Saturday, February 24, 2024

Missing in Action: Toylines That Didn't Make the Cut in 2023


   Since 2015 I've supplemented my Top 10 Toylines of the Year awards with a list called Missing in Action (no relation to the Chuck Norris film). This is a reflective list where I look back at the Top 10 Toylines list from the year before and determine why some of the lines from that year failed to return for the current year's list.  2023's top 10 list only had five lines returning from 2022's list (2022's top 10 list  had seven returning toylines while 2021 only had four returning toylines 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, which might be part of the reason I enjoy this list so much. 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.

Sunk: This is when a toyline has a severe drop in quality or perhaps an exorbitant price hike 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 outpaces the value, making a once impressive toyline now seem like a shell of its former self.

Let's jump in and check out who went missing in action in 2023 after the break...

Final Faction by Greenbrier International- Missing in Action

Final Faction was one of the craziest lines ever: A unique Dollar Tree exclusive toyline with characters, vehicles, comics, and animated shorts with the toys retailing for $1-$1.25. My mind is still blown that this happened. yeah, they were budget figures, but they were excellent; both creative and fun. Sadly, things were quiet in 2023 and the line doesn't seem to have anything coming on the horizon. 

Marvel Legends Series by Hasbro- Demoted/ A Little Sunk

Hasbro's Marvel Legends Series has made my top 10 list six times since I made my first list in 2012, but it fell off again in 2023. Why? I'm mostly just collecting X-Men now so far as Marvel goes and while it was a good year for X-Men (Spiral did make my best of the rest list), there were some real hurdles: overly high prices (especially on multipacks), plastic free packaging mishaps, fewer BAFs, and some other weird decisions made. 2024 looks to be better (though I'm a bit aggravated at the "not all X-Men/mutants Zabu BAF series), so hopefully Hasbro will wow me. The second X-Men '97 series looks fantastic. 

Naughty or Nice Collection by Fresh Monkey Fiction- Demoted

   When Fresh Monkey releases Operation: Monster Force, I fear I'll be broke. It looks incredible and the quality of the Naughty or Nice Collection is excellent. That being said...I'm not sure I really needed too many more Santa Claus figures. The ones I bought in 2022 definitely met my need for evil Santa toys and I just didn't pay much attention to the 2023 releases. 

Spawn by McFarlane Toys- Demoted

   There were some Spawn figures released in 2023, but not many. Other than Medieval Spawn and the 2-pack with Batman (which was a DC Multiverse release) I'm not sure I bought anyone else. The first year or two of the line nicely mixed newer characters with cool Spawn variants and characters recognizable to me as someone who picked up Spawn figures on and off as a kid and teenager, but this year's assortment left me quite cold. They look cool, but they just didn't call my name. 

Star Wars: The Black Series by Hasbro- Demoted and Rather Sunk

   The Black Series made my Top 10 Toylines of the year list for a full decade, but this year it just couldn't cut it. For a line that I once purchased everything from, I may have grabbed... four figures? Mara Jade, Doctor Aphra, Sabine Wren, and Pre Vizsla. Yeah, that sounds right. Hasbro is just stuck in a rut with this line. Too many repaints, inconsistent pricing, and an often boring character selection just have made a once great line feel stale. 

What lines did you fall out of love with this past year? What lines were you collecting that went missing in action?


  1. Interesting observations. Yeah - Final Faction had so much cool stuff. If anything, you could easily build a Kaarn army that fits in well with any 1:18 scale series. I'll also agree with Marvel Legends and Black Series - I think the poor assortments, the constant increase in price - people have burnout. I've even become selective with these two lines, only choosing key original trilogy or Andor/Rogue One - or not even completing a BAF with Marvel. Don't collect Spawn but I've long since got tired of McFarlane's stuff. Although, DC seems to be the one line for them that is consistent, but I'm not a DC fan. As for Naughty or Nice, nothing this year, but did you see their reindeer set? I preordered on BBTS. That will be so much fun.

  2. The reindeer do look cool, but I just don't have a collection they'd go well with. Operation: Monster Force, on the other hand, will kind of be a subset of my Joes and Action Force.


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