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Rocket in Your Pocket: Monogram’s Cool Key Rings

monogram international, toy fair 2015, marvel, dc comics, key rings, bust banks

Just a few of Monogram’s Marvel Collectible Keyrings

Monogram International Inc. is noted for their years of creating unique licensed collectibles and novelties, and I’ve been tracking their creations over many Toy Fairs. Their bust banks are particular favorites of mine, and they have created many ComicCon exclusives in this range. Antman and Loki are stand out additions to the line this year.

Key Characters…
Photographing the varied items at their 2015 New York International Toy Fair booth, I quickly became enamored with Monogram’s soon to be released series of 3D Foam Figural Key Rings. Licensing spans the Marvel, Disney, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and DC universes. The 2” characters have a nice chunky feel, soft but not “squishy.” Their super cute wide-eyed designs are fun and inventive and should make them popular with both youngsters and collectors of stylized characters.

monogram international, toy fair 2015, marvel, dc comics, key rings, bust bank

3D Figural Foam Keyring Foil Packs and Display Box.

Chase Scene…
Each keyring series includes 9 standard characters and 2 exclusive figures. Marvel Series 1 includes, Spider-Man, Hulk, Nick Fury, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Iron Man, Rocket Raccoon, Groot, Star-Lord. The two “chase” characters illustrated on the bag in silhouette appear to be variants of Iron Man and Rocket. They will be sold as foil pack “blind bags.” Inside each package the characters are wrapped in cardboard to discourage the “touchy feely” collectors from trying to divine their purchase in advance. It keeps things honest and trading brisk.

monogram international, toy fair 2015, marvel, dc comics, key rings, bust bank

My Monogram Rocket Raccoon 3D Keyring just hanging out.

The Monogram folks were so kind as to offer Ken Pierce (PiercingMetal.Com) and I a mystery bag each, and of course we opened them immediately. I was happy to find Galaxy Guardian Rocket Raccoon in mine, especially since he was not included in the Monogram display.

monogram international, toy fair 2015, marvel, dc comics, key rings, bust bank

Monogram’s Avengers Paperweight as a work in progress..

Weight of the Universe…
Monogram also unveiled a very early look at their Marvel Avengers paperweight. Shown in unpainted prototype it’s an out of the ordinary collector’s piece, nice for the desk of that comic obsessed executive you know. Standing atop the Avengers logo, Thor, Iron Man, Black Widow, Captain America, Ultron and the Hulk are all nicely sculpted ranging at what seemed to be 4-5 inches tall. Although not shown at Toy Fair, likely still in the sculpt stage, the company’s product art illustrates The Abomination and Loki as part of the set as well.

monogram international, toy fair 2015, marvel, dc comics, key rings, bust bank

Loki ponders what universe he’s in, as Superman looks on.

SkeletonPete Says…
Though not originally a fan of the mystery box or blind bag collectible model, I’ve come to understand its strengths. Commercially the “thrill of the chase” for your favorite characters certainly drives sales but psychologically adds a layer of fun via anticipation and surprise. That’s not such a bad thing for kids to experience in a world of mostly instant gratification. A personal analogy is how much I enjoyed chasing after 45 RPM’s with Non-LP B-Sides by my favorite musical artists. Now those “bonus” tracks are a click away for download and not truly special at all.

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‘Nuff Said: Guardians Team-Up #1 Announced

Marvel's "Guardians Team-Up" #1. Bound to have universal appeal.

Marvel’s “Guardians Team-Up” #1. Bound to have universal appeal.

OMG – Oh My Guardians…
OK, I admit it. From the first “ooga chaka” in the teaser trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy I was hooked. It just seemed like the film would deliver a fun romp with the totally left of center – even for Marvel – ragtag group of deep space adventurers. As we now know it delivered and then some, making the unlikely duo of a snarky raccoon and a monosyllable arborial giant big screen stars.

Hot on the heals of that latest franchise film the Marvel comic book gang has announced a new title pulling together the company’s two biggest movie franchises, The Avengers and The Guardians and beyond.

Guardians Team-Up #1 pairs two Eisner Award winners. Brian Michael Bendis (New Avengers, Ultimate Spiderman, Secret Invasion) will write the series with interior and cover illustration handled by Art Adams. In addition to work for DC and Marvel, Adams brought the much loved series Monkey Man and O’Brien to fruition via the Dark Horse Comics creator-owned imprint Legend.

Guardians Team-Up Editor Katie Kubert says, “By taking the most fun toys in the sandbox and pairing them together, be prepared to see something completely different, told by some of the best and brightest writers and artists in the business. And, like the nature of the team-ups themselves, both old and new creative faces to Marvel.”

Guardians Rocket and Groot in their beautiful Disney Infinity 2.0  toy incarnations.

Guardians Rocket and Groot in their beautiful Disney Infinity 2.0 toy incarnations.

SkeletonPete Says…
Issue #1 is due to hit comic shops and newsstands in February 2015. Want to get a jump on the team-up? Grab yourself one of Toy Insider’s 2014 “Hot Top 20 Toys” Disney Infinity’s 2.0 Marvel Superheroes toy-based video game, and put those heroes into action with adventures of your own making using the Toy Box 2.0 software.

Thanks to Ken, Editor of the PiercingMetal website, for passing along the original Marvel press release.

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Out on a Limb: Kotobukiya’s Sci-Fi Sidekicks @ Toy Fair 2014

Kotobukiya's Marvelous Depiction of Galaxy Guardians Rocket Raccoon and Groot @ NY Toy Fair 2014

Kotobukiya’s Marvelous Depiction of Galaxy Guardians Rocket Raccoon and Groot @ NY Toy Fair 2014

Ya Gotta Have Friends…
Marvel Studio’s Guardians of the Galaxy trailer premiered on February 18th, which seems to have lifted the embargo on companies at The 111th Annual American International Toy Fair in New York City showing advances of their film related product. So it was a nice surprise to return to the Kotobukiya company’s booth on the final day at NY Toy Fair to see them previewing this wonderful Rocket Raccoon and Groot figurine prototype.
Guardian Groot in his early Marvel Comics Days.

Guardian Groot in his early Marvel Comics Days.



Rocket is clearly equipped “to shoot off the legs of his rival” as was his near namesake from The Beatles’ White Album. Limb limbed Groot goes all the way back to the Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Don Heck monster stories of Marvel’s Tales To Astonish, and as the trailer notes has been “traveling as the raccoon’s personal houseplant/muscle.”

Oowee Little Chewy, Don’t Know What You’re Doing to Me…
Kotobukiya also displayed the unpainted prototype for their Han Solo and Chewbaca statue as part of their ArtFX Star Wars line. This representation of the iconic partners is slated for November 2014 release.

Kotobukiya's Han Solo and Chewbacca ArtFX statue @ New York Toy Fair 2014.

Kotobukiya’s Han Solo and Chewbacca ArtFX statue @ New York Toy Fair 2014.


SkeletonPete Says…
I’ll be posting many more photos of Kotobukiya’s beautiful product line in the coming weeks.

The company’s roots in the international Toy Industry reach back to its first retail store in Japan in 1947. They moved into manufacturing original model kits in 1983 and produced their first licensed kit, King Godzilla, in 1985. Since then the company has expanded to include collector quality figures for Star Wars, Marvel and DC comics, as well as many anime and game themed kits and statues.