Wednesday, February 14, 2024

The Best of the Rest: My 10 Favorite Individual Toys of 2023


 

   While the list of my 10 favorite toylines from the past year is always the main event for my annual awards, I've always tried to recognize that not every great toy is part of a larger toyline or a toyline that I fully collect. I find that I'm usually driven to lines where I can build a huge roster of diverse characters that have a steady stream of releases, so those tend to be my favorites. It seems kind of unfair, then, to never acknowledge figures from smaller toylines or one off releases. Sometimes I just grab a single figure or toy from a larger line because it really appeals to me in some way. That's where the list of my Top 10 Favorite Individual Toys for the year comes in. So who is eligible? Most any toy or collectible released in 2023 could have made this list. Who isn't eligible? Any toy from a line I picked in my 10 Favorite Toylines of 2023 list. Remember that these are just listed semi randomly, not in order of merit. Many of the figures I picked this year were from properties with limited characters released, import figures I ordered to supplement other lines, or my favorite figures from lines that just didn't make the cut in 2023. Ready to pick out some of my favorite one-offs of 2023? Then join me after the break...



ALF (Alien Life Form) from ALF by NECA

   I loved ALF when I was quite young and this was a figure I never knew I needed until NECA revealed him. He's just a brilliant sculpt that captures the character perfectly and he's accessorized to the max. Despite not being a line where we really expect to see anyone else, NECA did release a SDCC exclusive ALF and appears to have another ALF variant on the way. How far can NECA go with the beloved Melmacian? If they manage to really change things up a bit, I could see myself adding another ALF to the shelf, though this guy is quite definitive. 



Black Falcon from The Worst Ultimates by Super7

   The series 2 figures from The Worst Ultimates were streets ahead of the 2022 series 1 figures. Better joints and better paint work definitely helped to make this series a standout. They were on the short list for my top 10 lines of 2023 but they got edged out at the end. While I like the character Robot Reaper better, Black Falcon ended up being the cooler figure. In fact, Super7 took one of the duller figures from the ReAction line and made him into the best The Worst Ultimates figure so far. On his own, he's a very solid fantasy villain who can hang with your Mythic Legions or NECA D&D figures. Gear him up with his flash medallion and his bagged lunch and he fits nicely into the bizarre world of The Worst! A soft good cape, a thermos with a removable mug lid, and a hand for playing the circle game really set this guy apart from your other armored up skeleton warriors. 





Chun-Li from Ultra Street Fighter 2: The New Challengers by Jada

   Jada's Street Fighter 2 line was another line that was on the short list of my top 10 toyline nominations, but that got cut in the final round. I'm always rooting for Jada as they produce some fantastic figures at reasonable mass retail prices, but they still seem to have issues with getting their action figures distributed everywhere. Street Fighter 2 seems to be doing better and is more available than most of their other figure lines and Chun-Li is the best of the group. They're all quite good, but I just like her the best. Some of it's just personal choice but her lightning leg effect looks really cool, her headsculpts are both fantastic, and she's quite colorful. She also has some incredible articulation. If you didn't know any better, you might believe Chun-Li is an import figure because of her extra portraits and cool fighting effects. 



The Marley Brothers from POP! Movies by Funko

   The Muppet Christmas Carol is one of my two favorite Christmas movies and I absolutely love the casting of Statler and Waldorf as the Marley Brothers. My daughter and I stumbled upon this set at GameStop and were thrilled; I didn't even know this was coming out. The rest of the Muppet Christmas Carol POP! vinyls have been stored away with our Christmas d├ęcor, but the Marley's get to haunt the top of our entertainment center all year long.  
"Whoooo!!!"




Mr. Bones (Fluorescent) from Mr. Bones by Super7

Mr. Bones is a really fun and nostalgic ReAction figure from Super7. Usually my ReAction collecting sticks to Universal Monsters and various other horror characters and movie maniacs, but Mr. Bones was just too cool to pass by. He's like what you hoped a full assembled candy Mr. Bones would have been when you were a kid. He's bright, vibrant, and a cool nostalgic Easter egg for anyone who recognizes him. 




Spiral from Marvel Legends Retro Collection: X-Men by Hasbro

   I really liked the majority of Hasbro's Marvel Legends X-Men releases in 2023, but the higher and often inconsistent pricing definitely killed my enthusiasm for Legends as a whole. That being said, Spiral still stands out to me as my favorite Legends release of last year. Ricochet Rita is loaded with weapons and the solid articulation needed to use them properly. She's an impressive figure that just stands out on your shelf. 




Mai Shiranui from The King of Fighters '98: Ultimate Match by Storm Collectibles

   Last year I picked up my first Storm Collectibles figures and I have to say that I'm quite impressed with them. They're pricey, yes, but quite cool. I initially picked one up to supplement my G.I. Joe: Classified Series figures but then I grabbed a few to supplement my Jada Toys Street Fighter 2 figures. One of those I picked up to add with my World Warriors was Mai Shiranui from The King of Fighters. Mai is a very impressive figure with multiple portraits, lots of alternate hands, and some incredible fire effects for both her and her fan. Mai Shiranui is a very recognizable character (one of the faces of SNK and King of Fighters) and it's cool to have her on the shelf with other fighting game icons. She is closer to being in the 7 inch scale than in 1/12th scale, just FYI. 




The Phantom of the Opera from Universal Monsters by NECA

   NECA's on this list a second time with another banger: The Phantom of the Opera. This is the first of NECA's Universal Monsters figures that I've picked up and I am incredibly impressed. I have an extensive ReAction collection of Universal Monsters but I really wanted to pick up the silent era figures in NECA's line (Count Orlock and Lon Chaney from London After Midnight are coming!) and this one doesn't disappoint. The Phantom comes with four amazing portraits! He's incredible.



Taki from Soulcalibur VI by Storm Collectibles

   Taki is another figure from Storm Collectibles that I really liked in spite of the price. Besides being my main in Soul Calibur 2 (back on the GameCube), I initially preordered Taki because I thought she's make a good Sigma 6 inspired stand-in for Jinx in my Classified Series collection. She's a bit light on accessories, but the sculpting and paintwork are solid and her articulation is incredibly smooth. 




Zenithon from Mythic Legion by Four Horsemen Studios

   Last up is Zenithon from Mythic Legions. Another of the Horsemen's MOTU tribute figures, Zenithon is spired by Stratos, the winged warrior of Avion. This is one heck of a figure and it feels more exciting than most versions of Stratos himself. Zenithon is another example of how the Four Horsemen are masters of using color and subtle design rearrangements to craft some incredibly fresh looking figures that still manage to push the nostalgia buttons. 




What were some of your favorite figures that you cherry picked from a toyline or that you grabbed on a whim? Share them below!

2 comments:

  1. Outstanding list. I was glad ALF was finally made. NECA killed it. Also loved the Muppet Christmas Carol Funko POPs. I did not purchase them, but that movie has been a family favorite for a long time.

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    1. Yes, it's very, very watchable. NECA has teased another ALF release, so I'm wondering what they'll do?

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