Toy Hall Of Fame Finally Inducts Matchbox Cars And The Coloring Book

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — Checking in with the “well it’s about time department,” Matchbox Cars and the coloring book have officially been inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame.

The childhood toy staples, including the collectible card game Magic: The Gathering, were recognized for an enduring appeal that keeps them on store shelves today.

A panel of experts selected the Class of 2019 from among nominated finalists that also included Care Bears, the Fisher-Price Corn Popper, Jenga, Masters of the Universe, My Little Pony, Nerf Blaster, Risk, the smartphone and the top.

The honorees were installed during a ceremony at the hall, located inside The Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester. They will be permanently showcased alongside 68 previous winners that include alphabet blocks, the Big Wheel, G.I. Joe and others recognized for their innovation, longevity and ability to foster creativity or discovery through play.

Matchbox Cars follow rival Hot Wheels, Class of 2011, into the hall. Lesney Products debuted Matchbox Cars in England in 1953 and in United States a year later, where they were selling at a rate of more 100 million a year by 1960, the hall said.

When the sporty Hot Wheels entered the market in 1968, Matchbox Cars responded with a “superfast” line of its own. Both brands are now owned by Mattel.

“Matchbox Cars revolutionized the toy car industry after their introduction, and the name Matchbox has become synonymous with miniature cars,” Chief Curator Christopher Bensch said in a news release. “It’s only fitting that they join the Toy Hall of Fame to sit in the winner’s circle alongside Hot Wheels, the other titan of the field.”

Wizards of the Coast introduced Magic: The Gathering in 1993 and quickly had trouble meeting demand, the hall said. A book series, electronic games and Netflix series have followed. The fantasy game employs chance and skill as players continuously collect new cards and refine their deck and strategies.

“The fact that it continues to maintain popularity is a testament to its revolutionary gameplay and constant evolution, making it engaging for beginners and experts alike,” curator Shannon Symonds said.

The New York printing company McLoughlin Brothers gets credit for producing the first coloring books in the 1880s. In recent years, the activity’s appeal has crossed over to adults as a way to reduce stress and boost creativity.

Anyone can nominate a toy using an online form, but to make it into the hall, toys must have lasted across generations, be innovative, and foster learning, creativity or discovery through play.

The winners are chosen on the advice of historians, educators and others whose lives or careers are focused on learning, creativity and discovery, according to the hall said.

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


Kaiyodo Hobby Train: Japan’s most curious rail journey

Amanda Huggins wins our weekly travel writing competition, and £250, for her tale of a trip on one of the world’s most eccentric trains.

Sharks and rays swim alongside turtles in an impossibly blue ocean beneath my feet, dinosaurs roam the Jurassic skies above, and scenes from alien worlds are captured in miniature within glass cabinets and Perspex bubbles. But this isn’t a zoo or museum, it’s the eccentric and enchanting Kaiyodo Hobby Train.

The carriages are decorated with sea life and prehistoric creatures, covering the floor, ceiling, seats and curtains. This tiny two-car train is transporting us along the Yodo Line between Kubokawa and Uwajima, through the mountain valleys of Shikoku.

The train is a travelling advertisement for the Kaiyodo Hobby Museum in Shimanto, home to more than 10,000 toy figures. It’s delightful, and entirely unexpected – something the Japanese would describe as Ureshii odoroki, or happy surprise.

We’ve taken doughnuts on board for a late breakfast, but our taste buds turn somersaults when we discover that inside each “doughnut” is a hard-boiled egg encased in vegetable curry. We have accidentally picked up kare pan, or curry bread. Not such a happy surprise!

The journey is two hours to Uwajima on the west coast. We follow the route of the winding Shimanto river, tilting around tight bends that tip the train into mountain tunnels, and occasionally we’re overtaken by graceful cranes. At the frequent tiny stations the train collects and deposits glossy-fringed schoolchildren glued to their smartphones and pensioners carrying bags of shopping.

Halfway through our journey a woman joins the train selling tea and snacks. We exchange names, and buy chilled green tea. Mitsuko points out scenery, chattering in Japanese, giggling at a narrow bridge without railings that spans the river below. We grin enthusiastically, although it appears tame compared with the vine bridges we have seen in the Iya Valley.

We nod and smile at miniature paddy fields glinting like emeralds, trees weighed heavy with Mikan oranges, and rice straw drying on splay-legged racks, creating the illusion of huge, shaggy cattle.

When our self-appointed guide is called back to her tea trolley I turn my attention to the guidebook and discover that our next overnight stop has a bonus attraction at the Taga Shinto fertility shrine: a large wooden phallus. Apparently the 6ft-long carving is carried aloft around Uwajima town on festival days, and I decide it’s worth a voyeuristic peek.

As I plan an itinerary, Mitsuko returns to offer us a gift of sweet bean paste balls. I examine them, but they are too small to conceal curry or boiled eggs. I take a bite as she nods. “Ureshii odoroki!” Delicious surprise! Mitsuko sums up our journey on the Yodo Line in just two words.

How to enter the next round
Email your entry, in 500 words (with the text in the body of the email), to [email protected]. For terms and conditions, see

The winner will receive £250 in the currency of their choice from the Post Office.

The Post Office is the UK’s largest travel money provider, offering up to 80 currencies in more than 11,500 branches with 0 per cent commission.

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A tiny Transformers toys gift guide: Robust is best in 2019

Transformers is a toy line that’s never really dull. I remember getting Transformers toys for gifts for Christmas and birthdays when I was a kid, and even when (90% of the time) I did not know the character in the box, I was thrilled to get another one of these bafflingly entertaining pieces of moving parts in plastic. The difference between a “good” transformer and a “could’ve been better” transformer gift always depended on the intended audience for the toy. Not all Transformer toys are made for little kids.

This week Hasbro sent us a box with a few of their Transformers toys that are either in stores now or will be in stores soon. The last time they sent us a box like this, we saw a few other Transformers that were in stores earlier this year. What struck me about the various toys in this newest box that arrived here in November, 2019, was the major differences in intended age range for each product. While the most hardcore Transformers fan might consider any product a worthy addition to their collection, it’s important to point out the reason there are different intended audiences for different sorts of Transformers.

From Toddlers to Kids to Adults
Some Transformers toys are very obviously for children. They’ve got four or five moving parts, they’ve got very basic transformations, and they’ve got big fat parts. The intended audience is also relatively obvious for the most massive Transformers and the most expensive Transformers – usually.

But in the middle, there’s a bit more of a gray area. When you’re at a department store toy aisle, you’ll likely see Transformers anywhere from $10 (Playskool Heroes Transformers Rescue Bots, for example), up to the $70 or $80 range.

An easy rule of thumb here is: If you’re going to buy a single Transformers toy for a kid under the age of 12, you shouldn’t need to spend more than $40 USD. Once you get over $40, the kid is no longer a kid, they’re a collector, and they’ll probably be better off picking their own Transformers toys anyway – for that much, you’ll want to be very specific.

Fragile, Tiny, or Tough
While there are some exceptions to the rule, the more expensive the Transformer, the more potentially fragile the Transformer – if only because the various individual moving parts tend to get smaller and more extravagant the more expensive the Transformers product. The toughest Transformers are the toddler toys – made to be smashed repeatedly into floors and such.

The more expensive the toy, the older the intended age of the audience, the smaller the pieces, the easier it gets to lose said pieces. Where many Transformers toys have very few individual pieces, some of the more expensive toys have moving parts that are also removable parts. For a tiny kid, removable parts can be super fun, but they can also be extremely frustrating (especially for a parent who has to retrieve said parts from under the couch every evening.)

The best balance
The Transformers toys in stores right now are part of the “35th Anniversary Special Edition Collection.” The two models we’ve got here are the “WFC-S65 Classic Animation Optimus Prime” and the “WFC-S66 Classic Animation Megatron”, and they both cost between (approximately) $30 and $40 USD. They are rugged as heck, and they look amazing.

Probably the most awesome bit about these figures is the so-called “cartoon-like cel shaded deco” that their makers say “gives figures an animated look inspired by the original G1 series.” So while the figures are built with few enough pieces (pieces that aren’t particularly small or easy to accidentally misplace). These toys, these longwinded “Transformers Toys Generations War for Cybertron 35th Anniversary Special Edition” Classic Animation-style toys – these are the ideal Transformers right here.

Take a peek at the timeline below for a few more recent Transformers and Transformers-adjacent bits and pieces from SlashGear’s extensive back-catalogue. We’ve been transforming for years!


Manga, Novels, Anime, Games Mingle at Anime NYC 2019

In its third year, Anime NYC 2019, held at New York City’s Javits Center November 15-17, expanded to fill all 410,000 sq. ft. of exhibition floor with booths from anime, game, and manga companies as well as vendors selling swords, plushies, collectible figures, and other paraphernalia.

What was evident at this show, more so than at comics conventions that include some Asian-pop, is the multi-platform nature of many Japanese properties: The same stories and characters appear as manga, novels, anime, games, and collectible figures, and all had a place at the show.

The most prominent Japanese guest was Yoshiyuki Tomino, the director and writer of the Mobile Suit Gundam anime, which spawned a huge multimedia franchise that includes spinoff and sequel anime as well as toys, collectible figures, and manga. Tomino was at AnimeNYC to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the original anime.

The three largest manga publishers in the U.S., Viz Media, Kodansha Comics/Vertical, and Yen Press, all had a presence at the show, as did newcomer Square Enix and indie publisher Denpa. Viz’s featured guests were Dr. Stone creators Riichiro Inagaki and Boichi, who appeared at several packed panels and signed autographs for fans, and the newest episode of the anime premiered at the show.

Viz announced two new manga licenses, Venus in the Blind Spot by horror master Junji Ito and Splatoon: Squid Kids Comedy Show, a collection of four-panel gag comics based on the Nintendo game. An American/Japanese production of his graphic novel Uzumaki is in the works for 2020. As a measure of the strength of the U.S. manga market, Viz senior director of publishing sales Kevin Hamric told PW Viz print sales in 2018 hit a record high and mark “six years in a row of growth.”

Denpa’s new manga licenses included one about the show’s special guest: The Men Who Created “Gundam” depicts Tomino and the character designer Yoshikazu Yasuhiko working on the original series. The manga combines history, biography, and comedy, and Denpa president Ed Chavez described it as a “hilarious take” on the story. Denpa also announced it will publish Li’l Leo, by the well known creator Moto Hagio. Although most of Hagio’s work in English has been serious and literary, Li’l Leo is the story of a cat that tries to do human things.

The Japanese publisher Square Enix, best known in North America for games such as Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts, announced earlier this year that they are setting set up U.S. offices in New York. Their first titles will be released in early 2020, and at their AnimeNYC panel they announced five new manga, all in the fantasy genre, as well as a novel based on the NieR: Automata game.

The increasing popularity of light novels was evident not only from the number of new licenses announced at the show but also the presence of J-Novel Club, which specializes in light novels but has recently branched into manga. Light novels, such as the Sword Art Online series, are often adapted into anime, manga, and games, and publishers are licensing them in increasing numbers.

At its panel, J-Novel Club announced a new imprint, Heart, which will focus on shoujo (teen girls) novels. J-Novel Club’s business model is digital-first, with novels released in installments on their streaming service, then collected into e-books, and then in some cases published in print. The publisher has recently added manga to its lineup.

US vs Japan, a panel about the differences between American and Japanese manga publishing, was one the best attended sessions at the show. The panel featured Gina Gagliano, publishing director of newly launched Random House Graphic, and Udon Entertainment publisher Erik Ko, among others. In Japan, panelists explained, publishers use reader surveys to decide which shorts to cancel, books are published quickly and promoted later (unlike iU.S. publishing), and the demands that manga’s long series put on artists can be debilitating.

At its panel, Yen Press announced six new light novel licenses, including High School DxD, which was the basis for the manga (also published by Yen), as well as seven new manga series. Indeed the show closed on Sunday with the premier of Weathering With You, a new romantic fantasy anime, directed by Makoto Shinkai, who also wrote a novelized version of the story, which is being published in the U.S. by Yen Press. Vertical devoted its entire booth to VOFAN, the Taiwanese artist who creates the covers of the Monogatari novels, and at their panel they announced three new novels, all by the author Nisioisin; two are in the Monogatari series and one is a stand-alone, Bishonen Tanteidan (Pretty Boy Detective Club).

Additional reporting by Drucilla Shultz and Gilcy Aquino


A Four-Wheeled Version Of The Mandalorian, And More Of The Most Bizarre Doppelgänger Toys Of The Week

Welcome to KingCrabCollectibles, we can’t wait to squander our hard-earned paychecks on. This week we’ve got a new Hot Toys version of Rey with a bewildering head sculpt, new collectibles arriving just in time for the return of Rick and Morty and the arrival of The Mandalorian, and a pair of Transformers that hearken back to the classic ‘80s animated cartoon.

Mondo Rick and Morty Figure Set
With an almost 12-inch Rick and an eight-inch Morty, we were expecting a little more articulation from this new figure set from Mondo. Movement is limited to rotating each figure’s hands, ankles, and neck, but with swappable accessories like alternate head sculpts and hands and arms in different poses, you’ll still be able to recreate most of what happens in each episode of the series. At $189.99 the two-pack won’t be cheap when it ships in March next year, but you might as well cough up an extra $US20 ($29) for the deluxe set, which adds a burping Rick head, an evil Morty head, a plumbus, a Rat Boss mini figure, and a tiny Pickle Rick.

Hot Toys Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Rey and D-O Sixth-Scale Figures
Hot Toys’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens sixth-scale Resistance Rey figure included a startlingly accurate sculpt of Daisy Ridley—so much so that we’re not quite sure why the company went back to the drawing board for the head sculpt on its new Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Rey. To us it looks more like Liv Tyler circa The Lord of the Rings than Ridley, but in true Hot Toys fashion everything else included with this figure is spot-on, from the tailored costume, to the swappable optional lightsaber in motion blade, to an articulated version of D-O, the latest Star Wars droid to get top-billing on toy store shelves. The figure isn’t set to release until sometime in mid-2021, and will presumably set you back a few hundred bucks when it does.

Transformers Generations 35th Anniversary Classic Animation Optimus Prime and Megatron Figures
Spend any amount of time browsing retro Transformers toys online and you’re bound to come across custom creations featuring cel-shaded paint jobs that make the figures look like they’re straight out of the animated series. Commissioning a custom paint job isn’t cheap, and for those of us who lack the brush skills needed to create our own, Hasbro has released new version of its War for Cybertron: Siege figures featuring Optimus Prime and Megatron with classic animation style paint jobs. The robots look great, almost straight out of the ‘80s cartoon, but the alternate vehicle modes, including a tank for Megatron, take some creative licenses that mean—even at $40 – $50 each—we’ll probably not actually be transforming these.

Threezero Terminator Dark Fate 12th-Scale Figures
Righting a sinking ship isn’t easy, even with a skilled crew taking over the controls, as is evident by the disappointing box office performance of the well-reviewed Terminator: Dark Fate. The franchise is still known for having some of the best known heroes and baddies in action movie history, so poor ticket sales aren’t stopping Threezero from teasing its upcoming Dark Fate T-800 and Sarah Connor 12th-scale figures on its Facebook page, although pricing and a release date hasn’t been specified just yet.

Star Wars The Mandalorian Hot Wheels Character Car
Hot Wheels has been immortalizing Disney, Marvel, and Star Wars characters as die-cast toy cars for a few years now, so with Disney+ launching this week, Mattel took to Twitter to reveal a new Hot Wheels iteration of the Mandalorian, complete with that iconic helmet and blaster-proof armour. Expect to find it in stores for about $, and we’re keeping our fingers crossed that a Hot Wheels version of Werner Herzog is next.


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