This week’s PopCulteer is all devoted to news from the world of toys. We have a lot of brief, cool items to share, so let’s jump in…
Toys R US Liquidation Blues
At the moment it seems unlikely that any of the US Toys R Us stores will survive liquidation. Most stores will be shuttered by June 30, with a few going a couple of weeks past that to blow out the rest of the stock. Anything left after that date will probably go to Ollie’s or another liquidation store.
Isaac Larian, the CEO of the toy maker MGA Entertainment (Bratz, LalaLoopsy) is still working on a plan to rescue the chain, but it looks like he may pursue Toys R Us by picking the pieces out of the wreckage, rather than keeping any of the existing stores open.
Soon the bankruptcy court will begin auctioning off the intellectual property, which includes Geoffrey the Giraffe, and hundreds of URLs. Toys R Us was very proactive in snapping up domain names to keep them out of the hands of others. “SexToysRUs.com” and “ToysRUsSucks.com” are among them, but so are dozens of domain names that end with “R Us.”
Larian may be planning to make a bid for the rights to the “Toys R Us” name and mascot, and he may also go after some of the leases for existing locations. The only problem with that plan is that the chain would have to go dormant for a period of time so that they could re-staff and restock the stores, and establish a new distribution system. Even if he buys one of the three existing warehouses, they’ll have to restock it, and re-route all their deliveries.
He might be able to snap up the IP and leases for a fraction of his original bid, but he’s probably looking at half a billion dollars to start the business over from scratch. Still, we wish him luck.
KB Toys Plots It’s Return
We previously reported on KB Toys and their plan to make a major comeback via pop-up stores this holiday season. Last week at an industry event, KB Toys CEO Ellia Kassoff explained how they plan to make their return.
This Christmas season KB Toys will launch 300 to 400 pop up stores around the country, using them as a quick way to test the market without requiring too much capital.
The best performing stores among those will be reviewed early next year to determine if they’re worth keeping open year-round. Kassoff reportedly said that he hopes to eventually have around 600 to 800 eventual permanent stores in the next 3 to 4 years.
Several Mall owners are in on the plan, which allows KB Toys to bypass the traditional investor route somewhat. With the malls as investors, KB Toys is able to avoid banks, outside investors and private equity firms, which is a large part of the financial system that sabotaged Toys R Us.
They do plan to try new concepts with the revival. They announced that each store will have a (horribly-named) “Toy Nerd” who really knows what they’re talking about in terms of toys and collectibles. I’m sure this is a bit of a play on Best Buy’s Geek Squad, but I hope they change the name before they put it into practice. Better yet would be the novel approach of having every employee know what the hell they’re talking about, but that might be too much to ask for in this day and age.
It looks like, at least this Christmas, we’ll have a new major player in toy retailing. I just hope they do better than all the toy retailers did last Christmas, which was disastrous enough to finish off Toys R Us.
New Rick and Morty Games
Cryptozoic Entertainment, leading creator of board games, trading cards, and collectibles, and Cartoon Network Enterprises recenty announced the May 30 release of Rick and Morty: The Ricks Must Be Crazy Multiverse Game. In this engine-building tabletop game, 2-4 players take on the roles of Rick, Morty, Zeep, and Kyle as they introduce Power Supplies to different worlds, and then try to use the resulting Power to activate Contraptions before their opponents. Based on the Rick and Morty episode “The Ricks Must Be Crazy,” gameplay takes place in four “’Verses” with unique attributes: the Rickverse, Microverse, Miniverse, and Teenyverse.
“This is an engine-building game in a way,” said Matt Hyra, the game’s Lead Designer. “Except that Power Supplies don’t have ownership, so if you can predict where a Power surplus will appear, you can take advantage of it … if your opponents don’t get to it first!”
During the Action Phase, players spend Actions to move to different ’Verses where they can build Power Supplies and Contraptions. Then, during the Power-Up Phase, Power generates from the bottom ’Verse up, and players utilize it to play One-Shot cards, use Character Abilities, and power-up their Contraptions. The winner is the player who scores the needed Victory Points by building Power Supplies and activating Contraptions.
Rick and Morty: The Ricks Must Be Crazy Multiverse Game will be available at retailers nationwide starting May 30 and at Origins Game Fair (June 13-17 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center) for a suggested retail price of $20.
Rick and Morty: The Pickle Rick Game: This intense 1-2 player game is based on the hugely popular “Pickle Rick” episode of Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty. One player plays as Pickle Rick as he tries to escape a heavily armed compound, while the other player takes on the roles of both the Russians and Jaguar as they try to stop him. The Pickle Rick player uses weapons cards to dole out damage and Air Vents to get out of jams as he or she tries to get to the Rooftop. The game includes both Pickle Rick and Jaguar miniatures that are moved across a dynamic board made up of tiles that are constantly being added, rotated, and flipped. Adding to the off-the-wall fun is the game’s packaging: It looks like a pickle! The Pickle Rick Game is in stores now.
MEGO Meet Returns
Mego Meet 2018 will be held June 1st – 2nd in Columbus, Ohio at the Courtyard by Marriott Columbus West. This will be the fourteenth year for the long-running convention (which spent its first decade at Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum in Wheeling). This year it looks like Doc MEGO (AKA Paul Clarke) has finally convinced MEGO founder, Marty Abrams (right) to show up. It should be a great show.
Unfortunately, your PopCulteer will be unable to attend this year because, even though they’re close enough, the announcement of where and when the convention would happen came too late, and I had already committed to attend WonderFest USA in Louisville that weekend. The crazy idea of splitting the weekend between the two shows has been discussed, but we’ll have to wait and see.
But if you are a die-hard MEGO fan, you’ll want to be in Columbus in a couple of weeks. Registration is open now – Meet admission is still only $25 and still includes family; tables remain an additional $40. More details are HERE.
That is it for this week’s PopCulteer. Check back for all our regular features.