Custom Weapon accessory by eBay user mugenites
With Toy Fair having been cancelled this year, toy companies have been able to spread their reveals over weeks rather than having to dump them all over a cold February weekend. This has made for some fun, late-night antics from NECA in particular.
A few weeks back, NECA revealed they had obtained the license for the horror cult classic An American Werewolf in London. At the time they only revealed the titular werewolf, but overnight they revealed the Nazi werewolf soldiers from the famous fever dream sequence.
We have no information yet on whether this will be a single figure release with four different heads, a two-pack with two different heads, or a four-pack with one head each. (If I had to guess, I’d go with an Ultimate figure with four heads.)
NECA has been making a lot of popular reveals lately (last week’s blockbuster Gargoyles reveal came just a tad before my decision to actually try blogging again, but I’ll try to cover that in more detail in the future). Between American Werewolf in London, Back to the Future, Gargoyles, Defenders of the Earth, and their cartoon-based Ninja Turtles line – to say nothing of their recent acquisition of Universal Monsters – NECA seems to have recovered quite well from the loss of Toys R Us a few years back.
I’ve had a theory for a while that modern adult action figure collectors of a certain age (i.e., the ones currently driving the market, between the ages of 30-50 mostly) have gone through a number of fads. I’m calling them…the Buzzlords.*
While there have been plenty of popular action figure lines throughout the years, these are the lines that seem to dominate an era.** Here’s what I see as the most important traits of these lines:
- The line appeals to fans of the property who perhaps aren’t toy collectors
- The line appeals to adults who were fans of the property as children
- The line draws in collectors who weren’t fans of the property at all
- At some point, the line becomes hot enough that the scalpers come in and start trying to make a quick buck.
- There are multiple instances of collectors going nuts trying to find or preorder particular figures, especially variants and exclusives (the monthly Top Ten lists in ToyFare were particularly instructive for this)
- And finally, and I’m sure most controversially, the lines have a certain “buzz” around them among collectors – they’re the line everyone is familiar with, the one you see at every booth at comic conventions, the one that gets the occasional mainstream news article written about it.
So, using these criteria, here is my list of the Buzzlords since the modern collecting era. The years are obviously a rough approximation, as lines waxed and waned and some overlapped in their popularity, and many of these lines kept going long after their initial burst of mega-popularity (such as Marvel Legends).
- 1994-1995 Spawn (McFarlane Toys)
- 1995-1997 Star Wars: Power of the Force 2 (Hasbro)
- 1997-2000 Movie Maniacs (McFarlane Toys)
- 2000-2002 The Simpsons: World of Springfield (Playmates)
- 2002-2006 Marvel Legends (ToyBiz)
- 2006-2010 DC Universe Classics (Mattel)
- 2010-2015 Masters of the Universe Classics (Mattel)
- 2015-2020 Star Wars Black (Hasbro)
- 2020-? G.I. Joe Classified (Hasbro)
Honorable Mentions: Masters of the Universe 200X (Mattel), G.I. Joe 25th Anniversary (Hasbro), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (NECA)
But this is just my list. Perhaps it’s biased, or perhaps I’m just way off-base with this theory in general. I’d love to hear your thoughts! (No, really, I would! That’s not just comment-baiting. I mean it is, but it’s not just that.)
*Why the Buzzlords, you ask? Why not, say, the Zeitgeist Lines? 1.) I don’t think there’s anything about these lines that particularly embodies the spirit of their age (except maybe Movie Maniacs). 2.) “Buzzlord” is more fun and memorable than “zeitgeist” – and potentially marketable if the idea takes off. 3.) It kind of sounds like a forgotten Sectaurs character.
**I’m going to exclude sports-themed lines like Starting Lineup and McFarlane Sports. I mean no offense, but the collectors of those lines seem somewhat different from the sort of collector who would visit PGPoA. Their love of the lines comes as much from their love of the sports and their favorite teams and players as it does the toys themselves (which tend to be more like statues than action figures). That said, there’s no question those lines were very popular in the late 1990s and early 2000s. You might think I’m being unfair, and if so, click here for a rebuttal on my behalf from an expert witness.
Since putting this website on hiatus six(!) years ago, the big thing I’ve gotten into with my toy collecting is making dioramas. This doesn’t always mean a full-on structure like a castle or a building (though I do have and love those) – sometimes it’s more representational or abstract, like this one.
I’ve titled this diorama “Incoming.” I love to add dynamism and motion in my action figure displays, which is why I’ve amassed a large collection of effects pieces and various action figure stands (the industry has come a long way from Whippy Superpose).
While I made some of the purchases for this diorama earlier, this one began with the ATV Scarlett is driving. It’s the Suzuki Vinson 4×4 500 Quad Runner ATV Green 1/12 Diecast Motorcycle Model by New Ray, and I got it for a great price from Diecastmodelswholesale.com. It’s maybe a little small for G.I. Joe Classified, particularly the male figures, and that’s not unusual for a lot of today’s “six inch” lines – many of them, such as Marvel Legends (especially the comic ones), Mattel’s WWE, and G.I. Joe Classified – run closer to a 6.5″ scale (meaning six feet = six and a half inches). Diecast 1/12 toys tend to be a more accurate scale. That said, the ATV looks great here and wasn’t really an issue.
The ATV is intended to represent a hunter’s vehicle, so it comes with some great accessories: two 1/12 rifles, a case that can hold either rifle (which fits in a slot on the side of the vehicle itself) and a compound bow. All in all it’s a good deal for the retail price of $20 and a great deal for Diecastmodelswholesale.com’s current sale price of $13.
The next step was giving a sense of terrain. The ground under the ATV comes from the Beasts of the Mesozoic “Desert with Mononykus” accessory set. It’s hard to come by these days, but as of this writing it’s available for $50 here and here. I got it for cheaper (I think $35?) as a backer for the original Kickstarter for this toy line, and honestly I’ve probably had the accessory set on display with various dioramas more often that I’ve used it for the Velociraptor toys it was designed for.
Next I knew I wanted to have the ATV getting knocked by an explosion. The explosion comes from the Bandai Tamashii Nations Tamashii Effect Explosion Red Version. I got this for about $25 back in 2014, and finding an official one of these is fairly difficult now, although there are a lot of cheap bootlegs on eBay.
The ATV is held up in the crash position by a Tamashii Stage Act stand. There are a lot of different versions of these, and this particular one is the Act 5, which is designed for Gundam models and is a little heavier-duty than the Act 4, which is made for Figuarts figures (which tend to be a little lighter than most American 6″ action figures).
Next is Snake Eyes. For those wondering, the body of Snake Eyes is the retail version, but the head (with the silver visor) comes from the Hasbro Pulse Exclusive. The motorcycle he is riding is a Maisto Harley Davidson 2014 Sportster Iron 883. Like the ATV, it’s in a 1/12 scale and thus runs just a tad small for Snake Eyes, but it works.
The muzzle flash on his Uzi (which also comes from the Exclusive Snake Eyes) was purchased from eBay seller juicetinscustoms.
Finally there’s Duke. He’s flying the McFarlane Toys Fortnite Mako Glider Pack. It’s just a bit cartoonish compared to the aesthetic of G.I. Joe Classified, but only just, and it would fit perfectly in the old 1980s G.I. Joe cartoon. I wanted to fill the space to the left of Scarlett and offer a good contrast to the right-angle lean of Scarlett and Snake Eyes, so this worked out great. The Glider comes with its own stand, but it was way too big and cumbersome for the display, so I used a NECA Dynamic Action Figure Stand. (You can find these at Target sometimes in the NECA section.) It took a lot of fiddling to get the pose I wanted, and it’s a bit precarious.
All of it is placed inside the top shelf of the ever-popular Ikea Detolf display case.
So, I pulled from a lot of different parts of my collection to put this piece together. That’s pretty common for my dioramas, as I may showcase in later posts.
If you’re interested in more of these type of posts, let me know in the comments here or on Facebook or Twitter.
Toy companies seem to be shying away from real-life guns.
Diamond Select’s Rocketeer andWestworld figures either didn’t have guns or they were glued into their holsters (despite coming with hands with trigger fingers) and their John Wick figure has one dinky pistol (though the “Casual” version does have a shotgun).
The G.I. Joe public relations team refers to guns as “blasters” and the new Classified figures have sci-fi-style guns. Apparently the new movie Marvel Legends Deadpool comes with two removable sci-fi guns and has two real-life Desert Eagles glued into his holsters (which can be easily removed with some heat).
The only Hasbro figures that have had real-life guns recently have been online exclusives. (I’m really curious to see how the Punisher w/ motorcycle gets distributed – wouldn’t be at all surprised if he were a fan channel exclusive.)
(Hell, I even noticed the Youtube stars my kid watches, Lankybox, always refer to guns as blasters when they play Roblox.)
I assume this is a post-Parkland phenomenon; that particular mass shooting seemed to change the conversation around guns, moreso than other recent tragedies. It doesn’t appear to be a policy Hasbro or Diamond want to make a big deal out of, as they’re likely hoping to avoid a PR debacle on either side of the debate.
UPDATE: In assuming this was a Parkland-related issue, I thought the reason that exclusives could have real-life guns was because their online availability meant they were solely directed toward the adult market. However, after a user on our Facebook page pointed out that the Target exclusive Black Widow figure has fairly realistic guns, another possibility occurred to me: the international market. Gun culture overseas is not what it is in America, and I can imagine there being some complicated customs laws around representations of firearms in some countries. Why bother with it when you can just use your own patented NERF designs?
When is a gun not a gun? It reminds me a bit of the famous X-Men “nonhuman creatures” legal case.
Aside from mass shooting-related sensitivity and international customs compliance, I can think of at least two other explanations. It’s possible using real-life weapon designs require some sort of licensing from the manufacturers, which makes using original creations such as NERF designs cheaper. It’s also possible Hasbro has plans for some corporate synergy by repackaging their full-size NERF weapons under the G.I. Joe brand.
I would be very interested to hear from any industry types as to what’s going on here – feel free to email me at email@example.com if you have any insight to offer.
I purchased my very first item from eBay in 1998. The seller of that item (A First Contact Captain Picard figure, I believe) gave the following feedback: “Fast payment and a smooooth transaction!!!!”
I have used some variation of “Great item” or “Great buyer” and “& a smooooth transaction!” as feedback for almost every single eBay item I’ve bought over twenty-two years.