I know it's a week late for this kind of list, but I wanted to get my thoughts on some of the toys and action figures of 2012 out there into the blogosphere . (I didn't actually just use that word.)
Now, I'm not some professional reviewer who gets tons of free stuff sent to him by companies, so I don't have access to everything that was put out last year. I'm just a guy with a lot of passion for collecting toys who decided to share that passion with like-minded people here on these little blogs of mine.
That being said, I don't think that my list would be too different even if I did have access to everything that was released last year.
This will just simply be my list of toys that I've personally collected and can attest to the fact that they are indeed my "best of the best" for 2012.
And so, in no particular order, here they are...........
NECA - PREDATORS
I think that 2012 was NECA's best year to date. They are what the best toy companies of the 80's used to be. They constantly improve their articulation and paint apps and quality control. They want to be the best action figure company out there and all of their efforts show.
To that end, their Predators line-- this year, with all the above improvements made-- was by far the most quality toy line you could find at retail in 2012. And best of all, with a price of $18 per figure, it was the most bang for your buck as well. (A lot better than those crap 3.75" Hasbro Avengers figures for $10!)
Predators Series 5 -Guardian, Snake and Stalker Predators
Predators Series 6 - Lost, Scout and Warrior Predators
The other addition to NECA's already amazing 7" Predators figure line is the addition of the 18" Predators that they began in 2011.
This year saw the release of the "City Hunter" from Predator 2 as well as the "Warrior" Predator.
18" "City Hunter" Predator (masked version)
HOT TOYS - AVENGERS - STAR WARS
If you collect 12" figures, then you probably know that Hot Toys is the Roles Royce of 1/6 scale action figures. They set the standard in the 1/6 scale that every other company tries to keep up with. (Except American toy companies who are fine with putting out shit 12" figures that sell for $25 at Walmart and Toys R Us and are aimed squarely at children. And I can only say this because NECA has not entered into the 12" figure market yet.)
The most anticipated of Hot Toys' announced figures for 2012-- and will continue into 2013-- are their Avengers movie figures. This year we saw Nick Fury, Hawkeye and Captain America. Each one of these figures seemed to set an even higher standard then Hot Toys' already near-perfect figures.
Featuring dead-on likenesses of the actors, 100% accurate costumes, tailoring and materials, along with a slew of amazing and highly-detailed weapons and accessories (well, maybe except for the crap rifle that came with Captain America), these are the action figures to have if you're looking to represent this film among your toy collection.
The other stand out figure from Hot Toys this past year was Hot Toys' Luke Skywalker figure.
This is by far the best 1/6 scale representation we've ever had of any Star Wars character, and I think that Hot Toys kicking off the line with Bespin Luke was a great choice.
Aside from the great head sculpt likeness(es) on this figure(s)-- it actually turned out to be two figures complete in one box!
With this set, you were able to create two full figures of Luke Skywalker-- pre and post Vader battle. It also included the huge weathervane that Luke caught himself on before he would have otherwise plummeted into the clouds beneath Cloud City.
This figure was handled with complete care and respect for both this character and the Star Wars line. (Although it still doesn't make up for the off-sculpt of the Indiana Jones figure... grumble, grumble...) While no new Star Wars figures have yet to be announced, every collector who has this figure is certainly waiting with anticipation to see what Hot Toys does next with the Star Wars license.
Bespin Luke Skywalker
PLAYMATES - TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES "CLASSICS"
Aside from NECA's comic book version of the Turtles, these are the best versions of Leo, Don, Ralph and Mikey that we've ever had. Playmates knocked these figure out of the park, and they were a total gift to long time Turtle fans and collectors.
Based on the original cartoon designs, these are the ultimate representation of the classic figures from the show.
A few things made these some serious stand-out figures. First, the scale was more in line with larger collector-oriented figures. The second is the head sculpts, which are not happy or goofy, but have a slight aggressiveness to them without staying too far from the original cartoon designs. It's like Playmates understood that we've grown up, and so have those Turtles of our youth, too. And the last thing that made these figures so amazing is the insane amount of intricate articulation that Playmates put into them-- which is very unlike the original 1987 figure upon which they are based.
Word is that these figures did so well for Playmates that more "classic" style figures are planned for this year. I guess we'll see at Toy Fair next month is that's true or not, but I'd sure love a Splinter, Shredder, April and Foot Soldier! Just give me those and I'll be 100% happy!
"Classic" style Ninja Turtles - Michaelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo and Rapheal
HASBRO - MASTERPIECE OPTIMUS PRIME
This was a Toys R Us exclusive and a bitch to find!
If you wanted the TRU exclusive Thundercracker, well, that you can still find-- and it came out before Prime. But Optimus? I think it's safe to say that Toys R Us underestimated his popularity-- even at this price point-- at retail. And in an unprecedented move, Toys R Us even jacked the price up on this figure not once, but twice! Originally 99.99, he then went up to 119.99 and finally 129.99!
But, even at his final price point, he's still worth every dollar. (Especially when you consider the fact the Takara version from Japan costs 300.00 for the same figure!)
There was a previous import of the original Masterpiece Prime (completely different from this figure) about 10 years ago, and at the time, it was the best G1 based Transformer ever made, and the ultimate version of their leader, Optimus Prime. But, it had it's issues...
It had a decent amount of die-cast content-- which is almost always a huge plus in a robot figure. But this time out, it made the figure somewhat top-heavy and cumbersome, especially with the 12" size of the figure.
With this new version, Takara (the Japanese company that makes Transformers in Japan as well as these "Masterpiece" Transformers that Hasbro imports and sells as Toys R Us exclusives at a much lower price point than the original Japanese releases) made quite a few improvements from the original Prime.
This one is smaller-- which is actually a good thing! This means less floppy joints and more posability. They also removed all the die-cast content except for his feet which also added to the figure's over-all balance and displayablity.
Also, this version features more an even more cartoon accurate sculpt and colors-- and a little figure of "Spike" from the cartoon!
Complete with his trailer and little "Roller" vehicle, this is the most ultimate Optimus Prime that I can ever conceive of! This figures is an amazing mix of quality, engineering and pure Transformers love!
BANDAI - SOUL OF CHOGOKIN DX MAZINGER Z
Making it just under the wire for 2012 is the crown jewel of Chogokin and Mazinger Z collectors-- the DX (deluxe) Chogokin Mazinger Z!
This thing is amazing! Complete with hangar and working LED lights to illuminate the it and Mazinger once he's placed inside, this 12" tall semi-die-cast robot is-- like Optimus-- the ultimate (so far) version of Go Nagi's creation.
He also can be displayed in his fully assembled robot form, or without his armor "plates" to reveal all the faux inner mechanisms of the robot.
Also, via a wireless remote (this is the way to go with lights, Hot Toys!!!), you can activate several lights and sounds hidden inside the figure, all recreating the sounds (and theme songs) from the 70's animated TV show!
To add to the awesomeness of this figure, Bandai will also be releasing his Scrander winged jetpack (also with removable panels to see the inner mechanisms) later this year for added displayability.
Mazinger Z without his panels and inside his hanger (L) and fully assembled (R)