TOP 15 ACTION FIGURES OF 2015
As 2015 comes to an end it’s time for my annual “best of” list. It’s hard to believe that this is my fourth year-end list and even harder to believe that since I started this blog I’ve reviewed over 800 action figures (and I’ve still barely scratched the surface of my collection!). Thanks to all of you who have been loyal readers and thanks to those of you checking it out for the first time, I hope you come back. Now, Before I begin the list let me clearly state that this list features the 15 BEST ACTION FIGURES I COLLECTED IN 2015. I am not saying these are the best 15 action figures released this year, just the best ones I managed to get my hands on. In order to qualify for my list the figure must have been released in 2015. I’ve gotten some great action figures this year that don’t qualify because they were originally released prior to 2015. Now that the criteria has been clearly stated hopefully any nerd rage will be quelled. I don’t need anyone calling me an idiot because I didn’t name the Hot Toys Hulkbuster Iron Man the best toy of the year (I know it’s awesome but its also $800 and I don’t have one). So let’s get started…
15. Cardinus– This is a figure from the Gothitropolis line by Four Horsemen Toy Design Studios. It’s a completely original toyline by the sculptors extraordinaire made famous for their work on Spawn, DC, and Masters of the Universe. At present I don’t have a link to a review of Cardinus but you can check out my review of another figure from the line, Eagalus. All the Gothitropolis figures share the exact same body and they come with the same staff as an accessory. The only differences between them are a uniquely sculpted head and a paint job specific to each bird species. I raved on about the intricacies of the sculpting in my Eagalus review so I won’t dwell on it again here but the armour is spectacular. Both Eagalus and Cardinus have amazing head sculpts that look very life-like. Either could have made the list but Cardinus edges Eagalus out due to the beautifully regal paint job. Cardinus features a black and gold paint scheme which looks fantastic against his crimson red feathers. I could totally display Cardinus with my Masters of the Universe collection or any other fantasy figures. Eagalus’s obnoxious American paint job makes him seem more like a novelty item than a fantasy figure. This is an amazing figure and I wish I could afford to collect the entire line .
14. First Aid– This figure makes the list primarily because I happen to love the character but it’s also a great toy. The original First Aid figure from 1986 was one of my favourite vintage Transformers and I’ve always regretted getting rid of it. First Aid’s portrayal in IDW’s Transformers comics in recent years have only made me like him even more. For years I’ve been hoping that Hasbro would release a new version of him and this year they finally did. There’s nothing particularly spectacular about the actual figure. The sculpting, paint, accessories, and articulation are on par with just about every other Transformer that came out this year under the “Combiner Wars” banner but that’s not a bad thing because those things were done well on all the figures. Almost any one of the combiner-bots could have made this list (i.e. Breakdown, Alpha Bravo) but due to my personal affection for First Aid he gets the shout out.
13. Jaws– I love the movie Jaws. Love it. When I was a kid that shark scared the crap out of me and fascinated me at the same time, it still does. I have yet to see a movie shark even come close to being as terrifying as the original Jaws. I was so stoked to get a Jaws action figure this year courtesy of Funko’s ReAction line. The retro style of the line was perfectly suited for the task of giving fans the first ever Jaws action figure line. The 3 human characters are awesome but its the shark that steals the show. I could’ve easily named this my number one action figure of the year but due to its lack of articulation it didn’t seem fair. This toy belongs in every bathtub around the world.
12. Snake-Armor He-Man-This is another figure that I haven’t yet reviewed so there’s no link available yet. I had every intention of reviewing all my list candidates by years end but I got busy/lazy. When I was a kid I had a bunch of Masters of the Universe figures including the main hero, He-Man. He was always my least favourite of the bunch. He was so uninteresting when compared to guys like Buzz-Off and Mer-Man. It wasn’t until the 2002 MOTU reboot that I actually liked He-Man. The ’02 cartoon and toy line featured anime inspired designs which I thought did wonders to up He-Man’s cool factor. When the Classics line kicked off in 2008/2009 He-Man reverted back to his boring old bowl-cut self. Multiple re-releases (Thunder Punch, Battle Armour) didn’t help. Finally, in 2015 Mattel has given us this Classics He-Man in the 2002 style, and that didn’t simply mean a new head sculpt, they decked him out in his snake armour which was heavily featured in season 2 of the animated series. The armour features great sculpting and paint work but it’s the shaggy hair that really wins me over.
11. Wonder Woman-No link here either folks but thats because I just got this figure the other day. I didn’t buy many DC figures this year. The only one I requested for Christmas was Superman from the designer series based on Jae Lee’s artwork. I’m a big fan of Jae Lee’s work but of the 4 figures in his designer series Superman was the only one that appealed to me based on the images I saw online. The Batman kinda sucked and the Catwoman was too similar to the Greg Capullo Catwoman that made my list last year. The Wonder Woman looked good but I already have what I feel is the best Wonder Woman figure ever made (DC Direct-2007) so why buy a lesser one? Well I was checking out Giant Robot Comics’ boxing day sale the other day and saw the Jae Lee Wonder Woman figure “in-person” for the first time. The sculpting and paint work were so good that I couldn’t resist buying it. I don’t think it’s better than the 2007 figure but this toy is a work of art and had I passed it up I know I’d be kicking myself for years to come.
10. Otachi– I just reviewed this figure the other day so I don’t have much to add at the moment. This figure is big, has great sculpting, great paint apps, and good articulation. Most important of all it’s a big monster. I love big monsters. I have a lot of big monster toys in my collection but few of them are designed as well as this figure. I’m still pissed about the price and the lack of wings but I didn’t buy anything else even remotely like Otachi this year. He’s a unique looking piece in my collection and he’s a joy to look at.
9. Kylo Ren– I just reviewed this figure the other day as well. This was a tough call because I got quite a few excellent 6″ Star Wars Black Series figures this year and I wasn’t sure who was going to make the cut. Captain Phasma is pretty rad looking and the First Order Storm Trooper is awesome too. For Christmas Vanessa got me a 4-pack of figures which included a red classic Storm Trooper that I absolutely love and he very nearly dethroned Kylo from this list (as I write this I realize he probably should have. Sorry, Honey). Kylo held his spot though because he was such a compelling character in the movie and because this figure is made up of all new parts including plastic and cloth blended together wonderfully. The standard white Storm Trooper ranked number six on my list last year and it would have seemed a bit lazy to award essentially the same figure again this year.
8. Calix-This is a great figure that I’ve been meaning to review for months. It’s one of the six figures included in Mattel’s MOTU Classics mini-subscription based on the 2002 cartoon I mentioned above in my He-Man write up. Over the past 7 years a handful of 2002-inspired characters have found their way into the main Classics line but they’re few and far between. A whole subscription devoted to them is something fans of that era (like myself) have been clamouring for. I have three of the mini-sub figures in hand at present and they’re all great. I expect to have the last three this week or next and they all look great too; there isn’t a dud in the bunch. Any or all of them could have made this list but I narrowed it down to one and I went with Calix. This guy is a member of the Evil Horde and he appeared ever so briefly in one episode before getting destroyed. It’s a shame this guy was created as a throwaway character because he is awesome. I hope he gets a second chance at greatness in the comics or maybe even a future animated series. He’s a dude made of rock, which is nothing new for MOTU, but this guy is WAY cooler than those geeks Stondar and Rokkon. The newly sculpted pieces are fantastic and they do a great job of hiding the fact that this figure is primarily made up of the standard Classics body. The paint work is subtle but really brings out the details of the sculpt. I love the stone beard. I love the axe/crossbow. I love this figure.
7. Frostbite– A lot of people online like to hate on the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club. I get that they’ve screwed up a few things (like losing members’ credit card information) but how anyone can stay mad at them when they produce figures like this is beyond me. They gave us so much gold this year from the Figure Subscription Service (Spearhead was a contender) and the Convention set (Wreckage was a contender) to the Free Membership figure (Dr. Mindbender was a contender) and the online store exclusives (Old Snake was a contender). Frostbite was the mystery 13th figure that shipped with the final FSS 3.0 shipment this year. It wasn’t much of a surprise but it was a figure everyone was happy to receive. Frostbite is a classic character that desperately needed a modern-era makeover and the Club did not disappoint here. The Frankensteined body looks good but what really elevates this figure to another level is the new head and collar by Boss Fight Studios. Frostbite has never looked so good.
6. Marauder Task Force– Speaking of Boss Fight Studios, I was really hoping to have their first ever original toyline, Vitruvian Hacks, in hand by the end of the year. I bought into their kickstarter campaign in June 2014 and the figures were expected to be delivered in February 2015. No such luck. The figures are going to be more than a year late but they look spectacular and I’m sure you’ll see some on next year’s list. One of the reasons for the delay is because the production factory in China got held up making these figures, the Marauder Task Force (MTF). This is another original toyline funded by a kickstarter campaign courtesy of Marauder Gun Runners who actually hired Boss Fight Studios to do the sculpting. The concept behind the line is completely customizable military action figures. The base figures are all the same but you can buy a variety of guns and accessories from Marauder’s website. I ordered the base figure in all 8 color varieties: red, blue, green, black, arctic, desert, urban and jungle camo. You can mix and match all the parts right down to the pouches on their sleeves and the logos on their helemts. There are literally hundreds (probably thousands) of parts combinations. No one figure is better than another so this slot belongs to the whole line in general. Do yourself a favour and order some of these guys. Four new color variations were just stocked (mine are in the mail).
5. Hobgoblin– Here we go, top five. The fifth spot on my list belongs to the Hobgoblin. This is a Marvel Legends build-a-figure meaning you had to buy six different Marvel Legends figures to get all the parts to build this guy. I didn’t mind the concept back when the build-a-figures were giant figures but it kind of pisses me off now that build-a-figures are no bigger than the standard releases. Despite the hoops I had to jump through to get this guy I am very happy to have him completed. This is my favourite Marvel Legends figure to date. Not only is Hobby one of Spidey’s all-time great villains, this is a version of him we’ve never seen in action figure form before (Phil Urich) and it’s faithful to Humberto Ramos’s artwork which I love. The sculpt is perfect, he’s got great accessories, he’s well articulated, and he’s just fun to look at. He’s bright and bold and I would think any kid would love to have him.
4. Gung Ho– This guy was never one of my favourite Joes. Partly because Doug owned both the 1983 and ’87 versions when we were kids. Despite my lack of personal attachment to Gung Ho he is one of the most recognizable faces on the team. His importance was evidenced by his inclusion in the Joe 5-pack that launched the modern-era in 2007 along with key characters Duke, Snake Eyes, Scarlet, and Roadblock. In the 8 years since that pack came out 27 more Dukes have been released, 40 more Snake Eyes’, 6 more Scarlets, and 8 more Roadblocks. This is only Gung Ho’s third and he didn’t get any new parts in last two. The 2007 Gung Ho and it’s two subsequent repaints are extremely dated and they did not do justice to the Joe team’s original Marine. In 2015 we finally got a Gung Ho we can be proud off. This figure was released as part of Hasbro’s 50th anniversary line and it is both a beauty and a beast. It’s beastly in its size and manliness and it’s beautifully rendered. This figure looks more like Gung Ho than any figure ever before released including the original Gung Ho. The stache is epic, the chest tat is massive, the arms are thick, and the uniform is seafoam. To top it off he has a gigantic SAW heavy machine gun with matching seafoam bullets.
3. Machine Man-If Hobgoblin is my favourite Marvel Legends figure how is this guy higher than him on the list? I don’t know. It must be the power of Jack Kirby. This figure isn’t necessarily based on his creator’s artwork but it sure looks as though the sculptor was referencing some Kirby drawings when creating this head sculpt. I love everything about this figure from the sculpting to the shimmery purple paint job to the telescoping Inspector Gadget arms. It’s perfect in its simplicity.
2. Devestator– In a year where every Transformer released is a member of a combiner team I had to put a combiner on the list. Defensor and Superion would have been contenders had Hasbro not released this behemoth this past fall. Devestator towers over the other combiners. They seemed so impressive at first but they look like children in Devestator’s shadow. I have some issues with the individual Constructicons that make up Devestator but for the most part I’m even impressed with them. As a whole Devestator is near perfect. He’s still a bit wobbly but he’s much better than the original. This toy has everything you’d want in a Devestator; he ‘s big, he’s green and purple, and he’s cartoon/comic book accurate. I’ve been wishing for this figure for decades but never did I expect to receive something as impressive as this. This toy is boss.
1.Bombstrike– I tried to curb any nerd rage in my opening paragraph but I’m aware this may illicit some. In a year filled with stellar Transformers and Star Wars figures, a year where Marvel Legends are at the top of their game and a year where Funko further established itself with a wealth of Pop!, ReAction and Legacy figures, you might be wondering how could some chick you’ve never heard of top this list? To be honest I didn’t know Bombstrike was going to top the list until I started ranking the figures I had selected earlier today. I always knew Bomstrike would make my year-end list but even I didn’t know I liked her this much. I laid the figures out in front of me and, after painfully eliminating great toys like POP Godzilla and Shanna the She-Devil, I began ranking the final 15. As I went, Bombstrike kept getting shoved up the ranks and this is where she ended up. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised because I’ve been a big fan of this character ever since version 1 was released in 2005. The sibling rivalry storyline hinted at in the file cards of her and her brothers (Barrel Roll and Black Out) made for some interesting play scenarios that I would’ve loved as a kid. As much as I cherish the classic Joe characters I think the brand needs some fresh blood every once and a while to stay interesting and relevant. The Stall siblings were exactly what the brand needed and I was really disappointed to see them swept under the rug when the new-sculpt era came to a close in 2006. When The brothers were resurrected in the Collector Club’s first Figure Subscription Service I knew Bombstrike was likely to follow in FSS 2.0. It took a year longer than expected but in 2015 she arrived and she totally lived up to my expectations even after 10 years of anticipation. This figure is feminine, petite and cute but she’s ready for combat. She’s camouflaged, she’s armoured, and she’s packing multiple firearms, a computer, and a drone. I love the character, I love the toy. What’s not to like?
Posted on December 30, 2015, in DC, G.I. Joe, Marvel, Master's of the Universe, Star Wars, Transformers and tagged Action Figure, DC, G.I. Joe, He-Man, Masters of the Universe, Pacific Rim, Review, Spider-Man, Toy, Transformers. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.