TOP 13 ACTION FIGURES OF 2013
Well another year has come and gone. I hope 2013 was good to all of you. My 2013 had it’s shares of highs and lows but I won’t bore you with real life stuff; let’s talk toys. The world of toy collecting was a bit of a roller coaster this year as well. Highs include the release of a bunch of toy friendly movies such as G.I. Joe Retaliation, Iron man 3, Man of Steel, Thor 2, Pacific Rim, Wolverine, and Star Trek. But a serious low was the lack of quality action figures released in conjunction with those films. Some got a few decent toys, some got loads of crap toys, and some didn’t get any toys at all. A bunch of lines I collect essentially ended in 2013. Marvel Universe is winding up, the future of Beast Saga remains a mystery, and the Master’s of the Universe Classics line has nearly covered all of the vintage line thus spelling it’s inevitable demise. On the plus side the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club has really stepped up their Joe offerings to make up for Hasbro dropping the Joe ball, while Hasbro has been releasing some really nice Generation 1 accurate Transformers as part of their 30th anniversary series. On a more personal note my favorite comic shop Strange Adventures (where many of the toys in my collection have been purchased) moved from their original location of 20 years. A location so iconic it has been both visited by Superman (Man of Steel #74) and stomped on by Godzilla (Godzilla Kingdom of Monsters #1). Luckily it just moved around the corner to a pretty cool new location.
Okay, let’s get on with the list. Last year I planned to name my top 10 action figures of the year but I couldn’t whittle my list down to 10 so I went with my top 12 of 2012. I figured I’d stick to that system this year and name my top 13 action figures of 2013. The criteria is simple: the figure must have been released in 2013 and I must have acquired it. Let’s get started…
13. Cobra Mortal – G. I. Joe. This figure was one of 15 figures included in the Joe Collector Club’s 2013 Convention Set. The theme this year was Nocturnal Fire which featured the Joe’s sub-team Night Force taking on foreign Cobra operatives. When I got back into collecting Joes as an adult I discovered was that there were a bunch of figures that had been released exclusively in foreign countries over the years. It would have been fun to collect those rarities but unfortunately they were really expensive and usually of poor quality. Luckily the Club has been great about producing modern versions of those foreign characters. This figure is essentially a Snake Eyes and a Cobra Commander mashed together and painted white but I love it. It’s not a flawless figure but when you take into account how many other cool figures came packaged with him the Nocturnal Fire set is a must have.
12. Metal Head – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I don’t fancy myself a die-hard ninja turtle fan but there were a few years near the end of my childhood toy collecting years that I was really into them. I loved the 80s cartoon, the live action movies, the comic books, and of course the toys. The turtles have come back around a few times since the 80s but failed to catch my attention with past revivals. But for some reason I love the new character designs of the current series. Initially I planned on only buying the 4 main turtles but Spin Master keeps releasing really cool figures. This Metal Head blows the 80s original out of the water. Sure I wish he had more articulation and maybe a little chrome but this figure is just really cool looking.
11. Devastator – Transformers Kre-O. This figure may look familiar to you because I just reviewed it the other day. I made an effort to review all of the toys that were likely to appear on this list before I compiled it. I wanted to be able to provide a link to each separate review. I was successful in reviewing all but 1 figure on this list. Picking a Kre-O figure to put on this list was really tough as I could have put any one of them on here. Most of the Transformers figures are cool and I absolutely love the G.I. Joes. Kre-Os contain an element of fun that none of these other toys do in part because you have to assemble them before you can display them. Devastator is one of the Micro-Changer sets which is a giant robot made up of 4 smaller robots. This guy towers over my other Kre-Os and serves as an excellent homage to the original Devastator figure.
10. Aljaro – BEAST SAGA. The Beast Saga line by Takara came with a bang in the last quarter of 2012. Dozens of figures were released in continuous small waves right up until the spring of 2013. I acquired 48 of the little guys in the span of about 6 months. I love Beast Saga. One of my all-time favorite toy lines is Battle Beasts, a line produced by Takara in the 1980s. That series is largely forgotten by collectors so while brands like He-man and G.I. Joe have made successful comebacks it seemed unlikely that I’d ever see a Battle Beast revival. It took about 25 years and a name change but I was thrilled when Takara announced their Beast Saga line. I struggled to pick a BS figure for my list last year because they’re all so great but I ultimately settled on the turtle. This year was tough as well but there weren’t as many figures to choose from since the brand appears to have met an untimely death. A tragedy really as you can see from the quality of this Armadillo figure that these toys are awesome. This guy is bulky and armored and the purple color scheme is a nod to the 80s Battle Beast Armadillo.
9. Darth Maul – STAR WARS. This is the one figure on this list that I haven’t yet had time to review. It was a Christmas present from my brother Doug and I simply haven’t had the time to write it up. I’ll write a review soon though and I will update this post with a link when I do. I’m a big Star Wars fan but for the past decade or so I’ve been pretty burnt out on it. I think the hype surrounding the prequels literally drained me. I have hordes of 90s era Star Wars figures sitting in a bucket in my storage room. I have most characters in 3 or 4 different outfits so I decided years ago that I was done buying Star Wars toys. The 3 3/4″ figures have been released steadily for the past fifteen years and I’m amazed that anyone still buys them. Don’t we all have enough Lukes by now? I now see the error of my ways. With the release of the 6″ Star Wars Black line I now feel compelled to buy all of those characters all over again. This Black series of figures is bigger, more detailed and more posable than the small figures ever were. Darth Maul looks especially great with his removable cape and hood, multi-layered clothing, and double jointed knee articulation.
8. Icer –Masters of the Universe Classics. All of the toy lines I collect as an adult have ties to my childhood. I’m not interested in collecting Ben 10 or Bakugan because that crap doesn’t mean anything to me. I love getting new and improved versions of the toys I had as a kid. However, for a good toy line to live on it has to cater to people beyond nostalgic old fogies like myself. New characters and new ideas need to be infused into old brands to keep them exciting. This figure isn’t the best example of that perhaps because it’s part of a collector geared toy line that’s available exclusively online but you know what I’m saying. Instead of just giving us new versions of He-Man and Skeletor Mattel has broadened the scope of their Classics line to include all sorts of weird and wonderful characters. Some are brand new creations while others like Icer here are pulled from forgotten corners of the brand’s history. Icer appeared in a single episode of the 80s Filmation cartoon so who ever imagined we’d get a figure of him 30 years later? I think this is an awesome figure in part because of it’s simplicity, it’s a guy made of ice wearing a loincloth and a hood. How stupid and amazing is that?
7. Swerve/Veer – Transformers. Last year a Transformer topped my “best of” list. Only it wasn’t a Transformer produced by Hasbro as you might expect. It was a toy released by a third party which was designed to look like a popular Hasbro character. I’m still not sure how this is legal but I’m glad it is. Hasbro is not seeing to the needs of Transformers fans because they’re not making Generation 1 accurate figures so thats when third party companies like iGear step up to fill the void. iGear is probably my favorite of the many companies doing this. the quality of their toys is amazing. This version of Swerve (whom they call Veer) looks great in both robot and vehicle mode, it’s posable, its detailed, it’s fun, and its perfectly sized for the character. I wish the colors were maybe a little brighter but otherwise this figure is pretty perfect.
6. Big Boa – G.I. Joe. This here is another awesome Joe figure courtesy of the Collector’s Club. but this one isn’t from one of their convention sets, this figure was one of 13 included in the Club’s inaugural Figure Subscription Service. Once you sign up with the FSS the Club ships you 2 brand new figures every month for 3 months with a bonus figure in the last month. The first FSS was a huges success in my eyes as far as quality and variety and I’m pleased to say that I’m currently enjoying my first couple shipments from the FSS 2.0. Many of the 13 figures from the first FSS could have made this list but Big Boa was the clear winner for me from the first series. It’s a fantastic update to a character who really needed updating. i don’t think Hasbro could have done any better themselves. The boxing gloves and newly tooled helmet look fantastic. He’s appropriately beefy and the bright colors really pop and make this guy stand out in a crowd.
5. Metroplex –Transformers. Wow. That’s all I can say about this figure. It’s 2 feet of pure awesomeness. Metroplex turns into a city so he should tower over other Transformers figures and this toy definitely does that. He even dwarfs Unicron who’s supposed to be a living planet. This toy is just really impressive and I’m stunned that Hasbro took a gamble on a toy this large in this day and age. Metroplex will forever be a focal point of my collection. Partly because he doesn’t fit anywhere so he just stands in the middle of my mancave like a bouncer. There’s lots of little details to be found on this figure and while paint apps are lacking he did come with a crap load of stickers to liven him up. He came packaged with a smaller bot that turns into a car who is pretty cool in his own right.
4. Bludgeon – G.I. Joe/Transformers. This is the third of four Joe figures to make this list but oddly it’s the only one actually produced by Hasbro. But that doesn’t mean that you can go down to Wal-mart to score this toy, this Bludgeon figure was included in the exclusive San Diego Comic Con box set. This was the third and supposedly final year that Hasbro has merged their two flagship toy brands, G.I. Joe and Transformers, for their SDCC offering. The first year was a Joe Sky Striker painted like Starscream packaged with a Cobra Commander. Last year was a HISS tank painted like Shockwave packaged with a B.A.T. and Destro. I ranked that Shockwave number 2 on my list last year. This year Hasbro closed out the mash-up with a bang by including a Jet, a Jeep, 3 figures and a panther in the set. As impressive as the Jetfire and Ravage were Bludgeon is my favorite piece. Bludgeon is a Pretender in the Transformers universe meaning he hides his true robotic form in a humanoid shell. His shell just happens to be a skeletal samurai so I don’t know what he’s pretending exactly but of well. Turning their Budo figure into Bludgeon was a stroke of genius by Hasbro. This thing is rad for so many reasons.
3. Mantenna – Masters of the Universe Classics. I’ve been waiting for this figure for 30 years. As much as I loved the original Mantenna figure of the 80s it failed to capture some of the character’s most distinguishable features such as the 4 spider-like legs. The 2000 era MOTU toy line got cancelled before Mattel got a chance to release Mantena and for a while it seemed like the Classics line might get cancelled before a modern Mantenna was released. There are still characters I’d like to see Mattel release in the Classics style but if Mantenna had been the last figure they produced I would have been satisfied. What a relief it was when this figure was announced just a couple months after the line was supposedly at risk of coming to an end. The designers pulled out all the stops on this figure. The 4 legs look awesome and work awesome allowing for a number of poses. The weapons and the bug out eyes and the bright colors all add to the excellence of this figure. It’s crazy that this isn’t at the top of my list.
2. Gears/Cogz – Transformers. Everything I said about the Swerve figure applies double on this figure. Both were released by iGear and are essentially the same toy. I actually considered lumping them together for this list. but both are so great that I think they deserved their own slots. The body construction is identical for both figures. This makes sense considering the original swerve was just a repaint of the original Gears. the only difference in the sculpting is in the head area. I absolutely love Gears face and best of all it spins around to give you 2 different face options. gears wins out in the color category because his bright blue and red is much more dynamic than Swerves’s muted red and white. Gears was one of my favorite Transformers as a kid and this figure does the character all the justice he deserves. Wicked.
1. Snake Eyes – G.I. Joe. For months I knew that Gears and Mantenna would be topping this list. I couldn’t imagine another toy coming along that could dethrone them. That is until Vanessa surprised me last week with a Hot Toys Snake Eyes for Christmas. How could this figure not top the list? Did you read the full review I posted the other day? did you look at the pictures? This figure is a work of art. The real metal weapons, multi-layered costume, fine details, and accuracy to the source material all add up to elevate this figure to the top of the list. I could go on but seeing as I just wrote about this figure the other day I would encourage you to go check out that review if you want to know more.
So there you have it. Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks again to everyone who keeps coming back and reading my ramblings. Happy new year.