The Best Toys of 2013
There are a lot of factors that go into loving a toy. Some are tangible, others less so. Being awesome can't hurt, though, and ComicsAlliance saw plenty of that quality manifest across toydom in 2013. One theme that stood out this year especially, though? New spins on old favorites. From the mighty Titan Class Metroplex to the NES-inspired Jason of Friday the 13th fame, toymakers went beyond kicking out mere nostalgia cash-grabs and elevated familiar characters with state-of-the-art toy tech. Hit the jump to browse some of CA's favorite toys from 2013.
Transformers Generations Titan Class Metroplex
After seeing it up close at Toy Fair and going hands-on with Hasbro's massive San Diego Comic-Con 2013 exclusive version of Metroplex, CA can assure any fans on the fence about picking up the $125 retail version that it is, indeed, as substantial as it looks. At roughly 24.5" tall in robot mode, Metroplex appropriately towers over every other Transformer EVER. Sure, he's not in perfect scale with Hasbro and Takara's more pocket-sized robots in disguise, but considering a 1:1 Metroplex would probably take up a full city block, this toy is about as good as it gets. Metroplex has a sturdy build despite its proportions and transforming it from a robotic warrior to two styles of battle station/cityscape is a relative snap. If anything, applying its dozens of decals is the most strenuous part of playing with Metroplex, but the stickers are still a nice bonus even if you're as bad as popping them on as a certain CA Senior Editor.
LEGO Back to the Future Delorean
LEGO's CUUSOO platform has made it possible for builders seeking licensed sets to more or less "pitch" their fandom to the toymaker by earning the support of 10,000 fans with imaginative builds. Not only did CUUSOO users m.togami and Sakuretsu's Back to the Future DeLorean Time Machine get massive support from fans, it also cleared LEGO's "Jury" of designers, product managers, and other company leaders relatively quickly. Looking at the final product, which arrived in the LEGO store a few months back for $35, it's easy to see why. The set includes enough pieces to construct all three iterations of the machine, along with minifigures of Marty McFly and Doc Brown. We probably won't have the rad hoover boards kids tooled around on in Back to the Future II come October 21 (despite Mattel's best efforts), 2015, but at least we'll have this LEGO BTTF set.
S.H. Figuarts Power Rangers Super Samurai
Metallic Coating Deluxe Action Figure Set
Bluefin Tamashii Nations moved a lot of its San Diego Comic-Con exclusive S.H. Figuarts Power Rangers Samurai box sets at the show, but fortunately for those who couldn't attend, the five-figures are still available for $225 via Bluefin's premium online shop. Since Bandai's initial Japanese versions of these figures (marketed as Toei's Samurai Sentai Shinkenger) are pricy imports and only the localized S.H. Figuarts Red Samurai Ranger and Gold Samurai Ranger figures were available at mass retailers like Toys "R" Us, this box set gives fans a lot of bang for their buck. If you're a Figuarts collector, you may be worried about the toys' metallic paint, but the look is surprisingly relaxed and allows the toys to be paired with other Rangers without incongruity on a shelf. If anything, they look even better alongside the already metallic Gold Ranger. Just as with standalone Figuarts, these toys all come packed with a bevy of interchangable hands, weapons and other accessories, giving buyers plenty to stay busy with. Just don't lose any of the detailed pieces or your tears will surely cause the Sanzu river to rise.
TMNT Classics Bebop and Rocksteady
Exciting as it was to pick up new 6" versions of Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo and Raphael in 2012, Playmates has finally yielded some bad guys for the 1987 animated version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to hang with at the tail end of 2014. The "Classics" take on Bebop and Rocksteady has been teased for some time, so to finally see the bumbling bros-turned-mutant warthog and rhino manifest is... mondo bodacious. On top of being larger and much more articulated than the late '1980s and early '90s TMNT figures, these versions of Bebop and Rocksteady feature more detail than their predecessors and match their cartoon counterparts perfectly -- Rocksteady's helmet is even removable. Lest the awesomeness of the originals be forgotten, they pack improved approximations of almost all of the same accessories as their predecessors to boot. Now, if only Playmates could kick out a Shredder and Krang...
Dragon Ball Z Scouters
Bluefin introduced a fun assortment of multi-hued Dragon Ball Z scouters at SDCC and later at NYCC this past year that gave fans a relatively affordable way to track down combatants with significant power levels. Do they work? If your definition of "work" means that each of the red, blue and green scouters feature "authentic sound bytes" and fit easily over most head sizes, then absolutely! They don't serve as high-tech communication devices or GPS units, exactly, but at 3 for $50 you can probably leave that to your smartphones.
Pokemon D-Arts Action Figures
Simply put, there have never been Pokémon action figures as cool as the new D-Arts toys from Bandai. Charizard, Venusaur, Blastoise and Mewtwo all stand tall with tons of well-implemented articulation and a swath of relevant effect parts that allow fans to recreate many of their signature moves from the long-running Nintendo video game/anime/manga series. With Pokémon X and Y out, these pocket monsters born of the 1996-1998 Red and Blue games are more relevant than ever to (can you believe it?) several generations of fans. At an average of $40-70 a piece, fans should consider themselves lucky that it currently only takes four figures to "catch 'em all," but a recently displayed Lucario figure means the line could be expanding enough to merit hitting the local gym for some funds.
Super7 Alien ReAction Figures
When it came time to release toys in conjunction with the release of Ridley Scott's Alien back in 1979, the then Star Wars action figure producer Kenner didn't quite know how to handle selling kids an H. R. Giger-designed nightmare from an R-rated film so it kicked out one figure and then called off plans for a line of conventional 3.75" action figures. Prototypes from the line became kind of legendary, especially following Kenner's later successes in the '90s, but it wasn't until this year that Super7 found a way to release authentic figures based on those original sculpts as part of its ReAction Figures line. The "Big Chap" Alien, Ripley, Ash, Dallas and Kane in Nostromo spacesuit aren't easy to find at the moment thanks to their limited run and relatively exclusivity, but thanks to a partnership with Funko, fans should be able to find them -- and at a more affordable price of $15 a figure or $75 for a set -- pretty easily. Update: You can now preorder the full set of Funko editions for $65.
Marvel Minimates Iron Man 3 Hall of Armors 10-Pack
The lazier mainstream press narrative associated with the 2008 release of Iron Man was "Gee, nobody knew who Iron Man was, but that Robert Downey Jr. sure is great! Weird move, right?" Millions of action figure sales later, it's pretty clear that Marvel knew EXACTLY what it was doing when it chose Tony Stark and his friggin' hall of armors to spearhead its Avengers movie franchise. And what easier way to get ahold of 8 of the cinematic Iron Man's 42+ armors than with Action Figure Express' formerly SDCC 2013 exclusive Marvel Minimates Iron Man 3 Hall of Armors 10-Pack? It comes with mere humans Tony Stark and Pepper Potts, but most importantly there are 8 Iron Men -- including Iron Man 3's Mark 42 suit. At $40, it's the fastest way to fill up a collector's own burgeoning hall of armors, but kids will probably have the best time with the set as they swap Minimates pieces from figure to figure creating their own ideal Iron Man suit.
Hot Toys Agent Phil Coulson
After the success of The Avengers movie and the more recent debut of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., you'd think we'd all be drowning in Agent Phil Coulson toys. The economics involved in mass producing action figures being what they are, though (it takes a S.H.I.E.L.D. budget, seriously), Hot Toys is essentially the only purveyor of a proper Agent C.The toymaker's hyper-detailed 1/6 scale figure retailed for around $175 or so when it debuted earlier this year, but since then Coulson's become a hard man to track down. It's like he died and came back to life or something. For those who can't track the toy down, there's always HeroClix and Mini Mates versions to pick up, but with its giant Destroyer tech gun, Captain America trading cars and spooky accurate Clark Gregg likeness, this Coulson can't be beat.
NECA NES Jason/FreddyAction Figures
NECA's been kicking out detailed Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street toys for years, but this past summer the toymaker took things to the next level with action figures sporting retro glow-in-the-dark colorways inspired by Jason and his rival Freddy Krueger's 8-bit '80s appearances on the Nintendo Entertainment System. The video game variants of movie-style figures are wonderfully executed themselves, but their video game box-like packaging puts them in an even cooler class of toy and makes even the most casual collector consider keeping these two in their packages to display. Released as a San Diego Comic-Con 2013 exclusive, the Jason figure is something of a spendy endeavor, but the recently-released Freddy is still relatively easy to purchase rather than simply dream about. These two 7" variants have been such a hit that there's a NES style RoboCop on the way in 2014. This is good news for RoboCop fans, certainly, but the trend makes it a rad time to to be a part of the toy-collecting populace that loves glow-in-the-dark monsters and robots in general. More please, NECA.