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Showing posts with the label Toy

It's April, and You Should Be Starting Your Christmas Shopping. Hold On - We're Serious

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First things first - if you don't have kids and don't have any reason to care about toys, then clicking on this was probably a waste of your time. Sorry.

For those of you who do have kids to shop for this year... at the very least, you should probably start planning ahead. Because Toys R Us, one of the country's largest toy sellers, is about to go belly up, and that's going to throw a mangled giraffe carcass into the gears of the toy industry.

I feel like that metaphor got away from me.

According to literally the first source I came across, Toys R Us peddles 15% to 20% of the country's toys, and not all of it will be picked up by other retailers. While other stores will probably increase their holiday orders due to the loss of their competitor, between 1.5% and 3% of the country's toy sales will likely just... not happen.

In this context, "not happen" means you'll drive around town looking for the official voice-changing Captain America Beard fro…

Funko: Pop! Holidays: Krampus

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If you're not familiar with Funko's line of Pop! figures, it's probably been a while since you've stepped foot in a Hot Topic. Or Barnes & Noble. Toys R Us, Target, Gamestop, Walmart, Walgreens... these things are everywhere. Usually in large numbers, too.

These are vinyl figures, which is different than normal plastic for reasons that after fifteen years of collecting toys as an adult, I still don't remotely understand. They're stylized to look cartoonish and fairly uniform. The toy line stretches across more properties than I can count - if it is or has been part of pop culture in the past three decades, there's a very good chance it's been made as a Pop! figure (possibly with a dozen or so variants).

As a rule of thumb, I don't pick these up. There's too many to bother with, and while I like the look of them well enough, they're not really the sort of thing I go after. I made an exception when I heard they were making this one, thoug…

The Mensch on a Bench Hanukkah Activity Kit

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In addition to the crappy doll I've already reviewed, The Mensch on a Bench brand has expanded to infect numerous products. I've seen ads for toy animals, and more dolls. And, of course, the activity kit I'm looking at today.

Do I even need to specify I found this on clearance? I got it at Michael's for 70% off the original price, which was still $2.99 I'm never going to see again.


Among the lies I found on the packaging were that there were eight Hanukkah card inside - mine only included SEVEN. Also, this claims the book includes "10 Fun Activities," when none of the activities were fun.


Setting that aside for a moment, let's look at what's included. There are the aforementioned eight (seven) identical Hanukkah cards and envelopes, six crayons, four markers, two sticker sheets, and the activity book. The cards are ugly, the crayons and markers are cheap, and the stickers are... well, they're stickers - not much to say there. Almost everythin…

The Mensch on a Bench

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While I haven't actually gotten my hands on an Elf on the Shelf yet, I've heard a great deal about it. And from that, I suspect The Mensch on a Bench may be just as good an idea as the Elf.

If you think that's a compliment, you probably don't know much about Elf on a Shelf.

The "Mensch on a Bench" was introduced to the world on Shark Tank. Sadly, they gave it an influx of cash and some publicity instead of letting it die there.

Like the product this is clearly ripping off, The Mensch on a Bench includes a book and stuffed doll. Also, it sits in your house, sleepless and ever watchful, judging your children.


You also get a removable cardboard bench, because "mensch" doesn't rhyme with "shelf." The doll is fine, if unremarkable. I doubt he'd stay on his bench without being tethered to it, though.

The story of the Mensch on a Bench is essentially the story of Hanukkah with all the interesting war stuff excised. Instead, Moshe the Men…

Toy Review: Diamond Select Nightmare Before Christmas: Santa Claus

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Those of you with unusually good memories still won't recall that I reviewed Jack from Series 1 of Diamond's Nightmare Before Christmas line a few years ago, because - frankly - it wasn't that memorable. So, given that, let's take a moment to recap.

We're now around thirteen years out from when NECA produced the first wave of their Nightmare Before Christmas line. Over a few years, they produced damn near every significant character (along with several insignificant ones) from the film. With one notable exception.

For whatever reason, they didn't make Santa. They did Jack in a Santa suit, but skipped the big guy himself. Fortunately, Diamond decided to rectify this omission, which brings us to today's review.

If you remember my write-up of Jack (which we've already established you don't), you know I wasn't overly impressed with the quality control. The arms and legs were too thin to support sturdy joints, so we were left with something that cou…

Toy Review: Holiday Joker

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Christmas With the Joker, the second episode made of Batman: The Animated Series, is something of a guilty pleasure. I know there are some fans who consider it among the series's worst, but I love the episode's spin on the Joker. There's something both endearing and unsettling about his attempts to crack jokes involving destruction and danger. We see him playing more in this episode than we ever would again, poking at Batman with jokes only he seems to understand.

Over the past few years, DC Collectibles has been producing six-inch figures based on the show. Last year, I was pleasantly surprised to see them add a version of the Joker from that episode. It's branded "Holiday Joker," despite the episode's name having "Christmas" in the title (quick! Call Fox News!).

I ordered it and waited, hoping to get it in time for a Christmas review. Unfortunately, I missed it by a few days. Oh, well - there's always this year.


The line this is from is fa…

Toy Review: Santa's Helpers Snowball Battle

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This differs in two notable ways from nearly every toy I look at. First, I actually paid full retail price for this. Second, I think it's actually worth it.

Granted, full retail doesn't mean a lot - this went for $4.94 at Walmart prior to Christmas. I'm not sure why they felt that $4.94 was the precise amount they wanted to charge, as opposed to $4.95, $4.99, or an even $5, but they seemed committed. The fact the price tag is a removable sticker is presented as a selling point, as it simplifies gifting this (and, for the little it's worth, I was able to peel off the sticker without difficulty).

The box features a "touch me" section, which was smart - more of this in a moment. I'm not too impressed with the graphics or the back, but that's hardly a deal breaker.


Note that the front and back photo are identical but flipped on the y-axis. Pretty lazy, guys. Pretty damned lazy.

But none of that matters, nor do the ridiculous claims and selling points. Le…

Toy Review: Team Elves Oregon State Beavers Doll

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Aside from the toys themselves, the worst thing to come out of the "Elf on a Shelf" fad is the endless pile of imitations. These things have been popping up everywhere over the past few years. I kept meaning to grab one when they got ridiculously cheap, but for some reason they vanished from the shelves before dropping below 50%. And, given these start at fifteen bucks, that's not nearly enough of a discount.

We found this one while vacationing in Oregon last August. A Walgreens had him (and plenty more) at 75% off, which still seemed high. But we decided to make the $3.74 investment, so here we are.

Let's start by looking a little closer at the packaging.


The back of the box has some artwork showing elves playing various sports, along with a crappy poem explaining the elf's purpose. It's actually a bit ambiguous - it says he's been sent to determine if you're "Nice enough to make Santa's team," but it's unclear if your "nicene…

Wembley Holiday Photo Props

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If Christmas were a whale, I think Wembley would be a lamprey, or perhaps some sort of mutant leach. To be fair, they're hardly alone - there are thousands of parasitic companies feeding off our culturally mandated need for material gifts. Wembley isn't even the worse of the bunch. They just happened to make and market this product.

We came across this in a Fred Meyer, incidentally. At least I think it was a Fred Meyer - every year I swear I'm going to do a better job keeping records on where we find clearanced holiday garbage, then every year I fail. That stops now: I hereby resolve to quit vowing to do a better job.

Problem solved. Well, one of the problems. I'm still left with this thing to review.

I think "thing" is the best classification I can give it. This isn't really a toy, and its supposed intent is dubious. It's really another in a long line of low-end joke gifts.


As a cottage industry, gag gifts are of questionable value at their best, an…

Toy Review: National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation: Santa Clark

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First of all, let's get this out of the way: I'm not exactly this movie's #1 fan. That being said, it's become one of the most iconic Christmas comedies of all time, so as both a Christmas geek and a toy collector, I became interested when NECA announced this as a follow-up to their Home Alonefigures from last year.

Still, I had no interest in spending $30 on something I only kind of wanted for the occasional display or holiday toy picture. But while $30 was pushing it, I was willing to drop $15 when FYE unloaded these after the holidays.


To recap from the Home Alone toys, these are in an 8-inch scale and feature removable fabric clothing. Stylistically, they're meant to be reminiscent of Mego action figures from the 70's with realistic modern sculpts.

Or at least the Home Alone figures were. Clark features a more cartoonish looking head, which I found a bit disappointing compared to the earlier figures I picked up from this company. To be fair, the Weird Al f…