Sunday, February 13, 2022

The Best of the Rest: My 10 Favorite Individual Toys of 2021


   While the list of my 10 favorite toylines from the past year is always the main event for my yearly awards, I do like to recognize that not every great toy is part of a larger toyline or a toyline that I fully collected. It seems kind of unfair to never acknowledge figures from smaller or one off lines. Heck, sometimes I purchase a spectacular action figure from a line that I have no intention of buying anything else from. What to do? That's where the list of my Top 10 Favorite Individual Toys for the year comes in. Who is eligible? Most any toy released in 2021. Who isn't eligible? Any toy from a line I picked in my 10 Favorite Toylines of 2021 list. Remember that these are listed alphabetically, not in order of merit. In 2021 most of the stuff that I picked up were one-off horror themed items or Masters of the Universe items from lines I enjoyed but that didn't make my best of the year list. There were some cool items that I liked but didn't include here since they just didn't technically count as toys. Think stuff like the Masters of the Universe Geeki Tikis mugs or the Hallmark Castle Grayskull ornament. Everything else I included here qualifies and is all over the board in terms of price. I'm going to go through these alphabetically, as usual, so let's take a look at the best of the rest after the break...

Battle Cat from Hot Wheels: Monster Trucks by Mattel

   Usually merchandise like this drives me crazy. It seems like you can walk into a store and find, say, Darth Vader as a car, Darth Vader as a Potato Head, and a plush Darth Vader, but no actual Darth Vader action figure. You could probably say the same for any other popular character: Spider-Man as a squishable bendy, Captain Marvel as a bobble-head, Black Panther as a robot. You can find toys of your favorite characters but often not a true action figure. With Masters of the Universe, though, I love the crazy stuff and that's why I love this outlandishly awesome Battle Cat as a monster truck. This is inexpensive, durable, and just crazy cool. MOTU is a weird property and stuff like this just seems to work better than, say, Jabba the Hutt on a dirt bike. 



Bryophytus from Mythic Legions by Four Horsemen Studios

   The Four Horsemen have a long history with the Masters of the Universe brand and their own homegrown line, Mythic Legions, regularly pays tribute to classic MOTU characters. There were some great releases in 2021 but Bryophytus was by far my favorite. Not only is this lichen orc a great tribute to Moss Man, my favorite MOTU character, but he might be the best Moss Man figure ever made. I love the MOTU Classics version dearly but the more realistic moss on this guy is incredible and the alternate headsculpt is perfect. This is an amazing figure from some of the greatest toy-smiths of our age.


   Did you think that this 2-pack of Drizzt and Guenhwyvar was going to just be a one off set? Me neither. It really seemed that Hasbro was going to start putting out some D&D figures last year but so far we haven't heard of anything else. This was a cool set of what could have been (or still might be?) a promising line. Fantasy seems to be big again right now and Hasbro's excellent craftsmanship combined with the fantastic character design of Drizzt made for a cool set. Lots of accessories and cool extras like swappable hair and sword magic effects made for an extremely fun figure. There's so much potential in Dungeons and Dragons and while NECA is revisiting figures based on the vintage toyline there still should be room for a robust line based on the depth of lore and art the D&D brand has provided over the years.

Franken Berry from General Mills by Jada Toys

   Jada Toys kind of came out of nowhere this year and started offering some pretty solid collector targeted action figures. I didn't pick up their Universal Monsters line but I did snag both of the General Mills cereal monsters figures and I really hope they finish the entire team of five. Packaged in cool window boxes that look like the classic cereal boxes, this line just has a ton of character. Franken Berry was my favorite of the two due to his bright colors and his two fantastic portraits. The distribution on these was really weird and I bet some folks didn't even know they existed. Hopefully we'll see more action figures from Jada Toys in the near future. I need a Fruit Brute!

The Grady Twins from Toony Terrors by NECA

   I'm a huge Stephen King fan and I think I've enjoyed every version of The Shining, one of King's many classic novels. The original novel, the TV movie from 1997, Stanley Kubrick's 1980 adaptation and even the sequel Doctor Sleep; they're all excellent. I was really surprised by getting the Grady Twins from the Kubrick film in Toony Terrors. Largely being a creation of the film, the Grady Twins are one of the most iconic images in horror cinema and having them in this unique animated style is pretty amazing. It doesn't make them any less creepy, either. Toony Terrors have a little articulation but not much; really just enough to strike a pose and tweak it a little bit. Toony Terrors narrowly missed making the best of 2021 list as they did put out a few character I really liked (Elvira and Sam, most notably), but ultimately the Grady Twins nabbed a spot on this list.




Hordak (Tweeterhead) from Masters of the Universe Legends by Tweeterhead

   I really like Tweeterhead and I was thrilled when they picked up the 1/5th scale MOTU statue line from Sideshow. These reimagined takes on some of the greatest heroes and villains of Eternia and Etheria have been fantastic and Tweeterhead's first release, Hordak, fits in perfectly with the earlier Sideshow statues. This is such a fearsome depiction of Hordak and the Tweeterhead exclusive gives you some nice flexibility to display your ideal Hordak. I don't think I bought many statues this year (this might have been the only one) but it stood out to me and was well worth the purchase.

Killer Bat from The Worst by Super7

   I love The Worst and Killer Bat is an excellent addition to the line. Technically part of series 3 (Super7 only revealed and released two of the six figures from series 3 this year), this "Baseball Shogun of Death" is incredible. This is without a doubt the best series of retro styled action figures out there due to the strength of the designs and the sculpts. Killer Bat's bizarre mashup of a samurai and a baseball player is pretty darn unique and a sword hidden inside of a baseball bat is a pretty cool accessory. I didn't grab many retro styled action figures this year but The Worst were certainly the best of those I did pick up. I'm even more excited for the Ultimate versions of The Worst which should come out this year. Those look amazing!


Man-E-Faces from Masters of the Universe by Mega Construx

   There didn't seem to be as many Mega Construx releases for MOTU in 2021 as there were in 2019 and 2020 but many of the minifigures were really well done, particularly the single packed Man-E-Faces. These are some of the most well articulated little minis on the market and they're always so much fun to play around with. Man-E-Faces' working action feature was excellent and definitely helped him to stand out in this line. 

Prototype Armaments from Acton Force by Valaverse

   While I think some Kickstarter backers may have gotten their figures in very late 2021, Valaverse's Action Force line didn't go on sale through their website and other e-tailers until 2022, so I'm counting it as a 2022 line. There was one thing they actually did release in 2021 that caught my eye, however, and that was the Prototype Armaments set of weapons. For $30 bucks this was a great way to add 21 high quality, 1:12 scale weapons to your collection. While they're obviously intended for the Action Force toyline, they also work well with other lines like the G.I.Joe Classified Series, Marvel Legends, and some of your DC figures who are lacking some firepower. The painted weapons from the sets released this year are also excellent, so look for those reviews soon. 


Ultimate Macready (Station Survival) from The Thing by NECA

   Being a huge fan of John Carpenter, The Thing, and Kurt Russell, I was thrilled when NECA announced action figures based on The Thing. I couldn't find the first release, Ultimate Macready (Outpost 31), but I did get this follow up version for Christmas and I love him. Sadly, I never got around to reviewing him, but trust me when I say he's pretty darn Epic. He's got a very respectable Kurt Russell likeness, good articulation, and some truly excellent accessories. My favorite is the petri dish with the animated blood effect from when Macready tests the blood sample. There's also an incredible flame thrower included as well. Will NECA go any deeper with this license? Is a Wilford Brimley action figure in the cards? Will we finally get NECA figures based on Big Trouble in Little China or an Ultimate Snake Plissken? Why don't we just wait here for a little while. See what happens.

What do you think of my list? What were some of your favorite toys that weren't necessarily part of a larger toyline or from a toyline you don't typically collect. Any "one and dones" from 2021 that stood out to you? Talk about it in the comments below!


  1. Replies
    1. Definitely a cool release. I wonder if NECA will ever get around to Jack Torrrance? Oh my gosh, what if they did the bear/ dog suit guy? That would be crazy.

  2. I'd love it if they did a line of D&D figures, maybe even updating some of the original LJN line like they're doing with Warduke.

    1. It'll be interesting to see how deep NECA goes. Sometimes NECA goes all in (TMNT, Alien, Predator) and sometimes you get one or two random figures.

  3. Yes, he's definitely a cool MCX figure. He's just so much fun to mess around with. I've got Skeletor's Havoc Staff on my desk. My daughter and I will be building it sometime soon.


What'chu talkin' 'bout?