Can I Play With the Shield Now? Play-Testing Hasbro’s Avengers Gear for Kids
Hasbro's been releasing a steady stream of role-playing gear based on a variety of Marvel properties, but as of late, the shelves at retailers have been filled with Avengers: Age of Ultron gear. A short while ago, Hasbro sent us a box of the kid-friendly gear, and we knew the only way to really test out Iron Man's repulsors, Captain America's shield, Hulk's hands and Thor's hammer was to put it in the hands of some of the top research scientists ComicsAlliance could afford.
I'm going to let you in on a secret. The way to win over kids is to show up at their doorstep with a giant box full of toys. It's a little bit of cheap heat, no doubt, but when you've got some Avengers toys that need to be reviewed, there's no better experts than the kids the toys are actually aimed at.
Of course, that doesn't mean you can't torture them a little bit by not letting them tear into the toys immediately. The Captain America Star Launch Shield and Thor's Power Hammer Game needed a little adult finesse to get ready, though the Hulk Gamma Grip Fists, Iron Man Arc FX Armor and Captain America Hero Mask were ready to right away. For things that didn't require batteries or careful sticker applications, Hasbro did a nice job of making the time from open to useable as slight as possible.
Now, Sophia and Ben are more than qualified for the job in front of them. They've been raised on a steady diet of comic book and superhero movies, cartoons and toys. Sophia is just a bit past five years old, but she can do a cartwheel and a bridge like someone easily twice her age, and knows more about Ronda Rousey than most adults. Ben's only two, but he identifies the Green Goliath by his full name ("Hulk Smash"), will break into Frozen songs mid-conversation, and gives high-fives like it's his job.
As the big Hulk fan, Ben was immediately drawn to the Hulk Gamma Grip Fists. Even though they were a bit big for him to use properly, that didn't stop him from stomping around the kitchen, swinging wildly at imaginary foes. Sophia quickly donned the Captain America Hero Mask, and before I could even get the second Iron Man Arc FX glove out of the box, had begun repulsor-blasting with the one interactive glove. Patience is a virtue of the common man; heroes act quickly and impulsively with little time to wait for such obstacles as plastic ties.
Though the new Hulk hands and the Iron Man gloves were clearly fun for the kids, the real chaos ensued once mighty Mjolnir was fully operational, and Cap's shield was ready for action.
The game behind Thor's Power Hammer is basically a home version of the old carnival feat of strength. You pound the hammer on the ground or a table, and you get a score based on how hard you swing. For people who weigh more than 60 pounds, it's relatively easy to score 999 with some consistency. For the kids, there was definitely more challenge there, and that's a good thing. Coupled with the ease of entry and use, the Power Hammer game can be played quickly with little set up or fuss. While Ben didn't care to be embroiled in a contest with his sister over who was stronger, that didn't stop him from pounding the mini-Mjolnir's to draw out its lightning sound effects. A lot.
As much as the kids enjoyed everything in the box, the Captain America Star Launch Shield was the biggest hit. Before it was even ready for use (just a few stickers needed placement), Ben was asking to wear it on his back. You know, like Cap in the movies. Though it doesn't actually come equipped to do so, it does have a nice, easily-adjustable strap and handle on the backside to ensure it doesn't just drop to the ground. Which it still did constantly because kids are kids. Still, the shield is rugged, and took its lumps like a champ and kept on working as intended.
By pulling a ripcord, the shield launches a tiny projectile into the sky. At least, that's what it's supposed to do if you use enough force. You might be surprised to learn that a two year-old kid doesn't provide enough torque for the projectile to do more than spin in place. This was also irrelevant. All that mattered was that it was Captain America's shield, and that Ben could pretend to be Captain America. Sophia had a bit more luck with the shield... when she was allowed to use it. I don't know if you know this about kids, but they are very territorial about toys.
"Can I play with the shield now?" was the question of the night, and it wasn't just the kids. When not playing the villains, the adults on hand (okay, me and kids' dad) had a bit of a competition to see who could launch the projectile higher or farther. Let's just say that if you wanted to, the Captain America Star Launch Shield might give you a good reason to clean your gutters. Also, I won, and that's not in dispute because it's in print now. And everything you read on the internet is true.
The box Hasbro sent included about $90 worth of items (everything we mentioned retails for $19.99, save for the Hero Mask, which is $9.99). For how much fun the kids had with the gear in just a few hours, that's not a terribly expensive price to pay. Given that these toys will be in use for a while (either by the kids or me when I go visit), each of the items definitely had plenty of value, even if certain toys were more popular that night than the others. Most importantly, the gear let the kids feel like the Avengers for the day... even if they did put on Captain America's mask and use Iron Man's repulsors, which totally would never happen in the comics, you guys. (Except when it does.)
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