5.) Portal Gun Prop Replica (Portal, NECA).
Prop replicas were once the provenance of a small groups of diehard collectors, relegated to tiny production runs by small manufacturers and commanding sky-high prices. For the casual fan of, say, Ghostbusters, your only choices for a PKE meter were the toy version made by Kenner (which young Poe thought was awesome) or to make one yourself. But that's changed in recent years as prop replicas have gone increasingly mainstream, with companies like Mattel, QMX and NECA producing items such as the aforementioned PKE Meter, the hoverboard from Back to the Future II, the Farnsworth communicator from Warehouse 13, the Lancer rifle from Gears of War, and NECA's latest item, the iconic Portal Gun from Portal and Portal 2. (In 2013, they're bringing us the Gravity Gun from Half-Life.)
The Portal Gun features a game-accurate design, lights, and sounds. So if your Portal fan film doesn't blow up on Youtube, you can't blame the lackluster props. More likely it's because you had your main character - played by you - and GLaDOS fall in love.
4.) Leonardo (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Playmates).
It's hard to believe that an independent comic primarily conceived as a parody of Frank Miller's run on Daredevil could spawn such a successful franchise, but here we are. As you may have noticed if you visited a toy store recently, the action figures based on the latest iteration of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are selling like crazy. Part of it is due to the success of the new Nickelodeon show, but it's also thanks to the excellent product from Playmates Toys.
Playmates hasn't had a whole lot of success recently (their Star Trek and Simpsons lines ended ten years ago, and the less said about their J.J. Abrams Star Trek and Terminator: Salvation lines, the better), but they sure know how to do the Turtles right. The new toy line is a huge hit among both kids and adult collectors, thanks to the simple equation of having great sculpts, good articulation, and tons of play value. It's the best (or at least most sane) thing Frank Miller has been responsible for, directly or indirectly, in years.
3.) Lego Monster Fighters Haunted House.
Lego has come a long way from its early days when a set just came with a bunch of colored rectangular blocks and a green platform. While they've achieved great success with licenses such as Star Wars, Batman, The Avengers and even Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, in 2012 one of its most popular lines was an in-house creation called Monster Fighters. The line pit adventurers against classic monsters such as Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster, the Mummy, the Wolf Man, the Creature from the Black Lagoon (as the Swamp Creature).
The crown jewel of the brand was the massive Haunted House, home of the Monsters, which featured six minifigures (2 glow-in-the-dark ghosts, Vampyre, Vampyre's Bride, Zombie chef and butler), a unique 'crooked' design featuring boarded up windows and working front gate, three floors, and tons of accessories and features. Victims sold separately. (They are monsters, after all.)
2.) Masterpiece Optimus Prime (Transformers Toys R Us Exclusive, Hasbro).
About ten years ago, Hasbro and its Japanese partner in Transformers, Takara, started the "Masterpiece" line of Transformers. The idea was to create Transformers that closely resembled their cartoon counterparts from the 1980s, but could still transform into their respective vehicles (or, in Grimlock's case, respective robot dinosaur). This resulted in large, expensive toys with incredibly complicated transformations - but there was no question they were awesome.
Optimus Prime was the first Masterpiece out of the gate, but the scale of the figures has changed over the years and he's rather oversized compared to today's Masterpiece figures. So this year, Hasbro created a brand-new Masterpiece Optimus as a Toys R Us exclusive, scaled-down but still amazing. What's more, this time they included his tractor trailer, allowing nostalgic fans to buy an upgraded version of the same Optimus Prime they found under the tree on Christmas morn back in 1984.
1.) Iron Monger (Iron Man, Hot Toys).
Sometimes you get what you pay for. And when you drop $500, you're paying for a lot. Fortunately, in the case of Hot Toys Iron Monger, you're getting a lot.
We've covered Hot Toys frequently enough here on TR that you should know who they are: a Hong Kong-based toy company that creates eerily lifelike 12" action figures based on movie characters. Here's my theory on how Hot Toys does it: I think they obtained the magic movie ticket from The Last Action Hero, hired a local theater to play Bride of Frankenstein, went in and pulled the crazy-but-fabulous Dr. Pretorius out of the film, and then forced him to create tiny homunculi of your favorite superhero characters. So there you have it - Last Action Hero was responsible for more good in the world than just giving Ian McKellen a paycheck.
With that cleared up, we can say that Hot Toys' best offering in 2012 was almost certainly Iron Monger, the giant, clunky version of the Iron Man suit created by the villainous Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges). This insanely detailed toy is fully articulated, with all sorts of LED lights and working pistons and cylinders and plates that open and close to reveal various weapons. The chest opens just like it does in the movie, and you can pop on the included Jeff Bridges head so that he can taunt your Hot Toys Iron Man for being a weak-kneed pacifist or whatever.
If you're willing to spend the money, this is one of the most incredible action figures ever made.