Wizards of the Coast's major events this year may revolve around the tenth anniversary of Magic: The Gathering (see 'WotC Redesigns Magic: The Gathering') and the acquisition of a license for the ultra popular Neo-Pets (see 'WotC Announces Neo-Pets CCG'), but the WotC display at this year's New York Toy Fair also devoted a fair amount of space to the long-awaited Simpsons TCG. Originally scheduled for late 2002 (see 'WotC's Simpsons TCG Spells D'oh!'), the Simpsons TCG is now set for a fall 2003 release. Samples of the cards that were available at Toy Fair displayed the same sort of raunchy irreverence that has endeared the long-running animated series to several generations of college students. A modest exposure to the new game was more than enough to indicate that the game designers fully understood all the key nuances of the property. This is a game that will appeal to the legions of Simpsons fans, who with the aid of near constant TV reruns have a near encyclopedic knowledge of all things Simpsons. WotC is wisely targeting the high school/college segment of the Simpsons spectrum, rather than younger fans -- a strategy that should help the Simpsons TCG in most pop culture stores.
Along with its mix of CCGs and RPG materials WotC's exhibit at this year' Toy Fair also included the Avalon Hill line of board games. In a move that makes perfect sense, the sophisticated strategy games that Avalon Hill has created (Axis & Allies, Risk, etc.) are now under the WotC umbrella -- a change that should make it easier for specialty retailers to acquire this line of challenging and complicated board games. Many retailers are reporting a revival of interest in board games, and this change of jurisdiction for Avalon Hill may make it easier for retailers who have shied away from 'mass market' board games to give perennial sellers such as Axis & Allies a chance in their shops.