2013 Holiday Gift Guide: Awesome Action Figures
Knowing what to buy anyone during the holidays can make for a pretty dicey season of giving. But toy collectors with discerning tastes? That's usually gift card territory. But it doesn't have to end that way! We're here to help with a guide breaking down some of the most awesome action figure and toy options for the young and young at heart (mostly the latter). Whatever your articulated plastic budget is this year, we've got recommendations sure to please. Hit the jump for ComicsAlliance's 2013 Holiday Gift Guide to Awesome Action Figures.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers S.H. Figuarts
For the tokusatsu fan in your life, it's tough to pin down a single figure from Bandai's S.H. Figuarts line that'd henshin their holiday into something special -- they're all pretty awesome. Chances are, however, that if the person you're buying for grew up in North America that they've got a major soft spot for Saban's Mighty Morphin Power Rangers take on Toei's Super Sentai tradition. While not every Ranger's available just yet, figures of the famous Red, Green, White and Pink Rangers will all be available in time for the season of giving. If in doubt, Tamashii Nations' roughly $40 Armored Red Ranger is a solid place to start gifting. If that's out of your budget, however, Bandai North America's decidedly buffer 6" Power Rangers Megaforce Armored Mighty Morphin Red Ranger is a decent alternative. Of course, we won't blame anybody for buying both.
RC Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Shellraiser
Tired of having to push your Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures around in their van like a common ruffian? Then the $50 RC Shellraiser from Playmates is probably for you. Actually, it's pretty much for anyone who likes awesome things. It's not perfectly in scale with Playmates' main line of roughlty 5" TMNT Turtles action figures, but neither is the non RC Shellraiser if you're going by what you see on Nickelodeon's CG animated series. So why not roll with the manufacturing practicalities and spring for a "sewer cover slinging subway car" that zips around via remote control? Or you can just buy both. We won't judge.
Star Wars Black 6" Action Figures
After some 35 years of 3.75" tall releases, Hasbro finally expanded its core Star Wars action figure line with collector-focused 6" toys. Presented under the new "Black" banner (alongside similarly detailed traditional 3.75" toys), new larger versions of fan-favorites like Luke Skywalker, R2D2, Darth Maul, Han Solo and Boba Fett are now available as part of the series' first two waves. Unlike their shorter counterparts from Hasbro and LEGO, these figures don't lend themselves as easily to in-scale vehicles, but they do feature an extra dimension of detail. Best of all? They can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with other popular toy lines such as Marvel Legends and Mattel's DC Universe Classics. As of this holiday season, however, there is no 6" Jar Jar Binks. Somehow, though, we will soldier on.
Axe Cop Action Figures
Ethan Nicolle and his (much) younger brother Malachai's Axe Cop is sitting pretty with a webcomic, a Dark Horse print comic and its new Fox ADHD animated series, making it a perfect time for Mezco to release its corresponding action figure line. Mezco's 4" tall offerings aren't quite as articulated as we'd prefer, but the toymaker's sculpts and paint applications are dead-on and capture the energy of the Nicolle bros. creations perfectly. The $40 Wexter and Axe Cop box set is the purest expression of the comic's translation to toys, providing fans with the eponymous axe-wielding hero and his sunglasses-sporting pet t-rex complete with gatling gun arms in one fell swoop.
The Walking Dead Minimates
TWD fans have a lot of options when it comes to toys, but only Diamond Select and Art Asylum's blocky Minimates line supplies a healthy balance of articulation, playability and... well... an aesthetic that's safe to display across a multitude of environments. Sold in two-packs and a few choice box sets, the TWD Minimates line makes it affordable and efficient to assemble the Image Comic/AMC TV show's cast of humans and zombies. Whether you like the look of Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard's art or want to see likenesses based on the TV series, the cartoony presentation of the line ensures that every version of the franchise's characters play together perfectly. And the best part? Minimate construction allows collectors to painlessly rip apart and reassemble their figures to simulate TWD's signature gore.
Mattel's Batman '66 Action Figures
Everybody and their grandmother's toy company seems to be offering merchandise from the recently-licensed Batman '66 television show, but Mattel's 6" action figures and Batmobile are arguably the best (or at least most convenient) all-around buy. They're detailed enough to stand on a shelf and articulated and durable enough to hand to the young circus orphans or other wards in your life. Figures retail for roughly $16, with the Batmobile going for $50 at big box and specialty stores. Batman and Robin are available in a special two-pack at comic shops and online, with single-packed versions of Batman, Joker, Catwoman, Riddler and Penguin readily available elsewhere. For our money, the "Surf's Up" Batman makes the best gift of the bunch, although the SDCC 2013 exclusive "Batusi Batman" will surely light up any fan's life if you're able to track it down on the secondary market for a decent price.
Transformers Masterpiece Soundwave
When writing up our "Best Toys of 2013" list we were torn between giving the title to Hasbro/Takara's humongous Metroplex or the equally awesome Masterpiece Soundwave. It was a tough call, so you'll have to forgive us for relegating Soundwave's current ultimate figure to the Gift Guide. Think of the inclusion of Soundwave and his compatible team of transforming cassette tape robots (Laserbeak, Ravage, Rumble, Buzzsaw and Frenzy) here as a plug for the best Transformer you can buy someone this year... that's shorter than 2 feet tall. Good luck finding one for its approximate $120 retail, however, as this SDCC 2013 debut/Toys "R" Us exclusive figure is now going for closer to $200 and higher online. One alternative is the less accessorized Takara version from Japan, or you can just bite the Energon cube and splurge for your favorite Transformer fan.
LEGO Legends of Chima
We're all familiar with LEGO's Marvel, DC and TMNT offerings, but we'd be remiss not to point out LEGO's none-too-subtle ThunderCats/Battle Beasts homage series (at least, in our opinion), Legends of Chima. It's cats and birds and lizards and apes and other anthropomorphic animals fighting over magic crystals in a fantasy land where laser swords are just as valid as tanks in combat. What's not to love? Specifically, though, we'd like to direct CA readers to the "Gorzan's Gorilla Striker" set, a $45-50 Gorilla mech that is sure to set anyone who has read a comic from the Silver Age's heart ablaze. Even as a one-off buy, this set scratches a ton of comic book/manga/anime/sci-fi fan itches. It's a robot, it's a talking gorilla, it shoots missiles, it's got a banana bandolier, it comes with a bunch of Planet of the Apes-style figures with giant war hammers -- the reasons to gift this set go on and on.
ModiBot Buildable Figure Kits
It's been a few years since the modular Stikfas and Xevoz action figure lines went the way of the dodo, but ModiBot's new line of buildable toy kits fills the void nicely with a vast array of sturdy options in multiple colorways. Available in kit form for $10 through ModiBot's online shop, the basic figures are hyper articulated and completely customizable. They work easily with a lot of existing action figure accessories, or collectors can pick up ModiBot-specific expansion packs that include items like backpacks, swords, armor and other adventuring goodness at around $5-20. And if you want to stuff stockings or just amass gifts for every toy fan on your list? ModiBot sells convenient 3, 5 and even 8-figure multipacks that'll save you some seasonal scratch.