Hey everyone I’m Geddy Cahoon, you may remember me from such films as Dial M for Murderousness and The Boatjacking of Supership ’79.
Other than maybe professional wrestling and film, action figure collecting is probably my favorite thing in the world. It’s a hobby that comes with some degree of social malignancy, but one that I’ll defend to the end.
There’s great nostalgia to be found in stumbling upon one of the favorite toys from your childhood in an action figure store. Turning to my brother and saying “Oh remember that?!” “Oh look it’s X figure, we used to have him!” When I was a kid action figures were also a huge part of my daily life so it’s not surprising to me that my appreciation carried over to adulthood.
And it is a hobby that ultimately just boils down to appreciation – Showing your appreciation for a certain series or game or comic with an action figure, and showing artistic appreciation for the figure itself.
In a way, all toys are art. But the way I usually describe my favorite hobby to avoid sounding overly pretentious is that it’s basically the same as hanging up a poster. Instead of a poster for House of 1000 Corpses, I just own a bunch of action figures from it.
Obviously due to my love for collecting, I own a sizable amount of action figures that span various properties, series and characters. Something I’ve wanted to do for a while is attempt to list my top 5 toylines. Other than what I’ve placed at number one, don’t worry too too much about the placement or order.
I tend to obsess over different things every few months, so what my “favorite” toyline is changes rather frequently. Instead I figured that for the most part my criteria for inclusion here would be the toylines that I’ve consistently appreciated even through other obsessions and will almost always add to. Anyway without any further rambling, here are my Top 5 Toylines!
*Further Rambling - I also feel it necessary to mention a few toylines that I love but that didn’t make the cut here: AmToy’s Madballs, Playmates’ World of Springfield, and Rhesaurus’ Bone line.
Now by including this line I’m already kind of cheating my own criteria, but I felt compelled to include it anyway. Toybiz’s Mario Kart 64 line was quite possibly the favorite toyline of my childhood.
I was, and still am, a Nintendo freak. Specifically Mario. It’s one of those franchises that I grew up with, and has stuck with me my entire life. The games were great then and they’re great now.
But even growing up, I always felt like there were very few Mario action figures of any kind available. There still aren’t, and it’s very disheartening as a collector who loves Mario to see nothing but crappy vinyl figures of the same 4 characters lining store shelves.
Bitching aside, this Mario Kart 64 line is the only legitimate Mario action figure line that I remember from childhood, and it was awesome.
It featured figures of every character in the game except for Peach and Toad (No idea why those were never made, can’t seem to find an answer online), each one including a wind up go-kart and an in-game item.
Not only were the accessories great, the figures themselves were pretty amazing too. The sculpts were maybe a tad funky, but they were accurate for the most part (Yoshi and Wario stand out as being pretty perfect) and featured great articulation. They display well in their packaging even today and for a kid like me who loved Mario, it didn’t get much better than this line.
These things were must haves for myself and my brother. I remember owning multiple versions of both Luigi, Mario, DK and Wario. Yoshi and Bowser however were far too rare, and we owned neither. The Bowser figure from this line is actually my most wanted action figure of all time.
My entire life I’ve wanted nothing more than a Bowser figure, and I’ve never had one. Mainly because very few have ever actually been produced. Mario Kart 64 Bowser remains my holy grail. Some day it’ll be mine, just likely not someday soon.
Unfortunately, Bowser and even the rest of the bunch fetch enormous prices online (Yoshi being the most rare), and for good reason. I only remember the line being in stores for a very short while, and even to this day (At least to my knowledge) nothing else like this line exists.
Nintendo has released very few true Mario toylines over the years, which is strange considering the power and recognition the name “Super Mario” holds, as well as the sheer number of characters. These are actually pretty much the only proper “action figures” of Mario and company (Not counting the currently released vinyls) to exist.
I said I was cheating by including this earlier because I don’t actually collect this line anymore – The only figure from it that I actually own is the Luigi. However, it still remains one of my favorite toylines due to the nostalgia factor.
I have so many fond memories of playing with these figures as a kid, concocting crazy adventures for Mario and the rest with my brother, always wishing for a Bowser on the inside. It may not have much representation in my collection today, and it’s far from a perfect toyline by any means, but this was one of the toylines that defined my childhood and it still holds up today. My appreciation for it now is just as strong aswhen I was 9 years old.
Evil Dead II is one of those movies that totally lives up to the hype. It’s hilarious, freaky, and overally just an awesome film from start to finish.
Much of what makes the film work lies in the visuals. Evil Dead II has a great look to it – Bruce Campbell’s Ash is a square-jawed, cartoonish and over the top lead whose appearance has become iconic.
The creature design, while a bit cheesy at times, is simultaneously both revolting and engrossing. It’s a cool movie to look at , and the fact that it’s fucking hilarious helps.
For years and years, fans of the Evil Dead trilogy were forced to go without a truly decent representation of Ashly Williams, their favorite big-jawed, chainsaw-handed hero. McFarlane Toys had done a few Ash figures, but the consensus on those is that they’re not very good.
NECA had released several Ash figures in the past, and while they are actually decent renditions, saying they’re hard to find is an understatement, and they fetch exorbitant prices secondhand. They’re also all based on Ash’s appearance in Army of Darkness.
However, in the Summer of 2012, NECA released a brand new toyline based exclusively on the best film in the series (It is, don’t even argue), everyone’s favorite, Evil Dead II. And god damn, is this an amazing line.
NECA’s loveletter to the classic horror comedy is comprised of 4 figures: “Farewell to Arms” Ash, Deadite Ash, Hero Ash (Chainsaw hand Ash) and Henrietta, the movie’s villain. Though 4 figures may not seem like much, this is a textbook case of quality over quantity. Almost every aspect of these figures is perfect.
The sculpts are unbelievable – Two of the four Ashes use the same head, a slightly cartoonish spin on old Bruce Campbell. It works really well – Campbell’s face is already something of a caricature, and lends itself well to artistic interpretation. The Deadite Ash has the absolute best head sculpt of the bunch. It’s amazingly detailed and literally looks like it was pulled straight from the screen. A cliched expression, but an accurate one. The Henrietta figure is also a near-perfect representation of her onscreen appearance, and comes with her creepy longnecked giraffe skeleton face as a second head.
Even the packaging on these figures is amazing. When I ordered my first set of them, the packaging was so beautiful and the figures display so well inside it that I just couldn’t bring myself to open them. Thus, I had to buy the entire line a SECOND time to display them loose.
I had no problem doing this – They really are that magnificent. They were a labor of love, as NECA actually LOST money on the line, presumably paying some exorbitant fee to get the license. They did this knowing they’d take a hit – They just really wanted to make an Evil Dead II line. They’re kind of an awesome company.
This tiny line is one that I’m proud to say I own twice over, and NECA makes figures so great that these should be a part of any collection whether you’re a fan of the film or not. Two years removed from their release and NECA in all their glory has yet to top these things, at least in my eyes.
The only sad part is we got no Evil Ed figure out of the whole deal. Maybe next time.
I may not have quite as much to say about this particular line, only because my reasons for loving it are pretty straightforward. I’m a huge wrestling fan, and though Mattel’s WWE figures are by no means without their faults, they’re an integral part of my collection.
Mattel acquired the WWE license right around the time I got back into wrestling, and my first figure was a Basic Jack Swagger. Since then, figures of pretty much every single one of my favorite wrestlers have been released.
And though the line does have a tendency to vary in quality (Some of these sculpts are horrendous, as someone who has invested a lot of money into the line I’ll be the first to point that out), I’ve always stuck with it because almost every wrestler gets at leat one figure. There’s so much variety, and no matter who your favorite is I can almost guarantee Mattel made a figure of them.
Right now I’m looking at Sandow, Ambrose, Cesaro, Fandango and many others on the shelf right across from me, and even if they’re not perfect, I love being able to display figures of my favorite wrestlers.
Like I said, not really a ton to say here. This line is what it is. It’s far from perfect, hell a lot of the time it kinda sucks. But for the most part we’ve been granted with some pretty good representations of various wrestlers, and this is one of those lines I never really stop collecting.
No matter what I’m currently obsessing over that month, I’ll always buy the wrestlers I want if I find them at the store. Always. It’s a very competitive property among collectors, and there actually is some degree of strategy involved in shopping for these things, but that’s what makes it fun.
As a wrestling fan and collector, I can’t help but love this line.
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe is just awesome. It’s just awesome. You can’t argue otherwise. The 80′s cartoon and original toyline combine so many things that I love – A kitschy B-movie sci-fi feel, crazy awesome monsters, super powers, ridiculous character names. Even as a kid growing up in the 90′s I played with old He-Man toys I found at thrift stores and flea markets because they were awesome.
Masters of the Universe Classics however, takes the awesomeness of MOTU to it’s logical end – Highly detailed, collector-level upgrades of the various characters and figures from the original 80′s toyline.
The result is something that I personally just love beyond belief. While the old He-Man toys were cool, they were also kinda silly looking in a lame way. The proportions were silly, all of the characters were bowlegged. But hey, they were toys for kids. They still did the job.
MOTU Classics asks: What if these figures looked exactly like the promotional art? Chiseled physiques, excessive detailing, more weapons, cooler accessories – These are the toys that adult collectors played with as kids, now updated for adult collectors to collect.
MOTU has some of the most awesome and unique character designs in pretty much any media property. It’s mixture of sci-fi, fantasy and batshit lunacy make for some amazing characters like Stinkor, the Skunk Man who smells like pachouli oil, or how about Fisto, the unfortunately named warrior with a humongous metal hand?
The awesome thing about MOTUC is that it takes these characters and turns them into collection worthy badasses, all while retaining that charm and silliness. Yes, the 40 dollar adult collectible version of Moss Man is still pine-scented. Visually, most of the characters remain unchanged. Some got a few upgrades here and there. Most notably in the facial department.
But these upgrades led to insanely amazing sculpts, like the MOTUC Jitsu. Compare the orignal Jitsu to the MOTUC remake.
I mean holy crap.
That’s why MOTUC appeals to me so much – It doesn’t take itself too seriously. It allows these bright, visually appealing, insane characters to maintain all of the insanity they were created to appeal to young boys with, and ride that wave of nostalgia into a high-end collectible series.
It’s also allowed for awesome things like figures being made of characters that were originally just concept art, and things of that nature.
I’m a fan of obnoxious, over the top and bombastic character design, and the characters in MOTU are about as bombastic as it gets. I mean fuck, they just released a figure of Plundor, the anthropomorphic purple Rabbit space pirate. THAT’S awesome.
The price point may be an issue sometimes, and Mattel’s customer support service may be legendarily bad, but this is a line that almost seems tailor made for me – Crazy, ridiculous, brightly colored monster men with huge muscles in crazy armor with awesome weapons. This is a line that I probably won’t stop collecting until the line itself ends.
I just can’t resist He-Man’s character designs. And those coupled with all around amazing sculpts come together to create the most visually appealing toyline ever. From the moment I bought Moss Man, my first figure, MOTUC quickly grew into one of my favorite toylines of all time. In fact, I almost put it as number one on this list.
Maybe I’m cheating again. Portrait of Pirates statues by Japanese manufacturer Megahouse are just that – statues. However, I still consider them to be figures on some level, and these statues/figures are definitely my favorite thing to collect, ever.
Actually, I wouldn’t even be a collector at all if not for One Piece POPs. When I was about 14, I first saw images online of some of the (at the time) new POP releases. I was enamored. The idea of having these amazing, high-quality statues based on my favorite characters from my favorite… Thing in existence was too much.
The first one I ordered was the massive statue of my favorite character, Bartholomew Kuma.
Thus kickstarting an obsession with collecting all types of figures that continues to this day.
Like the Mattel WWE entry, I dunno how much I can say here only because there’s only so many different ways I can word “perfection.”
POPs are expensive as hell – They’re gigantic, imported from Japan, and all hand-painted. But it’s one of those situations where you’re absolutely paying for quality. The detailing is immaculate, the accessories are awesome, and for the most part the statues literally look like you tore the characters out of the manga and just plopped them on your shelf.
These are a niche product, at least in America, even by the standards of the collecting subculture. It’s not the kind of thing I’d recommend to a friend, or expect to have much luck finding at my local stores or a con.
But the extra effort that goes into purchasing them is all worth it in the end. One Piece POPs are the most visually stunning things I’ve ever purchased. You don’t have to be a fan of the series to appreciate these statues. Sometimes I’ll be sitting in my room and just stare at my POP shelf for a minute or two, taking them in. They’re captivating.
These are perfect representations of beloved characters, made specifically to cater to a very dedicated fanbase. They have to be perfect, and they are.
Having an emotional connection to the characters represented helps as well – These are characters that I’ve loved and laughed with and cried at for the past 5 or so years. To have these absolutely immaculate physical representations of them is very special.
I see it as very fitting that my favorite media property is the the one with the action figures of the highest caliber. I wouldn’t expect anything less. One Piece is amazing, and POPs are amazing too.
Like I mentioned, only so many different ways I can call them perfect til it gets tiring. My POPs are the pride of my enormous collection, and always will be.
At the end of the day, POPs opened my eyes to the idea that “toys” can be art. That they can be amazing, visually appealing display pieces, not just plastic that you play with. If it weren’t for these magnificent statues, I don’t know that I’d even be a collector at all. And that’d be no fun.
Well, that’s it for today! I hope you enjoyed my attempt to quantify my appreciation for various plastic toys. Like I said, don’t pay too much attention the order of everything except for the fact that POPs are number one. This was a fun writeup, and hopefully I’ll be back with some new reviews once this lousy East Coast weather clears up.
If you wanna talk action figures, wrestling, or whatever, friend me on Facebook (Geddy Cahoon PTVP). Follow me on Twitter (stupidElvis69) for “hilarious” tweets about stupid shit like Mega Man and Popeye the Sailor. Until next time, thanks for reading!