?It’s San Diego Comic Con time again, and those of you attending will get first crack at another batch of exclusive products that the rest of us mere mortals can only dream about purchasing. (Well, without the hassles of secondary market inflation anyway). This year’s offerings include the usual assortment of comics and repaint and variant toys, but as always there are also some new items that really stand out as must haves. But how do you know which items to shell out your hard-earned cash to buy? Just as we did last year, Topless Robot presents another invaluable (if somewhat subjective) look at what toys, statues and other geekcentric flotsam and jetsam are essential for SDCC attendees to fill the immeasurable void in their souls with.
18) The Simpsons Comic Book Guy Christmas Tree Ornament
?Every year the SDCC gets more popular, and with the rise in interest comes more vocalized groaning about how the con has strayed from its roots and completely lost its identity. So it’s more than fitting that Hallmark is releasing a Christmas ornament of the Comic Book Guy. His snarky T-shirt doubtlessly reflects the opinions of every jaded attendee who longs for the days when the event was a sparsely attended affair in a small hotel.
17) ThunderCats Mumm-Ra and Ma-Mutt Staction Figures
? Thundercats are currently looser than ever, so it’s no surprise that the franchise will have a strong presence at this year’s event. You are probably already aware that one of the exclusives being offered is a 20-inch Lion-O figure. He didn’t make this list for two reasons. First off, you can already pre-order him via your favorite online toy retailer. (So it’s not like he will be hard to track down or anything). Secondly, villains are way cooler, and, as such, you’d be wiser to pick up these “staction figures” of Mumm-Ra and his dog Ma-Mutt that are being made available as a pair at the con. Best of all, these over-sized PVC toys from Icon Heroes and Action Figure Xpress will only set you back $40. That’s a purr-fectly reasonable price, wouldn’t you agree?
16) Franken Berry Hot Wheels Car
?In a more enlightened age some three decades ago, undead cereal icons Franken Berry, Boo Berry, Count Chocula, Fruity Yummy Mummy and Fruit Brute shamelessly enticed kids to eat endless bowls of sugar for breakfast. Thanks to society’s “more-enlightened” approach to nutrition, General Mills’ spokemonsters are now only allowed to pedal their wares during the Halloween season. (Except for Fruity Yummy Mummy and Fruit Brute, both of whom OD’d in the mid-1980s). I still don’t understand why it’s okay for their products to be back-burnered while the tyranny of the Trix Rabbit and Cap’n Crunch goes unchecked 365 days a year, but that’s the way it is and we all have to live with it. At least Mattel has lifted my spirits somewhat by releasing this Hot Wheels “Daily Delivery” van that comes packed in a replica Franken Berry box. This will cost you $20, which is a small cost to pay to keep a great advertising icon in the public consciousness. And don’t even get me started on how much I miss the McDonaldland characters.
15) A Clockwork Orange Statue
?To commemorate the 40th anniversary of Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, Retro Outlaw’s will be offering a 12″ statue of beloved droog Alex Delarge that is hand-painted, limited to 100 pieces and signed by Malcolm McDowell. Sounds great, right? Well yes and no. Yes because the film is woefully lacking in merchandise, and no because SDCC is such a clusterfuck that it’s conceivable that someone will get so frustrated while trying to see the Cowboys & Aliens premiere that they will use this as their primary weapon in an ultra violence-inspired rampage. If you think I’m exaggerating, just remember that last year a dude lost his shit and stabbed a pal in the eye with a pen during a Resident Evil: Afterlife panel. When a shitty movie inspires such passion, just imagine what kind of mayhem one with a semi-topless Olivia Wilde could cause.
14) Batman Mega Mez-Itz Vinyl Figure
? This 20-inch Batman figure from Mezco is low on articulation but high on sheer coolness. As you can see from the photo above, it comes in two color schemes — with the blue and gray version being the tougher one to get. Batfans will be quick to jump on this one, perhaps even more so when they learn of another 20″ figure exclusive that will allow them to make their own crossover dreams/Fan Fiction Friday fantasies come true. I’m speaking of the…
13) Ghostbusters Stay Puft Marshmallow Man
You’ll notice that Mattel is getting a lot of love on this list (and there’s plenty more to come), that’s because the company consistently releases stellar convention exclusives. As you probably know, these are often made available on the Matty Collector website shortly after the con ends. The down side to this is that they also tend to sell out quickly, and fans get left paying outrageous prices to get their nerdy mitts on them. I certainly hope that’s not the case with this 20″ Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, because I desperately want, nay, need one in my life. Not only to fight the aforementioned Batman Mez-Itz, but also since it comes packaged in a city diorama that allows you to display other toys with. It is intended to be used with Mattel’s other Ghostbusters releases, but those are way to expensive for me so I’ll probably just pose my Watchmen figures with it. Because I am an incredibly lonely man.
12) G.I. Joe: ARAH Zarana (with Cold Slither Variant)
?For my money, the finest episode of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero was the They Live-esque “Cold Slither,” in which Cobra formed a rock band that used subliminal messages to win followers to their evil cause. The group was called Cold Slither, and their members were the Dreadnoks. (Which is appropriate because they were punk as fuck). While figures of the rockers remain unproduced, at least Joe fans can settle for a Zarana figure that features a variant in which she is wearing a Cold Slither tour shirt. The back of the shirt is ripped, but you can make out that the band had gigs in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Providence, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Diego, and my hometown of Philadelphia. And I thought I was bummed out by missing The Smiths’ tour dates…
11) She-Ra Polly Pocket Collection
The above video tells you everything about this. All I have to add is that given Polly Pocket’s love of role-playing, she’s going to be an absolute handful when she gets to college.
10) Star Wars: Revenge of the Jedi Figure Megaset
?As you should know by now, Return of the Jedi was originally going to be titled Revenge of the Jedi. Lucas decided that Jedis are too enlightened to take revenge and he changed the name accordingly (apparently, taking revenge is bad, but sitting around all day discussing bullshit and/or making friends with Chewbacca for no goddamned good reason is perfectly fine). Anyways, what this means to SDCC attendees is that they will be able to buy 14 of Hasbro’s vintage Star Wars figures — including the otherwise uncarded Salacious Crumb and Mouse Droid — in special Revenge of the Jedi blister cards. These all come in a massive cardboard Death Star that, if you don’t want it utterly destroyed, you should probably have professionally shipped to your home.
9) DC Universe Classics Swamp Thing
If for no other reason, pick up this insanely detailed figure because it comes packaged in a paper replica of Swamp Thing’s head that is a thing of Lynchian beauty.
8) Doctor Who Fourth Doctor with Sontaran
?Bif Bang Pow is offering a few Doctor Who figures this year — including a gnarly skeletal Master — yet this two-pack of Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor and Sontaran Field-Major Styre from “The Sontaran Experiment” is their best attempt at recapturing the Mego magic yet. (Speaking of which, it’s worth noting that Mego’s UK distributor, Denys Fisher, actually did release a figure of Baker’s Doctor in their impressive Who line). No word yet on if the Sontaran figure is anatomically correct. Keep those fingers crossed ladies!
7) Blazing Sword Voltron
?You know, I repeatedly told Voltron that if he kept screwing around with Transor Z he was going to catch something. But does he listen? Hell no, and now it burns when he pisses. And with that obvious joke out of the way we can move on with this entry. With the recent debut of Voltron Force, giant lions that form a big-ass robot have once again captured the cultural zeitgeist. Thusly, Mattel presents this impressively articulated toy that, for the low low cost of $30, will wrap you up in a comforting Snuggie of 1980s nostalgia…for at least five minutes.
6) MOTUC Queen Marlena/Captain Glenn with Cringer
I’m a bit out of the loop on Masters of the Universe fandom these days, so let me know in the comments if the tide has turned and Cringer is no longer seen as the annoyance he once was. Not that he’s the main draw here. That honor goes to He-Man’s mom, Queen Marlena, who comes with interchangeable accessories that will allow you to relive her days as intergalactic hussy Captain Marlena Glenn.
5) Avengers Mini Muggs
?As the above set proves, there is nothing more adorable in life than when the Avengers assemble. For $35 you too can own twee replicas of Marvel’s superhero team in a collection that features cute widdle versions of The Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America and Thor as well as a larger-sized Giant Man (who is in scale with the rest of Hasbro’s Mighty Muggs). If Skrulls attack SDCC, the Avengers are going to be too busy getting hugged to actually help out. So if you are attending, keep your guard up.
4) G.I. Joe/Transformers Starscream with Cobra Commander
?Remember that Seinfeld episode where George is running around yelling about his worlds colliding? That’s kind of how this exclusive makes me feel. I realize that there have been previous G.I. Joe/Transformers crossovers, however this is truly an inspired bit of fan service. Here, the Joe Skyfighter vehicle is given Starscream’s color scheme and the pilot is none other than Cobra Commander. (Whose weapon is Megatron in his gun mode, natch). As someone who has a borderline obsession with voiceover artists, I think what impresses me the most is how this release is a wholly unexpected but endlessly wonderful tribute to the late Chris Latta — the man who brought Cobra Commander and Starscream to life through his unforgettable vocalizations. Well done Hasbro, or as Cobra Commander would say, Hasssssssssssssssssssbro!
3) Marvel Universe Carded Sentinel
?Yes and please! Your Marvel Universe figure collection is utterly worthless without this 18-inch Sentinel that comes complete with “robotic lights and sounds” (two of my favorite things). Like Hasbro did last year with their Galactus toy, the Sentinel will be available on an oversized blister card — forcing purchasers to decide if they want to ruin the item’s collectibility by opening it or just wait until the standard boxed version hits toy shelves later this year. My solution? Buy two and give me one. This way, everybody wins!
2) The Somewhat-Legendary Lost Indiana Jones Action Figure Wave
?I’m a fickle bitch. I just got done praising Hasbro and now I’m going to lay into them for how they completely dropped the ball on their Indiana Jones line. They overproduced figures from Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull to the point that they sat unsold- — Mutt Williams is still warming pegs at your local Toys ‘R Us. This meant that the follow-up waves of figures didn’t get much retail support. (The Last Crusade toys were available with some hunting, but the fantastic Temple of Doom wave was nearly impossible to find unless you bought it online). Worse still, word about an additional wave — featuring Toht (with interchangeable melting head!), Sapito, the German Mechanic, Indy in German Disguise, Marion in Dress, and a better Raiders Indy — had already been announced by the time the line was unceremoniously cancelled. It seemed hopeless that these would ever see the light of day. Then Hasbro unexpectedly announced they would release them at this year’s Comic Con, and all was once again right with the world. At this point, I’m convinced that the company is the toy world equivalent of an ex-lover who leads you on, fucks with you and then makes things right for a little bit before starting the whole twisted process over again.
1) Venture Bros. Dr Venture Sr. and Rusty Lunchbox Combo
?Go Team Venture! Well, the original Team Venture anyway. This set offers 8-inch Mego-styled figures of Jonas Venture, Sr. and Rusty that are packaged in a lunchbox from the Rusty Venture show-within-a-show. At $45, this is actually a bargain given that it comes with two figures and accessories along with a lunch pail that will make you the envy (or, if you prefer, laughing stock) of your coworkers. Like Bif Bang Pow’s other entry on this list, this will be available via Entertainment Earth after the con. So there’s really no excuse for fans of The Venture Bros. fortunate enough to have some disposable income to pass this one by.
Chris Cummins is a pop culture writer and Archie comics historian who has contributed to The Robot's Voice, Den of Geek US, Philebrity, Geekadelphia, Uproxx, and Unicorn Booty. He is the co-producer and co-host of Nerd Nite Philadelphia, and is regularly involved in producing and hosting New York Super Week events. In 2014, Chris began Sci-Fi Explosion, a mix of live performance, trivia and funny clips celebrating the weirdest in science fiction that regularly travels around the United States. He wrote the introductions to the compilations Archie's Favorite Comics From The Vault and (with Paul Castiglia) Archie's Favorite High School Stories. You can find Chris on Twitter at @bionicbigfoot and @scifiexplosion.