Toy Fair 2003
What's Hot, What's New

I was fortunate enough to make it to Toy Fair this year - I hadn't gone in three years due to conflicts with my schedules at work and home.  I've put together a sort of Toy Fair Diary over at Movie Poop Shoot, which covers my day to day meanderings, but I thought I'd do a slightly different column here and  cover the top  new action figure lines that I saw.

The Muppets by Palisades
Over a year ago I predicted that the Muppets line would take off between waves 3 and 4.  Looking at what we have coming out for the next wave and beyond in 2003, I think I was right on.  The line just keeps getting better, and some of the figures - like Pepe, Rizzo and Statler and Waldorf - are simply works of art.  There's a very good chance we'll see these get picked up by Target this year, and that could finally spell 'big time' for this line.  They certainly deserve it, and I hope that serious Muppet fans aren't passing these buy right now - you're going to regret it with all your heart later on.

The Simpsons by Playmates
This series is one of the all time best action figure lines ever produced, and somehow it manages to keep on going strong.  Yes, some collectors are complaining because the chararacters are getting obscure - but what did they expect after 150 figures?  The Collector THOH4 playset is going to fly off the shelves, and the line ups for series 12-14 look terrific.  The re-releases of the basic figures later this year is going to help infuse some new collector blood into the line, and unique characters like Stephen Hawking will continue to make it a popular choice.

12" Modern Horror from Sideshow Toy
Yes, that's Jason right above here without his hockey mask - making the figure with a removable mask, along with great accessories and articulation, are just some of the reasons that the sixth scale versions of these classic modern creeps is going to be a huge hit.  Sure, other companies have done smaller versions, some of them extremely nice.  But now collectors in the sixth scale market get to add these great characters to their monster displays.

Gangsters, Inc. from Mezco
One of the most interesting trends is the use of more and more in house developed properties, rather than licensed items.  McFarlane started this resurgence, but Mezco has done the most with it over the last couple years.  Now the other companies are following suit.

Mezco has a couple lines coming from their own minds this year that look to be possible hits, but my favorite was Gangsters, Inc.  Based on characters from the prohibition era, these have truly amazing sculpts, and some seriously fun accessories - things like 'fire insurance', and bags of cement for making cement boots.

Gremlins by NECA
NECA has several great looking lines coming out this year, including Hellraiser, A Christmas Story, and my choice here - Gremlins.

The attention to detail with the line is terrific, and I can only hope that NECA gets to do the kinds of things they want to with the accessories.  While lots of collectors still remember the NECA of old, where great sculpting and articulation were words rarely spoken, there's lots of new blood in the company and a new attitude.  The Gremlins and Hellraiser lines will be their chance to prove their commitment to these new ideals.

Star Trek The Original Series from Art Asylum
The Enterprise figures haven't done that great, and we know what happened to ???.  But I think the new original series figures are just what the line needs.  There is still a huge market for the original show and TNG.  The only flaw with the other lines is that there wasn't enough of a fan base yet - but with this series there is a pre-built market, dying to get new product.

Kingdom Come by DC Direct
Based on the tremendously popular series of graphic novels, these figures are sure hits for DC Direct.  Going with the most popular characters, and with great designs right out of the books for each one, almost guarantees the success of this line.

I'm particularly looking forward to Superman, Hawkman, Wonder Woman and Batman.  These are the first DC Direct figures I've been really excited about in some time.

Dr. Seuss by Play Along
This line isn't getting a whole lot of coverage, but I think it has some real potential.  While the movie is helping to drive the creation of the line, and while there will be some movie influences, it's predominately influenced by the books.  There's play sets and vehicles to go along with the figures, and I'm betting that going with the book style rather than the movie may help avoid some of the serious problems the Grinch line had.
Urbanimals from Palisades
Another great looking in house developed property is the Urbanimals from Palisades.  They combine hip hop, with a urban vinyl style, in an articulated action figure.  And they're cool animals!  When I was talking with Mike Horn and Ken Lilly from Palisades, they made a great point - when people came up and discussed the line, they always found at least one that was their favorite.  They have big plans for the line, and I think they'll be pleasantly surprised with the how well series 1 ends up doing.  I'm not saying they'll burn up the charts - it takes time for a line to solidify.  But I think this series has real potential to be a solid seller, and eventual hit.  It only helps that they already have a number of other licensees talking to them about possible other products based on the idea, along with some other ideas.

Those are the top lines I saw this week.  There are some cool possibilities coming out of Mattel of course, along with McFarlane and Toybiz.  But very little from those areas has me surprised or excited.  Some of it looks great, but it's not unique.  These were the most unique and interesting concepts.

Of course, all of this is simply opinion - let me know yours!  What from this years Toy Fair really tripped your trigger?  Send me an email, and if I get enough response I'll put together a new feature next week.  You can drop me an email at this address - thanks!

This page copyright 2003, Michael Crawford. All rights reserved. Hosted by 1 Hour