Get ready for the toys of summer.
From the superhero-spawned playthings inspired by Green Lantern, Captain America and Thor and Lego versions of Johnny Depp and his new Pirates of the Caribbean to the latest line of morphing robots based on Michael Bay's Transformers trilogy and younger-kid-friendly fare from the sequels to Cars and Kung Fu Panda, there are plenty of cool new gizmos hitting stores.
After some rigorous playing testing of the hottest Hollywood-licensed toys at Time to Play magazine's Spring Showcase earlier this month, we are ready to break down the biggest blockbuster movie toys of the summer.
Fanboys, it's time to make some more shelf space.
Thor: First up, Marvel's Norse god brings the thunder to multiplexes this weekend with Kenneth Branagh's big-screen adaptation. Thanks to Hasbro, which joined forces with Marvel to create a Thor-inspired line of action figures and role-playing sets, we've got all sorts of cool tie-ins. For your favorite Little Thor to accessorize, there's also a plastic helmet, sword and shield, and our favorite, the Thor Lightning Hammer, complete with flashing lights, thunder sound effects and a launching projectile. Watch out, mom and dad!
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: Sailing into theaters May 20, Captain Jack Sparrow and his crew embark on a search for the Fountain of Youth. The movie-inspired action figure line comes with a mystical twist. A special ring pointed at just the right angle on Pirates figures brings out their zombie side. Fans can also pick up a mini-replica of the Queen Anne's Revenge, the infamous ship piloted by Blackbeard, to trasnport the action figures. It's also available in Lego form as the, um, flagship of the new line of cool brick sets tied to the film. With more than 1,000 pieces, it will happily keep you busy until Pirates 5.
Kung Fu Panda 2: The big bouncy dude voiced by Jack Black gets his kung fu on again on May 26. And with him, we recommend picking up the squishiest, squeeziest, most interactive 15-inch plush bear this side of China. The battery-operate Kung Fu Po Wrestler is great for kids who want to get their wrestling thing on and not only does he bend and twist into unusual positions but he also talks back with comical sound effects when challenged to a match. Add to that a line of Fierce Fighting Figures and the Fus. vs. Foes Figure Pack and this Panda's worth saving.
Green Lantern: We're not talking about Lord of the Rings here, folks. On June 17, there will be one ring to rule them all and it's worn by Hal Jordan, aka Green Lantern, DC's superhero way overdue for his theatrical debut. Now that Ryan Reynolds is suiting up, kids will find it's really easy being green as Mattel unleashes a deluge of Lantern-inspired goodies. Green Lantern Colossal Cannon is fun for all those backyard shootouts or role-play with Deluxe Battle Shifters Figures such as the hulking, porcine extratrerrestrial hero Kilowog. The best in our opinion? Pick up the Green Lantern Hot Wheels Track Set for a wild loop-de-loop ride.
Cars 2: Ladies and gentlemen, start revving your engines. Lightning McQueen, Mater and the gang are heading to Japan to compete in a big international race, which Disney-Pixar is rolling out June 22 along with a sleek set of miniature motor vehicles, including ones based on new Cars characters such as British superspy Finn McMissile (voiced by Michael Caine), spy-in-training Holley Shiftwell (voiced by Emily Mortimer) and Italian racing machine Francesco Bernoulli (voiced by John Turturro). The Zero-Gravity McMissile is also tricked out with a gravity-defying bonus—he can climb walls, or he can always hit the Cars 2 Tokyo Spinout Track Play Set.
Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon: Hitting theaters July 1 (in 3-D natch), the latest robot mash up finds Hasbro getting in gear with some of the coolest action figures yet from both Autobot and Decepticon battalions. The next generation Mechtech line enables Transformers the ability to share interchangeable weapons that also power up the figures. Our faves include Mechtech leader Sentinel Prime (pictured above), who makes his debut in the movie voiced by Star Trek's Leonard Nimoy. Also be on the lookout for the Transformers Cine-Mask 3D Masks, which functions as a battle mask for role playing but also pulls double duty as it features RealD 3D lenses so fans can watch the new flick and get the full 3D experience. More than meets the eye indeed!
Captain America: By the time they join up for next summer's Avengers movie, Thor is going to have some serious competition from America's original crimefighter as Captain America: The First Avenger storms theaters July 22. To celebrate the return of the red, white and blue hero, Hasbro is unveiling some terrific goodies for the young set, including: a Captain America Hero Mask, an awesome battery-operated Disc Launching Shield which fires five mini-foam discs, strikefire transport and cruisers, and action figures featuring the WWII version of the first Avenger, aka Steve Rogers (played by Chris Evans in the movie), and all his adversaries, including archnemesis the Red Skull.