It's not often that I set my alarm on a Sunday, but when there is an opportunity to check out some new toys before they arrive on the market, I have been known to be motivated enough to drag myself out of bed. I've been eager to see Disney Playmation in action ever since it was announced, and even though I'm not the target demographic, I happened to know a would-be Avenger that was more than willing to try out the new toys, too. What kid doesn't want the opportunity to be Iron Man for a day?
There hasn't been much news about Playmation since its big reveal in June, but the Disney Store just started hosting public preview events earlier this month. Disney Playmation came about in response to a Disney-funded study that revealed parents wished their kids spent more time being active, but didn't want them to have to give up newfangled technological advances. Created by some of Disney's best and brightest Imagineers and developers to nail the intersection of that big Venn diagram, and with a little help from Hasbro, Playmation was born. Thirty minutes after arriving at "Avengers Labs," I had a much clearer idea of what Playmation was and what to expect. Even though I now have a better notion of how Disney Playmation works, I have concerns about whether or not it can accomplish the lofty goals set for it.
This week's Ani-Com and Games Hong Kong event is barely underway, but Hot Toys has already announced a handful of new and eagerly awaited figures in its sixth-scale Marvel line. The company's had an incredibly busy year with both the Star Wars and Marvel Cinematic Universe making up the bulk of Hot Toys' new figures. While the majority of the Avengers: Age of Ultron cast has already been shown numerous times, the ACGHK marked the debut of Quicksilver, and for the first time, an all-new Nick Fury based on his appearance in Captain America: Winter Soldier.
Neither of those reveals was as important however as the update to Guardians of the Galaxy's Drax the Destroyer. Drax has been MIA from any official release schedules, unlike the rest of the Guardians of the Galaxy. As the last member of the crew to be formally announced, fans had been plastering Hot Toys' social media pages with pictures of an earlier prototype, hoping against hope that eventually Hot Toys would actually have news on the character's figure instead of another new Iron Man armor to hype. Today, those dreams came true.
The hustle and bustle of con season may be well under way here in the States, but the Asian convention circuit is only just beginning. Ani-Com and Games Hong Kong 2015 kicks off this week, and Hot Toys will be there in full force showing off new items that were just not quite ready enough for San Diego Comic-Con. Though the company's been busy this week already with major announcements of new figures, there are plenty more on the way, including those that might fly under the radar.
Case in point, the just-announced Ant-Man and Flying Ant miniature collectible that will be on display for the first time at ACCHK. As part of what I'm presuming was a stipulation in all of Marvel's licensing contracts that any Ant-Man merchandise deals must include at least five mini-figures (seriously, enough already), Hot Toys has prepped a figure not unlike those you've seen from Hasbro and Funko already. The main difference being that this 4" collectible bears the Hot Toys brand name, and will come at a premium as a result.
I give Hot Toys a lot of grief over the amount of Iron Man figures its released since the first movie arrived back in 2008. Over the course of the last seven years, there have been more than 40 different Iron Man sixth-scale figures (including Tony Starks) crafted by Hot Toys. New armors or variants seemingly get announced every week, and with Iron Man set to appear in at least a few more Marvel movies over the next four years, it's a trend that will likely continue, too. However, in all that time, I've only ever purchased one figure based on the license, and even that was a Tony Stark figure, not a true Iron Man suit of armor.
Given just how many armors have been released by Hot Toys, you'd think it would be hard to craft a piece that truly stands out among it peers. To an extent, that's true enough of the Avengers: Age of Ultron Iron Man MK XLIII sixth-scale figure. Just like its movie counterpart, the Hot Toys MK XLIII is a repainted MK XLII from Iron Man 3, which swaps the red and gold color arrangement. But that's just on the surface. Where this figure sets itself apart is in the little details, and sometimes that kind of attention to minutiae can make all the difference.
Did you know Hot Toys makes Iron Man figures? This week, the company announced its 51st Iron Man collectible. Just for a frame of reference, there have only been around 310 Movie Masterpiece figures (its most recognized series). Forty-nine of them have been sixth-scale Iron Man armors or Tony Starks, which means 16% of all Hot Toys figures are Iron Man in some capacity. Think about that.
The company's quarter-scale line hasn't been quite as robust, but in two out of the six are also Iron Man pieces. We've already seen the Iron Man MK XLIII 1/4 figure, but now the MK XLV will join him. Fresh from its silver screen appearance in Avengers: Age of Ultron, the MK XLV armor is just the sixth quarter-scale figure Hot Toys has ever developed. It's got all the bells and whistles you're likely accustomed to seeing from Hot Toys at this point, but this week has officially pushed Hot Toys' Iron Man collection into Fatal Attraction levels of obsession.
Last year, Hot Toys obtained the Star Wars license to create 1/6 and 1/4 scale figures and collectibles. After working its way through Stormtroopers, Darth Vader, Boba Fett, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker, Hot Toys finally found some time in the schedule for arguably one of the most important female icons in fandom, Princess Leia. Even though we've seen Leia represented in her New Hope outfit about a thousand different times, it's been rare to see her in sixth-scale form.
Leia's inclusion in the line is more than welcome, as for the past few years we've been under a deluge of Clone Troopers, Stormtroopers, Lukes and Hans, with the occasional Vader or droid thrown in for good measure. It's also worth noting that the current crop of Star Wars toys at retail is seriously lacking in the female department, and Slave Leias have been warming pegs coming up on two years now. While I'm sure that incarnation of the character will certainly be part of Hot Toys' plans, the time is now for A New Hope.
For some fans, the ultimate collector's item might be a completely accurate costume so that you can dress as your favorite superhero, but I've always been more interested in a few other accessories. Not the batarangs or web-shooters, although those are always nice, but the big stuff, the actual home decor that you'd see in a Batcave. Sadly, giant pennies are prohibitively expensive and there's no way my living room is big enough to house a robotic Tyrannosaurus, so I thought my dream would never come true.
Until, that is, I remembered that the Justice League sits around a big meeting table in chairs emblazoned with their own logos, and realized that was something that you could recreate on the cheap thanks to Entertainment Earth's line of Chair Capes. Chair Capes! They're capes! For your chair!
Pepper Potts is finally getting hers, and it only took seven years and four dozen other Iron Man figures for Hot Toys to finally make its way to one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's most powerful women.
I was never a huge fan of Pepper Potts until a few years ago. Prior to Matt Fraction's and Salvador Larocca's run on Invincible Iron Man, I didn't much have a feeling about her one way or another, save for her appearances in the Iron Man films. I didn't even read Iron Man regularly enough before Invincible to have a firm grasp of her history. None of that mattered though once she became Rescue. Though Rescue's time in the comics was relatively short, the impact on fandom was long-lasting.
We never got the Rescue figure from Hasbro the company teased as part of its Iron Man 3 line a few years ago, and I've been steadily complaining and questioning why, after so many Tony Starks, Hot Toys hadn't delivered so much as an alternate head sculpt for Pepper Potts and the MK XLII. Today, I couldn't be happier. We're finally getting the Pepper figure we've so desperately needed.
Nostalgia is a powerful drug. Now that almost all the kids that were collecting the likes of Kenner's Super Powers and Mattel's Secret Wars toys are closer to 40 then they are their pre-teen years, there's a built-in audience for revisiting these memorable action figure lines. What's more, these eternally young-at-heart fans now have disposable income, and can afford re-issues that are solely for collecting and not playing.
While you may initially scoff at the idea of paying around $100 for a jumbo-sized Secret Wars Wolverine or Super Powers Superman, it's hard to quiet the child inside when you see Gentle Giant's modern replicas in person. Not only are the figures captured from the original plans, but the packaging too is rendered almost exactly as it was all those years ago. The value of how cool it will look on your shelf immediately begins to tip the scales from how much just one of these figures will impact your wallet. These figures, as well as Gentle Giant's Star Wars and Batman: The Animated Series lines, toe the line at the intersection of comic art and nostalgia.
ThreeA has long been crafting original figures and collectibles based on the art and designs of co-founder Ashley Wood, but in recent years, the company has expanded its reach with a variety of licenses in comics, animation and films. That essence of Wood's aesthetic is still ever present though, and his influence still informs the design sense for many of ThreeA's upcoming pieces.
At San Diego Comic-Con this year, the company went all out with a major presentation of its upcoming slate. Normally included as a small part of IDW's booth, ThreeA's installation this year was set up like an art show, and showed off a great deal of promising figures in a range of scales and sizes. With figures from Frederator and 2000 AD, as well as Marvel, it appears the company is finally ready to make a big splash in the market beyond its original works.
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