WowWee's Fingerlings are adorable, but when it comes to the rapidly-expanding brand, I think a lot of the spin-off products are even better than the sought-after robotic animals. In fact, I'm looking at a glittery plush Fingerling right here in my office as I type this - and I love it! But now comes the next thing - the retail launch of Fingerlings HUGS, the first-ever special feature plush edition of the award-winning Bella and Boris Fingerlings Baby Monkeys. It's electronics + plush, and priced at just $29.99, we could be looking at another much-wished-for item as we roll into the holiday season. Here's what WowWee has to say about these...
Several years in the making, the 150-acre LEGOLAND New York Resort will open to visitors in 2020, and this week the crew at Merlin Entertainment have unveiled the first look at the eight themed "lands" that will make up the family theme park. At a ceremony in Goshen, New York (60 miles outside of New York City), a 10-foot LEGO model of the entire theme park was shown for the very first time. Crafted from over 135,000 LEGO bricks, the LEGOLAND New York model took 20 Master Model Builders more than 1,300 hours to design and build. See the unveiling in the Facebook Live stream embedded below, along with all the details on the eight lands. The press conference starts at the 10:00 mark in the video...
When I first got word of The Fartist Club, my initial vision was of a swank den of flatulence presided over by Brian Posehn. After all, his 2013 comedy album, The Fartist has been in the archives here at Rock Father™ HQ since its release. But that wasn't the case, as The Fartist Club is a new line of collectible toys that's putting some gaseous wind in the sails of the the "gross" toy craze that's been been making a splash (or a plop) across the world this year. Basic Fun has Poopeez; Spin Master has Flush Force; Moose Toys is still rockin' with The Grossery Gang; and of course, the original Kings and Queens of of the genre - The Garbage Pail Kids - are always on the verge of a mainstream comeback. So where does The Fartist Club fit in?
If there's kids in your home, there's a solid chance that you've found them tethered to a device at some point, and if that device led them to YouTube, there's also a good chance that they've discovered Ryan Toys Review. Despite the awkward phrasing (shouldn't it be "Ryan's Toy Reviews?"), the six-year-old toy reviewer is a global phenomenon, and with the guidance of his parents, his channel has become a benchmark that has spawned thousands of imitators, eager to pump-out colorful, kid-focused videos for the masses. Now things are getting really meta as Ryan himself has become a toy thanks to some crafty dealings by pocket.watch and the folks at Bonkers Toys. Previewed in New York City back in July during The Toy Insider's annual Sweet Suite, The Rock Daughters™ and I got an early, albeit brief look at the first wave of Ryan's World toys. Unfortunately, they were under embargo (not a fan) at the time and couldn't be shown officially, but now the toys are out there in the wild, having launched exclusively at Walmart (an affiliate) with more retailers set to jump on-board this October. So the big question... do the new Ryan's World toys live up to the hype?
Sure, it's mid-August, but that means we're about to enter my favorite season of them all... Fall. With that comes Halloween, and for the past few years the folks at Disney Parks have served-up some stellar seasonal offerings, including a tradition in which a spooktacular new Droid from their ever-growing Droid Factory line would hit the streets. For 2018, R4-BOO18 is the latest Astromech to represent the Halloween season, inspired by candy corn and looking to spread some sweets to Cloud City or your city. Problem is, ShopDisney sold out almost immediately. While my fingers are crossed that they'll restock their supply, your best bet on this one might be to visit a Disney Park in hopes of grabbing one of these in-person!
It's not often that I get fully behind a Kickstarter project, but there's one going right now that I really believe in and they could use your help! One of our favorite toys of the past year came from a small company in California that most people have never heard of: ReadySetz. Their Urban Playset (reviewed here) quickly became a favorite with my girls for imaginative play, and for me as an environment for action figure and toy photography. For their next endeavor, they're going out-of-this-world with a much-requested Space Base Playset. I mentioned it recently in my Star Wars column over at The Pop Insider, and since then I've been brought on-board to photograph one of the handmade prototype playsets. As with the Urban Playset, the girls and I were blown away - so I can't wait to get our hands on an actual, fully-realized production model down the line. As of this writing, the clock is ticking and they're just shy of the halfway mark with just 10 days to go. Similar to when Hasbro crowdfunded their massive Jabba's Sail Barge earlier this year, the ReadySetz Space Base is seeing a slowdown in backers, so my fingers are crossed that we'll see an uptick here in the final days. By my math, they'll need to see another 250 pre-orders of the $65 large playset to meet their all-or-nothing funding goal. These sets are MADE IN THE USA and offer a durable, eco-friendly, easily-stored fold-flat design that's a perfect play space for all of your space-themed figures and vehicles! Will you back the base?
Back in 2016, ThreeSixty Group announced the acquisition of the FAO Schwarz brand from the pre-bankruptcy Toys "R" Us, quickly making plans to resurrect it into retail. 2017 presented an unfortunate almost-misstep, with FAO launching pop-ups in Bon-Ton Stores (including Carson Pirie Scott and Younkers, among others) just ahead of that company's collapse. A minor hiccup in the grand scheme, FAO Schwarz put on an impressive show at the 115th North American International Toy Fair in New York City back in February, having announced plans for a new flagship location in NYC, along with a partnership with Hudson Group to bring stores into airports across the country. Now we know where the first location will be, and appropriately - it's in New York's LaGuardia airport in the redesigned Terminal B.
The birth rates might be down, but contrary to what some might have you think - yes, people are still having babies... even Millennials. With the loss of Babies "R" Us during the Toys "R" Us collapse this past year, new parents looking for a spot to check out the latest in baby gear are finding that there may soon be more places to buy than ever before, and the latest is a bit of an unexpected one: JCPenny. The iconic retailer has had their own share of struggles with evolution over the past few years, but they're still working on it, this week announcing the opening of JCPenny Baby Shops in 500 stores.
Mega Evolution and More Revealed in Latest Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee! AnnouncementWritten by Staff Contributor
Just-received from The Pokémon Company International... they and Nintendo have announced new details about Mega Evolution and much more in the highly anticipated Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee! games, releasing later this year on the Nintendo Switch™ system. Both games are designed for players taking their first steps into the Pokémon video game world as well as longtime fans wanting a new way to play Pokémon.
With 2018 being such a massive year at the movies, it's easy to overlook some potential gems in what's become a crowded summer. As of this writing, family-friendly superheroes still rank heavily in the Top 10, with Marvel Studios' Ant-Man and The Wasp, Disney-Pixar's Incredibles 2 and Warner Bros. Animation's Teen Titans GO! to the Movies jockeying for position in a crowded field currently dominated by Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible: Fallout, Disney's Christopher Robin (reviewed here) and sequels from the Hotel Transylvania and Mamma Mia! franchises (did ABBA spawn a franchise? I guess I just said it). Call it "counter-programming," but there's something charming about a little movie about the ways that canine companions can help bring people together arriving in theaters just two days ahead of a film about a prehistoric, everything-eating shark (THE MEG). From LD Entertainment, DOG DAYS is a late-summer surprise that's worthy of a look - a family film with crossover appeal that's driven by the strength of its ensemble cast... a cast that doesn't spend a lot of time on-screen with one another.
The Long Goodbye for Toys 'R' Us in the U.S. Gets Drawn-Out Further as Details of a Rebrand that Never Happened Surface...Written by James Zahn
As we enter August, I've now been writing about the collapse of Toys "R" Us (TRU) for 11 months - hard to imagine that last year at this time, the dominoes were just on the verge of tipping, as positive announcements like the launch of Spin Master's Rusty Rivets toys and the pending Force Friday II ahead of Star Wars: The Last Jedi were still taking place. Of course, by September things were looking bleak, and my "Toy Killer" feature about Bain Capital setting-up TRU to fail and fall - just as they did with KB Toys - was published just 12 days ahead of their filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection. The eventual motion for complete liquidation just six months later would be a surprise to many, but the fact that the process of shutting down the company and selling off its assets keeps getting drawn-out is one that continues to surprise and pour salt in the wounds of many. I still hold firm in my belief that certain parties at the top never had any real intention of allowing Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us to continue here in the United States, and now it appears as though by the time it's all said and done, even the names my hold little value. Once again, the Intellectual Property Auction that would allow buyers to purchase the IP assets of the company has been postponed - this time until October. For those playing along at home, the initial plans for the auction were outlined back in May with the original plan set for a June 18 action... postponed until August 6, and now delayed once again. With each passing day, the TRU brand loses more and more of its value, but life without Toys "R" Us isn't necessarily as bleak as some may have thought. In fact, the NPD Group reports that toy industry sales are up more than 7% so far in 2018 with double-digit increases in the sales of youth electronics and dolls. Still, the saga of Toys "R" Us continues, and as I said during my panel appearance at San Diego Comic-Con, it's like an L.O.L. Surprise Doll in that there's just more and more to discover as each layer is peeled back...
When I began writing about the collapse of Toys "R" Us last summer, I had no idea just how deep the rabbit hole would go. In fact, I had no intention of writing much beyond my initial concern, and even a few months in, I was still sharing some of the public-facing statements issued by the company - that it was "business as usual" during the "restructuring." But it wasn't business as usual, and we all know what ended up happening. It's the summer of 2018, and in the United States, Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" us no longer exist. One of my most widely-shared articles was published back on March 27, and in addition to news that a group of vendors led by Crayola was gearing-up for a fight and alleging "irresponsible and potentially illegal behavior" by certain executives at Toys "R" Us, I raised another concern: that numerous charities would be taking a potentially devastating hit. This week, I received word that ASTRA (American Specialty Toy Retailing Association) and Good360 have stepped-up to face the challenge with the launch of TOYS FOR JOY. Even more surprising was that I was told that it was my writing that inspired the movement.