"Pikachu! I choose you!" If you've ever shouted those words or have a kid that runs around throwing balls at your dog trying to "catch" them, then you have something to look forward to with 2018's best Pokemon toys. It's all in there: Poké balls, collectibles, wearable Pokémon, adorable stuffed versions of creatures with the power to destroy entire buildings. You know, family friendly!
Kidding aside, there's a lot to be excited about this year. With a new toy developer breathing new energy into the twenty-year-old toy line, expectations are very high. Old fans and new ones are on the lookout for something special, and it looks like they won't be disappointed!
A Brief History of Pokémon in America
Developed in 1995 by Satoshi Tajiri, Pokémon became an instant success on the Nintendo Gameboy when it made its way to the United States in 1998. The first two games, Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue, sent both kids and adults into a frenzy. The anime series launched stateside a few weeks earlier. The idea was to build anticipation and an audience for the game. This has been a standard toy company routine for decades. (What? Did you think the Transformers cartoon wasn't about selling Transformers toys?) This lead to an explosion in popularity for the adorable Pikachu and, to a lesser degree, Ash and Team Rocket. A third game, Pokémon Yellow, launched a year later to capitalize on their sudden stardom.
At first, there weren't any American toys. Companies like EBGames had to import whatever Japanese toys they could get their hands on, even if they weren't actually toys. This lead to some embarrassing imports like the Pikachu rape alarm keychain that emits a piercing siren when activated. Not exactly the image a video game store is looking to project. They probably should have had someone translate the packaging before buying thousands of them to ship all over the country. Just saying.
Since then, however, Pokémon has become not only the second best-selling video game franchise of all time (Mario is still king), but also the top selling trading card game (beating out Magic: The Gathering), and the cartoon/anime continues to pull in strong ratings 20 years later. On top of all that, the toys are some of the hottest on the market, and 2018's best Pokemon toys look to continue that trend!
Wicked Cool Toys - New Licensee!
Last year, toy manufacturer TOMY lost the extremely lucrative license to make Pokémon toys. Instead, the Pokémon Company (yes, that is a real thing) named Wicked Cool Toys as the new "Master Toy licensee." This means that they have the rights to make and sell Pokémon toys all over the world except in Asia.
Wicked Cool Toys has been around since 2012, and they have quite a selection of toys under their banner. From Teenage Mutant Turtles to WWE wrestlers to Shimmer and Shine to, curiously, the Girl Scouts (it's a working oven to bake Girl Scout cookies in!), Wicked Cool Toys has made quite a splash in the last six years. Now that they're going to deliver 2018's best Pokemon toys, we'll get to see them in action!
2018's Best Pokemon Toys
Wasting no time, Wicked Cool Toys has an entire line of awesome toys ready to go for this fall. Debuting at this year's Toy Fair, attendees were delighted to find a menagerie of Pokémon waiting to battle. Sometimes literally! Ranging from the classics like Pikachu and Squirtle from the original Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow titles to new Legendary creatures like Lunala and Solgaleo from Pokémon Sun and Moon, there's something for everyone.
Let's be honest here: Everyone loves to cuddle with their favorite Pokémon! Wicked Cool Toys doesn't break any new ground with its selection of 8" plush toys, but it does have some unusual choices like having both Pikachu and Ditto Pikachu. There are 12" plush dolls of (of course) Pikachu but also Snorlax, Charizard, and Meowth just to name a few. Finally, there's going to be at least one jumbo scale 18" plush Pokémon. Naturally, it's Pikachu again.
One of the cooler plush toys are the plush Poké balls that come in a variety of designs from the show. More importantly, they always land upright! Now you can safely throw Poké balls at your cat or dog (or your little brother). For the less action-oriented, there are the 3" plush clip-ons that let you wear your Pokémon on your belt or hang them from your school bag. These appear to be the same set of Pokémon from the 8" toy line so you can get a matching set!
Finally, Wicked Cool Toys is very excited about their Power Action Pikachu. His cheeks and tail light up just like the real thing (but without the attending electrical shock). He yells "Pikachu!" and makes a variety of sound effects. He's motion activated and super adorable!
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But if you're not interested in cute and cuddly, how about some brutal Pokémon combat? This is the meat and potatoes of 2018's best Pokemon toys: The battle figures! Due to the usually bizarre body shapes of Pokémon, the battle figures have limited articulation. Sure, you can give a Meowth poseable arms and legs but then what the heck do you do with a Ditto? It's just a pink blob with a smiley face! In fact, the 2"-3" aren't articulated at all.
But, here's the wicked cool thing (see what I did there?): For the first time, the battle figures are at scale, so the larger Pokémon are actually larger. That means the Charizard and Incineroar battle figures are bigger than the Alolan Muk and Alolan Sandslash battle figures. And those, in turn, are bigger than the Charjabug and Togedemaru. And larger than all of them are the Legendary Pokémon standing at a full 12"!
The smaller Pokémon will come in sets of two or three. Each will come with either two 2" (non-poseable) figures or two 2" and one 3" articulated figure. There is also an eight pack with five 2" and three 3" figures. The 4.5" battle figures will be sold individually, and each will have a special attack move of some kind (but no articulation). Part of this set will be a special two-pack of Ash and Pikachu. Ash's special move is to throw Pikachu into battle. Curiously, the Legendary Pokémon do not seem to have a special attack or articulation. That could well be a cost-cutting measure to keep the price down.
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If you're a fan of Pokémon, at some point, you've wanted to own a Poké ball. Admit it, the idea of having a ball on your belt that can summon a fire-breathing monster is just awesome. Well, we can't help you with the fire-breathing monster part, but Wicked Cool Toys is continuing to produce "Clip-n-Go" Poké balls. With 18 different sets to pick from, you can find just the right assortment of Poké balls and Pokémon to clip on to your belt. Some of the sets are just the basic Poké ball with a different Pokémon, but most of them are unique. And if you don't happen to wear a belt, you can buy a special adjustable belt just to wear your Poké balls!
Next, we have the Pop Action Poké ball which is more or less exactly what it sounds like. You throw the ball and out pops a tiny Pokémon, ready to do battle! All of the balls will be the basic red and white Poké Ball, but there will be 12 different sets sold with different Pokémon in each.
Finally, we have foam Poké balls. Sold in two packs, these will really let you wing those Poké balls at whatever you're trying to catch with no risk of damage to them. Or the house. What more could a parent ask for?
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Wicked Cool Wearables
Not all of 2018's best Pokemon toys are actually toys. Hey, not everything Pokémon is about throwing monsters at each other until one of them passes out, right? Sometimes you gotta take a break from catching 'em all to looking stylish instead. That's where the Pokémon wearables come in!
Aside from the Clip-n-Go Poké balls discussed before, there are also Slapband Plushies to wear around! Now you can wear your favorite little critter on your wrist and stroke their soft fur anytime you want! If Wicked Cool keeps to its pattern so far, there will be somewhere between 12 and 18 different slap bands for sale over the next several months broken up into three waves.
Next, we have Poké ball purse carriers. Basically, it's a Poké ball-shaped purse with a little 4" plush Pokémon inside. There are at least eight different styles including one with the single cutest Pokémon of all time: Jigglypuff! No, it does not play the Jigglypuff song (more's the pity).
Finally, there are... the hand bands. If you have an elementary school age child, you've probably noticed that kids (mostly girls) wear headbands to school with cat ears, rabbit ears, and the like. Now they can wear Pokémon ears! Your child will be able to go to school as Pikachu, Eevee, Vulpix, and more.
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Maybe you don't want to wear your Pokémon. Perhaps you don't want to have them fight. Or it could be that you really just want to collect 'em all and put 'em on display. If that's the case, Wicked Cool Toys has got you covered there as well. In addition to all the battle figures and Poké balls and plush awesomeness, 2018's best Pokemon toys include straight up collectible Pokémon figures. Each one is 2"-3" tall and comes with its own display case! Each come in an action pose of some kind. Or at least as much as they can. Again, Pokémon like Ditto and Snorlax don't really lend themselves to "action" poses.
With hundreds of Pokémon in existence, Wicked Cool Toys can keep feeding your collection habit for years to come! Start making room for them now. You're gonna need it.
2019: Time to Catch 'Em All
These are easily going to be 2019's best Pokemon toys, and we can't wait to get our hands on them! Errrr...for our kids, that is. Yeah, that's it. For the kids. Ah, who are we kidding? They don't make little collectible Pokémon with display cases for kids. That's for us adults who've been playing Pokémon longer than our little whippersnapper kids have been alive! Well, we did say there's something for everyone!
The first wave should be hitting the stores this fall. Now excuse us, we have to get ready to go catch 'em all.