UnderScoopFire Podcast #21 – Toy Fair 2012 & the Top 10 Action Figures of All Time

by Howie Decker @HowardTheDeck on February 7, 2012

in Podcast

The 2012 Toy Fair is coming up February 12-15 in New York City, and that has gotten us thinking about toys (not that we need a Toy Fair to get us thinking about action figures, that pretty much happens everyday). The Toy Fair has expanded this year in an attempt to accommodate the record number of companies anxious to be added to the world-renowned tradeshow’s wait list. Toys and action figures are as popular as ever.

In this episode:

Howie is joined by a panel of well-respected toy authorities as they discuss the Top 100 Action Fgures of All Time, most specifically the Top 10. We also preview the NYC Toy Fair 2012, as one of our panel members is preparing to make the trip! Love is a wonderful thing, and we know what it’s like to be passionate about toys and action figures.

Let me introduce you to the roundtable participants and contributors who worked on this list:

  • John Vanover – admin of tvandfilmtoys.com, his collection is broad- with an emphasis on Star Wars and other movie franchise toys.
  • Justin Bell – admin of GeneralsJoes.com, contributor to the G.I.Joe Collectors Club Newsletter, member of the What’s on Joe Mind? Podcast.
  • Rob Buzan – author of Joe A Day, a great blog that provides exactly what it promises. Owner of every 3 3/4 inch G.I. Joe figure from 1982 to present.
  • Justin Gammon – designer/illustrator, author of WeirdoToys.com: a “home for all those random toys that most people have left behind.”

Listen/Download Episode #21 on iTunes

Listen/Download Episode #21 on BuzzSprout
[buzzsprout episode=’40746′ player=’true’]

zedhatch February 7, 2012 at 2:17 pm

I enoyed ie everyone,

A couple of notes though, I do think there was a bit of being too caught up in the originals, I get what you were saying, but at the same time I can’t help but think if we had the toy tech then that we do now, the figures would have been closer to the updated looks. There is revereance and respect to the past, and there is being stuck there, I think the convo of the 30th/Renegades Storm Shadow brings that to light as well.

The Vader with removeable mask is a good example, yes it was the first removable mask Vader, and the sculpt was good, however there was the fact that his lightsaber in 99% of the carded figs had a color error and turned out pink. I bring that up to point out a glaring flaw with the fig, but to illistrate the point that reverence to the past shouldn’t be the #1 criteria. Often there is also the rose colored glasses effect too, it’s a rather intangable thing to point to an example of, but at the same time it is apparent in the conversations about the lists.

In that vien I would have to say a better choice would have been Vader from 30th line/Evo set, he was one of the very first SW figures that had “modern” SW articulation (ie Ball joint elbows ect), he is one of the few vaders that can hold his saber well (most of the latest cannot), and he had a battle stand (which was Obi-wan’s cloak, a master accessory if I do say so). That is just a thought and I’m sure debate can go all day.

I would have liked to have had a better explaination of the criteria as in some places there seemed to be a “Well we have to have a figure from this line in the list” rather than a talk about what really was best. Just for example, if the top ten figures were all Joes, then roll with it instead of trying to mix and match to please the masses. Then again I am very unclear of how exactly you guys compiled this together too. I guess I am kind of asking. I got that there was 20 from each contributor but how did this all work out, it doesn’t sound like it was compilled by multiple listings as you did mention Stone being mentioned by 3 people but he only made it to #12 (I think, don’t want to leave the comment box to double check sorry) and he also seemed to be mentioned more than #1 spot from what I could gather. Again just curious cause unless I overlooked in in the top 100 (and I may have) the criteria here wasn’t spelled out clearly.

Howard Decker February 7, 2012 at 2:51 pm

zedhatch –

You make valid points. To address the ratings system, ie. how we came up with the final list – just as I said in the pod intro, we “pulled them out of our ass” 🙂
While that is certainly a crass way to describe it, it is exemplary of how much of a clusterf*ck a project of this nature would inevitably be. I reached out to the other 4 guys and asked for their 15-20 favorite action figures of all time. Some sent more. While Lt. Stone appearing on 3 of their lists certainly says something about the popularity of the figure, none of them had him in their Top 10, which is why he didn’t make our conglomerate Top 10.
I’m glad you left your thoughts here in the comments – we hoped it would spark discussion and thought.

As far as an all-Joe Top 10, that was exactly what we feared would happen if we devised some sort of scoring system to rank the figures by. The Joes led the way in articulation, accessories, backstory, card art, etc. A Top 10 dominated by one line (if we don’t consider 3 Joes being in there “dominant”) would have been a bad move with regard to mass appeal (which is ultimately the site’s goal).

Thank you VERY much for getting the discussion started! Let’s hear from some others!

zedhatch February 7, 2012 at 7:55 pm

OK I thought the out of your ass comment was just a joke.

But I understand what you mean having done yearly lists similar to this myself (However narrowed to 1:18th scale figures). It does get daunting but as I said you have to remember not to try to please everyone cause no one will agree on everything.

Also (and not in the slightest way a knock to the people contributing) you did have two big GI Joe guys there (Rob of Joe a Day, Justin of Generalsjoes) which also drove Stone up I think. No tknocking the choices, but I do think so many Joe fans (and just note I am a Joe fan too) does turn the outcome, but that is the nature of the beast I suppose.

Engineernerd February 7, 2012 at 9:21 pm

Excellent well rationalized comments Z.

I do think that the GI Joe brand has kind of been on the cutting edge of articulation and detail for a long time and that is part of the reason you see it represented here. They always seem to try to push the envelope to set themselves apart. But maybe that is just me.

zedhatch February 8, 2012 at 8:46 am

Oh I agree, I’m a pretty big GI Joe nut myslef.

I’m just thinking that if two other people from the He-Man world (I have no idea who) or Transformers (Again no examples come to mind) that the top ten would be different (more with their own centric interests).

Again that is no knock at all, More an obsrvation, but I figure GI Joe would have good levels of representation anyway.

But I guess any way I try to explain it, it will come accross as a critism (which it’s not, just an observation). Anyway sorry for that, I just ramble a bit LOL.

Will February 7, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Nice work, guys. Ahh, you were right in the fact that I was going to call you on omitting Power Rangers from the list. It’s always funny how much that line is neglected, seeing as how it was voted the #1 boys toy line for about the first ELEVEN years of its existence. I am not making that up – it gained that title throughout Star Wars and Transformers revivals, as well as popular lines like G.I. Joe or Marvel Legends.

Anyway, there definitely should’ve been some representation on the list. The problem is that, earlier in its existence, there weren’t many figure offerings that could be considered the “best” of anything. The 8″ figures had an amazing amount of articulation, but it was an awkward scale and nobody could find them. The AutoMorphins were clever, but they still suffered from a poor basic body style, as well as the fact that it was another awkward scale at 5.5 inches. It’s safe to say that most of the standard rangers suffered from some sort of gimmick that would keep them from the list – that is until the Super Legends.

Around the middle of the ’00s, Bandai America started mixing Super Legends chase figures into their cases of whatever incarnation of Rangers was going at the time. Since they were based on the “high points” of Ranger nostalgia, they focused on fan favorite team members, like MMPR Green Ranger, MMPR White Ranger, and Gold Zeo Ranger. These figures figured removable vests, and sported more points of articulation than we’d seen at that scale. Any of those three could’ve made the list, as they’re simply beautiful. Fun for play, but made excellent display pieces, as I have them displayed in the West Cave. OK, I’ve said enough about Power Rangers for one comment. GLARING OMISSION, but nice work otherwise.

Howard Decker February 7, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Will – We did go into the Power Rangers a good deal on the podcast, discussing how they should have been on the list, and where we could have wedged them in. They will have a cemented spot on the 2013 version of the list 🙂 Thanks for checking it out, sharing, and commenting!

Engineernerd February 7, 2012 at 9:14 pm

In my defense, the power rangers hit their stride between my kid years and my modern collecting era. (i.e. I’m old)

SharePointJoe February 7, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Figure reboot should be….Centurions. That would be awesome.

Howard Decker February 7, 2012 at 3:28 pm

Great call! That would be awesome with new articulation, accessories, etc. Although you know mine and your opinion on new articulation 🙂

Jason Gross (@SockOfFleagulls) February 7, 2012 at 6:51 pm

Not sure if I have the figure IQ to post here, but enjoyed the podcast. All of you have taken collecting to a new level.
I might be crazy but I sold alot of my vintage toys last summer include a handful of Joes/Havoc, the Gobots command center and Leader 1/Scooter, and my Rambo figure/helicopter plus assorted others in a pursuit to collect as much M.A.S.K. figures/vehicles/memorabilia as possible. Those were my favorites and I’ve enjoyed introducing my boys to M.A.S.K. over the last year or so. I’ve got all but 3 vehicles in the first 3 toy lines plus a few from the 4th and the M.A.S.K. board game and I tell ya it was worth it!!!

Have you guys ever made that tough decision to sell your vintage odds and ends to fund a specific figure/toy line?

P.S. I did keep my original GIJoe Skystryker, which I’ll probably have as long as my heart beats.

Engineernerd February 7, 2012 at 9:11 pm

I’ve never sold off anything much to the ire of Mrs. Nerd. I’ve considered it, but I really collect what I like and really not a completist on any one line.

Howie Decker February 9, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Sadly, I never sold any of my old toys and figs, I lost them when my childhood home quickly and unexpectedly changed hands (long story). Somehow I salvaged my MOTU figs, but no Castle Grayskull or vehicles. Lost ALL of my Joes, vehicles and bases, which was the property I had by far the most of. Lost all MASK, Star Wars, Thundercats, Silverhawks, LJN WWF Superstars, Kenner Super Powers, etc. I’ve been cobbling together some of my faves over the years, and thanks to Joe I now have a vintage Sci-Fi (my favorite Joe).

I have been considering selling my MOTU to fund a GI Joe and MASK re-collection, but it wouldn’t go far. I have about 30 MOTU figs.

Brian Morin February 7, 2012 at 9:05 pm

Great top 10. There’s obviously a lot of debate going on and it gave me an idea. March Madness will be here before we know it. What if we took 64 figures, 32 classic era and 32 modern. Use the top 100 rankings for seeding and set it up as a tournament and hold voting each week of the NCAA tournament to eventually come up with the action figure champ? Could even arrange the brackets by type of figure.

Engineernerd February 7, 2012 at 9:16 pm

Dear lord! Are you trying to kill Howie?

Cool idea though.

Jason G February 8, 2012 at 10:37 pm

Howie might be busy with other March Madness plans….shhhhh!!!

Howie Decker February 9, 2012 at 11:59 am

Yeah it’s looking like we will have our plans for March Madness 2013 set WAY in advance – Brian I love the idea, but Jason has been cooking up some march Madness-based brilliance since last fall!

Tris Spencer September 29, 2013 at 7:48 am

I am looking for potential supporters for my Lego E.T. project. If you think it is worthy of your time, any mention or support would be fantastic.


Many thanks,

Tris Spencer

Howie Decker February 9, 2012 at 12:06 pm

I was luck to have the guys who contributed to this project participate, but I see your point as well. I went with trusted contacts and bloggers I respect over trying to reach out to someone I didn’t know very well just because they focused on a certain property. As our connections grow, projects like this could become more comprehensive, but I am very proud of the final product these guys helped us develop. Thanks again for the thoughts!

Previous post:

Next post: