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.

Honorable Mentions:

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!

20 Responses to Top Ten Toy Line Mistakes Of 2010

  • Russ says:

    to be fair in the case of Ghostbusters, they're forking over a lot of money for likeness rights, and there's less than 15 really sought-after figures they could really do. Pretty much….we already got 4 of 'em, and and 2 more are coming out by May. To add to that, there were a ton of releases pushed back due to delays, and everyone freaked out over the possibility of not having "clean" versions of Egon and Peter.

    And I think the Four Horsemen do their best work when it's their own interpretation; they do pretty good when it comes to actors' likenesses, but nothing mind-blowing( as much as they'll hate me for saying it).

  • Agreed on both fronts, though I think many folks were looking forward to the time when the 4H were going to get to turn loose their creative energy on ghosts. If not full figures, at least some neat pack-ins. I think the slow movement of ghost creation is one of the big reasons this line ended up on this list.

  • Bill says:

    Excellent summary, Newton!

    I have avoided the Ghostbusters line because I didn't want to deal with Matty. My Perfect Wife gave me the TRU 4 pack for Christmas, though, so now I am looking to get more. I don't however, want multiples of the same characters in different outfits- I want ghosts! Why not do the Courtroom Ghosts as a 2 pack? Why? Because then you wouldn't have to buy Courtroom Peter, and whatever re-do the other ghost will come with. Mattel really knows how to squeeze every dime out of the fans…
    I shudder to think what they have planned for Back to the Future.

    The A-Team was a "What the F…" line, but the van is fun, and can now be had for a song. Everyone should have one!

    The Venture Bros. line is, to me, the BIGGEST fail of the year. I dislike the MEGO style figures, but even by MEGO standards, I think these toys are crappy. Most fans seem to agree, and I doubt we'll see any different styles from BBP. Pity.

  • Anne Packrat says:

    The Avatar line was a HUGE disappointment. I love toy monsters and I was looking forward to getting some of the freaky creatures from Pandora. I picked up a one of the angry six-legged bull / dog ones and was incredibly disappointed in it. It was almost all matte black, it had very little articulation, and almost had to break one of the limbs into order to put it together!

  • Angry Onions says:

    I'd kill for some classic TV series A Team figures – not from Jazwares though.

  • Russ says:

    Look at the Ghostbusters line like this: it was really their first foray into a venture of this type, and in the way they were selling it.

    Plus, Bill Murray wanted a truckload of money for his likeness. They're basically trying to recoup their costs. Sometimes, it ain't cheap. I'm sure more ghosts are on the way.

    As for the BTTF license, Michael J. Fox is the same way as Bill Murray.

  • ShockerToys says:

    Don't worry Mr. Gone is coming we haven't "Ignored" that. But we do have to move onto new Series when licenses expire that is the nature of the game. We have went from bad shipping to closing factories to money stealing production agents but we are still moving foward.

  • Engineernerd says:

    I'd add as an honorable mention the distinct lack of availability of the Iron Man drones, and where the heck did the human figures go?

  • Fengschwing says:

    I'm glad someone else was utterly underwhelmed by the Outer Space Men…

  • That's good to know. Nothing proves the detractors wrong than excellent product. I'm sure when you guys deliver IS 2 it's going to be good.

  • The Iron Man line could easily have made the list for the same reasons as MU, but at least with Iron Man I think we all expected it'd be a short lifespan of a line.

  • Henry says:

    I resented the idea that hardcore Marvel Legends fans converted to the MU figures. The fact that ML is almost killed by Hasbro, we have little choice. If Toy Biz Marvel Legends quality/sculpt/articulation are brought back with a 200% improvement in availability, I'm sure MU will die!

    Aside from that, i agree 100% on this list! And probably add Mattel's continued Matty store's 5-minute sale of highly-sought after figures as a very honorable mention to the list!

  • I wouldn't say ALL Marvel Legends fans have converted, but that many have. This year MU made huge strides in converting people. At least the first half of the year anyway.

    I doubt MU will die at this point. It's far too strong overall and there have been as many MU figures in a short span as ML had in it's long life, give or take a small percentage. Much like ML originally, now MU fans have built up a big collection and won't be quick to drop it.

    Agreed on the MattyCollector site, though at this point that's just SOP.

  • Mark says:

    I was not impressed by the Outr Space Men from the begining, and after saying it I got a lot of hateful comments from the 4H Fan Boys, but several months later here we are. I said it was a bad idea.

  • David Aldridge says:

    Funny you mention Kenner in the GBusters tidbit, I'm in for a Kenner revival in 2012 or beyond from Hasbro. They've already shown interest in the Star Wars vintage line and my fingers are crossed they explore reviving other Kenner properties in the near future. Don't really expect anything this year as it seems they're concentrating on the new TF movie.

  • Mecha-Shiva says:

    Outer spacemen are groovy looking…The Venture line looks a bit Meta to me because it would be like what the toys would appear if they were produced in the Venture Bros world, something destined for greatness but an utter failure just like Rusty.
    Ghostbusters line is just unforgiveable….

  • Russ says:

    Actually, after my Master Shake and Mothmonsterman figures literally fell apart in my hands recently, I'm glad Palisades *isn't* doing these. I don't think Cartoon Network really cared about the quality of their toys. The Muppets appear to be ok, but I'm guessing the Henson company cared a lot more. Brock Samson would NOT be able to take the punishment, folks; trust me.

  • Really? My Palisades stuff has all been pretty good. Though I did have some breakage with the Army of Darkness figures, but that may have been as much my fault as anything. I generally think their figures were a bit more fragile and perhaps closer to those high end but fragile collectibles… But I haven't heard a lot of complaints about their quality.

  • Russ says:

    well you remember what Pixel Dan said about his Micronauts; if it's anything like what happened to my ATHF, something tells me almost anything non-Muppets just weren't made with that high of quality.

    It's funny…cause those years back, I inquired about why no Ghostbusters, and the guy dodged the question( I'm not making that up). After what happened with my Adult Swim figures…no complaints!

  • Ah yeah, supposedly the Micronauts had a lot of problems. I thought the later ones were okay and it was just the first few series, but I don't know I didn't follow Micronauts very well.

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