Bandai really sets the gold standard of playable toys and this year was no exception.
For Toy Fair 2014, Bandai decided to schedule a collectors event versus taking individual appointments this year. Perhaps it was done to better focus on the buyers, but it was a departure from what we are accustomed to with respect to what was shown. Gone were the baby items, and instead we were given a comprehensive tour of the main boys and girls brands for the calendar year.
This year the theme of Power Rangers was “Unlock the Power!”. Power Rangers Super Mega Force focuses on a pirate theme, and besides their ability to morph into the Super Mega Force rangers, they are gathering special morpher keys that can also transform them into conceivably ANY ranger since the series began (as well as any Japanese-only series stock footage will allow)! Per usual, the series will be full of Megazords, basic rangers, deluxe rangers (minus the girls), 12″ 5 points-of-articulation rangers, weapons, morphers, and more. The collectible theme this year will be the ranger keys, which with a special app, the key can be read to “morph” you into your favorite ranger and play a fun game on your smart phone. As an added bonus, there are a ton of instant winner prizes included when you scan your barcodes as well! This can only add to the madness, and is a fun incentive!
For the collectors who have followed the brand since the beginning, there will also be a green/white ranger morpher with coins, a role-play dragon dagger (to show-accurate scale!), as well as collector editions of the Megadragonzord (with Japanese detailing, better paint, and a fully articulated tail), and even Titanus to form the Ultimate MMPR battle combination. Titanus will be $200 and have plastic and die-cast parts, along with all the perfect detailing found with the previous two zords.
Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures and Ben 10 seem like a ton of fun. The Pac-brand is back for year two. Single packs, basic figure three packs and transforming fruit vehicles comprise the core line. There are also well-made plush, and characteristic ghost grabbers, a Burpin’ Chompin’ Pac, a top-style Pac-Panic Battle spinners a la Beyblade, and the return of the Gooage Spewing Gigantic Pac. Everything he eats has to go somewhere, right? Ben 10 also returns with basic figures and new villains, mini two-packs, the assortment of Omnitrices, and the new Tenn-Speed with Racer Ben. Of course, his new transformations will see fine figure form as well.
New properties shown were Sprukits and Digimon Fusion for the boys, while the girls got Locksies, Tamagotchi Friends, and Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return. Sprukits were designed in Japan, and are poseable figure model kits you assemble. The higher the complexity, the more pieces and articulation it will have. You can be your own factory worker, but it will be fun work! Digimon Fusion is what the name implies: the figures will fuse parts with one another to transform into a cool, more powerful combination. There also will be mini figures singles and two-packs. Legends of Oz is the new animated movie starring Glee’s Lea Michele, and the merchandise tie-in includes basic dolls, singing dolls featuring Michele’s voice, basic plush and mini figures. Tamagotchi Friends is the Japanese series being introduced to American audiences. The naming convention ends in “-otchi” is much like the “-mon” in Digimon, and they came with their own assortment of figures and playsets. Locksies are small dolls with colorful hair and fashions. To “lock in style”, you use the key to stuff the ends of their open garments into their backs with a plastic key; an ingenious idea!
Bandai has been on the forefront of playable toys. This play action has been across their entire brand, from young to adult alike. Other companies have been aping their success, and it truly is a winning formula. Power Rangers, in particular, has quite the toy campaign on their hands with the ranger keys. This year there is something for everyone, and all of it is fun!