TR's Top 10 Action Figures of 2013

Tuesday, December 31, 2013 at 6:00 am

5.) S.H.Figuarts Iron Man

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S.H.Figuarts is the non-monster equivalent of Tamashii's S.H.MonsterArts (in both lines, the "S.H." is a contraction of the concepts of "Simple Style" and "Heroic Action"). S.H.Figuarts focuses primarily on Japanese licenses, particularly Super Sentai series such as the various shows that were bastardized into Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. But recently, they've branched out to more Western properties.

The figures are in something of an odd scale - closer to 5" than 6". They also run into the $60+ range. But they're made with high production values, with lots of articulation and great accessories. Their Iron Man figure (based on his appearance in Iron Man 2) even comes with interchangeable little vents to mimic the suit's look while Iron Man is flying, as well as "blast" accessories that work for both attacking and flight poses. The figure also has die-cast metal parts (his feet, which help anchor the figure for posing). It's an impressive debut for a major Western property in the S.H.Figuarts line.

4.) Metal Build Gundam 00 Raiser (Tamashii Nations Exclusive, Bandai)

In the interests of trying to expand this list beyond Western brands and properties, I reached out to some collectors of Japanese toys and asked them what they'd name as their figure of the year. As you might expect, there were a lot of different responses, because Japan makes a shitload of awesome toys. Biollante was one, but another figure that received multiple mentions was Tamashii's Gundam Metal Build 00 Raiser.

I know nothing about Gundam, and every review of this toy I found, while very positive, appeared to have been written from an "in-universe" perspective - said universe being one in which everyone appears to know everything about the history of Gundam collectibles. But it's agreed that this figure, which features lots of diecast metal, incredible detailing and a metric ton of accessories, is a supreme example of Japanese toymaking skill.

3.) Sandtrooper (Star Wars Black 6", Hasbro)

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The Sandtrooper is simply the best representative of what has been, so far, a pretty great action figure line. More importantly, it's been a long-awaited one. Ever since the six-inch scale became a standard action figure scale in the early 2000s, many Star Wars fans have eagerly hoped that Hasbro would move beyond the 3.75" scale and offer larger, more detailed, more articulated figures. But Hasbro seemed very committed to the 3.75" scale, and many thought it would never happen.

And then, seemingly out of the blue, it did! And it's focusing primarily on the original trilogy! And the figures are mostly pretty good! The standout so far (yes, even more than Boba Fett) is the Sandtrooper, who features a great sculpt, good paint work, and tons of accessories. It's still too early to know how long Star Wars Black 6" will last, but if Hasbro can make more figures as good as the Sandtrooper, fans will remain happy for quite some time.

2.) Jungle Patrol Dutch (Predator, NECA)

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While the Terminator will always be Arnold Schwarzenegger's most famous role, and to many he will always be a Barbarian, his performance in the machismo-soaked Predator remains a memorable touchstone for many an action movie fan. Collectors had long clamored for a good figure of his character in the film, Alan "Dutch" Schaefer, and in 2013 NECA finally delivered in a big way. Featuring great articulation, detailed sculpting and an uncanny likeness of Arnold, NECA's Dutch was quickly deemed one of the best action figures of the year.

1.) Castle Grayskull (Masters of the Universe Classics, Mattel)

It's not an action figure per se, but it's part of an action figure line and it's certainly the action figure equivalent of a blockbuster. Designed by Four Horsemen Studios - who have sculpted every figure in the Masters of the Universe Classics (MOTUC) line so far - the new Castle Grayskull is a wonder. At nearly two feet tall, it's larger than the original Castle and jam-packed with accessories and features, including an opening "jawbridge," three levels inside, two secret doors, a trap door leading to the dungeon, a throne, a bat-wing jet pack and training device, a working elevator, a ladder to the roof where there's a mounted laser cannon, a sculpted version of that weird "Astronaut Suit" decal from the original playset, and an attachment for the Wind Raider (sold separately). And it all comes in a box with brand-new art by Rudy Obrero, the artist who created the original box art for Castle Grayskull.

It's not perfect - some fans would have preferred it be a bit larger, for example. And at $300 (for anyone who didn't pre-order it), it ain't cheap. But it's an incredible playset designed as a loving tribute to the original, but made for today's more modern standards.

Previously by Poe Ghostal:


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