Monday, July 24, 2017

Thoughts on San Diego Comic Con 2017 – The Toys

By Phantom Troublemaker


I wasn’t at San Diego Comic Con this past weekend, but as a toy-obsessed lunatic I had to follow all of the news from here. This Friday will see the release of the Needless Things Podcast’s annual SDCC wrap-up with Ryan, Jay, and Josh, but it’s always helpful to me to go ahead and put a post together about my favorite stuff from the show.


This won’t include products that have already been shown or announced prior to SDCC 2017 unless significant changes have been made to said products or there’s something new of which to make note.

I’ve included pictures where I can, but mostly just official releases when the companies have put them out (which they have gotten much better about since I started doing these). I don’t like lifting images from other websites and after eight years of doing this I’ve learned that there is very little cooperation between sites. That being said, Toy Ark has massive galleries of the toys and our pal Action Figure Attack on IG and Facebook for the best pictures from the show.

Mezco

Once again Mezco stole some of the early buzz by revealing several new One:12 Collective action figures. Via email, no less.  

One:12 Collective


Catwoman – Definitely a solid choice as the next entry from the world of Batman-related characters. It’s always smart to throw a tweener in after you’ve done a hero and a villain. I’m not crazy about how the cowl is sculpted around her face, but the removable goggles and multiple heads are great.


Batman Beyond – Despite the fact that Batman Beyond was never really my thing, this figure is very tempting. It’s more interesting to look at than the standard Terry design and all of the gimmicks look like they work quite nicely.


Thor from Thor: Ragnarok – This was a big surprise. Mezco has already teased a Netflix Daredevil and Spider-Man from Homecoming, but I didn’t really think about them expanding even further into the MCU. Thanks to the electric production design on the movie looks like one of the coolest One:12 figures we’ve seen so far. I love this Thor design and it’s going to be hard to skip this one.


Hulk from Thor: Ragnarok – This was an even bigger surprise. Har har. I don’t love Darkseid enough to throw down over a hundred bucks for that figure, but this gladiator Hulk is going to be just as tempting as Thor. Generally I would say I’d rather have a standard Hulk, but let’s face it – Hulk in crazy armor is way cooler than Hulk in purple pants.

Besides, the way Mezco does business there’s no chance we won’t see this buck used for multiple Hulks, hopefully a regular MCU version and a comic version. Of course, the best part is that even if they don’t, the design aesthetics of the line allow for all styles to be displayed together. My Dawn of Justice Batman looks just fine next to the comics-inspired Flash and Shazam.

Spider-Man from Spider-Man: Homecoming – It’s not quite there yet, but it’s very good. I’m interested to see if Mezco can figure out how to do the wings. They can’t very well do a worse job than Hasbro did.

Aquaman from Justice League – Take this how you will, but I’d actually prefer a shirtless Arthur. As much as I love the armor that they’ve created for this movie, it seems like an awful lot for a swimming guy.

Regardless, the figure looks fantastic at this stage. I don’t know that I’ll be collecting the DC movie figures, but it is a little more likely that I’ll buy these than the Marvel ones given the much wider quality gap between Mattel and Mezco versus Mezco and Hasbro. I still mostly like Legends, but some of the Multiverse movie figures have been atrocious.

Batman Ascending – I feel like this is a new color design for Mezco’s extremely weird Batman. Wasn’t it originally black and grey? The design has grown on me, but with two Batmans on my shelf that I like a lot more I can’t justify buying this one. Especially not if this is the final look and not a variant.

Weird Joker – I didn’t like this one at first, but it’s grown on me. I don’t like the orange vest at all because it makes it look like a Mattel designer’s bad idea for a variant in a kids’ toy line. But the rest of the design is quite good and I like the head sculpt a lot. I certainly don’t need another Joker, but if the vest was green on this one I’d be a lot more likely to consider it.

Michael Myers – If this figure had been previously announced I have forgotten all about it. The color of the coveralls bothers me, as it seems a bit light, but otherwise I think this figure looks fantastic. I love all of the extra hands. That being said, I’m not planning to delve into One:12 horror releases. I have plenty of Michael Myers figures that range from good to great. I don’t even think I’ll be buying Mezco’s Ash unless that likeness gets a whole lot better. The Ghostbusters, on the other hand, look better every time Mezco shows them. They just need to add the hoses to their coveralls. That’s too big a detail to overlook.

Super 7

I would probably have to call Super 7 the hot rising superstar of the toy industry. They are producing a ton of must-have Con Exclusives (which usually aren’t too hard to get) and they had some killer new stuff on display.

ReAction Figures

Halloween - Frist up is a new line of Halloween figures – the holiday, not the movie. It looks like the first wave is scheduled to hit this fall and will include Alfred Hitchcock, the Crimson Ghost (or Misfits Fiend), Nosferatu, and King Diamond(!). My guess is that Super 7 will do the same thing they did with The Worst and offer waves of color variations, so if you like the colors they offer initially – likely to be “default” colors – you should jump on them before they get retired for the next wave of variants. This is all speculation, but I feel good about saying it.

Iron Maiden – These were announced, but this is the first I’ve seen of the sculpts. I think they look great and in an odd way I actually prefer Eddie in this style to some of the more intricate figures that have been released over the years. These are definitely on my watch list. “Aces High”, “Powerslave” , “The Trooper”, and “Killers” versions were on display and looked great.

Robotech – I knew M.U.S.C.L.E. toys were coming as a result of Super 7’s Robotech license, but I didn’t realize ReAction figures were part of the deal. While I’d love to see affordable, transforming versions of these toys, the mechs look really good as ReAction figures. I doubt I’ll buy them, but they’re a better idea than I would have thought prior to seeing them.

M.U.S.C.L.E.

There were two very interesting figures tucked away in a corner of one of Super 7’s display cabinets – one that looked like Ultimate Warrior minus his boot tassels and another that could have been either Mean Gene or Howard Finkel.

Further investigation revealed an entire shelf of prototype WWF M.U.S.C.L.E. figures, which promptly caused me to lose my shit. On display were the aforementioned figures alongside Roddy Piper, Randy Savage, Iron Sheik, Junkyard Dog (who needs a little work in the face department), Andre the Giant, Jake the Snake, Jim Duggan, Ted DiBiase, and a robed dude that is either Ric Flair or Paul Orndorff. I’m hoping for Orndorff simply because to me he better represents the era of WWF that they’re going for.

Masters of the Universe

If you listened to the latest episode of the Needless Things Podcast, then you know that we bemoaned the lack of a Masters of the Universe Classics Karg figure. Well, we can bemoan no longer! Or soon we can stop bemoaning, because right there smack dab in the middle of Super 7’s newest Classics figures was a beautiful Karg!

Everyone’s new favorite toy company also showed off Filmation versions of Tung Lashor (who looks extremely weird but kind of great) and Sorceress, alongside Dylamug and the Horde Mummy.

I have to say – I kind of wish that I had started collecting the Filmation figures, because Super 7’s look incredible. Of course, I also wish they were $20 or less and didn’t have to be shipped.

NECA

While Mezco is still somewhat new as far as dazzling me at Toy Fair and SDCC go, NECA has been doing it for years. This year is no different, starting with a line that I am delighted to see.

Guillermo del Toro Signature Series


Kicking off with figures from Pan’s Labyrinth and The Devil’s Backbone(!), this line focuses on the films of one of the most visionary directors working today.

Alien and Predator


Six new video game-based figures were revealed – three Predators and three Aliens, all from the 1994 Capcom arcade game. The game itself was very similar to other Capcom beat-em-ups like the renowned X-Men cabinet game, so there’s a big fandom for this one. 
The Alien designs are phenomenal. They’re all different enough from standard movie xenomorphs to be worthwhile and the colors land somewhere between movie figures and Kenner figures.


The Predators don’t appeal to me as much. The skin and armor colors are a little too vibrant to fit on my Predator shelf, though they’d go very well with the RoboCop vs. Terminator video game figures.

NECA also revealed a Colonel Cameron figure, which is James Cameron in Colonial Marine gear. I like it and am always happy to see tributes to creators like this. Maybe someday NECA will deliver the Werner Herzog figure I’ve always dreamed about.

Horror


Everything about NECA’s upcoming Ultimate Chucky is incredible – four different heads, a plethora of weapons, and that Good Guys doll box. But I do kind of wish that there was one more item in there – a scale Chucky to go with my other horror figures. I’m not opposed to having a giant Chucky, but I really would like one that is in a true 7” scale. They did it for that stupid Saw dummy, so I don’t see why they can’t do it for lil’ ol’ Charles Lee Ray.


There’s an insane asylum Ash from season 2 of Ash vs. Evil Dead that looks tremendous, but dammit, how many Ash figures do I need? Here's the thing, though - NECA has nailed the Bruce Campbell face sculpt, a feat that only one other company has accomplished (Dark Horse with their My Name is Bruce figure). And I love the crazy hair and the expression on this one.

Yes, I'll probably buy it.


Speaking of “How many of this guy do I need?”, there’s an Ultimate Freddy’s Revenge figure coming out and it comes with three excellent heads, Freddy’s hand with the claws coming directly out of it (as opposed to the glove), and those horrifying dogs with people heads. I guess I need one more Freddy.

I love the Camp Crystal Lake diorama that was on display, but I’m not looking forward to finding out how much it will cost. NECA’s past dioramas have been a little on the pricey side.

Sci-Fi

NECA finally gave us a look at the Valerian and Laureline figures from Luc Besson’s new movie (which I’m seeing tonight). I can’t wait to get them, though I hope I still feel that way after seeing the movie. I think the big robot looks cool, but with all of the spectacular aliens populating the trailers I wonder if it was really the best choice for the third figure. I guess I’ll find out.

There were a couple of RoboCop figures from the RoboCop vs. Terminator comic book, but I’ll be honest – they didn’t do much for me. The Terminator dog looks great, though.

TMNT

One of my favorite reveals this year was NECA’s quarter scale baby Ninja Turtles. The flashback scene from the 1990 movie is one of the cutest scenes of all time, so having those little guys as toys is exciting!

NECA also previewed a quarter scale figure of Raphael in disguise. My question here is if it’s the same as the regular Raph under the coat and hat, because if so I’ll hold off on buying the standard Raph. I’d much rather have this one if it’s a complete figure.

Not of interest to me, but definitely of interest to those that were able to buy NECA’s video game Turtles, there was a display featuring a video game Krang with General Traag, one of his rock soldiers, and Slash. I do think it’s cool that they’re making this stuff, but the strict guidelines that they have to deal with to sell it makes it too much of a gamble for me. I’m not starting a collection without even knowing if I’ll be able to buy everything.

There were a couple of awesome prop replicas from the 1990 movie – the fabled mutagen canister and Casey Jones’ very unique hockey mask. I have a few of NECA’s older prop replicas from horror franchises and they make good stuff.

Finally, NECA left out a sign announcing quarter scale versions of Shredder and the FOOT clan for 2018. It specifically said “FOOT Clan” and not “FOOT Soldier”, so I’m hoping we get a FOOT Soldier and Tatsu. And maybe Sam Rockwell’s character, Head Thug.

God of War


The figure of Kratos from the upcoming game looks awesome. I’m in.

Hasbro

Hasbro got off to a strong start with a decent showing of Star Wars toys and some new Marvel Legends. I can’t see a day when they won’t be getting a good chunk of my toy fund, even if I do give them more than their share of grief for some of the corners they cut (like the new Spidey from Homecoming with its shitty wings and red elbow pegs).

Marvel Legends


There was a Venompool. The less said about that figure, the better.



Taking a page from their Star Wars playbook, Hasbro is re-releasing old Marvel Legends on cardbacks designed to look like the old Toy Biz Marvel Superheroes line. While this certainly tugs at my nostalgia strings (or whatever) because that line got me back into superhero toys, I’m not biting. Spider-Man, Captain America, and Punisher look to make up the first wave.


A new Deadpool wave of figures was shown that was hits and misses. 90s Deadpool and Domino are both pretty lackluster, but the gigantic 90s Cable is awesome. I need a new Deatlok because the Toy Biz one is terrible. Same goes for X-23, except Hasbro screwed that one up. This looks like a fine apology.


Because Spider-Man continues to be money for Marvel, Disney, and Hasbro, we’re getting a new Spider wave of Marvel Legends. It includes Gwenpool – a must-have, Spider-Punk – who I hate and assume comes from Spider-Verse, and a female character with a pink wing/fire/something effect that I can’t identify. I assume there will be three more figures in the assortment, along with a build-a-figure I’ll have to have. That’s a given since Gwenpool is the only one so far that I even remotely want. Mysterio is one of my favorite villains, but I already have the Spider-Man Legends version that came out years ago and I think I actually like it more than this one.



Hasbro is launching a new sub-line of Marvel Legends that have vehicles and riders, something fans have been requesting for a long time. Black Widow and Ghost Rider were both shown with their respective motorcycles and I like them both quite a bit, though as Head of Research Ryan pointed out, the original Toy Biz Ghost Rider bike still looks better.

Star Wars

Hasbro has been oddly (and stupidly) secretive about its Star Wars lines ever since The Force Awakens. They don’t seem to like showing us what’s coming at any point during the release year. As such, I was genuinely shocked to see Rey and Luke Skywalker from The Last Jedi on display.

Jaina Solo in her pilot uniform was less of a surprise, as we already know she won the fan poll. As to why and how she won, I do not know. I’d bet I’m in the top 10% of Jaina Solo fans, but I simply don’t see a need for her in the 6” Black Series.

Also on display were 6” versions of Maz Kanata, General Leia, a Rebel Fleet Trooper, and Clone Trooper that I at first thought was Rex but now don’t think so. They all look fine.

I don’t generally care about Hasbro’s standard 3.75” 5 POA line (outside of the figures my son wants), but I am very excited for the new beast 2-packs they showed. I’ll take a Wampa, a Rathtar, and an Imperial Probe Droid, thank you.

The Star Wars line I do care about is the 3.75” super articulated line, which Hasbro is bringing back next year. Unfortunately, they have already shit the bed in the worst possible way. The only new figure is the Fan’s Poll winner, Doctor Aphra. Everything else is repacks of the Walmart Exclusive Black Series that are currently on clearance at a store near you. Whoever is responsible for this should be shitcanned, pronto. I can’t remember the last time I was so disappointed by a toy line.

Forces of Destiny

I think these look great. From talking to female toy collectors over the past years and hearing what they like and don’t like about modern toy lines, I think that Hasbro has nailed the perfect combination of action figure and doll. There are great-looking sculpted costumes with soft goods used in a clever way. And rooted hair is something that has been called for on these kinds of figures for quite some time.

Oh, and I know I said I wouldn’t comment on stuff we’ve already seen, but I thought these warranted mention.

Mattel

Justice League

Mattel showed some different lines of figures from the upcoming movie – the twenty dollar Multiverse figures and the cheaper kid-oriented figures. For the money, the kids are getting a far better value.

The Multiverse figures simply don’t match up to the rest of the $20ish action figures available on the market now. The sculpts are soft, some of the points of articulation are hideous, and the quality seems to vary greatly from figure to figure. Mattel is doing a very poor job with these figures. The Movie Masters from several years ago were far superior.
The cheaper figures, on the other hand, are far more consistent and in an odd way represent the brand better.

Mattel also displayed a toy version of Batman’s crawler vehicle from the trailer. It looks like a piece of garbage, but that’s what toy vehicles tend to look like nowadays. In the context of modern vehicles I’m actually excited about it. Despite its cheapness, the 6” scale Batcave that came out last Christmas is actually a lot of fun and well worth the money. If this can capture that same kind of fun on a budget, then good job, Mattel.

There were also a few figures that clearly appeared to have sound chip gimmicks. They had a bunch if holes in their chests and their belt buckles were clearly buttons. They were positioned around the Bat Crawler, so I wonder if they’re meant to interact with it. That would be pretty cool. I’ll be curious to see the price points and features on these.

Playmates Toys

I don’t always cover Playmates, but when they show something as unexpected – and oddly amazing – as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as the 1984 Ghostbusters, I have to mention it.


Those likenesses are insane. I don’t quite understand how they’ve managed to make these Turtles so clearly resemble Harold Ramis, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Ernie Hudson, but they did. Not just the hairstyles and gimmicks, but the actual faces look right.

DC Collectibles

DC Collectibles went big on preview night, as well, in that they showed one of my favorite items early on – a Batman Black & White statue designed by Becky Cloonan:


I first became a fan of Cloonan’s artwork when she worked on one of the Bat books, so I’m excited to add this to my small collection of B&W statues. They’re not something I buy often, but when one of my favorite artists contributes a design I’ll buy.

Also worth noting are a line of figures based on the unique art of Christopher Uminga (we have several prints of his in the nicer areas of the Phantom Zone):


And a Harley Quinn statue designed by Babs Tarr:


It looks great, but I am slightly disappointed by the differences between Tarr’s original design and the final product. 


It’s still a must-have, though.

I also really liked these statues by Sho Murase:


I’m not familiar with the artist, but the designs are pretty fancy-pants.

Looks like we might have to add a statuary wing to Stately Phantom Manor. 
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DC Animated

DC also revealed one of the weirdest and craziest items at SDCC – a Jokermobile for their Animated line. I do not personally recall there actually being a Jokermobile on any of the DCAU shows, but I’ll have to assume it’s slipped my mind.

At first I thought it was ridiculous and a poor decision, but the more I look at that thing, the more I feel like I probably need it. It absolutely is ridiculous, and therein lies its greatest appeal. Like many odd and outlandish things, my feelings about it have gone from disdain to obsession. I MUST HAVE IT.


Also on display were “Ultimate” versions of Joker and Harley. I’ve had sort of a revelation about these since the Batman with the multiple portraits and capes was released – if I love NECA’s Ultimate figures, I can’t very well criticize these. Technically they have a lot more product than the NECA versions. The only “negative” is that the regular versions were released so recently. I still wish the Batman had at least included a fabric cape, though.

Looking at them, both Joker and Harley appear to be better releases than Batman, as they include the huge variety of portraits and an even larger number of accessories. The Joker-branded grenades alone are worth the upgrade.


DC Essentials

It looks like DC Icons is, for some reason, becoming DC Essentials. The articulation looks slightly different, with some joints that are definitely inspired by Japanese action figure lines. The figures all share an aesthetic, but it doesn’t appear to be Ivan Reis’ work anymore.

Those were all of the big ones for me. Tune in to this week’s Needless Things Podcast for a roundtable discussion of SDCC, and please help spread the word about Needless Things and the Needless Things Podcast.

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