Figures.com TOP 10 Toys of 2012
The Staff Picks Their Favorites...
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Every year the staff at Figures.com reflects back on all the cool toys that came out and joined our collections. 2012 is no exception, though instead of our typical "Best Of" category picks, we decided to try something different. Presenting Figures.com's TOP 10, a more personal look at our favorite collectibles of 2012. The team at our affiliate site YoJoe.com has even joined in on the fun. While coming up with ten picks proved challenging given the slow GI Joe toy year, they did come up with six super standouts!
Join us as we celebrate another amazing year in action figure collecting...
- Jeff Saylor and the Figures.com/Action On-Line Staff
We may never see those golden days again when ORIGINAL toy concepts dominated the market, but heck if 2012 didn't amaze with toys NOBODY saw coming. Action figures from not one, but TWO 80's cult classic horror films? My favorite MGS and Starcraft character figures getting a new lease on life? I loved The Avengers like everyone else, but it was mostly licenses I never thought we'd get toys from that made my top list (below in no particular order).
#10 - AMOK TIME RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD TARMAN ZOMBIE (Read my review HERE!) - Sure, Amok Time had announced that they were making this figure... way back in 2009. But did anyone think it was still going to see release? The fact that the "Tarman" got made at all is a small miracle. While ROTLD is a cult classic, niche licenses like that aren't often entertained in today's "safe" toy market (read: blockbuster licenses only). And what a figure it is! Amok Time nailed the look of this unique and unforgettable undead creature. One of my favorite zombies from one of my favorite zombie movies... as an action figure at long last. "BRAINS!"
#9 - MEZCO MARS ATTACKS 6" MARTIAN COMMANDER (Check out my photos HERE!) - I'm old, but I'm not old enough to have collected Topps' 1962 Mars Attacks trading cards. However, I am more than aware of their lasting legacy on pop culture. To me the martians depicted in the cutting edge series have always been the definitive "little green men" from Mars. Simply a classic sci-fi look to them. That said, I LOVE Mars Attacks (though not the movie) and any action figure of the alien invaders is a good thing. Mezco's 6-inch Martian Commander action figure is more than a good thing... it's pure awesome! Featuring fantastic articulation (love how the whole head and bubble helmet rotate as one!), multiple ray guns of death and a retro sculpt to die for, Mezco's Mars Attacks figure is an amazing tribute to the timeless trading card series and one must-have sci-fi collectible.
#8 - SIDESHOW 1:1 STALKER PREDATOR MASK (Read my review HERE!) - It's cool collectibles like this that remind me that original toy concepts aren't totally dead yet. Not since the days of Kenner have fans received something so unique in the world of Predator, and certainly nothing this nice. Based on an original design conceived by award-winning Special Makeup FX artist Steve Wang, the Stalker Predator Mask replica is a stunning "what if" creation. It wasn't in any movie, but it should be. I'm just glad it's in my collection.
#7 - NECA BORDERLANDS SERIES 1 (Read my review HERE!) - You watch a two hour movie that you love and you WANT action figures. You play a video game for months on end and you NEED action figures. Something that engaging and entertaining becomes a part of you, something a great movie takes years to accomplish through repeated viewings. Borderlands is such a life-altering game for me and NECA's action figures of Claptrap and a Psycho Bandit are perfect plastic playthings to remind me of that experience. Plus, how can you not own a Claptrap action figure? The character is pure comedy gold! (Although my knowing the voice actor still freaks me out.)
#6 - SQUARE ENIX METAL GEAR SOLID PLAY ARTS KAI CYBORG NINJA (Read our review HERE!) - Unlike Borderlands, I have never played a Metal Gear Solid game. I know, I know - what's wrong with me?! Regardless, one of my all-time favorite action figures has been McFarlane's Ninja, released waaaay back in 1999. When I first saw that figure I was floored with how cool it looked. He's a cyborg... and a ninja! What's not to love? That McFarlane figure still holds up remarkably well all these years later and still holds a top shelf in my collection. But when Square Enix showed off a NEW Cyborg Ninja action figure, my world stopped. Not only is this figure an update of the classic character as a "Play Arts Kai" (translation: "mega-detailed hyper-articulated super-awesome") but this Cyborg Ninja was a NEW Kai format. Larger than all previous Play Arts Kai, Cyborg Ninja towers in at 10 inches. It's like the beautiful love child of a 7-inch NECA figure and a 12-inch Hot Toys. Sorry McFarlane, it was a good run...
#5 - DC UNLIMITED STARCRAFT II TYCHUS FINDLAY (Read my review HERE!) - My love of all things sci-fi - especially hulked-out space marines - is no hidden secret. That said, you can imagine my anxiety waiting nearly TWO YEARS for this awesome Starcraft Terran Marine to see release. Would it get released? It was a close call, that's for sure, as DC Direct/Unlimited are now DC Collectibles and no longer deal with trivial stuff such as video games (sarcasm). I'll forgive DC for focusing only on DC, however, as their last video game related action figure is simply one of the best toys released in 2012. Priced at $30, the 9-inch tall Tychus is an incredibly good value. An action figure this robust, articulated and good looking SHOULD retail for a cool Kai $60. Which is around what he costs now on the secondary market, BUT he didn't when he came out... and that's what matters. If you missed getting Tychus earlier this year, you really missed out. Sci-fi action figures don't getting any cooler than this.
#4 - NECA EVIL DEAD 2 "HERO FROM THE SKY" ASH (SDCC EXCLUSIVE) (Read our review HERE!) - I used to be a big collector of action figure variants, but in my older, wiser (har!) years I've grown to appreciate what I deem the "definitive" version of my favorite characters. This San Diego Comic-Con exclusive figure of Evil Dead 2's Ash is that definitive version for me. Well, actually the colored "Hero" version is, but this exclusive came out first AND comes with an amazing display base. Regardless, "Hero From The Sky Ash" is my definitive Ash action figure, something I've been waiting for since McFarlane released their subpar version many moons ago. Boomstick, check. Chainsaw, check. Groovy. The Evil Dead reboot MAY end up being good (trailer is decent), but nothing will replace my love of Bruce Campbell and the campy, gory fun of Sam Raimi's Evil Dead 2.
#3 - ACI 1:6 SPARTACUS "GLADIATOR OF ROME" (Read my review HERE!) - As I mentioned, I loved The Avengers, but this year I left all the fantastic looking Hot Toys figures to the rest of the Figures.com team. 2012 for me was all about unique 1:6th scale figures from one of my favorite historical time periods: Ancient Rome. ACI, a company I had never dealt with before, awed me with their amazing figure of Spartacus (I'm sure you've heard of him) fully geared up for a fight in the gladiator arena. While not based on the hit Starz series, the striking resemblance to the late, great Andy Whitfield is undeniable making this figure even more appealing to this collector.
#2 - KAUSTIC PLASTIK 1:6 VALERIUS ROMAN LEGIONARY (Read my review HERE!) - Another 1:6th scale Roman action figure that blew me away was "Valerius" from new Italian toy company Kaustic Plastik. The opposite of the barely clad Spartacus, this stunning Roman Legionary came fully kitted up for war with world-conquering gladius, javelin, Legio XIV shield, and full body armor - including TWO real metal helmets! History and toy collecting doesn't get any cooler than this.
#1 - NECA 1/4 SCALE CITY HUNTER PREDATOR (Read my review HERE!) - Sideshow's imaginative Stalker Predator Mask is cool, but when it comes down to collectibles from the actual Predator movies, the killer look of the City Hunter in Predator 2 reigns supreme. While I have my fair share of City Hunter collectibles, NOTHING I own displays my love of the masked warrior quite like NECA's towering 1/4 Scale City Hunter Predator. 22-inches tall, this figure dwarves most all the toys in my collection. It's an impressive size, for sure, but it is the figure's incredible range of movement coupled with an amazing sculpt and rockin' accessories that puts the 1/4 scale City Hunter over the top. Pred-a-tastic!
* Jason Freeny's Gummi Anatomy - The designer toy scene is a hit or miss for me. Like art, it's all about what speaks to you. I have always had this bizarre love of cross-sectional anatomy and Jason Freeny's art screams that passion. The Gummi Bear Anatomy is an actual working 3D model based on one of Freeny's earliest pop culture anatomy paintings: the inside of a candy Gummi Bear. Pure genius.
* Big Fish Mass Effect Series 2 - When DC Unlimited canceled their second assortment of Mass Effect figures, fans (including myself) were outraged. Usually when a figure line is canceled, it stays dead, but Big Fish, a company no one had heard of before, stepped up to the plate and delivered. A small toy miracle, Legion and Garrus are now mine.
* NECA's Prometheus/ Half-Life Gordon Freeman - NECA could have easily dominated my true Top 10 list with all the fantastic figures they produced this year. Most all they make just happens to be stuff I love - Prometheus and Half-Life's Gordon Freeman being two stand outs. Prometheus wasn't the greatest movie made, but those Engineers came out amazing. And Gordon? Who'd have ever thought we'd get a Half-Life action figure? The Headcrab alone is the coolest accessory produced this year. Thank you NECA!
* Mezco's Earthworm Jim - Mezco's Mars Attack figure barely surpassed this unexpected video game gem on my Top 10 list. I have fond memories of this character and the 1994 SEGA Genesis game. Mezco's Earthworm Jim action figure celebrated this classic with sculpting perfection; an incredible update to the Playmates fig of yesteryear. Groovy!
Fully articulated with more energy than a truck full of Duracells, Jess Horsley is Figures.com's Managing Editor. Jess started writing for Figures.com back in 2001 and continues to enjoy reviewing, photographing and collecting. Jess is also an avid 1/6th scale customizer who prefers sci-fi, fantasy, and medieval work. Most of Jess' collection is made up of pieces based on video games like StarCraft II, Dead Space, Assassin's Creed and God of War; comics like The Hulk, Iron Man and X-Force; and movies and TV shows like Star Wars, Spatacus, and LOST among others. In his spare time, Jess enjoys introducing his love of pop culture to his 3 year old daughter, Amelia, who loves Iron Man, The Avengers, and Yo Gabba Gabba.
#10 - NECA PROMETHEUS SERIES 1 (Read our review HERE!) - While the film was less than expected, NECA did the film proud with two gorgeous figures based on Ridley Scott's return to sci-fi, capturing both the Engineer in Pressure Suit and the Engineer in Chair Suit in perfect 8" action figure form ($16 each). Screen-accurate, beautifully detailed and decently articulated additions to any sci-fi film fan's collection, both figures will turn heads, even with a lack of accessories.
#9 - MONOGRAM DC & MARVEL BUST BANKS (Read our review HERE!) - While most of us were pinching pennies this year, Monogram International provided us with new places to store those precious coins! Continuing their ever-growing line of Bust Banks, Monogram did fans proud by providing us with an array of resin ($60) and plastic ($15) bust banks based on both DC and Marvel favorites including Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Spider-man, Captain America, Red Hulk, Iron Man, Doctor Doom, Wolverine and even Deadpool!
#8 - ACI 1:6 SPARTACUS "GLADIATOR OF ROME" (Read our review HERE!) - For fans who've been watching Starz! and the station's hit series Spartacus to get their gladiatorial goodness, ACI finally fills the collectibles gap for fans, capturing the character in impressive 1/6th scale ($130). Featuring an Andy Whitfield-inspired head sculpt (based on the deceased actor who originally played the lead), this figure captures the power, energy, and style of the series' title character while remaining true to ACI's historically-accurate roots.
#7 - ENTERBAY 1/4 SCALE RAMBO (Read our review HERE!) - 30 years ago, the world was introduced to John Rambo, a Vietnam vet whose unique skills were put to use rescuing POWs, fighting communism, and slave traders throughout four movies. Finally, ENTERBAY makes what could be considered by some to be the pinnacle in Rambo action figure collectibles with their HD Masterpiece 1/4 Scale figure ($360) based on the character's appearance in the third film. Complete with real metal weapons, cloth clothing, screen-accurate sculpting, and a unique poseable 1/4 scale body, die-hard Rambo collector's have finally had their dreams come true.
#6 - HASBRO MARVEL LEGENDS X-FORCE - If you've not been reading Marvel's Uncanny X-Force, brilliantly written by Rick Remender, something is wrong with you. It's one of the best comics being published today and it's coming to an end very shortly. Thankfully, for fans of the comic's brutal, violent and often hilarious characters, Hasbro has released most of the cast as a part of the Marvel Legends line, including both Fantomex and Deadpool individually ($16 each) and Wolverine, Psylocke and Archangel as a part of this year's San Diego Comic Con Exclusive Set ($50, set of 3). Do yourself a favor and pick up this amazing Marvel comic as well as these awesome Hasbro figures today!
#5 - SIDESHOW ISSAC CLARKE DEAD SPACE STATUE - Based on one of the coolest video game characters from one of the scariest video games ever created comes this 16" statue of Issac Clarke ($275). Standing over the carcass of a destroyed Necromorph, decked out in his Engineering RIG (Resource Integration Gear) and equipped with a plasma cutter (or ripper saw exclusive), Issac Clarke comes to life in polystone awesomeness, ready to destroy every undead threat lurking around any corner in your home.
#4 - SQUARE ENIX METAL GEAR SOLID PLAY ARTS KAI SERIES (Read our review HERE!) - Square Enix's line of Play Arts Kai figures continues to grow with more amazing figures based on fan-favorite characters from the Metal Gear Solid series by famed Japanese game designer Hideo Kojima. This year alone fans have seen the release of three of the game series' most popular characters: Solid Snake, Cyborg Ninja, and Solidus Snake ($60 - $115 each). Figures comes complete with character-specific accessories and weapons as well as impressive sculpts with integrated dynamic articulation, providing plenty of opportunity for posing and play. Thankfully, this line continues to grow with Meryl available this winter and Raiden available next spring!
#3 - NECA 1/4 SCALE CITY HUNTER PREDATOR (Read our review HERE!) - For 25 years, film fans have been in love with the Predator. And while maybe 1990's Predator 2 didn't live up to its predecessor, the fact it expanded the sci-fi universe to include tribes made up of the galaxy's greatest hunters blew many a fan's minds. So it's no surprise collector's minds were collectively blown this year as NECA continued to expand their line of Predator collectibles, including the release of two 1/4 scale Predator 2 figures ($90 each). My personal favorite: the City Hunter; a savage, stealthy urban warrior complete with a spear and smart disc, an abundance of articulation, and a super-detailed sculpt which rivals any high-end statue. Collectors are now the ones hunting this amazing figure, looking to add it to their collections!
#2 - HOT TOYS DX07 STAR WARS BESPIN LUKE SKYWALKER - Hot Toys continues to reign supreme as the finest 1/6th scale figure maker in the world and arguably their best release of 2012 is the DX07 - Bespin Luke Skywalker ($300). Essentially two figures in one package, this deluxe set includes the company's attention to detail in every aspects - be it the figure's movie-accurate sculpting, detailed fabricated clothing, impressive accessories or the massive diorama base, also included. Hot Toys continues to both impress fans as well as tap their wallets, but Bespin Luke is just further evidence Hot Toys continues to make action figure art.
#1 - DC UNLIMITED STARCRAFT II TYCHUS FINDLAY (Read our review HERE!) - Like so many other fans and collectors, I absolutely love Space Marines and the video game StarCraft II has some of the coolest in all of pop culture - big, bulky walking tanks dressed in Confederate Marine Corps Powered Combat Suits and armed with the massive C-14 Impaler gauss rifle. So when DC originally showed the StarCraft II Tychus Findlay figure ($30) at the 2010 San Diego Comic Con and yet fans never saw its release in 2010 or 2011, we began to worry. Thankfully, the figure hit store shelves last March. And because of its impressive 9" size, its highly detailed, game-accurate sculpting and paints, its decent articulation, and its very affordable retail price of $29.99, this figure has been at the top of my "Best of 2012" list ever since. Do you know what's best of all? Buying multiples of this figure doesn't seem repetitive since you can never have too many heavily armed and armored Space Marine figures in your collection! My army has eight now and I can't wait to add more!
Re: Figures.com TOP 10 Toys of 2012
My name is Scott Rubin, and I love toys! As you’ll see from my list of 2012 favorites, my taste in toys is pretty eclectic. And unlike some other collectors I get a lot of my enjoyment from mass market toys generally thought of as being for “kids.” When I’m not at my boring day job you’ll generally find me in the toy aisles, playing HeroClix, or working on my Figures.com reviews.
In no particular order:
#10 - BANDAI S.H. MONSTER ARTS GODZILLA - Bandai has created tons of Godzilla toys over the years, but every so often they come up with something truly original. The S.H. MonsterArts line takes the kaiju of the Godzilla movies, shrinks them down to about a 6 inch scale, and loads them up with unprecedented articulation and even accessories! If it wasn’t for the not insignificant price tag I might be tempted to say that these are the perfect Godzilla figures. This year saw the line expand to include multiple monsters, but the real highlight was the San Diego Comic-Con exclusive “Explosion” Godzilla (check out my review HERE). Combining the amazing sculpt of the original figure with a new partly translucent radioactive color scheme, this “Big G” is a great addition to my Godzilla collection and makes me really excited for the upcoming “Burning” version.
#9 - KOTOBUKIYA X-FORCE ARCHANGEL FINE ART STATUE (Read my review HERE!) - By far the biggest and most expensive item on my 2012 list, this statue captures one of my favorite Marvel superheroes. There was a long stretch when Archangel toys and statues were few and far between, but that changed recently with his stint in the hugely popular X-Force and subsequent Uncanny X-Force. Kotobukiya captured the mutant’s huge metal wings and spiffy black and silver uniform perfectly in one of his most iconic poses, and I dare say that this is the best looking X-Force Archangel product to date. The rest of the line (X-23, Warpath, Deadpool, and Wolverine) aren’t shabby either.
#8 - WIZKIDS STAR TREK HEROCLIX TACTICS (Read my review HERE!) - I love spaceships - big space ships, little spaceships, and everything in between. Spaceship toys come and go in popularity, and there really hasn’t been a widely available small-scale ship line since Hasbro folded the Titanium series a few years ago. That changed early this year when WizKids’ HeroClix game (usually featuring superheroes) expanded to include Star Trek ships! Federation and Klingon vessels bigger than the old Micro Machines at around 2 inches long, the Tactics ships cover all eras of Trek and feature great sculpts and painted details. And besides great display pieces, they’re also fully playable HeroClix figures and a lot of fun. Look for a whole new set of Tactics ships (including Romulans, Vulcans, Cardassians, Ferengi, and the Dominion!) coming out in a couple months.
#7 - DC COLLECTIBLES 3 ¾" SUPERHEROES - When it comes to action figures, 3 ¾ inch has been my go-to scale since I was a kid. This year at SDCC and then NYCC DC Collectibles came through in a huge way for me with the perfect storm of “my” scale and characters from my favorite comic books, Green Lantern! First Kilowog and Kyle Rayner (review HERE) and then John Stewart and Atrocitus (review HERE), this series is hitting the greats from the multi-colored Lantern universe in great, easy to collect and display figures. Even better, these guys have great sculpts and solid articulation, something sorely lacking in previous DC 3 ¾ inch figures from other companies... A bit of a test run, it’s uncertain exactly how this line will proceed in the future, but I’m really hoping they’ll get to all of the prototypes displayed at SDCC 2012 whether they’re all convention exclusives or not.
#6 KUSO VINYL THUNDERCRAPS - While I like a lot of different kinds of toys, I don’t generally buy a lot of “art toys” unless I find something that really grabs me. When I saw Kuso Vinyl’s first two Thundercraps last year at Comic-Con I immediately picked them up and hoped that the line would continue, and I wasn’t disappointed. At Anime Expo 2012 they released a cool new boxed set with new color palettes for the original two and a brand new Thundercrap (read my review HERE). As you can probably tell from the name, these figures are send-ups of Thundercats designed by artist Robobox utilizing the Spiki figure as their base. Whenever I look at mine I get a kick out of the classic Thundercats-inspired designs and their cute little cat faces. The back of the 2012 boxed set showed art depicting more Thundercraps characters, so hopefully the line will continue!
#5 - PLAYMATES TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES ANIMATED SERIES - Nickelodeon Animated Series (Read a review HERE!) - A figure line you’re probably seeing on a lot of “Top” lists for 2012, the Animated series takes the turtles you loved as a kid and makes them, well, awesome. If you’re really nostalgic you can go with Playmates’ “Classic Collection,” but I’m really digging these rough and tumble versions. Each turtle has unique sculpt elements including individual heads and each one is a different shade of green, which is pretty cool. They have lots of articulation and plenty of gear in addition to their signature weapons, and they’re even in scale with the vintage toy line. Best of all? Raphael, clearly the coolest turtle and my favorite, just looks totally badass!
#4 - HASBRO TRANSFORMERS CYBERVERSE - While big, complicated Transformers are still as popular as ever, Hasbro has been making a big push toward improving its small-scale robots in disguise with the result being Cyberverse. Sort of akin to the 3 ¾ inch scale for Transformers, Cyberverse toys are around 2 to 4 inches tall in robot mode and turn into compact little vehicles. The toy line crosses over “universes” with Prime and Dark of the Moon, and it features several different classes of Transformers from the tiniest Legion toys to the larger Commander Class, the Action Set with transforming bases, large Your World vehicles, and the enormous Battle Suits. For all of us with space considerations, the Cyberverse vehicles are a welcome addition to the Transformers universe with all of your favorite characters and the designs you’re accustomed to, just smaller!
#3 - WIZKIDS HEROCLIX - For anyone who follows my reviews, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of the game HeroClix. 2012 was the 10th anniversary of the game, and WizKids really went all out with three full size expansion sets, more than a half dozen smaller sets, the conclusion of the Infinity Gauntlet series, the start of the No Man’s Land series, the return of Colossal figures, the introduction of vehicles, and much more. HeroClix figures are awesome for collecting, with thousands of great miniature DC and Marvel (and other licenses too) characters in action poses. My favorite releases this year were probably the colossal figures in the Chaos War set featuring Galactus, the New 52 Justice League set bringing many of the current characters to plastic form for the first time, and the two “10th Anniversary” sets celebrating classic figures with some of the best sculpts in the game.
#2 - JAKKS PACIFIC WINX CLUB BELIEVIX COLLECTION - Remember when I said my tastes ran to the eclectic? Well one of the cartoons I enjoy is Winx Club, and Jakks Pacific this year released some really high quality figures for it in about a 4 inch scale called the Believix Collection. The girls are available in both their civilian outfits and their fairy forms, (in both singles and multi-packs), and different versions come with different formations of their fairy wings. The girls of Alfea may be cute, but don’t let their cheerful looks fool you; these are action figures, not dolls. They’ve got good distinctive sculpts, solid articulation and poseability with ball joints, and even accessories! Plus, the wings are all removable and interchangeable, so you can mix and match for different display options. We may not be as numerous as the Bronies, but those of us who like Winx Club have excellent figure options.
#1 - DC COLLECTIBLES NEW 52 JUSTIC LEAGUE - The relaunch of the DC Comics universe was a pretty big deal, and since it was spearheaded by the Justice League it was only natural that the “Big 7” get the first action figure treatment from DC Collectibles. The resulting 6 inch figures, released incrementally throughout the year, capture the characters’ new looks as rendered by Jim Lee and marry that to the quality DC Direct has passed on to DC Collectibles. Naturally my favorite of the line was Green Lantern (read my review HERE), but they’re all solid action figures with superb sculpts and detailed paint jobs.
* Hasbro Marvel Universe - It’s got superheroes in 3 ¾ inch scale, so you know I’m there. This year I felt like the MU was a lot more of the same, but there were some cool highlights like Beta Ray Bill and the X-Factor set featuring the new Angel sculpt.
* LEGO - I’ve always been a fan of LEGOs, and the sets they’re producing are better than ever with a huge range of licenses. This year saw some incredible Star Wars sets like Palpatine’s Arrest, while DC AND Marvel joined the brick giant featuring Avengers and Batman. Their stable also includes Lord of the Rings, Hobbit, the neat Monster Fighters, and all the rest, plus the Friends line for girls.
Figures.com Reporter/ Reviewer
From mass market to vinyl to the latest imports, from 4" to 12", from 1:62 to 1:18, there isn't much that doesn't interest David. What began as a minor interest in Star Wars collecting became something else entirely when McFarlane came into the market with other high quality movie collectibles. The focus of David's collection now may be that there doesn't seem to be a focus but if you look closer, it certainly is dominated by animation, film, Disney, and the 80s. His top 10 list below isn't what he believes is the "best" of the year but rather his "favorites" of the year; toys that had to be in his collection regardless of public perception would be. And yes, this list is leaning VERY 80's.
#10 - HASBRO STAR WARS JAR JAR BINKS IN CARBONITE - I know what you’re thinking: “How on Earth did Jar Jar Binks make the top 10?!” Simply put, this is a figure I never expected to see the light of day. Ever. The actual Jar Jar in Carbonite piece is hanging on the walls of Industrial Light & Magic and even makes a brief cameo in the new version of Star Tours: The Adventures Continue at the Disney Parks. Having this made into official Star Wars plastic as this year’s San Diego Comic-Con exclusive (along with six other figures) makes it one of my favorite exclusives of the year. The Carbonite block can separate so your new “Vintage” style Jar Jar Binks figure can be released from the cold prison just like Han Solo was.
#9 - HASBRO STAR WARS EWOK PACK – The second most hated species of the Star Wars Universe are the Ewoks and they make my #9 spot because I happen to love them! But what really makes this Toys’R’Us exclusive mega cool is that you get five of these fuzzy guys (and gal) and a few extra hoods for the option to customize your ranks if you chose to do so. The Ewok Pack includes four never before released Ewoks to build your ranks: Flitchee, Nanta, Kneesaa, Tippet; and a new sculpt of Teebo.
#8 - HASBRO STAR WARS BUILD-A-DROID FACTORY – A few months ago in a state very, very far away (Florida), the ability to customize your own Astromech Droid was made a reality at Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park. Using repainted Hasbro build-a-droid parts, Disney stumbled upon a goldmine that wasn’t too far off from their successful Build-A-Lightsaber booth. Kids and collectors alike go down the line, picking out the colors and dome types they want and finally topping it off with Mouse Ears, Goofy Ears, Yoda Ears, or even a Jack Sparrow Pirate hat if they fancy. A sticker sheet with letters and numbers allow you to name your own droid on resealable packaging. The variations are seemingly endless and fun… but expensive! Building one droid will set you back $11.95 while buying a pair is a better deal at $19.95. So far, Disney’s Hollywood Studios is the only location you can Build-A-Droid but I wouldn’t be surprised if it eventually hits California.
#7 - DIAMOND SELECT MINIMATES KITT & MICHAEL KNIGHT - An almost forgotten piece since it was released earlier this year, Minimates K.I.T.T. and Michael Knight are my #7 for no better reason than that it’s pure simplistic fun. Now if I could only find someone with small enough fingers to apply these decals.
#6 - MEDICOM RUNAWAY BRAIN MICKEY MOUSE – Runaway Brain is a long forgotten theatrically released short cartoon starring Mickey Mouse that was also nominated for an Oscar. Add on the fact that Disney wasn’t very eager to release everything in their library immediately made this a very popular and hard to find cult favorite (you can now find it on various released VHS and DVD formats). Collecting anything Runaway Brain related also proved a challenge in the states but thanks to our Japanese toy makers at Medicom, we now have two Miracle Action Figures: One of standard Mickey Mouse and the second of Mickey Mouse with a brain transplant. Wonderfully sculpted and articulated, these are the ultimate figures for the Disney and Mickey Mouse fan but will cost a pretty penny, at least $30 each.
#5 - HASBRO TRANSFORMERS MASTERPIECE OPTIMUS PRIME – Whenever there are Masterpiece Transformers released, at least one needs to make the top 10 list. This year Toys’R’Us released both Masterpiece Thundercracker (new mold) and Masterpiece Optimus Prime. Both are wonderful toys but Optimus Prime might be the more essential of the two. If you picked up the initial Masterpiece Optimus, you might be wondering whether this smaller version warrants a purchase or not. For me personally, I could not deny the nostalgic magic that an entire Optimus Prime complete with trailer brings. Originally released as MP-10 in Japan, the brand new Optimus Prime comes with his trailer / battle station, Roller, and Spike! The transformation differs slightly than MP-1 but manages to work great in both modes. Smaller Optimus isn’t what I’d consider the most accurate version to the cartoon but it is the better scaled Optimus we’ve seen so far and an absolute must have.
#4 - HOT TOYS TRON: LEGACY SAM FLYNN WITH LIGHT CYCLE – There have been a slew of amazing Hot Toys releases this year and if I had the money, this entire list would be filled with nothing BUT Hot Toys! But there was one item in particular that shined a bit brighter for me and that was Sam Flynn with Light Cycle. Being a fan of an underappreciated film isn’t easy, nor is finding merchandise, so when this beauty from Tron: Legacy finally shipped, I couldn’t be more pleased with the results. While I discounted the head sculpt for being a tiny bit off, the overall aesthetic with the light up suit and bike make for an incredible display.
#3 - MATTEL BACK TO THE FUTURE PART 2 HOVERBOARD – Despite all the controversy surrounding this Mattycollector exclusive; including Back to the Future scribe Bob Gale apologizing to his fans for supporting such a disappointing product, I couldn’t help but enjoy the piece nonetheless. It’s far from perfect and it is incredibly expensive but at the end of the day, it’s a great looking replica of the Hover Board seen in Back to the Future Part II. This is a toy that every kid from the 80s wanted with all their heart and for the most part, it’s finally here. While it doesn’t hover, it does make swishing sounds when moved about. A Mini Hoverboard for your 6” scale action figures is also included as a bonus. It’s too big for your DC Universe Classics but might be better suited for the Masters of the Universe Classics figures. The prop replicas of Ghostbusters are all great too but nothing makes an impact like a Hoverboard does.
#2 - MATTEL VOLTRON – Making a splash this year in a very big way was Mattycollector’s Voltron collection. Each lion and their respective pilots were released one at a time but when finally complete and combined, there is no question how impressive the final result is. Standing at 23” tall, Voltron is a force to be reckoned with in your toy collection along with the 3 ¾” scale pilots and interchangeable heads. This version of Voltron is no doubt riddled with flaws and problems and by no means is it perfect, but it’s definitely something I’ll have on display for a long time to come.
#1 - PLAYMATES TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES CLASSIC – And the number 1 spot for me this year goes to the TMNT Classics figures. Playmates really delivered some amazing new product here that is unlike anything they’ve produced in the past. The entire gang is here: Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello, and Michelangelo; complete with their signature ninja weapons and a manhole display stand. What Ban Dai attempted at with their Thundercats line, Playmates delivered in spades. The turtles are my number one favorite toys of 2012.
Re: Figures.com TOP 10 Toys of 2012
While my interests in toys and action figures continue to be diverse, in the last couple years I, like many people, have had to cut-back and be more selective. The majority of my hard-earned cash this past year has gone to collectibles from Sideshow and Hot Toys, as well as my Masters of the Universe Classics subscriptions, a movie figure here and there, or a doll from my favorite guilty pleasure line Monster High. With all of the great toys and action figures that came out in 2012 (and there were a lot!), I find that in general, my favorite collectibles of the year tend to be nostalgic for me, relating to toy lines, cartoons, or movies from my childhood.
#10 - DISNEY STORE TOY STORY ZURG - This particular toy was a surprise because I didn’t know it was coming. There had been rumors of a possible release as part of the Andy’s Toys collection but there was never any more information. So imagine my surprise when I walked into Disney Store and saw this bad boy standing menacingly on the shelf. While he does come in a 2-pack with Buzz Lightyear (which is just another run-of-the-mill talking Buzz), he is worth the purchase alone. Along with several lines of dialogue and lights on his chest and face, his backpack also has a spinning feature. While not a “signature” figure, this is the first and only Zurg we have gotten in scale with the other characters and it make me so happy to him sitting on my shelf next to the rest of the Toy Story gang.
#9 - SIDESHOW 1/6 SCALE STAR WARS - This past year felt like a lull in terms of releases in Sideshow Collectibles’ expansive and ongoing 1/6 scale Star Wars line, with a smaller number of releases compared to previous years. However, despite a limited number of pieces, they have continued to impress me in terms of quality and the lengths they will go to give fans a diverse collection. Highlights of this year include the release of their massive 1/6 scale Dewback , the long-awaited Boba Fett, the awesome looking Commander Ganch, and the introduction of droids into the line with the Battle Droids and bounty hunter IG-88. We also got the entire Cantina Band along with the huge Mos Eisley Band Nook environment piece.
#8 - PLAYMATES TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES SECRET SEWER LAIR PLAYSET - This toy has meaning to me on several levels. It heralds the return of TMNT, one of my favorite childhood series, as a popular property thanks in part to Nickelodeon’s fun new show and in part due to fantastic new toy line. It also shows a return to the 80s and early 90s when toy companies were willing to invest in a toy line with large, impressive set pieces and playsets along the line of the original Turtles sewer, the Ghostbuster Firehouse, and the Masters of the Universe castles. If the fact that you are lucky to find the playset on the shelves is any indication, parents have no problems slapping down $130 for a large item and Turtle Power is alive and well. The Secret Sewer Lair Playset has everything a kid could want to create exciting adventures including multiple levels, a zip line, elevator, hidden passages, and more, not to mention the fact that the playset sits over 3 ft tall when fully assembled (40”).
#7 - HOT TOYS AVENGERS HAWKEYE - Avengers was my favorite movie of the year and what better way to display my love than with the best Avengers collectibles on the market. Hot Toys’ Avengers line has just gotten off the ground, with Nick Fury and Hawkeye released and Captain America shipping now. All three figures look fantastic, but the one that stands out over the others is Hawkeye. Not only is the likeness of Jeremy Renner unbelievable, but his costuming is dead on. Almost as impressive as the head sculpt however is his accessories. He includes both static and folding bow and his rotating quiver, along with a ridiculous amount of arrow shafts and tips to let you customize his arsenal to your liking.
#6 - MATTEL MOTUC CASTLE GRAYSKULL MAN - There seemed to be many people with mixed feelings about the Masters of the Universe Classics line this year, but if his quick sell-out is any indication, Castle Grayskull Man was definitely a high point. Despite being a fan-created character (winner of Mattel’s contest), CGM is one of the coolest characters to come out of the MOTUC figure line and probably my favorite figure overall in the series. Part of his appeal is due to the awesome design and sculpting, complete with removable stone armor, dual swords and a shield, but I’m sure the passion and support of his creator didn’t hurt either.
#5 - LEGO LORD OF THE RINGS - It was only a matter time with all of the awesome licenses Lego has acquired over the last few years that they pick up one brand to rule them all. With their history of Castle and Forest Men series, The Lord of the Rings was a natural fit for epic construction sets. Spanning not only the three films of the trilogy, but the new Hobbit film as well, you can recreate such classic scenes as the siege of Helm’s Deep and the battle in the mines of Moria (“They have a cave troll”). Being that the trilogy is my favorite set of films of all time makes the Lego series one of the most exciting Lord of the Rings collectibles since the Toy Biz action figures. The one thing they have up on them, however, is the ability to create playsets and the possibility of a Lego Balrog.
#4 - HOT TOYS BATMAN & JOKER ’89 – While I had the Batman figures when the film came out (Bob the Goon!), along with the Batwing & Batmobile, the original toys can never hold a candle to what Hot Toys has done in terms of sculpting and paint. The likenesses are dead on and the costuming is incredible. The accessories alone are mind-blowing, letting you recreate almost any scene in the movie. Its is so exciting to own professional grade versions of these characters after so long, especially seeing all the fantastic fan-created customs over the years.
#3 - NECA GREMLINS – One of my favorite movies growing up was Gremlins 2. While I liked the original Gremlins film, the follow-up with its line-up of character Gremlins, Hulk Hogan, and Gizmo going commando had me wishing for Gremlins. While its taken over 20 years, NECA finally made my wish come true with their incredible Gremlins action figure line. While technically they have made a few Gremlins collectibles previously and the first wave of figures hit shortly before Christmas last year, the bulk of the line was released over several waves this year. Consisting of both Mogwais and Gremlins, the fully articulated, highly detailed figures capture the fun of the films and have some great features such as the rolling eyes on the Mogwais, real hair on Mohawk and the Phantom Gremlin, and the addition of a clear plastic figurine of the Electric Gremlin. With more Gremlins on the way (Greta!) and hopes for others (Veggie Gremlin!), it's never been a better time to go over the three rules.
#2 - HOT TOYS DX07 STAR WARS BESPIN LUKE SKYWALKER - It’s very difficult to not give Hot Toys the majority of the top slots year after year (I have three this year) as they continue to cater to fan demand offering the most popular licenses with ever-improving sculpting and quality. This year is no different as Hot Toys releases there first of hopefully many Star Wars 1/6 scale collectibles. The Luke Skywalker Bespin Outfit DX is incredible with a dead-on accurate sculpt of Mark Hamill, the PERS rolling eyes system, and the entire weather vane that can be mounted on a stand or from the ceiling! Not only that, I was surprised to open his box and find not one but two complete bodies and costumes so you can display both regular and battle-damaged characters at the same time. And if you were lucky enough to get the Sideshow Collectibles Exclusive (I was) you got the severed Darth Vader head with the blown out face revealing Luke. Awesome!
#1 - MATTEL VOLTRON – This was the number one toy item on my list this year. I cannot describe the satisfaction I got when I received the Black Lion in November and was finally able to form the Mighty Voltron. Not only did we get all 5 classic pilots with alternate heads and key-shaped stands, but we also got the original Blue Lion pilot Sven! The lions are fully articulated with their own unique weapons and a piece to build the giant Blazing Sword. Voltron himself is incredibly impressive standing at 23” tall, dwarfing the original toy from my childhood. I literally positioned my figure in my bedroom so that I can glance over and see him every morning when I wake up. This is how much I love this toy.
* Sideshow Premium Format Jessica Rabbit
* Hasbro Star Wars Trade Federation MTT
* Playmates Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Classics
It's fair to say that 2012 threw the G.I. Joe collecting community for a loop. We were all geared up for a big movie year with lots of product to peruse. Literally days before the floodgates were to open, we all cringed with the news that the movie had been delayed nine months. Whatever toys we could find over the next few weeks would likely be all we would get until the end of the year. But that's not to say there were slim pickings. Indeed, this past year gave us a number of great toys!
#6 - GI JOE CON EXCLUSIVE OKTOBER GUARD "OPERATION BEAR TRAP - This year, the G.I. Joe Collectors Club presented attendees with yet another awe inspiring collection of exclusive figures. The fan favorite, The Oktober Guard - the Soviet Union's answer to G.I. Joe - and its original members, Horror Show, Stormavik, Schrage, Daina, Colonel Brekhov and a new character, commander of the Oktober Guard, General Iron Bear. Collector's favorite heroes of the Soviet motherland were pitted against cold weather versions of Destro's Iron Grenadiers and a new version of General Voltar. This set was so popular that it sold out in early convention registration and even prompted the club to solicit MORE sets to meet the demand from collectors. Is it "Yo Joe!" or "Yo Ivan!" this year?
YoJoe.com Archive Entries:
- Colonel Brekhov (v3)
- Daina (v2)
- Horror Show (v2)
- Iron Bear (v1)
- Schrage (v2)
- Stormavik (v2)
- Iron Grenadiers (v9)
- Iron Grenadiers (v10)
- Iron Grenadiers (v11)
- Voltar (v2)
#5 - IRON GRENADIER GROUND ASSAULT 2-PACK - This was a unique set in that it gave collectors one figure they've been requesting for years, Darklon, and another they never knew they wanted, Destro's Aide de camp, Sgt. Major Duncan. Both were featured heavily in the Marvel comic book series and Darklon is a major antagonist in the current A Real American Hero book by IDW. Darklon uses a great combination of parts and accessories to recreate the vintage 1980s figure, while Sergeant Major Duncan uses the same style as the other Iron Grenadier troopers in the Operation Bear Trap boxed set. These were the perfect add-ons to complete our character want-lists for 2012.
YoJoe.com Archive Entries:
- Darklon (v2)
- Sergeant Major Duncan (v1)
#4 "DOLLAR GENERAL" WAVE - This wave of figures released to discount retailers was something of a shock. We got virtually no advance notice until samples were released online by collectors who acquired them through their own means. Six figures produced without new molds, but each one making for fan favorite updates or great troop builders.
YoJoe.com Archive Entries:
- Cobra Commander (v50)
- Cobra Trooper (v17)
- Duke (v46)
- Shipwreck (v16)
- Snake Eyes (v59)
- Storm Shadow (v44)
#3 - GI JOE TROOPERS - Our lone entry from what was supposed to be this year's mass retail line, the G.I. Joe Trooper became a go-to example of what the G.I. Joe line could put out when the stars align just right. Featuring great articulation, a small armory's worth of weapons, and alternate heads full of character, this was the Retaliation line's best figure head-to-toe. And with a variation in the color of the cape and gas mask, we also had two options to choose from. Even better, anyone who missed this figure the first time around has another chance to find him when Retaliation product restocks next year.
YoJoe.com Archive Entries:
- G.I. Joe Trooper (v2A)
- G.I. Joe Trooper (v2B)
#2 - SIDESHOW BARONESS PREMIUM FORMAT FIGURE - Sideshow Collectibles always delivers with their 12" figure line, but for us, this year's standout was the Premium Format Baroness. With a larger 1/4 scale size, excellent sculpting, and a mixed media presentation, the Baroness never looked so beautiful nor so deadly. The Sideshow exclusive gave her an alternate firearm, but neither version will steer you wrong. Unfortunately, at $350 apiece, she's out of most people's price ranges.
YoJoe.com Archive Entry:
#1 - HASBRO SDCC EXCLUSIVE H.I.S.S. SHOCKWAVE TANK - Riding the success of last year's Starscream Sky Striker, for the 2012 San Diego Comic Con we got a purple recolor of the Retaliation H.I.S.S. Tank. Don't get us wrong, the retail H.I.S.S. is a great vehicle, but somehow this convention version knocked it up a notch. Maybe it's the metallic purple, maybe it's the miniature Soundwave and Cassette Deployer accessories, or maybe it's the two fully articulated figures included in the set. Whatever the case, this set took everything great about the retail H.I.S.S. and made it better.
YoJoe.com Archive Entries:
- Cobra B.A.T. (v22)
- Destro (v28)
- Shockwave H.I.S.S. Tank
* Footloose - The Collectors' Club annual free figure took many by surprise by virtue of being a pretty great toy. Using a mix of parts from figures we'd seen already with arms from the infamously unreleased Kwinn, this action figure is a great update to the original 1985 version. The exclusive carded variation added another element to the overall package - that classic vintage card style we all love.
YoJoe.com Archive Entry:
- Footloose (v5)
#1 - HOT TOYS SAMURAI PREDATOR - This artistic sixth scale interpretation of the Predator blends elements of the ancient Samurai and alien technology resulting in this jaw-dropping, articulated masterpiece.
#2 - HOT TOYS DX07 STAR WARS BESPIN LUKE SKYWALKER - This amazing Hot Toys sixth scale figure from a galaxy far far away features not one but two different versions of Luke Skywalker in regular and battle-damaged Bespin fatigues.
#3 - SQUARE ENIX PLAY ARTS KAI GOD OF WAR KRATOS - The vengeful Ghost of Sparta received the royal Play Arts Kai treatment by Square Enix resulting in this amazing action figure that seems as if it were forged by the gods themselves.
#4 - SQUARE ENIX PLAY ARTS KAI ARKHAM ASYLUM BATMAN - The Dark Knight received the royal treatment this year with this hyper detailed and super articulated action figure by Square Enix.
#5 - MATTEL MOTUC FISTO - This powerful metal-fisted warrior is the ultimate MOTUC figure featuring interchangeable parts that allow collectors to display the figure in his classic or 200X style knocking out the competition with a 1,2 punch.
#6 - ENTERBAY HD MASTERPIECE JOKER - The "Clown Prince of Crime" received the ultimate upgrade with this amazing 1/4 scale figure and photogenic head sculpt of the late Heath Ledger's portrayal of this Batman rogue.
#7 - NECA EVIL DEAD 2 SERIES 2 HERO ASH - The iconic chainsaw-wielding hero finally received his long-awaited royal action figure treatment courtesy of NECA and features an uncanny likeness to actor Bruce Campbell's portrayal of the character in Evil Dead 2.
#8 - MEZCO PANTHRO MEGA SCALE FIGURE - The Eye of Thundera set its powerful gaze upon this amazing mega scale figure of Panthro based on the iconic Thundercats cartoon from the 80's.
#9 - DC COLLECTIBLES BATMAN ARKHAM ASYLUM KILLER CROC - This menacing reptilian behemoth made his deluxe action figure debut and is undoubtedly the best Arkham video game rogue released to date.
#10 - MATTEL MOTUC SNAKEMEN 2-PACK - This awesome Snakemen army-builder 2-pack slithered its way into the Masters of the Universe Classics toy line offering much fan-requested muscle to King Hsss' army ranks.