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Tag Archive: Hasbro


Review by C.J. Bunce

Axis & Allies is a classic wartime strategy board game that you’ve likely encountered either yourself or found a good friend playing over the years.  First released in 1981 by Nova Game Designs it has continued to be re-released from the likes of Milton Bradley, and it currently is a game produced by Wizards of the Coast and Avalon Hill under the Hasbro umbrella of companies.  Thirty-six years after its release it remains a fun and competitive game in various versions of play with a loyal following, continuing to be the focus of tournaments at Gen Con and other venues throughout the year.  This month Wizards of the Coast is releasing an updated edition of the game celebrating the 50th anniversary of Avalon Hill.  The company had tapped Axis & Allies original game designer and creator Larry Harris to take another look at the game and develop a special anniversary edition with updated features and gameplay.  The result is the Axis & Allies Anniversary Edition, a giant, beautifully designed edition featuring plenty of extras, including two completely different games in one box as compared to the classic standard edition–one with a scenario beginning in the Spring of 1941 (the Axis attack) and the other beginning in the Spring of 1942 (from the traditional version of the game).  The detail and complex strategy allow for an unlimited level of historicity depending on the desires of the players.  The out-of-the-box version will test players’ skill in planning, including short-term battle tactics and long-term strategy, and as with the original game there’s also room for luck to have a hand in the outcome.

The Anniversary Edition, originally released in limited quantities in 2008 and out of print since, includes more than 650 game pieces, including some updated sculpts of tokens compared to the standard edition.  It’s housed in a deluxe sturdy box that features a gorgeous painting when the eight game piece boxes are housed together.  The gameboard is a whopping 24 x 46 inches.  Recommended for players 12 and up, 2-6 can play, each representing one or more of the United States, the Soviet Union, and the United Kingdom for the Allies, or Germany, Japan, or Italy for the Axis.  As compared to the standard edition Italy is feature of the Anniversary Edition, which balances out the board 3 to 3 (allowing for more players than prior editions).  As with Italy during the real war, the prospects of a single player representing Italy winning the game in a six player game will be a real challenge, but we figured a cunning or lucky player may be able to make it work.  China also has a different configuration in this edition, allowing for further twists to the game depending on how it is used to manipulate the balance of power across the board.  The key update for 2017 is an updated rulebook correcting past errors.

You really get your money’s worth with the giant board, extra features, and 650+ playing pieces in the Axis & Allies Anniversary Edition.

We set aside an afternoon to try it: my friend (who is a regular gamer, but hasn’t played Axis & Allies in years) and I (new to wargame/combat board games) made it through two complete rounds in 6.5 hours, but that time included initial board set-up (punching out pieces, etc.) and reading instructions.  Those familiar with the standard game will have no problem completing 4-6 rounds in this time, which appears to be the norm for a complete game.  The winner of the game is the first to capture a set number of major city capitals.  Each side starts with a designated number of cities (based on which scenario you play) and players decide in advance whether 13, 15, or all 18 capitals is the goal, which may shorten or extend the time of gameplay.  Paper money is used as IPCs or “industrial production certificates” and each of the six major countries is paid each round to represent a rough correlation of the actual military spending during the war.  We played the Spring of 1941 scenario and this meant Germany was powerful with Japan in a good position to strike, but the United Kingdom is entrenched upfront by design as a military stronghold with resources that, along with the resources of the United States, kept the balance in favor of the Allies for the first round.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Arriving in book stores today is the next fandom book from Star TrekStar Trek: The Book of Lists is the first book to include information from the first six Star Trek television series (including the Animated Series, but not yet Star Trek Discovery) and all 13 films including Star Trek Beyond.  Noted trivia compiler and writer Chip Carter has amassed 100 lists that will tap the into recesses of any Star Trek fan’s memory.

Carter nicely pulls together lists of topics both inside the various Star Trek timelines and real world trivia about the making of the shows.  Altogether you’ll find 100 lists ranging from in-depth comparisons of episodes to quirky oddities.  List #90 includes actors who appeared in both the classic Adam West Batman television series and the original Star Trek series.  How many can you name?  Carter came up with nine.  List #40 includes twelve popular holodeck programs.  List #66 includes ten episodes that directly tie back to prior episodes from other Star Trek series (an example is the NextGen episode “The Naked Now” and the original series episode “The Naked Time”).  Can you think of fourteen different drinks (List #25) mentioned in Star Trek series (and that doesn’t include Raktajino)?

Star Trek: The Book of Lists makes for some great content that could be used as an extension of the popular “Top 10 list” party game Outburst In Outburst one player reads a subject to one or more other players or teams who must try to come up with all the entries on the list.  Here you could randomly flip to a page and read the subject, allowing others to try to list all the items Carter included in his list.  Tally the wins and hand the book over to the other side, taking turns, making for a fun game for any ad hoc assemblage of Star Trek fans.  It would work particularly well because most of Carter’s lists are not exhaustive.  For example, List #82 includes nine costumes created for the shows that were worn by one character and later re-used by a different character in a later episode.  In fact this occurred literally hundreds of time throughout the Star Trek series, so you could give bonus points to someone who can think of entries not included on Carter’s lists.

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The Forbidden Zone was once a paradise.  Your kind made a wasteland of it….  Would an ape make a human Monopoly game, with ape street names? … Don’t look for it, Taylor.  You may not like what you find.  –Dr. Zaius (paraphrasing a bit)

In its most recent earnings statement, toymaker and licensor Hasbro reported that its gaming unit revenue for the second quarter was up significantly over last year.  Its franchise brand revenues, driven by growth in games like Monopoly, resulted in a 21 percent revenue increase for the company, to $545.7 million.  What does that mean for fanboys and fangirls?  Not only is Monopoly thriving, the 115-year-old marathon board game about real estate that we’ve all played over the years is here to stay.  Although it was slow to adapt to computing (the bootleg game Monopole was popular before then-owner Parker Brothers jumped in), to keep up with the times Monopoly partnered with municipalities, sports teams, movies, and other brands to keep Monopoly fresh.  What?  You missed the U.S. Navy edition?  The Ford Thunderbird edition?  The Superman Returns and Pokémon editions?  The Heinz, Doctor Who, and Batman and Robin editions?

It’s a madhouse.  A madhouse! … We finally really did it.  You maniacs! –Astronaut George Taylor

For its next franchise tie-in, Hasbro has partnered with 20th Century Fox Consumer Products to release this summer’s strangest mash-up game: Monopoly: Planet of the Apes Retro Art EditionIt’s not just your typical Monopoly tie-in with a popular franchise.

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Perhaps it is in part because of the influence of Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, but it looks like finally, after decades of 100 male Star Wars action figures for every one female figure for kids to play with, times may be changing.  It was sad for two generations of girls–and boys–that you could quickly list all the named women characters of Star Wars, both from the original trilogy: Leia, Aunt Beru, and Mon Mothma, and only a few more with the prequels: Padme, Shmi, Adi Gallia, Zam Wesell, Dorme–and Beru again–with even fewer made into toys that would allow kids to see themselves in Star Wars characters.  Disney was surprisingly slow to integrate Daisy Ridley’s Rey into all the various toy lines early last year, but recent announcements indicate the franchise is trying to catch up.  A new line of 11-inch format dolls from Hasbro looks to be a step in the right direction.

One of this weekend’s Star Wars Celebration 2017 announcements is Disney and Lucasfilm’s Forces of Destiny, a series of animated shorts highlighting the heroism of the women of Star Wars.  Although it would seem adding the women of Star Wars to each of the other toy lines in the franchise also makes sense, Forces of Destiny attempts to bridge action figures and the traditional Barbie-type 11-inch doll.  The release announcing the new doll line made clear that these toys aren’t about make-up, mirrors, and dresses.   “Star Wars Forces of Destiny is for anyone who has been inspired by Leia’s heroism, Rey’s courage or Ahsoka’s tenacity,” said Kennedy.

The toy line is also taking a cue from a successful G.I. Joe toy series, calling the toys “Adventure Dolls,” which will feature hands that can hold weapons and feet that aren’t pointed like traditional dolls (that were intended to allow for high heels).  The Forces of Destiny dolls will be anchored by a web series of animated features in July, followed by an eight-part series on the Disney Channel this Fall that will include the voices of the actual Star Wars film actresses, including Daisy Ridley (The Force Awakens’ Rey), Felicity Jones (Rogue One’s Jyn Erso), Tiya Sircar (Star Wars Rebels’ Sabine), Ashley Eckstein (Star Wars Rebels’ Ahsoka) with narration by Lupita Nyong’o (The Force Awakens’ Maz Kanata).

Here is a preview for the new Star Wars Forces of Destiny:

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clue-idw-image

Hasbro has successfully launched several toys and games like Transformers, G.I. Joe, Battleship, and My Little Pony into new media territory including tie-in movies and comic books.  Everyone’s favorite detective board game is making its way to a five-issue comic book series this year from IDW Publishing.  IDW has licensed Clue (or Cluedo for British readers) and is planning some fun tying together elements of the game and the 1985 movie Clue that starred Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, and Christopher Lloyd.  The new comic book series was announced this weekend at Emerald City Comicon 2017 in Seattle.

The classic cast everyone knows:  Colonel Mustard, Miss Scarlett (or Scarlet in the U.S.), Professor Plum, Miss Peacock, Mr. Green, Miss White, and victim Mr. Boddy, are all here.  Of course, over the years other characters have entered the fold–like Miss Peach, Monsieur Brunette, Madame Rose, and Sergeant Grey–via spinoff board games like Master Detective and video game versions of Clue.  Will they make an appearance in the new series?  Two new characters immediately stand-out from the initial artwork released: a young man and woman, the woman a red-headed starlet.  One obvious update to the original cast is Colonel Mustard, the classic “great white hunter” and colonial imperialist of the original game story, is now portrayed as a black officer.  Also, Miss White doesn’t have the dated servant maid attire of past versions of the game and the movie.

boddy     mustard

Writer Paul Allor (Guardians of the Galaxy, G.I. Joe) will be scripting the series, with artwork by Nelson Dániel (Dungeons & Dragons, The Cape).  They are putting a humorous twist on the game into their new story, similar to that found in the movie version.  Also like the movie, the first issue will have three alternate endings, plus three variant covers.  Depending on which variant cover edition you read, a unique conclusion unfolds.  Is it a clue, or a red herring?  Readers can collect all the variants (and clues), as well as the main cover by Eisner award-winning artist Gabriel Rodriguez (the classic game board image above).

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leia-40th-card luke-40th solo-40th

Hasbro announced fourteen Star Wars action figures will be released this year with re-creations of the original Kenner packaging from 1978 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Star Wars.  At this week’s New York Toy Fair 2017, Hasbro announced it initially will release the original twelve action figures in their classic cardbacks from 1978: Luke Skywalker, R2-D2, C-3PO, Princess Leia, Darth Vader, Ben Kenobi, Chewbacca, Han Solo, Stormtrooper, Jawa, Sandpeople, and Death Squad Commander.

We’ve all seen these figures not only in their original 3 3/4-inch size with this packaging, but in re-releases over the years for various editions.  The difference is the new 40th anniversary editions will include new sculpts in a six-inch format.  This size difference explains why you might notice the new versions don’t exactly match the original bubble card placement.

r5-d4-40th r2-40th ben-40th-card

In addition to the original twelve figures, three figures will be released as exclusives: R5-D4 will only be available at Gamestop stores on retro card, the AT-AT Driver will only be available at Wal-Mart stores in the standard Black Series box, and the X-Wing pilot Luke foil edition on retro card will only be sold at Star Wars Celebration 2017.  A Snowtrooper will also be available in the same size in the standard Black Series box.

c-3po-40th stormtrooper chewbacca-40th

Darth Vader will also be sold with a recreation of the infamous Kenner Early Bird Certificate set, the empty cardboard box Kenner sold in Christmas 1977 to meet the demand for Star Wars toys after the movie’s surprise success.  The original Early Bird Certificate granted purchasers a voucher for figures of Luke, Leia, R2, and Chewbacca and had a special cardboard display set to display the first 12 figures.

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sw-clue-3d

Countless Hasbro, Parker Brothers, and Milton Bradley games have been re-released incorporating every genre favorite from The Lord of the Rings to the Harry Potter series, and from Firefly to The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones You can pull off your classic game shelf the original Monopoly, Risk, Clue, or Trivial Pursuit, or mix up the game night a bit with the tie-in version of your favorite movie or TV series.  Although a The Walking Dead seems like it would be a better mash-up with Sorry! than The Game of Life or The Walking Dead Jenga, some of the tie-ins seem well-matched (like Sherlock Clue, Downton Abbey Clue, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens BB-8 Operation!).

Ready for this holiday season, Hasbro is releasing a new Star Wars Clue game this month.  And the plot of the game is nicely timed to tie with the plot of December’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.  The goal is to locate the plans to the Death Star, figure out who stashed them, and determine the best route to escape.

star-wars-clue

This beautiful new game is Star Wars gold for two reasons.  First, it’s a twist on Clue (Cluedo in the UK) and Clue is always fun if you get enough people to play.  “But I already have seven versions of Clue plus Star Wars Trivial Pursuit and Monopoly!” you say.  This one adds some three-dimensional color for good family night play.  And that new 3D take is the second reason this is sure to be a fun, new game: It evokes the great cardboard-backed action figure playsets from the 1970s, like the Creature Cantina, the Hoth AT-AT Playset, the Cloud City Playset, and even the wall inserts on the full-sized Death Star playset.  It also looks a bit like the classic Sub Search from Milton Bradley.

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Jyn Erso action figure Rogue One

As part of a new fan contest and chapter-by-chapter reveal of its line of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story action figures and other toys, Lucasfilm has released a stop-motion video full of new characters.  Star Wars items offered by The Disney Store, Funko, JAKKS Pacific, and Hasbro are peppered throughout this clever way to advertise–and get fans excited about–so many new toys.  At the same time, action figure packages are slowly beginning to appear across the Web.

Tomorrow, September 2, 2016, online retailers will begin to take pre-orders for the new toys.  New items are expected to be available in stores September 30, well in advance of the premiere of the film, as with previous Star Wars marketing for the prequels and last year’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Below we have several images you’ve probably not seen yet, the new video, a behind-the-scenes look at the video revealing even more action figures, and details from Hasbro’s latest press release.

Rogue One action figures

If contests are your thing, check out the details of Lucasfilm’s latest and an opportunity to attend a screening of the film and tour of Lucasfilm in San Francisco in December at this link.

First up, see how many new toys you can find in this video:

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Star Trek Trivial Pursuit ad banner

Next Thursday, September 8, 2016, Star Trek turns 50.  As you gear up for your own Star Trek parties, you still have time to pick up what we think is one of the best anniversary releases this year–and it’s been a big marketing year for Star Trek.  Classic Trivial Pursuit meets up with your favorite sci-fi franchise in Trivial Pursuit: The Star Trek 50th Anniversary Edition.

We’ve been playing this one over the course of the summer.  CBS Studios, Paramount and Hasbro have done a fine job putting together a game that any Trek fan will enjoy.  Housed in a model of everyone’s favorite shuttlecraft, you can leave this on the shelf and have a pick-up game anytime.

Trivial Pursuit is, of course, all about the questions and the questions in this edition are loyal to all Star Trek television series and movies–except the J.J. Abrams universe, the newly-designated “Kelvin timeline” films.  For some reason the gamers chose to include questions from Star Trek’s original series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Star Trek Voyager, and Enterprise and the first ten Star Trek movies, but no alternate timeline questions.  Perhaps they didn’t want to confuse players with possible contradictory answers from these separate story paths?  No matter, if you like one flavor of Star Trek you probably like more than one series.  Ultimately, the more players you have, the more you can spread out the knowledge and share in the fun.

Trek trivia

That goes for players of all ages.  Some questions are very easy, but others may trip up even the savviest Trek fan, especially if you’re not an expert in all of the Trek incarnations.  Or if you don’t shout out the series or film the question is referencing, as designated on the edge of each card.  The variety on each card is random enough that you might have an easy question followed by a tough question, as was common with the classic Trivial Pursuit game.  Questions are both in-universe, like “What article of interstellar law were Kirk and McCoy arrested under by General Chang?” and real-world, like “Who was the only actor to be in both Star Trek pilot episodes?”

So what all do you get?

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Jem movie poster

G.I. Joe: Retaliation director Jon M. Chu is transforming another 1980s animated television series into a live action theatrical release.  The series Jem ran three seasons and 65 episodes, between 1985 and 1988.  Jerrica Benton was the secret leader of the glam rock, all-girl band in the original series.  The band’s name, Jem and the Holograms, will soon be the title of the live action film.  The original Jem prompted a successful toy line from Hasbro, one of the companies bringing the series to the big screen.

The magical elements of Jem do not appear to have made it to the new movie.  In the animated series Jerrica projected a holographic image over her own to disguise herself.  Aubrey Peeples (Sharknado), who could almost be a ringer for actress/singer Zooey Deschanel, now stars as Jerrica, who takes on the persona of Jem as her career in music takes off, thanks to a music producer played by Juliette Lewis.  The 1980s brat pack star Molly Ringwald co-stars.

Ryan Hansen Jem and the Holograms

Isn’t that Ryan Hansen, Dick Casablancas from Veronica Mars, at the end of the trailer, getting an autograph from Jem?

Check out this preview for Jem and the Holograms:

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