Toy Fair 2014: Hasbro Preview Event Recap

In Exclusives, Features by Jeremy Rutz2 Comments

GOTG LEGENDS ROCKET A7906Each winter, the toy world descends upon icy New York City to unveil its upcoming offerings during the annual Toy Fair trade show. This is typically an event for those in the industry to wheel and deal, finalize license agreements and connect buyers with new product offerings. It is also, however, a chance for us to get a first glimpse of the exclusives we will be seeing – and standing in line for – at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con.

Our first stop during Toy Fair was Hasbro’s annual preview event, held on the eve of Toy Fair’s opening day. It was an intimate gathering a few blocks away from the Javits Center where Hasbro gave press a first-look at their latest entries in the Star Wars, Marvel and Transformers product lines. Up until a couple of years ago, Hasbro would announce one or two SDCC exclusives during the preview event, but recently they have saved such news until later in the year and at fan conventions like G.I. Joe Con in April and Botcon in June. Nevertheless, we braved the chilly Manhattan weather to grab some juicy SDCC exclusive news.

Truth be told, Hasbro wasn’t saying much in terms of specifics, but we did get a few hints at what we might expect this July, and some insight into the process of developing a convention exclusive.

Our first stop was Equestria, but hope for any SDCC reveals were quickly dashed. Hasbro did confirm for us, however, that there would indeed be a Comic-Con exclusive this year. Until then, if you’re a Brony or a Pony fan you can take a look at what retail offerings Hasbro has in store for you in the video below.

Next, we headed over to check out the latest toys from the Marvel license. And with four Marvel films to be released in 2014 (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy), Hasbro had plenty to offer.

Of the four movies we mentioned, it sounds like Guardians of the Galaxy will have the biggest push at SDCC this year, with it being released in theaters just a couple of weeks after the convention.

We asked the Marvel design team what we could expect from them at SDCC this year, and they teased they would have one of the top exclusives, if not the top exclusive, offered by any exhibitor this year. We couldn’t leave that claim without going into specifics, so when we pressed for additional information they said it would be from its Marvel Infinite line. Here’s a sneak peek at the Infinite retail offerings for 2014.

Some more interesting information: Hasbro’s Marvel convention exclusives are limited to a run of a couple thousand each, compared to the hundreds of thousands it typically produces for a general retail release. And from the moment San Diego Comic-Con ends, the Marvel design team is already working on exclusives for the next year – literally a 11 month design cycle for both product and packaging.

That the exclusive pricing has crept up in recent years hasn’t gone unnoticed by us. We pressed Hasbro for for comment on this, and they said the convention exclusives are funded by marketing, and thus they receive less money to produce these exclusives and at smaller runs. However, the higher prices have allowed them to include more in the package, like additional figures. So when it comes to SDCC exclusives, the phrase, “you get what you pay for” really is appropriate in terms of the quality of product offered.

Next stop, to a galaxy far, far away…

As with the other product lines, Hasbro wasn’t ready to offer any specifics on the Star Wars SDCC exclusive; however, a not-so-subtle hint might have given it way. At the end of the Star Wars presentation, after it had already unveiled its beautiful deluxe Jabba the Hutt Black series figure, Hasbro teased the audience to stay tuned for convention-exclusive news later in the year, followed by the familiar laugh of Salacious B. Crumb, Jabba’s court jester from Return of the Jedi. If you recall, Hasbro last year offered both variant convention-exclusive and retail releases for Boba Fett, and rumblings out of New York indicate they will be doing the same type of variant release with Jabba and Salacious Crumb this year.

But we thought that Marvel claim about having the top exclusive of the convention couldn’t go unanswered, so we put it to Hasbro’s Star Wars team. Their response? Their Star Wars exclusive will be great, but they did concede that Marvel’s was “pretty darn good.” Oooh, we can’t wait…

The last leak came from Hasbro itself. Upon releasing the official product images from the preview event, there was one G.I. Joe set that was conspicuously labeled, “Danger at the Docks – ComicCon”.

DangerAtTheDocks-ComicCon

Fansite Generals Joes contacted Hasbro’s PR company and received clarification that although this set would debut at San Diego Comic-Con, it would also be a retail release.

…the current plan is for the “Danger at the Docks” with vintage accurate VAMP MK II and Flint to debut at San Diego ComicCon, but then be available through Toys “R” Us afterwards.

This same formula was used last year for the Transformers Masterpiece Soundwave and Acid Storm, and early indications are that Hasbro will do this for the 50th Anniversary “Danger at the Docks” vehicle set.

Lastly, even though it’s not SDCC-related we wanted to conclude with one of the coolest toys we saw all weekend – the Nerf Combat Creatures Attacknid.

Due to be released at retail this fall for $80, this remote-control spider robot can rotate 360-degrees elevate while aiming, and with a push of a button can fire a clip of Nerf darts at its prey too amazed by its awesomeness to run for cover.

Check out the slide show of official images released by Hasbro, as well as our own photos of Preview event, below. And tell us what Hasbro exclusives you are hoping to score at SDCC this year.

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