And it’s time for another series of top toy lists of 2014 – namely, a look at one of the secondary, all-encompassing things I tend to cherry pick from – action figures.
Odds are the descriptions will be a bit briefer than the Transformers lists, though I’m also drawing from a wider berth, including North American and Japanese figures.
HONORABLE MENTION: RIOBOT BLODIA
This was one of the surprises of 2014, which I normally wouldn’t have picked up – but then HLJ put this guy on sale for a REALLY good price, and once social media found out a lot of people nabbed it, resulting in him going to “sold out” so they could re-up the price a bit.
Sentinel makes REALLY good, albeit pricey, toys – I have their Gurren Lagann, Canti, and the Panty and Stocking they did – all of which are fantastic, posable toys. And Blodia’s no exception – I’m not that familiar with the source material but he’s a REALLY good looking blue robot action figure. One of the genuine surprise purchases of 2014 that was worth it.
5. DC COLLECTIBLES BTAS BATMAN
This figure by all accounts SHOULD have been higher on this list. It’s a perfect toy depiction of the New Batman Adventures Bruce Timm design of Batman, with multiple hands, some great posability, and even a stand. He looks fantastic in photographs and, again, SHOULD have been higher on this list on account of how well he turned out.
Unfortunately, he has some big build issues – a lot of people have had wrists and ankles break on their toy on account of poor joint tolerances (they’re tight but also WAY too tight.) Mine was fine with the ankles, until I picked it up a few weeks later, posed it, and the ankle broke, in my own case.
Great toy to display, but you need to be REALLY careful with him.
4. S.H. FIGUARTS KAMEN RIDER BRAVO
Kamen Rider Gaim had a fantastic toy gimmick with the Arms Change toyline, but if you want pretty decoes and slightly more posable figures, the SH Figuarts figures are where it’s at. And in this case, it’s the Figuarts version of the mercenary Beat Rider, Kamen Rider Bravo. Available as a web shop exclusive, he’s covered in unsafe-for-kids spikes all over his Durian-inspired green centurion armor.
His paint job is fantastic with a ton of shiny paint, and he is very posable, including a wine glass among his accessories – and further enhancing him in photos is an accessory from the also-really-good SHF Iron Man release – namely, a couch. Though not strictly part of the figure, it helps recreate an awesome bit from an episode where he’s chilling out on a couch in full armor drinking wine.
3. S.H. FIGUARTS KAMEN RIDER GAIM – KACHIDOKI ARMS
Once again Kamen Rider Gaim figuarts are on my list – I picked up quite a few of the SHFs, and a number of them were fantastic, with Kachidoki Arms being one of the prettiest of them all. With a full Samurai armor motif, complete with giant flags on his back, he looks fantasticly imposing on a shelf, and the paint job is once again fantastic with a shiny orange making the figure’s chest and skirt armor pop.
Quite frankly, all the Gaim Figuarts I picked up were fantastic – the base Gaim and Baron are both great, Zangetsu is cool, and even the final form Kiwami Arms for Gaim, though it has some flaws, looks really cool. But this one is really really imposing – I think it’s the flags that bring him over the top for me.
2. MARVEL LEGENDS BOOMERANG
Boomerang has always been a fun D-list Spider-Man villain that I’ve enjoyed – having read “Deadly Foes of Spider-Man” as a kid, I really liked him there among his Sinister Syndicate crew – a group of minor thugs and villains who were more interested in striking it rich than fighting the webhead, and who more often than not fought each other rather than did both (in fact the series climax was a three-way between themselves and Spider-Man, with Kingpin as the only guy who really came out on top despite his lack of involvement.)
Then Superior Foes of Spider-Man by Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber came out last year and blew my mind. It was EXACTLY the same type of story – this time with a very different roster, but it still had the same spirit of D-list villains barely getting along and trying to pull their next big score, with several members being Sinister Syndicate alums. Quite frankly, I’d love a figure of everybody in that crew, especially my longtime favorite Shocker or the new Beetle, Janice Lincoln (who is a FANTASTIC new character).
But hey, we got a toy of the new Boomerang design. And boy did it come out well. It’s a great posable figure of one of my favorite comic book self-important arrogant assholes, and that’s really all it needs to be. It’s a choice which, like my number one on the list, is completely motivated by my own personal “I really like this character” preferences.
1. FIGMA STRENGTH (TV animation version)
And rounding out the list is a toy which should be of no surprise, the TV animation version of Strength from the anime Black Rock Shooter – a show which isn’t bad but is still very much a case of style over substance with an okay story but some kickass designs. I’ve got a number of the TV animation figures, to the point of having JUST gotten Chariot before the new year, but Strength I love for other reasons.
I have the original pre-anime version of Strength as well, and for me the fun of that figure surprisingly ISN’T her base appearance, but the fact she’s got a separately molded dress AND is adequately sized for 3 3/4″ accessories and armor. And given I have a lot of binned GI Joe and Star Wars figures… well, I’ve had a lot of fun over the years just making up custom outfits for the character.
New Strength follows in this same tradition – like the original, she’s properly sized to have fun coming up with custom outfits, and as a result is a fun figure I keep coming back to. Every so often, I’ll mix it up again with accessories, and it’s almost getting to the point where I might have to start hunting down Star Wars figures purely based on “what cloth goods do they have that I can use for outfits”. As someone who’s always loved costume design on characters even from an art perspective, Strength caters to that very, very well.