Back in February, just ahead of the 115th North American International Toy Fair, Hasbro revealed that they'd become the master licensee for Saban's Power Rangers. Buried in the announcement was something that many missed, but I did not - the potential for Hasbro to acquire the whole franchise. Now that's happened, and today Hasbro and Saban Properties LLC have announced that the companies have signed a definitive agreement for Hasbro to purchase Saban’s Power Rangers and several other entertainment brands, including My Pet Monster, Popples, Julius Jr., Luna Petunia, Treehouse Detectives and others, in a combination of cash and stock valued at $522 million.
Avengers: Infinity War is the biggest superhero spectacle of all-time (see my review), and along with the film comes one of the coolest collections of Marvel merch in recent memory. At the recent #InfinityWarEvent in Los Angeles coinciding with the World Premiere of Marvel Studios' 19th film, I had a chance to take a look at the full line inside a private showroom at Disney Consumer Products & Interactive. But what fun is just looking? Thanks to my partners at Disney, Entertainment Earth, Hasbro and others, The Rock Daughters™ and I have amassed quite a collection. After all, even Thanos is a bit of a collector himself, tough he's more into Infinity Stones than I. Here's a look at some of the coolest items out there!
Distroller USA's Neonate Babies are one of the biggest hits of the past year here at our house. Known as Ksi-Meritos in other parts of the world, these little alien babies could be this generation's Cabbage Patch Kid, and if you follow them at all, you may have already seen just how hard to get they can be. With a full assortment of dolls and accessories available at affordable prices, the limited-edition runs often command high secondary market value, which is why I always tell parents - if you see it and know the kids will want it, buy it now if you can! Launching TODAY (4/27/2018) at 10am Pacific Time, there's a new delivery from the planet of Neonatopia - a limited batch of Nerlie "Koloreenies." They'll be available online via the official site, or at Distroller World retail locations (Houston and San Diego).
This #AlienDay 2018 feature brought to you in collaboration between The Rock Father™ and Entertainment Earth.
It was last Halloween that Funko dropped the curtain on their first offering of 8-Bit Horror Pops - an assortment of Pop! Vinyl figures that put a retro video game spin on iconic characters like Freddy Krueger (A Nightmare on Elm Street), Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th) and the Xenomorph from Ridley Scott's ALIEN. As for the latter, the 8-Bit Alien has been issued a couple of times thus far in standard and blood-splattered editions as a complement to a larger line of ALIENS Pop! Vinyl. Now comes the time to add a third variant to the mix with the surprise release of the Entertainment Earth Exclusive "Video Game Deco" 8-Bit Xenomorph. This is the most colorful variation yet, taking inspiration from the famed ALIEN 3 video game with accents of blue and red. The figure is available to pre-order right now (while supplies last), but I've already got one and can give you an exclusive hands-on look right here!
After a surprise announcement and months of hype, Nintendo Labo has finally arrived. This new system links the physical and digital realms of the Nintendo Switch in ways that most would've never imagined, allowing players to "make, play and discover." It's such a unique experience, it's somewhat hard to describe without actually playing it, and I had a chance to do just that during an hour-and-a-half session behind closed doors with Nintendo at the 115th North American International Toy Fair back in February. But there's also a lot to be gained by watching others and seeing what their creations are all about, and for launch Nintendo has teamed-up with a guy that knows a bit about labs... Bill Nye. Check out the video below to see what The Science Guy whips up, then get creative and start sharing your own ideas.
The Toys "R" Us saga continues, and while this week hasn't been as explosive as some in recent months, there has been some activity worth noting. Earlier this week it was reported that the bid for pieces of Toys "R" Us operations in the U.S. and Canada by MGA Entertainment's Isaac Larian has been rejected for "not meeting the threshold" - a statement that left many to question what exactly that threshold would be. For Canada, we now have a number, and it came via a filing of notice for a stalking horse bidder. Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited has entered into an agreement to buy the Canadian operations for $300M in Canadian dollars - equivalent to about $237M US. Larian's bid for Canadian stores was $215M.
For the past few years, Mattel's American Girl subsidiary has been running into problems. Sales have been dropping by the double-digits as habits change (damn the devices!) and other companies' 18" dolls have started to catch up to them in terms of quality but at a lower price. Add in another unfortunate set of moves that were tied to the failing Toys "R" Us (TRU), and those problems have snowballed quickly. The launch of the lower-priced, 15" Wellie Wishers line never took off in the way that everyone hoped, and those dolls and their accessories were shipped heavily to TRU. Pair that with fact that about a year and a half ago (October 2016), American Girl opened store-within-a-store pop-up concepts in 97 Toys "R" Us locations, and that's an issue. Mattel is owed over $135M in the Toys "R" Us bankruptcy that they'll likely never see and the fallout has begun. They recently announced the closing of their New York City office (100 jobs lost), and today comes news that hits close to home - they're shutting down American Girl operations in Wilmot, Wisconsin, and The Mattel Toy Store is going along with it.
If you don't want to terrify your children, don't mention the prospect of recycling toys. Not long ago, I happened to be watching a video about a company that recycles broken plastic toys into children's furniture. My girls came into the office while I was watching it, and within minutes they'd created an entire story about "the toy stealers who come at night," subsequently starting to hide their own toys for fear of recycling. In reality, it's not a bad idea, and while I don't really know the data on it, I can only imagine the massive amount of toys and games that wind up in landfills each year. Now, ahead of Earth Day, Hasbro announced earlier this week that they're launching a toy and game recycling pilot program with TerraCycle. During the pilot program, consumers can collect and send their well-loved Hasbro toys and games to TerraCycle, who will recycle them into materials that can be used in the construction of play spaces, flower pots, park benches, and other innovative uses. In 2018, Hasbro is piloting the program in the contiguous U.S.
As of this writing, we're closer to May than April and it's currently snowing where I sit here in Illinois. From what I've heard, it's not much better for my friends on the east coast, like my colleagues at The Toy Insider who've just launched their 2018 Spring & Summer Gift Guide. Technically, it's spring, and here at Rock Father™ HQ we have some of the items featured in The Toy Insider Gift Guide... we just haven't had the proper weather to use them just yet. Never separated by gender, the Toy Insider’s gift guide is broken down by age group and play category - with each category featuring a variety of products across a wide range of price points. Check out the links and details below!
It's Official: Isaac Larian Has Submitted His Bid to Purchase Toys "R" Us, plus other updates from Geoffrey's House...Written by James Zahn
As the ongoing saga of Toys "R" Us continues, there is some news to report. The biggest piece is one I'm a day late on sharing, but an important one nonetheless. After word hit yesterday that Isaac Larian, CEO of MGA Entertainment, Inc. had placed his formal bid for a piece of Toys "R" Us, many reported the news - some with conflicting numbers. This morning I received an official statement from Larian's team confirming and detailing the bid and what it entails. The formal bid of $675 million has been placed to buy the U.S stores, while $215 million has been offered to buy the Toys"R"Us stores in Canada. The funds to purchase both the U.S. and Canadian stores will come from Larian's own coffers, additional investors and bank financing. Bid amounts were determined after careful due diligence by Larian, speaking with multiple investors and 3rd party experts.
As modern Star Wars fans, we're pretty spoiled in that since 2015 we've been getting new films every year. We've seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016), Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) and this year we've got Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018). And, as J.J. Abrams preps to shoot the Untitled Episode IX (2019), there's a new series of films from David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, a new Trilogy from Rian Johnson and a live-action television series from Jon Favreau all starting to take shape on the horizon. With each new film comes a new range of toys and collectibles, and in recent years we've seen that skew largely toward grownups - the "big kids" who were once little kids when the Original Trilogy (1977-1983) was released, or even stranger to me - the kids who grew up on the Prequel Trilogy (1999-2005). Along the way, I think that sometimes what gets lost is the fact that while many Star Wars toys are being purchased by collectors, there's always new generations who are just experiencing the Saga for the very first time. With that in mind, Hasbro is peppering the release of their new toys from Solo: A Star Wars Story with some new offerings from their Galactic Heroes line geared toward the youngest fans - ages 3-7. And like all the new product launches, there's not only characters from the latest film, but also those from the the past... or "a long time ago... in a galaxy far, far away." My friends at Entertainment Earth sent over one of those new toys - the Star Wars Galactic Heroes 2-in-1 Millennium Falcon, and we're going hands-on in The Toy Testing Facility at Rock Father™ HQ!
Preview - Star Wars Pinball: The Last Jedi's Ahch-To Island Table, plus my Twitch Stream 66M Multiball!Written by James Zahn
On April 17, Zen Studios' Pinball FX3 takes another trip to a galaxy far, far away with the release of Star Wars Pinball: The Last Jedi Pack. This new DLC brings to all-new tables to the platform, and the first is Ahch-To Island - the secluded hideaway where Luke Skywalker has been living for some years before Rey caught up with him. This week, a new trailer for that table has been released, but also I had a chance to go hands-on thanks to the folks at Zen Studios providing me with an early copy of the game for Xbox One (it's also available for PlayStation 4, Windows 10 and Steam, as well as for Zen Pinball on iOS, Mac and Android.) I fired up my Twitch Stream last night for a first run, and the most fun I had was when R2-D2 helped to activate the multi-ball, leading to a 66,214,354 high score on only my second round. See the new trailer and highlights from my Twitch Stream below!