PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

pc-2-23-01The PopCulteer
February 23, 2018

The PopCult Toybox Toy Fair 2018 Finale

Today we wrap up our intensive coverage of Toy Fair 2018, but we will return to a normal schedule that will see The PopCult Toybox return every Wednesday (with the PopCult Bookshelf landing on Thursdays, and more new review features on the way). We weren’t able to attend Toy Fair in person this year, but there’s still plenty to tell you about, so this will be a long PopCulteer, filled with coverage, analysis and links.

Diecast and Toy Cars

Mattel’s Hot Wheels continues to be the big player in the field, and this year they introduced new augmented reality racing sets that are expected to give them a leg up on the Anki racetrack sets.

pc-2-23-02In the new Augmoto system builds on their previous AI Intelligent Race System set, and includes weapons that can be used to disable your competitors on the track. Instead of dedicated controllers, Augmoto mimics the Anki method and requires a tablet or smartphone to control the cars. Looking at your device lets you see  lightning effects, track enhancements and power-ups that can be used against your opponent. If your car is damaged, you will see it on the track maoking or bleeding fluids. You’ll need to tap the car to repair it.

The Augmoto set is scheduled for release this fall, and will cost around $120 .

Using much of the same technology, Mattel has teamed up with game developer Psyonix to create The Hot Wheels Rocket League RC Rivals set, based on the popular video game. This large set comes with the arena for the soccer/demolition derby hybrid, plus  the Octane and Dominus Battle-Cars as well as the Rocket League ball. The set  also includes a boost pad that charges up the cars as well as the ball, and the scoreboard will track any goals that are scored with sound effects.
This Bluetooth-controlled game will retail for around $180, and is due out later this year.

hw-50Moving on to traditional diecast cars, the big news is that 2018 is the 50th anniversary of Hot Wheels, and Mattel will mark the occasion by releasing new reprodouctions of their first sixteen cars in high-metallic paint. These will come on special die-cut flame cards, like the originals (seen right), and will sport redline wheels. The package will also include a button, just like the originals. The cars will have “50” stamped on their sides, so that collectors don’t get fooled by the reproductions. This is pretty much the same thing that Mattel did for Hot Wheel’s 25th
Anniversary, buack in 1993, which makes me feel very old, since I bought those…and the originals.

At the other diecast companies, big news from Toy Fair was not in great supply because so many of the other companies release their news all year long on social media.

pc-2-23-03Greenlight Collectibles had a great display at Toy Fair, but had already made all their big announcements on their Facebook Page.

If you are a fan of their high-quality cars, you really need to head over there and “like” it so that you can keep up with what this company is releasing.

I think their next big release are three 1/43 scale Hollywood cars based on Smokey and the Bandit, Charlies Angels and The A-Team.

pc-2-23-04Likewise, Round 2, the parent company of Johnny Lightning,  keeps in touch with their fans on Facebook, too via their Auto World page.  In addition to Johnny Lightning and other diecast lines, The Round 2 family of brands includes Auto World Slot Cars, featuring high-speed, highly-accurate 1/64 scale electric slot car racing; Forever Fun Holiday Collectibles, featuring detailed recreations of favorite holiday characters; American Muscle 1/18th scale collectible diecast and MPC, AMT and Polar Lights Model Kits, featuring classic auto, sci-fi and figural plastic kits.

In other diecast news, Tonka and Hasbro renewed their license that allows Funrise to continue to market toys under the Tonka brand, and Funko is dipping their toe into the world of diecast with a line of figural vehicles based on Five Nights At Freddy’s.  A great source for up-to-date news about diecast cars is the Lamley Group.

As with every sector of the industry, diecast cars are going to be hit hard by the continuing woes of Toys R Us. Other retailers are stepping up to fill the void left by the TRU store closings (more are expected to be announced any day now), but it’s a mad dash as Johnny Lightning and Greenlight Collectibles stand to lose one of their main retail outlets.

Mattel has already succeeded in placing Hot Wheels all over the place, in grocery stores, pharmacies, and conveninence stores. Greenlight has a presence at Walmart and Hobby Lobby, as well as hobby shops and a few auto parts stores.  Johnny Lightning is part of Auto World, so they have a great online store, but losing Toys R Us is going to hurt this end of the business, just like every other toy sector.

Board Games

PopCult hasn’t covered too many board games in our coverage this year. We will in the future, but we couldn’t get a good combination of press releases and images for many of the most interesting games, so we’ll wait until we can bring you a more full picture.

However, BoardgameGeek was at Toy Fair and provided top-notch coverage of all sorts of great new board games, so we’ll just refer you to their page for now.

Gund Plush

pc-2-23-052018 is a big year for Gund. The plush toy maker celebrates its 120th anniversary this year. At the Toy Fair 2018 the company unveiled their new toys for the Holiday 2018 season. Many of the new plush toys include nods to the past with an updated, contemporary spin as well as new collections within Baby Gund, license, and core categories.

Gund has updated its best-selling Snuffles bear (right) with a slight change to its design that harkens back to Snuffles of the past while adding a fresh palette of contemporary color options, including dusty pink and gender-neutral gray, and ultra-soft, premium plush. Snuffles was introduced to the Gund collection almost 40 years ago, so long-time fans of the crescent-moon-shaped bear will be reminded of their own childhoods.

pc-2-23-06The Gund Cozys line-up gets four new animals in classic patterns brought back with a contemporary twist and color palette: fox (seen left), panda, frog, and rabbit. Each will be available in 8-inch and 10-inch sizes. There are also new additions of an elephant to the evergreen line and a doe, husky, and polar bear to the seasonal Cozy line for holiday 2018.

Gund has introduced a new friend to the BabyGUND line with Luna. Luna is a sweet unicorn who makes playtime with baby magical. Luna comes in a variety of formats, including keywind musical plush and musical pull-string toy that play Brahm’s Lullaby, rattle, Lovey, Comfy Cozy, and plush and blanket set. Her blush pink hooves and mane give Luna a soft, contemporary appearance that fits in perfectly with today’s unicorn or mythical-themed nurseries. All formats feature satin accents on Luna’s golden horn and fluffy pink mane and tail, while embroidered eye, adorable eyelash, and nose details ensure safe use for all ages.

pc-2-23-07The company also presents their newest licenses from Sanrio at the Toy Fair 2018 in New York. Gudetama is a lazy egg that loves to lay around and sigh. You can see it to the right.

Gudetama, whose name derives from the combination of the Japanese words “gude” or “lazy,” and “tama” from “tamago” or “egg,” is well-known in Japan for its lackadaisical attitude, indifference toward being eaten, and catchphrases like “meh” showcased in its popular YouTube series.

GUND’s line of Gudetama plush show the lazy egg in some of its favorite positions with signature open mouth, closed eyes, and defined backside.

pc-2-23-08The Super Pusheenicorn came to Toy Fair to spread joy and light with her glowing horn leading the way! That’s her to the left.

The mythical, magical version of the internet sensation, Pusheen, is a favorite among fans and collectors of Pusheen products.

A touch of her sparkly crescent moon enables touch-activated lights in her horn and mane as well as three whimsical sound effects. Pusheenicorn is surface-washable for easy cleaning and appropriate for ages one and up. This one has actually been out for a couple of months already, and I can testify that it is very loud and distinctive.

Hitting stores now are the  Pusheen Surprise Plush Mystery Box Magical Kitties featuring everyone’s favourite grey tabby cat, and, for the first time ever,both of Pusheen’s siblings Stormy and Pip. This trend-setting and fun-loving trio are dressed in a number of whimsical and fantasy-themed costumes.

Pusheen super-fans will be able to get their paws on a miniature Pusheenicorn, Mermaid Stormy, Stormicorn, Mermaid Pusheen, Pegasus Pusheen, Pegasus Pip, Dragon Pusheen, and a mystery surprise Pusheen. Each plush within the mystery box series is a smaller version of the full-scale plush versions but with the same adorable features. Each miniature plush also features a handy keychain, so the contents of the Pusheen Surprise Plush Mystery Box Magical Kitties can be used as a stylish and super-on-trend keyring or bag chain.


The Rest of the Round Up.

pc-2-23-10Bleeding Cool, who we linked to earlier, has even more great photo essays up.  First they cover Hasbro’s new crowd-funding project, Haslab, and their initial offering, a five-hundred dollar version of Jabba The Hutt’s Sail Barge from Return of the Jedi.

Next up they have tons of great photos from Entertainment Earth, including the Hamilton Pin-Mate image that I swiped (right).

They also covered Jada Toys who may have the next big cheap collectible with their die-cast figures.

Shifting Gears, I want to give a nod to Ada at Papusile Mele, who covers Barbie in-depth all year long.

And with that, I will wrap up this PopCulteer and our intensive coverage of Toy Fair. Toy Fair actually ended back on Tuesday, but there will still be news sifting out about it and from the troubles afflicting Toys R Us, and you can follow the toy business and read about new toys every Wednesday here in PopCult.

Our regular features return tomorrow, and we plan to keep all our regular features in place while we make our annual trek down South to ToyLanta the week after next. Of course we’ll be telling you all about that, too, and we’ll be posting updates from the road, if the Wi Fi Gods smile down upon us.