A pity it's just the best toys of the last DECADE, which means we won't see goodies like Rhino from M.A.S.K. or Shockwave from Transformers.
10 YEARS, 100 TOYS
'ToyFare' celebrates 10 years of great toys by counting down the 100 best toys of the decade!
By Jake Rossen
Posted August 30, 2007 12:10 PM
Sure, the Pulitzer was nice.* And the women. Oh, how we’ve loved the women. But it’s the toys that made the first 10 years of ToyFare so much fun!
From 1997 onward, toys only got better and better as companies continued to raise the stakes and collector tastes continued to mature. From #100 to #1, these are the figures whose articulation, sculpt, playability and overall cool factor had us in a perpetual state of regression. The rules were simple: it had to have come out in 1997 or later, and no re-issues of toys made pre-1997 were eligible. (Sorry, Imperial Shuttle.)
You may not see some figures here that you think were among the best, but the competition was fierce, and sometimes we had to pick a single character from a line where most of the figures deserved to be here. Regardless, we think all of these toys are top-notch examples of what made the last decade so frickin’ awesome for toy collectors. So it is written…
*we totally never won a Pulitzer
100. Iron Man
Marvel MiniMates, Diamond Select Toys/Art Asylum, 2004 $12/$2 (w/Ghost Rider)
Even though it doesn’t have Drunken Stumbling Action, it’s got everything else a fan could want: a blasting hand, a removable helmet and removable hair for when the helmet comes off!
99. The Joker
Justice League, DC Direct, 2006 $32/$8
Alex Ross’ Joker oozes more sinister vibes than a closetful of Jeffrey Dahmers. The sculpt and painstaking detail combine to create a figure so lifelike, we refuse to sleep in the same room with it.
98. Ultimate Warrior (Version 1)
WWE Classic Superstars, JAKKS Pacific, 2004 $50/$12
Hear us, brethren! The grandiosity of the Warrior is not to be under-pontificated. His glistening, sinewy pectorals, his braggadocio visage, his Whitesnake-era mane—it’s positively veridical.
97. Angel Buffy Palz
Palisades Toys, 2004 $7/$2
Palisades’ PALz line brought something new to block figures—each figure (like soulful vamp Angel) was really two figures, with accessories aplenty to transform them into a totally new version!
96. Phantom of the Opera Playset
McFarlane Monsters, McFarlane Toys, 1998 $12/$3
Hearkening back to golden days of playsets gone by, this set is packed with fun features like a falling chandelier. Even the organ is superbly detailed!
95. Hal Jordan
Green Lantern, DC Direct, 2005 $15/$4
We missed the once-dead Hal Jordan in the way only nerds missing a fictional character can. To celebrate his return, DCD gave us this great sculpt—the quintissential Jordan Green Lantern figure.
94. Gandalf the White
Lord of the Rings MiniMates, Art Asylum, 2004 $10/$4 (w/Theoden)
Though he can’t turn his head due to his majestic beard, Gandalf’s intricate accessories and outfit showed block figures can be more than just big Legos.
X2: X-Men United, Toy Biz, 2003 $20/$5
This dead-on sculpt of a blue Teutonic Alan Cumming is everything we want a movie toy to be. Best of all—it’s mega-poseable (just like Nightcrawler), down to his deadly wire-poseable tail.
92. The Horrid
Spawn, McFarlane Toys, 1998 $12/$3
Before his static Dragons line, McFarlane made this poseable, winged beast for his Spawn line. Nearly 10 years later and no one has ever made a better, more poseable or creepier dragon figure.
91. Jareth the Goblin King
Labyrinth, NECA, 2007 $18/$4
We’ll say it: David Bowie is a beautiful man, and this fig based on his role in the 1986 movie Labyrinth is a majestic duplicate. It would be a great figure even if we hadn’t been waiting 20 years for it.
DC Stars, Tonner Doll, 2007 $100/$25
If all dolls were as cool as Supergirl, we’d be the all-Barbie magazine. Renowned sculptor Robert Tonner crafted this cloth-costumed Kara with a fan’s touch, right down to some bouncy curls. Hot.
89. Mandarin Spawn
Spawn, McFarlane Toys, 1999 $20/$5
Sporting the most creatively sculpted and painted armor we’ve ever seen, it delivers Asian fantasy better than Devon Aoki and Lucy Liu in the same tub.
88. Cobra Commander
G.I. Joe: Sigma 6, Hasbro, 2005 $16/$14
Joes a thorn in your side? Threaten them with a scepter bigger than your entire friggin’ body. This kick-ass CC is armed to the teeth and features a battle-damageable chest a la classic He-Man.
87. Crazy 88 Director Quentin Tarantino
Kill Bill, NECA, 2004 (E: SDCC/WWC) $20/$5
Lantern-jawed director QT got in on the figure action with this Kill Bill novelty. As one of the Crazy 88 ninja army, he comes with a pump that sprays blood from his severed limbs. Best action feature ever!
86. Ice Armor He-Man
Masters of the Universe, Mattel, 2003 $10/$2
He-Man in cool, cartoon-accurate Artic garb somehow reminds us of Conan, only with bangs. Sure, it’s not the basic figure, but details like his huge furry boots make this our favorite re-imagined He-Man.
85. Jack Skellington
The Nightmare Before Christmas, NECA, 2004 $25/$6
Thanks to a stop-motion source inspiration, this figure of Nightmare Before Christmas star Jack is a perfect likeness, skinnier than Lindsay Lohan and more articulated to boot!
Street Fighter, SOTA, 2005 $15/$4
Street Fighter Guile is responsible for a lot of lost weekends (and quarters), so we were jazzed to see his crewcut in fine form, complete with comb-bearing hand so he can comb his hair after he kicks your ass.
83. Wolverine (Brown Costume)
Marvel Legends, Toy Biz, 2004 $16/$4
Forget yellow: the definitive Wolvie is right here in his poop-brown spandex duds and rocking some hyper-exaggerated claws. Jim Lee would be proud.
Sin City, McFarlane Toys, 1999 $20/$6
The baddest bastich from Frank Miller’s Sin City looks like he stepped off the page and has great extras: a hatchet and the severed head of archrival Kevin. That’s circumstantial evidence, Your Honor.
Star Wars Vintage Original Trilogy Collection, Hasbro, 2004 $24/$5
There’s something inherently iconic about a gloss-white Empire lackey, and Hasbro got it perfectly right for their “vintage” line with this, the best version of the trooper ever. If we were rich we’d buy 100.
World’s Smallest Transformers, Takara, 2003 na/$20
What’s less than two inches long and looks amazing? If you said anything but “this Starscream,” get help. The self-explanatory fig packs in all the transforming goodness with three times the portability.
79. Mr. Spock
Star Trek: The original series, Art Asylum, 2003 $20/$5
Choosing one figure from Art Asylum’s line of well-sculpted and well-articulated Trek figures was tough, but Spock has a great likeness. Plus: Vulcan salute hand!
78. Han Solo & Tauntaun
Star Wars Collector Series, Hasbro, 1997 $50/$25
With a Tauntaun so huge you could almost ride it yourself, this ode to Empire is a fan’s icy-wet dream. Harrison Ford appears well bundled for the harsh times ahead, including Sabrina.
ML Face-Off, Toy Biz, 2006 $20/$5 (w/Leader)
Hulk been hittin’ the gym! This version of the (not so) jolly green giant comes complete with a Leader figure to throttle. He’s the best true Hulk fig made to date, and that’s saying a lot.
76. Green Lantern
DC Deluxe, DC Direct, 2006 $185/$45
This foot-tall Jordan rocks our socks off in every conceivable way: removable mask, cloth costume and a light-up power battery. Any cooler and we’d have to store it in the freezer.
Transformers Alternators, Hasbro, 2005 $30/$20
If you think all of the best Transformers were made in the ’80s, you don’t know nothin’. Meister converts into a crazy-detailed Mazda RX-8, making him the Jazz we always wanted to own when we were kids.
DC Super heroes, 2006 $18/$14
Sculpted by the Four Horsemen, this lithe, athletic-looking Batman is ultra-poseable! Stand him up right and it looks like he’s pondering the best way to beat your ass.
Transformers Classics, Hasbro, 2006 $20/$8
Grimlock am awesome, but Grimlock in dire need of updating. Hasbro am kind to Grimlock, adding new sculpt to make for fearsome dinosaur warrior. Now Grimlock just need learn how to love.
72. Storm Shadow
G.I. Joe 25th Anniversary 5-packs, Hasbro, 2007 $50/$4
Classic Storm Shadow always looked vaguely like a bored guy playing ninja dress-up. This 25th anniversary re-imagining looks like the silent killer we’ve known from the comics.
71. Harry Potter
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, NECA, 2007 (E: SDCC/WWC) NA/NA
With articulation added for better spell-casting, the best-looking Harry ever comes complete with Hedwig and a wand so you can make it look like he’s placing unforgivable curses on co-workers.
70. Stephen Hawking
SIMPSONS, Playmates, 2003 $22/$8
Renowned physicist Hawking is armed for trouble in this, easily the most wonderfully bizarre of the Simpsons line and every scientist’s favorite toy. His wheelchair is equipped with helicopter rotors and a boxing glove!
69. Final War godzilla (w/Billy)
Microman Kiguru, Takara, 2004 $16/$4
This Japanese import shrinks the iconic monster down to palm size and adds a bonus: the super-poseable Microman “playing” Godzilla comes out of the rubber suit!
68. 10th Anniversary Spawn
Spawn, McFarlane Toys, 2002 $20/$5
The demon-spawn has never been more poseable than he was for his birthday, which has him rocking a blood-red removable cape and more articulation than any McFarlane figure ever.
67. Captain America
Marvel Legends, Toy Biz, 2002 $20/$8
It may not be the bodybuilder Cap of the Face-Off line, but even after 16 waves it’s still our fave. Add in a brilliant shield and 34 points of articulation and you understand why the Legends line became a phenomenon.
66. Clubber Lang (Street Gear)
Rocky III, JAKKS Pacific, 2007 $16/$4
Mr. T’s Lang was the only dude to really hand Stallone his ass. (Unless you count the Australian government.) He gets the royal treatment here, including his trademark snarl, making this the best Mr. T toy ever.
65. Kaneda w/Motorcycle
3-D Animation from Japan, McFarlane Toys, 2001 $22/$5
Akira broke new anime ground, so it’s only fitting that its characters be honored with awesome toys. Kaneda comes with his bike in a sculpt so vivid it looks like it might start screaming, “Tetsuooooooo!”
64. Patrick “Iron” O’Brian
Gangsters, Mezco, 2003 $14/$4
Original lines are increasingly (and distressingly) rare, and Mezco’s line of faux ’30s gangsters really tickled our fancy. Our favorite was O’Brian, with his jaunty cap and gigantic pipe. For the beatings.
Microman, Takara, 2004 $16/$4
We love Takara’s Microman figures even when they’re just non-descript guys with silver heads. So seeing them work their magic on a favorite character like this sleek, sexy modern Catwoman is that much sweeter.
62. Darth Vader
Real Action Heroes, Medicom, 2005 $135/$75
Medicom’s 12-inch figures are renowned for being poseble and dynamic. Their Vader, complete with removable helmet, is more lifelike than Hayden Christensen ever was.
61. Bowser w/Go-Cart
Super Mario Kart, Toy Biz, 1999 $75/$22
You wanna see a dinosaur drive? Can’t afford acid? Here ya go. Toy Biz’s Kart figures are the best Nintendo toys, and their detailed Bowser stands out from the pack.
60. Green Goblin
Marvel Legends, Toy Biz, 2006 $16/$8
Forget the metallic Willem Dafoe of the movies: this is the real incarnation of the Goblin, with his face the stuff of nightmares and a purse full of pumpkin bombs. Four Horsemen sculpting plus Legends articulation prove a match made in heaven.
Segmented Robot w/Bear Stikfas, Hasbro, 2003 $12/$3
Stikfas grabbed us from the get-go with their unique articulation and character design, but our favorite is this stylish robot, with his individually articulated knuckles and evil teddy bear nemesis.
58. Boba Fett
Star Wars Vintage Original Trilogy Collection, Hasbro, 2004 $20/$5
The beauty of Star Wars is how lived-in the galaxy seems: this detailed, highly poseable Fett’s scratched armor looks like he was on the wrong end of a thermal detonator.
57. Hulk Buster Iron Man
Marvel Legends, Toy Biz, 2005 $20/$5
This jacked-up Iron Man is ready to match fists with the Green Goliath. Flip open his helmet to reveal filthy lush Tony, who is, predictably, rife with booze sweat.
DC Deluxe, DC Direct, 2006 $80/$20
A cowl circa Adam West, an emblem circa Frank Miller, and an attitude courtesy of Christian Bale: if ever a Batman figure perfectly combined his styles from various eras and artists, this 13-incher is it.
Green Lantern, DC Direct, 2005 $20/$5
The ugliest hero since the Thing, the Green Lantern Corps’ massive bruiser Kilowog is accounted for in all his baby-pink glory. If you didn’t go crazy the first time you saw this figure, you’re a poozer.
54. Ultimate Iron Giant
The Iron Giant, Trendmasters, 1999 $200/$100
Screw Bambi: The Iron Giant is the real cartoon weeper. This 20-inch behemoth has a big ol’ maw to eat cars with, plus, electronic lights and sounds and a figure of his li’l human buddy, Hogarth
Marvel legends, Toy Biz, 2003 $40/$18
The burliest X-Man of them all also has one of the coolest character designs, captured perfectly down to the last metal strip in this figure. It looks like an Art Adams cover come to super-articulated life.
Transformers: armada, Hasbro, 2002 $60/$30
The only figure based on a character voiced by Orson Welles, this 16-inch monstrosity changes from battle-ready badass to planet mode, just like we’ve been waiting for since 1986.
51. Monev the Gale
Trigun: The Planet Gunsmoke, Kaiyodo, 2000 $55/$20
Who the what, now? Forget the byzantine mythology of the Trigun anime this spawned from and enjoy its 100 separate pieces and dozens of possible poses. So sturdy, the thing actually has a skeleton!
Superman/Batman, DC Direct, 2007 $16/$4
Fans practically revolted that this Ed McGuinness-based Hawkman was so huge. But it reminds us of the days when toys were giant pieces of plastic with removable gauntlets, and for that we love it.
Marvel legends, Toy Biz, 2004 $44/$25
When it comes to the ‘Naut, go big or go home. The Biz stepped to the challenge, crafting a ripped Cain Marko that looks like it could separate you from consciousness.
48. “Piper’s Pit” Rowdy Roddy Piper
WWE Classic Superstars, JAKKS Pacific, 2005 (E: ToyFare) $30/$10
Biased? Don’t mind if we do. This mag-exclusive Piper rocks his trademark kilt and leather jacket. The only things missing? Jimmy Snuka and a coconut. (We’re working on it.)
47. Helm’s Deep Legolas
Lord of the rings: the two towers, Toy Biz, 2003 $10/$4
In addition to a creepy-perfect likeness of Orlando Bloom, this Elven archer has a crazy acticulation and a terrific arrow-shooting action. Buy it for Rivendell!
Transformers Classics, Hasbro, 2007 (E: Wal-mart) $35/$16
This Devastator has enormous meat hooks, all the better to strangle Optimus Prime with. This repaint of a previous version looks much better—arguably even better than the 1980s original.
45. VF-1A Veritech Fighter (1/60-Scale)
Macross do you remember love, Yamato, 2002 $125/$65
Jetfire this ain’t. This Robotech offering features the same three distinct forms: fighter plane, gun-toting robot and a plane with legs, but with a ton more detail and articulation.
44. Quick Slinger
Xevoz, Hasbro, 2004 $30/$15
Xevoz may have been the most fun toy line ever. It featured great articulation, total interchangeability and great design on crazy characters like this stylish cowboy with comically large guns. We mourn its demise daily.
43. Soundwave MP3 Player
Transformers music label, Takara, 2007 $95/$50
Proof that Decepticons read Wired magazine: Soundwave—who previously became a fake cassette player—now actually plays digital audio files and has transforming headphones to boot. Let’s see the RIAA get up in his grill.
The Muppets, Palisades Toys, 2004 (E: omgcnfo.com) $32/$16
This big ball of shower-drain hair towers over the other Muppets in the line and features ingenious articulation, like eyelids that can droop to make him look either angry or sleepy.
41. “Graduation Day” Buffy
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Deluxe Series, Diamond Select Toys, 2007 $18/$4
Simply the best Buffy figure ever. With a spot-on likeness, extreme articulation and great accessories like a removable jacket, it’s the only Slayer you need.
40. Kwik-E-Mart w/Apu
SIMPSONS, Playmates, 2000 $34/$16
Thank you, come again! The Simpsons’ talking playsets were the heart of the line, and this intricately detailed store, with its magazine rack and Squishee machine, is our favorite.
Hot Toys, 2006 $275/$150
Just about every Hot Toys 1/6-scale “model kit” is mind-blowingly excellent, and that definitely goes for their Robocop. His thigh holster actually works, and he comes with an alternate “Hey, up yours” spike hand.
38. Fozzie Bear
The Muppets, Palisades Toys, 2002 $12/$5
He’s funnier than the average bear, and better sculpted, too. Plus, Fozzy exemplifies Palisades’ attention to detail and fantastic accessories for their Muppets—he comes with a mic stand and a friggin’ rubber chicken!
Revoltech, Kaiyodo, 2006 $20/$5
Think robots are just clunky, stupid masses of steel and bolts? You, sir, are robotist. This import is the sleekest, sexiest bag o’ nuts in the history of killer computers, and Revoltech joints are the bomb-diggity.
36. Predator the Hunter
Alien & Predator, McFarlane, 2003 $22/$6
If ever anything could be beautifully ugly, this is it. This Predator packs awesome articulation, a removable helmet and a removable forearm! Green blood has never looked so pretty.
35. Hyper Guardian
Xevoz, Hasbro, 2004 $18/$4
This hyper-exaggerated superhero from the Xevoz line has a color scheme that’ll practically blind you and amazing accessories—over-sized power hands and a base that makes it look like he’s blasting off from the ground!
34. Alien Queen
Movie Maniacs, McFarlane Toys, 2003 $35/$8
Possibly the scariest piece of plastic ever conceived, the matriarch from the Alien saga hovers over a captured human host, an embryonic alien baby already emerging from its chest. Hold us.
33. Bela Lugosi as Dracula
Flatt World Figures, 1998 $15/$5
No figure has come as elegantly attired as this homage to the classic Dracula actor from our original Mego customizer. With eleven different kinds of fabric and a spreading cape, he cuts quite the imposing figure.
32. Mecha Hulk
Incredible Hulk, Toy Biz, 2004 $30/$8
Argh, Hulk’s autoexec.bat file failing to execute successfully! An original creation designed by Art Adams, this main-framed rendition of Banner comes with chest-firing missiles and a li’l Gremlin that hides in his back.
31. Gundam RX-78-2
Gundam Perfect Grade Kits, Bandai, 1998 $180/$100
At nearly two feet tall, this massive model kit takes forever to put together, but once he’s done, you’ve got a highly articulated, awesome-looking robot with a lightsaber—er, beam sword. Best Gundam ever.
30. First Appearance Batman
Hasbro, 2000 $252/$15 (w/batman masterpiece edition book)
Based on his original costume by Bob Kane, this cloth-costumed Batman with a wire-poseable cape is the one that threw scumbags from roofs and smacked women around.
29. Lex Luthor
DC Super heroes, Mattel, 2006 $15/$4
Nostalgia time: Super Powers was an awesome ’80s line, and this armored Luthor is an excellent throwback. Why leave your head exposed, though? What an ego.
28. Wetsuit Lara Croft
Tomb Raider 2: The Cradle of Life, SOTA Toys, 2003 $18/$10
Kid-toting Angelina Jolie is less sexy than this skin-tight-wetsuit Angelina Jolie. SOTA’s great sculpt and articulation make this the closest we’ll ever get to spending quality time with Mrs. Pitt.
27. Millennium Falcon Han Solo & Chewbacca
Star Wars Transformers, Hasbro, 2006 $20/$8
Sure, it makes no sense, but it’s seriously fun. Each half-a-Falcon robot has sounds—including Harrison saying, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”
26. Ultimate Bruce Lee
Art Asylum, 2001 $65/$30
At a foot and a half tall, this tribute to the Little Dragon is as well-muscled and flexible as the real thing. Two sets of ass-kicking duds included.
25. Swedish Kitchen w/Swedish Chef
The Muppets show, Palisades Toys, 2003 $60/$30
Utterly packed with detail, the Muppet Chef’s haunt has more kitchen accessories than Wolfgang Puck. Fresh veggies, pots, pans, cabinets, a fridge…with over forty add-ons, it’s setting some kind of record.
Masters of the Universe, Mattel, 2003 (E: SDCC/WWC) $120/$55
According to new continuity, Skeletor was originally the dashing Keldor who ate a vial of acid. The Four Horsemen-sculpted figure came with three heads: normal, skeletal and acid-eaten. Add in a cape and it’s the coolest Skeletor.
23. Millennium Falcon #4504
Star Wars, LEGO, 2004 $275/$150
Sure, you have to build the thing, but the end result is an awesome rendition of our favorite Star Wars ship. The top opens up so you can put all your Lego mini-figures inside and have them yell at Han when the hyper-drive breaks down.
22. Snake Eyes (Version 2)
G.I. Joe 25th Anniversary, Hasbro, 2007 $15/$4
Sigma 6 may take G.I. Joe in a whole new direction, but Hasbro’s 25th Anniversary figures do the same thing they’ve always done, just better than ever before.
21. Super Grover
Sesame Street, Palisades Toys, 2005 (E: 2005 cons) $50/$15
If the sight of Grover dressed in a cape doesn’t give you the warm fuzzies, you might as well get a job euthanizing puppies, you monster. Bonus: a telephone booth and Clark Kent-esque nerd clothes!
20. Cloud Strife w/Fenrir
Final Fantasy: Advent Children Play Arts, Square Enix, 2006 $50/$20
Final Fantasy star Cloud Strife gets de-pixeled in this awesome import, which features a rubber-wheeled motorcycle and a sword large enough to impale even the most insolent of play dates.
19. Royal Naboo Starship
Star Wars: Episode I, Hasbro, 1999 $100/$50
Whether you’re pro-prequel or anti-prequel, you can’t argue the hard specs of this ship: it seats up to seven figures, comes with a droid and you can damage it in battle. Plus, it’s huge.
Marvel Legends, Toy Biz, 2005 na/$50
Hollywood be damned—Galactus isn’t some sissy-ass storm cloud: he’s a huge-assed dude who eats stars and craps constellations. At 16 inches tall, this first-ever Legends build-a-figure does him due justice.
17. Masterpiece Megatron
Transformers, Takara, 2007 $150/$70
The only Transformer you should never aim at a cop, Megatron’s status as iconic robot-turned-gun scum is given proper tribute here. Pure awesome, providing Customs doesn’t seize it.
16. Sigma Strike Duke w/P.O.W.E.R. Armor
G.I. Joe: Sigma 6, Hasbro, 2006 $18/$4
Compensate much? Joe leader Duke comes with a multi-purpose cannon that can transform into a flamethrower or saw. And it actually makes sounds based on what weapon is attached! Smartest toy ever!
15. Adventure Kermit
THE Muppets, Palisades Toys, 2004 (E: 2004 Cons) $22/$8
How do you make a sensitive frog an action hero? Adventure Kermit is a fedora-sporting homage to Indiana Jones. He has a golden idol of Gonzo, and for the first time, Kermit’s packing heat!
Lord of the Rings Epic Scale, NECA, 2006 $100/$40
Delayed for years, NECA’s Balrog was worth the wait. Sporting a wicked whip, flames and a 30-inch wingspan, it might just be the most formidable fantasy figure ever created. Suck it, Kong.
13. Darth Maul
Lords of the Sith, Sideshow Toys, 2006 $50/$30
Episode I got at least one thing right: it had a villain that (nearly) rivaled Vader for pure menace. This 1/6-scale Maul could headline any Star Wars collection with his cloth outfit and multiple versions of his dual-bladed lightsaber.
12. Indiana Jones
Toys McCoy, 1999 $500/$400
So real you can practically smell the Calista Flockhart on him, this 12-inch Indy gets every detail perfect. You can even remove his socks…though if he’s fresh from the Temple of Doom, we wouldn’t recommend it.
ML Series 10, Toy Biz, 2006 na/$50
The bane of the X-Men was a boon for collectors, as this imposing mutant-slaying robot came packaged as a 16-inch build-a-figure. Circuits and wires surround his frame, while tentacles shoot out from his palms, making him the most important figure in any X-Men collection.
10. Lt. Stone
G.I. Joe: Sigma 6, Hasbro, 2006 $20/$5
He may not be a classic Joe, but ol’ eyepatch here is one of the most fun figures ever. He sports disguises to transform him into Zartan or a Cobra Trooper, a nifty cyborg arm, cool guns, a removable beret, handcuffs... If every toy was this much fun to play with, we’d never get work done.
JLA, DC Direct, 2007 $30/$10
Working it like the demigod he is, this Supes—out of literally dozens of renditions—ranks at the top. DC Direct re-issued this, their most articulated figure, several times, but this version’s ticked-off Tim Bruckner facial sculpt is the one we rock on our shelves.
8. Deluxe Hellboy w/Japanese Heads
Hellboy, Mezco, 2006 (E: SDCC/WWC) $34/$15
You couldn’t ask for a better comic art-to-toy transition than this Mike Mignola masterpiece. The con-exclusive version also sports a cloth trenchcoat that makes it the definitive figure of the B.P.R.D. favorite.
7. Masterpiece Voltron
Toynami, 2006 $150/$100
This amazing Voltron is a beautiful assembly of the various lions that make up his frame. Throw in the sword and you’re practically back in your footie pajamas, cutting the roof of your mouth on Cap’n Crunch.
Legendary Comic Book Heroes, Marvel Toys, 2007 NA/$50
The height of build-a-figure perfection, Pitt has a paint job worthy of the Louvre, with shading and steroid-fed musculature that does a perfect job of replicating Dale Keown’s distinctive style.
5. Space Ghost
Space Ghost Coast 2 Coast, Toycom, 2000 $20/$5
In honor of his Adult Swim-spawning talk show, this Space Ghost comes with a desk. In honor of his amazing Alex Toth character design, this Space Ghost boasts great articulation and sculpting to capture his iconic look.
4. Trap jaw
Masters of the Universe, Mattel, 2002 $10/$3
It takes a good sculpt to make a Filmation character appear menacing. Trap Jaw accomplishes it, though, with a litany of weapons at his disposal—including a fugly-ass head. Mattel took everything we loved about the original and made it…way better.
LOTR, Toy Biz, 2002 $30/$10
Oh, Frodo gonna get an ass whooping! This plastic tribute to the end-all-be-all of villains stands an imposing 10 inches tall. Press his buttons and his eyes will light up, growling several phrases from the flick. You can even cut his fingers off, including the one with the Ring That Rules Them All on it. Just looking at it makes our eyes get all big and fiery.
2. Amazing Spider-Man
Spider-Man 2, Toy Biz, 2004 $40/$20
If Spider-Man does everything a spider can, then this massive 18-inch movie figure does everything Spider-Man can. Okay, it doesn’t stick to walls, but with 67 (!!!) points of articulation, including every knuckle of every finger, there’s nary a pose that Spidey can strike that this bad boy can’t replicate.
1. 20th Anniversary Optimus Prime
Hasbro, 2004 $95/$45 (Grey Gun) $90/$40 (Black Gun)
In the toy hierarchy, one figure stands alone. He can command the attention of any room. He’s a model of design. He’s even been known to sway a toy-apathetic girlfriend or two. We cried when he died in the animated movie. Hell, one random dude even changed his name after him.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Transformers, Hasbro released the ne plus ultra (that’s French for “awesomest”) Optimus Prime, with enough detail to make even the most demanding fan gooey with lust. His appendages bend and contort with ease, while a switch on the back of his head allows his “mouth” to move. Flip open his chest plate and marvel at the Matrix of Leadership, a glowing blue ball of light that means he’s the boss. And did we mention he turns into a truck?
As the “Prime” example of the potential in toys, he’s the model to which all other playthings should aspire.