Aww, heroes. Who doesn’t want to be one? Heroes are what make the power fantasy of playing a video game come alive and feel so epic. Whether it’s the romantic journey of saving the princess or the death-defying adventure of saving a world (or galaxy), video game heroes make you feel connected to the game; large and in charge, like a boss.
What follows are 10 of our favorite must-have video game heroes in action figure form. Game on…
1) DOOM SLAYER
Game: Doom Series
Goal: Save Earth from Hell Extinction, Rip and Tear
Rip and tear! Guts, huge guts! The Doom Guy, AKA the Doom Slayer is our only hope total annihilation against the endless demon horde from Hell. Got your attention? DOOM is all techno-metal, male-dominated, testosterone-fueled fantasy, and damn if it doesn’t feel good playing it as a video game. This figure of the Doom Slayer from McFarlane Toys was decades in the making for longtime Doom fans. Armored up in his Praetor suit and armed with his trusty shotgun for the fight, this is one video game hero action figure that came out right.
2) DUKE NUKEM
Game: Duke Nukem Series
Goal: Save Earth from Alien Invasion, Score Hot Women
The Doom Slayer may be getting all the attention these days thanks to Doom Eternal, but there was another video game bad boy that once ruled supreme. Packing all the guns and brawn of Doom Dude, Duke Nukem piled on irrestible male chauvinist charm and EGO.
As a huge fan of 1996’s Duke Nukem 3D, imagine my surpirse in 1997 when toy company Resaurus released an action figure of the man himself. While NECA released a more realistic action figure of Duke based on the appropriately named Duke Nukem Forever (the long-awaited Duke Nukem 3D follow-up released 14 years later), it lacked the fun toyness of the original Resaurus figure and video game. Armed with twin MP-5 submachine guns, back-mounted Devestator and Freezethrower, ReSaurus’ Duke Nukem was more than ready to take on hot women, alien invaders… and your collection. Come get some.
3) MARCUS FENIX
Game: Gears of War Series
Goal: Save Sera from the Locust Horde, Scowl Alot
Speaking of ego and male testosterone, Marcus Fenix is the very definition of the word. While the Gears of War character has evolved over the course of the Gears saga (read: matured and gotten old), his explosive debut in 2006 was all bro-centric gun-toting attitude. Too cool for a helmet, Marcus brought a tough biker, bandana-wearing fashion sense to the battlefield. Like a knight in shining armor, Marcus Fenix saved Sera from the Locust Horde by any means neccessary: be it up close and personal with a CHAINSAW bayonet or absolute annihilation via orbital, satellite-
Collectors have many options in adding this video game hero to their collection. Toy maker NECA released a gazillion versions of Marcus Fenix throughout their expansive Gears of War action figure run (all the way to GOW 3). For Marcus’ more modern bearded appearance in GOW 4, McFarlane Toys released a decent action figure. For GOW 5, look no further than Storm Collectibles and their 1/12th scale collectible.
4) CLOUD STRIFE
Game: Final Fantasy VII
Goal: Save the World from Shinra, Look Cool in Combat
In what many consider the best in the series, Final Fantasy VII ushered in a new type of video game hero. The androgynous Cloud Strike showed that your didn’t have to pump iron and shoot guns to save the day; that a cool spikey hairdo and massive Buster Sword could get the job done.
Squre Enix has released numerous Play Arts figures of Cloud Strife over the years, including the hero as he appeared in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children and most recently, the Final Fantasy VII: Remake (pictured above).
Game: Mario Series
Goal: Slay Bowser, Save Princess Peach Over and Over Again
Looking for some heroic cartoon charm? Here we go! Mario has been dishing it out for decades. From his humble Donkey Kong beginnings to becoming the star of his own video game franchise, the ever romantic plumber has always had just ONE mission: to save Princess Peach. Hey, who said chivalry was dead?
The sky is the limit when it comes to Mario toys. JAKKS Pacific has boat loads of Mario in every scale imaginable as part of their wonderful World of Nintendo series. However, my money is on Bandai’s amazing S.H. Figuarts Super Mario. This figure has it all, including game accurate good looks, hyper articulation for fantastic jump poses, along with tons of fun accessories.
6) EARTHWORM JIM
Game: Earthworm Jim
Goal: Fight Weird Cartoon Stuff, Save Princess What’s-Her-Name
Playmates Toys’ Earthworn Jim toyline didn’t even read on my radar in 1995. That’s partly because I wasn’t collecting toys at the time. The other half was me more concerned with actually playing the Earthworm Jim game on my Sega Genesis. I loved Earthworm Jim for its whacky animated aesthtics, zany music and gameplay. But believe it or not kiddos, there was NO save feature back then on the Sega Genesis. So after saving up every possible extra life playing Earthworm Jim throughout the game ( I think it was 10), finally reaching the final level, and then failing over and over again until all my lives were lost, ultimatley loosing the game??! This was brutal do or die gaming that changed my life.
I never did “win” Earthworm Jim (yes, I gave up), however I did go back and track down one of those original Playmates Toys’ Earthworm Jim figures as a sort of reward totem for my perseverance. However, it wasn’t until Mezco Toyz’s release of the heroic tubular creature in 2012 (pictured above) that finally put my losing the game to a rest. With its game accurate sculpt, blaster accessory and bright, bold colors, Mezco’s Earthworm Jim action figure was the collectible victory I had so longed for.
7) DIRK THE DARING
Game: Dragon’s Lair
Goal: Slay Singe the Dragon, Save Princess Daphne
In 1983, Dragon’s Lair turned heads at video game arcades across the world. Utilizing LaserDisc technology (cutting edge for the time), Dragon’s Lair made players feel like they were controlling the action in an epic animated adventure. Honestly, there wasn’t much to the game but precisely hitting a button or moving the joystick in the right direction at the right time. But the amazing cartoon animation by Don Bluth (The Secret of NIMH, An American Tail), especially of the main protagonist Dirk the Daring, was EVERYTHING.
In 2002, a new toy company named AnJon launched one series of Dragon’s Lair action figures. It’s a shame that the line wasn’t successful because there are so many great Dragon’s Lair characters and so many possible variant expressions for our heroic knight (a skeleton figure of a dead Dirk would rule). As it is, do yourself a favor and hunt down a Dirk the Daring action figure. Your video game collection requires it.
8) GORDON FREEMAN
Game: Half-Life Series
Goal: Escape Lab, Liberate Mankind From Combine Invasion
It’s not the anticipated follow up to 2007’s Half-Life 2: Episode 2, but the recent release of the VR-only prequel, Half-Life: Alyx, at least gives us hope. Whether we receive a proper Half-Life 3 or not, at least we have fond Half-Life memories, including this amazing action figure of our nerdy scientist-turned-hero, Gordon Freeman.
Originally released by NECA in 2012 (and re-released in 2018), this incredible 7-inch figure features the star of the Half-Life series (well, until Alyx butted in) in his protective orange HEV suit and packing a variety of Combine killing weapons, including a bug bomb, ZPEFM gravity gun, and his trusty crowbar. If that wasn’t enough, you also got one of Gordon’s adorable “friends” – an in-scale headcrab. It just wants a hug!
9) ISAAC CLARKE
Game: Dead Space Series
Goal: Avoid Being Dismembered, Save Mankind from Necromorph Invasion
Poor Isaac. As a simple space ship systems engineer, all he wanted was to do his job, earn a living and go to bed. Sent to the USG Ishimura to investigate and handle the ship’s mysterious communications failure, Isaac Clarke unexpectedly found himself a hero as he overcame the alien nightmare he discovered. Strongly influenced by sci-fi horror movies like ALIEN, 2008’s Dead Space was a ground-breaking video game with its unique blend of first-person shooter and the survival horror genres.
Smartly named after famed sci-fi writers Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Clarke was honored as an action figure by NECA in 2009. Two detailed figures of Isaac Clarke saw release, both featuring our video game hero in his engineering RIG suit (with light-up visor!); one armed with a heavy duty Ripper (pictured) and the other with his trusty Plasma Cutter.
As an added bonus, NECA offered Isaac Clarke in a Unitology Suit as San Diego Comic Con 2009 exclusive. This figure traded in Isaac’s traditional brass armored look for a pure black variant featuring funky white marker symbols. For those seeking superhero Isaac Clarke, NECA released a Dead Space 2 action figure, too.
10) COMMANDER SHEPARD
Game: Mass Effect Series
Goal: Befriend Crew of Normandy, Save the Universe From Geth Invasion
2007’s Mass Effect flipped the video game industry on its head. Combining imaginative exploration with detailed third-person combat and expansive RPG-based dialogue, skills and inventory, Mass Effect was revoltutionary. Your actions playing as Commander Shepard actually refected on other characters in the game (including some sexy time!). Commander Shepard is the perfect video game hero representing humanity, all while acting as the ulimate ambassador to alien kind. Non-biased, smart, good looking and battle suave, Commander Shepard is what we all aspire to be.
Believe it or not, back in 2010, DC Direct stepped out of their comic comfort zone and dipped their toes into video games with a subdivision called DC Unlimited. Licenses included action figures for StarCraft, Resistance, Killzone, and, most exciting to this gamer, Mass Effect 2. A four figure wave saw release featuring the characters Tali, Thane, Grunt, and Commander Shepard. More waves were planned, but DC pulled the plug on their gaming experiment. Lucky for fans, an unknown company called Big Fish Toys completed the Mass Effect line in 2012, including chracters fom Mass Effect 3.
Later on, Square Enix produced a Play Arts Kai figure of the great space hero. And while it’s from the inferior follow up Mass Effect: Andromeda, the McFarlane Toys action figure of Scott Ryder is incredible. One can always pretend it’s Commander Shepard under the mask.
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