Toys "R" Us Fallout Update: As Stores Close, Toys For Tots, other Charities Lose; Crayola, Funko and Others Cry Foul...Written by James Zahn
As the liquidation of Toys "R" Us officially got underway last week, the saga has continued behind-the-scenes as shoppers began visiting stores in hopes of scoring a deal. For the locations that have just begun the wind-down, many felt disappointment when met with markdowns as low as 5% (game systems, LEGO) with most categories priced at just a 10% savings. While there were some higher discounts like 20% off on Easter items and bike accessories, other areas had no markdown at all - consumables like food and diapers. On the flipside, stores that began closing operations in February are nearly wiped-out, and I visited a few this past weekend. It was a sad scene at the Babies "R" Us in Vernon Hills, Illinois - set to close for good on March 31. My wife and I ordered baby furniture from that location back when our first daughter was born. Now, it's a mostly-empty building where almost everything is for sale, surprisingly stocked with a lot of non-baby toys that I suspect were dumped on the first wave of closing stores in a warehouse purge. We picked up a couple of Flip Zee Girls (Jay at Play) that our little ones had been asking for. My big score was a stockpile of LR44 batteries - the button-style that many toys consume very quickly. Deals aside, I'd rather pay full price and have 33K jobs still intact. Elsewhere the fallout is starting to be felt.
Intended to be a Toys "R" Us Exclusive, Avengers: Infinity War 2-Pack Heads for Entertainment Earth...Written by James Zahn
In the wake of the Toys "R" Us implosion, both toymakers and collectors have been worried about the fate of toys that were intended to be Toys "R" Us Exclusive. With many items still in warehouses, on trucks and even worse - on boats - companies are scrambling to find new homes for millions of dollars worth of product. For fans of Hasbro's Marvel Legends line, the folks at Entertainment Earth have stepped in to take over distribution of the former Toys "R" Us Exclusive Avengers: Infinity War Scarlet Witch and Vision 2-pack. Unfortunately, some of these did get shipped to TRU which means they're in liquidation limbo. While some have been lucky to have found them on store shelves in recent days, EE (and affiliate of this site) has them up for pre-order right now.
Some of the coolest LEGO sets in recent years have spawned from the fan-generated LEGO Ideas program, and now the newest set is about to hit the streets. LEGO Ideas 21314 is the TRON: Legacy set from Disney, featuring 2 Light Cycles, each with minifigure seats and translucent-colored light-style elements, plus a divisible TRON grid with attachment points for the vehicles. There's three included LEGO minifigures - Sam Flynn, Quorra and Rinzler - all ready to battle on their cycles or with their Identity Discs. The set will be available beginning March 31 exclusively at LEGO Store and LEGO Shop (and affiliate), with a limit of one per customer. Check out all the specs below!
Will you help to #SaveToysRUs? No matter what your take on it, most will agree that the saga of Toys "R" Us is nothing short of historic. With each new day, new information comes forth, and much of it is absolutely unprecedented. Today brings a new chapter as Isaac Larian, CEO of MGA Entertainment, Inc. (MGAE), one of the world's leading privately held toy and entertainment companies and the folks behind favorites like L.O.L. Surprise!, Little Tikes, Project Mc2, Num Noms and more has announced a GoFundMe campaign aimed at saving the iconic toy retailer Toys"R"Us. A crowdfunding effort to save a retailer is a unique proposition for sure, and Larian and various investor associates have already given the campaign a jump-start with personal contributions over $200 million toward a lofty $1 billion goal, which would be used in the formulation of a bid to acquire all or some Toys"R"Us assets through the bankruptcy process. This is a separate endeavor from the previously-reported bid that Larian and his group placed toward the operations of Toys "R" Us Canada. If you're interested in getting involved, I'm sharing the full details on the campaign here on The Rock Father™ Magazine, as provided this morning via press release from Larian.
Dan Rather: "Here's What they Didn't Tell You About the Toys 'R' Us Closings... and How it Ties Back to President Trump"Written by James Zahn
It's 12:57am Thursday morning here at Rock Father HQ in Illinois, and with a fresh coffee poured, I'm still finding myself enthralled with what's happening with Toys "R" Us. Like Michael Corleone, "just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in." There is so much information flowing right now, I believe that we haven't even begun to fully understand the shadiness that's gone down at Toys "R" Us - not just in the U.S., but with some of the overseas units as well. With liquidation sales originally thought to be starting when stores open later this morning, multiple sources are now telling me that they might be postponed due to erroneous court documents. I have not been able to confirm that, so we'll find out as the day develops. What I really wanted to share with you now is a video from Dan Rather that The Young Turks posted earlier this week. I don't believe that enough people have seen it, and Rather backs up much of what I've been telling all of you in recent months... but he also ties it back to our President in some overlooked ways. If you've wondered why, despite all the tweeting and chest pumping about jobs that he does, Donald Trump has thus far been quiet on the potential loss of 33,000 jobs thanks to the Toys "R" Us collapse, Mr. Rather may just have the answer. Watch and listen...
Watch: Hasbro Unveils Fully-Painted Jabba's Sail Barge as Time Runs Out to Crowdfund the Ultimate Star Wars Toy...Written by James Zahn
At the 115th North American International Toy Fair in New York City, I was in the room for the February unveiling of Hasbro's first-ever HasLab project - a crowdfunding effort meant to bring to life one of the most-requested Star Wars toys of all-time: Jabba's Sail Barge (The Khetanna). While I support the idea of this project and the methods behind it, I have questioned whether this particular toy is being produced 30 years too late, as the $500 price tag put it firmly in the collector realm. Additionally, it needs a minimum of 5,000 backers by April 3 to become a reality, and as of this writing they're still 2,000 away from that mark with 13 days to go. I've been saying that this is something special that needs to get in front of a different audience - not necessarily those who collect Star Wars toys regularly, but those who might be looking for one high-end piece to display, possibly for an office or theater room. With a photo debut on EW this morning, that may have finally happened, but my friends at Hasbro just sweetened the deal. They just provided me with a timelapse video showing the prototype being painted, along with a full gallery of photos (see them on The Rock Father™ Facebook page). Check out the video below, and if you want this to become a reality, hit up the HasLab website and #BackTheBarge!
Despite all the great stuff I had a chance to check out at Toy Fair in New York City last month, there were still some companies that I missed, and one that I really wish I'd had a chance to see was Mezco. I've long-admired their detailed collectibles, and today comes news that their One:12 Collective Ghostbusters are suited-up and ready to hit the streets! This fantastic five-figure deluxe set features all four of the original Ghostbusters plus a supernatural bonus figure: Slimer! Aimed at the adult collector, each Ghostbuster comes with their own light-up proton pack and is packaged in a special edition metal tin. Check out all the specs below...
Dark Days in Toyland: Toys "R" Us is Officially Liquidating - Court Approval Granted as Massive Fallout Begins...Written by James Zahn
If you thought it was sad when Toys "R" Us filed a motion to liquidate its remaining U.S. stores, that was just the beginning. The memes circulated quickly with images of a tearful Geoffrey the Giraffe, often accompanied by a viral video of the iconic Toys "R" Us jingle performed "in a minor key" (I'd share it here, but frankly, I just didn't think it was very good). Nearly a week has passed since that motion was filed, with the fate of over 33,000 jobs hanging in the balance. Retail workers on the front lines had to deal with an onslaught of rude customers this past weekend, many fussing over a "lack of sales" at the 735 stores that hadn't already been slated to close. The customer abuse from deal hunters was reported from coast to coast, with some stores placing makeshift signs at their doors and on their store-run Instagram accounts to remind the public that those responsible are not at store level, and to please tread lightly in dealing with workers who will soon be out of a job. On Sunday came word to cancel all upcoming store events... and on Monday the call went out to hire temporary workers to fill 60-90 day positions to assist in purging warehouses and closing stores. The moves were happening without approval from the Bankruptcy Court... but now that approval has been granted. After an 8+ hour hearing on March 20, Judge Keith L. Phillips ruled that Toys "R" Us could proceed with the liquidation plan that they'd filed on March 15. What will take place in the days and weeks ahead is already being called "the largest retail liquidation in U.S. history."
My inbox has been exploding since Sunday, and yes - things are getting weird. Last weekend, THE ROCK FATHER™ Magazine was the first to report on the plans of Strategic Marks, LLC's plan to revive the KB Toys brand in the wake of the Toys "R" Us collapse. The news spread quickly, leading to excitement, speculation, and mostly the question of "how?" Over the past few days, I've exchanged messages with Ellia Kassoff, head of Strategic Marks, who promised more news soon on the launch and how they plan to "revive and rebuild" the once iconic retailer. Now we have a little more insight, and it came from an unexpected source - the New York Post. Turns out, some familiar players in the pop-up game just might be getting in on the action.
As we continue to fly through 2018, toys with a "surprise" or "reveal" are still proving to be a massive success. With more hitting the shelves each and every month, we're starting to see some new spins on things, and from Zuru Toys comes an action-packed take on the genre: Smashers. With an assortment sent here for review in The Toy Testing Facility at Rock Father™ HQ, we had a chance to go hands-on with Series One, fully embracing the tagline - "Smash the Ball & Collect 'Em All!" as each new Smash Ball was cracked open to reveal a micro-collectible figure inside. Take a look at the video below to see how the action unfolded...
3/20/2018 For an update on this story - click here!
With the recent news that Toys "R" Us has filed for liquidation in the U.S., there's been much discussion on what the future will hold for toymakers, the ever-changing retail landscape, and most importantly - the 33,000+ jobs currently at stake. While some are trying to craft a save that could keep the Toys "R" Us brand afloat in some manner (such as an investment group led by MGA Entertainment's Issac Larian - just one player in the mix), others are looking to the future by taking pages out of the past. Now things have gotten a little weirder as Ellia Kassoff of Strategic Brands, LLC has entered the fold with a bold claim: "We're going to save the toy industry!" His plan? To resurrect KB Toys.
Last month, while browsing the massive Funko booth at the 115th North American International Toy Fair in New York City, one of my favorite finds was the new line of SNL POP! Vinyl Figures. The first wave will bring forth characters from some classic sketches - from Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg doing "Dick in a Box" to Will Ferrell breaking out some "more cowbell" as Gene Frenkle, there's even Tom Hanks' recent cult icon, David S. Pumpkins. But out of all the characters being brought into plastic for the POP! series, there isn't one that's scene more airtime than Bill Hader's Stefon. Since Hader recently made his return to Saturday Night Live to host for the first time, Stefon returned with him, and that makes this the right time to let you know that if you're a fan, you probably need his POP! These are available for pre-order now via my affiliates at Entertainment Earth, and will be up soon on the official Funko Shop.