The 10 Best Toys of 2010

By Jason F.C. Clarke in Daily Lists, Toys
Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 8:08 am
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Was it because 2010 was a year of unbelievably awesome action figures or our love of alliteration that caused us here at Topless Robot to create a list of the Top Ten Toys of 2010? Probably the former, but the latter didn't hurt.

If you were any kind of collectible-loving nerd this year -- or, god help you, an actual toy nerd -- 2010 was a very expensive year for you... but a very good one, too. The amount of great action figures, vehicles and accessories released over the last 12 months has been immense, ranging in size from 4-inches to over two feet, running the gamut of geek genres, from science fiction to fantasy to military action, from comics to movies to cartoons to videogames. So that's what we're judging here, of course -- the toys nerds love, and often can't bring themselves to take out of the packaging. If you're looking for the Best Toys of 2010 That Actual Children Should Be Allowed to Play With... well, you're looking in the wrong place.


10) Deluxe Sam Flynn, Tron: Legacy
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In terms of sculpting and articulation, this figure is so-so; what makes it a Top Ten Toy is its innovative sound-and-light feature. When you press the button on his side, not only does the face light up, but his lips move as he speaks! Marketed as "impulse projection" technology by Spin Master, one can only assume we're a year or two away from toys doing all our playing for us -- which won't help the nation's child obesity epidemic, but sure makes for neat action figures!

9) Peter Venkman, Ghostbusters Classics
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Mattel's 6-inch Ghostbusters Classics line has been a mixed back. On the one hand, it's awesome to finally get action figures of the movie versions of the Ghostbusters, complete with proton packs. On the other hand, all of the figures use the same body, so Harold Ramis is the same thickness as Dan Ackroyd. That may be true today, but it wasn't in 1984.

That said, few can deny that one of the most-wanted action figures of all time is a movie-accurate Dr. Peter Venkman, who was finally released this past November. Featuring a bit of extra sculpting not seen on the other Ghostbusters (including gloves and Venkman's Paul McCartney-esque nonconformist untucked pant cuffs), the figure also came with something fans have demanded since the line began -- a translucent stream of ghostbusting-energy that can be attached to the neutrona wand. It's unclear how successful the Ghostbusters Classics line will be from here on out--particularly since celebrity sculptors the Four Horsemen are no longer working on the line -- but fans can be happy they got their four main 'Busters.

8) Zartan, G.I. Joe: Pursuit of Cobra
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Now that the hype from the movie has died down and G.I. Joe: Renegades hasn't kicked into full swing yet, Hasbro is filling the G.I. Joe void with their "Pursuit of Cobra" line, a kind of mix between the more realistic movie line and the somewhat more cartoonish 25th Anniversary line (based on the vintage 1980s toys). The result, many collectors agree, have been some of the best G.I. Joe figures yet.

One of the best representatives of the PoC line is the new Zartan. While his design and sculpt references both his classic and movie versions, what really makes the figure impressive are its accessories. Zartan comes with a complete change of costume -- including an interchangeable head -- to turn him into a generic Joe trooper. He also has a rifle, two swords that can be fit in his belt, and a falcon with a perch and hood(!). It's standout figures like this that have Joe collectors dreading Hasbro's inevitable shift of focus to the Renegades line.

7) Classic Predator, Predators
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There has been no shortage of Predator action figures over the years, including one by McFarlane Toys based off the original movie. However, that figure's nearly ten years old now, and it didn't have a whole lot of articulation to begin with, which is why fans were so excited when NECA announced a Classic Predator in their Predators toy line, based on the character's brief appearance in the new film. Featuring a more detailed sculpt, better articulation, retractable claws and removable armor, this is the Predator action figure collectors have been waiting for. And that's not all! There's also a helmet-wearing, battle-damaged version available in stores now, and at Toys "R" Us you can pick up a 2-pack of the original Alien facing off against the original Predator. In a few months NECA will also release an undamaged helmeted version, and best of all, there's a massive ¼ scale version on the way!

6) Megatron, Transformers: Generations
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Earlier this year, Transformers fans finally got the videogame they'd been waiting for in War for Cybertron, which allowed you to take control of your favorite Transformers and fight, transform, and search desperately for ammunition -- just like the real thing. Never missing an opportunity to make money, Hasbro produced a small sub-line of War for Cybertron toys within their Generations line. While they're all pretty cool, the best of the lot (so far) was Megatron, who features a great transformation, numerous points of articulation, and his trademark arm cannon. It remains to be seen whether Hasbro expands the WfC sub-line, but if they can keep making figures like Megatron, collectors will be in for a treat.

5) Plastic Man, DC Universe Classics
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Say what you will about Mattel's issues with distribution, pricing, and quality control -- they bring their A-game when it comes to San Diego Comic Con exclusives. This year's standout exclusive was Plastic Man from their DC Universe Classics line. To capture PM's powers, Mattel offered a slew of accessories, including: interchangeable rubber arms; a removable long neck; an interchangeable "paddle" hand; an interchangeable "fly swatter" hand; and a swappable lower torso shaped like a spring. Moreover, if you got your Plastic Man at SDCC, you got an exclusive suitcase to which you could attach PM's (regular) arms, neck and head.

4) War Machine, Iron Man 2
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You know those action figures you dreamed about owning as a kid--the ones that were so well-made, they were basically miniature people? That's what Hot Toys makes. This list could easily consist entirely of Hot Toys 12-inch figures, but given the cost of buying everything on that hypothetical list (Hot Toys figures average around $150-$200), we thought we'd stick mostly to stuff within most readers' price range.

Still, to neglect Hot Toys would be disingenuous, so TR humbly submits this entry as the best of the Hot Toys line in 2010: War Machine from Iron Man 2. Where to start with this thing? You've got a super-accurate sculpt of War Machine from the second film, right down to a dead-on likeness of actor Don Cheadle. You've got numerous light-up features. You've got two heads, eight interchangeable hands (including one set with fully articulated fingers), removable shoulder cannons, and all sorts of moving parts on the armor. Hot Toys is the gold standard for 12-inch figures, and War Machine is just their latest masterpiece.

3) Battle Cat, Masters of the Universe Classics
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Once it became clear that Mattel's Masters of the Universe Classics line was a bona fide hit (thanks to repeated less-than-an-hour sellouts on Mattycollector.com), Mattel moved to expand the line beyond the standard 7-inch figures. The first big offering was He-Man's iconic mount, the green tiger known as Battle Cat. Based closely on the vintage toy, the new Battle Cat nonetheless improved upon it by being larger, more detailed, and fully articulated. Fans fought and died like dogs to get these things, and when the figure was re-released last month it still sold out within hours. Mattel has since followed up Battle Cat with other big-ticket items like Tytus and Gygor, but none have been so popular as Cringer's alter ego.

2) Galactus, Marvel Universe
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When ToyBiz made their giant build-a-figure Galactus five years ago, many fans assumed they would never see its like again. How wrong they were! Whereas ToyBiz's Galactus was 14 inches tall in a line scaled at 6 inches, the new Marvel Universe Galactus stands nearly 20 inches tall -- for a line scaled at 4 inches! That means Galactus is much more in scale with the pathetic pygmies that populate his snack-worlds. He's also fully articulated, features more detailed sculpting than the ML version, lights up, speaks 11 phrases and will do your taxes (my lawyers have advised me to say I made up that last one). Oh, and the retail version comes with the Silver Surfer.

1) AT-AT, Star Wars
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You all knew this was coming. The #1 toy for 2010 is Hasbro's massive AT-AT. This Brobdingnagian AT-AT towers over the vintage one and is superior in every way except childhood nostalgic attachment. As noted by Rob in his review, the new AT-AT also:

• stands over two feet tall
• holds up to 20 figures
• comes with an AT-AT Driver
• emits dozens of sounds and Star Wars quotes from both the movie and Clone Wars
• fires two missile projectiles
• has an improved head-movement system over the original
• comes with a speederbike
• will do your taxes (not really)

It even comes with a grappling line that can retract a figure--e.g., Luke--up into its stomach, ready for some squished-Dak revenge. Now all Hasbro needs to do is create an in-scale Death Star, complete with working death ray and live trash compactor monster.

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