Last year I started a new "end of the year list" called Missing in Action. While my other lists recognize my favorite toys and toylines from the previous year, Missing in Action does something a little different: It looks at the toylines that made my top 10 list the previous year that failed to show up again for the current year. There are toylines that make my top 10 list one year that fail to show up again the next year for various reasons. Sometimes a line has a sudden decrease in quality. Other times a line ends or has a significant drop in releases. Of course, there are also always lines I lose interest in and lines that just got beat out by something better. So, why do this? For me it's simply interesting to look back and figure out how my collecting habits change from year to year. Let's check out 7 toylines that went Missing in Action this past year!
Batman: Arkham Knight- Drop in Quality, but now probably Missing in Action!
DC Direct and DC Collectibles' various Arkham themed lines have made my best of the year lists off and on over the past few years. Sadly, the quality on a number of the releases really dropped pretty sharply this year and a number of releases were cancelled shortly before their anticipated shipping dates. While there were still some excellent figures released such as Professor Pyg (he made my Best of the Rest list) and the "Classic" Harley Quinn, other releases such as the 'Killing Joke" inspired Joker and the Batgirl/ Oracle two-pack were incredibly disappointing. Considering the cancellations that happened this year, it seems like this line has reached the end of its life unless another game in the series is ever released.
Imaginext Collectible Figures Series- Demoted, and Partially Missing!
I still enjoy Fisher Price's Imaginext collectible figures, but they really didn't release very many this year. They've also become more and more difficult to find which is really frustrating, particularly considering this is a product targeted at the kiddies and mass-market buyers. I was also a bit disappointed that the most recent series didn't have any female characters. Factor in that each series has been getting smaller and smaller and you can see why I was a bit underwhelmed this year. This is still a solid collectible minfigure line but the limited selection and the presence of other excellent lines helped it to go missing.
Legends of Cthulhu- Missing in Action!
Legends of Cthulhu was a small but extremely professional Kickstarter funded line from Warpo toys that received some massive attention back in 2014. When the figures finally arrived in 2015, they turned out to be worth the wait. Legends of Cthulhu was an impressive faux-retro line that absolutely earned its place on my best of 2015 list. So what happened? The reason this line went missing is simply because Warpo hasn't put much of anything else out for this line. I'm anxiously awaiting for them to produce some more figures or to start a second Kickstarter funded series (I need the teased H.P. Lovecraft homage figure "The Author"), but for now they're missing in action.
Masters of the Universe Classics- Drop in Quality!
Here's the big surprise: Masters of the Universe Classics, my #1 line for at least the past 5 years, did not make it on the list anywhere this year. There were a few really good figures in MOTUC this year, but overall it feels like Mattel just kind of gave up on this line sometime during the first quarter of the year. Mattel didn't seem excited about it anymore and, to be honest, that made it harder for me to get excited about it, too. Factor in some figures with serious problems like Despara and Crita (two of the ones I was most excited about), the return of the ridiculously difficult to obtain and completely pointless chase variant sales model, and some sales that popped up with little to no warning, and this line felt very forgettable in 2016. Super7 already seems to be reviving this series and bringing back some of the energy from year's past. I hope they knock it out of the park and make 2017 a revival year for MOTUC.
Ultimate Reel Toys- Demoted
For a company who has received so many of my collecting dollars over the past decade, this year I can only think of two NECA figures I purchased (the 6 inch Arkham City Harley Quinn and the Kenner Ripley). NECA still makes some really cool figures, but I feel like they keep making the same characters over, and over, and over. I love Alien and Predator and Terminator, but it feels to me like NECA is just releasing the same things over, and over, and over. I miss them going after unique and diverse licenses (although I did admire their Contra and TMNT figures from afar) from an unusual range of properties.
Star Wars Hero Mashers- Demoted, but Probably Missing in Action
Star Wars: Hero Mashers seemed like a really cool and promising line in 2015 but Hasbro essentially just dropped it in 2016. There were a few releases but not enough to sustain much interest. This was a line that I enjoyed collecting with my daughter (technically, they are her toys), so Hasbro's refusal to release any female characters in the line combined with a lack of characters from the Force Awakens definitely was a bit off-putting. Considering that we didn't see any new releases for Rogue One, I'm guessing that this line is over.
WWE by Mattel-Demoted
Mattel's WWE line didn't make the list this year (there is a great Chris Jericho joke in here somewhere) simple because my list didn't have enough space. I love what Mattel is doing with this line, especially in the Elite Series and in their crazy spin-off lines like WWE Zombies (I'm counting WWE Mutants as a 2017 release). I have noticed that distribution has been uneven on these lines, though; WWE zombies and most retailer exclusives have had excellent distribution while the Elite Series can be difficult to find. True story: I haven't seen any new non-exclusive Elite figures at my nearest Wal-Mart or Target since December of 2015. That's over a year! What gives and who is to blame? Fortunately, Amazon and Toys R Us do a pretty good job of stocking these, though there still are quite a few I haven't been able to find yet (the new Kevin Owens and AJ Styles in particular). The WWE Zombies was incredible, though, and while zombie Triple H made my Best of the Rest list, the zombie versions of the Undertaker, Bray Wyatt, or Dean Ambrose could have just as easily taken his spot. Of course, there are plenty of pretty awful figures too (I'm thinking of Natalya and Renee Young), so this line can be a real mixed bag at times.
What do you think? What toylines disappeared in 2016 from your collecting habits? Let me know in the comments below!