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31 Dec 2008 / mttlg

2008 Action Figure Recap

It’s that time of year again, so let’s see what’s been good and bad about the past year…

Toy Lines | Year in Review | The Awards
Categories | Most Vaporous | Most Controversial | Most Surprising | Most Disappointing | Least Necessary | Best Mail-Away | Worst Exclusive | Best Exclusive | Worst Repaint | Best Repaint | Best Figure | Most Wanted | Most Elusive | Best Pegwarmer | Pegwarmer of the Decade
Stores | Final Thoughts

2008 Action Figure Recap

The Toy Lines

This is not a comprehensive list of all toy lines that were out this year. For example, I have nothing on Baka-Gone (which I think roughly translates as “There’s none left, idiot.”) or whatever it’s called, despite its apparent massive popularity. In fact, I don’t even fully cover everything on this list. All I’m dealing with here is what I have an interest in, so you may notice a hint of bias in some of these awards.

G.I. Joe

In its first (and last, for now) full year, the G.I. Joe 25th Anniversary line has expanded into comic packs, vehicles, and many different store-exclusive multipacks. The end result was a massive quantity of figures but few new sculpts (and lots of Duke, Snake Eyes, Cobra Commander, Storm Shadow, and Destro).

Indiana Jones

After 20 years, the Indy line is back! And now it’s gone again. Come on George, get going on the next crappy movie so we can get the rest of the figures we were promised. Heck, make it a clip show and we won’t need to suffer through any more Mutts…

Star Wars Clone Wars

With a new media property comes a new toy line/cash cow. The figures for the Clone Wars line are done in a cartoonish style, so they stand apart from the others. Some like it, some don’t. At least the cartoon is good.

Star Wars TAC Part II, Legacy Collection

The year started with a continuation of the 30th Anniversary line, but that shifted to the Legacy Collection line with the Clone Wars launch. This is the usual anything and everything Star Wars line.

Star Wars Titanium

The Titanium line continued in 2008 with only 3″ vehicles (aside from the TRU ultras that went straight to clearance). After the failures of the Transformers and Marvel lines, only Indiana Jones competed for space.

Transformers Movie 2007

The line that just won’t die, it even got some new molds in addition to the endless stream of repaints.

Transformers Universe 2.0

It took a while to clear out all of the movie crap (December 2008 and still counting…), but in the meantime, Hasbro brought back Classics as Universe 2.0. True to the Universe name, the line contains a generous helping of repaints. The figures also include Voyager and Ultra class now, though there aren’t many of them (and most are Cybertron repaints).

Transformers Animated

Alongside Universe 2.0 is the Animated line, which goes with the cartoon of the same name. Which I have no interest in.

2008 Year in Review

A lot happened in 2008, so let’s just get right to it. Coming off the 2007 holiday season, there were plenty of clearance deals to be had. G.I. Joe in particular had some good deals with Target and Wal-Mart clearancing out the three 5-packs for as little as $6.24 (a price that would soon be considered a good deal for a single figure). TRU and K-Mart on the other hand continued to charge more than retail for the same packs, which could be why they never seemed to sell. On the vehicle side, Target clearanced out most of its 1:18 scale military vehicles (except for the $20 price point Forces of Valor vehicles), some of which were still around when they hit 75% off. Things got really strange at the end of the year when some of these vehicles came back at more than full price (because of across-the-board price increases); seeing an Abrams for more than $30 a year after getting one for $7.50 was mildly surreal.

January was pretty lean on new arrivals, with only the occasional case of G.I. Joe Wave 3, 4, and 5 carded figures and Wave 1 and 2 comic packs populating the otherwise empty toy section. New product started to hit in early February, with the first 08 waves of Star Wars 30th Anniversary figures and Star Wars Titaniums and the last new Transformers Movie figures. It was more of the same for the next few months as stores finally restocked and overstocked, with some filling up so much that it would take the rest of the year to clear everything out (my local Wal-Mart is particularly bad with this, ordering 6 months worth of G.I. Joe Wave 6 carded figures and nine months and counting worth of Wave 1-3 comic packs).

The spring brought some interesting promotions and discounts. Hasbro, in an effort to clear out some of the crap that was filling up the toy section (so stores could order more stuff at higher prices), launched its Play Rewards program. For a limited time, purchases from select product lines were eligible for a rebate, with the amount of the rebate based on the total purchase price. Star Wars nd Transformers were both eligible, but G.I. Joe was not. $151 in purchases would get you $50 back, anything less would get you one of the lower rebate amounts. All it took to get the rebate were the original receipts and the UPC numbers (not the original UPC itself) from the eligible products. An enterprising individual could have, if devoid of ethics, purchased a few expensive items from Target with a credit card and then returned the items without a receipt via credit card lookup, resulting in $50 for free. Some people got around the one-per-household rule by using multiple addresses. Or you could have just used sale or otherwise discounted merchandise to get a much better deal. The catch of course is that Hasbro sold your name and address for marketing purposes. But hey, that just gets you the occasional $5 off $50 or $10 off $100 coupon from Target.

Speaking of Target, they also came up with a successful promotion in the spring of 2008, though this one was mostly unintentional. Someone thought it would be a good idea to send a select group of customers (85,000 or so) the gift of a web coupon (and a simple generic graphic one at that) good for $5 off any $25 toy purchase, with an expiration date of 1 October. What they failed to realize was that a web coupon can be distributed and reprinted indefinitely. The infamous Target Coupon became the must-have wallet accessory of the season for toy collectors. The coupon proved to be a good way to take the sting out of rapidly climbing toy prices in early 2008. There was also a modified version of the coupon that surfaced at some point that was altered to make it look like it was good on any $25 purchase and not just toy purchases. This version seemed a bit pointless though considering that it was the bar code that mattered, and that required a toy purchase in order to work. It isn’t known how widespread the use of the modified coupon was, but it received national attention when Target stopped accepting the coupon and sent out press releases and flyers to be posted at the checkouts explaining this. The modified coupon and the original were shown side-by-side, with the modification being noted as a primary reason for discontinuing the acceptance of the coupon (“fraudulent tampering and transferring” are Target’s words, though considering that the coupon was posted on Target’s own web site, the only thing “transferred” was the URL). All of this happened the day before Target started its big summer clearance to make room for the new Star Wars line, which seems to indicate that Target was happy to get the extra business as long as it was on full-price merchandise.

Lost in the shuffle was a semi-regular coupon promotion from Toys R Us. Like the Target Coupon, TRU’s coupons were web coupons good for $5 off a $25 purchase. However, these coupons were intended to be freely distributed and were only valid for two days (Friday and Saturday). These coupons were used three times, each four weeks apart (once in May, June, and July). TRU’s prices tend to be higher than Target’s, but these coupons were good for reducing the price of some of their overpriced exclusives.

In May, we got something completely new – India Jones toys! And boy did we get a lot of them. It was so bad that TRU had a buy 2 get 1 free sale two weeks after the line’s launch. Unfortunately, so much of the first batch was shipped out at the very start that the line never gained any traction. Note to Hasbro – new product every month or two is necessary if you want people to keep interest in the line. And telling people to go to eBay doesn’t count.

The Indiana Jones line brought more than just a line of classic movie characters, it also ushered in the era of the $7.99 basic carded figure. Well, at least until Target came to its senses. Still, Star Wars was already pushing $7 and G.I. Joe was steadily increasing. All three would briefly hit $7.99 before falling back to $7 or so at Target (to match Wal-Mart), while TRU held steady at $7.99 and Kay Bee jacked prices to $9 and beyond (Star Wars hit $9.99 before the final clearance sale hit). K-Mart was also a crap shoot, with prices anywhere from $6 to $8.50 depending on the store. Wal-Mart and some Targets cut Indy figures to $5.44 (where they still didn’t sell) and Kay Bee went out of business. Whoops.

Summer was dominated by the launch of the Clone Wars line, which coincided with the debut of the show (as a poorly-received animated movie) and forced a complete SKU reset of the entire Star Wars line. The Transformers Animated line started somewhere around the same time, but that cartoon had been going since last December. Why the delay? Well, Hasbro wasn’t done milking the movie line. Which had nothing new since February except pointless repaints. At least the Classics line came back, with plenty pointless repaints of Cybertron figures…

The Clone Wars launch was handled just like every other carefully-timed toy launch – everything started showing up a couple weeks early, with some of it not able to be sold. Here’s how it works: the first cases are marked with a date, and stores that violate that date can get a nastygram from Hasbro. The next batch of cases are marked “Rush to Floor,” since they are supposed to show up when everything is selling out. So they are, but since they were shipped early, everything is still in the system as “Do Not Sell,” so they don’t. Which is why you should never shop at Wal-Mart. TRU was more than happy to sell me anything that was out on the sales floor, no matter what the stupid computer said.

The third Indiana Jones wave also came out over the summer. At least, that’s the rumor. No store had sold enough of the first two waves to order more, at least not until Hasbro took half of the new figures out of the case assortments and replaced them with more Indys and Mutts. Because the best way to generate interest in the line is to ship out more of the same figures that aren’t selling in the first place. Seriously, is Hasbro employing the same people who used to do scheduling for Fox Television? “OK, let’s have Futurama pre-empted by a football postgame show, move Family Guy to a random time slot each week, bump Firefly to midnight every couple of weeks with the episodes out of order, and replace those Grail Knight, Vogel, and Elsa figures with Indiana Jones, Indiana Jones, and Mutt. Now where’s that paycheck?”

As usual, summer also means Comic Con, where all kinds of wonderful things are shown, just to let you know what you won’t be able to buy. Toht with alternate melting head? Yeah, good luck with that. At least the convention exclusives were easy enough to get. Actually, most of them are still available on Hasbro Toy Shop.

As the days get shorter, depression tends to set in. The last two new-mold 6″ Titanium Transformers were finally released as TRU exclusives, signaling the end of that line. The wave of Star Wars Titaniums that got pre-empted by Clone Wars? Yeah, that’s gone for now, the Battlestar Galactica part gone forever. Indiana Jones? Wave 4 should be coming out. Maybe Wave 5 and some other stuff in early 2009. Or maybe not. No, definitely not. The line dies at the end of 2008. And Wave 4 isn’t going to show up at major retailers. It’s been fun, see ya.

And that brings us to the end of the year. The Star Wars and Transformers sections have been picked clean (except for some Yarnas and Transformers Movie toys). The G.I. Joe section never had much to begin with. And the Indiana Jones section is still overflowing with the same figures that have been there since May (they could at least dust the things off every couple of months…). That means it’s clearance time – Wal-Mart is currently in the lead at $3 for basic IJ figures, Target is next with one store down to $3.80 (and the rest between $5.44 and $7.99), then TJ Maxx at $3.99 and K-Mart at $4.00, with the going-out-of-business everything-must-go please-buy-this-crap-so-we-don’t-have-to-pay-someone-to-take-it Kay Bee at $4.49 (and TRU is just out of stock because they thought to put the things on sale before Christmas). Um, guys? If you need to sell it, having the highest price isn’t the way to do it. Maybe running a chain of toy stores isn’t the best choice of careers for you. You might want to give network television scheduling a shot…

The Categories

I picked the categories to cover a wide variety of topics – what was good, what was bad, what was noteworthy, etc. Not every line has an entry in every category, particularly in the Star Wars and Transformers lines since there were several smaller lines for each of those. I tried to limit figures to one category each to get the most variety in the awards, so some may have been good picks for multiple awards despite only taking one. In several cases, multiple figures were equally deserving of multiple awards, so I just picked one for each.

The Awards

Most Vaporous

Some figures come and go, others just tease us. Here are the ones that got away.

G.I. Joe: Single Carded Red Sigil/Black Mask Cobra Trooper

It took a year and a half to get a carded red sigil trooper, and then they go and give him a red mask. Damn you, Hasbro! What, the troop builder revision cases have these guys? I’ll believe it when I see it.

Indiana Jones: Motorcycle with Sidecar

There are so many choices here because of the untimely demise of the line, but this figure never even got a prototype, despite the motorcycle being built with the sidecar in mind. It’s a shame, because it’s a damn good motorcycle and probably would have been a great sidecar.

Star Wars TAC/Legacy: Joker Squad

This pack of five unique Stormtroopers and one strange Sith guy was announced last summer but has since been delayed. It will include the first female Stormtrooper if/when it shows up.

Star Wars Titanium: Cylon Base Ship

We saw promo shots of this impressive farewell to the Battlestar Galactica license early in the year, but the SKU reset in July did away with its entire wave and pushed it out past the end of Hasbro’s Battlestar Galactica contract.

Most Controversial

Ah, fanboy bickering… It wouldn’t be popular if there weren’t heated arguments over petty details.

G.I. Joe (tie): SDCC Cobra Commander / Specialist Trakker

Convention exclusives are a tricky thing to get right. Choose something too popular and people get pissed off because they can’t get it. Go with something too out there and people get pissed off because they don’t want it. For 2008, Hasbro gave us Cobra Commander: The Early Years with an Indiana Jones suit figure with a new Cobra Commander head. The suit was made for an upcoming Toht (with alternate melting head) figure that was never produced, so this became the only source of Indy-style suited figures. Of course, the Indy sculpt means swivel hips and different proportions (longer arms, shorter legs), plus a different size head ball joint.

On the other side of things, Specialist Trakker is a completely G.I. Joe style figure of a non-G.I. Joe character: Matt Trakker, leader of MASK. As such, he inspired pitchfork-wielding mobs of internet angst. How dare they change something from my childhood! In the end, the figure was less than spectacular, but it didn’t detract from the line. In fact, it added a bit of nostalgia to a line that is supposed to be all about the nostalgia. How can that be a bad thing?

Indiana Jones: Hasbro Case Assortments

Hasbro insists that the fans are to blame for Indy’s failure, but what about the inability to find new figures until six months after their release? With stores inundated with Wave 1 and Wave 2, Hasbro set up the Wave 3 revision cases with extra Wave 1 and Wave 2 figures. The cases were nothing but Jonses, much to the dismay of anyone who wanted something new. And Wave 4? Good luck with that. Even Hasbro admits that you shouldn’t bother looking for Wave 4 in stores and instead recommends buying it online.

Star Wars Clone Wars/Transformers Animated: Animated Style

Both of these properties outraged fans by changing the style of the figures to something more cartoonish. For Star Wars, the figures were all built like emaciated supermodels with giant heads. For Transformers, they all looked kind of goofy with giant chins. Luckily, a more realistic line was offered alongside these lines to placate those who are sickened by them.

Star Wars Legacy: Repacked Repacks

Some amount of repacking is to be expected with toy lines these days, especially with battle packs and other exclusives. The entire Saga Legends line exists purely for repacks and minor repaints, which is good if you missed a figure or want a few more troop builders a couple years later. Where things start to get annoying is when battle packs keep getting repacked year after year with out-of-date figures that were pathetic the last time around. The Legacy Collection added several repacked battle packs in late 2008, some dating back to 2005 with figures dating back to 2002. For two of these packs, this is the third version of the pack, all of which contain repaints of older figures to begin with. There are apparently some paint differences in the latest batch, but enough’s enough. Either update the figures or cut out all this filler.

Star Wars Titanium: Cylon Base Ship Cancellation

The loss of the Base Ship, easily the most anticipated BSG Titanium since the start of the line (see Most Surprising), was hard to take, especially when it was scheduled to be released in the spring of 2008. This should have left plenty of time to get it out before the contract expired, but Hasbro’s long lead times and the lack of flexibility in the schedule due to the Clone Wars reset were its undoing. Hasbro dangles a tantalizing spiky piece of metal and plastic before us, only to have it vanish forever as we watch in horror.

Transformers Movie 2007: The Never-ending Movie 2007 Line

The line was so popular that it refuses to die. Or at least Hasbro refuses to kill it. Stores won’t even clearance it out, so it just takes up space. Universe 2.0 and Animated were even delayed for what, “premium” repaints of old figures? The Target exclusives were just insulting.

Transformers Universe 2.0: Botcon Seekers

Some people just won’t let this one go. Fearing that the Classics line was over for good, Hasbro gave the final three Seekers to the Transformers Collectors’ Club to be used as massively overpriced Botcon exclusives. Then the line came back. Whoops. They later came out as somewhat overpriced exclusives in the Japanese version of the line, which reignited the debate. Finally, Hasbro has confirmed that they may figure something out for the third incarnation of the Classics line in 2010. Will it ever end?

Most Surprising

G.I. Joe: Weather Dominator

Getting new tooling for non-figures in the G.I. Joe line is always special, but the Weather Dominator was in a class by itself. Like the MASS Device, it breaks down into several smaller pieces, but you get the whole thing in one DVD pack instead of having to hunt down five. It was the only DVD pack accessory to take the place of a figure, which is unfortunate considering how unnecessary most of the figures were.

Indiana Jones: Crystal Skeleton

It was a mixed bag for Hasbro mail-aways in 2008, but this was easily one of the best. We’ve seen translucent blue figures aplenty in Star Wars, but this was an all-new figure with great articulation and a nice big throne. As a bonus, the ball socket on the skull is just about the right size for G.I. Joe figures.

Star Wars Clone Wars: AT-TE

With all the “we can’t do playsets or large vehicles” we get from Hasbro these days, it was a bit of a shock that the rumors of an AT-TE were true. Such a massive vehicle would be hard to top, until…

Star Wars Legacy: Millennium Falcon

And then the other shoe dropped into the fan and was shredded into a million metaphors. Hasbro had an even bigger vehicle up their sleeves with the BMF (bigger Millennium Falcon), which started at the $150 price point (but would fall to $100 or less by the end of the year). Could there be even more on the way for Star Wars fans? Could other lines (cough-G.I. Joe-cough) see similar offerings? The results of the holiday shopping season may decide the fate of larger vehicles in Hasbro’s lineup.

Star Wars Titanium: Cylon Base Ship

After saying that they wouldn’t make one, Hasbro stunned everyone with the inclusion of a Cylon Base Ship in Wave 4 2008. This would be the third BSG figure in four waves, which was a good sign for the rest of the year. Unfortunately, it was not to be.

Transformers Animated: Leader Class Ultra Magnus

Not since RID has Ultra Magnus gotten a unique sculpt, so seeing him show up with one in the Animated Leader Class was a bit of a surprise. More surprising was how good the figure looked. Despite shipping in the summer, it couldn’t be found on shelves until October or November, so just finding this guy was a surprise.

Most Disappointing

G.I. Joe: Wave 8 Major Bludd

After being delayed twice (from Wave 6 to Wave 8), it would be hard for this figure not to be a disappointment. When the final figure was revealed to be a repainted Zartan with a new right arm (featuring a swivel wrist and no elbow articulation) and head (with a Cobra Trooper helmet glued on), fans felt cheated. Now, I’m a bit biased here because Major Bludd was my favorite figure back in the day (and not just because I lost him on the first day I had him), but that figure was a horrible disappointment. It was so bad that Hasbro had no choice but to make a new version based on the HISS Driver torso. This version was released twice: once in toy colors in the Desert pack and once in cartoon colors in a DVD pack. Both got new lower legs, but the left arm and upper legs were different (the DVD pack version used the Zartan parts, while the Desert pack version used a trooper arm and Cobra Commander upper legs). Having correct versions of this figure only makes the first one look that much worse.

Indiana Jones: Wave 4 Distribution

When the manufacturer tells you to buy something online because it might not make it into the retail distribution chain, things are seriously fucked up. At least they’re not recommending eBay specifically, but it’s only a matter of time. Seriously Hasbro, you really should just mark this stuff as eBay Exclusives from the start.

Star Wars Clone Wars: Captain Rex Preview Figure

Sure, the figure is decent enough (the clones in this line are actually quite spectacular), but the problem comes from how this was marketed as an exclusive preview figure. When it is described like that, you expect it to be three things: exclusive, a preview, and a figure. In this case, one out of three is bad. The mail-away offer started in early 2008, without even a picture of the character. But hey, it was a chance to get a figure from the new line before the launch, and you wouldn’t be able to get it in stores, so you had to send in for it. Well, as it turns out, the character was available in stores at the launch, only with a slightly different paint scheme (which varied between the different runs of the figure) and with more weapons. The only really exclusive part was the packaging, which folded out to make some sort of diorama. Still, at least we wouldn’t have to wait for the launch. No, we had to wait until the week after the launch to get these “preview” figures. With some stores putting out the figures two weeks early, that’s a preview of around -15 days. At least it did turn out to be a figure, a figure that had a superior version available earlier in stores. This also earns it the title of Worst Mail-Away of the year.

Star Wars TAC/Legacy: Stormtrooper Commander

The Stormtrooper Commander figure itself looked pretty good, but the handling of the exclusive was totally botched by GameStop and LucasFilm. The figure was only available if you preordered The Force Unleashed for $5 at GameStop, but there was never any confirmation of whether this offer was for real or whether the figure would even be available, at least not until after the figures started getting distributed (which of course was when the game was released and was therefore no longer available for preorder). $5 wasn’t a bad price for the figure, but all of the uncertainty and misinformation surrounding the offer left a lot of people in the dark. Hopefully Hasbro will be able to fix things by releasing the figure at some point in the future.

Star Wars Titanium: Viper Mk. VII (Apollo)

I’m all for repaints, especially in the Battlestar Galactica sub-line, but with so few ships released, why does the first non-battle-damaged generic Mk. VII need to be assigned to a specific pilot? It would be different if we had been getting a couple of pilot-specific ships each year, but the only ones that had been made before were Apollo’s Viper Mk. II and Apollo’s Black Viper Mk. II. Now we get yet another Apollo Viper… Just how many fighters can one guy fly? He isn’t even a pilot on the show anymore!

Transformers Universe 2.0: Galvatron

Now, I don’t have an issue with the concept of Galvatron in Deluxe size, but I do have an issue with the execution. This figure has a complex transformation and lots of small parts that don’t like to stay together (minor parts like arms and legs). There’s also an undocumented alternate vehicle mode of some sort, which results in some seemingly useless parts. The whole thing is just a mess and really needed to be in a larger scale, as it was originally designed to be.

Least Necessary

G.I. Joe: Cobra Commander Clones

My Cobra Commander army rivals my Clone Wars Clone Trooper army. This should not be.

Indiana Jones: Mutt in T-shirt

The official line is that Hasbro thought there would be scenes in the movie with a jacketless Mutt, so they made a figure that way. Their assumption was wrong and the Mutt figure stood out like a sore thumb. Their assumptions about the popularity of Mutt also proved to be wrong, despite the sales data they constantly mention when backing up this assertion.

Star Wars Legacy: Vaderpalooza

OK, I get how Hasbro always wants Anakin/Vader available. Seriously, I get it, I have no problem with it, etc. But how many different versions do we need on the pegs at one time? Last year we had concept, holographic, pre-armor, and various other carded versions plus battle packs, etc. all coexisting. This year, there’s a Build-a-Droid, Greatest Hits, and Saga Legends all in the Legacy line at the same time, plus all the usual Anakins. Three nearly-identical figures on nearly-identical cards? Why?

Star Wars Titanium: Repaints with nose art without nose art

The whole nose art thing was pretty pointless to begin with (it’s so tiny that it just looks like a blob), but the first releases of these ships (ARC-170 and Republic Gunship) didn’t have the nose art they claimed to feature.

Transformers Animated: There has to be something…

I’m not into this line, but when every character comes in several different versions at multiple price points, there must be something unnecessary in there. Activators? Deluxe repaints? Deluxe repaints that come with Activators? Legends? Leader repaints? Supreme Prime? The whole line? I just don’t know.

Transformers Movie 2007: Deluxe Class Premium Series

After starting off the year with a couple of outstanding new figures (Landmine and Stockade), the last few months were nothing but minor repaints of the same figures/characters. The premium series first debuted at the release of the new movie’s DVD as Best Buy metallic exclusives of Megatron and Ratchet. At least, that’s what I heard, I couldn’t even find a Best Buy employee who had seen them. Later, we found out that the Target Exclusive Holoview Optimus Prime was the first in the premium series way back at the launch of the toy line, or something like that. By the time the Deluxe class versions started showing up, everyone was tired of this crap. The three in this series – Bumblebee, Barricade, and Jazz – added nothing of value. The flaws in the molds were not fixed, there were just a few more paint apps (and Bumblebee got the head from the Stealth Bumblebee repaint). Jazz looked a bit better with paint instead of bare gray plastic, but Barricade looked worse with paint over the once-translucent windows. In the end, there was no reason for such minimally-repainted figures when we already had plenty of minimally-repainted deluxes in the Screen Battles packs and various store exclusives.

Transformers Universe 2.0: Legends Hound

I can see the Legends class Minibots, because the originals were small. And the Animated stuff, sure, throw in yet another size for these guys. But the first wave of original Universe 2.0 Legends is just baffling, the worst of which is Hound. We’re getting a Deluxe Hound soon, so why the Legends version? It just doesn’t fit.

Best Mail-Away

Indiana Jones 1/6 Scale Ark of the Covenant

I went outside the lines I purchased items from this year simply because this was too good to pass up. For $34 ($24 on eBay for a completed form plus $10 shipping and handling), I get a 1/6 scale Ark of the Covenant. A very shiny vac-metal Ark of the Covenant. And, true to the movie, it will be filed away in a stack of boxes in a remote location, only to be pulled out if my random geekboy fandom is ever questioned.

Worst Exclusive

G.I. Joe: TRU Senior Ranking Officers Wave 1

The SRO concept is nice (though a bit of a misnomer), particularly when it gives us characters and variations that are unlikely to make it into the main line, but the first wave was all unnecessary repaints. Another Duke, a Hawk in Duke clothing, two more Cobra Commanders… Even on sale for $8.99, only the Cobra pack was a good deal (for the trooper and officer, plus a garbage CC), and I stopped at 5. When I pass up a good deal, you know something’s wrong.

Indiana Jones: All of them

The line didn’t last long enough to get many exclusives, but the ones we got were pretty dull. Wal-Mart got a couple of Crystal Skull 3-packs with the figures that have been warming the pegs for 6+ months and Target got three 5-packs with mostly the same figures minus a few accessories. In both cases, the figures still cost about $4 each, which isn’t that great with carded figures at $5.44 and six figures getting you a Crystal Skeleton (that’s a difference of about $8.64 plus shipping and handling for one of the best figures in the line). And that TRU exclusive… The Jungle Cutter with three figures everyone already has (or can get at Wal-Mart on clearance for $3 each) for only $40. That’s right, this exclusive can be yours for only full retail price of each of the included items. What a deal!

Star Wars Clone Wars: Exclusive Senate Security Trooper

This is a case where the figure is decent, but the exclusive status makes it unappealing. The other store exclusives at the Clone Wars launch made sense: TRU gave you a holographic Grievous if you spent $30 (or you could buy it by itself for $9.99), Target had a Commander Fox figure for $12.99 (expensive, but at least you only need one), and Wal-Mart had 501st Legion Clone Troopers for $6.97 (same price as the other figures, and they would price match against sales with these too). Star Wars Shop gets a generic Shocktrooper predecessor and prices it at $14.99, plus shipping. It’s nice and all, but if you want multiples, you’re out a lot of money. On the upside, there’s no officer available for these guys, so it is safe to just forget they exist.

Star Wars TAC/Legacy: TRU Exclusive Disturbance at the Lars Homestead

When this was announced, all anyone really wanted was a nice homestead piece, a couple of skeletons, and maybe a Sandtrooper or two. Well, it has a Sandtrooper… The homestead is just a dome on a vacuform base with a table, the Lars couple figures are outdated, and the only other extras are a moisture vapoator and some creature. All for only $50! Unsurprisingly, these seem to be stacked up in the back until last year’s store exclusive pack is cleared out to make room. Good luck with that.

Transformers: Target Exclusive Movie 2007 Deluxes

As I was saying earlier, the Movie 2007 line was filled with unnecessary minor repaints, and these were some of the worst. They were the same as the original versions, only with “allspark blue” smeared on them. Wow, two horrible ideas in one set of store exclusives! These had trouble moving even on clearance.

Best Exclusive

G.I. Joe: Internet Exclusive Extreme Conditions Packs

Battle packs are well-suited to Cobra troops and we just can’t get enough of them. With only TRU supplying them, things looked bleak until the internet exclusive packs were announced. Each of the two packs, Arctic and Desert, would contain seven figures and would retail for about $30. Even after shipping, that’s a very good deal, if the figures are good. Of the seven, one in each pack is a named character (Major Bludd and Scrap Iron) and the other seven are repaints with accessories from past and upcoming figures. The packs succeed with both types of figures; the Bludd is an updated version of the first attempt with better parts and standard Bludd colors, the Scrap Iron was the first figure for that character and used better parts than the later comic pack version, and the troopers were mostly excellent. With Snow Serpents in the Arctic pack and repaints of Barbecue and Flash/Tripwire in the Desert pack, plus accessories from Bazooka, Beachhead/Dataframe, Falcon, Roadblock, Torch, and more, these packs were a huge hit and will hopefully result in new packs in the near future.

Star Wars Clone Wars: TRU Exclusive Holographic General Grievous

There wasn’t much competition here, just the launch exclusives (see thw Worst Exclusives entry) and the Ultimate Battle Pack. The award goes to the cheapest of the bunch, which was free with a $30 purchase. I have yet to figure out what to do with this guy (eBay? Trade? Open it?), but it was at least something. The others were all clones (some overpriced) or the UBP, so this stood out.

Star Wars TAC/Legacy: Target Exclusive Order 66 Wave 2

Gimmicks like this get old quickly, but there was still enough life left in the Order 66 line for another set of six two-packs as Target exclusives. Some of the figures were even decent. On the clone side, the theme seemed to be ARC Troopers (red, yellow, and blue), plus there was the token Kashyyyk figure (AT-RT Driver) and 501st Officer (Vil). And then there was the strangely-appealing BARC Trooper. On the Jedi/Sith side, the Tsui Choi was all-new and Master Sev was a new character, so it wasn’t all rehashes. The Anakin, Emperor, and Luminara were decent repaints (this from a guy who doesn’t have a use for saber-wielders), but the Obi-Wan was just garbage (eBay gave me $1 for him…). The best part was clearance time, when new stock was unearthed just in time to be sold for $2.50 per pack.

Transformers: SDCC Exclusive Titanium Skywarp

I just love this mold, even with the legs popping off all the time… The War Within Seeker mold looks good in so many different color schemes, and Skywarp was the last of the original three to show up. The demise of the Titanium line in 2007 seemed to keep Skywarp from coming out, but it came back as an easily-obtained SDCC exclusive (HTS still hasn’t sold out as of December). The figure looks great with the others and makes the end of such a promising (if slightly flawed) line easier to bear.

Worst Repaint

G.I. Joe: Dukes

There have been a lot of unnecessary repaints, but the good Duke repaints only serve to point out just how bad the bad ones have been. Both the Wave 1 comic pack Duke and DVD pack Screaming Duke are horrid things that deserve the worst fate that the original figures met at the hands of unbalanced 8-year-olds. Then you’ll have a reason to scream…

Star Wars TAC/Legacy: Order 66 Obi-Wan

I have trouble faulting an Order 66 pack for having a bad repaint of a Jedi, mainly because I’m not into Jedi to begin with, but this one just sucks. The problems start when the other five Jedi in the series are actually pretty good. And the clones did their job of driving the sales. This leaves us with an Obi-Wan figure that looks like a poorly-sculpted Jesus and has a sickly green cast over the whole figure. At least it comes with a robe to hide under… Oh, and it has a dreaded “action feature,” which explains the awkward pose. I think. I don’t know, the details of this figure are a mystery to me now that it has been purged from my collection.

Star Wars Titanium: Clone Wars Launch Repaints

The word “clusterfuck” comes to mind when one thinks of the SKU change that accompanied the launch of Clone Wars merchandise. We lost an entire wave from the 2008 lineup (and one figure possibly forever), Wal-Mart unearthed tons of old stock (some of which is still clogging pegs), and the first two waves of “new” figures were mostly repaints that nobody wanted. A green landspeeder? A sandspeeder? Ships with nose art that didn’t actually feature said nose art? Buried in there were a Cloud Car and a nice X-Wing repaint, plus a Classic Cylon Raider (which was almost impossible to find in 2007), but most of the rest were just garbage, from the selection of colors to the quality of the paint apps.

Transformers: 25th Anniversary G1 Reissue Optimus Prime

Oh, so many choices… You could get a few dozen finalists from the movie line alone. Unfortunately, the honor will instead go to a classic figure, the 25th Anniversary G1 Optimus Prime Reissue. This is the first mass-market reissue of G1 Prime (the others have been TRU exclusives and imports) and should have been good with all the extras in the package. Instead, we have the worst and most expensive G1 Optimus Prime reissue ever. The cab is in a shade of red that is too close to pink and the trailer is such a plain gray that it looks like a knock-off. And the $70 price tag? That’s well into eBay scalper territory for the TRU reissue, and even then many sold for less. I bought the Takara G1 Collection version shipped from Japan for $70. I could see $50 if the colors were better, but the colors on this thing would keep me from buying it at just about any price.

Best Repaint

G.I. Joe: Snake Eyes (Black)

The fans demanded it, and what we ended up with was one of the best paint jobs Hasbro has done in this line. For once, they take a dark base color and don’t use very light details to create excessive contrast, instead going for a more muted look. The result is spectacular.

Star Wars TAC/Legacy: BARC Trooper (Yellow)

In an Order 66 wave filled with ARC Trooper repaints, the clone that stood out the most was a yellow basic trooper with the head from Commander Neyo. It didn’t hurt that he was also packaged with the only new figure in the bunch, Tsui Choi, which sold well enough on eBay to make it worthwhile to buy up several of the clones. The BARC Trooper was quickly re-released in the Legacy Collection’s Saga Legends line, making it available to anyone who missed it the first time around. While there’s nothing terribly remarkable about the figure itself, it just looks good. It also fits well with the yellow ARC Troopers and Phase 1 officers (but not the Star Corps troopers), so you can have a whole yellow army. I don’t know why that is so appealing, but it is.

Star Wars Titanium: Saesee Tiin’s Jedi Starfighter

Despite the abundance of repaints in this line, there really wasn’t anything spectacular. Most fell into the categories of pointless repaints (see Least Necessary and Worst Repaint) and barely repaints (same as the last version with a black smudge on it), leaving only a few decent figures. It really came down to some Jedi Starfighters, the second and third new-mold X-Wing, and a couple of EU fighter repaints. Of those, Saesee Tiin’s Jedi Starfighter stands out because, um, it’s orange. It’s as good a reason as any, I guess.

Transformers Movie 2007: Wal-Mart Exclusive Fracture

This was a tough call because it could easily be considered Best Exclusive with the weak competition in the movie line’s final month. I left SDCC Skywarp representing all of Transformers, so Fracture lands here. This figure was supposed to be in the Universe 2.0 line, but Wal-Mart insisted on movie packaging and what Wal-Mart wants, Wal-Mart gets. The figure is a repaint of Classics Mirage, a nice but forgettable figure on its own. The Fracture repaint brings a Go-Bots homage and a very nice paint scheme to a well-executed figure, surpassing the original in my eyes. The other two exclusives in this wave were forgettable and can stay with the first four Wal-Mart exclusive repaints, but this one deserves to be in Classics/Universe 2.0.

Transformers Universe 2.0: Acid Storm

Most of the repaints so far have been G1-based (Sunstreaker/Sideswipe, Prowl/Streak, etc.) or rehashed Cybertron molds, so it was nice to see an original Seeker repaint (especially after the Botcon clusterfuck). The colors were done very well, which is unfortunately rare for new characters. They clearly put a lot of time and effort into getting it right, despite the wear to the mold undermining their efforts. Still, it’s a great figure even if you already have half a dozen in different colors.

Best Figure

G.I. Joe: B.A.T.

What can I say about the B.A.T.? It is the most perfect representation of a classic figure that we’ve seen so far. Articulation is perfect, accessories are perfect, the sculpt is perfect, the paint job (regardless of the color of the grenade) is perfect, etc. Some might argue for the Eel, which is also outstanding, but I just can’t get enough of the B.A.T. Seriously, I’ve got 20 of the guys and can’t stop buying them.

Indiana Jones: German Soldier on Motorcycle

It seems like a long time ago, but back when the IJ line started, the German Motorcycle Soldier just blew me away. The figure has some flaws, but the sculpt and use of soft goods were way beyond the other figures in the line. It’s a shame that there weren’t more German soldier sculpts in matching uniforms. The motorcycle is a very detailed vehicle with rubber tires, working steering, and a kickstand. It’s so good that it makes G.I. Joe vehicles look like toys. I’m hoping that these guys are still around when the line goes on clearance, because I want more.

Star Wars Clone Wars: IG-86 Assassin Droid

Star Wars is a tough call for me because I don’t have an interest in many of the figures. Still, this guy was hard to resist. Not only were a pair of these guys almost a match for a couple of Jedi in the cartoon (well, not really, but they still put up a good fight), but the figure is perfectly executed, from articulation to paint apps. I’m just waiting for someone to build a metal version. With the running change in the pistol color from black to blue, it is very easy to justify purchasing two. Then you just need some Jedi for them to exact their revenge on…

Star Wars Legacy: General Grievous

I’m usually not interested in named Star Wars characters, but Grievous is an interesting exception. The character itself is a bit of an anomaly (a non-Jedi/Sith with light sabers), and the sheer brutality is nice for a children’s property. The problem has been that previous attempts at a Grievous figure have failed to capture the character’s size and complex articulation. This has been corrected in the 2008 release, which is properly scaled and features splitting arms and removable armor pieces. The softness of the plastic and the poor grip of the hands can cause some problems, and there’s no cape included, but the figure represents such a vast improvement that it will be the base for many more Grievous figures to come, or so Hasbro promises.

Star Wars Titanium: P-38 Starfighter

This one came as a surprise to me, but as soon as I opened it, I knew it was the best of the year. Sure, the new X-Wing is nice (when the guns aren’t falling off), but the P-38 just has the perfect combination of style and fun. The design is almost a hybrid of the old and new Cylon Raider designs (though I’m sure it was meant as a Star Wars version of the P-38 Lightning), so this vehicle would look at home chasing Jedi or the last remnants of humanity. If I find another, this will be the first non-BSG Titanium figure that I buy more than one of. It’s that good.

Transformers Animated: Soundwave

I have to admit, I wasn’t thrilled to see Soundwave turned into a guitar-playing Scion xB, but I decided to give the figure a chance when Wal-Mart cut its deluxes to $7.77. The figure is nothing short of awesome, from the vehicle mode that doesn’t show any of the robot mode at any angle, to the Laserbeak guitar (which could have used some more articulation), to the robot mode that, yes, is adequately prepared to rock. If you only buy one Animated figure, this should be it.

Transformers Movie 2007 (tie): Landmine and Stockade

I just couldn’t decide between the two, so here they are. These are the only new Deluxe class molds in 2008 and they are both excellent. Like last year’s Longarm (another favorite), they are based on non-transforming vehicles from the movie. This frees them from needing to conform to a movie-style robot mode and transformation, resulting in toys that are superior to those of the characters from the movie. The vehicle modes are also excellent, making these some great all-around figures.

Transformers Universe 2.0: Onslaught

I would go with Inferno sight-unseen, but it looks like he’s not due out until January. Nothing else has really stood out so far (except Galvatron, but that wasn’t in a good way). The Deluxes were all pretty basic and there were two pairs of repaints (plus a seeker repaint), so only Tankor stands out, and he’s not best of the year material (and I just saw Hound and Cyclonus at the very end of the year, so they got in too late). The Voyagers were all Cybertron repaints. Powerglide and Silverbolt were nice attempts at updating the originals, but both ended up oversized for what they were. That only leaves Onslaught, so congratulations for not sucking as much as the rest. The figure did everything it needed to with only a minimum of annoyances. The price was a bit high ($25), but I have no regrets (unlike Silverbolt, which I passed on until I could find for less than $8 and still don’t feel great about). It doesn’t hurt that I loved the Combaticons as a kid.

Most Wanted

G.I. Joe: Anything and everything

Fan message boards can be frustrating sometimes (who am I kidding, they’re frustrating almost all of the time), and nothing is more pointless than the incessant “Are we there yet?” style ranting about when someone’s favorite figure is going to be released. Yes, we get it, you want a freaking Robo-Joe, now shut up and color (And where’s the Shortpacked! Book 2 Extra! I paid you for back in April?). And God forbid any unwanted figure should come out before someone’s Holy Grail of figures, the interloper must die! So please Hasbro, just make everything so the Q&As won’t be filled with “When will we see _X_?” questions that will inevitably receive “We have no plans for _X_.” answers.

Indiana Jones: Another (Crappy) Movie

As mediocre as the last new movie was, it spawned the toy line, which was just starting to produce decent products. The vehicles and accessories in particular were excellent, especially the motorcycles. Unfortunately, the line was a failure and will not be back until there’s another movie. Hey George, get working on the next crappy script. How about this, you can have it set in the 60s with singing and dancing…

Star Wars Clone Wars: Commander Gree

Gree has been featured fairly prominently in at least one episode of Clone Wars so far (maybe two, but a massive ice storm knocked out my power before I could find out), and his subordinates (may they rest in peace) are due up in early 2009. Their commander is still MIA, so hopefully he will soon show up in all his double-mohawked glory.

Star Wars Legacy: See RebelScum

Seriously, there’s so much stuff out there that Star Wars fans want that I could never pick just one. Luckily, I don’t have to pick, I can just point you to RebelScum’s annual poll, which will be starting to take shape in the beginning of the year.

Star Wars Titanium: More Battlestar Galactica

It’s a sad day for Battlestar Galactica fans. Not only have we been waiting for months to see the final episodes (which are so far done that the sets and props have been torn up and sold off), but now Hasbro’s Battlestar Galactica license is up. This means no more Titaniums, not that they were coming out very fast (three so far this year, two of them repaints, with one more repaint scheduled). The worst part is that the Cylon Base Ship had already been announced and shown, only to be canned after months of delays. There were so many more ships to be made (Cylon Base Ship, Classic Cylon Base Ship, Cylon Heavy Raider, Cylon Resurrection Ship, Starbuck’s Cylon Raider, Blackbird, Raptor with weapons, more personalized Viper Mk. II/VII repaints, etc.)… Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

Transformers Movie 2007: Dispensor

What could be cooler than a soda machine that transforms into an evil robot that shoots cans of Mountain Dew? Screw Leader Class Bonecrusher, I want a Leader Class Dispensor.

Most Elusive

G.I. Joe: Flash (Silver Card)

In all fairness, the variants (clear Wraith and black head comic pack Destro) proved to be more elusive to me, but since I have yet to find them, I have no proof that they truly exist (it could be a vast internet conspiracy). The TRU SRO Wave 2 packs have also proven quite elusive, but they had plenty of them the one time I saw them, so I can’t go with those (and they flooded stores just in time for TRU’s second round of $8.99 sales). That just leaves the lone figure from Wave 5 to never show up on a silver card in a later wave, Flash. I only saw a remnant of a Wave 5 case once, and Flash was one of the three figures I found. Everyone else in the wave would show up again soon after (most in a Wave 6 revision case that my local Wal-Mart bought a year’s supply of to go with the lifetime supply of Wave 1-2 comic packs they had in stock), but Flash had to wait more than eight months until being reissued in September of 2008 on a white card.

Indiana Jones: Wave 4

Is this sounding like a broken record yet? Damn you Hasbro, and your Wave 4 too…

Star Wars TAC/Legacy: Final TAC Saga Legends Wave

There was much rejoicing when the final Saga Legends wave before the Clone Wars reset was announced, then much frustration when stores stopped restocking the line in anticipation of its demise. The wave never hit stores in quantity (except for that one TRU that had a dozen Shadow Stormtroopers clogging the pegs) and quickly sold out wherever it hit. Compounding matters, all of the sought-after figures were previous hard-to-find exclusives, which weren’t much easier to find in their new incarnation.

Star Wars Titanium: TIE Defender

This figure was a contender for most controversial from the start. Sure there are the floppy plastic pieces and the hinges, but the thing is glued to the stand. Still, I was willing to give it a chance. If I could find it. After the first two waves of Legacy/Clone Wars Titaniums started to clear out, Wave 4 showed up. Huh? Wave 3 didn’t show up until Wave 4 was gone, with Wave 5 quickly following (and selling out). If you blinked (or spent a day at home instead of hunting for toys), you missed this wave, particularly the TIE Defender. I hope nobody was planning to build a fleet of them…

Transformers Animated: Triple/Quad Changers

Animated figures at the Deluxe level sell out frequently, but the Voyager class is a mixed bag. Some are easy to find while others are rarely seen. The hardest to find so far have been Blitzwing and Shockwave. I still haven’t decided whether I want to take a chance on Blitzwing, but he’s never around long enough for me to have to decide. I have yet to see Shockwave, but the upcoming Target repaint looks better anyway.

Best Pegwarmer

G. I. Joe: Wave 1 Comic Packs

There have been so many noteworthy pegwarmers this year, from Cobra Commanders to Dukes to Vipers to Wild Bills to Python Patrol Officers, but the only constant has been the Wave 1 Comic Packs. They first started to hit stores in December of 2007 and have been a fixture of the G. I. Joe section ever since. Their garish paint schemes on figures everyone already had (except for Hawk) ensured that there would be no children happy to receive them as gifts and no collectors fighting each other over them. No, these are the bastard children of the G.I. Joe line, doomed to spend eternity haunting the toy aisle.

Indiana Jones: Old Stuff

Sure, I could just say Mutt here, since he’s usually the last one left on the pegs, but most of the figures spend a fair amount of time on the pegs. The problem was the lack of new figures to generate interest in the line. Even the much sought-after Henry Jones Sr. could be found hanging out for a few days or even weeks, yet the non-Jones Wave 3 figures and all of Wave 4 were nowhere to be found. The whole situation just increases the popularity of everything the stores don’t have and makes anything that does make it out to retail an instant pegwarmer. Congratulations Hasbro, you created a line with demand focused almost exclusively on what people can’t buy. Sounds like a good business plan to me…

Star Wars Clone Wars: Nothing

Seriously, finding any of this stuff seems to be impossible during the holiday season. My local Target was completely wiped out after Black Friday. This line looks like it’s a big hit with the kids, which is where the money’s at. I guess a good TV show and a good selection of characters will do that for you.

Star Wars Legacy: Yarna

Who ever would have thought that a six-breasted, um, woman? thing? whatever…, would have trouble selling. Oh well, I’m sure someone wanted this thing. Now go buy another, whoever you are, she’s getting lonely in the otherwise-empty Star Wars section.

Transformers Animated: Blackarachnia

I don’t know what the deal is, but this one always seems to be around whenever Animated toys sell out.

Transformers Movie: Everything not on Clearance

Over the summer, Voyager movie figures went on clearance (Wal-Mart had some as low as $5). Those are now long gone. Everything else is still here: Legends two-packs, Target Basics, Deluxes, Leader Class Premiums… And they still want full price. Or more! Come on guys, time to let it go.

Pegwarmer of the Decade

And finally, the Lifetime Achievement award for pegwarming goes to…

Moff Jerjerrod!

That’s right, Moff Jerjerrod has demonstrated a commitment to pegwarming beyond the call of duty for warming pegs two full years after the end of his original line. Much of this was due to the SKU not being retired until mid-2008, but he can still be found in stores in December of 2008. For his dedication to ensuring that the pegs remain free of ice even in the coldest weather New England can throw at him, Moff Jerjerrod has earned the title of Pegwarmer of the Decade and is now entitled to a ceremonial incineration. Immediately.


And now the stores… Good, bad, and ugly (mostly ugly this time of year).

K-Mart/Sears Essentials

They don’t seem to be getting any exclusives these days, and their prices can be a bit high (particularly at the K-Mart branded stores), but they have had a lot of sales that bring their prices down to as much as 25% off MSRP. There’s not much to choose from most of the time (G.I. Joe is perpetually stuck at Wave 7 at one store, which is also the first wave that store carried), but you may occasionally find a good deal there.

KB Toys (RIP)

Where will we get our fraudulent pricing fix without KB? Their problems finally caught up with them, and now they’re closing down forever. That’s too bad for the employees, but I sure won’t shed a tear for the store. I can count my purchases from them this year on one hand and still have five fingers left. Going back further, there’s only one G.I. Joe figure, five Star Wars VTAC figures (on sale), and a handful of Transformers exclusives. That’s maybe 11 total figures in the last seven years totaling just over $100. That Target 50 feet away with much lower prices, better selection, and more room between the aisles might have also been a factor.


Speaking of Target… As the closest store to my home (only 3 miles away), this is my preferred store. Their selection, prices, and convenient clearances are also a factor. They even have clean and bright bathrooms (right by the entrance and everything). What else could you want?

Toys R Us

With KB out of the picture, that leaves TRU as the only toy-only chain around. And that makes them the default target of hatred for high prices and poor selection. At least they have (overpriced) exclusives. I might be inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt if it didn’t take me three attempts, two phone calls, and four months to get them to accept a gift card. And then the stuff I bought went on sale, so the gift card will be coming back…


And these guys… Who doesn’t love digging through the wrestling toys to find out if there are any new G.I. Joe figures? Wal-Mart’s philosophy of buying a crapload of something as infrequently as possible doesn’t really work. At least they cut prices occasionally. Too bad you need a snowplow to get through the aisles this time of year.


Finally, a store that does it right. Sure, the prices are on the high side (yet still lower than some places), but they have very frequent sales and clearances. The option to order entire cases for only slightly more than they would cost in stores (if you could find them) and get them before they show up in stores is very nice to have. And they carry Japanese imports too, often for less than it would cost to have them shipped from Japan (especially with the strong Yen).

2008 Final Thoughts

G.I. Joe

It was the first full year with a popular G.I. Joe line since the 80s, and boy did it feel like the 80s all over again. The number of unnecessary repaints was unfortunate, but once you get past those, it was a huge year, with carded figures, comic packs, DVD packs, vehicle packs, and tons of exclusives. Target got the first wave of vehicle packs, two jets, and an Ultimate Battle Pack, while TRU got four battle packs and six Senior Ranking Officer packs. What happened to Wal-Mart? They got extra shipments of Wave 1 and 2 comic packs (and still haven’t sold them almost a year later). Still, we got a few all-new figures, lots of new characters, some much-needed updates, and some nice extras like the Weather Dominator and MASS Device. The line goes on hiatus next summer, but Hasbro isn’t slowing down – it’s going to be a race to put out as much product as possible between now and then. Let’s hope they can do a better job getting it into stores, I’ve been getting the latest stuff online because of the lack of anything new in stores (like Waves 10, 11, 12, 13, Comic Pack Waves 6 and 7, Vehicle Pack Waves 2 and 4, DVD Packs 3, 4, and 5…).

Indiana Jones

It’s time to say farewell to Indiana Jones, which I hope means massive clearance sales (hopefully just before the TOD wave arrives, if it ever arrives…). The accessories in this line were excellent, even if the figures were a bit of a let-down. Better motorcycles in this scale can’t be found anywhere else, even if we never did get the sidecar… The 1:18 scale Ark needed an update (no handles), but that’s off the table too. And poor Marcus Brody, he got lost in the Hasbro doublespeak… Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

Star Wars (Old)

Star Wars just keeps churning out new stuff, which makes me wish I cared about Jedi or cantina aliens. I picked up a Grievous just because of how well they did with him (even with its flaws), and my Jedi mass grave is filling up with some pretty decent stuff. The repacks of repacked repacks are getting a bit old (how many times are we going to see the same battle packs?), which is saying something considering that I’ve only been following the line for a year. Articulation keeps improving, but it looks like Gree might be the only one to get ball-hinged wrists for a while. And they said we would never get a Sarlacc… Hasbro clearly wants to do new and innovative things with the line, and the BMF may be just the beginning (unless sales fall flat).

Star Wars (New)

Now there’s a new style of figure in town, and people are buying them. Seriously, the animated stuff seems to be outselling everything else out there. So much for the doom and gloom predictions. The line already has a large vehicle and UBP under its belt, though the vehicles are in a common style across both lines. And the clones… While they may look like teenagers or models with those proportions, you can’t complain about the articulation. And with a common style (unlike the endless variety in realistic style) your troops can all have a uniform look. It’s a nice reboot if you can get over the style change and the kids seem to be taking to it. And I’m sure the “I will never buy THOSE” crowd is having trouble sticking to that vow…

Star Wars Titanium

It’s a mixed bag here with a bunch of new designs and a ton of repaints. Out of eight waves, there were only 19 new (to the line) sculpts. Worst of all, Battlestar Galactica is no more. It’s getting harder and harder to tell what’s a repack and what’s a repaint, as all of the repacks seem to feature slight weathering or a stray black mark. This is just insane.

Transformers Movie/Universe

There’s another movie due out in a few months, so we can look forward to Classics/Universe to go on hiatus again. And probably some more repaints of last year’s movie toys… One more reason why Transformers gets less and less of my toy budget. Hopefully the Japanese reissues will continue, we still need some more cars and jets, not to mention cassettes, minibots, combiners, etc. And Masterpiece… Unfortunately, the Yen remains strong despite the global economic crisis, so things are getting more expensive.

Transformers Animated

I bought three this year and may buy about that many next year (maybe even twice as many!). This is well above my predictions of zero, though the various sales and coupons have helped (just over $40 spent on one leader and two deluxes). I still can’t get into the design or the cartoon (Star Wars wins that one), but whatever. Someone’s buying this stuff, which can only mean good things for the brand.

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