Monday, February 6, 2023

Action Figure Review: Nightwing from Super Powers by McFarlane Toys


   The Series 2 Super Powers figures from McFarlane (Green Lantern John Stewart, the Batman Who Laughs, and the Flash) were a big improvement over the series one releases (Batman, Superman, and Darkseid) and, so far, Series 3 looks to have improved even more. I reviewed Deathstroke last month and now I'm checking out Nightwing. While Dick Grayson did appear in the vintage Super Powers line as Robin, in the comics at the time Jason Todd was Robin and Dick was Nightwing. This isn't the Nightwing costume of that era, however, but the Nightwing of the late 90s to early 2000s. It's definitely my favorite look for the character and it's exactly what I think of when I think of  Nightwing. It doesn't seem that there was ever any intention to release a Nightwing in the vintage Super Powers line but maybe this guy will find a home in your collection and rectify that. Let's leap into a new Nightwing review after the break...

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Action Figure Review: John Constantine from DC Page Punchers by McFarlane Toys/ DC Direct


   McFarlane Toys' DC Multiverseline made my Top Ten Toylines of 2022 list that I published yesterday, so I wanted to show off another figure from the line since I didn't review many of them last year. Well, a figure from a companion line, I guess. This figure of John Constantine is from DC Page Punchers and it's released by McFarlane Toys and DC Direct. McFarlane has been releasing and managing DC Direct product over the past year or two and while these 7 inch Page Punchers are built and feel just like DC Multiverse figures, they have different branding. It's been a long time since we heard the DC Direct name, hasn't it? For years they were using DC Collectibles. Just a note: There is also a Page Punchers line of 3 inch figures with comic book reprints. These 7 inch figures come in sets of four with a new comic for the full series. I certainly haven't read everything ever released with Constantine or under the Hellblazer title, but I do really like the character and love the Justice League Dark concept. Let's take a look at this new figure of street mage John Constantine after the break...

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

My Top 10 Toylines of 2022


   It's February and that means it's time for my annual awards lists here at Action Figure Barbecue! 

   I feel like I say that every year is an interesting one for action figures, but it kind of feels like the truth. There's always some fascinating, unusual stuff that happens. So, what happened in 2022? As the Covid-19 pandemic and restrictions largely waned, at least here in the United States, product releases seem to have returned more to normal. The toy product on shelves largely matched up with media releases, many conventions were back to being in-person, and retail shelves went back to their regular ebb and flow of feast or famine when it comes to finding new stuff on shelves. Inflation was a big factor last year with most companies raising prices, some more than others. While I know many smaller companies had to raise prices, Hasbro seemed to draw the most attention for some truly bizarre price increases, many of which seemed to be largely arbitrary. Their switch to plastic free packaging on most releases was also a point of contention with many collectors. 

   While toys are still available at retail (this year 8 of my top 10 lines had a retail presence), we're seeing more companies, even the larger ones, having a dedicated online presence. Previously it seemed like some of the larger companies didn't want to upset their retail partners, so online offerings directly from the company were more limited but now you can find most everything direct from the manufacturer. Preorders are also becoming more and more prominent with many scattered releases being favored over traditional "series" or "waves" of figures. While we still toys based on current media, we're seeing lots of 1990s nostalgia lines now. TMNT and Power Rangers are always huge, but even smaller 1990s properties like Gargoyles and Barnyard Commandos are getting a shake.

   While Hasbro still seems to be the 800 pound gorilla in the retail toy aisle, Mattel still had a significant presence at retail in 2022 as did McFarlane Toys, Jakks, Spin Masters, Jada Toys, Funko, and Jazwares. NECA and the Loyal Subjects also had a nice amount of product at mainstream retail, typically in designated collector focused sections, and Target is even carrying product from Super7 and other smaller companies. Playmates is still being Playmates, selling decades old TMNT figures and returning to Star Trek. While the fourth quarter is always a big deal, Hasbro, Mattel, and I'm sure a few others really shipped out a lot of product, much of which caught collectors (and their wallets) by surprise. It was crazy to see product expected for this coming Spring show up in October, November, and December. Of course, delays are still a thing, especially with companies like Super7 and Mezco who are notoriously slow at getting product to market. 

   When it comes to specialty stuff, many of the smaller, collector focused companies are really rivaling the mainstream companies in terms of output and quality, especially as prices are becoming more comparable. Valaverse, Fresh Monkey Fiction, Lone Coconut, Boss Fight Studios, Four Horsemen Studios, Diamond, Super7, Premium DNA and others, continue to release collector focused product directly to buyers and to smaller retailers. Hasbro, Mattel, and Jada are clearly trying to cash in on these trends with things like Haslab, Hasbro's $50 starting line-up figures (that just went "on sale" for $30) and Mattel offering up a remake of Eternia. Some of have been wildly successful while others haven't. 
   Creating my "Top 10" lists is always one of my favorite things to do at Action Figure Barbecue and I always spend plenty of time pouring over my notes from the previous year to determine which toylines I thought were the coolest and most fun to collect. This is the eleventh year I've created a list (the earliest ones were posted at The Epic Review) and it's always interesting too see how my lists change from year to year, often reflecting my changing interests and collecting trends. 2022's list wasn't as difficult as years past for some reason; I feel like I bought more things, but from fewer lines. I also made fewer "one off" purchases unless it was stuff that really fit in with one of my other collections.  While Masters of the Universe is still my number one collecting focus as a whole, there seemed to be a bit less of it this year. Funko seemed to largely ignore the property in 2022, which was quite odd.  There were definitely a good number of returning lines on this year's list, most of which are 6inch or 7inch scaled, well articulated and durable lines. I've realized that while I love displaying stuff, I still want action figures to feel like toys. You know, something I can pick up and mess around with without any fear of breakage. 

    A number of years back I divided my Top 10 list into two separate categories: My Top 10 Toylines and My Top 10 Individual Releases. I always start with My Top 10 Toylines as it's my standard best of list. These are the 10 toylines (action figures, statues, minifigures, etc.) of the past year that I had the most fun collecting and enjoyed the most. They may not always be the best or the most expansive lines, but they're my favorites for one reason or another. As I reiterate every year, the two key word for this list are "my" and "favorite." My list isn't necessarily based on a toyline's true merits and I really don't go outside of what interests me. Take this as a snapshot of the ten toylines I had the most fun collecting last year. As always, these are listed alphabetically rather than by any order of merit. And now, for My Top 10 Toylines of 2022...


Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Wrapping Up 2022: Stratos from Masterverse/ Masters of the Universe: New Eternia by Mattel


   The New Eternia releases in the 2022 Masterverse line seem to have been very well received. While I love the character selection and variety of the Masters of the Universe: Revelation and Princess of Power subsets, the New Eternia designs made for some of the coolest figures of last year. I mean, they've even made Stratos really interesting. I've talked before about how I've never been a big Stratos fan; I didn't have him as a kid, he doesn't usually have any weaponry, and he's usually a bit dull to me. This one's a real winner, though. Ready for a look at a Stratos figure who really soars? Then join me after the break...

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Wrapping Up 2022: Mace Windu (Clone Wars) from Star Wars: The Black Series Phase IV by Hasbro


   Once February hits I'll definitely be reviewing far fewer figures from 2022 unless things get slow, but I've still got a few I want to show off before I get around to doing my best of the year lists and today I'm checking out the Clone Wars version of Mace Windu from Star Wars: The Black Series. Mace Windu, along with a few other figures, are part of a special subset exclusive to Walmart based on the 2003 Clone Wars animated series that aired between the releases of Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. While they supposedly were released earlier in 2022, I didn't see them until the last two months or so. I found a pretty good deal on Mace Windu and decided to pick him up since he just looks so cool with his Clone Trooper armor on. Ready to get this party started? Then let's check out Mace Windu from Clone Wars after the break...

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Wrapping Up 2022: She-Ra from Masters of the Universe by Mondo

   There aren't many collectibles of She-Ra herself that I don't have in my Masters of the Universe Museum and if you had asked my prior to December which one was my favorite piece, I would have quickly responded the Sideshow 1/5th scale She-Ra statue. Mondo's 1/6th scale She-Ra shipped in December of 2022, however, and I have to say that it's probably my new favorite She-Ra collectible. She might not be as dramatic as the 1/5th scale maquette, but this is without a doubt the coolest She-Ra collectible ever made. She-Ra was a Mondo timed exclusive who went on sale for 48 hours beginning on July 12th, and she comes packaged with her buddy Kowl, so she's not having to handle the Horde all on her own. It's taken me some time to get around to this review because 1. There's been so much stuff coming out and 2: My She-Ra shipped with a flattened nose and a duplicate hair piece so I had to wait for Mondo to ship me replacement parts, which they absolutely did. The customer service was really fantastic. I don't dabble in the 1/6th scale much but I definitely make an exception for Maters of the Universe and I absolutely love She-Ra, Princess of Power. Ready for a look at She-Ra? Then join me after the break...

Friday, January 27, 2023

Wrapping Up 2022: Man-Bat (DC Rebirth) from DC Multiverse by McFarlane Toys


   Last year I started getting into McFarlane's DC Multiverse line a bit more, particularly because of the release of more characters who look like standard comic depictions of the characters rather than really story specific variants (think Metal, Last Night on Earth, Dark Knight Returns). It looks like we're in for more great releases in the months to come and I've went back and picked up some of the figures I want, mostly Batman centric heroes and villains and characters associated with Justice League Dark. Hey, Man-Bat fills both of those criteria! This version of Man-Bat is a Megafig (oversized deluxe release) and is based on his Rebirth look, so pretty much his mainstream look in the current era of DC Comics. He's a hefty figure and McFarlane's first take on Dr. Robert Kirk Langstrom, so he's particularly monstrous. Ready for a bat man who's more bat than man? Then look no further than Man-Bat! Let's check him out after the break...