Issue #49 of Tomart's Action Figure Digest begins the coverage of American International Toy Fair in New York City. Toy Fair doesn't officially begin until February 9th, but Tomart's has provided a sneak preview of many of the upcoming Kenner offerings including the new Batman animated style 12" figures reported here in December. Other highlights include a look at many of the new Star Wars offerings (Star Wars sept AFD's annual figure competition) and the debut of the Planet of the Apes 12" Signature Series figures.
There are new Jakks WWF Wrestlers shown for the new year. And there's a look at the year in exclusive figures with some of the more recent and interesting figures shown. Brian Doyle's always entertaining "Action International" notes that the Han and Luke in Stormtrooper gear two-packs have shown up in European Toys R Us stores without the KayBee stickers.
Tomarts promises two more Toy Fair issues to round out this year's coverage. Pick up you copy at your local comic retailer or magazine stand. And you can check out Tomart's Web Site where they have indicated they will give daily Toy Fair updates.
At last we can reveal the secret of this new property. A brand new company named Toy Vault is launching its first line under the name Middle Earth Toys. Yes folks, these are honest to goodness Lord of the Rings action figures! Best of all, they are beautifully sculpted with massive detailing and careful attention paid to the accessories which include things like cloth capes and battle worn weapons.
This is a very impressive license, especially for a new company. And from what we've seen, they are more than up to the challenge. Shown here are the head of Gandalf the Grey and the Earth Balrog. The first set of figures (which includes two mass market releases and two variants) will be available in July. Look for more figures to follow by September. These highly detailed sculpts look like they'll give McFarlane Toys a run for its money.
We were privileged to speak at length with the founder of the company who has given us all the lowdown on what you can expect from Middle Earth Toys and Toy Vault. Check back Friday for the full article including more pictures of all the first release figures, concept drawings, package art and more. It's quite a story and there is much more where this came from.
We're sure there are a lot of ecstatic fans out there right now. This
is excellent news and certainly one whale of a surprise to unleash the
week before Toy Fair.
As part of American International Toy Fair in New York City, Hasbro/Kenner and Lucasfilm will be hosting a live "chat" with Star Wars guru Steve Sansweet on Monday February 9th. Also present will be Kenner's on-line rep, Jen Donahoe. They will be taking questions and discussing the future of the Star Wars line and anything else that pops up. The chat will be held live from the Toy Fair showroom and should give the very first rundown of what will be new for the upcoming year. Check out all the info (including browser requirements) at the Star Wars web site: http://starwars.hasbro.com/low/chat/futchat.htm
And while you're chatting it up with the folks at the Star Wars site, you might want to tell them how you feel about a few issues, including what might not get made. One group is doing just exactly that by publishing a petition to express their disappointment over Kenner's reluctance to make a Skiff vehicle (and a darn spiffy vehicle at that). You can "sign" the petition and add your name to the growing list at Yak Face's Star Wars Web Site: http://www.artglenn.com/yakface/petition.htm
Note: Apparently the pictures of the Bantha (shown above on Tomarts #49) and the Carbonite Freezing Chamber were used before they were supposed to by one or more sites on the web (we didn't show them, we just pointed to them). Pick up the new Tomarts to see the pics. These have been taken down from these other sites, but we wouldn't leave you high and dry, so shuffle on over to go figure! magazine's web site and check out the Star Wars section of their Top Shelf area. There is a great round-up of new Star Wars pics
As we promised, you can now help Toy Biz in making the new WCW wrestling figures by giving your input on these brief survey. Once you've all had your say, we'll tabulate all your opinions and hand-deliver the results to Toy Biz. They are really excited about this new action figure opportunity, so now is the time to voice your opinions while the line is still in the earliest stages of development. Get to it wrestling fans!
Most people know about the U.S. Agent figure and the fifth series from the Iron Man line that never made it into production. But here's something that few people have seen. These pieces have only been shown in a few locations. To the best of our knowledge, the figure was shown only once in an old Hero magazine and we don't believe the car has been shown anywhere else. The figure is, of course, Tony Stark in just a normal turtleneck and jacket. It's a wonderfully smooth figure and makes us fans of civilian figures just ache that it never made it to the stores.
The vehicle was planned for the Iron Man line, but along with other larger price point items (like the Mega Armor figures of Iron Man and War Machine that eventually became Wolverine and Spider-Man) this piece was scrapped as the line struggled at retail. These would have been cool pieces in any case and we're happy we could pull them out of the Toy Biz vault to share them with you.
This is part of our research for an upcoming Iron Man archive. Hope you enjoyed this sneak peek at some seldom seen pieces.
World Championship Wrestling (WCW), a Time Warner Company, and Leisure Concepts, Inc. (LCI), the licensing division of 4 Kids Entertainment Inc. have entered a long term agreement with Toy Biz, Inc. , an industry leader in boys action toys, for the creation of an exciting new toyline based upon the extremely popular WCW franchise.
This effectively ends rumors that other companies (most notably, McFarlane Toys) would be obtaining the license for the WCW. This rumor had persisted for several months on other internet sites with some sources stating the rumor as absolute fact. The current license holder for the WCW toys is The Original San Francisco Toy Makers.
The WCW toyline will be launched at retail in Fall 1998, and will feature a wide array of toys based on the biggest names in professional wrestling. An extended collection will be introduced in Spring 1999.
According to Al Kahn, Chairman and CEO of LCI, "Toy Biz is a great company. In addition to producing world-famous action figures, they have the imagination and capability to create toys in many categories, and I'm looking forward to seeing the great products that they have planned for WCW."
"Now that we've achieved such ratings success, we're really looking forward to an exciting licensing program," said Casey Collins, Licensing Manager at WCW. "Toy Biz has created toys for many popular characters. We know they're going to do a fabulous job for WCW."
"We're really excited about working with WCW," said Alan Fine, Chief Operating Officer of Toy Biz. "This is an excellent opportunity for Toy Biz to expand our line with one of the world's most recognized brands. Our product development team has a lot of great ideas and can't wait to begin working on WCW product."
WCW has built a spectacular franchise through its top-rated television programs featuring athletes who are superstars in professional wrestling. Through WCW, LCI represents to the merchandising community such wrestling superstars as Sting, Lex Luger, Ric Flair, The Giant and WCW's newest addition Bret Hart. LCI also represents the wrestlers of WCW's renegade branch, The New World Order (nWo), featuring such celebrities as "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan, "Macho Man" Randy Savage, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash.
In the past six months the heated rivalry between WCW and nWo, has caused an increase in its television viewership by 10 million, over 32 million people each week. The WCW drama is played out through such programs as "Monday Nitro," live on TNT; "WCW Saturday Night"; "WCW Pro"; "WCW Worldwide"; and new live series, "Thunder," airing Thursday nights on TBS.
In addition to its tremendous visibility, WCW offers licensing partners such as Toy Biz support through numerous wide-reaching mediums. The organization is actively involved with the NASCAR Busch Series, in which WCW sponsors its own race cars, as well as with the USHRA (U.S. Hot Rod Association), where WCW will run four different monster trucks this season. WCW also has a strong presence on the Internet, receiving 8 million page impressions per month, and plans advertising campaigns in both trade and consumer media for its licensed merchandise.
Toy Biz, a New York-based company that develops, markets and distributes new and traditional toy lines in the boys, girls, pre-school and electronic toy categories, promises to be an excellent choice to create an extensive toy line for WCW. The Toy Biz team manufactures a wide array of toy products based on leading entertainment and consumer brand names under license from Marvel Entertainment Group, Gerber Products Company, Henson Productions, Nascar, MCA/Universal and Sony Signatures, and they are famous for crafting detailed, sophisticated action figures such as Marvel Comics' "Spider-Man" and "The X Men." Now that Toy Biz has entered a partnership with WCW, the toy company will add to its roster a line of toy items based upon wrestling's most recognizable icons.
World Championship Wrestling, "Where The Big Boys Play," is a subsidiary of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner Company. WCW produces and markets television programs and live events featuring wrestling superstars. WCW produces eight hours of original programming seen each week throughout the U.S. and in over 25 countries throughout the world. Check out WCW's Web Site at www.WCWwrestling.com and www.NWOwrestling.com.
Leisure Concepts, Inc. is a leader in the worldwide licensing industry, representing such prestigious properties as World Champion Wrestling, Nintendo and the revolutionary new Nintendo 64 Video Game System, Nintendo's hot new game and animated series, Pokemon, Trendmasters' hot toy and new animated series, War Planets, and the animated television series "Mr. Men," based upon the billion dollar property. All three television series are syndicated in the U.S. by The Summit Media Group, the media buying and television syndication arm of 4 Kids Entertainment.
We've finally been given clearance by Kenner to confirm the new Knight Force Ninja line. Kenner's been playing their cards close to the vest in preparation for Toy Fair, but they are letting a few things go public before the big event. The first assortment is set to include two Batman figures, a Robin and Killer Croc. These figures are somewhere between the animated style and the Legends of the Dark Knight line. The theme is, of course, centered around martial arts and you can expect these to show up this summer.
The interesting thing that struck us about this line is that it is as if Toy Biz had made a Batman assortment. These figures are more like the usual Toy Biz sculpting than Kenner, and they have both knee and elbow joints. They also have a glossier paint job with brighter colors, rather than the matte finish that Kenner has been using. Also remember that these are Ninjas, not Pirates, no matter how much the bottom Batman looks like one. This line also looks to be part of the "Elseworlds" theme, as Killer Croc has never had a tail in either comics or cartoon continuity.
And in case you are wondering, official sources at Kenner have stated that this is the DC line that has been hinted at for the past six months. It is unclear what, if any, other DC-related lines will be shown at Toy Fair.
You people sure work fast. Pictures of the new Marvel 12-inch figures appeared in Previews just yesterday and already we were deluged with questions. Hopefully, this will clear up much of the confusion caused by the Previews listing.
First off, these are not part of the Famous Covers, Famous First Appearances, or Marvel Milestones 8-inch lines. These figures are 12-inch scale and are akin to the Spidey, Wolverine, Mary Jane, Storm, Rogue, and Ghost Rider figures that have already been produced.
Secondly, the Previews blurb notes that the assortment contains Wolverine, Storm and Psylocke. However, the picture clearly shows Gambit and not Ms. Braddock (aka Psylocke). This is Toy Biz's goof apparently. The assortment is misprinted on some of their documents, but it's an honest mistake. Psylocke was indeed mocked up for this line and there is a chance she might appear in a later series (Doc Ock has also been mentioned as a candidate...wouldn't that be cool?). So the picture is right, the text is an error. Consider it a preview of even more things to come possibly.
Also, the most recent assortment of these figures includes Spider-Man, Venom and Black Cat. These should be in stores any time now. The Wolvie/Storm/Gambit assortment isn't due until later this spring. An interesting note is that the heads for Spidey and Venom (along with assorted later figures) are larger versions of the 5-inch scale figures. This should come as a great relief to those who disliked the sometimes awkward removable masks of some of the preceeding 12-inch figures. And the best news of all is that these 12-inch figures should be valued priced to be very affordable. Way to go Toy Biz!
And finally, the Nightman shown is a 12-inch figure but
there is also an 8-inch version in the works. While not part of the Famous
Covers line, this 8-inch version will be done in the same style with
a real cloth outfit. With the popularity of this 8-inch genre, we can only
hope to see more and more licenses given the same royal treatment.
The next Spawn series (10 if you are keeping score at home) is a continuation of the currently popular Manga theme. With renditions of popular McFarlane characters and some newcomers all done in this stylized format, it's sure to be interesting.
The line-up includes Manga versions of Overtkill, Samurai Spawn, Cyber Violator, Dead Spawn, Freak, and Beast (names subject to change before release as always kids!).
Full Moon Toys is plugging right along with the Puppetmaster line. The next two releases are slated to be Pinhead and Leech Woman. The Pinhead figure (shown left) has a real knitted sweater, a pop up head mechanism, very articulated arms, and a three piece barbell accessory set. Leech Woman has a real satin dress, rooted hair, and a wiggly leech mechanism that works by attaching the leeches to her mouth! Kind of gross and cool all at once. Plus, you get extra leeches and a dagger to round out her ensemble (and if you are going out on the town in a nice satin dress, you best have an extra couple of leeches because lord knows you'll need them).
As with the previous Puppetmaster releases, look for variant figures as well as the standard issues. No word yet on any retailer exclusives, but if the past is any predictor, there is a good chance we'll see some of those type of variant exclusives as well.
Next up for Full Moon Toys are Decapitron and Radu from "Subspecies." You can check out all the happenings at Full Moon Toys by visiting their web site at www.fullmoontoys.com
The Fighting American action figure to be released by Awesome
Entertainment is going to have a variant. It's the Silver Age Fighting
American. Based on the classic Simon and Kirby character,
Fighting American was revived by Rob Liefeld in a new comic
series. The action figure and its variant are slated to come with a shield
accessory and a 10" flagpole and flag. Ask your local comic retailer about
placing orders for either figure.
As we predicted, you'll see your first new episode of Superman in early February. Until then, enjoy the current crop of re-runs. Remember that the Friday shows are still running a half hour earlier in most markets. Check your local listings for times and set those VCR's. Check the news item below for the scoop on the brand new Batman animated series set to makes its debut next fall!
"Catscratch Fever" (Batman)
"Speed Demons" (Superman)
Monday, 01/26-"The Cat & The Claw, Part I" (Batman)
Tuesday, 01/27- "The Cat & The Claw, Part II"(Batman)
Wednesday, 01/28-"Monkey Fun" (Superman)
Thursday, 01/29-"Joker's Favor" (Batman)
Friday, 01/30-"Brave New Metropolis" (Superman)
"If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Rich" (Batman)
"Heavy Metal " (Superman)
Monday, 02/02-"The Laughing Fish" (Batman)
Tuesday, 02/03-"The Late Mr. Kent" (Superman)
Wednesday, 02/04-"Beware the Grey Ghost" (Batman)
Thursday, 02/05-"Speed Demons" (Superman)
Friday, 02/06-"Avatar" (Superman)
"Identity Crisis" (Superman)
"Cold Comfort" (Batman)
"Apokolips...Now! Part I" (Superman) NEW!
Toy Biz will soon release the next wave of Silver Surfer figures, based again on the animated series. Featured this go round are Solar Silver Surfer (with alien foot soldier), Silver Surfer & Pip the Troll (shown at right) , Ivar (w/Army Ant soldier), and small scale Galactus (with mini Surfer figure in power globe). A large scale Galactus is also scheduled to be released later on in the series.
Two of the nicest Kenner 12" Star Wars figures are packaged together in this nifty two-pack, with an extremely cool added bonus: they're electronic! Both Ben Kenobi and Darth Vader have light-up lightsabers and four sayings a piece, recorded in the voices of Alec Guiness and James Earl Jones, respectively. Formerly available only through the JC Penney's catalog, this two-pack can now be purchased from Previews. Go check it out.
Exclusive Premiere follows up the Tomorrow Never Dies James Bond line with these three new 6 3/4" figures. Based on three of the most popular Bond girls from the past films, this line includes Pussy Galore from Goldfinger (shown at right), Jill Masterson from Goldfinger (and covered in gold paint!), and Tracy Bond from On Her Majesty's Secret Service. These figures are for now a Previews exclusive, so head on over there if you want to order them.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif., Jan. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Mattel, Inc., the NBA, WNBA and USA Basketball today announced that the toy company has been granted licenses for the exclusive global rights to produce basketball-themed toys bearing the marks of the three organizations. Under the multiyear agreement, Mattel, the worldwide leader in the design and marketing of children's toys, will manufacture boys' and girls' toys in categories including dolls, action figures, figurines, vehicles and pre-school. Mattel also will have the right to manufacture plush toys, activity kits, collectibles, puzzles and games and arts and crafts.
The agreement includes fashion and collector dolls, including Barbie; large dolls, including Cabbage Patch Kids; action figures, collectibles, vehicles and playsets; miniature die cast vehicles and playsets, including Matchbox and Hot Wheels; and radio and remote control vehicles. Several of these products will be unveiled at the American International Toy Fair in New York on February 9, and will be available at retail for Holiday '98.
Mattel will support the relationships with significant marketing investments in advertising and special events.
"The NBA has a unique appeal to young people across a wide range of ages in the United States as well as internationally," said Bruce Stein, President, Mattel Worldwide, and Chief Operating Officer. "The incredible success of the WNBA and the popularity of USA Basketball teams in international competition further demonstrate the tremendous interest in basketball. With the 'evergreen' quality that the NBA, WNBA and USA Basketball licenses possess, and the promotional partnerships we can jointly create, we are looking forward to the opportunity to develop a full range of toy products that will be distributed around the world."
"The NBA has a powerful connection to youth around the world," said David Stern, NBA Commissioner. "That, combined with Mattel's product and marketing strength, creates a partnership that will bring exciting new products to young fans everywhere."
"Our arenas last season were filled with young fans who love basketball," said Val Ackerman, WNBA President. "It is exciting to team up with a category leader like Mattel, whose brands also resonate with youth."
"USA Basketball is delighted that Mattel has chosen to join our team," said Warren Brown, USA Basketball Executive Director. "Mattel's established reputation as the worldwide leader in children's toys, and USA Basketball's recognition as the leader in international basketball, will notably enhance the international reception of both parties."
Sales for the existing NBA toy category are strong, with annual product sales projected to increase by more than 65% this year. According to the National Sporting Goods Association, basketball is the top participation sport among U.S. kids (aged 7-11); 6.4 million kids (34% of all kids) play basketball, and participation among girls is up 10% over last year. Basketball also is the top participation sport among U.S. teens (aged 12-17); 9.2 million teens play basketball, an increase of 5% over last year. A recent Sports Illustrated For Kids Omnibus survey found that 41% of boys and girls aged 9-13 rank the NBA as their favorite sports league.
Basketball is also the favorite sport of teens globally, according to a recent marketing study by DMB&B conducted with 25,000 adolescents in 41 countries. The study also showed the NBA logo was recognized by 76% of the teens.
The WNBA attracted more than one million fans in-arena and was viewed on television by more than 65 million fans in the U.S. and by fans in 165 countries during its inaugural season last summer. The 1998 season begins in June.
USA Basketball is responsible for the selection, training and fielding of men's and women's USA teams that compete in international basketball competitions, including the Olympics and the World Championships of Basketball.
Mattel, Inc., with $4.5 billion in annual revenues, is the worldwide leader in the design, manufacture and marketing of children's toys including such popular brands as Barbie dolls, Hot Wheels, Matchbox, Fisher-Price, Tyco, Disney and Cabbage Patch Kids. Headquartered in El Segundo, California, Mattel has offices and facilities in 36 countries and markets its products in 159 nations throughout the world.
The NBA has approximately 150 licensees in categories including
apparel, sporting goods, basketball cards and collectibles, home furnishings,
school supplies, home electronics, interactive games, home video, publishing,
gifts and novelties, and toys and games.
Chip Cataldo does it again! Coming hot on the heels of his excellent BTAS article (linked below) he now has pictures of the next BTAS action figure assortment to be done in the revamped style. The Arkham Asylum two-pack at right is just one of the cool things coming up, so head on over to The Bruce Timm Artwork Archive now and look in the toy news section!
The Showtime cable network has the exclusive rights to show the Star Wars Special Edition trilogy for now and in conjunction with that exclusive is an exclusive set of figures. Actually, these are just packaging variations (the figures look to be exactly the same as the wide relase versions). However, if you are a variation hunter or completist, this subset might be of interest to you.
The figures are POTF2 Collection 3 figures with a special sticker on the packaging. (Green card, holo sticker). On the lower part of the bubble is a sticker that says "Star Wars: Special Edition. Exclusively on Showtime" (see graphic).
At this time, it is unclear who received these figures or how many there are. The figures were sent out in bubble mailers and many arrived with crushed bubbles. Finding a mint set might prove to be difficult as it is unlikely that many of these figures will ever hit the secondary market. There are at least 5 figures in the set and possibly more. We have no concrete information on how a set could be obtained. It is unclear if this is a subscription premium, an industry-only promotional item or something altogether different.
At press time, our calls to Showtime Networks were not returned, but we will bring you more information about this exclusive as we obtain it.
From the "yet another sign of the apocalypse" files, we bring you this story about the extent to which the exclusive figure craze has gone. "Alarmo," the mascot of Slomin's Alarm Company was offered as an incentive for purchasing a full alarm system from the New York company. The ad ran in New York Newsday, but sadly, the promotion apparently ended January 15th (and the 1-800 number is not accessible outside of New York so if anyone can provide an alternate phone number for this company, we'd be eternally grateful).
There is no mention of a manufacturer for the figure and the figure itself looks pretty nifty. The caption apparently reads, "Push my Alarmo button and watch burglars get out of town!" It just goes to show how pervasive the exclusive action figure fad has become. Perhaps, we should do our own Raving Toy Maniac exclusive figure. What do you think?
If you're interested in seeing all the possible BTAS choices for action figures that Kenner has to choose from, then you owe it to yourself to check out The Bruce Timm Artwork Archive. Chip Cataldo has made a fantastic article comparing the old series to the new one, including a look at characters that have yet to appear , like the Creeper and the Riddler, and ones that will never appear, such as Nocturna! And while you're there, take a look around at all the great never before seen artwork in the galleries. You'll be glad you did!
Yes, Lee's Action Figure News and Toy Review, Tomart's Action Figure Digest, and White's Guide to Collecting Figures all hit the shelves this week. If you have some cash left after buying all these mags, maybe you can buy some of the cool toys seen in each.
AFT&TR profiles the Puppetmaster line from Full Moon Toys, Star Trek, new Kenner stuff, and a variety of Wrestling figs. There is an introduction to a new company call Faultline 555 that will be selling very limited high-end collectibles and prototypes. One of the owner is a former toy industry insider (most recently from Playmates) and he appears to have a line on some very rare items. It will be interesting to see how this venture pans out.
Rounding out Lee's is an article on collecting packaging proofs and a very nice primer on the basic figure assortments of POTF2. Collectors who are familiar with this line probably won't find anything too revealing, but it is still nice to have the visual reference (especially with all the variations that abound).
Tomart's feature article is an interview with Stone Cold Steve Austin and the Headbangers. Wrestling fans should geek out over this piece that has more to do with the wrestlers themselves than the new S.T.O.M.P. figures pictured therein.
Also featured are the new Munsters figures from Exclusive Toy Products (as well as a look at the packaged 5 inch G'Kar), a couple of cool-looking clear figures of Nira X and Hellina that are slated to be Convention exclusives, and varied look at some of the nice G.I. Joe items on the horizon (including some nice items from Cotswold Collectibles).
The feature on the Tokyo Toy Fair is interesting and a must read for collectors of overseas toys. You'll also see a variety of pics of new Kenner and Toy Biz items scattered throughout the magazine.
The new White's is best summed up as Beanies and Barbies. Well, that's not all that is there. In fact, White's continues to have some very nice content covering the widest range of the toy and collectible market imaginable. Beanie Babies and Barbies do have a huge presence in this issue though. But you can also find article ranging from Teddy Bears to Female Action Figure Villains (now there's a sub-specialty for ya!).
RTM was actually featured in the regular Starting Line-Up column called Notes from the Net. Well, sort of. They never actually mentioned our name but it's definitely our address (maybe the author didn't realize that the section he mentioned was part of a larger site). Anyway, it's a link to the Starting Line-Up subsection of the Kenner Pre-Toy Fair catalog we posted several months back. We're not known for our SLU coverage, but we thank them all the same (we think).
NEW YORK--(ENTERTAINMENT WIRE)--Jan. 12, 1998--Four all-new series, one from Steven Spielberg (tentatively titled ``Steven Spielberg Presents the Further Adventures of Pinky & The Brain''), another from The Jim Henson Company (``BRATS of the Dark Nebula), a futuristic Batman (''Batman Tomorrow``), and the previously announced, historically hysterical ''Warner Bros.' Histeria!`` will join new and favorite episodes of seven returning series for the fourth season of Kids' WB! this fall.
The new schedule, coming on the heels of unprecedented ratings growth (+29% this season vs. last season with Kids 2-11), was announced today at the annual advertisers' upfront presentation in New York by Jean MacCurdy, President, Warner Bros. Television Animation and President of Programming for Kids' WB!, and Jamie Kellner, CEO of The WB Television Network.
The new programs are: ``Steven Spielberg Presents the Further Adventures of Pinky & The Brain'' (tentative title), an animated comedy from Steven Spielberg which takes a fresh approach to popular favorites as Pinky and The Brain move from ACME Labs to America's suburbs when they are adopted by the extremely excitable Elmyra (from ``Tiny Toon Adventures'' fame); ``BRATS of the Dark Nebula,'' an amazing Sci-Fi adventure series from The Jim Henson Company, combining ``got-to-see-it-to-believe-it'' puppetry and computer-generated imagery, which follows the adventures of five orphans from different war-torn planets thrown together and forced to survive by their own wits in a galaxy under attack; ``Warner Bros.' Histeria!'', a fast-paced animated comedy that looks at world history through quick comedy sketches, informational bits and songs highlighting great moments from every era of history, interviews with historical figures and re-actments of well-known and not-so-well-known stories from the past; and, an all-new futuristic chapter in the legend of the dark knight, ``Batman Tomorrow,'' brings the DC Comic superhero into the 21st Century.
Kids' WB! brings back seven popular series: ``Steven Spielberg Presents Tiny Toon Adventures,'' ``Steven Spielberg Presents Animaniacs,'' ``Steven Spielberg Presents Pinky & The Brain,'' ``Batman,'' ``Superman,'' ``Men in Black: The Series'' and ``The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries.'' ``Our expanded nineteen hours of viewing time this season, a diverse slate and effective cross-promotion through four dayparts translated to our strongest season ever and set the stage for what promises to be the premiere children's programming destination,'' said Kellner. ``With our distribution capabilities increasing this month and the addition of The WB network this fall, our kids' ratings outlook is extraordinary.''
``Kids' WB!'s diversity in both genre and style has become extremely important as we've grown into a full-fledged children's broadcast network,'' said MacCurdy. ``With the heart of our schedule action-adventure, bookended by comedy, we feel that we provide a programming menu that all young people can enjoy. It is our goal to continue creating fabulous stories chock full of action, fun, and comedy that are fresh and innovative toviewers year after year.''
The new saturday morning line-up includes four new series and four returning series, all of which will have all-new episodes.
At 9:00 AM, an all-new futuristic chapter in the legend of the dark knight, ``Batman Tomorrow,'' will make its home on Kids' WB!, putting the world-renowned DC Comic's superhero smack into the 21st Century. This high-tech superhero will have a red-winged supersuit (complete with jet-gliding capabilities) and embody a boldness and determination that belie his years. Mentored by Bruce Wayne, alter-ego of the legendary Batman himself, The Tomorrow Knight (as he's known among Gotham's vast population) will strive to protect the sleekly futuristic Gotham City. The series will be created by the same ingenious team that shepherded the original contemporary ``Batman'' animated series (a four-time Emmy Award-winner) as well as the current ``Superman'' animated series. ``Batman Tomorrow'' is being produced and animated by Warner Bros. Television Animation.
At 10:00 AM and 10:30 AM, all-new episodes of ``Batman'' and ``Superman'' will air, respectively. ``Batman'' a richly produced film noir style animated adventure series, follows the high adventures and gripping drama of the famous Dynamic Duo who tirelessly protect Gotham City from evil villains. ``Superman,'' the art deco-esque animated series, chronicles the adventures of America's legendary superhero as he battles villainy in his continuous quest for ``Truth, Justice and the American Way.'' These extraordinarily powerful franchises will continue to air weekday afternoons. ``Batman'' and ``Superman'' are produced and animated by Warner Bros. Television Animation and both scored the highest ratings of the season for Kids' WB! (garnering a 2.9 rating/11 share with Kids 2-11).
Toy Biz has given us the scoop on a whole bunch of lines coming out in 1998. We'll know more when we visit with them at Toy Fair next month, but we hope that this list will tide you over. This list is accurate at the time of this writing, but it is of course subject ot change before these lines hit the shelves.
First off, there is a new large (7 inch) line called Shape Shifters. There are two assortments: X-Men and Spider-Man. These are kind of like Transformers in that they can change into another figure or object. The X-Men assortment contains Wolverine (who transforms into a wolf), Juggernaut (who transforms into a tank), and Morph (who "morphs" into a missile). The Spidey assortment contains Spider-Man (who changes into a spider), Lizard (who becomes a mutant aligator), and Venom (who transforms into a three headed hydra). Look for these late spring/early summer.
Another X-Men assortment on the horizon is the redeco line called Battle Attackers. This line will contain AoA versions of Jean Grey and Omega Red along with a new version of Cyclops and a Weapon X Wolverine. The Wolverine figure replaces the Sabretooth figure reported elsewhere. In an interesting twist though, the Weapon X Wolverine figure is reported to use the Captive Sabretooth mold. It's not known what alterations might be made to achieve this transformation, but it could be interesting.
The other X-Men line is called Power Slammers and will include Wolverine, Gambit, Rogue, and Mastermold. The Mastermold figure is basically just the head with some spidery limbs for locomotion. Sounds cool and creepy. The Rogue and Gambit figures feature them in the outfits they were seen in during their recent trip to space in the comics. Look for these next summer.
On the Spider-Man side of things look for the Flip N' Trap assortment to include Madame Web, Red Skull, Sandman, and two Spider-Man figures (Spider Trapper and Web Grabber). Each figure comes with some magnetic action feature. A playset is planned along with this series.
The other assortment is called Bug Busters and will include Silver Sable, Jack O'Lantern, Old Vulture, and Spider-Man. Look for these in the Spring.
The Silver Surfer line has three assortments on the drawing board. All these assortments are for the animated series and should be on the 5 inch scale. No more Collector's Series figures are currently planned in the Silver Surfer line. Here are the tentative line-ups of each assortment:
Cosmic Power Blasters: Silver Surfer, Raze, Drax, Thanos, and Star Surfer Silver Surfer.
Alien Attack: Pip the Troll, Galactus, Ivar, and Solar Silver Surfer.
Space Racers: Adam Warlock, Nova, Ronan the Accuser, and yet another Silver Surfer.
The New Mutants line is solidly Magik, Wolsbane, and Warlock. Previous reports elsewhere that named Moonstar with a Wolfsbane sidekick are incorrect. The Vault line remains Stegron the Dinosaur Man, Ultron, and Typhoid Mary. The Marvel's Most Wanted line has undergone a substitution. Blink and X-Man are still in, but Hemmingway has been swapped out for a Spat and Grovel two-pack. Hemmingway still has a chance of being produced somewhere, but there are no firm plans yet. Sorry Hemmingway fans.
As for the Avengers line, there have been rumors that a second assortment would include Crystal, Hawkeye, and Iron Man. A third assortment was also rumored to include Wasp, Captain America, and Baron Zemo. Unfortunately, these rumors are just that: Rumors. Toy Biz sources adamantly deny that these are the next two assortments of the Avengers line. In fact, as of this writing, there are no firm plans for future Avengers assortments. This doesn't mean that there will be no more Avengers figures. And in fact, some of the figures mentioned above might actually make it into a future Avengers assortment at some point should the line move ahead. But as of right now, these rumors are false.
In the eight-inch figures, the Famous First Apperances figures (first seen on this page) are slated to be out in March and incude Captain America, Dr. Doom, Dark Phoenix, and Thor. The third series, tentatively titled Marvel's Milestones, is due late in 1998 and currently includes Mr. Sinister, Black Widow, Daredevil, and the Falcon. To answer those pesky questions: Daredevil is in his all red outfit and the Falcon is in his 1970's style outfit just like the old Mego version. This line-up is subject to change, but it looks like a lot of interesting stuff is planned for the line in the coming year.
Rounding out the Marvel-related offerings are the figures that coincide with the movie adaptation of Blade the Vampire Hunter starring Wesley Snipes. Look for Blade, Whistler, Deacon Frost, and Vampire Blade to hit shelves soon.
On the non-Marvel front, look for the Resident Evil assortment to include Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, the Hunter and a Zombie two-pack. Also planned is an 8" Tyrant. These figures are based on the tremendously popular video game of the same name.
And finally, Xena fans can rejoice at two new assortments of figure slated for this Spring. The 6 inch assortment will include two Xenas, Gabrielle and Callisto. The 12 inch line will include Gabrielle, Callisto, and Xena.
Whew! That's a lot to digest. But we hope you find it useful. We'll know more about each of these lines in the coming weeks. And who knows what surprises Toy Biz has up its sleeve for Toy Fair. We'll be sure to give you all the news as we get it in the coming weeks.