe collector action figure lines. They were featured in the New York Times this week, and discussed a great many things about their work for Mattel and their own intellectual properties. I recommend tracking down a copy of the article, because there’s a lot to enjoy. I won’t spoil the details here, but I will say there’s a lot to look forward to with their properties and their expansion into new media.
The Turtles aren’t mutants after all. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is one of the all-time top toy lines. They completely dominated the late ’80s and early ’90s. Toy aisles were consumed by the little green shelled ninjas, and kids everywhere were enthralled by them. Famed director of the Transformers films, Michael Bay, caught a lot of negative media attention this week when he announced that the Turtles in his new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film adaptation would in fact not be mutants at all, but aliens instead. They are literally defined as mutants by their very names, but Bay has decided to change them at a fundamental level. I’ll hold judgment until I see the final result, but this certainly concerns me. With the new Playmates Turtles line, the brand is building a lot of positive vibes, and I would hate to see a poor decision like this divide the brand and the fans.
Mattel apologizes for bad quality control. Mattel has been under a lot of criticism for a variety of issues with their action figure lines. Otherwise fantastic figures are being ruined by poor quality control. Collectors are left with broken piles of plastic instead of the figures they purchased. Mattel issued a statement this week promising a new dedication to quality control. They claim to be working with their factories overseas to raise standards and make the best figures possible. That’s well and good, but it has to be asked why this wasn’t already their stance. Why weren’t they making the best figures possible before? Mattel owes a lot to its fans who continue to support lines despite poor quality control, and this is at least a step in the right direction.
Michael Bay and The Four Horsemen got toys into the news and Mattel promises to make toys better, making it a pretty good week. I can’t wait to see what next week has in store.
May your figures never break.
March 16, 2012
With another week in the world of toys already passing by, I’m back to bring you a look at some of the biggest announcements and controversies from the last 7 days. This week’s column is thankfully a lot happier than last week’s, and Transformers fans are certainly going to enjoy it.
As for additions to my collection this week, all I have to report are a few Series 6 Lego Minifigures. I grabbed three of the blind-bagged packs on an impulse purchase, and unfortunately ended up with two repeat figures, the Highland Battler and Roman Soldier. I did get a Leprechaun, which I didn’t have before, and it’s a nice minifigure with great accessories that I recommend tracking down.
Let’s jump into this week’s highlights.
Vote in the Transformers Hall of Fame. This week Hasbro announced three characters that would be honored in their annual Transformers Hall of Fame. The robots being recognized are Jazz, Grimlock, and Shockwave, but Hasbro also left one spot open for fans to vote on. You can vote for the remaining spot in the Transformers Hall of Fame Fan’s Choice Poll. The characters up for election are Beast Wars Megatron, Wheeljack, Arcee, Sky-Byte, and Rodimus. I’m a little surprised to see Sky-Byte and Beast Wars Megatron, but I’m glad Hasbro is recognizing Transformers from all eras. I’m sure you’re curious where my vote lies. I’m going with Wheeljack. Arcee is another acceptable choice.
The Rise and Fall of the Beasts. A majority of toy collectors probably weren’t aware of the Kickstarter project pushing The Rise of the Beasts figures. Kickstarter is a website that helps independent projects get the funding they need to move forward by soliciting pledges from people. The Rise of the Beasts is a proposed line of figures based on the classic Battle Beasts figures of old. This story got interesting this week when the Kickstarter project was suddenly canceled despite already receiving $17,000, which was $6,000 above the goal. Folks won’t be losing their money, but a lot of them felt betrayed with the mysterious disappearance of the project and the crytpic explanation. You can find more on the debacle here, but the line does appear to be living on despite all the controversy. It’s certainly something that might interest a lot of folks, including me.
Transformers is adding another Masterpiece. The Masterpiece Transformers line is one of my absolute favorites. Takara/Hasbro takes the best figures of old and create giant near-perfect versions of them for diehard Transformers collectors. They recently announced MP-11, which is a another take on Starscream. MP-11S will be a repaint of the new figure to create Sunstorm. They each look like great additions to the line, but Takara/Hasbro also revealed plans to create a Masterpiece Soundwave. That news makes me giddy, because a high-quality Soundwave has so much potential for a lot of cool features. I absolutely cannot wait.
So those are the biggest pieces of news in the world of toys this week. Come back in seven days for more, and don’t be afraid to leave a comment to chat. I’d be happy to hear from you.
May you never cut your hand opening a toy package.
March 9, 2012
Hello and welcome to the inaugural edition of This Week in the World of Toys! My name is Corey Tincher, and probably like you, I’ve been an avid toy collector all my life. I’m currently the Action Figures Guide for About.com, and I’m going to be bringing my expertise and industry experience to the readers here at the Toy Collector Network each week. In fact, every Thursday I’ll be offering my thoughts on the latest news and biggest happenings in the toy and action figure industry right here with my new column, This Week in the World of Toys.
I hate for my first column to be composed of primarily bad news, but this week has been a rough one for the industry. Maybe next week we’ll get off to a better start.
Hasbro lays off 170 employees. The world’s second largest toymaker laying off 170 employees is a terrible piece of news, and a strong hit to the industry. Despite the growing interest in the collector market, toy manufacturers are still battling the growing interest in digital forms of play among children. Much like “video killed the radio star” in the famous song, this may be a sign of the continuing trend that “video games killed the action figure”. Apparently 82% of the workers cut by Hasbro were based in the US, and many served a major role in the producing the toys we know and love. Hasbro cited the reasons for the layoffs as the need to “address both the under-performance in the U.S. and Canada segment, and the need for different skill sets in the company’s workforce to be better aligned with a quickly evolving business.” It’s a sad day regardless of the reason, and I hope these workers forge new paths in the industry.
Star Wars visionary Ralph McQuarrie dies. Many may not recognize the name Ralph McQuarrie, but he’s had a bigger influence on the toy industry than almost anyone else. He helped to design the worlds and characters of Star Wars, the only ever-present staple of toy aisles everywhere. Beloved action figures based on Darth Vader, Chewbacca, and R2-D2 wouldn’t exist without the mind and talent of Ralph McQuarrie. His portfolio didn’t end with Star Wars, as he’s also contributed to Battlestar Galactica, E.T., Star Trek, and other great science fiction classics. You can find some of his designs translated directly into plastic with the Ralph McQuarrie Concept Collection of figures produced by Hasbro a couple of years ago. Ralph will be missed, but his designs and characters will live on forever.
Transformers Prime Season One is released on DVD and Blu-ray. One good piece of news to come out of this week was the release of the first season of Transformers Prime on DVD and Blu-ray . If you’re unfamiliar with this show, it’s a computer generated and action-packed look at the world of Transformers like you’ve never seen it before. Classic characters are recognizable, but given a new spin and weaved into fresh storylines. I love the show because it pays tribute to the Transformers of old but also brings the toys and characters to an entirely new audience. I took a detailed look at the Blu-ray collection, and was extremely impressed with the results. If you’re a Transformers fan, give this show a chance.
That wraps up the major happenings in the world of toys this week, and despite today’s column being a little on the sadder side, I hope you enjoyed it.
May your toy aisles always be overflowing.