BEST OF 2011 - Best Military Toys
The Few. The Proud. The Best of 2011...
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#4 ACI/ KAUSTIC PLASTIK 12" ANCIENT ROMAN GLADIATORS
For those collectors who like their armed action figures from a different millenia, both Kaustic Plastik and ACI brought to life the classic Colosseum gladiators of yesteryear in 2011. Taking advantage of the 1/6th scale, both companies created historically accurate figures ready for display or play. In fact, Kaustic Plastik's figures even featured real metal armor, always a bonus for those looking for authenticity in their collection!
#3 SIDESHOW'S 12" COMMANDER CODY
Sideshow expanded the ranks of their popular 12 inch Militaries of Star Wars collection by leaps and bounds this year by offering fans a legion of Clone Troopers. From the Clone Wars' stoic Captain Rex, Expanded Universe's Utapau Shadow Trooper, to the color-coded commanders of Attack of the Clones, Sideshow had a Clone Trooper for everyone. Our favorite this year was none other than Commander Cody, arguably the most popular clone responsible for executing Order 66. Equipped with two switch-out helmets, collectors had the cool option of displaying him as he appeared in Episode II or his better known part in Episode III. Coolest yet was the slew of accessories this figure packed, from an adundance of hand gestures and firearms to even a mini Order 66-issuing Darth Sidious hologram you could place in his hand. "Blast him!"
#2 SOLDIER STORY 12" USMC MEU RIFLEMAN (SS-048)
Loaded with tons of gear and weapons and featuring accurate uniform items and accessories, Soldier Story brings to collectors a real-life hero with this impressive 12" United States Marine Corps Marine Expeditionary Unit Rifleman. The backbone of the military force instrumental in fighting terrorism the world over, the Marine Rifleman is the spearhead to America's war on terror; this figure represents the few and the proud in a way few action figures can.
#1 HASBRO'S GI JOE
This year gave us some great toys, didn't it? Hasbro started strong with a brand new Snake Eyes that managed to shine above the rest, an awesome update of Low-Light, and a great new character in Shadow Tracker. Hasbro demontrated the versatility of their molds by creating some great figures out of reused parts - Cobra Trooper, Viper, Crazy Legs, Steel Brigade, and my favorite - Hawk! Along the way, Ross surprised us with toys we thought were dead - the long-awaited Rise of Cobra Alpha wave 3 vehicles and the Sand Serpent. The Official Collectors' Club brought us the Mission Brazil II set, giving old Brazilian toys new life. But then frustration set in with the San Diego Comic-Con exclusives. Those who could get these toys rejoiced; the others lamented. Over the summer, the 30th Anniversary line launched - finally! After waiting a year, Renegades figures! Hasbro snuck in a variant of Steel Brigade, perhaps a nod to the original's variants. And because Hasbro loves us, or they felt bad about the Zarana situation, we got exclusive packs of the Dreadnoks and Maruaders - 14 more figures to fill our ranks! With more waves showing up and a new movie in the summer, it looks like we'll all be enjoying these toys for a little while more...
So what's best? Let's break it into retail and exclusive releases. On the retail side, for us, there isn't any question - the new Sky Striker. With so much new tooling it might be an entirely new vehicle, it's a great update to the 1983 original. We lost parachutes and dual seating, but we gained an awesome cockpit and customizable decals. Now the jet can be flown by Flint, Duke, Shipwreck, even Snake Eyes! Throw in black tailfins, optional stripes, and a way-cool modern helmet for Ace, and this one's a lock. On the exclusives side, we have to give it to Zarana. More than just a sister to Zartan, she was, for all intents and purposes, Cobra Commander's Number Two during the latter years of the Marvel series run. She showed up prominently in the Sunbow cartoon, and even snuck her way into a few DiC episodes! Her new figure is a faithful update to the original (and prettier by far!), and versatile, too - half the tooling was reused for the equally lovely Zanya!