When it comes to toys, after years of growth the construction/building category took a hit in 2017, with sales falling 6%. As Toy Fair approaches, toymakers will no doubt be looking to rebound from that, and one way to do that is to innovate. Strictly Briks is bringing the iconic Rubik's Cube into the brick construction universe, reimagining it as four-sided bricks across three distinct product lines geared toward kids aged 4-7, 5-12 and 10+. RUBIK'S BRIKS will debut with sets that go beyond typical building by challenging kids with 3D Modeling, colorful pixel images and Puzzles. Here's a quick look at some of the sets they'll be offering beginning in the fall of 2018...

It seems like everything in entertainment is divisive these days. If you keep things the same, it's too much like what's come before it. Change things up and go in new directions, and you've ruined a franchise. At least, that's what certain very vocal fans tend to say. The TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES franchise to me is a lot like BATMAN (who they've actually teamed-up with before). Since 1984, it's seen constant reinvention with different looks and new takes on familiar characters that sometimes inhabit an unfamiliar form. Most of the time, it works. Now, after running nearly six years in a CGI incarnation on Nickelodeon (which ran parallel to a vastly different-looking live action film series), the TMNT crew is being reinvented once more for RISE OF THE TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES.

The North American International Toy Fair is fast-approaching, and those in attendance February 17-20, 2018 can get their first-look at the latest character from IAmElemental, creators of the first female action figures designed specifically for children. The company is set to debut their latest Series 2/Wisdom Warrior Core Power action figure at Booth #5207 - this one inspired by Alexandrian STEM pioneer Hypatia.

Mattel163 will be a new home for developing mobile gaming experiences based on iconic Mattel Brands. The toymaker has announced a joint operation with China-based tech firm NetEase to launch the endeavor, which will leverage NetEase's "leading expertise in digital content and gaming." The first title is based on UNO, now available on Facebook Messenger and coming soon as a mobile app to iOS and Android devices. UNO  includes unique features and fresh modes of play, designed to appeal to a worldwide audience. Check out a trailer for the new UNO below...

It's gonna be another big year at the movies - but will it be at the box office? After a year soft on theater receipts and some less-than-stellar movie tie-ins, JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM is looming on the horizon, prepping for its June 22, 2018 release. While the promotional partners are vast, one returning from 2015's Jurassic World is LEGO Group, and today they've announced a joint partnership with Universal Brand Development for a collection that goes beyond the norm. Like the last time around, they'll offer an expanded line of construction sets, all-new animated content, and, for the first time ever, a lifestyle collection. Among the new collections will be construction sets that span every LEGO age category (Duplo/Juniors/LEGO), as well as two all-new, animated videos, and a collection of soft lines and publishing to reach audiences beyond the toy aisle. A few sets have been revealed this week, with more set to debut at Toy Fair in New York in mid-February (I will be in attendance for that).

DEADPOOL 2 will arrive in theaters this May, and while he's technically a character ripped from the pages of Marvel Comics, the antics of the entertaining, yet vulgar hero can make merchandising a little bit tricky. Ryan Reynolds' on-screen portrayal of "The Merc with a Mouth" has spun a lot of attention back toward the source material, and that's had fans and collectors eagerly-awaiting some new gear for 2018. Hasbro is answering the call for older fans, with a new assortment of comic-inspired DEADPOOL toys, including action figures and role-play items... in adult sizes! Check out the official details below, direct from my friends at Hasbro!

A few weeks ago, my wife and I went to see Hamilton: An American Musical. It lives up to the hype, it's fantastic, and I'm a huge fan. Previously, I was more into the work of Lin-Manuel Miranda thanks to Moana and his contribution to Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Now, with Mary Poppins Returns and a host of other projects on the horizon, it's guaranteed that we'll have much entertainment from the multi-hyphenate (who I'm now calling a "fellow Rock Father" thanks to his rendition of the PAW Patrol theme) for years to come, so what's next? Collectibles, of course! While I've long-been expecting Hamilton Funko POP! Vinyls to get a proper release (people keep making custom versions), there is a Lin-Manuel Miranda figure on the way from my friends at Entertainment Earth. In partnership with TeeRico, the Lin-Manuel and Tobi Pin Mates Wooden Collectibles will be available this summer as part of the Pin Mates Silver Series. Available for pre-order right now, a portion of proceeds from each retro-styled figure set will go to charity.

Sunday, January 28 2018 13:09

LEGO Celebrates 60 Years of Bricks...

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It was 60 years ago today - January 28, 1958 that LEGO was able to secure a patent for its brand of interlocking bricks. The company has a history both storied and controversial, but what remains most important is that millions of children and families have been brought together by the iconic building toys. To celebrate the 60th Anniversary milestone, LEGO placed a massive installation in the Flatiron District of New York City, a neighborhood hailed as "the original home of the American Toy Industry." Check out the build video below to see the construction of a 12,000 pound LEGO Brick...

Bonkers Toys is expanding on their slither.io collection. "What could be better than building your own slither?" They're hoping that kids will feel the same way when their new Build-a-Slither toy line arrives this spring. The new collection lets kids construct and create their very own colorful slithers based on the awarding winning slither.io app - a phenomenon with 27 Billion game plays in 2017. The new Build-a-Slither line brings into the physical realm what digital players have recently experienced after the slither.io app added the ability for players to custom design their own slither.

MGA Entertainment entered 2018 on a massive high, riding a wave of success fueled by their hit L.O.L. Surprise! line. As much as I champion gender-free play (let kids play with what they want!), the "surprise" toy market has largely skewed toward girls, and this is something that I've seen first-hand. Having already jumped into the action-aisle with their Awesome Little Green Men, MGA now has a "surprise" for that crowd as well with the release of Crate Creatures Surprise! I was initially contacted about checking these out just before Christmas but didn't have time to take a look until after the holiday rush - which is fine since the availability is better now. This new collection of interactive figures brings the "unboxing" experience to life in a way that can be repeated again and again. Check out the video below, along with some detailed thoughts on this new line...

It wasn't long ago that to launch a toy line, it was often supported by an animated television series. Now, as more and more kids cling to tablets and other digital devices (a plague), it's all about the webseries instead. Nearly every new toy line on-deck for 2018 will debut alongside a series of webisodes, and Alpha Group is getting into that action to launch their latest line, SCREECHERS WILD! First previewed here on THE ROCK FATHER™ Magazine a few weeks back, the first four episodes of Screechers Wild! Season One are out, and they're pretty cool. Check 'em out in the player below, and look for these toys to hit stores in the months ahead. They've already started creeping out there!

For those who collect Hasbro Star Wars action figures in the classic 3.75" scale, you may have noticed what's been called the "home entertainment 4-packs" the past few years. These sets hit retail alongside the in-home releases of each new film on Blu-ray and DVD, and in the past they've included the Takodana Encounter (The Force Awakens) and Jedha Revolt (Rogue One). These have traditionally included some exclusive figures, and for Star Wars: The Last Jedi comes the Battle on Crait 4-pack. Available this spring, my friends at Entertainment Earth just sent over the full details on this new collection which features  Rey (Jedi Apprentice, salt on boots), a First Order Snowtrooper, First Order Gunner, and Rose (Crait Poncho). Check out the box below, and be sure to pre-order yours now!

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