Friday, January 15, 2016

My Top 10 Toylines of 2015

    It's that time of the year for me to share my top 10 favorite action figure lines of the past year! This is the fourth year that I've created a list of my top 10 toylines (you can read my 2012, 2013, and 2014 lists if you'd like) and it's something I always enjoy compiling. Keep in mind a few things:

First, this is a list of my favorite lines, and thus it's even more subjective than the standard "best of" list (which is already quite subjective). If I were doing a "best of 2015" I'd definitely be looking at the merits of lines that I don't even collect. For this list, I'm factoring in the fun I had collecting these lines, discussing them, and reviewing them as well as the merits of the toys themselves.

Second, I've started doing a separate top ten for individual figures from lines that I didn't mention here. Sometimes a single action figure release or a standout figure from a line I'm not overwhelmed by captures my attention and I want to give them some attention. If I were picking my top two figures only the list would be overwhelmed with multiple figures from the same lines.

Third, I try my best to be fair in determining what constitutes a toyline. Sometimes I mix stuff (It doesn't make much sense to me separate Mattel's WWE basic line and WWE Elite line as they're in the same scale, share parts, and are intended to work together.  I wouldn't try to separate Marvel's various Legends assortments that have different names, either, though I would separate Marvel's 1/18th scale Marvel Legends Infinite Series and their traditional 6 inch scaled line. If the lines are in the same scale and style and from the same property and same company, I'll probably join them together.

Fourth, I list these alphabetically, not by merit. It's just easier that way.

Ready to get started with my top 10 favorite lines of 2015? Then join me after the break...

10. Batman: Arkham Asylum/City/Origins/Knight by DC Collectibles

Batman: Arkham City appeared on the best of 2012 list.
 Here's the first place where I've done some combining. While Arkham Knight was the main focus for 2015, DC Collectibles continued to support the previous installments in the Arkham-verse with new figures, including a Bruce Wayne figure from Arkham City, completing the group of assassins from Arkham Origins, and a giant Clayface figure. DC Collectibles has really upped their quality control and continues to produce the best DC action figures on the market. I mean, they made a Dr. Harleen Quinzel action figure. No further explanation of their awesomeness needed.

 9. DC Comics Bishoujo by Kotobukiya

DC Comics Bishoujo appeared on the best of 2012 list.
   It's been a few years since Kotobukiya released enough statues to be considered for a best toyline of the year award but in 2015 they certainly qualified. While they only released three DC Comics Bishoujo statues (Batwoman, Zatanna, and Black Canary), all three of those statues were amazing. Kotobukiya's plastic and vinyl statues always look better and feel more high quality than products that cost hundreds of dollars! This is by far one of my favorite lines to collect and I'm always looking forward to their next release.

8. Imaginext: Collectible Figures by Fisher-Price

Imaginext appeared on the best of 2014 list.

   With series 4, 5, and 6 having been released in 2015 (although series 6 hit near the end of the year and I still haven't got my greedy paws on it yet) it was a pretty good year for bulking up the Imaginext collection. With cool releases like the Space Gorilla, Gruntilda like Witch. Big Trouble in Little China inspired Chinese Warrior, and the incredible Ghost, there really was something for everyone. These are some fun toys and if you're not collecting them you're missing out!

 7. Legends of Cthulhu by Warpo Toys

    To be honest, Warpo Toys got me interested in the whole "faux vintage" toy craze. When I preordered this line in 2014 it was right before Funko started releasing their ReAction series, and thus the ReAction figures I purchased were intended to play along with Warpo's offerings. While this was a small line (I hope Warpo expands it) it was incredible. These are some beautiful figures that are incredibly fun for play and display. We really needed a Lovecraft inspired toyline and Warpo delivered.

6. Masters of the Universe Classics by Mattel

MOTUC has been on the 2012, 2013, and 2014 lists.
MOTUC is a line I love so much that I devote an entire top 10 list to it! While the end of the year was a bit rough and full of missteps on Mattel's part, the first 6-7 months and the Club 200x line were amazing. While MOTUC has really ended the first phase of it's existence, in 2016 we're getting two separate lines (a Filmation styled line and the Collector's Choice line) that will continue things. I have high hopes for the Collector's Choice line as I'd love to continue expanding my Masters of the Universe universe.

 5. Ultimate Reel Toys by NECA

  Here's another category where I'm doing some blending: In 2015 NECA released a number of "Ultimate" editions of various film characters under their Reel Toys banner including Leatherface, John Matrix, Sarah Connor, the T-800, and Jason Voorhees. While these are from different properties, they're mostly all "one off" characters, so I prefer to think of them as the modern version of NECA's Cult Classics line. Every figure yet released in this series has just been incredible and features some of the finest work we've seen from NECA to date. They're around $25 but feel well worth the price.

 4. Star Wars: The Black Series by Hasbro

Star Wars Black was on the list in 2013 and 2014.
 Star Wars has had a rough few years in toy aisles but 2015 was the year we began to find toys again in semi-decent quantities. The Black Series transitioned this year from the end of Phase II to the beginning of Phase III with the release of The Force Awakens product, but the packaging is the real difference. Quite a few figures were released this year and the quality has improved greatly for the most part. While some Star Wars fans lament the further downfall of the classic 1/18th line, these new 6 inch figures have rejuvenated my interest in Star Wars collecting.

3. Star Wars Hero Mashers by Hasbro

 I get it! These are toys for kids and I'm not supposed to like them. You know what? The fact that my 2 year old is now nuts about Star Wars and can name dozens of random characters can quite possibly attributed to this line. She digs these and, by extension, I dig them too. My little one and I sit for hours playing with these and she'll proudly recite to me all of the characters she owns. They've went from being "daddy's toys" this year to being her toys, and you know what? I'm OK with that. This line has been a highlight of the year for me and has helped introduce my little one to Star Wars. She now has an obsession with Bossk and can say the word Inquisitor. I'm a heck of a dad.

2. WWE/ WWE Elite by Mattel

WWE Elite appeared on the list in 2014.

 WWE isn't everyone's cup of tea. Mattel's WWE  and WWE Elite lines, however, are incredibly well made and durable action figures that any collector needs to at least be aware of. I know I ignored them for years but they're really quite impressive. They're sturdy, extremely well articulated, have fantastic paint work on the tattoos, and are quite easy to find at most retailers. It'd be nice if more mainstream lines had this kind of quality to them.

1. World of Nintendo by Jakks Pacific

 As a Nintendo fan since Christmas of 1987, Jakks Pacific's World of Nintendo line is a dream line for me. The figures aren't perfect, though: Sometimes they have strange articulation and a dearth of accessories, and they're notoriously difficult to find. The magic lies in the fact that I now have a shelf full of Nintendo toys, something I've wanted since I was a child. The figures look great together and bring back the same warm, fuzzy feelings of seeing my favorite gaming icons all together that Super Smash Bros. originally stirred up. I hope this line continues on because there are dozens of figures I still want!

 What do you think? What were your favorite toylines of 2015? Leave a comment and let me know. Now, here are some facts and figures I like to track every year, just for fun:

# of lines from 2014's list that made it on again: 4 (Masters of the Universe Classics, Star Wars: The Black Series, Imaginext Collectible Figures, and WWE Elite.

# of lines from NECA: 1

# of lines from Mattel: 3 (if you count Fisher Price)

# of lines from Hasbro: 2

# of lines in which Batman appeared:1

# of lines based on films from 2015: 2 (Both Star Wars lines had characters from The Force Awakens).

# of toylines featuring someone who was a co-owner of Planet Hollywood: 1 (NECA's Ultimate Reel Toys line had Schwarzenegger as both John Matrix from Commando and the T-800 from Terminator 2: Judgment Day)

# of toylines that I never saw hide nor hair of at Wal-Mart: 6. This is up a bit from last year. It's really surprising that Wal-Mart doesn't carry World of Nintendo. Well, at least the 4 inch ones. I think some carry the little 2.5 inch series.

# of toylines based on R- rated films/M-Rated games, etc.: 2 Arkham Knight was rated M for Mature and NECA's Ultimate Reel toys included figures from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Commando, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives.

# of toylines that I was a completest on and bought everything offered: 1- The only series I purchased everything available this year from was the DC Bishoujo line from Kotobukiya  For MOTUC I'm currently skipping Point Dread and for World of Nintendo I missed the exclusive metallic Samus figure.

# of toylines that were available through Kickstarter or an online subscription method: 2- Legends of Cthulhu and Masters of the Universe Classics. That's the same number as last year.
# of toylines in a 1/18th scale or smaller: 2 (Imaginext and Legends of Cthulhu)


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