For those of you not plugged into all things childish and geeky, the New York Toy Fair was this weekend past. As is my custom, I spent most of the weekend glued to an internet-capable device, constantly hitting “refresh” as new and exciting pictures of new and exciting product for properties that are old enough for me to deeply, seriously, and stupidly care about were posted by the small army of nerds on the ground. In the wake of my pictorial sensory overload, I’ve raided the picture archives of Figures.com to show you, the home viewer, the eleven(ish) items I am most likely to buy out of everything that I actually caught sight of.
Join me after the break, won’t you?
11. Super Powers Collection Batman (Mattel)
Apparently for their final wave of 6″ DC Comics super hero action figures, Mattel has decided to try and cash in on the nostalgia of people my age by marketing the line under the old Super Powers moniker, going so far as to base the backer cards and figure paint schemes on Kenner’s fondly-remembered thirty year-old toy line. Given that I’ve been searching high and low for a modern Batman figure in that precise color scheme, with the classic utility belt with the capsules on it, for years, I don’t think I mind giving in to their nostalgia-baiting. I’m honestly tempted by the Superman and Wonder Woman as well (it’s a really nice-looking Wonder Woman), but I want that Batman most of all.
10. Capo Toys’s Street Fighter Line (Capo Toys)
I have no idea who Capo Toys are, but apparently they’re the latest folks to get their hands on the Street Fighter action figure license, and their display featured two of the key characters I’m always interested in seeing in any Street Fighter toy line: one-eyed Thai kickboxer Sagat and the green Brazilian mutant Blanka. They’re my two go-to guys when I’m playing a Street Fighter game, and the sculpts on both of them look fantastic. This is the most encouraging-looking display of figures I’ve seen for this property since SOTA Toys was producing their line about seven years ago now. Assuming I see them in stores, and assuming the price is right, and assuming I don’t hear any reports of manufacturing glitches, I’ll gladly grab these two guys. I know that’s a lot of “ifs,” but again, this is a company I’ve never heard of. My worry is that this first wave will be iffy in the quality department, like I’ve read that the first wave of Funko’s Game of Thrones figures is turning out, and we’ll be well into the second run of characters before the kinks get ironed out. Crossing my fingers now.
9. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Legacy Titanus (Bandai)
I have a soft spot for the first two years of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. I was in middle school when it first aired, still obsessed with Japanese robots and starved for content that contained such robots — starved enough that I would sit through these hokey, cheesy stories written for grade schoolers just to get to the Godzilla-on-a-budget fights between super-weird monsters and guys in plastic robot suits. As happens, after a while I actually got into the show, though I stopped watching towards the end, or maybe at the end, of its second season out of embarrassment. Of course, I’m beyond such shame at this point, and as such when Bandai released the Legacy Megazord, Bandai’s new die-cast metal version of the Rangers’ combining super robot, last year I made sure to get my hands on one. This year Bandai’s giving us an all-new version of the Green Ranger’s Mechagodzilla-like power-up “sixth member” robot, the Legacy Dragonzord, and I was shocked to see that they’re going to complete the set with the beast you see above, a Legacy Titanus the Carrierzord. That’s just crazy. I was not expecting that one. Provided I can snag a Dragonzord, I guess I have to get this, too. (The picture behind it showcases the ultimate combination of the three toys. Basically it’s a chariot for the ludicrously combined Megazord & Dragonzord to ride.) Here’s hoping they just stop there, because if they start reissuing/recreating the second year’s Thunderzords, my wallet is so screwed.
8. Star Wars Black Series Jabba the Hutt (Hasbro)
Last year Hasbro did something crazy with the Star Wars action figure line. Historically, Kenner and (later) Hasbro Star Wars figures have been around 3 3/4″, small enough to be stuffed into big plastic fighters and space ships and such. However, Hasbro has, off and on, enjoyed success with highly posable collectors’ figures around the 6″ range for their Marvel Comics properties. Given that Star Wars has traditionally been an even stronger brand and has supported action figures for decades now, and has some major new media rolling out in the next several years, they decided to bite the bullet and try Star Wars at that scale with the Star Wars Black Series line.
Given that it appears to have been an overwhelming success, Hasbro is giving the Star Wars team room to branch out with larger, deluxe figures. Hence, this properly scaled, $40 Jabba the Hutt, with opening mouth and super-articulated arms. I remember having the original Kenner Jabba figure, with his whipping tail, funny trap door seat, and cackling Muppet sidekick. Given that Star Wars Black has seen me buying my first Star Wars figures since the Attack of the Clones Yoda over a decade ago, there’s no way I’m skipping Jabba. The only way I’ll pass this up is if the rumor pans out that there will be a San Diego Comic-Con variant complete with all his accessories from the old Kenner set. Then I’ll probably, sadly, shell out the extra bucks for that one.
7. Transformers: Age of Extinction Voyager-class Evasion-Mode Optimus Prime (Hasbro)
Did you hear they’re releasing another Transformers movie this year? Given that I’ve seen every domestically released theatrical Transformers effort since the original animated flick in 1986, there’s no way I’m not seeing this one. Likewise, you can be sure I’ll be picking up some of the toys. What I love about this one in particular is that it takes the now-familiar Optimus Prime robot mode from the previous three movies and transforms it into the original 1984 Optimus Prime truck mode, complete with the silver stripe across the cab. As I understand it, we will see Prime look like this in the movie, but the vehicle mode will be beat up, old, and rusted. Kind of glad they didn’t make an effort to do that for the toy; as it is, it makes for a cool piece to celebrate thirty years of Transformers, bringing together elements from the two most popular versions of the series’s most enduring icon.
6. Transformers Generations Deluxe-class Jhiaxus (Hasbro)
Of course, movie toys aren’t the only Transformers product we’ll be seeing. This, for instance, is the second toy ever produced of the villain Jhiaxus, who first appeared in the Transformers: Generation 2 comic book series in 1993. I’ve wanted a toy of this guy ever since then, but unfortunately he was created for the comic, and there was much less multi-media synergy in those days. When one was finally produced back in 2003 it was just an existing toy in a new color scheme, bearing little to no resemblance to the comics character, but I bought it all the same. This toy is much closer to the mark, but it’s a weird homage, borrowing the color scheme from the earlier toy, but featuring a gorgeous head sculpt that perfectly captures the look of the character in print and a pair of rifles that wouldn’t look out of place in the ’93 comic book. I’m left wondering if Takara-Tomy in Japan might provide us with a Jhiaxus in his original 1993 color scheme. Even if they do, however, I’m pretty sure when I see this it’s going to come home with me. How can I say “no” to this face?
5. Star Wars Black Series Darth Vader (Hasbro)
This is the figure everyone has been waiting for since the Star Wars Black Series figures were announced last year. The first question asked when the first assortment was announced was, “Where’s Darth Vader?” Well, here’s Darth Vader, complete with cloth cape (and it’ll be held on with a tiny chain on the final product, adding an extra touch of class), two-piece removable helmet, and all the articulation you’d want to set up awesome lightsaber battles between him and black-clad Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker (also in the same assortment). It looks to me like he’ll be well worth the wait. Here’s hoping they make enough for everybody, because everybody is going to want one, even people who haven’t up to this point bought into this line — even people who will never buy another Star Wars Black Series figure after this one. Such is the power of Vader.
4. Transformers Age of Extinction Leader-class Grimlock (Hasbro)
When the first listings appeared on the Transformers news sites for the figures for the new movie, one set of three words caught my eyes and lit up my imagination: Leader-class Grimlock. Now, as you may or may not remember, Grimlock was the leader of the Dinobots in the original Transformers toy line/cartoon/comic book series. He turned into a Tyrannosaurus Rex and was incredibly powerful, but also a bit of a buffoon. Comics writer Simon Furman would later grant him a bit of nobility, playing up his loyalty to his comrades and his distaste for Optimus Prime’s measured, cautious approach to the Autobot-Decepticon war, but for the most part he’s remembered as being a bit slow-witted, going on like, “Me Grimlock strong, me Grimlock kick butt!” and all that. I expect the movies will trend a bit closer to Furman’s approach, but who knows? Sometimes these movies can throw terrible, embarrassing curve balls. It happens. All I know is, this design looks really sharp, I love the shiny bits and the color scheme, and I can’t wait to see some more pictures that really showcase the size of this figure as compared to the regular $12-15 figures. Overall, if there’s one thing I’m sold on for this movie toy line, it’s the Dinobots; they all have this spiky, mecha-feathered look, lots of shiny bits, and their robot modes seem to be made up to look like medieval knights. That’s something I can really get behind. If my bank account can take it, I can definitely see myself going to a store on the first day the line is out and loading up on these guys. If not? I think I can live with just shelling out for the king here.
3. Marvel Infinite Death’s Head (Hasbro)
(This is the only pic that wasn’t from Figures.com; I found this one at TFW2005.com.)
The second character I’m stoked to see moving from the pages of Transformers comics to plastic this year, Death’s Head was created by my all-time favorite Transformers artist, Geoff Senior, and long-time Transformers comics scribe Simon Furman. He was originally planned to be a one-off bounty hunter character from the future, sent back in time to hunt down 2006 Decepticon leader Galvatron, but when Senior handed in his character design, Furman and his bosses at Marvel knew they really had something here and it was decided that they’d do a one-page comic strip featuring the character so Hasbro wouldn’t own the character. Thus, he wound up a Marvel character, turning up in Transformers a couple more times before running into the likes of the Doctor (from Doctor Who), the Fantastic Four, Iron Man 2020, and She-Hulk. Eventually he was absorbed by another mechanoid and became Death’s Head II, but in recent years the original version of the character has turned up again, most notably in Kieron Gillen’s run on Iron Man — which really makes this the perfect time for this figure to come out. Shame he’s not a 6″ figure, since he probably won’t look quite right on a Transformers shelf, but the sculpt and paint finish look so perfect that I can easily overlook the smaller scale. I’m just glad we’re finally seeing this guy in plastic. Now I’ll have someone qualified to take care of some of these excess Bumblebee figures Hasbro keeps throwing at us … (Yes, in his first appearance in Transformers Death’s Head tore Bumblebee to bits. He was, shortly thereafter, rebuilt by the Junkion Wreck-Gar as Goldbug.)
2. Robotech blind-box toys (Toynami/Calibre)
These probably aren’t seeing release until next year’s 30th anniversary, but I’m happy to see ROBOTECH jump on the blind box figure bandwagon, since that provides ample room to merchandise a good mix of characters and mecha. (The mocked-up box for series one shows us Rick [identified on the front as Ichijo], Skull One, a Tomahawk Destroid, a Regult Battlepod, and a Spartan Destroid. It also mentions two VF-1A variants, though it shows no images.) I’m hoping non-Macross stuff gets slipped in sooner rather than later, if at all, but the two sculpts we have look nice and very detailed and the art of the Tomahawk on the box is positively charming, so even if Hong Kong manufacturer Caliber forgets Robotech Masters just like everyone else ever, the products we will get look like they’ll be worth picking up. I can definitely see myself ordering a case of these down the road.
1. Transformers Generations Leader-class Jetfire (Hasbro)
In a word, magnificent. As I’m sure you’re aware, the original Transformers Jetfire toy was a rebranded and repainted VF-1 Valkyrie from Macross, a.k.a. ROBOTECH’s Veritech Fighter. This led to some aggravating business last year, when Hasbro sold a Jetfire toy at San Diego Comic-Con that included art of the original toy, and which also treaded a bit too closely to the toy’s original design and our friends at Harmony Gold decided to sue over it. The case was settled out of court, and today we find Hasbro peddling this toy, which seems to skip most of the design cues that would give Harmony Gold fits but certainly strongly evokes the original toy in terms of size, silhouette, and color scheme. It’s a beautiful piece of work, transforming from a sleek Valkyrie-inspired fighter to the boxier, blocker character design that was used in animation and comics back in the day in lieu of the Macross design. (The more Valkyrie-like face with the laser antennas comes off to reveal the old cartoon head, just as it did the 2006 toy, except the 2006 toy did it with a large, bulky helmet; this does it with a slimmer, more well-proportioned face mask.) Yes, I’m pretty sure this is one of those toys where the robot mostly hides under the plane, but when both modes look this good I don’t really care. Doing the transformation the way they appear to have done it here, with the phony cockpit chest, is a great way to pull of an homage to both designs without compromising either. The net effect is that he looks so good both ways that the minute I see him, I am taking him home. Definitely my most anticipated figure of 2014 so far right here.