Note: this is a continuation of an article that begins here.
After the presentation was complete, I was able to speak a little bit to Lee Unkrich who graciously posed for some photos and entertained my questions, particularly on how his recent inspirational decision to auction his own personal Pixar memorabilia on eBay to raise money for Haiti disaster relief went (he provided a guesstimate on the total and he and the legions of Pixar fans did impressively well, that much I will say). So congratulations to Lee for the generous donation as well as for the film.
I also got to speak at length with Chris Heatherly, Disney Consumer Products’ General Manager & Vice President of Toys, on various topics (all Disney) as well as received some personal demonstrations of some of the new toys.
By far, most of the toys presented at the event were from Mattel with demonstration models including the Buzz Lightyear Deluxe Action Wing Pack and the Toy Story 3 Action Links Playsets.
I was most surprised with the Buzz Lightyear Wing Pack, both for the better and for the worse. On the pro side, I was completely expecting the Wing Pack to be restricted to child size, but the backpack/strap style actually fits adults surprisingly well. On the con, the wings are motor-controlled, not spring release so they expand a bit slower than one might perhaps hope (but it’s doubtful many kids will notice or care). On the motor action, a representative for Mattel told me that there is actually a mechanism in place to respond if the wings end up being forced by small hands, so that the mechanism is virtually indestructible, so that is a good thing. Overall, it is pretty neat with large ‘LED’ lights that light up and blink when the wings expand at the press of the giant red button (which contracts the wings at the next press) and features popular Buzz phrases, both automatically and at the press of other buttons, just like the real toy. Using accelerometer technology, when the child (or adult) bends over at about 30 degrees or so (and more), the wings automatically make flying noises and light up and also respond in kind to the swaying movement as the Space Ranger-to-be runs/flies/falls-with-style around.
For the Action Link playsets, individual sets of varying sizes and prices link up to produce a wacky series of Rube Goldberg-esque events. There will be five sets at launch, of which three were on display at the event (though I did manage to see the other two at the Mattel showroom) and the gimmick is that the sets (which incidentally are purely mechanical, so no batteries needed) can be arranged in any order, changing the whimsical sequence with each arrangement. I did find resetting the sets trying my patience at times because they each operate with a hair trigger and — just like with setting up dominos — it’s frustrating to be in mid-setup and inadvertently fire off half of the sets, forcing you to attempt to reset them again. Still, there is quite a bit of fun and novelty value to it despite some of the inevitable setbacks (maybe teaching patience also makes it an educational toy).
Not presenting at the International Toy Fair, but well represented at the event was original Toy Story licensee and innovative toy developer Thinkway Toys. Of course a ‘LOT’ of attention went the way of Lotso, the overly fluffy pink male bear who happens to be strawberry scented (although maybe a tad more Frankenberry than strawberry), but Thinkway has quite a few more new exciting products to share with Toy Story 3.
There is, for example, the Toy Story Collection Mr. Potato Head. Or rather the Animated, Talking, Part Popping Action Mr. Potato Head. The very animated and vocal potato responds to voice and eagerly chats away and entertains, but he’s always just one loud noise away from exploding, sending his body parts scattering in all directions. He also has the capability of realizing when the wrong parts are in the wrong place (purely G rated of course, he is a Playskool toy afterall).
Tucked away with the rest of the Thinkway Toys on display, I also managed to catch a glimpse of both Jessie and Bullseye who have been added to the collection. Yeehaw!
But speaking of incredibly horrible reverse-segues, on the former topic of Playskool and Mr. Potato Head, Hasbro is introducing a set of Toy Story 3 themed Potato Heads including Spud Lightyear and Woody’s Tater Roundup (Reach for the Fry!) which were on display. I also understand there will even be a Mrs. Potato Head themed as Jessie.
Another product on display from Hasbro that I’m particularly excited about is a Toy Story themed edition of the classic electronic boardgame of Operation. Buzz. Aliens. Probe. Need I say more?
In the gallery of photos below, you’ll see many more of the Toy Story 3 products you can expect to see in stores within the next few months. With around 250 new products from about 20 different licensees, I promise there’s plenty more to come than just what you’ll find here, especially from Mattel who I’ll cover a bit more in a future article.