I’ve never been to San Diego Comic Con and I can’t foresee a time when it will ever be practical for me to attend, but I do follow the excitement from afar every year.
As an avid fan of pop culture and toys in particular, SDCC is like a blitzkrieg of delight that assaults my mind and my wallet. Film studios and toy manufacturers drop years’ worth of news in the span of a few days. It’s a lot, and if you’re like me it’s helpful to have a place to distill it down to the best stuff.
That’s what Needless Things is for.
Today I’ll be writing about all of the coolest toy news from this year’s Comic Con. Then, for the next two Fridays, you’ll be able to hear me and our pop culture experts Ryan and Jay discuss toys, movies, and more on the Needless Things Podcast!
I’ve included pictures where I can, but mostly just official releases when the companies have put them out (which they have gotten much better about since I started doing these). Toy Ark has massive galleries of the toys and our pal Action Figure Attack on Instagram and Facebook for the best pictures from the show.
Mego has been back for about a year now and after launching with a huge variety of figures that were exclusive to Target, they have truly gained a foothold in the marketplace and expanded in a big way.
Since last year’s relaunch, Mego has acquired a number of unique licenses and produced lots of figures that ended up on my Must-Have list. In a way the Megos evoke a similar reaction in me that certain Pops or ReAction figures do – the aesthetic is so distinct and interesting that it makes old characters fresh again.
For instance, the second I saw Mego’s Freddy Kruger, I knew I had to have it. I have maybe a dozen NECA Freddys, but Mego’s is something different and cool. And these are not the Megos I grew up with. The head sculpts are far more refined and detailed and the soft goods are excellent. The figures still have that retro feel, but are being designed to today’s standards.
As another example, they revealed a 1990 Pennywise and I think it might be the creepiest, best version of the character so far.
The big Mego reveal, though, and my favorite from all of SDCC were their Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan figures.
I have been wanting figures of the Enterprise crew in their movie uniforms ever since I saw Wrath of Khan in the theater. It’s unbelievable that no toy manufacturer has ever produced the whole crew, but it’s true. Not even Playmates in their heyday got around to everyone. Now, with the dedication to completing franchises that Mego has shown in the past year, I believe it will finally happen. They’ve already shown Khan, Kirk, and Spock and I absolutely believe that we’ll get McCoy, Scotty, Uhura, Sulu, Chekov, and maybe even Carol and David Marcus and some of Khan’s crew. Heck, a Saavik would be great, too!
Obviously I’d love an Enterprise bridge playset. Another great idea would be a sort of rotating playset that featured the Botany Bay, the cave on Regula, and the Enterprise warp drive room.
Last year at this time NECA announced that Target stores would begin carrying their products. It’s been a year now and while I’ve bought plenty of my NECA figures from Target, the distribution and selection seems to have fallen off. Most locations that I visit do not seem to keep their sections up to date, which from what I understand is a result of the merchandising rep not doing their job. Or possibly up and quitting.
For a few months I was what is referred to as a “NECA Ambassador”, which meant I took pictures of a specific Target’s NECA section every week in an attempt to keep the company appraised on the status of that store. The payoff was weekly random gift card drawings and quarterly gift cards for people who submitted every week. And, of course, the idea that you were helping make sure the store kept its NECA section stocked and fresh.
I realized at one point that I simply wouldn’t be able to submit every single week so that enticement was gone. Eventually I also realized that the section in my store was not being maintained and that my (almost) weekly updates seemed to be having no effect, so I stopped.
I still buy my NECA from Target when I find it there first, but now that Sidewalk Toys has come to town, Target isn’t the best in the game.
Anyway, let’s take a look at NECA’s SDCC goodies!
Alien and Predator
I feel like it’s a little late in the year to be announcing 40th anniversary Alien product (and maybe they did mention something at Toy Fair), but here we are with NECA’s new Ultimate and Quarter Scale Big Chap figures.
I think that I’m out of the NECA Quarter Scale game for good, because I can’t imagine them coming up with something as enticing as 1989 Batman or the movie Turtles (unless they release an ’89 Joker), and I would’ve thought the same about an alien from the ’79 movie, but the 7” version includes brand new sculpts of the egg, the facehugger, and the newborn and they look amazing.
NECA also unveiled a new Ultimate Dog Alien from Alien 3, which is very necessary because the last one they put out is garbage. It can’t even stand properly on all fours, leaving McFarlane’s Dog Alien as the reigning champ. Unless NECA gets it right this time.
Retro Style Figures
NECA’s clothed Mego-style figures are some of my favorites that the company produces. Now that they’ve expanded beyond just horror icons, they’re going after some truly unbelievable licenses. For instance, SDCC saw the debut of an action figure of hardcore band S.O.D.’s mascot, Sgt. D.
You guys, that is bonkers.
Sure, NECA already has a relationship with Anthrax/S.O.D. guitarist Scott Ian, but who would have ever thought we’d be getting S.O.D. merch in 2019, let alone a toy?
NECA also displayed a 1990 Pennywise, but as good as theirs looks, Mego’s is way creepier. And way cheaper. There’s something about a fabric costume on this Pennywise that just seems so much better.
It’s hard to keep track of everyone that has some form of Madballs licensing over the past few years, which is a thing I’m happy to say.
NECA released a fantastic line of horror Madballs featuring the usual suspects, and now they’re following it up with new gross-out balls of Pennywise from the current IT films, Chucky, and Pinhead.
Madballs is one of my favorite toy lines and I’ll buy pretty much anything with the name on it, but these are an amazing one-two punch of 80s toys and horror toys.
NECA HAS HELLRAISER BACK.
We actually knew this prior to SDCC, but it bears repeating because NECA did what I was hoping they would do and revealed an Ultimate Pinhead action figure! It looks fantastic and has a soft goods skirt that bends amazingly well with the rest of the figure’s clothing. I can’t wait to get this and to see more Cenobites in the future!
NECA also revealed phenomenal life-size figures of Chucky and Tiffany from Child’s Play. They sport fabric clothing, movie-accurate detail, and are fully articulated. At $400 apiece they’re less expensive than Trick or Treat Studios’ prop replicas. I couldn’t justify buying these, but if anyone is looking for Christmas/birthday/Labor Day gifts for your ol’ pal Phantom, these would be perfect!
I am not happy with NECA right now because for three days in a row their website locked me out of buying the new 1990 TMNT movie figures. Word is that they will be available at GameStop like the Turtles themselves were, but until I have them on my shelf I am not going to be satisfied.
In the meantime, NECA showed some nifty new video game based figures, from Turtles in Time, the second – and arguably better – arcade game. The initial four figures are Leonardo, Donatello, a FOOT Soldier, and Slash. The former three include the game’s signature hoverboards, which is admittedly very cool.
I love NECA’s video game releases. I think the deco is incredible and they have a look that pops off the shelf like nothing else (and if we’re talking about their Terminator figures I mean that literally – stupid toe joints). But I can’t collect everything, so as much as I like them these won’t be making it to my Turtles shelf or my video game shelf.
Masters of the Universe Origins
While there are other toys I liked more, this was probably the most surprising reveal at this year’s Comic Con.
Timed to arrive prior to the supposed new Masters of the Universe movie next year, the Origins line is updating the look of the vintage MOTU line with what looks to be sixteen points of articulation. Mattel showed He-Man, Skeletor, Beast Man, Man-At-Arms, Teela, and Evil Lyn.
Honestly I’m not all that into this. These designs look odd with articulation. It works for the Classics, and Super 7’s Filmation line does a great job making the toys the cartoon never had, but these are a strange update that I’m not sure appeals to anyone that might be inclined to collect Masters toys. I am very curious to hear what Mr. Beau Brown thinks of them.
Obviously I wish any He-Man toys the best of luck, but these aren’t giving me the itch.
This, on the other hand, absolutely delights me for some reason.
I am not going to pretend that mashing up WWE wrestlers and Ghostbusters make any goshdarned sense at all, but the sight of John Cena, Shawn Michaels, The Rock, and Stone Cold Steve Austin battling a ghostly purple Undertaker – holding a spectral green Championship – makes me giddy.
It’s pretty surprising that these are the fully-articulated and better-detailed Elite figures rather than Basics. The Ghostbusting gear is removable, leaving the wrestlers ready for in-ring action, albeit with rather bland looks. Or a completely weird look, in the case of a Stone Cold with no knee pads and a t-shirt with his trunks, making it look like he’s wearing a onesie.
Otherwise these are all great and I want them. I don’t know if they’re a box set or a wave of figures. I’m hoping for the former and expecting the latter.
WWE Masters of the Universe
Oddly enough this makes a lot more sense to me than a WWE/Ghostbusters mash-up.
We’ve already seen zombies and monsters during Mattel’s era, so Masters of the Universe seems like a reasonable fit.
Heck, now that I think of it so do Ghostbusters.
I LOVE the Castle Grayskull-themed wrestling ring and will absolutely buy it, but the figures aren’t doing anything for me. I get what Mattel was going for – when you remove the MOTU-inspired accessories these are regular wrestling figures – but to me it looks like they didn’t really commit. So for wrestling fans you have something that doesn’t look as cool and realistic as Elites, and for MOTU fans you have wrestlers cosplaying as He-Man. I don’t think Mattel has served either contingent well her by not committing more.
They have, however, served the bonkers New Day fan contingent with an incredible and slightly creepy version of Man-E-Faces that features all three New Day members on its rotating head. I WILL BUY THIS.
Will these appeal to kids? I dunno. They don’t have screens and buttons and earbuds, so I’m guessing not.
Mattel’s DC license is ending this year, but they are set to go out with a bang rather than a whimper. The final two announced waves of figures look pretty spectacular.
We’ve already known that the Killer Croc build-a-figure wave included an updated Red Hood, Dick Grayson Batman, Red Robin, Katana, (KG)Beast, and Alfred, but the first look at these figures shows what Mattel might have been capable of all along. All of the figures, including Croc, look amazing, but the Alfred is the real standout. From the neck down it’s the Joker body that’s been used a few times, but the accessories are where this figure becomes something special. Four heads are included – Michael Gough, Alan Napier, a standard comic book version, and… some alien or dead guy or something. I don’t know what the fourth one is.
I feel like Mezco kept things exciting without going too over the top or getting overwhelming. I am, of course, deeply invested in their One:12 line, but there are some other odds and ends worth mentioning, too.
Mezco gave us our first look at their retro 3.75” action figure line at Toy Fair with their Scooby-Doo and Addams Family lines. Those both look excellent and depending on the price point I might be all-in.
Mezco had even more licensed goodness on display at SDCC, with whole new waves of figures from The Warriors, The Spirit (the comic, not the movie), Max Fleischer’s Superman, and the 1966 Batman TV show.
They all look wonderful, but I’m a bit baffled at the Batman ’66 line. Funko produced 3.75” figures based on the Adam West show just a few years ago and they were excellent, but didn’t seem to do all that well. I find it odd that Mezco would want to dip back into that well so quickly. Don’t get me wrong – the figures and the Batmobile look perfect. I’m just not sure there’s a market for them.
Bluto & Popeye – I believe these will be sold separately, as they had individual plaques.
Mezco’s original One:12 Popeye is one of the best action figures I have ever owned. I wasn’t too sure if we’d see any more characters from the franchise (the Popeyeverse?), but I was thrilled to see Bluto in Mezco’s SDCC display.
He’s huge and ugly and brutish and oh, so Bluto.
This Popeye has yet another look from the two already released. I like it, but it will mostly depend on the accessories as to whether I pick it up. Who knows how many other One:12s will be battling for my money by summer of next year?
Conan the Barbarian – This is a whole new challenge for the One:12 team. Thus far the figures have managed to maintain their incredible articulation and realistic aesthetics thanks to being fully covered by fabric costumes and uniforms (or had suits of hi-tech armor to blend into). Conan, however, does not wear a spandex bodysuit or a tailored jacket. The last Cimmerian sports boots, a loin cloth, and a belt and that’s about it. All of the joints on this figure will be out in the open and all of the exposed flesh is going to have to carry all of the detail and realism that One:12s are so famous for. He can’t just have pink Ken skin.
The prototype Mezco had on display looked phenomenal. The portrait is perfection and the scarred physique has the look of a statue, but with plenty of well-concealed articulation.
I will order this the second Mezco makes it available.
Gambit – I can’t remember if we’ve actually seen Gambit before or if Mezco had just mentioned him. Whatever the case, the figure on display looked so good that I want to recognize it.
The blend of soft goods and plastic on this one is particularly impressive. The Cajun’s trademark trenchcoat is well done, but the look of the armored torso and boots with the stretchy pants is unique. It gives Gambit not just a different visual look, but a different aesthetic from the rest of the line.
The head is also excellent, with the nonsense head sock in full effect around a great face sculpt and with wild hair flowing out of the top. I do hope there’s an alternate head with more neutrally-sculpted hair.
Iron Fist – This character isn’t really one of my guys and I can’t say the figure did much for me, either. I’m not sure this design is a win. I’d be curious to know what actual Iron Fist fans think.
Wonder Woman – The first time we saw this comics-based Diana she didn’t look a whole lot different from the movie version. That has changed.
The head sculpt is very distinctive and comic-like. It almost looks like a George Perez drawing to me. Not Gal Gadot at all. The deco on the armor is also significantly different, featuring a lot more detail and fun stuff like the star and white pinstripes on the skirt. The shield is excellent, as well.
Morbius – At first I was confused because Morbius is not exactly a character I’d think was in demand for a collector-oriented line (or any line), but then I remembered the Jared Leto movie coming out and SYNERGY.
Also, he goes along with the One:12 Blade, who needs friends.
This is a weird-looking figure. I don’t see myself getting it, but as production moves along and the design becomes more refined I could imagine it becoming weird and distinctive enough to tempt me.
1989 Batman – This version of Batman simply has too much sentimental value for me to pass on a release from the greatest action figure line of all time. I’m just hoping for a Joker.
Thanos – There was a Mad Titan playing peekaboo behind one of the displays, but you’ll have to listen to this week’s episode of the Needless Things Podcast to hear more about that.
Hasbro has the biggest licenses, so they often seem like they have the biggest SDCC presence by default.
This year it seems like Marvel is where Hasbro put their focus. With Disney insisting on a stupid levels of secrecy there was very little Star Wars on display. Transformers are in the middle of War for Cybertron: Siege, which seems to mean lots of repaints. Don’t get me wrong, I still think the line is great, but there wasn’t much exciting at SDCC.
As always I strongly recommend you visit ToyArk and peruse their awesome galleries.
Insanity. Absolute insanity.
This might be the first show that left me feeling like I might have to stop a collection because there was just too damn much coming out.
Whatever the case, I’m definitely going to have to get pickier about what I buy.
Marvel Cinematic Universe – The first big reveal was an entire wave of MCU figures, which makes me very happy. I have long wanted Hasbro to separate the comic and movie lines. While I don’t necessarily take this as an indication of an ongoing split, it’s nice to know there’s a full wave that I want with a build-a-figure that’s a must-have.
The third Endgame wave includes America’s Ass Cap (though they certainly didn’t put any effort into said backside), the first single release movie Vision, Valkyrie in her white armor, Iron Man MK LXXXV, Heimdall (though I would have preferred a pre-Ragnarok version), and Iron Patriot from the end of Endgame. The build-a-figure is Thor from Endgame, who I prefer to refer to as “Lebowski Thor” rather than any of the demeaning nicknames the character seems to have picked up.
As a matter of fact, the first time I saw the figure was in a bad picture on my phone and I thought it was a Big Lebowski figure.
THE YEAR OF X – Oh, my stars and garters, I cannot believe some of the stuff Hasbro revealed. I am talking dream figures, here.
Polaris and Havok from Peter David’s original X-Factor run, as well as Strong Guy! STRONG GUY!!!!! I have been begging for a Strong Guy build-a-figure for years. And they all look fantastic. Hasbro got the aesthetics of Havok and Polaris just right and Guido is a BEAST.
Many of the pictures I found were in various Instagram stories, but Hasbro’s panel also revealed a New Mutants figure that included parts for Dani Moonstar, Karma, and Wolfsbane.
I think the biggest surprise was that Hasbro is redoing one of the biggest pegwarmers of all time, Age of Apocalypse Wolverine. I’ll admit that this new one looks awesome, but I can’t help but feel like there were better options. At least he’ll have AoA versions of Morph and Nate Grey to hang out with. Just not on my shelves – I’m not a fan of the story.
Finally, Hasbro revealed a 3-pack that is like a sweet caress on whatever part of your brain deals in nostalgia.
The two essentials are an updated 90s Jean Grey with an alternate head and Cyclops in his leather jacket with two alternate heads. These are definitely collection centerpieces for anyone that grew up with the 90s X-Men animated series.
The third figure is another Wolverine. It could be argued that this one is pretty darn similar to the one that just came out with the Caliban wave. It could be argued that sticking another Wolverine in with these two hugely fan-demanded figures is a crass way for Hasbro to jack up the price of a box set that they know is going to sell.
Instead of arguing all of that I’m going to say that this Wolverine is a necessary part of an unofficial X-Men animated set. Sure, the bone claws don’t go with the cartoon, but they’re a nice extra, aren’t they? And the extra heads and lowered mask piece are pretty good. I doubt anyone was particularly stoked to see this figure, but I can’t deny that it makes sense.
Other Marvel – Hasbro also revealed a new Doctor Doom that frankly doesn’t look that much better than the one I’ve got, a classic Vulture that looks great, a Hulk-except-it’s-She-Hulk-but-she’s-Hulk-now-which-isn’t-at-all-confusing that’s a great figure, and Shang Chi. I don’t really know anything about Shang-Chi. The figure looks appropriately Kung-Fu-y.
In news that will excite my son, Hasbro is continuing its video game releases with Spider-Man in both his Velocity Suit and the Spider Armor Mark II from the recent game. Those look far better than that first video game figure, which was all repaint and deserves an update.
Hasbro also showed two new Legendary Riders in Squirrel Girl with a repaint of the Deadpool scooter and Cosmic Ghost Rider with an incredible-looking space cycle or whatever it’s called. I don’t really care about either of those characters, but they’re fan favorites, so Hasbro is smart on get on them.
Hyperreal – That very expensive Darth Vader was going to need a very expensive character to interact with, and the obvious choice was Luke Skywalker in his Dagobah fatigues.
Black Series – The Sith Trooper is great. All hail red Troopers!
Galaxy of Adventures – This new 5” scale line features figures based on the animation from the Galaxy of Adventures shorts. They’re also very similar to the Disney Store’s exclusive Toybox figures. I think they look great and the ten dollar price point is definitely the magic number.
Those were all of the big ones for me. Tune in to this week’s Needless Things Podcast for a roundtable discussion of SDCC, and please help spread the word about Needless Things and the Needless Things Podcast.
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