AFJ TOY FAIR '16: BEST IN SHOW AWARDS!!!
By Jarrett Kruse
It only took a week of server issues, busted DSLR cameras, processing thousands of images and doing a whole lot of thinking to come away with AFJ's BEST IN SHOW for Toy Fair '16. To be honest, it really did not take me that long to call the contest in my head, but I did want to do my due diligence and wait until all 15 of our set appointments were over and done with before I called a clear winner. Needless to say, it was a landslide victory in the same way it was for Titanic during Oscar season in the late 90's.
The buzz of the press section at Toy Fair '16 was all about the winning company and the item that was rumored to have been damaged in transport to the big show. Whether the rumors were true or not, it only added more excitement to the Pre-Toy Fair event that the company responsible, MEZCO, threw just a week earlier. I promised myself that I would avoid the MEZCO booth until it was my set appointment to go and peruse their showroom intently. If I had gone early, I probably would never have left. I was just that enamored with the BEST IN SHOW winner.
In the same way Kennedy was well prepared for TV debates over a disheveled and sweaty Nixon in the 1960 Presidential election, MEZCO had the foresight to allow the press a taste of their big reveals before anyone else from other toy companies even flew in for Toy Fair '16 from all over the world. I was fortunate enough to get the invite to MEZCO's secret Headquarters and see the tremendous expansion of their wildly successful ONE:12 COLLECTIVE line. Without the hindrance of glass, which is notorious for ruining flash photography of action figures, we were privy to be just inches away from the new line of figures that not only included DC but a new foray into the MARVEL business. Yes, you read that right, MEZCO is now a true believer and are throwing down Mjolnir saying, "Excelsior!"
I honestly thought that when I received my THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS Batman last year that it was simply a one off for the company and that would be that. But then they came out with a JUDGE DREDD, then the amazing LAWMASTER bike which by the way is absolutely incredible in person and is at the top of my current wishlist. Still, going into the Pre-Toy Fair event, Head of Special Projects Mike Drake's emails had the phrase, "its a truly a can't miss event" as we got closer to the big day. So I really thought that Mez and his gang of Junkies had pulled the trigger for Toy Fair '16 already and at Toy Fair, I would only see what I had seen a week earlier but behind glass this time. As I got to the booth and said my hello's, I literally walked right past what would drop my jaw just minutes later.
I was left to my own devices to walk around the showroom when almost magically three people parted from the center of the space to reveal an absolute monster of toy engineering and tooling. As if encased in its own personal glass Batcave, the amazing ONE:12 COLLECTIVE BATMOBILE from next month's blockbuster DC movie Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice appeared. It was stunning. It was enormous. It will be mine come hell or high water. Immediately I spewed out a flurry of questions to MEZCO staffer Pierre who told me as much information as he could while still maintaining an air of mystery as to how much, when & where. But all that would come later and I knew in my heart that all Bat-Junkies will have to acquire this magnificent piece for their collections.
The MEZCO Batmobile is absolutely awe-inspiring AND it is fully functional to boot. It is the size of a three year old child with a functioning cockpit, lights, sounds and steering. The Tweeted image of the interior that MEZCO sent out pre-show was on my phone so I held it up to the enclosure and just imagined what the final, final product will look like. Even if you are not a fan of the upcoming Zack Snyder opus or what his interpretation of the two biggest comic book icons in the world will end up being, both Bat-fans and car enthusiasts alike are going to jump on this Batmobile. It will snugly fit the new Batman ONE:12 COLLECTIVE figure of the Caped Crusader in both his regular suit and hopefully his Armored version as well. We have seen a lot of the Armored suit in the trailers for the film and I am certain I saw Bat-fleck behind the wheel in that iteration of his duds so it only makes sense that it will fit in the MEZCO Batmobile.
Overall, my Spidey-Sense was going bonkers while taking in this amazing feat of toy making that is actually going to be available to die hard Junkies. I know how it sounds, but it was hard for me to believe that this is actually going to be in my collection/driveway this year! And no credit check! While the price has not been made public yet, rumors were buzzing that it will likely be in the $350 range which I think is absolutely doable considering the ONE:12 COLLECTIVE figures are roughly $75 apiece, with some skewing a little higher. However, the figures each come with an incredible amount of extras without compare for other figures in that price range. Lets not forget the increased value on the few figures that have been released thus far in the ONE:12 COLLECTIVE line. It is difficult to find a Mint in Box (MIB) TDKR Batman for less than twice its retail value and in some cases, thrice its original price. Unfortunately, I can already see the dreaded Scalpers selling the MEZCO Dawn of Justice Batmobile for a cool grand without hesitation. Trust me I am not giving them any new ideas because they have already thought of it. Hopefully every fan that wants one will able to get one without an issue. The most iconic vehicle in the history of comics, perhaps all of pop culture just became that much more iconic winning the top honors in AFJ's first official Toy Fair Awards. Congrats to Mez, Drak, Pierre & the rest of the MEZCO gang on a brilliant achievement of astonishing toy making. I honestly did not think it was possible but they stuck the landing on the ambitious venture and its a perfect "10" all the way around. Congrats!
THE BEST OF THE REST!
The rest of the awards are specific to some of my favorite categories that I came up with while putting this piece together. I thought that it would be fun to include some other highlights of the big show for the dedicated Junkies so enjoy!
*BEST RESURRECTED ACTION FIGURE LINE: NECA ROCKY SERIES
The champ is back for his 40th Anniversary courtesy of my fellow Jersey brethren, NECA! Brilliantly crafted with amazing sculpts, the first four figures are already up for Pre-Order on major online retailers for just $74.99. You get the ROCKY III figures including Rocky in yellow "Italian Stallion" shorts, Clubber Lang in first fight shorts, Clubber Lang in rematch shorts & the brand new Rocky with Championship Belt as seen in the poster from the classic sequel.
*BEST 1/4 SCALE ACTION FIGURE: NECA BATMAN VS SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE BATMAN
NECA again impressed the heck out of me with this fantastic Quarter Scale figure of the new Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice Batman. I own the 1/4 scale Adam West Batman and the 1/4 scale Michael Keaton Batman but still have to pick up the 1/4 scale Christian Bale one. However, I may leapfrog the Bale figure and get this one straightaway because it was just that damn impressive in person. The stunning figure is up for Pre-Order already and is going for a scant $89.99. Definitely worth it.
*BEST NEW STAR WARS FIGURE: HASBRO BLACK SERIES 6-INCH DARTH REVAN
Voted by fans for fans of the omnipresent franchise, the highly successful STAR WARS Black Series keeps chugging along with the debut of an awesome DARTH REVAN figure in 6-inch form. This is most definitely going to be the hot seller when it hits stores later this year. I got as close as I could to the figure at the HASBRO Showroom in the New York Times building and I wish I knew sleight of hand because I really wanted to take this beauty home!
*BEST IRON MAN FIGURE: BLUEFIN/COMICAVE SILVER CENTURION ARMOR
I have been waiting for an amazing Silver Centurion armored Iron Man figure and although it is pricey, Comicave Studios makes these brilliant figures that are 75% diecast metal. I couldn't decide between the "SHADES" armor and Silver Centurion but in the end I went with my sentimental favorite from when I was a kid. At a 1/12 scale and a price tag of around $130, it is a pricey investment but a damn nice way to splurge especially for an Iron Man Junkie.
*BEST FUNKO POP! VINYLS CHARACTER COMING IN 2016: SPIDER-GWEN!
SPIDER-GWEN is white hot right now so naturally FUNKO has a POP! Vinyls version ready to go. This one is going to be tough to find in stores, I guarantee it. I highly suggest Pre-Ordering this one as soon as it is up on some of the big online retailers.
*BEST KIDS TOY I NEED!!: SPIN MASTER's NEW REMOTE CONTROL BB-8
Forget about SPHERO's $150 BB-8 from this past holiday season. The California based SPIN MASTER toy company has an epic new iteration of the little droid that stole Episode 7 from most of the actors. This version stands at about 19-inches with its antennas, comes with voice control that you can use to actually call BB-8 over to you! As if that is not enough, the SPIN MASTER model comes with a Wii style remote control that has a joystick that easily enables you to direct the orange & white droid all around. AND it even turns its head and follows your voice, all for a very affordable $180. The only snag is that its not due out until the holidays later this year.
*BEST BACK TO THE FUTURE GADGET: BLUEFIN/KIDS LOGIC MAGNETIC FLOATING HOVERBOARD SET
This is unbelievable and something that must be in my beloved Back to the Future collection. KIDS LOGIC has come out with not only a DeLorean that floats for about $230, but now they have a whole set of mini Hoverboards for the die hard Marty McFly fan. They are in 1/6 scale and come with the famous pink MATTEL Hoverboard Marty uses in the first sequel as well as the "PIT BULL" used by Biff Tannen's grandson "Griff." Retail on this set is $139.99 and I literally am counting the days until these arrive at AFJ Headquarters..
*BEST 50th ANNIVERSARY BATMAN '66 LIVE- ACTION TV SHOW ITEM: DST's SHAKESPEARE BUST
Finally! DIAMOND SELECT has taken the leap and is releasing a 1:1 Shakespeare bust replica made of vinyl. To honor the 50th Anniversary of the Live-Action Adam West/Burt Ward BATMAN '66 TV show, DST has this amazing conversation piece coming later this year to market and the head of the bust even opens up and back to reveal a panel of buttons. Unfortunately, it will not open a secret wall to reveal Bat-poles that lead to your own Batcave. Maybe at Toy Fair '17....