Reflection Part I: Top Ten Action Figures of the Decade
December 31, 2009

As the decade comes to a close, it’s time to reflect upon this bizarre hobby of collecting tiny plastic men. This past decade saw a renaissance of sorts in the toy collecting hobby, with the increased focus on adult collector-only lines, and a rebirth of many of the 1980s properties we cherished as kids. We saw old favorite lines continued, some in varied forms (Star Wars, Transformers, McFarlane, DC Direct, WWE), new favorite lines begin (Marvel Legends, Minimates, LOTR, JLU, DCUC, Hellboy, Hot Toys), and some end too early (MOTU, Street Fighter, Muppet Show, Sigma 6, Indiana Jones). And some were even resurrected (G.I.Joe, TMNT, MOTU, Ghostbusters).

We all have our likes, dislikes, characters we love, companies we hate, that one beloved character that finally was produced, or the ones that never saw the light of day. But regardless, we are all passionate about this hobby. Passionate…and opinionated. Now, as we all know, collectors can be quite the opinionated group. Especially when it comes to “top ten” lists.

So below, in my own flawed personal opinion, are the Top 10 action figures from 2000 through 2009. Just in time for the ending of the 2000s? 00s? Zeros? Anyway, feel free to read and gaze in bewilderment with my choices. With all the amazing figures to be released in the past decade, it was difficult to narrow down the choices, and I’m sure I have left off more than a few excellent figures. As a disclaimer, I’m a huge DC and Marvel fan, and I don’t collect Star Wars or any McFarlane lines. Other toy lines, like Transformers, Minimates, and Hot Toys, for example, I only follow and purchase certain items. And to be fair, the following list is in no particular order, and is my own opinion, so feel free to share your comments below or on the forum (link at the end of the article).

 

 

 

Medicom 12” Rocketeer 2.0 – A retro-cool rocketman who fought Nazis, does it get any better than that? One of the best Rocketeer items out there (and there aren’t that many), this figure stands out as one of the nicest of the early 12” collector figures. Despite the sculpt being almost eight years old, this figure still looks great next to recent HotToys figures.

 

Marvel Legends Sentinel – Between the Sentinel and Galactus, it was a tough pick. Both are equally excellent. When Marvel Legends introduced the BAF concept, logically it started with Galactus, Devourer of Worlds and all-around purple menace. But it wasn’t in-scale with the Legends, but it still looks awesome on the shelf, and even better with Showdown and Universe figures. With the Sentinel BAF from Wave 10, not only was it in-scale with the line, but it was a truly amazing figure. The sculpt, detailing, articulation, everything was perfect. And it also looks great with the Universe figures.

 

Street Fighter Sagat – Sagat is the standout, but really I could have picked any number of figures from the SOTA Street Fighter line. As soon as these came out, I was hooked, and the despite a few issues with breakage, these were some really nice representations of the characters. I am still bummed the line had issues and ended early without seeing Dee Jay and others, but SOTA made sure these figures were everything that Street Fighter fans were hoping for. Except for the 200 variants…

 

DC Direct 13” Green Arrow – overall, the DC Direct 13” is really nice, but the Green Arrow might be my favorite version of the character out there, edging out the DCUC and DC Direct versions. Yes, there’s issues with the hands, but the scowling head sculpt captures the attitude of the character, and the addition of the various trick arrows cements this one on this list.

 

DC Direct modern Power Girl – I could put lots of DC Direct 6” figures on this list. Even though DC Direct has come under scrutiny in recent years by the fans, most of the time the figures have some of the best character sculpting in the biz. The modern Power Girl really stands out to me as the definitive version of the character. The DCUC version is great, but the DC Direct version totally captures the essence of the character.

 

18” Hellboy (comic series) – the oversized version of one of my favorite characters, this was from the Hellboy comic series of figures based on the artwork of Mignola. And it looks like it jumped right off the comic page, with an amazing sculpt, excellent detailing, and fantastic paint apps. Chunky, funky, and full of big red awesomeness, this sits in my office at work and generates all sorts of interesting conversations.

 

Hellboy Kriegaffe (comic series) – the second Hellboy entry on the list, Kriegaffe made it because it’s a giant mechanical ape. Do I really need to explain?

 

ce="Arial" size="2">Hot Toys 12” Iron Man Mark III – this was a tough choice, as the Mark I, II, and III are amazing figures. The Iron Man Mark I might get the edge on amazing details and features, but the Mark III Iron Man figure looks like it jumped right out of the movie. Yes, they have a high price-point, but these Hot Toys figures are actually worth it (well, relatively). The only real drawback of these figures, is they get better and better with every release, which makes the "collect them all!" mentality a real budget-killer. I can’t wait to see what Hot Toys hasin store for Iron Man 2 next year.

 

DC Classics Killer Moth – when this character appeared on the DCUC leaked lists, many assumed it would be the Charaxes version, since the classic version was so gaudy. How could a character so hideously awesome make its way into a mass-market line? Yet, when the prototype images were revealed, there stood the classic and bizarrely awesome Killer Moth us oldskool DC fans were hoping for. And it rules. With the release of this obscure character, it made us DCUC fans realize that anything was possible. Who ever thought we would actually see figures of B’wana Beast, 80s Vigilante, and Gentleman Ghost?

 

Masterpiece Optimus Prime – The definitive version of Optimus Prime, this figure has been on most ‘Top Ten’ lists since it was released. This figure goes above-and-beyond in remaining true to both the cartoon and the toys that inspired it, with a removable Matrix, tons of cool features, and the inclusion of the Matrix and Walther P-38 Megatron. Transform and roll out, indeed.

 

And in the special non-action-figure-category, just because it’s freakin’ Starro.

 

 

So there they are. These guys just missed the cut:

Hot Toys Bank Robber Joker, Hot Toys Policeman Joker, Sideshow Indiana Jones, Heroclix Starro, G.I.Joe 25th EEL, G.I.Joe 25th B.A.T., G.I.Joe 25th Para-Viper, G.I.Joe 25th Alley Viper, G.I.Joe 25th Blowtorch, Sigma 6 Lt. Stone, Sigma 6 Flame Heavy Duty, Sigma Six Samurai Storm Shadow, Sigma 6 Dark Ninja Master, DC Direct KC Captain Marvel, DC Direct Animal Man, DC Direct 13" Green Lantern, Marvel Legends Hawkeye, Marvel Legends Phasing Ghost Rider, DCUC Green Arrow, DCSH Steel, MOTUC Mer-Man, MOTUC Scareglow, MOTU200X Trap Jaw, MOTU200X Mer-Man, Hellboy 12" Nazi Kroenen, Transformers RID Rail Racer.

Disagree? Gimme the business and tell me what your picks are here!


Ryan "TheSuperfly" Prast
Current designer, future artist, eternal manchild, Ryan "The Superfly" Prast uses his toynerd acumen to delve deep into the profound nuances of life. With a penchant for tiny plastic men and nostalgia of times past, he also enjoys panelology, obscure cultural references, tomfoolery and/or shenanigans, conspiracy theories, and watching his Cubs flush another season down the toilet. And he always keeps his fork when there’s pie.
Read other articles by Ryan "TheSuperfly" Prast.

 

 

 

13 Comments »

  • NoisyDvL5 says:

    Love the list! Good mix of stuff from all parts of the decade.

    And you can’t go wrong with Mezco Hellboy. Kriegaffe, Abe, and Rocket Hellboy (sculpted coat) are among my favorites!

  • Danny Cantina-Dan says:

    Great list, Fly! I have only one of the items on your list (Power Girl) but that is obviously irrelevant. As I was reading I just kept saying: “I gotta get that, I gotta get that…” You’ve really sparked my interest in the Masterpiece Optimus Prime.

    Thanks for the blog. Always fun to see what ranks high on other collector’s lists!

  • kevfett says:

    Love the Marvel Legends Sentinel! It’s coolness factor went up exponentially when Marvel Universe was released.

  • Some good stuff. Glad you didn’t just pick a bunch of DCUC and say how it was the greatest line ever, yadda yadda, that so many people seem to do.

  • Lt. Clutch says:

    There’s no way I could narrow it down to just ten figures, I’m still remembering complete lines that I never expected to see! There’s Sideshow’s extensive James Bond movie range, Mezco’s Popeye series, Toynami’s superb Hanna-Barbera action heroes, (Space Ghost, Birdman/Avenger, Dyno-Mutt/Blue Falcon, Thundarr, and the Herculoids!) plus Sideshow’s Highlander movie and TV series offerings.

    There were so many figures I had waited for years to see: Hourman, Dr. Mid-Nite, 70’s Manhunter, and Jonah Hex from DC Direct. Anything DCUC gave us that had never been done before in action figure form, with Gentleman Ghost remaining one of the grand standouts. Hasbro gave us a proper G.I. Joe retro line, and the early Transformers from ’85/’86 saw a domestic re-release. Star Wars reinvented itself many times over, with the BMF as its crown jewel. Indiana Jones made a brief return to the toy aisles but helped revitalize the 3 3/4 format. Diamond Select gave us wonderful Star Trek TOS figures along with Mego reissues and new characters. Mego itself was reborn in the form of past (Space: 1999, Knights, Pirates, and Western) and new (I Love Lucy, Married, With Children) lines before Mattel got to them. And Masters of the Universe saw not one, but two relaunches in ten years!

    There was something for everybody in this decade. And by that, I mean literally EVERYBODY. Just think back and reflect for yourself.

    All that is missing now is Thundercats…

  • chad says:

    love the list. though only have the sentinel for the others do not collect the lines. though loving that rocketeer and also could not believe killer month got made. and the original version proves Mattel knows how to do the dc line justice

  • Very cool list, Superfly. And I couldn’t agree more on your comment- there was something for EVERYBODY. 2010, I think, will make the same promise.

  • stcardinal says:

    Instead of HT Iron Man, I would have given it to the Joker DX. That figure is just amazing.

  • Lightsource says:

    Definitely agree on the Sentinel, Rocketeer, Optimus Prime and the Hot Toys Iron Man. Iron Man should be ranked highest just because of all the new tooling. No re-use there.
    Also, my own list includes what I believe to be a long-forgotten and unfortunately underrated figure — Kiwis’ Hulk Classics Mecha-Hulk. There are so many awesome figures from the last decade it’s hard to choose just 10.

  • Falconhood says:

    Masterpiece Optimus Prime, DEFINITELY!! My list would include Microman, Transformers Carrobot, Saint Seiyan figures,
    …and how can you not include SIGMA SIX???

  • UncleMarsellus says:

    Totally agree on MP Optimus. It set the standard for all “masterpiece” versions of classic toys that were to come in subsequent years. I’m not even sure they have topped it in its own line with only the recent MP Grimlock keeping the the same aesthetic.

    And I’d have to agree with stcardinal’s comment. I would actually rate the Iron Man as one of Hot Toys’ weaker efforts. The upcoming battle damaged Mark III looks to be an improvement.

  • stewbacca says:

    Some other ones I would consider–

    Hasbro’s- Ephant Mon and the New Dewback
    Palisades– Sweetums and Uncle Deadly

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