2018 continues to be a unique and challenging year for those in the business of play. While sales are up and there's no shortage of places to buy and sell toys, the rapid collapse of Toys "R" Us in the United States and other countries continues to cause collateral damage. While major players like Mattel have taken a beating, it was always expected that some smaller toymakers would suffer catastrophic damage. Today's casualty is Toy State, a Hong Kong-based company with a long history of making some fantastic toy vehicles, including their Road Rippers brand and the iconic Nikko RC line, but also toys with a ton of top licenses and strategic partners like CAT, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Barbie & Hot Wheels, DC Comics, MARVEL, WWE, Thomas and Friends and more. In fact, they just announced a partnership with 20th Century Fox to become the master toy licensee for the animated film Spies in Disguise, which hits theaters next April.
Back when Barbie first started "moving in" here at Rock Father HQ a few years back, one of the first vehicles we bought the girls for their dolls was a "remote controlled" Barbie Corvette. For whatever reason, that car, along with nearly every RC car we've ever found made specifically for dolls has been what's known as "simple RC" - they go forward, but they only turn in reverse. Now comes what I believe is the first-ever full-function RC to be an official Barbie product. Created by Toy State under license from Mattel, the Barbie Cruisin' Convertible Corvette is available exclusively at Toys 'R' Us this holiday season, and is a featured pick in my 2016 Holiday Wish Guide!
When it comes to R/C vehicles, Nikko's been in the game for a long time... since 1958, landing on kids' wish lists (including my own) for decades. One of their newest offerings to come since becoming a unit of Toy State is the "Elite Trucks"line, and with their all-new Ford F-150 SVT Raptor hitting the streets for the holidays, we were excited to receive one for review here in the Toy Testing Facility at Rock Father HQ.
The very first radio controlled car I ever owned was a 1986 NIKKO R/C Ferrari Testarossa. I wanted that car so bad, I remember asking Santa for it after seeing it in the Sears Wish Book. I'm sure my parents would've never expected that 29 years later, I'd still be playing with NIKKO R/C vehicles - much less be writing about them. Yet here we are, and I'm excited to bring you my hands-on report on one of the latest members of the NIKKO fleet - the first vehicle produced under the recent licensing partnership between WWE and NIKKO parent, TOY STATE. The WWE Rolling Ring is a 1:16-scale 27MHz tri-band truck (allowing for three players) with a top speed of 6.2 mph, and a range of 82 feet. Available with graphic schemes based on WWE Superstars Sheamus, The Rock and John Cena - we received the latter for review in THE ROCK FATHER's State-of-the-Art Toy Testing Facility (our house), and this time we did something different: We strapped a GoPro to it!
2016 is already shaping up to be a huge year for fans of DC Comics, with DC SUPER HERO GIRLS rolling out, BATMAN v. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE hitting theaters, and the grownups-only SUICIDE SQUAD following down the line. For the toy aisles, there's a new addition that's just been revealed, and it comes from some old "friends."
I recently spent a year working with Toy State on a limited-time "Test Driver" initiative, and while that program has come to a close, I'm still happy to spread the word about some of their new offerings - many of which become some of the hottest rides in the toy aisles. Today a little bit of news hit the wires as a tease of what's to come from the company as they begin rolling out new vehicles under their ROAD RIPPERS and NIKKO brands - new logos for each. Personally, I'm really interested in where they take NIKKO as they recently acquired it, and my first-ever R/C car was a NIKKO Ferrari back in the 80s.