Last week, I brought to your attention, some of the AMAZING new toys that will be released throughout the coming year from one of the biggest toy companies around, Hasbro. Today we will be looking over the offerings of their biggest competition from the far east, BANDAI!
Every year at toy fair Bandai holds a far SMALLER event than Hasbro, yet still manages to impress just as well! Being that Bandai’s bread and butter comes from their titans of childresn television, the POWER RANGERS, they enveloped a large portion of Bandai’s offerings.
This year’s iteration of the Power ranger’s, DINOCHARGE, which I discussed in my review of the series premiere, centers around Dinosaur themed figures, weapons, and mecha. Like every year, they showed off this year’s new megazord set, morphers, and weapons. these are not anything new, especially since such toys have already hit store shelves.
No, whats interesting, is the introduction of a new line of figures tailored to compete with Hasbro’s HERO-MASHERS line, which was introduced last year. Hasbro’s hero mashers are figures that are designed with universal pegs and sockets made to disconnect and re-connect with one another, and form new heroes using parts of several different hero figures. This toy line includes licences from the Marvel heroes licence, as well as Hasbro’s own transformers licence. Now Bandai plans to through THEIR hat into the modular MIX AND MATCH toy ring with MIX AND MORPH!
Mix and Morph operates in a near identical fashion to Hero mashers, but is said to include figures from all 20 seasons of Power Rangers. these figures include Rangers, Zords, monsters, villains, and everything in-between. You want to create a chimera ZORD using parts from a Dragon Zord, the Tiger Zord, and the Claw Zord? YOU GOT IT! I love toy lines like this, as they help to encourage imagination and creativity. It’s one thing to re-enact scenes from your favorite Power Rangers stories, its another thing to create your OWN rangers and stories.
On the note of re-living your favorite stories from Power Ranger’s past, another one of the more prominent exhibits was the newest expansions to the power Rangers LEGACY line. this line has included a modern die-cast recreation of the original morpher, as well as Die cast Mega Zord, dragon Zord, and even the Dragon DAGGER!This year, they bring another tri-fecta of ZORD, weapon, and morpher into the mix. After the success of the green ranger morpher, and the Dragon dagger, Bandai has stepped up its game and releasing a FULL SIZED, Die-cast electronic SABA sword, and Tiger ZORD!.
For those not in the know, when Tommy Oliver changed from the green ranger to the white ranger in MMPR he was gifted with a new weapon, a talking sword named Saba. The idea of having a full sized realistic, practically prop-worthy SABA is MIND-BLOWING! the biggest draw-back I see coming with this amazing collectors item will be the price-tag. the legacy Dragon dagger, which is nearly half the size of Saba, retailed for roughly $80 USD. So long as this sword can stay within that relative price range, I believe MANY Power Ranger fans will be more than happy to pick up this beautiful sword!
As I said, the main exhibit this year, as it is every year, is their Power Ranger toys. However, that does not mean that this is all that Bandai has to offer. in fact, for Bandai’s otaku fans, they are bringing a special offering to western audiences. In japan, bandai, among other companies sell lines of limited run collectibles as part of egg toy machines called gashapon vendors. these are similar to the egg toys you find in the US, however these Egg toys are of MUCH higher quality than your HOMIES and other such toys. These toys are usually SD miniatures of characters from shows like Dragonball Z, Bleach, Naruto, and Sailor Moon. These figures are cheap at retail in japan, but always JUMP in price on the after-market. thus, these sought after miniatures and chotchkies are basically lost to most western collectors…… UNTIL NOW!
Bandai has announced their intent to release several lines of miniatures, and short run collectibles HERE IN THE WEST, under the same GASHAPON branding! And unlike in the East, Bandai understands that American collectors are not as keen on playing the slots at a gashapon machine HOPING to get the figures or pieces they want, so Bandai will be releasing full sets of each run in a single package. While some may say it takes away from the blind bag thrill of the gashapon experience, others will likely REJOICE in no longer needing to fritter away 50 doubles of a single toy!
But this is not the biggest news I have for you, folks. Not by a long shot. Last year, Bandai introduced a new modeling system called SPRUKITS, which has taken off quite well here in the west. This modeling system was perpetuated by three main brands, Dc heroes, Halo Spartans, and LBX (Little Battlers eXperience). For this year’s Toy Fair, they introduced new figures they would be introducing to their Sprukit lines, including a Dark Knight Joker (Heath Ledger) kit, a DKR baine kit, and even a brand new Spartan from the as of yet UN-RELEASED Halo 5. They even showed they are expanding their line to include yet ANOTHER sub-division, POKEMON!
But this is not the news I speak of, my friends. No….. ever since the introduction of Sprukits into the west, I have had a lingering theory regarding their purpose. I was given the opportunity to speak with Bandai’s marketing head for the Sprukits line. I inquired what the purpose of creating the halo and DC lines were when Bandai has already licensed LBX for an English dub in America. Why create brand new kits when you can easily just licence over existing properties and sell model kits like that?
he replied that the intent was to ingrain the model making aspect into kids and collectors mind-sets. Allow them to become accustomed to this style of toy with characters they already know and love, such as Batman and Superman. This allows Bandai to show them how fun model making can be, by using pre-existing characters that they don’t NEED to licence an entire TV show for. Because the model making culture is so rich in Japan, they believe they can bring this interest over to the west, but must do so in increments, as to acclimate prospective buyers to this new craze. the long term goal of the Sprukit line is to eventually transfer over more and more of the pre-existing Japanese model lines and licence them in America. THIS INCLUDES RE-INTRODUCING GUNDAM TO A MODERN AUDIENCE!
SPRUKITS ARE THE GATEWAY TO GUNPLA MY FRIENDS!
Ah-hem…. So, bandai knocked it out of the park this year as well! So far this years toy fair has looked Amazing, but while we still have 2 more companies I wish to cover, the next one will bring us down a bit compared to the past two companies. Next time, we look at Mattel.