Last year, IAmElemental burst onto the scene with its empowering line of action figures designed specifically to address the lack of female figures on shelves. Successfully kickstarted in 2014, the first line was themed around Courage, and featured heroes like Bravery, Honesty and Persistence, all of which were elements based around the "muse," Joan of Arc. The carefully-curated set was aesthetically appealing, undeniably imaginative, and showed that there are still plenty of great ideas for unique action figures if you've got the right inspiration.
We've known Wisdom would be the 2016 follow-up series to Courage, but at this year's Toy Fair, we got our first official look at the latest elemental warriors. The second line's muse is Hypatia, a Greek mathematician who was also a philosopher, astronomer and was head of the Neoplatonic school in great city of Alexandria. Or as IAmElemental's creator, Julie Kerwin, lovingly refers to her, "a STEM superstar before STEM existed."
This year, DC Collectibles had arguably its best showing at a Toy Fair in the past few years. Consistency has ruled DC Collectibles' presentations since refocusing its efforts alongside the launch of the New 52, but 2016's showing added even more depth to an already impressive collection of toy and statue lines. While the new movie and TV-based pieces were nice, they merely served as a complement to the real meat of DC Collectibles' upcoming slate: the comic book figures.
While yes, technically all the statues and figures DC Collectibles makes are based on comics, there's a definitive line between the television and film properties and those that spring forth directly from the pages of your favorite monthlies themselves. There are no Designer Series figures for the creatives working on Arrow, and none of the adaptations have earned Icon status. I suppose you could consider the Batman: The Animated Series line a melding of both of those ideas, but that line is a beast all its own.
After ditching the DC Universe Classics line and moving to 3.75" figures with the initial launch of DC Multiverse, it was a bit of a surprise to see Mattel would once again enter the 6" arena with the Multiverse collection. It made sense of course, given that DC Comics and Warner Bros. were releasing a new tentpole movie featuring all three of the comic company's iconic heroes, and (hopefully) kickstarting a cinematic universe. But the Multiverse line is much more than just Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, and as recent releases like Arrow's Green Arrow and The Flash's Flash have shown, Mattel has larger goals in mind for the figure line.
That DC TV love will continue into the next wave, which will introduce CBS' Supergirl into the mix. It's good to see that a third party licensor sees the value of Supergirl toys, even as DC itself has struggled to find a way to make Kara Zor-el relevant in print and within its own collectibles. Green Arrow and Flash had to wait a season or two until they got their shot a figures, but Supergirl's jumping right out of the gate with her first attempt. That said, based on how infrequently the Multiverse line has shipped so far, it's unlikely we'll see this Supergirl figure until the fall. We've still got the second half of the Dawn of Justice wave and the TV/comics mix to come, plus those Suicide Squad figures.
Every year, NECA rolls out one of the most consistently great Toy Fair line-ups of any company at the show. The variety of licenses, scales, and styles is virtually unrivaled, and the NECA booth is often one of the highlights of the annual event. This year was no exception, and NECA lifted the curtain on a number of incredible reveals, including some that were previously though impossible. But that's just NECA's style, and the company is always full of surprises.
Case in point, the all-new 1/4 scale Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line based on the 1990 film. In the past, NECA had released some Mirage-era Turtles, but the full series never saw the light of day due to licensing complications. For years, fans had been hoping to see more of those designs, but it's just not going to happen. Instead, we'll just have to "settle" for a whole new collection based on the greatest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie of all time. Yeah, I said it. The first figure in the series, Donatello, is note perfect, and captures every last dimple, piece of shell and muscle in astounding detail.
This year's Toy Fair didn't have much new on the horizon from Square Enix and its Play Arts line. For the past few years, Square's been busy delivering Variants and video game figures with a handful of movie characters sprinkled in along the way. All of those areas were still represented this year at Toy Fair, even if the pickings were a bit slimmer than we're used to seeing from the Japanese company. But it's hard to complain when there are new Final Fantasy VIII figures on the way.
Cloud and Barret are the first two characters getting figures from the upcoming Final Fantasy VII remake, which shouldn't be confused with the recently released figures both characters got based on Advent Children. Both are ridiculously detailed, which is one of Square's calling cards with regards to its toys. Barret and Cloud have been immortalized numerous times in the past, but the two newest versions are miles above anything either has received in the past. Barret in particular has such gotten such an amazing sculpt, it's hard to imagine him ever getting anything better after this one releases at some indeterminate time in the future.
There are a lot of adapted DC Comics properties on television or coming to movie theaters at the moment, which is a good thing for DC fans depending on your perspective. What makes that a positive in my eyes is all the interesting collectibles we get thanks to these high-profile shows and films. While it's true we were already getting some Flash, Green Arrow and Harley Quinn toys, it's been a while since a Katana statue or figure has been released, let alone an El Diablo. This year, DC Collectibles aims to rectify that.
We got our first look at the upcoming Suicide Squad statues back in January, but seeing them in person shows just how accurate they really are. They're loaded up with details, and the actor likenesses are really on point. Individually, all the pieces look good, but when you get the whole team arranged, they do form a nice group shot as well. It's not entirely necessary to appreciate each character, but if you're an absolute Squad nut, DC's thought well enough ahead.
I'll say this about Kotobukiya, when it gets a statue right, it really gets a statue right. The company's Fine Arts and ArtFX+ lines have been testaments to that fact for some time, and the upcoming releases planned for 2016 and beyond look to continue that trend. There are also some promising Bishoujo on the horizon, which might come as a bit of surprise given the hit-or-miss nature of the "beautiful girl" statues. That also includes me continuing to pretend the horror-themed branch of Bishoujo just doesn't exist.
For the past few years, Kotobukiya's teamed with Adi Granov for two different Marvel ArtFX+ series. The Marvel Now Avengers was a big enough hit that it spawned a similar wave based on the Uncanny X-Men that launched after the conclusion of the Avengers vs. X-Men event that altered the course of the Marvel Universe until Infinity altered it again, and then Original Sin, and then... you get the idea. There are still three more statues to release in the line, but at least the Uncanny X-Men will finally be united in ArtFX+ form just in time for Marvel's next big summer event to completely wipe them out again, probably. At least this set will let you imagine Wolverine is still alive, and he's got a snazzy Adi Granov design.
Excellent. Amazing. Unbelievable. Awesome. What's left to say about Mezco's One:12 Collective that we haven't already said? Well we better start thinking of some new superlatives because 2016 is going to be ridonkulous for this line. Where once Mezco was content to start slow and only release a few figures in a calendar year, the company's plans for 2016 include more than a dozen different figures from Marvel, DC Comics, Universal Monsters, classic animation, and Star Trek. If you had told me last year when Batman and Judge Dredd released that just one year later we'd be able to start building our own Justice League in the One:12 Collective, I'd have told you to git out. But here we are, and Mezco's positioning itself to be the new leader in 1/12 scale figures.
That's a tall order given the competition, but Mezco's not really playing on the same field as Hasbro and Mattel, or even NECA. Though NECA does have its own line of clothed figures, the retro-inspired line is meant to pay tribute to the past with the advances of modern figure design. Mezco's approach is to take on the high-end of the spectrum, where the likes of Sideshow and Hot Toys reside, but provide a smaller figure with just as much detail and accessories for less than half the price. Not only does that make One:12 Collective more attractive from a collecting and displaying standpoint, but it's also a lot easier on the wallet... provided you don't want to buy them all like I do.
Every step along the way, Mattel's new DC Super Hero Girls have looked better and better. Since announcing DC Super Hero Girls, Mattel has slowly been teasing the figures and dolls, along with the numerous other branded accessories like notebooks, skate helmets, socks and books. There are already a dozen animated shorts online, which I guess are supposed to be the impetus to get you to buy the dolls. Considering most of these characters are already fairly big names, it seems like the inverse might be more true. But what do I know?
Not much, except for one thing. This line is going to be trouble.
There wasn't much new on hand for Star Wars at Hasbro's Toy Fair preview event, which is becoming the status quo for the brand. Given that there's so much to be secretive about with a new movie coming out every single year for the rest of eternity, it's likely that will the be the case for the foreseeable future. What little Hasbro did bring to the convention did look good though, particularly insofar as Rebels in concerned. While we might not know what lies ahead for Rogue One, at least we've finally got more Sabines coming.
That's not to say Hasbro didn't tease a little of its Rogue One plans. Like Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the Rogue One series will make its debut as an exclusive figure at San Diego Comic-Con this July. That's about all there is to say about that. Given that the Stormtroopers didn't look all that different in the suggested time period the upcoming anthology film takes place in, it's likely this will be an all-new character popping up for the first time. Don't hold your breath on any of the film's numerous leads making the cut though. Those are too important to be merely considered an exclusive figure.
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