AFJ TOP 10 FIGURES OF 2016
By Jarrett Kruse
Its over. The year we collectively thought would not end is officially over. Well on the East Coast it is. I've still got 3 hours left to get struck by lightning. But I do love me some lists and this is the one of our favorite ones to bring to all the Junkies. However, it was a tough one to make with lots of cuts so I had to include an "honorable mention" category because some figures just deserved it. After learning more and more how much goes into every action figure, from conception to production, I have seen the amount of work it takes. And our little hobby is on an absolute tear in popularity and February's Toy Fair is sure to generate lots of major buzz on what we are going to see in 2017. But for now, sip some champagne and sit back to see AFJ's TOP 10 Figures for 2016. Happy New Year!
10. MARVEL LEGENDS DEADPOOL
You might be thinking that a $19.99 MARVEL LEGENDS figure wouldn't make the top ten of the year but let me plead my case. No LEGENDS figure was in such high demand and created such a frenzy among Junkies in 2016. Having the DEADPOOL movie be a smash didn't hurt either and while other iterations were made this year, the LEGENDS Merc with a Mouth is an excellent representation of the unstoppable uber-popular line from HASBRO. At one point, the dreaded scalpers were moving DEADPOOL for $100 proving that his staying power is unmatched as a cult antihero icon.
9. STAR WARS BLACK SERIES DARTH REVAN
I had to recognize the continued powerhouse that is HASBRO's STAR WARS BLACK SERIES for several reasons. It has to be pointed out that even if there was not a STAR WARS film in the calendar year, they could release figures for the next decade from the other seven films in 6-inch form and Junkies would eat them up. You will never see such devotion (much like R2-D2) to a property and its toys like STAR WARS Junkies.
I wanted to feature one figure from the BLACK SERIES and I think DARTH REVAN is appropriate because this is the first figure voted for by fans for fans. While REVAN won, SABINE WREN came in second and they made her too--bonus points for the Rhode Island based toy juggernaut. I love that HASBRO tried this tactic out as it really does make Junkies feel like they are part of the selection process and that your vote really matters. Putting the fan first over which figure will statistically sell more is a move only HASBRO could pull off. Plus REVAN has two lightsabers making him one of the coolest looking Jedi's ever.
8. DIAMOND SELECT GHOSTBUSTERS
The most epic and ambitious GHOSTBUSTERS figure project to date, DIAMOND SELECT's new line of the original characters totally outclass the now defunct Club Ecto-1 toys. These are brilliant bookshelf spine figures, deluxe in every sense of the word at an agreeable price point (a steal at $24.99). I have gushed about these all year because of their amazing likenesses of truly beloved characters, on point articulation and brilliantly realized accessories.
Oh, and did I mention that each figure comes with a diorama piece for what is going to be the most epic diorama in diorama history! It totally outclasses my 7th grade Batcave shoebox diorama. If you have not grabbed the first three waves, make sure and do it soon because prices are going to soar.
7. DC COLLECTIBLES BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES BATWING
Yes its not an action figure. But in my eyes, we just don't see enough vehicles for figures that are not for the kids. Back in the day, vehicles were everywhere, including some of my all-time favorites. Now, DC Collectibles has created something that Gothamites never thought they would see. A BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES Batwing that is the size of a toddler.
The show continues to live on with a die hard base of Junkie fans and this amazing piece is a testament to the shows mass popularity. This epic sized vehicle that snugly fits an Animated Batman figure in the cockpit that slides open also features retractable landing gear & battery-powered interior lights. As if that is not enough, the Batwing is over 3-feet long and two feet wide. That’s almost bigger than Kevin Conroy. Definitely Keaton...
6. BANDAI MARVEL MANGA REALIZATION SAMURAI SPIDER-MAN
I received this figure as a surprise birthday gift and it seriously is awesome. Imagine the MARVEL Universe in feudal Japan; the possibilities are endless. The first in a new series from BANDAI, SAMURAI SPIDER-MAN is everything you would want in a Webslinging ninja. The concept figure was one of my breakout hits of the year and has me super psyched for their next in the series, IRON MAN. This piece surprised the heck out of me with this amazing mash-up figure of Queens, New York’s favorite son. The figure comes with so many cool accessories and weapons that their are too many to list. However, the kaginawa-style grappling web hook is one of the dopest things I’ve ever seen come with a figure...ever. Throw in a brilliant sculpt with well realized articulation and this is the Spider-Man figure you never knew you wanted.
5. BANDAI S.H. FIGURARTS TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES
I'll go ahead and admit that I am a casual TMNT fan at best. But when I saw these at the Bluefin Corp. booth at Toy Fair in February, I was rushed back to my childhood and the sheer simple beauty of these figures. They capture the original animation and its bright palette of colors perfectly. Throw in a diecast metal/plastic hybrid build and you have a super sturdy set of figures. The paint job blew me away as matching paint apps on plastic AND metal is no small feat. Here it works beautifully. Throw in interchangeable hands, heads and dope ninja accessories and you have a fearsome foursome priced at about $60 a pop.
The Jean St. Jean sculpted line of urban legends and things that go bump in the night impressed the heck out of me earlier this year. These figures need to go wide and be in every Junkies collection. They are doing things right where so many big companies are failing and for a crowdfunding style project at that. These figures have serious love put into them in every possible area from the brilliant sculpts to the package design, CREATUREPLICA spares no expense with these articulated monsters. Taking them into the woods for a photo shoot was one of the highlights of my year in toys. Go pick them up and have some old school fun.
3. MAFEX DAWN OF JUSTICE SUPERMAN
MEDICOM TOYS' MAFEX line (short for Miracle Action Figure EX) had a banner 2016 with a slew of releases from high profile licenses making Junkies take notice. I had been waiting for a Superman figure worth the "S" as I personally think the Kryptonian's suit translates better in figure form over its on screen appearance.
The MAFEX figure has a remarkable likeness to Henry Cavill and features screen-accurate suit components, poseable cotton fabric cape (a trend I am loving), interchangeable hands and a figure stand. All in all, for $45 this is a definite pick up for those Junkies looking for the modestly priced but upscale, over six-inch figure. I cannot wait for their KNIGHTMARE BATMAN figure coming in 2017 available for Pre-Order now!
MEZCO threw down the gauntlet in a pre-Toy Fair strike at their Long Island City headquarters and have not looked back since. Their ONE:12 COLLECTIVE figures have reached legendary proportions in one calendar year. Their SDCC Exclusive was my clear winner as the best of the best that MEZCO offered in 2016. The figure is just gorgeous, taking the best thing about BVS: DAWN OF JUSTICE (Armored Batman suit) and making it into the ultimate Bat-collectible of the year.
Hyper-realistic with a scaled and accurate armored Batsuit and boasting a whopping 44 points of articulation, MEZCO pulled out all the stops for this one. Toss in the plethora of accessories, the base, heck, even the packaging is bonkers awesome. This is easily my favorite iteration of the Armored Batman and since I was at the San Diego Con, I was able to get it for just $80--an absolute steal. Did I mention that it comes with batteries and the eyes light up? Epic.
1. NECA AGE OF ULTRON 1/4 SCALE HULK
New Jersey based NECA waited a solid year after AGE OF ULTRON left theaters to drop the most epic Hulk figure I have ever seen. Standing over two feet tall with fierce articulation for such a large figure, this Hulk is a purchase that Junkies need to make. It is an absolute feat of engineering boasting some of the nicest deco I have seen on a 1/4 scale figure. Particularly, the angry face sculpt is second to none and more and more Junkies are starting to cozy up to the NECA brand.
NECA is cordoning off their own special spot at major retailers like Toys R Us, virtually cornering the market in "niche" figures. This Hulk though, it just may need a whole section because its just that damn big. Over 25 points of articulation on this big guy along with a set of interchangeable hands and real fabric pants, this gamma-ray fueled monster is no reason to get angry. I would be hard pressed to believe it if a year ago you told me that I would be having a Hulk figure as AFJ's Figure of the Year 2016 but this one is a real jaw-dropper.
NECA 1/4 SCALE DEADPOOL
Its the affordable quarter-scale DEADPOOL figure all Junkies have been waiting for. NECA spares no expense with loads of articulation, smartly thought out paint apps and guns. Lots and lots of guns. Just hitting the market now, this figure is a must have for every Dead-head Junkie in your life.