Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Action Figure Review: Recondo from G.I. Joe: Classified Series by Hasbro


   I couldn't possibly review the new Target exclusive Tiger Force Recondo figure from the G.I. Joe: Classified series without remembering the lyrics to ABBA's hit song about the character:

There was something in the air that night
The stars were bright, Recondo
They were shining there for you and me
For liberty, Recondo
Though I never thought that we could lose
There's no regret
If I had to do the same again
I would, my friend, Recondo
If I had to do the same again
I would, my friend, Recondo

   Yes, who could forget those stirring words about a raid on Cobra Island by G.I. Joe forces sung from the perspective of Outback.... wait, I'm getting a note....

  My editor says I'm apparently remembering this all wrong and the song in question is "Fernando" and it's a 1975 ABBA song about the Mexican Revolution. 


   Well, in that case we'll just talk about Recondo. This version is from Tiger Force and while the vintage Tiger Force Recondo figure, released in 1988, came with the Tiger Fly, a Tiger Force themed repaint of the Dragonfly, this one comes packaged solo. That was originally the plan for the vintage Recondo, but for some reason Wild Bill got skipped. We'll definitely get a regular version of Recondo in the line at some point but this Tiger Force version is pretty nice. Let's take a look at Recondo after the break...

Monday, February 27, 2023

Action Figure Review: Man-E-Faces from Masterverse/ Masters of the Universe: New Eternia by Mattel


   Last weekend I drove to Needless Toys & Collectibles in Lincolnton, NC where I found three of the four figures from the newest series of Mastervere action figures. This is a fantastic toy store that not only carries lots of great vintage toys (they had a G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero Defiant in the box) but also stocks new product from smaller companies like Four Horsemen Studios, Mezco, the Nacelle Company, Super7, and Boss Fight Studios as well as product from Mattel, Habro, NECA, and McFarlane. Since they actually have accounts with these companies, their prices are really competitive. The newest series of Masterverse figure includes the Sorceress from MOTU: Revelation, Pig-Head from Sun-Man, Shadow Weaver from Princess of Power, and a New Eternia Man-E-Faces, which I'm checking out today. By the way, Shadow Weaver was the figure I didn't pick up yet, so I'm still on the hunt. Man-E-Faces is one of my favorites and is always such a fun figure, so I was really looking forward to him. Ready for a cool new take on Man-E-Faces? Then let's check him out after the break...

Friday, February 24, 2023

The Best of the Rest: My 10 Favorite Individual Toys of 2022

   While the list of my 10 favorite toylines from the past year is always the main event for my annual awards, I've always liked to recognize that not every great toy is part of a larger toyline or a toyline that I fully collect. As a collector, I'm naturally driven to lines where I can build a large roster of diverse characters or where there is a steady stream of releases, so those tend to be my favorites. It seems kind of unfair, however, to never acknowledge figures from smaller toylines or one off releases. Sometimes I just grab one figure or toy from a larger line because it really appeals to me in some way. What to do? 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 2022 could have made this list. Who isn't eligible? Any toy from a line I picked in my 10 Favorite Toylines of 2022 list. Remember that these are listed alphabetically, not in order of merit. Last year I definitely spent a lot of my focus on more expansive lines with lots of releases and picked up fewer "one off" releases.  Like last year, most of the entries here tend to be 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 are also a couple of pop culture icons that I picked up and just loved. In some ways, this list might be seen as more prestigious as these figures aren't part of a larger group that kind of build each other up but must stand on their own merits. I'm going to go through these alphabetically, as usual, so let's take a look at the best of the rest list for 2022 after the break...

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Action Figure Review: The Flash from DC Page Punchers by McFarlane Toys/ DC Direct


   It's time for some more DC Page Punchers and today I'm checking out Turbo-Man! Oh, wait, that's not Turbo-Man, is it? It kind of looks like him, though. While some of the DC Page Punchers from McFarlane Toys and DC Direct are quite faithful to their mainstream comic looks, others, like the Flash here, are a new design that ties in with the included "The Flash" comic book. Did the folks at DC Comics create the new comic first or was this comic create around McFarlane Toys' designs? Tough to say, here. Still, I kind of like how different this version of the flash looks. He's still a sleek and slick version of the Scarlet Speedster, but this time around he's wearing an outfit that looks more armored. Perhaps Barry decided he needed a few upgrades for some new threat? Let's take a look at the Page Punchers version of the Flash after the break. It's Turbo Time!

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Action Figure Review: Two Bad from Masterverse/ Masters of the Universe: New Eternia by Mattel


   I actually have four new Masterverse figures to review (I found Pig Head, Man-E-Faces, and Sorceress over the weekend) but I'm going to start with Two Bad, a deluxe release that showed up at the very beginning of the year already swinging to be one of the best Masterverse releases of 2023. I'm sure we'll get plenty of other really solid figures this year in Masterverse, but wow, this one is going to be tough to beat. Two Bad is part of the New Eternia subset and their packaging tells the story of Tuvar Baddrah as the captains of rival mercenary ships who fall victim to the cursed treasure of Horde Prime. The curse fuses them together, leaving them as one terrifying individual wrestling with their egos. Interestingly, the package calls Two Bad "him" but wouldn't it make more sense to say they? I mean, they're two distinct individuals fused together, not just one being that has multiple heads but one mind. Anyways, it's a cool setup for Tuvar and Baddrah in New Eternia which borrows from the Mike Young Productions concept for the characters a bit. Ready to check out what all there is to love about Two Bad? Then let's check him/they out after the break...

Friday, February 17, 2023

Action Figure Review: Eclipse from Action Force by Valaverse


   Ready for some more Action Force? Last week I received three of the new series 3 Action Force figures from Big Bad Toy Store and I'm excited to start checking them out in the coming week or two. First up I'm taking a look at Eclipse, a member of Action Force. Valaverse is using the "base body" model for the Action Force line, so most figures are made from one of a few standard base bodies with different vests, gear, portraits, and color schemes to keep them feeling fresh and unique. Series 3 introduces women to the line with three new named characters and a Steel Brigade army builder. I haven't read any of the Action Force comics yet (I'm waiting for a trade paperback) but there's definitely a lot of thought put into the bios. Eclipse's is really well done and nicely mixes a personal history of the character along with some details about her role in the events of the Action Force universe. Eclipse (real name Dyani Tamayo) is Airborne qualified, has been through Ranger School, and operates extensively in covert operations in the Middle East. She's definitely bringing a lot to your Action Force team, so let's take a closer look at her after the break...

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Action Figure Review: Python Patrol Officer from G.I. Joe: Classified Series by Hasbro


   The Target exclusive Tiger Force vs Python Patrol G.I. Joe: Classified Series figures have been a rather cool subset and the Python Patrol Officer is a nice surprise because he's not just a repaint of last year's Cobra Officer; he actually contains parts from the Cobra Officer and the Cobra Infantry/ Cobra Trooper to create a more unique aesthetic. The Classified Series Python Patrol Officer is an interesting figure as he's actually based on the vintage Python Trooper and not the Python Officer. In the vintage Python Patrol subset the Python Trooper was a repaint of the 1982 Cobra Officer while the Python Officer was a repaint of the 1982 Cobra (the basic trooper). This figure is based on the vintage Python Trooper but uses the torso and arms from the Classified Series Trooper/Infantry with the boots, head, and harness of the Officer. It's a nice bit of Franken-Joeing that creates a more unique and memorable figure. Let's check out this Pythnonized Cobra Officer after the break...

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Action Figure Review: Black Adam from DC Page Punchers by McFarlane Toys/ DC Direct

   The last couple years have been huge for Black Adam. He's had a movie starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, he's joined the Justice League in the comics, and he's had multiple action figures released featuring his likeness. Today I'm checking out the 7 inch Page Punchers Black Adam from last year. I looked at another Page Punchers figure from this same series, John Constantine, a couple weeks back. As I mentioned in that review, the DC Page Punchers figures are released by McFarlane Toys under the DC Direct banner as McFarlane has been releasing and managing DC Direct product over the past year couple of years. The 7 inch Page Punchers are built and feel just like DC Multiverse figures, though, so they feel like they belong perfectly in your standard DC Multiverse collection. Ready for a look at Black Adam? Then join me after the break...

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Action Figure Review: Duke & RAM from G.I. Joe: Classified Series by Hasbro


   The series 1 Duke was the first figure in the G.I. Joe: Classified Series that I picked up and reviewed. While I skipped the "Field Variant" repaint, I definitely wanted this Tiger Force version, both because I love the Tiger Force look and because this was the version of Duke that I had as a kid. Getting into G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero later in the line (because I wasn't born until 1983), the Tiger Force subset gave me a chance to get some of the G.I. Joe mainstays who had disappeared from store shelves by the time I was collecting. The Target exclusive Tiger Force vs Python Patrol figures have been much easier to find than past releases, which is really nice. I've seen this set a few times in stores, so hopefully you can find one if you're looking for him. Let's take a look at Duke and the Tiger Force version of the RAM cycle after the break...

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Missing in Action: Toylines That Didn't Make the Cut in 2022

   Since 2015 I've supplemented my Top 10 Toylines of the Year awards with a list called Missing in Action. This is a reflective list where I look back at the Top 10 Toylines list of last year and determine why some of the lines from that year failed to return for the current year's list.  2022's top 10 list only had seven toylines returning from the previous year, which is a pretty good number. (2021 only had four toylines returning from the 2020 list). I find it interesting to look at the lines that failed to show up again in order to diagnose why they went missing. It's also fun to whine and complain a bit. There are a few reasons why a toyline might make this list:

Missing in Action: This is a toyline that gets cancelled, ends, or just didn't have any releases during the year. It happens a lot, unfortunately, and often to some of my favorites it seems, though not as much as in the past.

Demoted: Sometimes a toyline just gets outdone by others. This isn't specifically related to the quality of the demoted line and more reflective of the quality of the lines that supplanted it or of my interest shifting to other things.

Drop in Quality: This is when a toyline has a severe drop in quality that causes it to fall from grace. While most toylines get better as they go, some do indeed get worse and worse due to cost cutting, mismanagement, and quality control issues. Sometimes the price just gets higher, too, making a once impressive toyline now seem less so, and that can cause it to end up here as well.

Let's jump in and check out who went missing in action in 2022 after the break...

Friday, February 10, 2023

Action Figure Review: Batman Duke Thomas (Tales from the Dark Multiverse) from DC Multiverse by McFarlane Toys


   Today I'm looking at DC Multiverse figure from McFarlane that was released last year but that I've only picked up within the last month or two. It's Batman Duke Thomas from the limited series "Tales from the Dark Multiverse" a kind of "What If?" or Elseworlds take on key events from the DC Universe. I haven't actually read the series yet but I picked this figure up because it's really frigging cool and it was on sale at GameStop. It's a heavily armored up version of Duke Thomas wearing a batsuit crafted from the hide of the defeated Dragon, Barbatos. Oh, and he's carrying the Parall-Axe, a cross between an axe and an electric guitar. Originally Dick Grayson/Nightwing was toting it around but now Duke has it. There's a DC Multiverse figure of Duke Thomas as the Signal coming soon, but it doesn't have a wicked death metal guitar that's a multiversal frequency disruptor. Let's take a look aht the Dark Multiverse version of Duke Thomas as Batman after the break...

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Action Figure Review: Wonder Woman from Super Powers by McFarlane Toys

   Today I'm checking out the third of the figures in series 3 of McFarlane Toys' Super Powers line: Wonder Woman! Wonder Woman was one of the original figures from the first series of the vintage line and it's about darn time she showed up in this new series, right? She's wearing a more modern outfit but still looks absolutely recognizable as Princess Diana of Themyscira. She's also been given a cape here, but you ca easily take it off if you'd like. She's versatile. Let's take a look at the Super Powers Wonder Woman after the break...

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Action Figure Review: Deadman (DC Rebirth) from DC Multiverse by McFarlane Toys


   Deadman is one of the newest "Gold Label" figures from McFarlane Toys' DC Multiverse line and is exclusive to Target. From DC Rebirth, this is the first time McFarlane has released a figure of Boston Brand in the DC Multiverse line and it's a pretty standard take on the character that ought to please most folks. McFarlane is definitely doing more standard or "classic" versions of characters than they were during the first year or two of DC Multiverse and that's definitely helped get me more into this line than I was. There have been more Deadman figures released over the years than I thought but my favorite is still Mattel's DC Universe Classics version. Does this one surpass the ones that have come before it? Let's take a look and see how this incarnation on Boston Brand fares after the break...

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...