Welcome back to Toy Aisle, io9's regular round up of the coolest toys and merch on the internet lately. This week: as San Diego Comic-Con draws (virtually) ever nearer, we’ve got tasty exclusives from robot volleyball to New Asgard. Plus, Lego gets artistic again, and Mario manages to make Jenga somehow even more stressful.
With the film presumably still on track for a December 2020 release (although where exactly it will premiere remains a mystery), Hasbro is already getting ready for Top Gun: Maverick with another excellent Transformers mashup. This time it’s our first Autobot based on a Tom Cruise character, as this Grumman F-14 Tomcat fighter jet transforms in 25 steps to a seven-inch robot version of Maverick. Accessories include missiles, a tiny pilot with his own equally tiny motorcycle, and, most importantly, a volleyball so Tombot can enjoy another topless game of beach volleyball. Wait, do alien robots ever wear tops? Pre-orders are available now on HasbroPulse.com, but shipping isn’t expected until October.
Despite some obvious targeting toward the younger set, Fisher-Price is also trying to entice grownups to buy toys for toddlers by turning its iconic Little People characters into pop culture collectibles. Following sets that included the rock band KISS, the Yellow Submarine-era Beatles, and NBC’s The Office, Mattel is now introducing two new Little People sets based on the Masters of the Universe ($25), including adorable versions of He-Man and Skeletor, and The Lord of the Rings ($35) which is the largest set to date and includes Frodo, Gandalf, Legolas, and others.
Chris McVeigh (aka Powerpig on Twitter and Instagram) went from being an amateur but very talented Lego enthusiast (who even contributed artwork to Gizmodo years ago) to an official Lego designer who now works for the company. Before landing his dream job at Lego, McVeigh created a series of brick postcards featuring pop culture characters, and four of those designs are now officially available as Lego sets: BB-8, a Star Wars Stormtrooper, Batman, and the Joker, which vary in complexity from 115 to 171 pieces and can each be purchased from the Lego website for $20. We just don’t recommend trying to mail them anywhere.
Mondo’s impressive line of figures from Eternia expands with one of He-Man’s staunchest allies, Man-at-Arms! Taking on a similar “realistic”—as realistic as Man-at-Arms can be—aesthetic as the company’s prior He-Man and Skeletor figures, Mondo’s 12" tall figure suitably comes with a ton of accessories, including a mace and shield, a blaster, rifle, sword, and eight different hands to hold all that madness with. He even comes with a displayable helmet, as well as a separate, unhelmeted head (that has removable goggles!).
And that’s just the standard version. The deluxe Man-at-Arms has all that, as well as an extra head depicting him in reptilian fashion, and cutest of all, a tiny lil’ Orko in a jar. Both editions of the Man-at-Arms are set to release in August—the regular clocking in at $190, and the Mondo-exclusive deluxe version clocking in at $195. [Mondo]
Even though the two building systems are mostly compatible, Mattel’s Mega Construx line has yet to successfully lure us away from Lego, even with sets based on Pokémon, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, and even Game of Thrones. But on July 23, just in time for SDCC 2020, Mattel will help celebrate the Halo franchise’s 20th anniversary with this set of miniature Mega Blox Master Chief armors. The set includes six different versions of the MJOLNIR exoskeletons, including the forthcoming MK VI GEN3 that will be featured in Halo Infinite.
Mattel Hot Wheels Avengers: Endgame Land Rover Defender 100 Pickup Truck with Rocket and Hulk San Diego Comic-Con Exclusive
Mattel might not be as big as Hasbro these days, but when it comes to San Diego Comic-Con exclusives, the toymaker usually goes above and beyond the call of duty with elaborate packaging you’ll never want to discard. This is especially true of its Hot Wheels exclusives, which replace card-backed blister packs with elaborate miniature dioramas. It’s hard to get excited over a tiny replica of a Land Rover pickup truck, but with an equally tiny Hulk and Rocket Raccoon riding in the back, recreating the scene in Avengers: Endgame where the pair hunt for Thor, suddenly it’s worth clearing a spot for on your shelf when finally available on July 23.
Jenga, on its own, is a beautifully simple and perfect game. But is that going to stop anyone from putting a twist on it? The new Jenga: Super Mario Edition sounds infinitely more complicated than any of the house rules we ever added to the block stacking game, but has Mario ever disappointed? (Please don’t bring up Super Mario Sunshine.) Players try to get their character’s token to the top of the Bowser-guarded tower by flicking a spinner which tells them how many blocks they need to remove and stack, how many tiers their character can climb, and when the game reverses direction. As with the original Jenga game, toppling the tower severely hinders your chance at victory, and there are no save games to revert to here.
As with the Avengers: Endgame Land Rover, another miniature Hot Wheels Star Wars X-wing isn’t something to get terribly excited about, even if it’s covered in swamp muck. But this SDCC exclusive, available starting July 23, comes in a transparent box with a lever on the side allowing Yoda to appear to lift the ship out of the Dagobah swamps using the Force. It’s cute, and the sole reason our Star Wars collections will soon be growing by another miniature ship.
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