Photo review of the new Playmates Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Samurai Ninja Turtles and Samurai Usagi Yojimbo figures.
It’s the end of one year, and the beginning of another. You know what that means; it’s time for a best of list. There were many amazing action figures released this year, too many in fact, for me to reasonably collect them all without going broke. Star Wars fans had choices beyond Hasbro and Hot Toys, with both Bandai’s SH Figuarts line, and Medicom’s Mafex line producing many outstanding figures that top domestic releases. On top of that, you have Mafex figures for WB’s Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice, and DC Collectibles’ Batman the Animated Series/The New Batman Adventures line of figures. Then you have figures that are just making it out at the end of the year like the Figuarts WWE Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin, and a new line of Mortal Kombat figures by Storm Collectibles, of which their Scorpion is just squeaking out.
This article will cover my top 10 action figures of 2016. There aren’t any real criteria to determine this list. There’s nothing like the faithfulness to source, articulation, or the number of accessories to make me love a figure. These are just figures I’ve purchased this year, that make me happy to have them, and are consistent ‘hand candy’ on display.
‘Lilo and Stitch’ was a Disney movie I loved, and continue to hold in high regard years after it was released. While there have been items related to the film made over the years, there was nothing on the level I wanted. That changed with this figure. He had swappable upper faces to change expression, as well as extra arms to change him between his normal alien experiment and ‘dog’ looks. He also came with sunglasses and an ice cream cone from the great scene from the movie. Not to mention the articulation on the relatively small body.
The 4 Horsemen have been putting out amazing figures for years, between working on Mattel’s DC line, to working on their direct to consumer Masters of the Universe and Thundercats lines. What I’ve liked most from them has been their creator owned properties. The Mythic Legions line was their second Kickstarter campaign that ran last year, and saw the finished product released this year.
While they had about 20 characters offered, I focused my vision on their army building skeleton soldiers, their Barbarian builder set, and their Minotaur figure Asterionn.
Generally speaking, among all fairytales and mythic stories, I gravitate towards the monsters. It’s the reason I enjoy the Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm St. and Halloween films more than many recent gore fest horror films. This figure tickled that fancy, scratched that itch, however you want to put it. I also picked up 4 of the skeleton builder figures, but this guy’s armor that pops with color, selection of customizable weapons, and the fact that he becomes a kind of kindred spirit with my 4 Horsemen Xetheus Minotaur pushed him over the top.
Queen was a band I grew up loving, and Freddie Mercury was a big part of that. His vocals were one major selling point of their work, but his visual flair on stage and in videos helped cement him who would capture my attention. With the included extra parts, you can also recreate a variety of Freddie’s poses or moments from videos. This figure is honestly as close to a real person I think I had seen to that point, and makes me wish Bandai would release figures of David Bowie, Axel Rose and Slash, and Jim Morrison (of the Doors) just to name a few. To me, that is a major selling point for a line, when it makes you want so many other items in the same vein.
Poses! While the Hasbro Marvel legends Deadpool that was also released this year (he made the honorable mentions list) was great, he couldn’t hit some of the wild, often off the wall poses you can get with this import figure. I understand that not everyone is a fan of the Revoltech ball joint system, or the way they can look in ‘vanilla’ poses, but this figure was MADE to be put into as many crazy, off the wall poses you can think of. The included swords and guns fit in his hands well, and the swappable eye pieces only add more fun to the poses you can pull off. They were even clever enough to include speech bubbles on the box that you can cut out and use with the figure. I also admit that I can never have too many Deadpools, even if he does rub some people the wrong way. I look forward to seeing the first in hand pictures for the upcoming Spiderman and Venom figures they’ve been showing off.
This is a figure I have been waiting for since 2008. I made the trip to SDCC from New York back in 2008, mainly to experience the show at least once, and to meet some friends, but I was able to see the prototypes for this box set (Shredder, Kraang brain, Foot soldier, elite Foot soldier, and another Foot soldier with a headband) in NECA’s display cabinet. At that point, they were promoting the April O’Neil figure that was out, and hoping to release this planned wave, as long as the sales were good enough. Sadly, the line died well before they ever made it out, and NECA had to deal with fans CONSTANTLY asking when they would release those figures. Jump to the summer of this year, and NECA showed off a set of video game pixel decorated Ninja Turtles on new bodies, and this set in the same game deco.
Coming into the end of summer, and New Your Comic Con, NECA revealed that they would FINALLY be releasing the Mirage deco of Shredder and the Foot ninja set, and this one, unlike the SDCC set, was available to order online without the same kind of issues. I sadly had to pass initially, due to funds, but when they came up again when NECA was running a website sale, I happened to have some eBay funds available, and I jumped at the chance to finally complete my Mirage TMNT set (minus an April, but who’s complaining, certainly not me). Shredder (and the others, actually) live up to the anticipation. Shredder is quite poseable, and comes with a set of alternate hands that can hold any of the weapons that come in the set, and the elite Foot Ninja’s cape can be thrown on old chrome dome if you want a more ‘cartoon’ looking Shredder.
I wasn’t old enough to see the original Star Trek when it first aired, or even first his syndication, but I had seen some of the films, so I was familiar with the cast and crew of the show. That said, I am also a big fan of Leonard Nimoy’s portrayal of Spock, and having loved Mezco’s The Dark Knight Returns Batman from last year, I was more than interested in having a real life actor immortalized in my new favorite line. I waited to see some reviews and in hand responses, just to make sure the figure wasn’t going to fall apart, or that the outfit wasn’t fraying right out of the box. Thankfully Mezco seems to know what they are doing, and they knocked Spock out of the park. The 2 head sculpts look like Nimoy shrunk down to toy size, and the tailoring on the uniform is fabulous. He comes with a tri corder and phaser that both look straight out of the show, and a series of alternate hands. I have his shipmates Kirk and Sulu, and am eagerly waiting to see who Mezco shows off as the next crew member to see release.
I grew up in the 80s, so the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon and even the first Jim Henson suited live action movie played a big part in my early fandom. I had already purchased the Playmates Classic TMNT cartoon figures, along with the Beebop and Rocksteady they put out, as well as their version of the first movie figures, so I was happy to just skip the turtles themselves, and get the Shredder figure that was shown at one of the conventions this year. Then I started seeing the reviews, and the pictures of the brothers in action, and my resolve broke. I currently have all of them but Michelangelo, whom I will be getting soon enough.
These are as close to a perfect representation of the cartoon looks of any articulated figure I can think of. The selling point of the guys is the solid metal lower legs and feet, which allow for amazing stability in posing them in basic standing positions, or more dramatic action poses. They come with a selection of extra hands, an alternate head, their signature weapons, and an accessory exclusive to them. I already had the Revoltech figures of the new Nickelodeon TMNT figures, so I wasn’t on these as well, but everything I kept seeing made me happily change my stance. Now I can’t wait to see what Bandai has in store for this line, as I have a list of figures I would love to see made.
After the release of Mezco TDKR Batman, the online toy community hoped and prayed that they would eventually get the chance to tackle some Marvel characters. The collective prayers were answered when the first few Marvel characters were revealed, and the first figure to be released would be a classic inspired Captain America. The only drawback was that he was a SDCC exclusive figure, with a special metal shield tin package, which raised the price over the then fairly normal $80 price point. I loved the reviews of the figure I saw coming out of the convention, from people who got him there, but was hesitant with the price, as the tin wasn’t a real selling point for me. I eventually came across a seller who had him for a little less than what he was going for at the con, so I but the bullet and ordered one.
What I had experienced with Batman, Judge Dredd and the Star Trek crew was brought even further forward with the good Captain. He took everything Mezco learned with all their previous releases, and improved on it. Cap’s suit is quite detailed, with each scale on his upper body apparently glued on 1 piece at a time, with the star inserted through a small hole in the shirt into a hole in his chest. The rest of the outfit is kind of a modern take on what his WW2 gear might have looked like, so there are no flared gloves or boots. His left glove has magnets that allow the shield (which also has magnets) to hang on his arm without Cap having to physically hold the handle. The magnets aren’t quite as strong as the magnets that were used by Dredd for his shoulder pads, but they were a cool idea. The shoulder harness he comes with also has a magnet that allows you to display him with his shield slung over his shoulder. Between the Trek crew, this figure and my choice for #1 below, it cemented my decision that this line will likely be my main focus for the new year.
Mezco Star Trek Captain Kirk
Mezco Star Trek Sulu
Bandai SH Figuarts Iron Man 3 Tony Stark
DCC Icons Harley Quinn
Hasbro ML Wolverine
Diamond Select Muppets line
Diamond Select Ghostbusters
Diamond Select Gotham figures
Hasbro ML Deadpool
Thanks for reading.
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.