Friday, February 16, 2007

A peek at some of the movie-based action figures at Toy Fair 2007
What Sombrero Grande will be buying this year

I’ll begin with the biggest surprise of the show this year (for me): Back to the Future Minimates. With BTTF being one of my very favorite movies of all time, I’ve long wanted to see action figures stemming from this 1985 film and its two sequels. A while back I discovered Medicom had made block-type figures (similar to Minimates and basic Lego figures) in Japan of a few characters from the film and I instantly had to grab them from an import seller. I’ve never been a huge fan of the simplified block-style figures but I thought this would be as close as I’d ever get to having a Marty or Doc action figure. Thanks to Medicom’s frankly bizarre collection of “Kubrick” licenses (including The Usual Suspects, The Great Escape and Kelloggs breakfast cereal characters), Back the Future figures had finally seen the light of day.

Now Minimates has taken on the task of bringing the McFlys to plastic form. Unfortunately, it’s still in block-figure format, and...well...I have to admit I’m a little underwhelmed with the executions so far. The “Enchantment Under the Sea” Marty’s face looks like Chucky from Child’s Play. I know it’s tough to caricature the features of real people into simple block figures (which is why I’d love to see a company like NECA do a realistic action figure set), but I have a feeling they’ll grow on me, just like Medicom’s versions quickly did.

According to ToyFare, there’s a 4-figure box set coming this Fall (including Marty in his “life jacket,” frazzled 1955 Doc, giraffe-skirt Lorraine and “Enchanment” George) along with two 2-packs that will be exclusive to a yet-unnamed seller (one with “Enchantment” Marty and Lorraine in her boob-a-licious dance dress [Lorraine Baines was my first movie crush as a kid] and the other with 1955 purple-shirted Marty and Biff). Hopefully we’ll see future assortments of these from the sequels as well.

Another unexpected line I was interested in from merely seeing the name is The Big Lebowski action figures. First announced a year ago, now we finally get to see pictures. It looks like there will be two versions of the only two characters so far to be immortalized in plastic, The Dude and Walter. Hopefully we’ll eventually see Donny, Jesus, a “Gutterballs” 2-pack with The Dude and Viking Maude and maybe even a bowling shoes vender Saddam.

Next up is Mattel’s surprisingly-still-selling-out-everywhere Cars die-cast line. Damn, these are hard to find...even still! I remember the week before the movie came out last summer being in the drug store down the street from my house and seeing every one of the first series of these on a promotional aisle shelf. For the rest of the summer I was kicking myself for not picking up any then as they quickly disappeared because--to quote Toy Story 2--“short-sighted retailers did not order enough to meet demand.” New cars are released periodically but even the common originals are still scarce. I just recently managed to find the Woody and Buzz 2-pack (I guess the folks at Mattel read my plea to have them made at the end of my Cars review--Thanks, folks! Now how about making the Pizza Planet truck?), and coming soon are Mike and Sulley, the Yeti, Hamm, tongue-out Lightning, Dinoco-sponsored Chick Hicks and several more cool cars.

Over at NECA they’re continuing their successful Pirates of the Caribbean and Nightmare Before Christmas lines, along with picking up new licenses like Harry Potter, 300 and something called Big Screen Bears. I’m not a real big Potter fan, but that Snape sculpt is awesome and just may warrant a pick-up solely for its uncanny resemblance to the great Alan Rickman.

A no-brainer for something every office cube-dweller is bound to love is Office Space figures, and this year we’re finally getting them. Out this fall there’s talking Lumberg and Milton “office buddies” along with talking Bobble-heads including Peter as well.

In time for The Simpsons Movie, McFarlane’s moving forward with more Simpsons action figures and I can’t wait to pick up their Island of Dr. Hibbert box set. Over in TV-land, the company’s next series of Lost figures features Mr. Eko, Sawyer, Jin and Sun, but personally I can’t wait for Series 3 with Desmond and Henry Gale.

Well, that’s only skimming the surface of what I’ve seen offered up at Toy Fair this year. I’m sure you’ll have some items you’re interested in as well...whoever you are. As always there were a crapload of horror figures again. I guess that means somebody must be buying them but goodness knows it ain’t me. Check out action-figure.com for more photos from the show. And if you’re into board games, check out usaopoly.com in the months to come for cool games like Transformers Monopoly and Pirates of the Caribbean Chess.


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