Wednesday, July 25, 2018

San Diego Comic Con 2018 – The Toys

By Dave

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 2018 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). Toy Ark has massive galleries of the toys, so check them out!


Click the links where available for ToyArk's full galleries!

Funko


After being completely absent from my coverage last year, Funko got the drop on everyone in 2018 with their announcement of figures based on Netflix’s GLOW series. I’m thrilled to see Liberty Belle and Zoya the Destroya, and obviously I hope we get the whole roster, but I need a Marc Maron action figure.

And a robot with cocaine in it.


Mego

One of the biggest toy news items to hit prior to SDCC was the announcement that Mego was returning as a company and that Target was going to be the exclusive retailer for the new line.


Beyond that, it’s quite surprising just how many licenses Mego has lined up and ready to go – DC Comics, I Dream of Jeannie, Star Trek, The Brady Bunch, Married With Children, Cheers, Happy Days, and Charlie’s Angels just to name a few. Plus Mego’s own Action Jackson.


It was very exciting to see a Bela Lugosi as Dracula figure. It’s been a while since anyone has done a Dracula with a licensed Lugosi likeness and this style is a fun way to see it.
The price point was quite surprising to me - $14.99 for single 8” figures, $19.99 for single 14” figures, and $29.99 for 8” two-packs. Those are excellent prices in this day and age.


I’m very curious to see how this relaunch goes. It would be one thing if Mego had been completely absent from the marketplace for thirty years, but there have been many, many Mego-style toy lines since the legendary company’s original demise. The licenses are always important and most of what has been announced is “new” to the market and scratches a nostalgia itch, but I’ve got to wonder how much demand is really out there for some of these licenses. I wish them the best because Mego offers something different and interesting in the toy aisle.



I’m always up for new and improved Hellboy action figures, but this new direct sales Hellboy from Dark Horse has some issues that I can’t get past. Two, actually – the knees look terrible and the joints on the right hand are unbelievably ugly. Like, they wouldn’t be subtle enough for a Bionicle figure.

I love the idea of Dark Horse cultivating in-house collectible business, but it’s baffling to me that this figure can look 90% incredible and 10% “no way in Hell I’d buy this”.

Pricing hasn’t been announced yet, but if the rumors are true – around or over a hundred bucks for this 7.5” figure – then it’s far out of my range for such a figure anyway.



DC Collectibles is, unfortunately, but a shadow of its former self.

The last year has seen very little in the way of action figures being offered through Previews and I have to assume they’re rethinking the way they produce and offer toys. Heck, the fact that the Justice League Animated figures are coming as exclusives through the DC Universe streaming service is evidence enough that things are changing.

To reinforce my point, just a few years ago DCC would have had figures of all of the Dark Knights from Metal in stores by now and likely a whole line based on Sean Phillips’ excellent Batman: White Knight. The closest we’ve got to White Knight representation is a Black and White statue.

That being said, DCC had several interesting things to reveal including some figures I’ve been waiting to see for years.


DC Animated

I’m honestly glad that DCC hasn’t been overwhelming us with Animated figures lately. The release schedule of four or so new figures every couple of months was tough to keep up with, and left me skipping some variants that I might otherwise have picked up (New Adventures Riddler and Fire Armor Batman to name a couple).


Animated Series versions of Scarecrow and Two-Face were essentials in my opinion. I didn’t care for Scarecrow’s look in New Adventures, so I’ve been waiting for this version.
I think this version of Harvey might replace the one I have, as well. I gotta admit, though – I would have preferred a pre-accident Harvey Dent figure to this one. To me he was a big enough character prior to becoming Two-Face to warrant it. Maybe we’ll see him as an exclusive at some point.


The Gray Ghost has to be considered a fan favorite and will likely sell beyond just collectors. I could see the Adam West-voiced character having novelty appeal to fans that might not be buying other Animated releases.


The Batcycle is a fine choice for release, but I don’t know that I need it.


The HARDAC Batman robot, on the other hand, is awesome and a nice addition. I’d love it if DCC could figure out a way to release a reasonably priced HARDAC along with Karl Rossum (who was voiced by the inimitable William Sanderson).

I’ll say this – as happy as I am with the lineup of DCAU figures shown, I find the double jointed knees unnecessary unless they’ve figured out some kind of magical ankle joint technology. Or hips, for that matter. Those upgraded knees won’t mean squat without better joints on either end. Literally.

It’s worth noting that the JLU figures do not have double jointed knees, which suggests to me they’ve been in the works longer than the regular Animated figures we saw. The fact that a mysterious boxed Martian Manhunter sample showed up online months ago supports that idea.

DC Essentials

The less said about this line, the better. The figures are ugly and simply aren’t up to the aesthetic standards of modern lines. I hate that DCC has made such bad missteps with their in-house DCU lines, but they just have. If they had launched Icons at a standard scale to start I think we’d be in a much better place right now.


Miscellany

DCC doesn’t seem to have lost a step in their statue/collectible figurines department.


Two new outstanding Batman: Black & White statues are on the way – one based on the art of Klaus Janson and one from Sean Phillips’ White Knight comic.


We’re also getting a line of PVC statues based on the artwork of Chrissie Zullo, a unique and talented creator who excels at the cute/cool dynamic.

NECA

NECA may well have had the biggest announcement at SDCC – that beginning on August 3rd Target stores would carry NECA product. This is huge for the company in the wake of Toys R Us’ demise.

Technically I suppose Mego's rebirth is bigger news, but to me that is a gimmick limited to Target that may or may not last. NECA is a modern toy company with much more than just nostalgia going for it. They had to find new outlets to survive and my gut feeling is that Target will, over time, see a lot more dollars out of NECA than Mego.

Alien and Predator

Alien: Resurrection is my fourth favorite actual Aliens movie, but it had some sick creature designs and Ripley looked badass. I’ll be honest – I’d buy the entire crew of the Betty. As it stands NECA is releasing the Ripley clone, the hybrid alien, and a warrior.

NECA’s Kenner tribute line continues with Drake and the incredible-looking Lasershot Predator.



Oh, NECA, you SAUCY DEVILS. I can’t believe you’re releasing retro style Golden Girls! Funko had the opportunity to get my money with their 3.75” figures, but released them in some kind of limited and stupid way. But that’s okay because I’m perfectly willing to shell out for this scale, particularly after seeing Dorothy’s fabulous purple ensemble and that NECA is also releasing…


Retro style Karate Kid figures! Now, I don’t really give a crap about Karate Kid until Peter Cetera enters the picture, but Mr. Miyagi needs to hook up with Sophia Petrillo ASAP! Unfortunately they’re probably going to encounter the Sawyer family on their honeymoon in Texas, but that’s a story for another day.


I honestly don’t know how relevant Ace Ventura: Pet Detective is in the modern world. I also don’t know how well the movie actually holds up, as I haven’t watched it in years. I do know that I have a huge amount of respect for Jim Carrey’s talent and integrity, which I guess is unrelated to this wacky figure. I fully expect a tutu and combat boots version sooner than later.



I bought the most recent Kratos figure before I had even played the game because it looked awesome and God of War is one of my favorite video game franchises. Within minutes of actually playing the newest installment I wanted a figure of Kratos’ son, Atreus. If you haven’t played the game yet, Atreus is not the escort mission I was afraid he would be. He’s actually one of the best and most innovative weapons and companions I have ever had in a game.

My son and I have been anxiously awaiting NECA’s almost certain Kratos/Atreus 2-pack, and I’m happy to say it’s on the way and even includes Mimir’s head!



It seemed inevitable that NECA would release an Ultimate Tiffany to complement their incredible Ultimate Chucky, but I have to say I’m disappointed that I’m going to have to buy another Chucky to get it. As much as I understand the business reasons for it, I hate it when NECA does these double-dips. Putting that aside, it looks like Tiffany will deliver everything we’ve come to expect from these Ultimate figures. My favorite part is the inclusion of a pre-makeover head.


Michael Myers is returning to theaters this Halloween and NECA will have an all-new figure ready to go. The Shape has been needing an update for years now, so it’s great that this one will include the original  mask as well as the version from the new movie.


NECA is following up their Ultimate Gremlin with an Ultimate Stripe figure. I love the “life-like” hair, but I feel like the accessories are a bit lacking for an “Ultimate” figure. Granted, I really don’t know what else could come with this guy other than a gooey melting skeleton, and that would be a whole other figure. That I’d totally buy. As a matter of fact, if NECA wanted to do a fountain diorama I’d be down with that.



NECA finally gave us a look at the quarter scale FOOT Soldier they’ve had in the works since last year. It looks great. I don’t know that I want to spend a hundred-plus bucks on a FOOT Soldier, especially considering my desire to troop build, but I’m glad they’re getting it done. I’ll probably wait and hope that they release a set of four smaller scale versions as an SDCC exclusive next year. Or three and Shredder.

Side Note: Thanks to vigilance tinged with insanity I was able to score this year’s Ninja Turtles set, as well as one of the sets with the diorama. One is for me, the other is a gift – I’m no scalper.

Mattel



Mattel revealed their kid-oriented line for the upcoming Aquaman film right out of the gate via Entertainment Weekly. It all looks neat, but then you see the BATTLE ARMOR SHARKS and it all levels up significantly.

I doubt very much that anything else shown at SDCC will be cooler than Jason Momoa riding a war shark.

As far as the collector-oriented Multiverse releases go, they look solid. I’ve been happy with Mattel’s movie-based releases pretty much since the Wonder Woman line and these seem on par with those. I’m particularly excited about the Trench Warrior build-a-figure. Even if it only has as much screen time as the stupid nightmare bat from Dawn of Justice, it’s an awesome character design. And an undersea creature, which is definitely my thing.


Collectors seem divided on how successful Mattel’s new 6” line is. Personally, I think it’s great. I understand those that lament the lack of classic comic book characters, but overall I’ve been satisfied with the assortments. I also think that the designs and articulation are improvements over the DC Universe Classics line.

Mattel showed a few new figures, but the highlights for me were new versions of both Wally Wests, a modern Black Canary with an alternate “Canary Cry” head, a fantastic Starfire, the best Beast Boy I’ve seen in a long time, modern versions of Katana and Hawkgirl, and a much-needed new Lobo.


Mattel’s Jurassic toys have been the line of the year so far in my opinion.

In addition to all-new assortments of dinosaurs, Mattel displayed 6” collector-oriented versions of Owen Grady with Blue (the velociraptor) and Ian Malcolm. These are presumably part of the same line as the Indoraptor deluxe figure that arrived with the first waves of Mattel’s Jurassic products.

The likenesses look very good on the prototypes, and as great as they are on the 3.75” versions there’s no reason to believe these won’t be excellent. I’ll be very interested to see how Owen measures up to Hasbro’s most recent Star Lord figures.

Side Note: That Indoraptor is awesome. If you haven’t picked one up, I highly recommend it.

Mondo

Mondo has some fantastic artists on their design team, but I have to say that their toy game isn’t quite where it needs to be. After seeing a couple of their TMNT figures in person and noting some of the manufacturing flaws that were visible before they even came out of the box, it’ll take some great products before I’m confident spending money with them.


I suppose these are the fallout from whatever happened between Mondo and the rights holders for Madballs.

Speaking purely from personal experience – Mondo’s customer communication and distribution are an absolute shitshow. I’d be wary of letting them represent my brand. I realize that’s a pretty cold analysis, but between vinyl, their Madballs, and the Phantasm Christmas ornament I say it with confidence.

These things look cool, but they’ve strayed far enough from the Madballs aesthetic that they don’t interest me. They kind of look like any other gimmicky vinyl toy. I’m not saying there aren’t some great designs here, but without the Madballs name and style to support them, these just don’t have any appeal.


From a distance Mondo’s sixth scale Masters of the Universe figures look amazing. Closer looks reveal questionable head sculpts and some weird design choices, like Faker’s visible circuit panel and Skeletor’s hood that seems oddly small. The debuting Mer-Man looks absolutely spectacular, though, and may well end up in my collection. I have to admit – I’d love to see how they interpret Scareglow.

 Their new Batman: The Animated Series Mr. Freeze is also breathtaking, but you gotta be a devoted collector to stick with a line as potentially big as that one when the figures are $160 each.

Shredder, the Foot Soldier, and Casey Jones from their TMNT line all look awesome and almost make me wish I’d collected the line. But then I remember the discolored joints and questionable construction of the samples I saw and I feel better.

Mezco

There was something oddly subdued about Mezco this year. Still, they had some exciting One:12 announcements.  



Ghost Rider – Have we seen Ghost Rider before? I can’t even remember. The figure looks great, but I can’t say I’d bother buying a Ghost Rider without a motorcycle. I have no idea how Mezco’s Lawmasters sold, but I’ve got to think a motorcycle for this guy would do well. Maybe as an exclusive?


Black Bolt w/ Lockjaw – This is a big win purely for the surprise factor. I never would have called this set in a million years. I don’t care about the Inhumans one bit, but I think it’s great that their big, furry friend is getting a One:12 figure.

Magneto – Mezco doesn’t always dazzle me with the design choices for my favorite characters, but I loved this Magneto immediately. This figure needs very little work for me to be happy. A helmetless head is a must, though. Additionally, if they did a variant that was the black costume from Cullen Bunn’s run I’d buy that, too.

Robin Hood – Huh. This seems like an odd addition to the One: 12 line. It seems a little risky to release a high-end collectible figure from an unproven movie, but it’s also kind of cool that Mezco is trying new things.

Hasbro

Hasbro has the biggest licenses, so they often seem like they have the biggest SDCC presence by default.

This year, I have to admit that they came out of the gate strong with some compelling toys from Marvel and Transformers.

There were simply too damn many Marvel Legends for me to include pictures of everything even though Hasbro has provided press pics. I’ve included some favorites, but I strongly recommend you visit ToyArk and peruse their awesome galleries.


Transformers

I’m a little concerned about how much I like the toys I’m seeing from the War for Cybertron: Siege line.






Marvel Legends

Deadpool - Deadpool, Dogpool, and Squirrelpool on a moped was the first Marvel Legends product I saw, and honestly I would have been satisfied if they had just stopped there. But there was even more great stuff to be excited about after that.


Black Panther - I’ve been speculating about a second wave of Black Panther figures for a while now, and Hasbro is set to deliver. What’s interesting is that this appears to be an entire wave of movie toys, something Hasbro doesn’t usually do. Shuri – the best character from the movie – was only present as a shadowy outline, but I was happy to see Klaw, M’Baku, Killmonger’s other costume, and T’Chaka. I could’ve done without two more variations on T’Challa in his Panther costume. Maybe his casual clothes would have been cooler?


X-Men – Hasbro has been doing a phenomenal job with their X-Men waves. The newest figures shown were Blink, Gambit, Professor X in his hoverchair, a deluxe Archangel, and my personal favorite, Skullbuster the Reaver! I’m super stoked that Reavers have entered Hasbro’s Marvel Legends line and can’t wait to see who they tackle next. I’m hoping Skullcrusher.

Star Wars


Black Series – Hasbro has finally shown more commitment to rounding out the Rebels crew in this scale with figures of Ezra and Chopper that look fantastic.

Hasbro is also re-releasing several older Black series releases – most notably Bossk, Boba Fett, and IG-88. I had suspected this would be done in some form to compliment the currently available 4-LOM and the upcoming Dengar and Zuckuss figures.

Regular Line – I had to mention these playsets because look at them!





Yeah, yeah – there’s a lot of pressboard and there are characters printed on the backgrounds, which both me and Phantom, Jr. think is stupid, but I’m happy to see any kind of playsets happening. I think it’s a bit odd that Hasbro chose environmental playsets over larger starships since the limitations of pressboard would be less apparent, but it’s still great to see neat-looking places to play with figures.


Quantum Mechanix hasn’t really been covered here before, but they announced figures that I’ve been waiting my whole life for at this year’s SDCC, so here we are.

Kirk, Spock, and Khan from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan were on display and looked amazing. I’d much rather have smaller scale figures, but nobody has ever done the whole Enterprise crew in their movie uniforms. Ever. It’s insane.

Granted, the whole crew isn’t here and if these don’t do well enough I’m sure we’ll never see Uhura, Sulu, McCoy, Chekov, or Scotty. I’m not even sure if I’ll actually get these because pricing is sure to be high, but maybe if enough other people buy them someone will see the value in doing a run of 6” figures. Maybe.


After several big cons in a row of breathtaking announcements, Super 7 seemed to dial it back a bit for this year’s SDCC. Possibly because so much of the previously announced product has yet to hit the market.

I love Super 7 and will happily wait for the best product they can deliver from the awesome licenses they’ve obtained. They’re a relatively small company that seems very excited to be doing what they’re doing, so I can cut them slack all day long on the time between announcements and products actually being available, as long as the quality is great on said products.


Masters of the Universe

A couple of years ago I would have been a lot more excited about the fact that Super 7 had a new Four Horsemen Snake Mountain on display. Unfortunately a lot of things have happened since then.

Between rising toy prices, Super 7’s seemingly ongoing difficulties with production and quality control on the Masters line, and the fact that Hasbro shocked everyone by offering a high-dollar, Kickstarter-style Jabba’s Sail Barge playset, the idea of a Classics Snake Mountain just doesn’t seem as essential as it once did.

To me, the Classics line has been done for a couple of years now. Between the insane shipping rates and the business model that Super 7 is using, I decided to call it quits when Mattel did.

I will say, however, that the Snake Mountain they had on display looked spectacular. It’s as big as it needs to be, offers every feature I could want, and aesthetically fits with the Classics line. It’s not a definite “no” for me, just a “probably not” depending on the pricing and how much confidence Super 7 inspires in me when they officially announce it.

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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