Toy Fair ’97 was pretty kickin’, with a lot of really good stuff along with a lot of really bad stuff. The three most compelling things I saw had to be Micro Machines by Galoob, all of the Spawn stuff by McFarlane Toys and the latest LEGO machinery.
Galoob’s Star Wars Micro Machines series was funky. They were composed of toy pieces from previous Star Wars flicks, plus new characters that appear in the film reissue.
Micro Machines are miniature replicas of machines like planes, cars and boats, as well as people. Each toy series is constructed on the same basic template: a major object like the Death Star, a spaceship or the head of Darth Vader opens up to reveal a distant world and its associated characters. The toys provide fundamental scenario building and then leave the rest up to the imagination of the child. The attention to detail in the products is excellent, as are the price points. All of the Star Wars stuff is creative and attractive.
McFarlane Toys is responsible for all of the Spawn material. Its products are based on the number one comic book of the same name. All of the action figures have amazing attention to detail and, once again, excellent pricing.
Spawn, too, is supported by an upcoming movie, launching in August, that will definitely rock the house and have fans on the edge of their seats. McFarlane presented previews of the movie trailers, which are captivating. These types of movies often have a tough time making the transition from the host comic book or video game to the big screen, but this one is dope.
The other thing McFarlane is doing is a series of KISS action figures. Excellent stuff.
LEGO is another eye-catching toy company with excellent themes, ranging from space to underwater and everywhere in between. Construction is top-notch all the way, from the DUPLO series for teeny, tiny kids, up to the most complex construction sets. The company features prepackaged minisets that sell for US$2 and are intended as impulse/POP items at the checkout a brilliant idea for creating a new generation of LEGO-ites. Also, when you buy a LEGO set, you instantly become a member of the LEGO club.
LEGO also has a contest in which you build something on the theme of your choice, take a picture of it and send it in. If you win, you and your family receive a trip to Antarctica. The best part is that everyone who enters gets a certificate of acknowledgement. Very smart.
Finally, it has an Adventures on LEGO Island CD-ROM for kids age six to 12. Welcome to the age of multimedia. LEGO will make it well into the next millennium.