Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Review of the Year 2011

First off, I can't remember exactly what toys were released this year. As much as I like playing with the things, I don't keep a catalogue of when everything was released. Therefore, a lot of what's in this post (and likely the awards one coming later in the week) will be guesswork. 99% was almost definitely released this year rather than last. The bigger problem is me forgetting some really, really great toys that were released this year but I thought were last.

But, hey, I never said I was perfect.

The year began with the UK Toy Fair. I didn't go, but I read all the reports. The main news coming out, as far as I can remember, was about the new ThunderCats toys. Unfortunately, Bandai wouldn't let anyone take any photos which was a bit annoying. However, this being 2011 it really wasn't a surprise when some shaky camera-phone pictures very quickly appeared on the internet.

I still maintain that it was really, really stupid to restrict photos on these toys. I can understand restricting it on something like the Doctor Who figures, where information will ruin upcoming story-lines, but for ThunderCats? We all know Lion-O, Panthro etc are going to be in the series!

The big event of the year, and the one that resulted in me becoming famous* was sometime in...um...early Spring. Yes, that's vague enough to be probably right. Toys R Us had a competition on Facebook for 10 lucky people to join their Toyology team. I guess since you're reading this, you probably know what happened next.

*may not actually have made me famous.

Power Rangers Samurai arrived on the 1st June. I have yet to watch a single episode, but we somehow now own all the toys.

San Diego Comic Con was held in July. As usual there was a large presence from all the toy manufacturers targeting all the geeks. The highlight was probably the return of Marvel Legends, the single most important toyline of the 90s, which Hasbro managed to kill off with its first wave when it took over from ToyBiz. Hopefully they'll do a better job this time round.

During the summer Kre-O, aka Transformers Lego, spilt opinion. Double the models for your money or simply Transformers that don't transform. I suppose it's all down to what you want from it. I will predict that this first wave will be all we see from the line in the near future.

In August ThunderCats was launched in the USA, and was again annoying to people in the UK as Bandai imposed an import ban. Thankfully they didn't keep us hanging with news of when the line was actually going to hit here - and when it arrived it would include the 8" 'Classics' figures.

Unfortunately, by 1st Dec when Classics hit UK toy-shelves, it had already been announced that the 8" line was being discontinued and replaced with a 6" line (which seems to have the same faults that collectors pointed out in the 8" line, but slightly smaller).

In the Autumn, Mattel's Ghostbusters subscription was cancelled and the schedule for 2012 heavily reduced. Combined with massive reductions on the existing figures, collectors feared the worst. Then it turned out the sub cancellation resulted from a massive cock-up in the financial calculations for the line & would return with a vengeance in 2013. This being all the more likely in the event of Ghostbusters 3 actually appears in cinemas.

All the while my Masters of the Universe Classics subscription continued to be delivered to my parents's house (much to their annoyance). King Hiss had his shoulders in the wrong way & a batch of Swiftwinds had two right legs - pretty much standard quality control from the line there. Mattel announced that they had acquired the rights to Filmation figures which means for the first time ever we'll be getting a Shadow Weaver figure. Hooray!

Leapfrog & VTech went head to head to conquer the children's not-iPad market, with both now being like gold-dust (until a huge amount arrives off the production line, probably sometime around Boxing Day). Speaking of rare, the real surprise to me this year has been the shortage of Imaginext Batman toys. I hadn't a clue DC toys were so popular with children at the moment. It's not like the Nolan films are really child-friendly and children are highly unlikely to have a clue about the 'New 52'.

And that brings me up to the current day. Sure, I've completely forgotten about a lot of toy releases/events, but I've already pointed out my lack of perfection. And yes, it did have a bit of a boy-toy bias, but we do have 2 boys in the house and a baby girl who chooses Power Rangers to gnaw on over dolls. Maybe 2012 will see a more balanced review. Maybe.

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