I’ve been a Queen fan for as long as I can remember, so I had to get the SH Figuarts Freddie Mercury figure when it was announced.
He does not disappoint.
A Happy New Year to all of my dear readers. The New Year means it’s time for my Top 10 action figures of 2014. I know I haven’t had many reviews the past year, but my 1 resolution for 2015 is to get back to bringing you as many new reviews or news pieces as possible on a consistent basis. With that out of the way, I will say that choosing the figures this year was more difficult than I thought it would be. That’s a good thing, as it means many companies put out some worthwhile product. I’ll preface this list with the fact that some of these figures weren’t purchased locally for one reason or another.
So let’s get down to it.
Starting off the list at number 10 is The Star Wars Black Series Storm Trooper. The cannon fodder of the Star Wars universe gets the 6 inch treatment. If you’d already gotten the Sand Trooper, you already know the majority of what this figure holds. The only big difference is the helmet, one of the shins, the belt, and the clean paint job. Due to the army building potential of this figure, they were quite hard to find for a while, especially when many local stores are choking on figures from older waves.
Coming in at number 9 is The DC Collectibles Crime Syndicate Ultraman figure. This guy is one of the most articulated DCC has ever produced, and whet the appetite of many figure fans for the same treatment to be given to his ”real” counterpart, Superman. He just about all the articulation you could want, a softer rubber cape that doesn’t hinder his posing too much, and sculpt that matches the source material near perfectly. The only drawback to the figure was a pungent plastic smell, which has dissipated over time. Sadly, we are still waiting on a Superman and Batman that truly match the standard this guy set.
Next on the list is The Bandai FiguArts Mario, a figure that many fans of the property have been waiting for since the 80s. There have been plenty of static mini statues of the Italian plummer, his brother, and other characters from the various games, but this was the first truly articulated version. He also came with some blocks to interact with, and coins that you could display as if they popped out of the “?” blocks. This guy, along with 2 different diorama sets were first released in Japan, but eventually made it to US online retailers, as well as local Barnes & Noble stores. The line is continuing with the just released in Japan, Luigi, as well as a prototype shown of dino buddy Yoshi.
Coming in at number 7 is the BAF of Groot from the Hasbro Guardians of the Galaxy series. If you saw the movie, you likely ended being a fan of Rocket & Groot, whether you knew who they were from the comics or not. In general, the entire set of figures from this wave was wonderful, but Groot evokes the look of the movie model like many of the others don’t quite. His headsculpt and expression allow you to mimic many emotions with just a head title and turn. While ALL the figures weren’t ideal (space armor Iron Man), I gladly bought them all to get this guy.
Roaring into the number 6 spot is The Star Wars Black Series Chewbacca figure. Chewie was one of the figures from the 2014 wave 3 assortment that I didn’t see much of locally, so I ended up getting him, Luke and Darth Vader through Amazon. I’m not the kind of Star Wars fan who has to have every character who appeared in the films, but Chewbacca is one my must have figures for the line. The headsculpt is amazing, even though he has more of a growling expression with the open mouth. The fur sculpt around his hands looks best with his arms down, but he has enough articulation that he can get into most of the poses you’d see him in throughout the trilogy. There have been leaked images of a new version with closed mouth, so I’m hoping he could come with the mesh bag and “broken” C-3PO to go on his back.
Coming in at the halfway point is NECA’s Bad Blood Predator figure. NECA has been going strong with the Predator line for some time, and even had other amazing figures from the same wave as this guy, including the “Shredator” Enforcer Predator figure. This guy is unique due to the comic book style deco he sports, which is a more vibrant, flat paint job. He sports a three bladed wrist blades, various skull and bone trophies adorning his armor, and 2 severed heads that hang from his belt. He ships in a solid case all by himself, and has been seen at Toys R Us as recently as stores begin their after the holiday restocks.
Slashing his way into the number 4 spot is NECA’s Ultimate Freddy Krueger figure. This is the articulated figure fans have been asking for since NECA began making product from the film franchise. Besides the articulated legs, Freddy comes with 2 alternate heads, an alternate hand with green “blood” spurting out of the chopped off finger, a skinned face “mask” and the telephone with the tongue sticking out of it. He also has a soft rubber sweater overlay that allows for his waist and torso articulation to get a better than average range of motion. NECA has noted they are going to do other ‘Ultimate’ figures, so I eagerly wait to see what they will be.
Swooping in to the number 3 spot is NECA’s 8 bit NES/Blu-Ray bundle 89 Batman figure. This entry is sort of a twofer, as they are technically 2 releases, but only one of them was sold by itself. The figure is actually a shrunk down version of NECA’s amazing ¼ scale Keaton Batman, which we thought was all we could get, at the time. It turns out that NECA found a loophole in their contract that let them release a version from the NES Tim Burton Batman movie. Towards the end of the year it was revealed that they managed to find a way to release an actual film version of the figure, but it was bundled with the Diamond-Luxe Blu-Ray version, and sold on ebay. That sold unbelievably fast, and NECA kept fans up to date on progress of it being released elsewhere. That ended up being to TRU, where it was only sold with the standard Blu-Ray of the film, with a sticker signifying that. For fans old enough to remember, the figure is packaged as homage to the old Toy Biz Batman figure from when the first movie toys originally came out. The scarce availability aside, the figure is amazingly articulated, like all of the best NECA figures have been, and comes with a second pair of hands, Batarang, and grapple gun.
Number 2 is a figure (and variants) that just slid into the list for 2014, though some people won’t actually receive theirs until sometime this year, The Four Horsemen’s Gothitropolis Raven figure. The figure, and all his variants began as a Kickstarter campaign back in July of 2013, which ran until August of that year. The campaign exceeded everyone’s expectations, and all the stretch goals that were revealed, were met and surpassed. The figures arriving would end up being a mystery due to the sheer number of backers, and some reasons that only the Horsemen know for sure. Despite any drama that might have caused, the figure lives up to the very high standards that the Horsemen have strived for in each of their creator owned properties. The sculpting and paintwork is phenomenal, and the articulation is incredible. Some of the figures received by other backers had stuck joints, but a quick heat with a hair dryer or a dip in boiling water will loosen them right up. The base figure comes with an amazingly detailed staff weapon, and 2 alternate sets of clawed feet; 1 pair of closed, and a pair of grasping feet. The Horsemen’s online store had some figures for preorder, but they have been sold out since they went up. Nobody knows for sure if there will be more, but if you are interested, your best bet is to check ebay or other online locations for people who might be selling some of the figures.
Topping the list at number 1 is not just 1 figure, but all 4 of The Revoltech Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figures from Kiayodo. These are import figures, so you won’t be able to find them in any of your local stores, unless you happen to have one that imports figures from the Far East. If you are a fan of the new TMNT show on Nickelodeon, then these are the figures for you. The Playmates figures are great for a mass market retail line, but if you want figures as close to the show’s model sheets, then you want these. Each of the turtles has a moveable eye system activated by moving the back of their bandanna, an alternate head, their signature weapon, and a display base of some sort. The articulation on the figures allows for some amazing poses, and their wide feet allow them to balance on 1 foot unassisted, which is great for ninja running poses. These guys sold fast, so you might have to spend more than you’re comfortable with, but Amazon and Big Bad Toy Store have some in stock, if you are inclined.
That wraps up the top 10 for 2014, but I would like to give mention to some figures that just missed the cut this year.
As you can see, last year had an amazing array of figures, and with what’s solicited for this coming year, we look to have stiff competition for the top 10 next year.
Thanks for reading.
I’ll see you in the toy isles.