TOP 14 ACTION FIGURES OF 2014
2014 is drawing to a close and that mean’s it’s time for another “best of” year-end list. I’ve been blogging about toys for 3 years now so naturally this is my third annual list (check out 2012 and 2013 here). I love lists so I look forward to the slew of them that come out this time each year and I enjoy compiling my own. Let me begin by saying that this is a list of the 14 best action figures released in 2014 that I added to my collection; it is not a “best of” list that considers every toy released in 2014. There were a ton of wicked toys released this year that would likely be on this list had I got them but I can’t afford to collect everything. Regardless, I got a ton of great figures this year and was able to put together a list of top-notch toys. After much consideration, here is my top 14:
14. Be-Bop (Funko Pop!-TMNT) At first glance this might seem like an odd way to start the list but there’s no denying that this is a great figure. I bought 2 other Be-Bop figures this year, and another one based on the new animated series is due out soon, but none of them are as cool as this big-headed vinyl figurine by Funko. Of all the Pop! figures that adorn my work desk I think he’s probably my favorite. Be-Bop has a lot of distinguishing features and all of them are squeezed into this one little figure. There’s the earring, the nose ring, the bandolier, the mohawk, the shades, the turtle shell shoulder pads, the chains, the necklace, and the sneakers. It’s very detailed while still maintaining the minimalist Pop! aesthetic. If I were a kid I wouldn’t be so impressed with this figure as it lacks playability but as a nostalgia-fueled adult collector who only displays his toys I like things that stand out from the crowd and grab your attention; this guy does that.
13. Modulok (Mattel-Masters of the Universe Classics) I was pretty torn about this slot. Overall, the MOTU Classics toyline has been awesome but this hasn’t been a strong year for the line. All of the “must-have” characters were produced in the first few years so the 2014 series was mostly populated by second rate She-Ra characters. Regardless, I haven’t necessarily been disappointed by the 2014 figures, most have been quite good, but when I looked them over to see who would make this list I realized none of them felt essential enough to make the cut. The only one even close to list worthy was Modulok. Don’t get me wrong, this is an excellent figure and it’s extremely unique amongst a line full of unique characters, but I just don’t care for the character all that much personally. I never owned the original toy when I was a kid and I don’t believe he’s ever played a significant role in any of the comics or cartoons so I simply never developed an attachment to him. An equally weird multi-legged MOTU character, Mantenna, nearly topped my list last year because not only was the toy awesome but so was the character. In Modulok’s case I only feel the toy is awesome and the character is lacking. I decided to let Modulok keep his spot though because MOTU needed to be represented and he does have a very unique body construction and fun build-able play feature.
12. Tripwire (Hasbro-G.I. Joe KRE-O) This was another tough call. I absolutely love this figure but I got a ton of great action figures this year and placing a little brick figure on my “best of” list seemed like a disservice to those other figures. But while those other figures have this guy beat in terms of sculpting, size, detail and accessories it’s hard to match this guy’s fun factor. You build him yourself, you can swap out his parts with other Kre-Os, you can attach him to vehicles, and he’s super cute. The paint work and the innovative accessories turn this simple brick man into the best version of Tripwire ever. He scratches my nostalgic itch for G.I. Joe and Lego at the same time. This is the toy on this list that I would’ve most enjoyed if I were still an actual child and not just a man-child.
11. H.E.A.T. Viper (Hasbro – G.I. Joe: 50th Anniversary) Heat Viper is the first of two Cobra troopers on my list this year and you may be surprised to learn that the 50th anniversary Ice Viper is not the other selection (though he was considered). The original 1987 Ice Viper was my absolute favorite Cobra Trooper when I was a kid but the updated version doesn’t quite live up to its predecessor. I gave the new figure a 10 out of 10 when I reviewed it a couple months back but the overly long neck really does bother me. My second favorite childhood Cobra trooper was the 1989 Heat Viper. There was just something about the asymmetrical half-face plate that made him look so unique and interesting. The bright yellow and purple costume, the missile boots, and the massive cannon all added to his appeal. The 50th anniversary update is more successful in Heat Viper’s case and so he edges Ice Viper off of the list. I thought this figure was so great that I actually army built 2 of them which is not something I usually do these days due to lack of space.
10. Agent Venom (Hasbro-Marvel Legends) I don’t have many Marvel Legends figures because I’ve committed to collecting the smaller 3 ¾” scale Marvel figures. But every now and again I’m forced to buy one because a must-have character comes out in the Legends line that isn’t available in the smaller scale. This year I’ve picked up Legends versions of Boomerang, Black Cat, Carnage, Arana and others and each of them is awesome but the leader of the pack is Agent Venom. This Walgreens exclusive figure is the first collectible I know of to showcase Venom’s current militaristic look. Most people know Venom to be Eddie Brock, the hulking Spider-Man villain who basically looks like a ‘roided out Spidey with a toothy grin. Well times have changed and Venom is now Peter Parker’s good friend/high school bully/war vet, Flash Thompson. I really like the new look and alter ego because I think the character was getting stale. This figure perfectly captures Venom’s new costume which is equal parts soldier and super hero. It features great sculpting, loads of articulation and multiple accessories.
9. Death’s Head (Hasbro-Marvel Universe) Growing up I was a hardcore Marvel kid. You could call me Galactus the way I devoured the Marvel Universe. Between my brother Doug and I we collected most of the comics Marvel published and we read all the character profile books so we knew every nook and cranny of the Marvel U. Some of the obscure characters that live within those nooks are some of my favorites, Death’s Head being one of them. This character hasn’t actually appeared in that many books, his own series only lasted 10 issues, but he left an impression on me. He’s one of the coolest looking Marvel characters out there so he totally deserved to be made into an action figure but I still can’t believe Hasbro actually made one this year. Some of the MU figures are pretty weak but this is the type of figure that keeps me coming back. He’s bulky, colorful, well detailed, and includes multiple accessories.
8. Jabba the Hutt (Hasbro-Star Wars Black Series) I’ve always loved Jabba the Hutt. I’m a sucker for big monsters and this figure fits that bill. It blows previous Jabba figures out of the water with it’s massive girth, detailed sculpting, and paint job. This is the most film accurate Jabba toy ever produced and I simply had to have it. You could argue that this toy was overpriced (approximately $40) given that its basically a big immobile slug with very few moving parts but what little movement it has really works. The fact that his mouth moves realistically when you tug on his arm is what guaranteed Jabba his spot on this list.
7. Swerve/Trash Talk (MakeToys- Transformers) I’ve run out of things to say about Swerve and his twin Gears. Between the two of them I’ve written 6 reviews now. Last year third party company iGear’s versions of each of them made my year end list. In retrospect only their version of Gears (named Cogz) should have made the list. iGear’s Swerve (named Veer) was way better than the Hasbro produced version I had in my collection but it was still a far cry from the character I loved from the IDW comics. This year another third party company, MakeToys, took a stab at the pair. Their Gears (named Cogwheel) was very nice and nearly list worthy himself but it was their version of Swerve that really blew me away. THIS is the Swerve I’ve been waiting for. MakeToy’s version is named Trash Talk because of Swerve’s loud and jovial personality in the comics. James Roberts writes him with a ton of personality and you can see it on this toy’s face (Well the smiley one at least, he has an alternate destroyed face). Trash Talk is a great figure, and while Hasbro themselves released a decent version of Swerve in 2014, this toy is the definitive version of Swerve in my collection.
6. Storm Trooper (Hasbro-Star Wars Black Series) This figure crept on me which is why there isn’t a link to a full review (though there will be soon). I like Storm Troopers, who doesn’t?, but I did not plan on adding this figure to my collection. I already have so many Storm Troopers in my collection, mostly 3 3/4″ figures but also bigger and smaller versions, that I couldn’t justify buying this 6″ version. I already promised myself I’d be very selective when it came to purchasing Hasbro’s Black Series figures. I bought this figure for Doug as a Christmas present but then he went and bought himself one just before the holidays. I had to scramble to find him something else and I kept this figure for myself. I did not expect to be so impressed with this figure but as soon as I opened it up and had it in my hands I thought it was the best Storm Trooper ever. Everything about it is great: the sculpting, the articulation, the rifle and pistol accessories, and the crisp white of the uniform. Now I want to go buy 5 more of this figure so I can have a little squad on my shelf. Damn you, Doug.
5. Catwoman (DC Direct-Designer Series: Greg Capullo) This is another late edition to the list. I loved it from the moment I saw it online and pre-ordered it a few months back but I didn’t expect to have it in hand before the end of the year because my pre-order at BigBadToyStore still hadn’t been filled by X-Mas. However, I found this figure on sale at Giant Robot Comics on boxing day and I couldn’t resist grabbing it then and there and subsequently cancelling my pre-order. I’ve wanted a good Catwoman figure for years but I haven’t been satisfied with any of the previous incarnations. This version is pretty much perfect. The sculpting is beautiful and the costume choice is exactly what I’ve been waiting for. I love the all-black catsuit with the over-sized goggles. You’d think this outfit wouldn’t allow for a ton of detail but everything from the buckles, to the zipper, to the wrinkles look great. The inclusion of a realistic whip sealed the deal. DC Direct (now known as DC Collectibles) has been absolutely killing it this year. Many of their figures could have made this list (Robin was close) but their female figures have been especially impressive. Case in point…
4. Supergirl (DC Direct – New 52) Supergirl is a character who was long overdue for a decent action figure. She’s been around in the comic books since the 1950s and she even starred in her own live-action movie long before it was the fashionable thing for superheroes to do. Many Supergirl action figures have been released over the years but none were anywhere near as good as this one. This figure beautifully captures her look from DC’s New 52 Universe. The body is nicely articulated and it features some really cool looking metallic paint. I’m a big fan of the non-sensical knee-less boots for some reason. The head sculpt is great with soft features and a nice hair design. The paint on the face really enhance this figure as well. The light blue eyes look appropriately alien and the natural lip color was a wise choice as opposed to giving her bright red lipstick (it suits Catwoman but not the more wholesome Kara).
3. Toxo-Viper (G.I. Joe Collector’s Club – 2014 Convention Set) When I heard that the Club was going to be including 3 Toxo-Vipers in their zombie-themed convention set I was stoked. The original Toxo-Viper figure from 1988 was another one of my favorite Cobra troopers and, like Heat Viper and Ice Viper, that figure had yet to be released in the modern style. I was extremely disappointed when images of this figure first hit the internet and we discovered that the Toxo-Vipers in the set were based on the version 2 design from 1991; a figure I never owned and to which I have no nostalgic attachment. However, I had to admit that this figure, with its newly sculpted head by Boss Fight Studios, was pretty damn cool looking. Once I had the set and the Toxo-Vipers in hand I was blown away by their design and quality. I absolutely love this figure and the fact that there’s 3 of them (6 if you count the zombified versions), which allows me to make a small squad, makes it that much cooler. The new head and the mix of re-used parts look great together and the color choices tie it all together nicely. This figure was a very pleasant surprise.
2. Cy-Kill/Salmoore (DX9 –Go-Bots) This third party designed version of Cy-Kill, the evil leader of the Renegades from Tonka’s Challenge of the Go-Bots, is amazing. I’ve been pretty blown away by third party Transformers for a few years now (see Stormbomb from my 2012 list or Cogz from 2013) but for whatever reason I did not expect one of those companies to tackle Go-Bots. It makes perfect sense that they would because these characters aren’t being produced by Tonka, Bandai, Hasbro or any of the other “real” toy companies and there’s a fan base out there that wants them. I’m so glad DX9 produced this update to Cy-Kill and I really hope it leads to more Go-Bots in the future. As soon as I saw this figure online I knew it was a contender for toy of the year. Needless to say, I was not disappointed once I had this figure in hand. I love everything they kept from the original character design and I love everything they changed. The design is great from his stern facial expression right down to his asymmetrical feet. The real rubber tires and the multiple chrome pieces were key elements of the original figure which DX9 has replicated here. I love it. Cy-Kill was slated to be crowned the number one action figure of 2014 but his plans were abruptly foiled by Vanessa at the last minute. Just like last year, Vanessa bought me an epic toy for Christmas which bumped everyone down a spot in a surprise upset. Destro, Invisible Man, and Scunner were all bumped from the list completely thanks to Catwoman, the Storm Trooper, and…
1. The Crow (Hot Toys) The Crow is my all-time favorite movie. I’ve watched it countless times and I can recite all of the dialogue with ease. For me, the combination of great story, gothic visuals, awesome music, amazing acting, and teenage angst was a recipe for perfection in 1994. I’m sure it would be my favorite movie regardless but the fact that Brandon Lee died while making it just gives it some added weight. I have a couple of Crow figures in my collection and they’re pretty cool but nothing anyone else does in the toy industry compares to what Hong Kong-based Hot Toys does when it comes to action figure craftsmanship. Last Christmas Vanessa bought me their Snake Eyes figure based on his look from G.I. Joe: Retaliation. She had asked for gift ideas, I mentioned Snake Eyes and she asked about it a couple of times afterwards. So while it was a great gift it wasn’t a total shock or surprise to receive. This year Vanessa didn’t ask for suggestions, we set a spending limit of $100, and she specifically told me she had a more practical gift in mind for me this time. So obviously I had no idea that she was planning on buying me this figure because he is far from practical and also quite far from $100. I wanted this figure so bad when it became available earlier this year but I simply couldn’t justify the hefty price tag. I placed it in my online shopping cart many times but always removed it. Thank goodness for girl friends. I can’t do this figure justice in a mini blurb so I’ll post a full review soon but one glance at the picture to the left tells you pretty much all you need to know. You can barely tell that its a picture of a toy and not the real Brandon Lee. The eyes are particularly haunting. The other toys on this list didn’t stand a chance.
Posted on December 30, 2014, in Miscellaneous and tagged Action Figure, DC, G.I. Joe, He-Man, Kre-O, Marvel, Masters of the Universe, Star Wars, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.