Welcome back to Important Toy News, the SYFY WIRE column that not only shows you all the sexiest happenings in the world of amazing toys and collectibles for the week, but also shows off the newest hotness in toy tech and lets you know all the behind-the-curtain craziness going down in the toy industry today. All presenting to you in stunning technicolor by your resident, if not favorite, toy journalist.
That's right, my people — this monster is evolving.
Let's start from the start and then take it away by highlighting my picks for the top three toys of the week. And this week in toy news, no one is making the internet explode quite like the breakout star of Disney's The Mandalorian, that adorable little stinker, Baby Yoda (or "The Child" if you want to be technically correct). While a series of toys have already been announced (though not yet released) since the end of the first season of Disney+'s The Mandalorian, the little dude still got the spotlight at the opening of Toy Fair 2020. There was a whole line of Baby Yoda toys on display, and the one that caught our eye the most the animatronic Baby Yoda costs $59.99, will ship December 2020 and can be preordered today!
The Sonic the Hedgehog movie has officially hit theaters, and from all the rage amongst the culture and '90s Jim Carrey fans a la Ace Ventura, it's doing great! So, when a movie is doing great and you love it, what's the first thing you want from it?
No, not a sequel — takes too long.
That's right, you want TOYS! Well, there are a few being released just for the Sonic movie, but low and behold, they feature the… you've guessed it — that terrifying original Sonic design from the first trailer that enraged fans. Many people out of the loop may be wondering why there would be any remnants of the original Sonic design if his aesthetic was given an overhaul? The answer to that is simple — it takes a while to make toys.
It's also part of the proof that the original ugly Sonic wasn't part of a PR stunt. Those original design assets were submitted to toymaker Jakks Pacific and out came Ugly Sonic toys. This situation isn't unique to Sonic the Hedgehog. I like to use Disney's Moana as an example when I show my friends toys that depict a smug/angry Hei-Hei and a large, blobby lava monster that I can only assume is Te'Ka.
Therefore, if there is a part of you that wants to have a little piece of Scary Sonic the Movie Hedgehog history, you can order one of three pieces from Entertainment Earth today. You can have a Sonic the Hedgehog Movie Baby Sonic 8 1/2-Inch Plush ($10.99 and will ship March 2020), or a Sonic the Hedgehog Movie Spin Dash Sonic Playset, which is what the above image is from ($31.99 and will ship March 2020), or the Sonic the Hedgehog Movie Sonic Talking 13-Inch Plush ($21.99 and will ship March 2020). And hot damn, I hope it says "Meow."
Our third highlighted toy is part of toy industry gossip that's finally been confirmed. It's the return of G.I. Joe in toy form and the flagship release is a Classified Series 6-inch Snake Eyes, looking a lot like Marvel Legends/Power Rangers Lightning Collection/Star Wars Black Series.
News of a Snake Eyes figure in this scale has been buzzing for a while, ever since news of the stand-alone Snake Eyes film started buzzing in 2018. However, what we don't know is where the heck we can get this thing. Fans are speculating that it will be a convention exclusive of some flavor (possibly San Diego Comic-Con 2020). Based on the packaging of the images that hit the internet yesterday, we see that this is a very nice collectors edition packaging with more weapons than what would probably come in a $19.99 retail shelf piece.
Based on my experience and what I'm seeing, I'd suspect that once we receive more information on new G.I. Joe product, any convention exclusive action figures will run in the $50 range.
It's not just movie announcements that shape the toy industry; sometimes, the real world intervenes, and not in a good way. Right now, the Coronavirus outbreak in China is having a massive impact on the toy world. As of Thursday, the respiratory infection has killed over 2,100 people in China alone, and due to quarantines and shutdowns, it's causing delays in manufacturing, including toy production.
This has been exacerbated by timing. Chinese factories typically close during the Lunar New Year and were not expected to be up and running until this week or next. Employees went home for the closure, some of them venturing away from mainland China, and now there are mandatory quarantines. In an interview with CNBC, the owner and CEO of Basic Fun! noted that even though none of its facilities are in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, the dispersal of workers across the country has hit the production schedule hard.
Basic Fun! isn't the only company to speak out about the Coronavirus causing delays in toy manufacturing. In an L.A. Times article from February 17, the CEO of MGA, a California-based company that produces the ever-popular L.O.L Surprise! dolls, said production has dropped by 60 percent. As a result, the company is only able to fill partial orders. Larian stated that "The situation is a disaster, frankly. If a retailer wants 100,000 pieces, we're giving them 15,000 or 20,000."
And what with the goliath number of toy manufacturing companies that make products in China, collectors and fans are wondering what the convention toy exclusive schedule will end up looking like if companies are not able to resume production by spring.