Donning Iron Man's helmet to take on throngs of evil minions has long been the dream of many a comic fan. So has wielding any of the Infinity Gems (or Infinity Stones, if you prefer the Marvel Cinematic Universe version). This weekend at Toy Fair, we got to do both. No one has ever felt as powerful as we did ... except for the dozens of others who also happened to attend Hasbro's preview event.
Toy Fair is always one of the most exciting trade shows of the year, not least of all because it's the first big event of any given year. The annual international event is home to hundreds of different companies showcasing thousands of different products for the upcoming calendar year, which means some of our favorite toy and collectible purveyors like LEGO, Hasbro, Mattel, and Funko are on hand to wow the world with what's to come.
Though almost every company has different licenses on display, there were more than a few commonalities that carried over from booth to booth. We're looking at you, Pennywise. As impressive as the devotion to 2017's It was to see on display, with companies like QMx and Mezco having some of the most intriguing takes, one toy we just couldn't shake was Hasbro's upcoming Hero Vision augmented reality experience.
Using just about any smartphone, players can download the free app and slide the mobile device into a proprietary lens. That lens then snaps into a one-size-fits-most Iron Man helmet. Add a wristband with a special sensor and three cardboard targets, and suddenly you're ready to throw down with Thanos and his many soldiers. What's so great about the piece, aside from the friendly $50 entry point, is how well it all works in just minutes. The phone suddenly displays a heads-up display akin to what Tony Stark sees inside his helmet, and Friday is even there to assist you in how to play.
Those cardboard targets transform into digital parts of a city you must protect, including the Triskelion, and all it takes to bring justice to the world is a flick of the wrist. It's a simple game, but the clever execution in this first effort makes it something special. Factor in that the including Infinity Stone isn't the only one planned, and that this tech can expand beyond Marvel (provided Hero Vision doesn't go the way of 2016's Playmation), and Hasbro has a nice new market to corner.
While Hasbro's little offsite corner of Toy Fair was filled with more great Marvel goodness, like new Legends figures, and as many Star Wars figures as you could possibly dream, the biggest surprise of the show was the reveal of HasLab. You may have heard some hubub about the new crowdfunding venture, which is certainly a strange tactic for a company as massive as Hasbro to expect fans to undertake. Yeah, Jabba's sail barge does look incredible in 3.75" scale, but that $500 price tag isn't anything to scoff at.
Companies like Hasbro using crowdfunding to put more high-end collectibles on the market is a tricky thing. Aside from delivering collectibles die-hard fans want that would otherwise be tough sells at retail, the idea that an initial investment to even get such a thing off the ground doesn't sit right. To be fair, Hasbro didn't just turn to Kickstarter or Indiegogo, and instead created a funding platform of its own. Effectively, fans are just placing very large pre-orders. Still, how and where HasLab is used in the future is definitely worth monitoring, as it could change the landscape of Toy Fairs in the future.