Along with several others from the GeekDad/GeekMom family, I attended Toy Fair 2017 this past weekend in Manhattan. It was a good experience, but unlike past years where it’s seemed somewhat overwhelming, I walked away feeling just past adequately whelmed. There were of course some things I saw that particularly stand out in my memories of the experience. Here are the top ten, in no particular order (there were way more things I liked, but these are the highlights):
Remote-Control BB-8 from Spin Master
This is really the droid you’re looking for. The Sphero BB-8 was fun, but only for the five minutes before its novelty wore off. This is better in every way: It comes with its own RC controller, so you don’t need an app on a mobile device to use it; it’s substantially bigger, so it feels more like a droid than a toy; and, most of all, it acts just like the movie version. The Sphero BB-8’s head tended to go backwards as the ball went forwards; the Spin Master one’s head moves forward as in the movie. And it responds to voice prompts, or will just follow you around if you have the remote in your pocket. The Sphero one was cool; this is many times better than just cool. Retail price is going to be about $230, and it will come out later this year (in time for the “real” one’s appearance in The Last Jedi, of course).
Gravity Falls Pop! Vinyls from Funko
Like many in the world of geeks, I was unhappy to see Gravity Falls reach its conclusion early last year. Leave it to Funko to make the perfect tribute to the wonderful, weird show. I’m hoping more characters will come out soon, but for now Dipper, Mabel, Grunkle Stan, and Bill Cipher are the perfect way to start. You have to love that the Pop! of Grunkle Stan has its eyes on its glasses just like the “real” one.
I’m anxiously awaiting the new Funko subscription box that was announced at Toy Fair: Disney Treasures. Everyone in my family is a huge Disney-phile, and the fact that the first box will have a Pop! Vinyl of Smee from Peter Pan is the perfect tool to convince my wife that these are something we need to have. Look here on GeekDad for unboxing and review posts about these as they arrive.
George R.R. Martin Deluxe Talking Plush from Factory Entertainment
This is just exactly what it sounds like. I’m not certain what I would do with it if I had it, except possibly threaten to use it as a pincushion if The Winds of Winter doesn’t come out soon. They actually got Martin himself to record voice samples for it, which, even though it was time he could have spent writing, is pretty cool. The plush is available now for $24.99 on Amazon
Lightseekers from TOMY International and PlayFusion
It’s rare to see a toy or game that’s both old-school and new-school at the same time, but Lightseekers manages to pull off the feat. Other games – Skylanders, Disney Infinity, and LEGO Dimensions chief among them – reach out into the real world so that players feel more immersed in the worlds they’re exploring. But, while the real-world 3D figures from those games are really fun and sometimes amazing, all they really are as far as the game is concerned is wrappers for chips that a portal device reads. Lightseekers breaks these toys out of their static mode to truly become action figures: The way you move the physical figures is mirrored in the game (not everywhere in the game, but in many places), and the weapons and other accessories you put into the figures’ hands show up in the game and level up or down the same as the characters do. The figures also have lights that change color depending on power level and health. There are also cards that activate augmented reality scenes and can be used to add allies, powerups, and in general add a little twist to the already-fun game. It’ll be tough to bite off a chunk in this market, but if anything can do it, Lightseekers – which starts preorders April 17 (at Toys “R” Us only) and will be out in July – is the one to bet on.
Floof from Play Visions
You’ve no doubt seen the “kinetic” sand that’s all over toy stores all the way up to, and including, Brookstone: It’s the stuff that sticks together without water and usually doesn’t make a huge mess. Floof is very similar, except it looks and feels like marshmallows, if marshmallows weren’t sticky. It’s stark-white (although color-changing Floof will be out soon), and it’s just as moldable and non-toxic as the sand, but the results hold together way better: if you create something with it, you have to pull it (gently, but deliberately) apart, whereas in my experience the sand usually had less cohesion. My wife, who teaches Elementary School special education, wants some for her classroom, but I want some for myself, too. Floof is available now; sets run right around $20 and are good for kids three and older.
Star Wars 40th Anniversary Black Series Figures from Hasbro
This May will mark the 40th anniversary of the original Star Wars movie, known now (though not then) as Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. This fact has, unsurprisingly, not escaped Hasbro’s notice, and they are delivering big-time. A set of five Black Series recreations of characters from the movie is coming out, and in a genius idea sure to appeal to every geek who grew up playing with the figures, they’re being released in bubble packages with a copy of the original Kenner backing cardboard. Preorders of Luke, Han (not available on Amazon yet for some reason), Leia, Obi-Wan, and R2-D2 can be preordered now for $19.99 apiece.
Mini Minion in Carbonite from Universal Studios
I thought I had enough Minion-related merchandise in my home that more would just be excessive. Apparently I was wrong, as you can see. This is going to be part of a blind-box mini-figure set coming out around the release of Despicable Me 3 this summer. I have to think it’ll be a chaser, but it’s definitely the star of the whole set – and there are some other pretty great ones there.
Powerpuff Girls Storymaker System from Spin Master
Spin Master has announced a whole new line of (official!) Rube Goldberg devices. This is, of course, awesome on the face of it, since Rube Goldberg devices are possibly the purest expression of the Maker movement: putting things together that don’t seem to have anything to do with one-another and making something much more out of them. They are taking it one very cool step further, though, by making a series of Powerpuff Girls sets which can be assembled in different ways to make such a device. The sets are available now for right around $14.99 each. Here’s a quick demo of one setup:
Trypticon Transformer from Hasbro
This was covered earlier this week by GeekDad Anthony Karcz, and I can’t really add anything to his excellent article.
FurReal Friends Roarin’ Tyler the Tiger from Hasbro
This is just cute beyond words, and considering the technology not a bad deal at $129.99.
Most photos and videos by Matt Blum. Lightseekers photo courtesy of TOMY.
Disclosure: I paid for my own registration to Toy Fair 2017 in NYC. I was invited to various events for different products, and received a few free toys (none of which is mentioned here). The opinions expressed here are my own.