2010 is nearly over and for action figure collectors and toy fans it represents one of the biggest years in recent memory. Unfortunately with a plethora of highs comes a cavalcade of lows. Every major toy company and some smaller independent companies had some blunders this year. Here is the best of the worst for the year 2010!
#10. The Four Horsemen Announce Outer Space Who?
When the Four Horsemen, easily the most famous and well regarded sculptors in the toy industry, announce a toy line, fans take notice. Unless of course that toy line is from the 1960’s and relatively unheard of in the current market. The Horsemen’s big summer announcement of a new toy property had many fans dying to see what the masterminds behind MOTUC and DCUC had cooked up. Fans were bewildered at the unveiling of Mel Birnkrant’s Outer Space Men. These re-released Colorforms toys were certainly not what most had hoped for, but fans were still mildly optimistic. Surely the Horsemen would be able to put their unique spin on these colorful characters?
Unfortunately not, as the Outer Space Men line are largely complete recreations of the classic Birnkrant designs. The toys while beautiful and well done, don’t seem to represent the Four Horsemen potential as much as fans had hoped. Not even a cross compatibility with the popular Glyos toys has been able to energize this project much. Several variants have been released, but it’s impact upon the collector community is meager at best. Here’s hoping it continues to catch on.
#9. Shocker Toys Mr. Gone is Mr. MIA.
It’s hard to pick on Shocker Toys because everybody already does. We here at Infinite Hollywood were one of a few to sing Shocker’s praises when they delivered a fairly stellar lineup in their Indie Spotlight Series 1 in mid 2009, but the year of 2010 has not been so kind. Mr. Gone the mail away Build-a-Figure from Indie Spotlight Series 1 has yet to materialize.
Shocker moved on, largely ignoring the fact that Gone hasn’t been delivered and announced a variety of other really great licenses. However, despite selling con exclusive variants and preorders for Wave 2, Indie Spotlight remains at one single wave. Shocker Toys work in 2010 has been equivalent to the Star Wars Early Bird Certificate Package. Lots of pre-sell, but very little in the way of plastic playthings.
#8. WHO YA GONNA CALL?! Probably Kenner.
Mattel’s Ghostbusters Classics line has been plagued from the beginning with an odd business strategy that seemed hinged on the fact that fans would be forced to buy multiple variants of figures every other month just to complete the core lineup. Little has changed throughout 2010 to combat this and even when Mattel announced a Ghostbusters’ subscription plan, next to nothing but variants were unveiled. Mattel then went back and forth with fans on if they would even properly make certain variants (Slime Blower Winston) before dropping the ultimate bombshell to many fans surprise, that the Four Horsemen were moved off the line.
Although the figures themselves have been quite good, the line has been seemingly, misstep after misstep. The most obvious being that not one single ghost figure has been produced as a stand alone toy and the number of pack-in ghosts can be counted on less than five fingers. Ghostbusters or Dustbusters? 2011 may decide.
#7. Marvel Universe Sputters, Stalls Out.
After launching one of the most expansive and rapidly growing toy franchises in 2009, it seemed as though Marvel Universe could do no wrong in the first half of 2010. As more of Hasbro’s 3 3/4 Marvel figures were pumped out, even hardcore Marvel Legends fans began to convert. Somewhere about half way through the year, Hasbro just seemed to run out of figures. This probably had a lot to do with the launch of the Iron Man 2 toy line, but one thing is for certain, Marvel Universe seemed to lose focus in the last few months of 2010.
Stores didn’t stock new figures and those that did seemed to only gain a few. While there were several five star releases in 2010 under the MU banner, like Juggernaut and Galactus, these seemed spaced between huge lulls of no product or fairly uninteresting product. Here’s hoping MU can bounce back for 2011 stronger than ever.
#6. Avatar, The Toy Line Nobody Wanted.
When you consider that Avatar is far and away the highest grossing movie of all time, you’d think that toys of it would sell like hotcakes. Instead it seemed as though the number of people who actually cared about Avatar versus those that went to the theatre just because, were drastically different. Mattel actually came out of the gates swinging, with two fairly good lines in both 6 inch and 3 3/4 scale.
Mattel even unleashed a fury of vehicles onto the market but they might as well have been “Welcome Back, Kotter” action figures at the rate in which they sold. To the surprise of no one, a line of strange looking horses, a guy in a wheel chair and gangly Smurfs did not light the world on fire. Kids seemed even less interested in Avatar toys than adults, with many likely wondering where Aang, Katara and Zuko were. Not even James Cameron can escape the curse of movie action figure lines failing.
#5. Here Comes The A-Team! Err, B-Team! No? How About C-Team?!
Jazwares didn’t learn from Avatar’s mistakes and hoped to provide itself a leap into the big boys world of toys with their A-Team movie line. Of course, the most heinous offense was likely making a figure based off the A-Team movie to begin with. Little foresight seemed to have been planned in this line, given that at least a few classic A-Team figures would have sold well to collectors. Instead we were treated to a line that only featured the movie characters and even then, only the five man team. No villains, no extras, nothing.
Perhaps it’s for the best, considering that the figures that did make it to market had quality control that made the first wave of Hasbro’s Indiana Jones look like it had been hand painted by Leonardo DiVinci. Jazwares 3 3/4 figures lacked sharp paint detail, had bodies that were often mangled and broken in package and just generally didn’t look ready for prime time. They also released two large 12 inch figures that looked as though they should be dispensing soap and had less articulation than many bottles of bubblebath actually do! At least the iconic van got a decent release out of this.
#4. WWE Entrance Greats, Exit Stage Left.
Mattel’s WWE line launched in 2010 and was without a doubt their greatest effort of the year and perhaps of all-time. The house that Barbie built seemed to have studied Jakks Pacific very closely and made sure to deliver what fans had grown to love, but also what they wanted and hadn’t gotten out of a wrestling line. Sure, Mattel had a few mishaps such as a lack of title belts and weaker head sculpts, but overall the lines for the World Wrestling Entertainment brands were quite good. Except of course for the WWE Entrance Greats. This ill conceived idea provided fans a chance to get wrestlers in exclusive entrance attires they had worn during their career.
An excellent idea in premise, but the figures were overpriced at over $20, lacked the upgraded articulation that collectors were expecting and included a clunky electronic base that only played a fragment of the wrestler’s entrance music. Making matters worse, Mattel chose to release several Classic WWE superstars under this banner without giving them a proper Legends style articulated release. Entrance Greats is the only Mattel WWE line to be axed in 2010 and is being relaunched in 2011 under the mantle of “Defining Moments”, with better articulation and no singing base. Sadly, the price is still over $20.
#3. Jakks Wrestling Legends Canceled Before It Even Begins.
When Jakks Pacific lost the WWE license, it seemed as though they were quick to recover with an expansion of their UFC brand and a signing of the TNA Wrestling franchise. Jakks even took it one step further, announcing they would continue their popular “Classics” line by doing a Legends of TNA figure line that would include not just guys who had made their name in TNA, but other legends who had worked in other organizations, similar to how the WWE Legends line works. Fans who were disappointed in Jakks changing their basic lines to deluxe articulation could also take solace in the fact that these legends would appear in the beloved “Ruthless Aggression” style.
Jakks even upped the ante by signing the rights to produce figures under the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) banner and the first ever American license of New Japan Pro Wrestling. It seemed as though this line was everything a wrestling collector could ever want. While the first wave consisted of a fairly weak lineup, Wave 2 had fans salivating and the potential for Waves beyond seemed endless. However, by the time Wave 1 was starting to hit retail, Jakks had already effectively canceled the line, citing low retailer interest and instead transferred the legends into one figure per case pack in the basic TNA iMPACT line.
#2. BifBangPow Releases Venture Brothers… As Megos.
When BifBangPow announced that they had the license to produce Venture Brothers toys, many fans were speculative, but hopeful. The Venture Brothers seemed to represent a chance to give fans of the show an expansive toy line that had all the bells and whistles. Within an instant you can picture four or five waves of figures based on only a couple of seasons of the hit Cartoon Network Adult Swim property. Fans knew that no big company would likely take the risk on Venture Brothers, but took heed in the belief that a smaller company could build and create an entire toy franchise empire off the backs of a well done Venture Brothers toy line.
All of that jubilation came crashing to a halt as millions of Venture Brothers’ fans screamed in unison, “NNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” as BBP unveiled their plans for the Ventures. It seemed as if the guys at Astrobase-Go were in on the joke. Instead of that toy line everyone had imagined, we were getting Bobbleheads and Megos. While the Venture Megos have turned out to be pretty good in their own right, they remain so far away from what the legions of Venture fans had truly wanted. BifBangPow has promised that a regular toy line could happen someday, but for now fans weep that Palisades isn’t in business anymore.
#1. Hasbro Slaughtergate, Maggot!
From the moment GI Joe was relaunched in their 25th Anniversary, fans began to ask one question in abundance, “When are we getting Sgt. Slaughter?”. It seemed as though the wrestler-turned-Joe would never be produced as the Sarge’s likeness was tied up in wrestling figures. As the 25th line was ended in favor of the movie line, it appeared as though it was never meant to be. However, when Jakks’ WWE license ended in 2010, this allowed Hasbro to approach Slaughter about making a new Joe and the Sarge was up for it! Hasbro rolled out the red carpet, producing not one, but TWO versions of the Sarge and putting them on 25th Anniversary cards. Despite being a SDCC, fans knew that Hasbro has loosely defined the term SDCC Exclusive in recent years, typically producing a massive amount of these sought after collectibles. Surely the Sarge would follow the same suit?
Sarge quickly sold out at the SDCC, but Hasbro Toy Shop’s big cyber Monday sale promised to deliver Slaughter to the millions of fans around the world who had waited to get their hands on this figure. Hasbro would wait two weeks after the release of every other figure, to release very small quantities of the Sgt. Slaughter figures. All told, when the dust settled, both versions of the Sarge had been available to purchase online for a combined time of around 5 minutes. Hardly what fans had hoped for and represented the single biggest PR blunder this year, from a company that usually avoids such things. Hasbro promised that they may try to squeeze a Sgt. Slaughter figure into the current Joe line in some fashion, but for now he remains trapped in the clutches of Cobra resellers at around $50 a pop.
JLU Returns to prominence with new sculpts and online exclusives, but figure prices increased nearly 50% with singles retailing at $9 and online for $20!
Tron… Seriously, what’s up with this mess? How about not putting lights on your figures and charging half the inflated price?
Roboto the robot that knows no QC!