Play On: From Console to Shelf

by VICTOR LUCAS, Creator/Host, The Electric Playground

The fact that Hot Toys, a premium collectibles brand, has created expensive figures for PlayStation and Marvel’s Spider-Man and Spider-Man: Miles Morales video games really hammers home that toys and video games are locked in an eternal embrace. 

Similarly, when gamer pals see that distinctive, white spider logo on one of the hundreds of Spider-people in Sony’s recent animated sequel, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, they exchange a knowing nod. 

Video games have been adapted into long-running comic books, box office blockbusters, and hit TV series. And yes, characters from video games fill up kids’ toy boxes and collectors’ toy shelves and fan caves. But if there was ever any doubt about the significance of video game intellectual property (IP) in the pop culture zeitgeist, this year has laid those outdated observations to rest.

In short, I believe this year has been the BEST year for video games, in every sense of the word. 

Gamers have been able to play through some of the most enjoyable interactive experiences ever crafted this year, with titles including The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Diablo IV, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, Street Fighter 6, and Final Fantasy XVI debuting within the first half of the year. 

Additionally, gamers have experienced superb recreations of games that blew players’ minds years ago, and then again this year. I’m talking about Metroid Prime Remastered, Resident Evil 4, Dead Space, and the PC and Steam Deck release of Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

At the time of this writing, we still have some major releases scheduled to hit the market that should fuel holiday sales. Starfield just landed, launching the first new game universe from Bethesda (The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Fall Out 4) in decades. Then Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, a PS5-exclusive from Insomniac Games, arrives on Oct. 20. That same date, Super Mario Bros. Wonder arrives for the Nintendo Switch family of systems, and that could inspire sales for JAKKS Pacific’s growing line of figures and playsets.

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Next month, Activision’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III hits consoles, and Jazwares is likely already developing new action figures inspired by the new game to expand its recently launched Call of Duty collection.

This year has been one for the ages, with dozens of astoundingly fun games. Other notable releases include Octopath Traveler II, Baldur’s Gate 3, Fire Emblem Engage, and Hogwarts Legacy.

GAMING’S MASSIVE SUCCESS TRANSCENDS MEDIA

The Sonic the Hedgehog movie series from SEGA and Paramount Pictures has been great fun and enormously successful, and I’m happy that more installments are on the way. However, video game storytelling truly, ahem, leveled up this year with HBO’s The Last of Us and Universal’s animated The Super Mario Bros. Movie. Despite targeting entirely different audiences, both became international, irrefutable juggernauts in their own rights.

In short, I believe this year has been the BEST year for video games, in every sense of the word.”

Victor Lucas

This cross-media gaming pollination continues, of course. Sequels and new seasons are on the way, as are new content experiments like Sony’s Twisted Metal series for Peacock. There’s a new season of the Castlevania animated series on Netflix and the streaming platform is continuing its hit show based on The Witcher, even though our erstwhile Geralt, Henry Cavill, has chosen to depart for Amazon to build another series based on a tabletop and video game franchise: Warhammer.

GAMING IP IS FLEXING RIGHT NOW

There’s little doubt that audiences are feeling some form of superhero fatigue, even as some studios and manufacturers continue to make great superhero movies, series, games, comics, and toys. Consequently, content studios and toymakers are looking to dive deeper into the storytelling opportunities that video games provide.

Rumors have been swirling for months that Universal and Illumination will create the inevitable sequel for The Super Mario Bros. Movie, but film-goers can also anticipate an animated movie based on The Legend of Zelda. In the spring, Nintendo’s creative superstar Shigeru Miyamoto told the Japanese outlet Nikkei that, “Nintendo is like a talent agency. We have plenty of other entertainers … There are many possible ways we could go, such as using characters that would be a fit for movies…”

The mind boggles thinking about how many fantastic movies and series could be made based on Nintendo characters, as the gaming studio is home to a vast collection of stories and franchises. 

BD-1 comes from Star Wars Jedi: Survivor | Source: The LEGO Group

TOY COLLECTORS, GAMING ENTHUSIASTS, AND RETAILERS WIN

As studios and streaming platforms work their way through expensive licensing deals to bring game characters to new screens, there’s been a veritable explosion of new collectibles for gamers to invest in.

McFarlane Toys has been on fire with its DC Multiverse partnership (and yes, that includes figures based on Rocksteady’s seminal Arkham video game franchise) while collaborating with Blizzard Entertainment to create toys based on Diablo IV, NetherRealm to create toys based on Mortal Kombat, and Bethesda and id Software for Doom figures.

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Beyond its array of Spider-Man-inspired figures, Hot Toys has Cyberpunk 2077’s Johnny Silverhand, played by Keanu Reeves. There are hundreds of Hot Toys Star Wars creations and the high-end toy brand has ventured into building figures around Star Wars Jedi: Survivor with the Scout Trooper Commander figure, so it’ll likely only be a matter of time before collectors are able to pick up a definitive Cal Kestis and his robot ally, BD-1.

If consumers want Cal and BD now, though, there are toys for that! Fans can look to the “Gaming Greats” sub-line from Hasbro’s Star Wars: The Black Series collection for an assortment of game-inspired action figures. As a massive fan of the games, I also love LEGO’s BD-1 Posable Droid Model Building Kit. 

SCRATCHING THE SURFACE OF THE GAMING SCREEN

In today’s marketplace, there are toys and collectibles based on almost all of the biggest gaming franchises: Elden Ring, Crash Bandicoot, Animal Crossing, Samurai Shodown, Monster Hunter, Halo, Dragon Quest, Metal Gear Solid — the list goes on. 

Even modern toys based on classic games, such as SEGA’s 16-Bit Golden Axe franchise, are hitting stores. Storm Collectibles has a new line of action figures inspired by the arcade game. 

We’ve come a long way from the days when video game toys were considered rare novelties that would barely fill a tiny section in a store crammed with Star Wars figures, superheroes, and wrestlers. 

The most interesting thing for me to observe whenever I enter a toy store or comic shop these days is how the gaming giants sit side-by-side with the Marvel, DC, and Lucasfilm characters that kids have been playing with for decades.

The toy industry has barely just pressed start.


The Toy Book — October 2023

A version of this feature was originally published in the 2023 Toy Fair issue of The Toy Book. Click here to read the full issue! Want to receive The Toy Book in print? Click here for subscription options!


منبع: https://toybook.com/play-on-from-console-to-shelf/

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