2012 In (Cool Toy) Review|
2012 In (Cool Toy) Review: Creepiest Toy of the Year
Just the sheer sight of the Deluxe Titan Joker screams “creepy”. Designed into the Batman: Arkham Asylum action figure line, Titan Joker stands an immense 11.5” tall, towering over the rest of the action figures in the line. Portrayed just as he was seen in the Arkham Asylum video game, Joker sports ripped flesh, a protruding rib cage and spine, the creepiest fingernails you’ll ever see (I wouldn’t want my back scratched by those nails), and dare we mention the plastered Joker smile. Needless to say, the folks over at DC Collectibles hit this one out of the park, landing the Titan Joker action figure at the top of the creepiest toy of the year!
2012 In (Cool Toy) Review: The License That Needs A Hiatus
Judging by what never seems to make it off of the to do pile and on to the blue seamless in the CTR photo studios, there is little doubt that the Predator license has jumped the shark. Three incredible companies produce figures and statues based on the characters from this franchise, and still they are the snakes in the pet shop fire. That says something, because Sideshow Collectibles, Hot Toys, and NECA have done amazing work with this license, so it isn't the quality of the products, it is the subject. If we had our druthers, 2013 would be without a single new Predator product. In fact, we'd be happy if nothing new was released until there is a sequel to Nimród Antal's Predators feature film. If you disagree, leave a comment and let us know.
2012 In (Cool Toy) Review: Putting Toys Back In Kid's Hands
When we first saw Activision's Skylanders figure-driven video game in their booth at the 2012 International Toy Fair we were very impressed with their efforts to put toys back in kids hands. The game itself is fun, but genius is the interactive figures that unlock different aspects of the game. It's been a long time since we've seen a line of figures that got the kids excited. Since kids are the next generation of adult toy collectors, it is hard to overlook this phenomenon. The interaction is great, and the character design is top drawer. As Skylanders grows over the next year, we hope that there is enough interest to warrant the development of fully articulated figures for traditional play and collectibility.
2012 In (Cool Toy) Review: Coolest Prop Replica Of 2012
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Star Wars is Rebelscum territory! Yeah, we know, but in this one instance there is no way to look past the efforts eFX Collectibles has put into creating the single coolest Star Wars collectible we've seen in years. Their Legend Edition 1:1 Scale Darth Vader helmet replica overshadowed all the great stuff we saw from any other company... and that's saying a mouthful considering how cool some of Factory Entertainment and Tri-Force's offerings have been. There is simply no comparison in this one instance though. We couldn't have a discussion on this topic without going back to this sweet helmet. If you aren't one of the lucky 364 collectors to score one, we hope the day comes that you will find one, but we doubt many collectors will let this one go.
2012 In (Cool Toy) Review: The Year's Coolest Bust
What's 1:1 scale, electronic, and insanely cool? If we are talking about 2012 releases, their are only two answers; and they are both Factory Entertainment's Frankenstein Limited Edition Universal Monsters VFX Bust. They produced two versions, and both are equally awesome. The regular edition, which you can see in our Photo Archive, depicted the Monster in full-colour and the limited edition monochrome version offered a black and white look on the iconic character. When they began shipping in July, collectors that pre-ordered it were impressed with the light up eyes, functioning meter, and bone-chilling sounds... us included.
2012 In (Cool Toy) Review: The Line That Just Won't Quit
Now don't get me wrong, just because we put Diamond Select Toys' Marvel Minimates into the this category, doesn't mean in the least that we want the line to end. In fact, the line is better than ever and to prove this, Marvel Minimates will be celebrating their tenth anniversary this year! The Marvel Minimates line is currently up to it's fiftieth wave of Minimates from the amazing Marvel Universe and things can only look up from here. I'm sure we're all in for a bunch of great surprises in the year ahead. What was your favorite wave of 2012? Did you pick up everything released? Let us know in the comments!
2012 In (Cool Toy) Review: Most Consistently Innovative
National Entertainment Collectibles Association has always been ahead of the curve when it came to sculptural texturing and paint applications, but year after year they have pushed themselves to out do their previous work, and as such they have developed a virtually invisible articulation design, insane character likeness that utilizes intrinsic plastics for life-like skin, and overall perfection in almost all of their releases. While many larger companies struggle to produce decent products, NECA is hitting the nail on the head every time something comes out. As the price gap continues to shrink, what they offer at the price point they have is nothing less than inspirational. Take, for instance, their 1/4 scale Gollum and Sméagol figures. The near seamless articulation, rooted hair, paint quality, and accurate sculpt hit shelves with a suggested retail price of $50! Other companies that dabble with that scale and product quality would have asked for something closer to $100-150 each. In 2012 NECA set the bar, and no other company was able to clear it. All this has us very excited to see what they'll be revealing next month... A shame they aren't in the market of making 1/4 scale articulated Star Wars figures, but maybe if we all demand it they'll pursue the licence and blow our minds with what they can do at a decent price point.
2012 In (Cool Toy) Review: 3-3/4-Scale Line of the Year
My presssssciousssss. The Bridge Direct's 3-3/4-inch scale figures based on Peter Jackson's The Hobbit have got us acting like Gollum—once we got them in our mitts we were memorized. We're not sure if it's some sort of Middle-earth magic that's influencing our affinity for this line, but there's just something about the figures, when you have them in hand, that makes them special. Each figure in The Hobbit line has a unified range of articulation that rivals the best we've seen from any 3-3/4-inch manufacturer; Hasbro included. The articulation points are well disguised and fit seamlessly with the aesthetic of each figure. While we were a bit disappointed by the lack of ankle articulation on the figures, the solid likenesses, complimentary toy selection—including the absolutely grotesque Goblin King—and collector friendly case assortments made it easy to forgive the oversight. Quite frankly, we believe these are the best 3-3/4-inch scaled fantasy themed figures since LJN's Advanced Dungeons & Dragons line in the mid-80s. If you haven't had the opportunity to see these in person, be sure to check out The Hobbit gallery in our photo archive.
2012 In (Cool Toy) Review: Retro Line Of The Year
In 1968, the Colorforms Company released a series of seven bendable alien action figures. Each one of these alien action figures, ranging from 3.5" tall to 7" tall represents an extraterrestrial creature from another planet as well as galaxy. Each armed with a weapon or accessory, the Outer Spacemen sported soft vinyl bodies. Fast forward to 2010, The Four Horsemen bring back these super-cool Outer Spacemen action figures by releasing several series on vintage cardbacks. The cool thing about this is, the cardbacks are encased in a removable plastic clamshell package, should a collector choose to pay homage to the vintage 1968 line and remove them without damaging the cardback. From the Infinity edition Spacemen to the Cosmic Creators series Spacemen, the Four Horsemen did a fantastic job crafting, sculpting, and painting these action figures. So much so, that a few months ago, fans were treated to a re-issue of series one and two of their Infinity line. So, that bears the question; What can be better than retro-style alien action figures? Nothing, of course!
2012 In (Cool Toy) Review: Company Of The Year
It's incredible what can transpire in the course of a year. When we went through our 2011 in (Cool Toy) Review write ups we didn't have much nice to say about Mattel. In fact, you can say we didn't pull our punches and let it all out unfiltered. We would never presume that last year's article was responsible for what came afterwards, but it became apparent that Mattel knew there was a problem and in the months that followed they bent over backwards to turn the tides of collector discontent.
Despite economic factors all toy making companies had to deal with, Mattel addressed every single collector's concerns and steamrolled over the competition with superior products, honest and articulate disclosure of all relevant production matters, and most importantly, by listening to their customers. You'd be hard pressed to find a valid complaint from a collector of any Mattel line.
Mattel did something very important in 2012 by proving that their online business strategy can work, and in doing so, they found a way to directly offer the products collectors want without the support of the big brick & mortar chains. When it comes to single mid-price action figures that is a serious accomplishment; when it comes to a massive playset like the upcoming Castle Grayskull, it is unprecedented.
In 2012, Mattel managed to turn the game around, and they took the ball and ran with it. We hope that other companies will take note and find a way to get their products directly to the people that want them. Mattel stuck to their guns and made a risky endeavour into a massive success, and we all get to reap the benefit.
2012 In (Cool Toy) Review: Mid-Sized Line of the Year
The heroes in a half-shell are back and Playmates' Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line is our choice for mid-sized toy line of the year. The latest incarnation of the turtles comes in two flavors; a line stylized after Nickelodeon's animated series and a collector line true to the look of the classic turtles loaded with articulation. While the Nick animated line may not resonate with old-school collectors, they're well sculpted, are equipped with a generous number of weapons, and have a nice compliment of accessories including several vehicles and the massive 4-foot tall Secret Sewer Lair playset. The classic-style collector series figures stand in at 6-inches and sport 34 points of articulation—that's right 34—including fingers and toes. Judging by the empty pegs at retail stores across the country, Playmates did a good job meeting expectations of both kids and collectors alike and we give them kudos for the four-shell treatment.
2012 In (Cool Toy) Review: Large-Sized Line of the Year
We expect our selection for large-sized line of the year will merit some flak from Hot Toys collectors, and understandably so, however our choice for the best 12-inch line of the year is Monster High. We believe that Monster High is a cool and creative concept that has created a buzz in the toys aisles that transcends its target audience--little
ghouls girls. We expect it to be one of those generation defining toy lines that people talk about in 20 years, much the likes of Cabbage Patch Kids, Furby, My Little Pony and quite possibly G.I. Joe and Barbie. Who better to tell you about Monster High than FreakyFabulous.com Web mistress Tarangela Araneae.
"Mattel's Monster High dolls haven't been featured at Cool Toy Review, because, well, they're dolls, but this fresh and creative toy line garnered the top spot as their 12-inch line of the year.
The teenage daughters (and sons) of classic monsters range from the obvious Frankie Stein and Draculaura to the rockabilly Operetta (daughter of the Phantom) and a pair of werecat twins.
The line has expanded over dozens of themes, adding new characters along the way, not to mention some wicked playsets, all following along with the one-to-three minute webisodes and seasonal TV specials. And these monsters are fashionable - which translates into clothing lines for little ghouls, I mean, girls.
The dolls themselves are to die for. The head and hand molds are unique to each monster. The arm and leg joints are a bit delicate, but they are designed to easily detach and reattach with almost unlimited articulation - this is no rugged Barbie - this is an intricate work of art, to be posed and vogued in her haute couture. Speaking of, Monster High has amassed a cult-like following of customizers who can bring the most amazing monsterpieces to life. From girls to guys, kids to collectors, Monster High is a pop culture phenomenon and Cool Toy Review's large-scale figure line of the year. Oh and guys, don’t think we haven’t noticed you checking out the Monster High dolls on your way to the action figure aisles!"
2012 In (Cool Toy) Review: Statue Of The Year
As we approached the last month of the year, we were leaning towards Kotobukiya's Spider-Man Unleashed Fine Art Statue, and in truth we really do love that piece, but as 2012 crept into 2013, we got our grubby little mitts on Gentle Giant Ltd's Blondie statue. Not only did this production piece deliver what we prototype promised, it wrapped up one of the coolest 1/4 scale statue collections ever produced. Finally having all five girls together, it can truly be said that Gentle Giant's Sucker Punch statue collection was cooler than the film itself, and has been unmatched by the other high end companies producing collectibles based on the girls. As anyone that has all five can tell you, Blondie takes the cake. What's more, it is a perfectly acceptable stand alone piece, so you have all the excuses you need to pick it up.
2012 In (Cool Toy) Review: Figure of the Year
There were a countless number of incredible figures released in 2012. From any figure in the Avengers line by Hot Toys to Figma’s Link from Zelda, there were so many well-designed pieces to choose from when making the selection for our 2012 figure of the year. When it came down to it, there was one figure that we just couldn’t stop talking about and that’s the reason we’ve selected NECA’s 1/4 scale Gollum figure as our 2012 action figure of the year.
There were a countless number of incredible figures released in 2012. From any figure in the Avengers line by Hot Toys to Figma’s Link from Zelda, there were so many well-designed pieces to choose from when making the selection for our 2012 figure of the year. When it came down to it, there was one figure that we just couldn't stop talking about and that’s the reason we've selected NECA’s 1/4 scale Gollum figure as our 2012 action figure of the year.
The first thing you notice when you see NECA’s Gollum figure is how amazingly life-like it is. The character’s frail body, gaunt bone structure and tortured expression are perfectly captured in the figure. The sculpting and texture on the skin, and the rooted hair compliment the highly detailed paint applications, which include grimy fingernails, rotting teeth and age-ravaged, under-eye bags. The figure even includes veins on Gollum’s forehead! Gollum also includes a wide range of articulation, allowing for an endless number of posing options, including many poses that have proven difficult to achieve in other attempts at the character. Gollum is packed with detail.
What impresses us most about Gollum is NECA's ability to squeeze in such a vast amount of detail while keeping the figure’s price at $40! NECA’s Gollum has raised the expectations for craftsmanship in not only the 1/4 scale format, but in any collector-anchored line--the bang-for-your-buck is difficult to match and the variant Smeagol is a good counterpart for your display shelf. We’re sure if you add NECA’s 1/4 scale Gollum to your collection, he’ll quickly become your precious.