Toys & Collectibles

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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Books & Graphic Novels

Ducks Deluxe: 20 Variant Covers for Marvel’s WTD Month

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Howard in Primal Therapy? UnCanny Inhumans #0
Collectors Get Crackin’…
Since his cameo appearance at the end of the Guardians of the Galaxy film last summer Howard the Duck has been gearing up for a reboot into the 21st Century, and Marvel Comics is making sure you won’t have to go on an Easter Egg hunt to find him.

Brace Yourself…
This April, Marvel has a flock of 20 variant covers for their WTD (“What the Duck”) month, featuring the fine feathered character in all manner of permutations and situations. The collectors’ issues will follow the launch of book, Howard the Duck #1, manned by Chip Zdarsky and Joe Quinones, which will hit shops in March.

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Howard the Duck in death defying Harold Lloyd pose. All New HawkEye #2.
Four Feathers…
As a teaser, Marvel has plucked out these 4 variants that find Howard in artistic, cinematic and historic scenes inspired by Grant Wood’s “American Gothic”, Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”, actor Harold Lloyd’s daring exploits and the first Moon landing.

All-New Hawkeye #2 – WTD Variant Cover by Francesco Francavilla
Amazing Spider-Man #17 – WTD Variant Cover by W. Scott Forbes
Rocket Raccoon #10 – WTD Variant Cover by Rob Guillory
Uncanny Inhumans #0 – WTD Variant Cover by Christian Ward

howard the duck, marvel comics, what the duck month
American Gothic gets skewered on Amazing-Spiderman #17
The Whole Gaggle…
Heres Marvel’s list of the additional books Howard will cameo on:
All-New Captain America #6
All-New X-Men #41
Ant-Man #4
Daredevil #15
Deadpool #45 (a.k.a. Deadpool #250)
Guardians of the Galaxy #26
Hulk #14
Inhuman #14
Legendary Star-Lord #11
Ms. Marvel #14
S.H.I.E.L.D. #5
Silk #3
Spider-Gwen #3
Superior Iron Man #7
Thor #7
Uncanny Avengers #4
what the duck month, marvel comics, howard the duck
Long way to go for a cup of “Joe.” Rocket Racoon #10
SkeletonPete Says…
Thanks to Ken Pierce of the PiercingMetal website for passing along Marvel’s info on these fun collector’s items.

Books & Graphic Novels Toys & Collectibles

‘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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Toys & Collectibles

If You Build It, They Will Come: Disney Infinity Toy Box 2.0

Design Hybrid Fantasy World Interiors for Your Characters to Live in Via Disney Infinity Toy Box 2.0
Design Hybrid Fantasy World Interiors for Your Characters to Live in Via Disney Infinity Toy Box 2.0
What’s Happening…
The Disney Infinity Toy Box 2.0 Summit will be held on August 16 & 17 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The schedule is listed here, in USA Pacific Time, and you can virtually attend via live streaming.

Questions for the Saturday afternoon panel discussion can be submitted via Twitter using #DisneyInfinity. Use the same hash-tag to vote for your favorite Toy Box 2.0 creations in a competitive showcase/playthrough on Sunday.

What It Is…
As reported earlier the Disney Infinity 2.0 platform will introduce the superheroes of the Marvel Universe into the collector toy/digital game world with some beautiful character sculpts and challenging screen play.

One of Infinity’s strong suits has been the Toy Box environment, a virtual game forge that facilitates the creation of your own worlds to play in. It’s a concept that has been embraced by fans who have submitted “hundreds of thousands of Toy Boxes,” according to John Blackburn VP and General Manager of Avalanche Software. Taking feedback from the “active and vocal” Infinity community, Disney and Avalanche have announced major enhancements to Toy Box’s capabilities.

While free ranging in an environment of your own creation was fun the addition of more structured game play is welcome, as are easier to use creative tools, and the ability to design unique interiors and go inside structures. It’s important to note that all your previous builds will be usable and editable in Toy Box 2.0, as will all game characters, and power discs.

Get Under the Hood and Build Your Own Gamespace in Infinity Toy Box 2.0.
Get Under the Hood and Build Your Own Gamespace in Infinity Toy Box 2.0.

The Details…
Here is the breakdown of Disney Infinity Toy Box 2.0 features:

Toy Box Tools
Procedural generation of content can now be accessed and harnessed through two primary systems:
• Creators – Tools that the player can place into the world in real-time, and a themed arrangement will be procedurally build that world within minutes.
• Builders – Non-player characters (NPCs) that a player can drop into their Toy Box to build out detailed worlds.

Players can use these pre-built Toy Box Games ranging from battle arenas to race tracks and customize them using the items saved in their personal Toy Boxes.

Toy Box Games
The Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes Starter Pack will feature Toy Box Game discs, which players can use to access standalone game modes including Tower Defense and Dungeon Crawler games that any character from across the Disney Infinity universe can play.
Players can now create their own interior levels where they can build rooms and theme them to their favorite characters.  Unlock hundreds of furniture pieces and decorations based on iconic Disney and Marvel properties.
New Toys
New toys allow players to make more detailed games with beginnings, endings, winners, losers, result screens and virtually any type of game including races, battles, collection-based games, defense games or exploration adventures.
• Challenge Maker – Allows players to create any type of game, including structured games within the Toy Box.
• Toy Box Game Maker – Allows creators to restrict core actions typically available in the Toy Box, such as the use of the magic wand.
• Text Creator – Allows builders to write their own text bubbles in the Toy Box. All text is filtered through a safe chat server for friendly writing.
• Creativi-Toys – More than 75 new Creativi-Toys allow players to customize their Toy Boxes even further.
Improved On-Boarding
The introductory Toy Box will now be filled with Game Play Hosts who are available to assign missions and answer questions, as needed. Players are free to learn and explore on their own, but can ask a host for help and they’ll even be rewarded with extra goodies once missions are completed.
Updated Online Services
A Newsfeed screen has been added to the main menu, giving the user an overview of the new online services:
• Increased Storage – Storage for locally saved Toy Boxes in a player’s private cloud has increased from 100 to 300 Toy Boxes. Support for downloadable published Toy Boxes has increased from 100 to 100,000 Toy Boxes.
• Like and Search User-Generated Toy Boxes – Players can “like” their favorite published Toy Boxes and find others that are well received. Quickly search through the published Toy Boxes using categories (developer picks, most liked, most downloaded, newest, trending, all Toy Boxes and Disney 1.0), and further refine the search with filters (genre, character required, ability required and Toy Box Games).
• Sharing with Friends – Share Toy Boxes with friends directly using cloud storage.

SkeletonPete Says…
I’m can’t wait to begin battling as The Mighty Thor against Loki and the Frost Giants on the streets of NYC when the 2.0 Edition launches later this season and I wouldn’t mind trying my hand at building an Asgardian game space with Toy Box 2.0.

Toys & Collectibles

Tail Shakin’, Lip Smackin’ Action: Hasbro’s Rocket Raccoon

Hasbro's Big Blastin' Rocket Raccoon Points the Cannon at You
Hasbro’s Big Blastin’ Rocket Raccoon Points the Cannon at You
With Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy poised for release just a few days from now this summer’s biggest star may turnout to be a 3 foot something CGI critter, voiced by Bradley Cooper, and armed to the teeth with tech weapons and one liners. Rocket Raccoon.

The GotG trailers suggest a tongue in cheek approach to galaxy guarding, with the scrappy Rocket the cheekiest among the rag tag band. If your youngster is raring to battle with Thanos’ henchman then Hasbro Toys has your back with two Rocket Raccoon goodies, already on sale.

Hasbro's Rocket Raccoon Action Mask Includes  User Activated Motion.
Hasbro’s Rocket Raccoon Action Mask Includes User Activated Motion.

Face Time…
Encountered at Hasbro’s Sweet Suite 2014 booth, The Rocket Raccoon Action Mask takes role-playing up a notch. It sports an interior mechanism that allows the wearer to move the mouth, eyebrows and ears. All the better to emote while foiling bad guys and singing “Hooked On A Feeling” (Ooga Chocka) or “Cherry Bomb” from the 70’s-centric movie soundtrack.

I predict many a moppet clad in Rocket Raccoon garb on Halloween 2014, this would be a superb choice to highlight that costume.

Rocket's Action is Activated from his Gun Scope or Leg Mounted Button.
Rocket’s Action is Activated from his Gun Scope or Leg Mounted Button.
Equipped with a Gun…
The Big Blastin’ Rocket Raccoon should make action figure collectors happy. The 8’ character is “locked and loaded” for battle, and he says so as part of his electronic repertoire of sounds and phrases. There’s a multi colored light array on the spinning turret and ear twitching, jaw flapping motion. Single action is activated from the gun scope, while continuous action can be effected from a button on his leg. Rocket’s backpack conceals the battery compartment for 3 AA cells, and has an on/off plus demo switch.

Both toys are rated for children 4 and up.