Recently, Disney hosted their holiday toy preview, and we at Laughing Place were once again delighted to be given a guided tour through all of Disney’s upcoming wonders. Tons of toys were shown with a strong emphasis on technology adding another layer of magic to the Disney play experience, though you can rest assured that plenty of our old favorites that didn’t need to be plugged in were along for the ride as well. All of your favorite characters, both classic and new, were represented – from Frozen and Mickey to Star Wars and Marvel.
All the goodies we’ll soon need to bring home were broken up into six sections: Gifts for Kids, Gifts Under $25, Disney Store Gifts, Disney Baby Gifts, Fashion/Accessories, and the all-important “Disney Dozen” – the twelve (or so) essential items Disney has highlighted on the show-floor so that we can get extra-excited about getting our paws on them.
As ever, Disney knows how to delight, and there was more to see than we could cover without writing an internet novel (admittedly, a novel about Disney toys does sound appealing…). To give you a sense of as much of the fun as possible, we’ll share the highlighted Disney Dozen and then pick a few favorites from each of the sections presented.
We begin our journey through Mickey’s toybox with the Disney Dozen.
Fun with technology was at the forefront of many of Disney’s offerings, though much of it had an interactive twist, a sensibility exemplified by “Playmation Marvel’s Avengers Starter Pack.” The Playmation toys are a surprising combination of wearable technology and interactive toys that encourage imaginative play. The piece on display featured a “repulsor wrist band” much like Iron Man’s, as well as two “power activators” and two “smart figures,” all of which are included in the starter pack. We were lucky enough to get some hands-on time with the tech, and we have to say that shooting down Ultron has never been more fun or engaging. Your repulsor arm band throws you right into the action, firing imaginary missiles and shields at the smart figures with accurate interaction and accompanying sound effects, all at Jarvis’s command. The whole package is an interesting twist on play that encourages kids to get off the couch and move their legs and brains. The set comes with 25 missions and free-to-access app that tracks your progress (though no internet connection is required). Your chance to save the world alongside The Avengers arrives in stores in October and retails at $119.99.
Keeping it technological but a bit more kiddie-centric, the “Disney Imagicademy Mickey’s Rocket Builder Smart Toy” presents a novel fusion of toy building and smart devices. The customizable rocket comes with 21 pieces that can be configured into over 100 wondrous flying machines. And once your real-life rocket is complete, you can drop it right into the free-to-download Mickey’s Magical Math World app (does include In-App purchases). Early shape recognition, counting, and exploration are featured in the gameplay. You can blast off with Mickey this fall, starting at $39.99.
“Cars” was also parked amongst the interactive-focussed Dozen featuring the “Cars Daredevil Garage App & Diecast.” Again fusing apps with toys, here kids can scan and unlock over 150 Mattell die-cast cars and perform stunts in four different worlds. Each diecast car is $3.99 and the app itself is free with in-app purchases offered, all of which is rolling out July 30.
Last amongst the gadget-heavy selections were some new entries in Disney’s successful toy-based video game series, Disney Infinity 3.0 edition. Infinity 3.0’s most noteworthy feature is its addition of many characters from the Star Wars universe. There are also several new modes of Toy Box gameplay available as expansion games. We were lucky enough to try out the cart racing expansion, and using Yoda to race against Mickey Mouse in the Nightmare Before Christmas themed level was as exhilarating as it sounds. Infinity 3.0 is available for all major gaming platforms and releases this fall, with a full starter set retailing at $64.99, play sets at $34.99, figures for $13.99, expansion games for $19.99, and Power Discs for $9.99.
Established characters were also well represented amongst the Dozen. Frozen was still in full-swing, and “Elsa’s Magical Ice Palace” towered over all of its toy peers. Transforming to over 3-feet tall, the ice palace does an impressive job of transporting you to this magical castle as, just like in the movie, it telescopes upward. The regal play-set also lights up and features many interactive elements, including, of course, a rendition of “Let It Go.” Elsa’s home-away-from-home (Elsa sold separately) can take over your living room floor for $129.99 this Fall.
Another nod to Frozen appeared in the form of Disney’s cutest of toy-lines, their adorable Tsum Tsums. With “Tsum Tsum Olaf Bag” we see the cast of the animated short Frozen Fever as tiny Tsums Tsums carried together in the most adorable way possible, inside of a larger Olaf Tsum Tsum carrier. Featuring four exclusives - Anna, Elsa, Sven, and Snowgie, the set is a DisneyStore.com and Disney Store exclusive, releasing November 3 for $34.95.
Another established line was shown amongst the Dozen, the stunningly presented “Deluxe Mini Animator Doll Set.” Featuring fifteen 5-inch dolls from the celebrated Animator’s Collection, the set is sold in an exquisite presentation box covered in beautiful line art from Disney Animators. This deluxe set is exclusive to DisneyStore.com and Disney Stores, and releases October 26 online and November 19 in stores for $119.95.
Several new properties were also highlighted amongst the Dozen, starting with Disney’s newest Disney Junior series, “Miles from Tomorrowland,” which had many interesting toys to explore at the expo. Disney chose to feature the “Miles from Tomorrowland Stellosphere” for the Dozen. The Stellosphere opens up to transform into a play-set that includes two other vehicles and an attachment that adds lights and sounds to all three. You can take flight with the Callisto family this July for $49.99.
The new generation of Disney heroes and villains, Disney Channel’s Descendants was also featured, showcasing two fashionable dolls and a young adult novel by Melissa del Cruz to accompany the new series. The dolls will be available in August and retail for $19.99 and the novel is available now for $17.99.
Marvel’s newest property, Ant Man, made an appearance in LEGO-form with “Marvel’s Ant-Man Final Battle.” This cool set includes two versions of Antman and his nemesis, Yellow-jacket, as well as a detailed giant flying ant for Antman to ride. This set should have already made its micro-sized launch in June and is available for $19.99.
You’ll notice we mentioned above that there were twelve “or so” toys highlighted. Dis pulled a little bit of a dirty trick on us this year. In truth, ten toys were fully represented, with two sneaky nods to upcoming toys tied to newer properties, though these both did a fine job of building our collective intrigue. A cloth covered an alluring and lumpy form that what will eventually be Disney/Pixar’s much-anticipated The Good Dinosaur’s “Gallopin’ Butch.” Rest assured, we had a very hard time resisting the urge to pull the cloth and steal a reveal, but our desire not to be forcibly removed stayed our hand. Whatever Butch ends up looking like, all will be brought to light October 2015 and be available for $39.99.
The other sneaky half-reveal was an empty box with everyone’s two favorite words emblazoned on the front: “Star Wars.” The box looked about the right size for some sort of blaster, but that’s pure guess-work. If you need still-more reasons to be excited for the new Star Wars, here’s another drop in the bucket from a galaxy far far away.
So that’s the Disney Dozen in all its shiny glory, but there was indeed a lot more to see.
There was plenty of fun to be had amongst the “Gifts for Kids” section of the showroom. The “Mickey Mouse Silly Wheelie Mickey” lived up to its name in silliness, eliciting giggles across the showroom floor with its zany antics, and can be yours this August for $39.99.
Disney Frozen Sing-Along Elsa also delivered on her promise to sing along, going so far as to stop singing the words and leaving room for you to sing when you grab the mic. She’s available this Fall for $39.99.
Star Wars also had a strong showing for the little ones with some irresistible little flashlights available this fall for $4.99.
The undeniable highlight amongst the “Under $25” section was the abundance of Tsum Tsum innovation. Yes, you can now get equally adorable yet not-quite-as-soft vinyl Tsum Tsum 3-packs for $4.99.
Need more Tsum Tsum? Break out the tiny Tsum Tsum lip gloss containers for $3.99. Target has them both.
There are lots of the Disney Store exclusives that also fall under the Dozen, but a few others caught our eye. Notably, there is a new Elsa costume, the “Disney Frozen Elsa Singing Costume,” which innovates on Elsa-costume perfection by lighting up and playing songs. Available August 3 for $49.95.
And when you’re done with your Elsa dress, you can fold it nicely and put it in your amazing Star Wars Chewbacca Backpack with Hoodie. You read that correctly, in addition to being covered in Chewie fur, there’s a hoodie. A must-have for Wookie enthusiasts across the galaxy, available for $22.95 now.
This years Disney baby line is, much to our delight, all about Pooh. All your baby wearables are covered, though the Robezz 6-12 month soft soles may have taken the cuteness prize, retailing at $25.95.
And no Pooh-baby is complete without the adorable Winnie the Pooh Jack in the Box for $25.00.
Disney Fashion was also well-represented, and while the above-mentioned Elsa dress was stealing the show, another Disney exclusive, the “Star Wars Princess Leia Costume” turned many intergalactic heads. You can be a space princess this July for $44.95.
We could go on about all the wonderful toys and gadgets Disney has in store for you over the next several months. Disney fans everywhere have a lot of fun to look forward to. We know we can’t wait to play!
-Marty Allen is a Brooklyn-based writer, artist, and musician best known for creating The Sock Puppet Portraits and their related book “Sock Puppet Madness” (martystuff.com), and for performing with the multimedia collective Uncle Monsterface (unclemonsterface.com). His fourth book, “Emojis: The Secret Behind the Smile” will be available this October via Dog ’n’ Bone books. On Twitter and Instagram: @martystuff