Toy Fair 2011 Report, Day 1: Hasbro Collector’s Day

At this moment I’m sitting in one of the tiniest hotel rooms in Manhattan, my laptop balanced precariously on a window ledge as I sit on a bed. The other side of the room–really a glorified closet–is about eighteen inches to my right.

I’ve just finished uploading about ninety pics from Hasbro’s Collector’s Event today, available on my special Toy Fair Flickr page. Hopefully you were also following my tweets. They’ll be the swiftest form of coverage over the next two days (hence the addition of the Twitter feed to the site–thanks to OB1 for putting that and the Flickr gallery together so swiftly).

And so–as for what happened today. I took the Bolt bus down from Boston; thanks to wifi, it was a relatively swift four hours to Manhattan. After dropping my stuff off at the hotel, I headed to the Times Center in Times Square, where none other than Optimus Prime himself sat parked outside. I spent about four years of my young life looking at cars and trucks and wondering if they’d transform; sadly, even though this was the likeliest moment for such a thing in my entire life, it was not to be–Optimus remained in vehicle mode, caring not how many people grinned as their friends took pics with him.

Eventually we were allowed in to the Times Center, where we were ushered into a big theater. Hasbro then went through four presentations–Star Wars, Marvel, G.I. Joe, and Transformers.

Now, let me admit up front that I am just not a Hasbro guy. Mattel has all the properties that I love, and tomorrow’s collector day will be the big one for me. Nonetheless, I will try to do justice to the wonderful things Hasbro had to show today.

Each presentation had one or two Hasbro employees presenting, and I’m afraid I have no idea who any of them were because they were all announced with themed nicknames like “Darth Victorias.” The fans in the room seemed to get these jokes, so I’m guessing the names were as familiar to them as Scott Neitlich of Mattel’s is to me.

First up: Star Wars. It was immediately clear to me that the Hasbro brand managers understand the collector mindset very well. The presenters emphasized the vintage line, which will get 35 figures in 2011, including Expanded Universe figures and even figures based on deleted scenes from the upcoming Blu-Ray releases of the SW films (sadly, we weren’t shown any of the deleted scene figures). Fans seemed particularly excited about some fellow named Nom Anor. The big-ticket item, in the tradition of the Millennium Falcon and the AT-AT, is the Republic Attack Ship (or maybe Attack Shuttle? I didn’t quite catch the name). It’s big, but doesn’t quite have the gut-punching impact of the MF and the AT-AT. It does, however, split into two vehicles. There’s also a new, low-cost lightsaber toy for kids that seemed pretty awesome.

The thing fans will be knifing each other for, though, is a set of twelve vintage figures (including a new Slave Leia) on Revenge of the Jedi cards (that’s not a typo–they’re celebrating ROTJ’s name change–yes, Hasbro is THAT into SW). The twelve figures will be sold at retail, though they’ll be somewhat hard to find (at least that was my impression). But they’ll also be sold as a set as an exclusive at this year’s San Diego Comic Con, complete in a ridiculously huge cardboard Death Star cardboard case that will also feature a carded Mouse Droid and a carded Salacious Crumb.

Next up was Marvel. The big focus was on the movies: Thor and Captain America. Both are getting a lot of 3 3/4″ Marvel Universe-style figures. Iron Man is getting a couple 6″ figures, specifically the Crimson Dynamo, an “Initiative” War Machine, and a green guy whose name I can’t recall. The big news was the return of Marvel Legends in 2012, which will begin with a modern 6″ Thor at this year’s SDCC. (Note to Poester David Cartoon: there will be a Marvel Universe Darkhawk.)

Before the G.I. Joe presentation, Hasbro revealed that the long-lost last wave of Indiana Jones figures from a few years back would be released as a set at this year’s SDCC. It will even include an extra figure–a sort of “super-Indy” with all the accessories. It’s awesome that they’re releasing the figures, but painful that they’re SDCC-only.

This revelation was followed by an extensive G.I. Joe presentation. It seems that this will be a transition year for G.I. Joe, and they hinted at “big things” for 2012 (movie sequel, I’m guessing), but they also noted that 2012 would be the thirtieth anniversary of the “Real American Hero” line, and as such, they’d be celebrating that fact with RAH-inspired figures. The G.I. Joe-focused websites will have a lot more on all this, so go there for a really in-depth report. But the obvious “holy crap” item wasn’t the revelation of a new SkyStriker, but an SDCC-exclusive SkyStriker painted to look like Starscream. SDCC is going to be rough this year, folks.

Finally, there was the Transformers presentation. I was amused that the presenters referred to the upcoming sequel as “Dark Side of the Moon,” when the “Side” part isn’t actually part of the title (due possibly to trademark reasons, perhaps? Or maybe just a desire to distance from particular associations). But “Dark Side of the Moon” is just more natural than “Dark of the Moon,” which makes no sense at all, really.

(On a side note, the G.I. Joe and Renegades presentations were followed with a staff-conducted Q&A with some of Hasbro’s staff who work on the shows. These interviews, while informative, were part of the reason the presentations went over two and a half hours. And when you’re squeezed in the middle of an aisle with fifteen people on either side of you and you drank an entire bottle of Diet Coke before it started, that matters.)

While watching the Transformers presentation, I remarked to Dan “Pixel Dan” Eardley that ever since the movie designs became the standard TF look, every TF looks the same to me. I just can’t get into the movie look. The Transformers Prime stuff looked better, if only because it was stylized and therefore the characters were a bit more distinctive. But I will say that Hasbro isn’t necessarily responsible for that look–Michael Bay is–and they do a pretty great job with what they have to work with. The huge Optimus Prime w/ trailer is proof of that.

Speaking of Pixel Dan, the Hasbro Collector’s Day featured a who’s who of the virtual toy journalism world: I met or saw Val Staples (JVS3) of He-Man.org, Lemonjuice McGee and The Nerdy Bird of MTV Geek, Kastor of Kastor’s Korner, SamuRon of Fwoosh and ActionFigurePics, and Philip Reed of Battlegrip, among others. It was great to finally meet all these people in person after, in some cases, years of Internet acquaintance.

All in all, Hasbro offered a very professional and thorough presentation on their collectors’ brands, and they obviously really do understand their audience (or seem to to me, at least–Hasbro fans, feel free to correct me below). If I have any suggestions for next year’s Collector’s Day, it would be to keep the presentations shorter and find a more organized way to handle the photo-taking sessions. Oh, and tell your display guards that we have to lean in close to take macro pics. We’re not going to steal any toys, dude. (Well, I’m not, anyway.)

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4 Comments

  1. leondeluz

    hi, poe, wow, great report, the best of all websites in town, we who cannot attend, just dont want to watch the pictures, we want to read and feel the likenes like we attend it!! nuff said!!!!

  2. toyman2581

    @Barbecue17:

    Agreed. I'll sell my soul for those if I have to.

  3. FakeEyes22

    @Paul

    I will sell my children into slavery for that set. A new portrait for that extra Indy is pure gravy since the quality of the first couple of waves were kind of spotty, I imagine due to rushing so much product at once.

    I've got a feeling this is a last effort to get some cash out of the license before it expires. I can't wait! The Crusade stuff was great and my Short Round is excellent! I still have to complete the Temple of Doom wave that never showed up here in the wake of Mutt Williams and his stock-blocking agenda. My TRU still has his 12" figures.

    I'm so glad to have a chance at these and finish off the upgrades to the vintage line. Now I'm tempted to pick up the $50 map room at my comic shop to have the Staff of Ra that I can't believe didn't come with the Indy/Ark pack.

    Anyone need some slave kids?

  4. I will kill for that Indiana Jones set. I like to think I'm one of the few people that loved that line. Hell I was dedicated enough to buy a case of figures just for the Last crusade wave.

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