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News
February 2018

February 17, 2018

[LINK]Toy Fair 2018: LEGO Issues Preview Press Release

by Byron Crystal

Toy Fair begins today in New York City. And LEGO has issued their press release outlining their offerings. Row M coverage of Toy Fair continues through the weekend. So, check back often and keep an eye on our social media for the latest updates from the show.

NEW YORK, Feb. 16, 2018/PRNewswire/ -- NORTH AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL TOY FAIR -- Today LEGO Systems, Inc. unveils hundreds of its new building sets while kicking off a year of milestones for some of its most celebrated and groundbreaking play innovations: 60 years of the classic LEGO brick (circa. 1958), 40 years of the LEGO Minifigure, which introduced character-based role play to the brand in 1978, and 20 years of LEGO MINDSTORMS, the original "smart" toy first introduced in 1998. New sets leverage the limitless versatility and creativity of the LEGO brick to deliver something for builders of all ages and interests. Highlights include anniversary-inspired Classic sets that ask #WhatWillYouBuild?, new properties such as the Wizarding World, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Powerpuff Girls and Unikitty, preschool building sets that encourage learning and child development, and LEGO experiences that bridge physical and virtual play worlds for today's generation of digital natives. New toys are showcased to buyers, media and influencers in booth #1335 in Hall 3Bof the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center from February 17-20.

"We are proud to celebrate three core LEGO innovation milestones this year that have dramatically changed the way children play, by tapping into the power of their imaginations, exploring their curiosity and expressing their creativity," said Skip Kodak, senior vice president, LEGO Systems, Inc. "We're fortunate to put the iconic and versatile LEGO brick at the center of everything we do, which enables us to expand and re-invent our play experience to deliver endless surprise and delight. Our 2018 portfolio is designed to inspire even more kids with new ways to build and play, and we can't wait to see how they use our new sets to respond to our anniversary question: 'What will you build?'"

Younger Builders (Age 1½+) LEGO DUPLO introduces builders as young as 1½ to the world of building with bricks twice the size of standard LEGO bricks. Twenty-four new DUPLO sets offer classic themes such as My First Race Car and Airport, toys that teach values like sharing (My First Celebration) and empathy (My First Emotions), and properties such as Jurassic World. DUPLO sets also feature Mickey Mouse & Minnie Mouse, Disney Princess, and MARVEL Spider-Man.

LEGO Juniors helps builders as young as four years old transition from DUPLO bricks to classic LEGO building with a mix of larger modular elements such as solid walls or archways designed to help children gain confidence in building. Familiar LEGO themes such as LEGO CITY and LEGO Friends are joined by popular properties such as Jurassic World, and DC Batman, as well as MARVEL Spider-Man, and Incredibles 2.

Nostalgic and Creative Building (Ages 4+) Five new 60th Anniversary building sets are designed to prompt creativity and open-ended building by posing a thought-provoking question, such as World Fun which asks, "How can ____ make the world more fun?" Additionally, each of the anniversary items includes a custom printed 60th Anniversary element, available only in these sets while supplies last. To celebrate the milestone, the company offers fun facts and building inspiration at http://lego.com/whatwillyoubuild, encouraging families to build and share their creations using the hashtag #WhatWillYouBuild.

LEGO Classic offers a variety of no-instructions building experiences for ages 4 and up, such as Creative Suitcase, for on-the-go building fun. LEGO Creator provides hours of play with innovative 3-in-1 models that can be built and rebuilt into creatures, structures and vehicles, including Mythical Creatures and Pirate Roller Coaster. Advanced builders will enjoy the challenge of 14 new LEGO Technic sets featuring gears, beams, pulleys, actuators and pneumatics to recreate authentic, functional replicas. Sets include 2-in-1 models such as Racing Yacht and Mack Anthem.

Themed Building (Ages 5+) LEGO CITY introduces over 30 new detailed sets depicting everyday, real-life heroes in action-packed scenarios for hours of build-and-role-play fun. New themes – Mountain Police, Mining Experts, and Arctic Expedition – join evergreen favorites Town, Trains, andGreat Vehicles.

LEGO Friends features 25 new realistic building sets based on the lives and adventures of five girls in Heartlake City, exploring both the city and the girls' interests with sets such as Emma's Art Stand, Stephanie's Sport Arena, and Friendship House. An exciting new LEGO Friends Racing theme hits the starting line later in 2018.

Following its 2017 theatrical debut,LEGO NINJAGO returns with new building sets loaded with details, features and functions based on TheLEGO NINJAGO Movie and two new seasons of NINJAGO: Masters of Spinjitzu airing on Cartoon Network. New NINJAGO action toys bring the ninjas' competitive Spinjitzu powers to action-packed battle adventures.

The next LEGO Elves chapter unfolds in seven new sets featuring heroine Emily Jones as she rescues new buildable mythical guardian creatures. The powered-up, futuristic LEGO NEXO KNIGHTS to take on the holographic wizard, MONSTROX, in six new sets plus a free digital gaming app, Merlock 2.0. Six new LEGO Speed Champions sets create brick-based replicas of the world's hottest cars, such as the Ford Fiesta M-Sport WRC, Ferrari 488 GT3 "Scuderia Corsa," and Porsche 919 Hybrid.

Collectibles (Ages 5+) Fans can collect 59 never-before-seen LEGO Minifigures from three new series of mystery bags, each including one figure, starting with 20 new characters from the blockbuster film The LEGOBatman Movie. Series 18 in April celebrates the 40th Birthday of the LEGO Minifigure. A third series launches later in the year.

Collectible LEGO BrickHeadz construction sets offer LEGO versions of iconic characters with 36 new sets, sold individually or in duo packs, in rolling release all year. Characters are based on a wide universe of beloved brands such as Disney, MARVEL, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Warner Bros., the Wizarding World, and DC's Justice League. A "selfie" pack – Go Brick Me! – allows builders to create and customize any character, including themselves. The LEGO Ideas platform, where trending fan designs can become official LEGO sets, yielded the latest release, Ship in a Bottle. Additional sets will be announced this year. LEGO Architecture celebrates the world's most iconic buildings and landmarks with four new sets, including Shanghai, the latest skyline series addition. LEGO Exclusives, available at shop.LEGO.com and LEGO Stores, offer skilled builders a more challenging and detailed building experience, such as the LEGO Creator Expert Downtown Diner ($119.99). Additional items to be announced.

Licensed Building New in April, eight LEGO Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom sets bring the characters and moments from the much-anticipated film to brick form, as Owen and Claire return to Islar Nubar.

LEGO Powerpuff Girls debuts in August with two building sets based on Cartoon Network's animated series, featuring the action-packed adventures of Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup in LEGO form.

LEGO Minecraft returns with 10 new sets that kids can use to bring the virtual creative building experience to life in physical form through LEGO play, featuring their favorite characters and biomes.

LEGO Brand x The Walt Disney Company LEGO Disney offers seven new sets featuring beloved stories and characters including Elsa and Olaf from Frozen and Disney Princessfavorites including, for the first time, Mulan. A new "Build & Swap" feature enables children to use their imagination to combine sets to form an ultimate castle. Disney characters also appear in several LEGO DUPLO and LEGO Juniors sets, highlighted by the debut of upcoming Disney Pixar's Incredibles 2 in brick form in three building sets launching in May.

LEGO MARVEL Super Heroes brings action-packed building sets inspired by the renowned comic books and upcoming theatrical releases, including Black Panther. New Mighty Micros feature MARVEL Super Heroes and villains plus their mini vehicles.

The LEGO Star Wars collection adds 28 new building sets based on characters and scenes from various episodes of the film and animated television series, including Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and the upcoming Solo: A Star Wars Story. Fans can also create five new buildable figures of favorite characters. LEGO Brand x Warner Bros. Consumer Products (Ages 5+) LEGO Unikitty!, based on the famous unicorn cat princess from the Warner Bros. film, The LEGO Movie, now has her own animated series, Unikitty!, produced by Warner Bros. Animation and currently airing on Cartoon Network featuring Princess Unikitty and her brother Prince Puppycorn. Five new building sets and a series of collectibles launch in August, enabling kids to recreate favorite stories or imagine and build new ones.

Bringing the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts films to life in LEGO form in the second half of 2018, the new Wizarding World inspired building sets recreate the action-packed storylines from the films and feature a cast of fan-favorite wizards, Muggles and magical creatures – from Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger to Newt Scamander and more. Fans will also be able to collect their favorite Wizarding World characters in new LEGO BrickHeadz building sets.

Characters return from the film, The LEGO Batman Movie, with five new building sets where fans can further explore the most exciting scenes and vehicles from the film, including The Bat-Space Shuttle.

LEGO DC Comics Super Heroesreturns with new building sets inspired by DC's comic books and the Warner Bros. Studio's theatrical releases, including Superman, Justice League, and the upcoming release of Aquaman. New Mighty Micros feature DC Super Heroes and Super-Villains plus their mini vehicles.

Physical to Digital Play This year marks 20 years of digital LEGO innovation ushered by LEGO MINDSTORMS, the robotics toolkit introduced in 1998, pioneering the idea of "smart" play for the brand and the toy industry. The LEGO tradition of innovation continues with a new "Powered-Up" app remote control compatible with select building sets in 2018 that will put dynamic motion control of built models in the hands of kids, including a LEGO CITY Passenger Train and an iconic vehicle to be announced later in the year.

Following the successful launch of LEGO BOOST in 2017, two new experiences merge LEGO NINJAGO and LEGO CITY with the build & code toolkit to expand the play potential. Finally, a new LEGO DUPLO Steam Train allows kids as young as 2 years old to tinker with their ability to "code" with low-tech brick accessories that enable cause & effect play exploration.

February 14, 2018

[LINK]Vintage Star Wars Tray Valentines: A Look Back

by Robin Vial

During an average calendar year, Star Wars fans enjoy favorite expendable items, like calendars and party goods, and greeting cards for various occasions. But the one little item that shines forth at this time of year and stands out as charming (if somewhat silly) is boxed Star Wars-themed tray valentines. Called tray valentines, because they were traditionally always packaged in years past in little cartons containing a slide-out tray, these sets usually consist of 24 to 30 perforated cards in four or five different designs, all with little envelops. Designed for use by schoolchildren, the sets are made for kids to be able to pass out cards to their entire class, as well as their teacher and, sometimes, their school principal. Nowadays, tray valentines are often just boxed, and come in assortments featuring licensed characters of all kinds, with certain steadies, but mainly centering on characters from the previous summer's big movies.

With the Prequel Trilogy films, Star Wars fans have been pretty lucky, because tray valentines have been released almost every year since the mid-'90s, when Star Wars valentines reappeared in conjunction with the Special Edition. They have remained on the radar, while other characters have come and gone, sustained by the new films and the DVD release.

Star Wars valentines first appeared during the Original Trilogy Era in 1984, after the release of "Return of the Jedi." Offered by the now defunct company Drawing Board Greeting Cards, they came in a standard "Return of the Jedi" movie assortment and an animated Ewoks cartoon assortment. During the dark times of the late '80s and early '90s, when Star Wars faded from the forefront of pop culture, the valentine was but a distant goofy memory. When they reemerged (manufactured until now by the tray valentine powerhouse company, The Paper Magic Group), the simple drawings and graphics of the vintage era evolved into flashy graphics and photo stills, and eventually the cutting edge of tray valentine technology - foil valentines, printed on a surface shiny as C-3P0 at an awards ceremony. They now come with little heart sticker seals, and the Episode I cards even featured trivia questions on the back. But one thing has remained constant throughout - bad puns and jokes that easily out- corn Orville Redenbacher. Sometimes cute and funny, sometimes oddly threatening, and sometimes just plain cringe-worthy, the writing on these valentines has always been the star of the show. Take these classics: Vader flanked by Emperor's Royal Guards threatening the recipient to "Have a Happy Valentine's Day...or Else!" Or Jabba the Hutt "commanding you" to have a happy Valentine's Day. Or the animated Wicket swinging from vines and thanking his teacher for "showing him the ropes."

Now we all can see the dirty little secret of these tray valentines coming a mile off: Little kids aren't the only ones buying them. Fully grown Star Wars fans are buying them, and in some cases, actually using them. This taps into the primal conflict of any self-respecting Star Wars fan. It's internal war between gorging on all things Star Wars all the time, and actually getting a date.

With the Star Wars fan rapidly replacing the "Star Trek" fan in pop culture as the icon of the dateless and desperate geek, sending a Star Wars tray valentine to another adult could in fact be the most shamelessly geeky of all possible romantic overtures. But I say go ahead and send it! It's the ultimate litmus test of whether or not the object of your crush will ever be able to handle your affection for "Star Wars." And in 2005, that's going to be more important than ever. You can't be dating someone who can't handle having R2-D2 say to them, "I bet you whistle at all the droids", Jar-Jar saying "Mesa Wish You Maxie Big Val Day," or C-3PO quipping, "I'm certain you'll find a splendid counterpart on Valentine's Day!"

This year's only drawback is that if you want to find the Chewbacca "You've got me howling" card along with the rest, you'll have to find a Wal-Mart. The Original Trilogy-themed set meant to play off last year's DVD release is available in Flashy-Foil style only, exclusive to the retail giant. For us here at NYLine, that's pretty rough, because there are virtually no Wal- Marts in New York City. Good thing we stocked up on those vintage "Return of the Jedi" speeder bike "out of this world" valentines when we had the chance!

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