Just Like Old Times
December 9, 2013

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I’ve been writing about toys online for a long time now. Some of you may recall I started out writing for Raving Toy Maniac back when it was still under the auspices of Eric G. Myers and AFi’s own Jason “ToyOtter” Geyer in the late 1990s. There were small boutique toy companies popping up all the time from promising favorites such as ReSaurus and Palisades to a whole host of smaller companies that were affiliated with the boom of small independent comic book publishers. At the time I was generally more interested in the output from these smaller companies than most of what the big boys (Hasbro, Mattel, etc) were doing. So I approached Eric and Jason about doing a column for the site called the Independent Toy Newswire.

I had a blast doing the column, and through it made contacts in the toy industry that I still am in contact with today. It also eventually led to my talking the reigns of the entire site when both of the esteemed founders had to move on. While I still love the action figure industry as a whole, the smaller, or less mainstream companies still hold a special place in my collector heart.

So, here we are at the end of 2013 and we find ourselves on the verge of an independent toy renaissance that has me really excited. There’s a good number of independent toy companies out there now doing some really cool things, but there are primarily three companies that are driving my current indy toy enthusiasm right now: Four Horsemen Toy Design, Funko and Dynamite Toys.

The Four Horsemen are known to most in the online collecting community through their massive output for Mattel’s Masters of the Universe Classics and various DC Comics lines over the years, most notably DC SuperHeroes and DC Universe Classics. Additionally, they produce wonderful products on their own such as The Seventh Kingdom, Gothitropolis, the Outer Space Men and Power Lords.

Funko is a bit of a stretch to categorize as an independent toy company. Sure, they are considerably smaller than Hasbro and Mattel, but their output is astounding and their products can be found just about everywhere. Heck, I saw a 7-11 here in Portland with a case of the DC Mystery Minis! But, the thing that’s got my really excited about Funko now is their (in partnership with Super 7ReAction line of retro-inspired 3-3/4″ figures and the recently announced 6″ Legacy Premium line (being compared to Hasbro’s Star Wars Black line). Especially ReAction. Given the licenses that Funko has announced for the line, it looks like ReAction is going to command the bulk of my collecting dollars in 2014.

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Dynamite Toys is a bit of a mystery at this point. This new collectibles division of Dynamite Entertainment was only announced at the end of September. Not much of what they have planned is known at this point outside of a line based on The Six Million Dollar Man, Army of Darkness, Vampirella, Red Sonja and a revival of Eternal Toys (based on the Chaos Comics characters). But the announcement of Six Million Dollar Man alone has guaranteed that I’ll be keeping an eye on them and what they’re doing. No word on scale, articulation and the like right now. Hopefully we’ll see more on these products at Toy Fair.

Speaking of the Six Million Dollar Man, another company pioneering the new/retro figures concept is ZICA Toys. ZICA has 3-3/4″ SMDM figures coming out very soon (they’re on the water as I write this) that are being done in the classic Kenner style. The first figures are Steve Austin in his red track suit, a variant Steve in a blue tracksuit, and his bionic frenemy, Bigfoot. ZICA has a bunch more characters planned should sales warrant it. Response has been very positive, but it’s those all important revenue dollars that will determine the future of the line. They’ve expressed interest in pursuing other licenses done in this style as well.

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2014 looks to be an amazing year for indy toys. I’m beyond excited to see what cool toys are on their way. Now I just have to figure out how I’m going to afford them!

 

Jeff Cope
Jeff Cope has been collecting toys and action figures since he was a wee lad growing up in the 70s, and is still waiting to grow out of it. He's been involved in the online collecting community since he first started writing for Raving Toy Maniac in the mid-90s, and is proud to call AFi his online home.
Read other articles by Jeff Cope.

 

 

 

1 Comment »

  • StrangePlanet says:

    I remember those days.
    It’s cool to see small independant companies again, like all the direct market toys of the late 90s.
    To me a HUGE part of that is the many 3rd party companies making Transformers, and many of them making some really exciting and truly high-quality stuff.

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