The United Kingdom of Toys?

Posted by Jeff Cope (January 30, 2007, 7:38PM)

I've been buying toys from overseas for years. Until recently those purchases have consisted entirely of Japanese toys. I went through a Gundam kick around 2000 after seeing Bandai's Gundam range on display at Toy Fair 2000. Of course, I've grown up with Godzilla and have picked up numerous Godzilla toys from importers over the years. Then there was Tomy's Disney's Magical Collection, Microman, Kubricks, etc. Japan was and is just a hotbed for cool toys.

But, lookout world! Here comes....Great Britain?

Yup. It seems the United Kingdom is stepping up and right now some of my favorite (or soon-to-be favorite) action figure lines are originating from across the pond.

Character Options is doing a bang-up job with their Doctor Who line based on the new Doctor Who series which is about to enter its third season (series) in England (and airing in the US on the Sci Fi channel). CO just unveiled a bunch of new figures at the recent British Toy Fair, but since many of the characters shown are from the third season yet to air they are hush-hush for now. But word from those who've seen them is that they'll have Doctor Who fans drooling!

Another company, Cards Inc., looks to be hitting it right out of the park with two big upcoming lines. The first is their 3-3/4" Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix line based upon the fifth film in the Harry Potter franchise hitting theaters this July. Cards has released images of Harry, Dumbledore and Mad-Eye Moody thus far and they are amazing. The sculpting on these is stunning. For more on this line check out Adrian Faulkner's report here. Cards holds the license to films 1 through 6 of the Harry Potter series. If the line performs well at retail it looks to be quite expansive. The only downside? It's exclusive to Europe due to NECA holding the North American Master Toy License for Harry Potter.

Towards the end of the year Cards will be releasing another 3-3/4" line. This one is based upon the film The Golden Compass (based upon the Phillip Pullman novel of the same name - though it's titled Northern Lights in the UK). This line is also being kept under wraps for now, but word is they are just as well done as the Harry Potter figures. I had a couple of people tell me that the head-sculpt on the Lord Asriel (played by recent Casino Royale's Daniel Craig) is uncanny. As Cards Inc. holds the Worldwide Master Toy License for The Golden Compass look for this line to be available in the US around the time of the film's release (December 2007).

Of course there's Famosa's Disney Heroes line, but seeing as Famosa is from Spain and not the UK they are a topic for another time.

So, cheers to these enterprising UK toymakers! I've got a feeling that these lines are just the tip of the iceberg.

Discuss these lines and more in AFI's All About the Toys forum!