Toy Fair 2023: Basic Fun! Taps Into Nostalgia with Disney Lite-Brite, View-Master, and VHS Collectible Figures (Plus 40th Anniversary of My Little Pony and Care Bears)

Whether you’re looking to share favorite toys from your childhood with your kids, or just need an endorphin rush of nostalgia, Basic Fun! is here to satisfy the kidult inside of you. During Toy Fair, I got to step into their booth for a look at some of the new (but old) nostalgia-infused toys available now, plus a few that will be coming to a toy aisle near you next spring.

I was a Lite-Brite kid, and I’ve got the lightbulb burn marks to prove it! That’s a thing of the past though, with Basic Fun!’s slim, updated LED version of the illuminated design studio. What remains the same is the concept and the fun!

A Disney100 version was recently released, and on display was a potential future retailer exclusive with a blue border and some alternate designs to create. A Target-exclusive Pixar edition will be hitting shelves soon.

There are lots of other licensed versions of Lite-Brite, including a Stranger Things edition, plus upcoming sets themed to Barbie, Pokemon, and Hello Kitty. But one of the most exciting ways to rejuvenate this beloved brand is the new game Lite-Brite Touch, which has buttons instead of pegs. Keep pressing them to change the color to create your own designs, or put it in game mode for single and multiplayer fun!

Sensory memories of my childhood came rushing back when I saw this recreation of the Mickey Mouse View-Master 3D, which comes with three reels from classic Mickey Mouse shorts, including “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” segment from Fantasia.

Whether you’re nostalgic for your VHS collection, or the similarly conceived McDonald’s Happy Meal toys, Movie Caracter Collectible Figures make a perfect stocking stuffer or small gift for the Disney fan in your life. Six Disney classics (Aladdin, Cinderella, The Lion King, Peter Pan, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast) are part of this collection, and each mini VHS box has one of three characters from that film inside.

When displayed outside of their clamshell case, each figure stands on their VHS tape as a base.

Play Huts are quick and easy pop-up play tents for kids ages 3 and up. Among the many licensed options are Mickey Mouse Funhouse, Disney Princess, Encanto, Spidey and his Amazing Friends, and Frozen.

And now, the kingdom of Rosas from Disney’s Wish can become your child’s playground.

K’NEX is another classic toy you’ll find from Basic Fun!, and they’ve refreshed the line with brighter colors to appeal to a wider spectrum of kids. The hot playset this holiday season is the K’NEX Marble Coaster Run for ages 8 and up. This model kit has templates kids can follow, or they can try to create their own original coaster with the 500 included pieces. A motorized lift keeps the kinetic fun going.

Tonka trucks are another evergreen toy, and the web series Tonka Chuck & Friends helps introduce the brand to a new generation. Safe for ages 3 and up, the Tonka Chuck, My Talking Truck has an animated face with a mouth that really moves! His face is made of soft plastic, and his motorized wheels can send him forward up to 5 feet. Load up the truck bed and press his hat to spill everything out.

I’m no longer ashamed to say that I was a My Little Pony boy, long before the term “Brony” was coined. While you’ll find new creations from the brand through Hasbro, Basic Fun! gives fans nostalgic for the original designs the chance to collect favorite ponies from the past in a variety of ways.

Celebrating its 40th anniversary, one of my favorite (and most space-saving) ways to relive this beloved franchise is through these 2″ figure mystery boxes. They’re designs are based on the original 80s animated series, and the set even includes Spike!

Speaking of the animated series, it all began with the special “Rescue at Midnight Castle.” A box set contains the six core characters from that hour-long introduction to this colorful world. They’re also the same size and style as the mystery figure boxes.

And if you prefer the classic 4-inch ponies, the new Celestial Ponies collection has a cool story behind it. Originally planned as a release in the '90s, this Star-themed wave never came to market, but collectors had seen artwork for the proposed line and started a campaign to get them produced. At long last, fans can bring home the official release, with four ponies in the collection – Aurora, Milky Way, Nova, and Polaris.

Staying in the same decade, Care Bares are still spreading kindness and empathy with a modern animated series and toy line. Collecting all of your favorite bears can take up a lot of space, which is why the micro plush collection is so perfect. They even come in miniature versions of the boxed bears.

Need some snuggle buddies in your Christmas tree? There’s an adorable ornament set, too!

Basic Fun! continues to expand the Care Bears world with new characters in color patterns that weren’t as easy to make in the past. Following the success of newly created friends like Togetherness Bear, I Care Bear, Sea Friend Bear, Dream Bright Bear, Dare to Care Bear, and Calming Heart Bear, 2024 will see the launch of Good Vibes Bear, a 70’s inspired character with a lava lamp fur pattern, and Friends Forever Bear, with a unique zigzag pattern.

The core plush line also takes a fun twist with the denim collection, made to look like they’re made of jean material while actually very eco friendly. Currently available in Cheer Bear, Grumpy Bear, and Share Bear, with Lucky Bear, Sunshine Bear, and Tender Heart Bear coming soon.

And you can build your own Care-A-Lot with the Lil Besties blind box figure series, which comes with a character and a play set that doubles as a storage cube and can become a bag clip.

A new generation of kids can be introduced to Littlest Pet Shop next spring with Generation 7 of the Littlest Pet Shop Pet Surprise mystery figure collection. These new characters include a card with a Roblox code for added digital play.

We’ve looked at a lot of ways that Basic Fun! takes classic brands and keeps them relevant for both collectors and kids. We close our look at their Toy Fair display with a homegrown toy line guaranteed to be a future classic, Misfittens. These plush cats have gotten themselves in a bit of a name, squished inside of a tube with packaging inspired by real products. “Get Meowt!” Pull their tail to release the stuck kitten and find out who you got! They can be restuffed and pulled out again and again.

Series 3 is now available, themed to “Wild Cats,” which doesn’t just mean jungle predators, but domestic cats that are too cool to be confined by norms. Series 4 will launch this spring, “Rainbow Cats,” which gets even more colorful!

Click here for more Toy Fair fun.

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Alex Reif
Alex joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and has been a lifelong Disney fan. His main beats for LP are Disney-branded movies, TV shows, books, music and toys. He recently became a member of the Television Critics Association (TCA).