Published on February 17th, 2016 | by Wesley Bogan0
McFarlane Toys: Toy Fair 2016
Yes, I’m Abe Froman.
I was nervous about approaching the desk. Behind it stood an overly tired 20-something girl, clearly an intern, but she could have been The Vindicator for all it mattered. She stood watch over the entrance to the exclusive MacFarlane area of this year’s NYC 2016 Toy Fair, which meant I would have to go through her if I wanted to check out all the gated and curtained community had to offer.
And I knew I would never get past her because I did not have an appointment.
Granted there were oodles of toys, figurines, games, and events to check out at this year’s Toy Fair, but I wanted to see what MacFarlane was hiding. Their toy and figures brand has been churning brand new designs of figures from television, movies, and video games for years now and there were rumors that they would be expanding upon their already successful (and massive) Walking Dead line with some spectacular new additions.
I just had to figure out how the heck I was going to get inside. I figured my best shot was the classic Ferris Bueller/Abe Froman approach, which is that if you seem like you should belong somewhere, then people will believe you belong there. So I sauntered up to the sleepy eyed intern and laid down my rap.
‘Sorry, you aren’t on the appointment list.’
My mind raced. I had no back up plan. I was sure it was going to work as the technique had proven affective…zero times this morning. I was screwed. I could only assume that people were shot with crossbows for trying to infiltrate booths they didn’t belong at. I waited for my inevitable death.
‘If you’d like, I’m happy to put your down for an open spot…in about an hour or so? Is that cool?’
…yes. Yes it was. I had forgotten one of the major truths about MacFarlane Toys; they are incredibly accommodating to the media and press because they are amazing at what they do and they love showing off. So after an hour, I returned for my tour and was led through the curtains to find out what lurked beyond.
Pay All Attention to The Men and Women Behind the Curtain.
As my nerves settled and my hands got less clammy from my ridiculous attempt at gaining access to the most accommodating and friendly section of the Toy Fair, I finally arrived at the hidden displays which bore some of MacFarlane’s spring line.
While MacFarlane has proven themselves successful again at again at churning out dozens of variations of their popular Spawn figures as well as various monster movie creatures, they have wisely branched off into other categories which suit their unique brand of dark, gory, and highly detailed stylings. Like several other companies seeking new licenses, MacFarlane has turned to the world of Anime.
More specifically, they are working on developing lines of figures based off the popular Naruto: Shippuden series as well as the darker Tokyo Ghoul and Attack on Titan series. The two figures which they showed to me that day were done in their usual five-inch-high standing model with customized bases for display purposes. Their Tokyo Ghoul figure, they were proud to point out, was using a unique blend of malleable plastic and wires, which allowed for a more customizable display of the figure. The MacFarlane salesrep was eager to brag about how this new feature, along with more pivoting joints in their several of their products, would allow buyers to create more dramatic and dynamic poses for their personal display.
Building with the Consumer in Mind
As we moved through back room, stopping to talk shop about MacFarlane’s new Gears of War 4 figures as well as several new products coming out in anticipation of the Assassin’s Creed: Movie, my guide and I talked about the importance of being ‘collector friendly.’ MacFarlane toys are not really playthings. They are highly detailed, posable display figurines, meant to be enjoyed more by the eye rather than the hands. I agree with this idea, although the child in me had the hardest time not imagining myself playing around with their brand new, 12 inch tall BT-7274 Armored Titan from the popular Titanfall game franchise.
Several of the new figures, as well several of their older models, come with multiple weapons, hands, and heads, which convey very distinct and highly realistic emotions. The reason for this is that MacFarlane wants everyone who purchases one of their products to have a freedom of choosing how the figure should be displayed. The MacFarlane teams put an extraordinary amount of effort into giving the buyer the most bang for their buck when it comes to customization and presentation. The MacFarlane rep also confided that the man, Todd MacFarlane himself, has asked that new figure series that are released from MacFarlane Toys have their boxes color coded and accompanied by a series number on the display boxes, thereby making it easier for collectors to identify a series run and individual character faster as they look for figures they might not already have.
After making it through the various behind the scene exclusive displays, I followed my host back onto the main floor of the convention and to the open section of the MacFarlane Toys area, already teeming with fan boys and curious onlookers. MacFarlane often draws big, inquisitive crowds at cons because their products already carry a certain something that many people find appealing.
Often time that something is a mixture of incredible detail and a crap load of gory skulls. Such was the case when I was shown a series of up-coming resin busts for their Walking Dead and Spawn lines. All the busts were of pivotal characters from their respective shows surround by piles of rotting flesh, crushed skulls, and a heaping helpful of gore and guts. One could easily lose their lunch over the amount of incredible detail that went into the crushed skulls, squished brains, broken teeth, sweat, and tears of the characters. But who honestly has time to barf when there is so much spectacular attention to detail going on? The vomit in my stomach was kept at bay only by my desire to not miss a single second of looking at these incredible pieces.
The Best At What They Do
I won’t lie and say that MacFarlane had the best figures of the con. They didn’t. Several of their competitors like Tamashii and Kotobukiya hit home runs with several of their presentations in the fields of comics and anime. But MacFarlane absolutely killed it when it came to zeroing in on brands and licenses that did their unique brand of gore-galore justice. With a con simply awash in Batman v Superman chotsky, and grimacing/constipated Dragonball Z figures, it was refreshing to see a company not care about the same old stuff.
I for one am looking forward to the spring when MacFarlane is set to release some truly unique and beautiful new merchandise to the public.