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Beyond Disney’s INFINITY: Five Toy Lines Cancelled Before Their Time

Disney’s way ironically named INFINITY line has had its plug pulled, reportedly costing the company a $147 million write-off.

While the move is hardly surprising, the mix of action figure collectables with unlockable on-screen personalities was an ambitious gamble.

If anything, it was an expensive way to mix Disney’s multiple universes in one place.

Captain Jack Sparrow meets Pumpkin King Jack Skellington, and so on. To Star Wars, Pixar, Marvel infinity and beyond, until now.

Here’s a look at five other toy lines cancelled to the disappointment of the few who loved them…

M.U.S.C.L.E.

mask
Millions of Unusual Small Creatures Lurking Everywhere (actually there were only 233 of them) made their American debut via Japan in the mid 1980s thanks to Mattel.

These were a living nightmare to parents who found them deep in the shag carpets they had been meaning to replace since 1975. The pink wrestling personalities were addictively collectable, though the line was cancelled after only two years of shelf space.

An unsuccessful relaunch of single color toned versions couldn’t pry kids away from their new NES, and we never saw these little guys again.

lrg-packaged-frontVISIONARIES

Around the same time as the M.U.S.C.L.E collectables, Hasbro launched their ambitious new toy like Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light.

Action figures with holograms!

As a kid in the 80s, getting your hands on your very own hologram was pretty top tier. I mean, could lasers be next?

Based on a short-lived animated series (and mini comic), the toys were fairly short-lived as well.

Though they have a big of a cult following, it’s arguable there was really anything special about these guys without their magic holographic powers.

Screen+Shot+2016-05-17+at+2.41.26+PM2-XL

I have a personal bias on this one, as I think it might have been the greatest toy ever invented (and not just because also played your 8-track album collection). This robot learning tool was the original Amazon Alexa or BB-8 Sphero.

Invented by Michael J. Freeman (and also voiced by him), the little guy provided a basic interface of four buttons (as did any 8-track player, technically). Depending on the tape module (which ranged in topic from educational to entertaining), you changed out a card over the buttons for additional customization.

2-XL was a must-have toy around 1978, and continued to be popular for a few years before going the way of, well, the 8-track format. If you’re looking for something truly retro for your kids, I’d pick one up on eBay.

With its physical clicking mechanisms to advance the tape’s content, flashing red eyes that moved to the audio, and downright hysterical personality, there’s nothing really like it on the market even now. In 1992, Tiger Electronics attempted a comeback for 2-XL with a new cassette tape edition. This one took advantage of the four tracks on the format, rather than switching back and forth on the cartridge. By 1995, it became as extinct as the cassette tape, and CD-Rom based quiz games were the rage.

CommTalk

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In preparation for a whole new trilogy of action figures, someone at Hasbro thought we would want to also hear Jar Jar Binks while we played with the toy.

Electronic CommTalk technology was an extra way to justify a higher price point for the Phantom Menace figures, but they still flew off the shelf before the film’s release. To hear the figures speak, you needed to purchase separately (of course) the CommTalk reader. Using radio frequency identification, the microchip that came with the figure would unlock audio that wasn’t what I’d describe as clear.

Due to high production cost and lack of demand, the gimmick went way before the clones could attack.

Virtual-Boy-SetVirtual Boy

Nintendo’s second lowest selling gaming platform (the first being the 64DD) was an attempt to bring 3D and virtual reality to the masses 21 years before this October’s launch of Playstation VR. Promised by the company “totally immerse players into their own private universe,” it was immediately met with bad reviews. Critics quickly pointed out its games hollow graphics and lack of portability.

Like Apple’s Mac Cube, the Virtual Boy is the stuff of legend, and usually admired for its ambition by Nintendo aficionados. Of course, Nintendo would perfect everything that was wrong with this early failure with the release of their 3DS.

 

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