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They Call Me MEZter Sulu: Mezco “One:12 Collective” Expands

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Mezco Toyz will add Star Trek’s Mister Sulu to their excellent One:12 Collective product line. (Photo courtesy of Mezco Toyz)

Solo Sulu…
Oh boy, we were already really excited about Mezco Toyz‘ One:12 Mister Spock, but this morning’s communiqué from the land of Mez ups the ante. The company has just announced the addition of George Takei‘s character Mr. Sulu, helmsman of the Starship USS Enterprise, to their line of original 1960’s Star Trek figures. Mr. Hikaru Sulu ultimately captain his own Starfleet ship, the USS Excelsior, in the Trek franchise and Mr. Takei has gone on to distinguish himself with a currently running Broadway play, Allegiance, that assays his time in a United States internment camp during the second world war.
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Color My World : Crayola’s Diverse Universe

crayola, sketch wizard, ny toy fair 2015, 3d figures, 3d systems

Crayola Classic 64 Box flanked by new 3D printed figures.

During a recent walk through a local Staples office supply store my wife and I happened upon a colorful surprise. A section of a merchandise isle dedicated solely to products from the Crayola Company. I had already been somewhat aware of the diversity of Crayola items seen at a pre-holiday event held by The Big Toy Book, but didn’t fully grasp just how expansive the selection was. Needless to say Crayola’s Toy Fair 2015 booth was one of my main objectives while covering the Toy Industry Association (TIA) event and the tour of goodies did not disappoint.

Starting as the Binney & Smith Company, selling industrial pigments, Crayola has been in business for well over 100 years putting art supplies in the hands of one generation after another. The current product line perfectly embraces a two fold vision. There is a tried and true allegiance to standard crayon-in-hand creativity that blossoms in connection with technology both old and new.

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Crayola’s Sketch Wizard offers ancient art technology in a kid friendly package.


Drawing on History…
For instance, the Sketch Wizard is a colorful spin on the camera obscura, an ancient optical device that essentially allows you to trace your subject via it’s projected image. It is widely posited that many artists throughout history used this method to properly render perspective and foreshortening on the 2 dimensional page or canvas. My niece, whose parents were fascinated by Tim’s Vermeer, the recent film documenting the recreation of a Johannes Vermeer style painting by a non-artist using this method, found this one was under the Xmas tree last December.

Also in old school tech mode is the hand pumped Crayola Air Brush, which turns your markers into spray brushes, giving you a perfect way to create delicate stenciled art or misty backgrounds for your characters to inhabit.

Dimension Extension…
The Color Alive products, what Crayola calls a “4D” experience, feature traditional looking coloring books and crayons that allow image capture into your tablet environment. Once visually pulled into the downloadable app your character comes to life in the colors you chose, and against a selection of backgrounds, including the real world image of whatever you point your device’s camera at. I was treated to a fire-breathing dragon dancing on my head with nary a tipple, I swear. The product range currently includes some very popular licenses from Mattel’s Barbie to the Activision’s Skylanders universe. Specialty crayon colors in each package add active nuances like flames and sparkles to the on screen art.

Additionally, 3D Systems in partnership with Crayola can print up a unique collector statue from your 2D Color Alive art. That option should arrive in April 2015.

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Caryola’s Animation Studio software will capture mannequin moves and translate them to your tablet screen character.

‘Tweening for ‘Tweens…
As someone who dabbled in stop-motion animation during my pre and early teens I found the most impressive demo to be the Color Alive Easy Animation Studio. In my day I enlisted my full size Hasbro G.I. Joe’s to be the stars of my films, often covering them in clay to resemble the creatures in my favorite Ray Harryhausen epics like Seventh Voyage of Sinbad. My “G. I. Cyclops” got a lot of screen time.

Set for July 2015 release, Crayola’s stop motion animation package includes an articulated figure, book with 10 characters to customize and a software application. You simply move the figure into the main positions you prefer, photograph each with your device and the motion capture app does the “tweening,” giving you smooth transitions between the moves. I was pretty amazed by the finished look based on a few simple moves.

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Crayola’s Crayon Carver allows you to personalize those favorite colors.


I Am Curious (UnMellow Yellow)…
Several newly announced Crayola kits including the Cling Creator to make gummy window and mirror adornments and The Crayon Carver, an engraver that let’s kids personalize their colors of choice, will be worth your attention. Each would make an interesting “activity station” at a birthday party or family gathering, with something self created to go home with. Others like the Paint Maker and Marker Maker kits give kids a hands-on experience creating their own artist’s tools and colors. Paint Maker was TIA’s Activity Toy of the Year Winner for 2015.

SkeletonPete Says…
As a professional photographer with a fascination for stop motion animation, the Sketch Wizard and Animation Studio are my two favorites. They hit my historical and technological sweet spots for those two disciplines.

I suggest you make the Crayola kiosk a destination next time you’re shopping to get the full experience. The company has kept the price range very moderate, with kits running from approximately $17.00 – $30.00 USD and expansion and refill packages not prohibitive.

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To Die For: Dark Horse Expands “Game of Thrones” Figure Selection in Time for Season 4

Dark Horse Daenerys Figure Was Released in January 2014.

Dark Horse Daenerys Figure Was Released in January 2014.


(Andy and Pete give you the old “one-two punch” for Game of Thrones Season 4 Premiere night)

Andy Says…
Today, fans worldwide are dusting off their family crests. Well, not their family crests, but whether you belong to house Targaryen, Lannister or Stark, you’re bound to be excited about the Season 4 premiere of Game of Thrones, debuting tonight on HBO in the US and tomorrow night in the UK.

What it Is…
Based on the books by American author George R.R. Martin, (dubbed by some as the modern-day Tolkein) the fantasy series set in the middle-earth-like isle of Westeros has everything you can ask for – drama, political intrigue, epic battles, swords, sorcery, and zombie-like white walkers.

Mid-Summer Will see 5 More Figures Including this Likeness of Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

Mid-Summer Will see 5 More Figures Including this Likeness of Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister


Who They Are…
Martin’s characters are complex, with many layers, motivations and conflicting emotions. You love them. You hate them. Are they good? Evil? He takes his time crafting their inner-worlds (giving us each character’s point of view in the books) with as much detail as their outer worlds. With characters like the initially-innocent child-bride-turned-Mother-of-All-Dragons, Daenerys Targaryen (played by Emilia Clarke) and the brilliant, often insightful, imp, Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), the tomboyish and tough Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), and the morally ambiguous Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey – Sarah Connor Chronicles), we’ve become invested in each one’s journey – whether we like them or not. In Westeros, only the hardest and most ruthless seem to survive. That’s what it takes to rule a kingdom. Even then… any weakness can be exploited. Fortunes and destinies can turn on a dime. The outcome is never certain.
Robb Stark Figure will Arrive in Early August 2014.

Robb Stark Figure will Arrive in Early August 2014.


Personally, with Starks (my chosen house) dropping like flies (if you haven’t heard about “The Red Wedding” by now, I have little pity if I spoil it for you), I’m starting to get a little nervous. Unlike many of us who have read ahead to the bitter end, there are still folks out there who were shocked and horrified by the deaths of Robb Stark (Richard Madden) and his mother Catelyn Stark (Michelle Farley). If you vowed to stop watching at that point, really, who are you kidding? You know you’ll be back for more heart-stopping thrills, chills and heartbreak this season.
Dark Horse "Game of Thrones" Wave 1 Jon Snow Figure.

Dark Horse “Game of Thrones” Wave 1 Jon Snow Figure.


SkeletonPete Says…
If “All Men Must Die,” here’s news and views of some items that Games of Thrones fans will be dying to get their hands on. Joining the previously released Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen figures Dark Horse has several more characters at the ready to celebrate HBO’s Game of Thrones Season 4 premiere and beyond. These plastic cast models offer a big bang for the buck with a refined elegance usually reserved for items several times their cost. The sculpts are minutely detailed and delicately painted. David Scroggy, head of product development for Dark Horse, noted “…we decided to make these non-articulated, in order to capture all of the small details that would be at risk in a traditional jointed action figure.” They stand approximately 7.5” tall and are sold in a windowed display box. The Spring 2014 release included Tyrion Lannister, Khal Drogo and Ned Stark and will be followed in August by Cersei Baratheon, Robb Stark, Jaime Lannister, Arya Stark, and the White Walker. At a suggested retail price of $24.99 USD they make exceptional collector’s pieces and easy gift choices for the GoT fan in the family.
Limited Edition of Sandor "The Hound" Will Have A  Unique Hinged Hood Feature.

Limited Edition of Sandor “The Hound” Will Have A Unique Hinged Hood Feature.


Hounded…
Also spied at Toy Fair 2014 was a spectacular spin on The Hound, in bust format replete with hinged helmet. The likeness of character Sandor Clegane (portrayed by Rory McCann) is a hand painted and numbered edition that comes packaged with a certificate of authenticity. This one is scheduled for mid-summer release. Also on the limited edition list will be an Arya figure.
Life Sized Map Marker Set Includes Large Map to Plot Your Strategies.

Life Sized Map Marker Set Includes Large Map to Plot Your Strategies.


Map Quest…
Just released this past week is a life sized role playing Map Marker Box Set. Dark Horse press explains the origins, “In the HBO adaptation of Game of Thrones, we see Robb Stark plotting the movements of opposing armies using a map of Westeros and a set of sculpted map markers, each hewn into a representation of one of the house symbols. We have reproduced these items in their true size, using the actual props as reference.

The six individual map markers range from 4.5” to 6” in height, and mimic different materials. Each is hand-painted. The map itself is full size, 50” x 35.5” cloth material with a paper backing, reproduced in color. The big size allows the owner to move the map markers in scale and formulate strategic situations or reproduce those from the show. The map markers and folded map are stored in a deluxe, heavy-duty, 14″ x 4.75″ x 18″ hinged-lid presentation box, protected by a full-color, thick-stock sleeve.”

The Weirwood Snow Globe is Ultra Limited to 1200 Pieces. You'd Better .Shake Up a Pre-Order

The Weirwood Snow Globe is Ultra Limited to 1200 Pieces. You’d Better .Shake Up a Pre-Order


Nothing Shakin’ But The Leaves on the Trees…
As if all this weren’t enough April 16th will see another limited edition piece, the Weirwood snow globe. Its blush of blood red leaves atop the face carved trunk will make striking contrast to blowing “snow” inside. Its base is inscribed with the “I Am the Sword in the Darkness, I Am the Watcher on the Walls…” quote. Only 1200 of these unique hand painted items will be minted and like other Dark Horse LE’s they will be boxed with a certificate of authenticity.

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Such An Evil Child: NECA’s “Bad Blood” Predators Previewed @ NY Toy Fair 2014

NECA's Dark Horse Comics Inspired "Bad Blood" Predator @ NY Toy Fair 2014

NECA’s Dark Horse Comics Inspired “Bad Blood” Predator @ NY Toy Fair 2014


NECA (National Entertainment Collectors Association) displayed their prototypes for both Series 12 and 13 Predators at the recent NY Toy Fair, giving the press a peek at the still to be finalized designs for what will be on the shelves in the coming months.

In The Pines, In The Pines…
As the longest running of NECA’s action figure licenses Predator continues to be extremely popular and collectors anticipate where inspiration for the next wave will come from. For Series 12 the company looked to the printed page with two of the three figures representing characters in Dark Horse Comics’ four issue adventure Predators: Bad Blood from the 1990’s. The standalone story told of a “serial killer” Predator on a rampage in the wild Pine Barrens of New Jersey (also the home of the legendary “Jersey Devil”) and his battle with an Enforcer determined to thwart him. Fortunately for humanity the Enforcer did not have to use the George Washington Bridge on a bad traffic day to get to NJ.

Dark Horse's "Predator: Bad Blood" Comics Inspired 2 of NECA's Series 12 Figures

Dark Horse’s “Predator: Bad Blood” Comics Inspired 2 of NECA’s Series 12 Figures


NECA’s “Bad Blood” sculpt is one sweet looking piece, bound to make fans of the franchise happy, and I think also bring in the casual collector. He’s like a walking, stalking, trophy wall adorned in the bones of his victims. He appears blood spattered from a fresh kill, whose heads he’s happy to brandish. His nemesis, The Enforcer figure is clad in silver armor, with shoulder cannon, disk and rod ready to bring the rogue to justice.

Younger Edler…
The third figure in Series 12 is a revamped Series 3 character, the Elder from the Predator 2film. NECA says “Elder V2 features additional articulation, a shoulder cannon, new straps and belts, and new feet, all upgraded and improved from the original version.” The models sport 25 points of articulation and stand approximately 8” tall.

Expect to see these in their final form around June of 2014, followed closely by the revealed but undesignated Series 13 figures in August.

NECA Predators Series 12 Prototypes – Not Final Product

NECA Predators Series 13 Prototypes – Not Final Product

Blade Fighter Vehicle Joins the NECA Predator Collection in August 2014

Blade Fighter Vehicle Joins the NECA Predator Collection in August 2014


Blade Rider…
In addition to the series 12 abd 13 reveals, NECA showed off its first vehicle of the collectible cache with a really hot Predator Blade Fighter complete with Viper rider. It’s sure to bring back fond memories of those who collected Kenner Predator toys back in the 1990’s.

NECA's NES Game Styled Predator

NECA’s NES Game Styled Predator


Blues Clues…
There’s more fun and nostalgia as NECA expands it’s spin on 8-bit video game characters. this time it’s Predator, looking sharp all in blue as depicted in the 1989 NES game. Expected in May 2014, it will be sold in a special flapped window package reminiscent of the original video game box and limited to one production run only.

More To Come…
I have plenty more NECA goodies to be posted in the coming weeks, including gigantic Pacific Rim Jaegers and Kaiju, an uncanny Dark Knight Joker, some amazing Planet of the Apes figures, Diablo and more.

Super Funky: 70’s Style ReAction Figures @ NY Toy Fair 2014

The Crow, The Creature, Rocketeer and Snake Pliskin are 4 of my favorite ReAction Figures.

The Crow, The Creature, Rocketeer and Snake Pliskin are 4 of my favorite ReAction Figures.

Go Figure…
When Super7 and Funko announced their partnership in producing a 3.75 inch Alien figure set last August, they promised the collaboration would yield a lot more surprises. That was probably one of the biggest understatements of all time. At Funko’s 2014 Toy Fair booth the companies revealed an over 60 figure roll out for the ReAction line. The retro feel of the characters harks back to Kenner’s Star Wars figures of the 1970’s.

Super 7 & Funko's ReAction Alien set will be followed by over 60 3.75" figures.

Super 7 & Funko’s ReAction Alien set will be followed by over 60 3.75″ figures.

Many under served franchises like Goonies, Pulp Fiction, Escape From New York, Firefly, and the original Buffy, the Vampire Slayer film are fully represented, although sadly the Rocketeer is missing a companion Betty.

Modern monster fans will get a chance to add to their Nightmare on Elmstreet, Halloween, Friday the Thirteenth collections and also enjoy miniature spins on Sam from Trick ‘r Treat, Hellraiser‘s Pinhead Cenobite and my favorite, a pretty awesome rendition of The Crow. The Terminator and Predator franchises are represented too, with a cool, clear, “active camo” version of a Yautja hunter.

A bit less off the beaten path, classic Universal Horror fans will have there choice of 8 figures, including a rather dapper Invisible Man in smoking jacket, though the Frankenstein Monster is looking a little strange in a grey suit. There’s also a selection of Nightmare Before Christmas characters.

The individually blister-carded miniature series will roll out through the end of 2014 and retail for $9.99 each.

SkeletonPete Says…
This is a pretty amazing assortment of licensed items released in a short period of time. While I don’t see most collectors buying ’em all, there’s enough diversity to make lots of people covet at least 50% of the offerings. If there’s a Wave 2 down the road, I’d love to see Dusk ‘Til Dawn, Reservoir Dogs and Kill Bill, and Sucker Punch represented.

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