It's going to be a Marvelous year if Toy Fair has anything to say about it.
As the big show wrapped up this week in New York City, E! News got the lowdown on the hottest playthings headed to stores this fall tied into the would-be blockbusters Hollywood is unspooling in the coming months, not to mention some small-screen classics getting a new lease on life.
We're talking action figures, collectible dolls, playsets and board games based on your favorite Disney pirates, babbling Cars and cadre of Marvel superheroes not named Spider-Man or Iron Man who are finally getting their due on the shelf.
Here's our pick of the litter...
1. Cars 2: Disney-Pixar rolled out the red capret big time for toys based on the highly anticipated sequel to Toy Story mastermind John Lasetter's 2006 cartoon hit, due out in June. As the flick's friendly cast of anthropomorphic motor vehicles head overseas to compete in the World Grand Prix, new characters like British agent Finn McMissile (voiced by Michael Caine who swung by Toy Fair to promote the film), and spy-in-training Holley Shiftwell (voiced by Emily Mortimer) were unveiled—as well as a slew of die-cast cars based on them from Mattel. The famed toymaker's biggest coup however was creating Lightning McQueen Alive—a first of its kind car that uses touch sensors and micro technology to look, move and sound as real (animated) thing. You have to see it to believe it.
2. Transformers: Dark of the Moon: To mark the latest Michael Bay explosion-fest, Hasbro is rolling out Transformers Mechtech Figures, each of which comes with a unique converting Mechtech weapon that's interchangeable with other Mechtech figures. For the imaginative among us, there's also Transformers role-play Cine Mask 3-D battle masks which enable users to play out their Autobot versus Decepticon fantasies with built-in 3-D lenses that are compatible with any Real D 3-D movies (not to mention the 3-D release of Dark of the Moon, natch)! And with a host of sleek new vehicles like the Cyberverse Autobot Ark and the Speed Star Stealth Force with pop out weapons, there's more than meets the eye for toy buyers.
3. Pirates of the Caribbean: Captain Jack is back and in LEGO form as the company debuts building sets inspired by not only classic Pirates of the Caribbean films but also two scenarios straight out of the fourth installment, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, hitting theaters in May. Young pirates can spend hours digging for treasure at LEGO Whitecap Bay and commandeering the LEGO Queen Anne's Revenge.
4. It's a Marvel World: While DC's Batman takes a couple of years off from theaters and Superman gears up for his much-vaunted makeover courtesy of Christopher Nolan, Marvel's mounting a Tinseltown invasion in 2011. The comic book powerhouse has three superheroes getting their big screen close-up, two of whom are being adapted to film for the first time but also getting the toy treatment as well.
First up is Thor. The powerful warrior who sparks an ancient war before being exiled to Earth doesn't need much aside from brute force and his legendary hammer and sword to defeat his enemies. So leave it to Hasbro to put out the Lightning Hammer featuring lights, sounds and a launching projectile along with foam versions of helmet, shield, and hammer (watch out, mom and dad!). Kids can also role play with the toymaker's line of heroes and villains and recreate favorite battle scenes from the movie, which stars Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins and is out in May.
The other big Marvel biggie on the block is Captain America. This World War II-era holdover is coming out of mothballs this July with Paramount's Captain America: The First Avenger starring Chris Evans as the titular hero and Hugo Weaving as the villainous Red Skull. Both characters are among the action figures Hasbro is releasing along with a Captain America Hero Mask, Captain America Disc Launching Shield that fires foam discs, and Captain America Throwing Shield. All in a good day's work.
This year's big DC Comics entry is fanboy favorite, Green Lantern, who, along with some serious ring power, is kicking ass with the Colossal Cannon, a blaster that shoots up to 10 "power discs" in rapid succession, lights up and emits blaster sounds. There's also the Green Lantern Ring Jet Figure and Vehicle, four-inch scale Battle Shifter figures with pop out power slingers and six-inch figures sculpted using digital files from the upcoming film starring Ryan Reynolds, dropping in June.
5. Thundercats: You've seen them before in the '80s, and now they're leaping into action in a new animated series set to air on the Cartoon Network. To mark the occasion, Bandai's putting out 4-inch and 8-inch figures replete with weapons and accessories as well as a Deluxe Thundercats vehicle. Fans of the series can also wield the power of Lion-O with the mystic Sword of Omens.
(Originally published Feb. 20, 2011 @ 7:00 a.m. PT