Eight Years

Here we are at eight years.  I’d like to say it got here quickly.  I’d like to say it was an easy road.  But it was neither of those things. This past year was a very hard year for me. Probably the hardest I’ve had.  My personal struggles are something I’ve discussed a little bit here, with losing my wife Jess being the very biggest of them all.  I won’t lie, it got a little hard to keep up with things and to keep persevering, but the site also gave me an outlet to channel some of my worst feelings during some of my darkest days.  I made it a point not to quit right away after I lost Jess, but the thought did enter my mind.  She was a very strong influence on this site, and it’s very different without her here.  I knew I wanted to get to today, and see how I felt from here.  I’ve given it a lot of thought, and my plan as it stands right now is to keep going.  I like this side of me, and Jess did too.  She didn’t want me stepping away during her treatment, and I don’t think she’d want me stepping away now.  I may revisit the decision in the coming months, but for now, I’m not done here yet.

Over the course of the last 365 days, I’ve written over 271,000 words about 409 figures, 4 vehicles, 1 radio, and a pizza.  Gotta love the climbing pizza stats there.

This year, the site’s views moved their way up to a cumulative total of over 480,000, over 120,000 of those coming from the last 365 days, absolutely blowing away the already heightened stats of the two prior years.  I picked up 47 more followers, bringing the total to a resounding 277.   I had 99 comments, excluding those made by myself.

Let’s talk about the make-up of this year’s reviews.  Breaking it down by franchises, Marvel is still on top with 138 reviews,  Star Wars is about half of that at 75, and DC isn’t too far behind with 52 . Dealing with toy lines proper, Marvel Legends maintains its spot at the top with 90 reviews, followed by a gap and then The Black Series at 43, and then Minimates wrap things up with 27, holding the third spot by a narrow margin .  By virtue of being the primary manufacturer of the top two entries in both of the last two categories, Hasbro once more takes the number one spot for manufacturers, with 202 reviews, again more than half my total.  Second place is 159 reviews behind, and not even in business anymore, since it’s Kenner with 35. Toy Biz, another not in business company takes the third spot with 25, finally dethroning DST, an actual company that still makes things. That’s gotta hurt.  As of today, I have reviewed 62.4% of my collection, almost a 5% increase from last year.

The past six years, I’ve taken the end of this post to go through my favorite reviews from the past year.  Admittedly, I don’t think I have the clarity to do that this year.  I’m still kind of feeling out having emotions and liking things, and it would probably just wind up being things from happier times, which seems unfair to the back half of the year’s reviews.

I will, however, once again offer my most sincere thank you to all my faithful readers who have stuck by me through all my crazy ramblings, and to all of those who have joined me along the way.  This year, more than others, I couldn’t do this without you guys.  Thank you for being part of finding my new normal.

That’s pretty much it…

We’ll Meet Again

I haven’t talked much, if at all, about this here on the site, but the last year has been perhaps harder for me than it has for others.  On top of battling the same pandemic that just about everyone else in the world has been facing, for the last year Super Awesome Wife, aka Jessica, and I have been fighting an even more personal battle.  In June of last year, after going in for treatment on a strange lump, Jessica was officially diagnosed with endodermal sinus cancer of the vulva, or yolk-sac vulva cancer.  It’s a particularly rare, particularly aggressive, form of germ cell cancer.  Since last June, Jess has bee going through a number of treatments, in the hope of getting things under control.  Unfortunately, last month, we discovered that the cancer had moved from its original location in Jess’s groin, into her lungs.  Yesterday, after a very hard week in the hospital, Jess passed away in her sleep, at 25 years old.

In preparation for this event, I have been doing a lot of advance writing.  There are 23 reviews already written, which will be posted daily for the next 23 days.  After that, I hope to keep writing more, but I genuinely don’t know.  But right now, I want to talk about my wonderful relationship with my Super Awesome Wife, Jessica Lynn Headlee.

Jess and I met in the summer of 2013, at the sci-fi convention Shore Leave.  She was working as a time keeper for the panels, and I was there as a plus one for my dad, who was attending as an author guest.  We were introduced by a mutual friend, and were infatuated with each other almost immediately.  After spending that entire weekend together, we exchanged contact information, and began texting on a near daily basis, separated at the time by a roughly six hour drive.

During those early days of texting, we got to know a lot about each other, and my hobby of collecting action figures was a topic that came up, almost by accident one night, when I mentioned I was updating my database with some new pieces.  This led to the inevitable question: “how many do you have?”  I was, admittedly, embarrassed by the answer, which was at the time just a few shy of 2400 pieces.  I went vague, answering “a lot.”  “A lot’s not a number,” came the reply, “what’s the actual number?”  So, I figured I might as well be honest, and I told her the exact number.  Her response changed my life: “That’s not that many, and I’ll fight anyone who thinks it is.”

Before Jess, I was always embarrassed by my collection.  It brought me joy on my own, but I sort of hid it from people, because I thought it made me weird.  Jess didn’t see it that way in the slightest.  More than that, she loved it.  She asked more questions about what figures I had, asked for updates if I got new ones, and asked if I ever did anything cool with them.  I had just started taking photos of them, and she asked if I ever did anything with those.  She even wanted me to send her photos of them occasionally.  Her full support of my hobby was a major part of the confidence boost that got me to actually launch this site, and she was a faithful reader during those long-distance days.  We would officially become a couple in December of 2013, and that was when she really doubled down on the support, going so far as to buy me *more* figures, a completely insane concept to me at the time.

Jess and I moved in together in the fall of 2016, after deciding the long-distance thing was getting to be too stressful for both of us, and that we wanted to see each other more than a single weekend per month.  Being around me and my collection on the regular didn’t slow down Jess’s desire to support my hobby.  In fact, it rather sped it up, and even got her to start amassing quite a collection of her own.  We started to collect certain things jointly, and she even started writing reviews of her own.  She would also add her own commentary to my reviews, point out which figures she liked most, and even tell me what silly nickname a certain figure was to have in a review.

In the last year, with restrictions due to the pandemic, we had periods of not being able to see each other.  She had a selection of her own figures (actually an entire collection of Ratchets, to serve as her own little medical team), which she would take with her.  I was also to send her photos of new additions while she was gone, and to talk to her about them in great detail when we spoke on the phone.  It was important to her to remain as invested as possible, and she truly did.  She made me feel supported.  She made me feel valid.  She made me feel loved, unconditionally.  She was one of the most amazing people I ever knew, or will ever know.  She had a capacity for love and an excitement for life that I don’t believe has an equal.  And she was a fighter up until the very end.  But now, she is finally at peace, and is suffering no more.  She was my very favorite person, and my very best friend.  She was truly Super Awesome.  And there are no words to describe how very much I am going to miss her.  But I know we’ll meet again, some sunny day.

Seven Years

Seven Years.  Well, on one hand, I’d like to say these yearly wrap-ups feel like they’re coming at me faster and faster, but on the other hand, it’s hard to say that 2020 in particular has gone by all that quickly.  Truly it’s been a doozy of a year.  Last year, I passed my personal milestone of reaching my original “end goal” for the site, and the year before that I hit five years.  This year doesn’t carry anything quite as special with it, I suppose, at least from the reviewing side.  On the personal side, it’s been a year full of a lot of change, but I’m hardly alone on that front.  But enough of being introspective, let’s talk about my two favorite things: toys and stats!

Over the course of the last 365 366 days, I’ve written over 272,000 words about 458 figures and 6 vehicles.  That’s a lot of toys and a lot of words.  Additionally, I had three more lovely fill-ins from my Super Awesome Wife, plus a proper guest review from her as well.

This year, the site’s views climbed up to a cumulative total of over 360,000, over 80,000 of those coming from this year, surpassing even last year’s heightened stats.  I picked up 32 more followers, bringing the total to a resounding 230.   I had 36 comments, excluding those made by yours truly.

“And what exactly were you reviewing?” a made up reader that seems to think surprisingly like only me, the writer, asks!  Well, breaking it down by franchises, Marvel come out on top with 127 review,  Star Wars was following close behind 91, and DC marks a distant third with 30 (just barely beating out last year’s number three, Transformers, which had 29). Looking at toy lines proper, Marvel Legends was unsurprisingly top dog with 80 reviews, followed by a gap and then The Black Series at 40, and then Minimates close us out with 27.  By virtue of being the primary manufacturer of the top two entries in both of the last two categories, Hasbro again takes the number one spot for manufacturers, with 211 reviews, more than half my total.  Second place is an astounding 173 reviews behind, and, again, not even in business anymore, because it’s Kenner with 38.   DST clings to its top three spot with 26 reviews.  As of today, I have reviewed 57.8% of my collection.  I’m making a dent!

Once again, this year I’d like to acknowledge some of my favorite review subjects of the year.  I thought not letting the list be all Hasbro was hard last year.  It was much harder this year.  Boy do they have my number.  Here’s my top 5!


Bomber Jacket Havok is my absolute favorite design for one of my absolute favorite characters, and I was so thrilled when he was dropped into the Legends line-up.  One of my very favorite pieces from a line that’s always at the top of my list.  Polaris may not have been the star herself, but she was no slouch either.


I never in a million years expected to have Lanard toys anywhere on this list, or really even on the site at all, but here we are.  Their Aliens line was generally just passable, if better than expected, but their Alien Queen stole the show, and has got to be just one of the most fun toys to come out of the last year.


The relaunch of G.I. Joe wound up being a big piece of the year, for me and just collecting in general.  There’s been a lot of not so fun elements to it, but the first Snake Eyes figure was just bliss for me, and set the tone right for the rest of the line.


I love Jeeps and I’ve come to really love me some Transformers in the last year.  This just puts those two things together, and makes it one of my favorite pieces from the Transformers I looked at.


Coming so close to Mattel’s own run with this license, I didn’t give much thought to Hasbro’s own stab at Ghostbusters, but they turned in some really good figures in their first assortment, and Egon was the best by far.  That likeness is really killer.


#2314, 2315, 2348, 2361 & 2362: SPIN MASTER DC FIGURES

I had trouble really honing in on just one of these to focus, so they’re all getting a little bit of focus here.  While there’s nothing here that’s truly ground-breaking or revolutionary about Spin Master’s DC stuff, the pure toyetic nature of it really just made for some cleanly fun figures that I’m really intrigued to see continue on.


The insanity got to me again this year and I got nostalgic for the Day of the Vipers thing I pulled off back in 2018.  Plus, I had a good excuse with all these Wolverines I’d found.  Digging back into the Toy Biz stuff full force was a real treat for me, and really reinvigorated my appreciation for the line, as well as my desire to keep reviewing it.  Perhaps this is a gimmick I’ll roll out again at some point…if I lose my mind again…

Thanks again to all my faithful readers who have stuck by me through all my crazy ramblings, and thanks to all of those who have joined me along the way.  I couldn’t do this without you guys!  Here’s to another five years!

That’s pretty much it…

A Quick Plug!

Hi all!  I’m taking a brief little intermission from all the action figure-oriented news for a quick plug for a new site, run by my ever supportive, ever awesome Super Awesome Wife, Jessica Headlee.  The site’s called Siren’s Call to the Sea, and will be a series of daily posts from Jess, all centered on her oceanic-related interests and expertise.  Obviously, it’s a divergent topic from the things I cover here, but what I’ve read so far is still a pretty exciting read!  I think it’s definitely work giving it a look, if you want to mix up your reading habits and possibly learn a little bit more about the stuff that makes up 70% of the planet!

So, that’s pretty much it…

Six Years

Six Years.  Perhaps not as outwardly notable as the five year mark was, but an important one for me.  When I started this site back in 2013, I mapped out a projected end date, which, at the time, was six years.  That seemed so far off and lofty when I started, and I genuinely wasn’t sure I’d even make it that far into this thing.  What I really didn’t expect, however, was to be this far from the potential finish line when I got here.  At current count of my collection and current rate of reviewing, I’ve got at least another five years of material here.  Now, whether I have another five years of writing in me…well, I’m not planning to give up the ghost any time soon, anyway.

Over the course of the last 365 days, I’ve written over 252,000 words about 452 figures, 5 vehicles, 2 playsets, and a not quite Nerf gun.  That marks the least amount of review subjects I’ve had in a year, and the third highest word count…whatever that means.  Guess I’m not getting to that brevity thing I was aiming for last year.  Additionally, I had two lovely fill-ins from my Super Awesome Fiancé (with help from Cheyenne on one), plus 10 reviews from Tim for the Blaster in Question.

This year, the site’s views climbed up to a cumulative total of over 280,000, roughly 70,000 of those coming from just this year, my highest yearly stats to date.  I also picked up 29 more followers, bringing the total to a whopping 198.   I had 20 comments, excluding those made by yours truly.

“But what of the content of those reviews?” no one but me asks!  Marvel Legends was force to be reckoned with this year, making up 116 of the reviews I wrote, almost a third of the total reviews.  Star Wars trails behind at exactly half that number, making 58 of my reviews.  The number three slot goes newcomer Transformers, with 28 reviews this year.  I foresee that number growing.  By virtue of being the primary manufacturer of all three of those, Hasbro takes the number one spot for manufacturers, with 202 reviews, more than half my total.  Second place is a whopping 73 reviews behind, and not even in business anymore, because it’s Kenner with 29.  DST remains in the top three with 26 reviews.  As of today, I have reviewed 53.8% of my collection.  Yay for progress.

I’d once again like to take a moment to acknowledge some of my favorite review subjects from the last year.  I hope you all appreciate how hard I had to work for this entire list not to be composed of Hasbro products.  Here’s my Top 5!

#1887: T-REX

Though not quite inside my usual wheelhouse, LeanPlay, distributers of Halftoys here in the US contacted me to provide a review, and I honestly couldn’t have been happier.  The T-Rex was just a fun little toy, and was good enough that I turned around and bought the full set of Dinos from them shortly after receiving my review sample.  I enjoy the chance to be different from time to time.


Optimus and Bumblebee may have been the ones that got the ball rolling on me getting into Transformers, but Ultra Magnus was the one that officially sold me on it.  He’s a ton of fun, and has become the standard I measure all of my other Transformers to.

#2038: THE FAUN

You know what’s a great way of making you feel good about a review you’ve written?  When the director of the movie the item’s based on re-tweets your review.  Guillermo del Toro retweeting my Faun review put me on cloud 9, and elevated the reviewing experience on a figure I’d already really enjoyed reviewing.  Additionally, buying this figure got me to finally sit down and watch Pan’s Labrynth, which I absolutely loved and am so glad I got around to seeing.


My partnership with All Time Toys last year was a big deal for me, and its led to me getting to experience the toy world from a different side, as well as getting to mess with some cool stuff I otherwise might not get to.  When All Time got in a monster collection of G.I. Joe over the summer, I got to be the one to go through and get them all into condition to be sold, and also got the opportunity to purchase quite a few great pieces for my collection.  The Skystriker actually wasn’t one I bought for myself, but was instead purchased for me as a birthday present, and restoring it became my follow-up project after I finished processing the collection for All Time.  It was a different experience from usual, but I really enjoyed it.


This guy showing up here shouldn’t be a huge surprise for people that read his review, where I flat out stated he was my favorite Legend of the year.  This figure does pretty much everything right, and is the Nightcrawler I’ve wanted for pretty much two decades.


#1888: RUST LORD

I’ve got no attachment to Fortnite whatsoever, but Max directed me to this line when it first hit, and all I can say is that it’s a ton of fun. and Jazwares has really delivered their A-game, not just with the smaller-scale line, but with their larger line as well.  The loot pinata was a cleverly designed way of getting the line started, and Rust Lord’s just a good figure.

#1993: THE RAY

Credit where credit is due.  I’ve ragged on Mattel for 6 years about the quality of their DC product, but here, on the cusp of them losing the license, they actually stepped up their game a started delivering good product again.  Ray was my first experience of this new Mattel, and I was very happy with him.  I wish we’d been getting DC figures this good for a few years now, rather than having them all crammed into the last year.

Thanks again to all my faithful readers who have stuck by me through all my crazy ramblings, and thanks to all of those who have joined me along the way.  I couldn’t do this without you guys!  Here’s to another five years!

That’s pretty much it…

Taking a day

Hi there faithful readers.  Unfortunately, circumstances have led to me being unfit to get a review posted today.  I’m going to regroup and hopefully be back on track tomorrow.  That’s pretty much it, I guess…

Five Years

Five years.  Wow, that’s pretty big isn’t it?  Seriously, when I started this thing, I never thought it would actually make it this long.  Surely I’d have thrown in the towel by this point, wouldn’t I?  Well, despite some serious pressure from some outside factors, I haven’t given up on this whole action figure thing, and at this point, I think I’m just too far in to ever really leave it behind.

Last year, there were some sizable changes for the site.  I brought on a new full time feature, The Blaster in Question, written by my friend Tim Marron, and I also got rid of that pesky “wordpress” section of my url.  This year’s a little more low key, I suppose, at least from the reader’s perspective, but from a personal and professional side, I was quite happy to have formed a partnership with my friends over at All Time Toys.  They’ve been nothing short of awesome, and I’m excited about working with them more as we move forward.  That said, having a toy store on call for just about whatever I need is a slightly scary prospect.

Over the course of the last 365—er, 359 days, I’ve written 244, 568 words about a total of 479 action figures, 11 vehicles, and two movies.  I’m up a few review subjects from last year, and down a few words.  Am I finally learning some brevity?  Perhaps.

This year, the site’s views climbed past 211,000 views, we gained a whopping 44 followers, bringing our total count up to 169!  As always, thanks for joining us guys!  In addition, there were 42 comments this year, excluding those made by yours truly.  That’s a good number.

Switching over to the contents of those reviews of mine, Marvel Legends remained at the top of the charts, making up 78 of my reviews.  Next was the 3 3/4 inch Star Wars line, which made up 54 of my reviews, followed closely by Minimates at 48.  Hasbro was my top manufacturer, at 156 reviews, with DST following at 50, and Kenner taking third with 27.  As of today, 43.4% of my collection has been reviewed, and my total number figures climbed another 700 this year.  I gotta slow down on the buying.  I’m sure that’ll totally be happening now that I’ve got a toy store on call…

Moving away from myself, this year saw three guest reviews, as well as 39 Blaster in Question reviews.  Always nice to get somebody other than me rambling, right?

I’d once again like to take a moment to acknowledge some of my favorite review subjects from the last year.  It was definitely a high competition year, with a lot of really great stuff.  Narrowing down this list was tough, but here’s my Top 5!

#1534: CaRB

I had no prior experience with 1000toys, but this guy really caught my eye, and oh boy was he a fun figure.  What can I say? I’m a sucker for a cool robot.  I look forward to getting more from these guys!


I’ve enjoyed the 12-inch Legends since the start, but Wolverine is hands down the best thing to have come out of the line, and one of the finest Legends offerings we’ve gotten from Hasbro, period.  And this is coming from a guy who thinks Wolverine is overplayed.  This guy rules!


The faceprint tech that Hasbro’s introduced into their 6-inch lines is nothing short of phenomenal, and its showcased no better than with their Grand Off Tarkin release.  This guy looks so much like Peter Cushing that Lucas is undoubtedly campaigning to insert him into future releases of Rogue One.


My partnership with All Time has of course had a huge impact on this site, and of all the cool items they’ve loaned me, this guy was hands down my favorite.  He’s so much fun, and I still kind of kick myself for not getting one of my own back in the day.

#1803: SAURON

This last spot was the toughest of all, and I had several of this year’s Legends Build-A-Figures in it, but my favorite was definitely Sauron, who shows that Hasbro can produce unique sculpts that are every bit as good, if not better than, anything that Toy Biz put out during their tenure.



Mego’s back!  That was certainly pleasant turn of events, wasn’t it?  Well, for me, anyway.  They were kind enough to send over a Fonzie for me to review, which was pretty awesome, but the figure that really got me on-board was Norm, who really seems to capture that old spirit the best.  I hope they can make this new line work.

#1816-1821: Vipers

Grueling as it may have been to write six reviews for a single day, I sure had a ton of fun working on this whole endeavor, and learning what I could about the history of the Viper mold.  I also gained even more of an appreciation for that mold than I already had, and got to unleash a little bit of my zany side as I careened through the latter portions of that day’s reviews.  It almost makes me want to try it again…almost.

Thanks again to all my faithful readers who have stuck by me through all my crazy ramblings, and thanks to all of those who have joined me along the way.  I couldn’t do this without you guys!  Here’s to another five years!

That’s pretty much it…

Not Quite a Toys R Us Kid – A Eulogy for Toys R Us

Tomorrow, Toys R Us officially closes its doors.  Yesterday, my closest store had it’s final day of sale (my secondary store went the day prior).  I’ve been stopping in on it routinely, ever since the announcement of the closures hit, observing it’s slow descent.  Walking through the remnants of the store yesterday was certainly down-beat.  However, this whole experience has been rather surreal for me, I think because it’s never really hit me quite the same way as other toy collectors.

In part, I think it’s because the store I’ve been visiting the last few months was never really “my store.”  My Toys R Us, located in Columbia, MD, closed in the summer of 2010, rather suddenly.  I’d just graduated from high school, was holding down my first job, and was getting prepped for my first year of college, so I was a little pre-occupied.  I don’t think I had much of a chance to take it in.  It just happened.  After that, I fell back into frequenting another store, in fact the one that my dad had frequented as a kid.  I’d been there many times as well, and it was one of the oldest in the area, so I still had some very fond memories.  Perhaps more fond memories, truth be told.  When that store shut its doors the following summer, it was more cutting.  Despite frequenting it a little less, there were more fond memories there, I guess. Later that fall, the store that I’ve been frequenting these last years opened.  It was a little odd, since it was literally right across the street from the old Columbia location.  Completely new stock, completely new employees, just completely new all over.  It was a little weird, actually.  It’s location was virtually the same as the old one, but there remained none of the sentimentality of the first.  It still became my regular location to frequent, but it never matched either of the two locations I’d already lost.  Perhaps I just had less time with it to become attached, but I think it wasn’t helped by the fact that Toys R Us on whole was not as strong a business by the time this new store came along.

In general, my toy buying habits exist at an interesting cross-roads.  There are many collectors out there with so many amazing stories about the great things they remember about Toys R Us.  I don’t have those.  Because, quite frankly, in my lifetime, Toys R Us has never been anything but a little disappointing.

As a kid, I had a local Toys R Us, which I loved, because toys and all, but it was rarely the first place I stopped.  My toy store of choice was KB Toys, who always seemed to have the better selection, the better atmosphere, and the better overall experience.  I only went to Toys R Us if I had a gift card, or if they had an exclusive item.  Otherwise, KB it was.  When KB closed up shop, I was very sad, but I think that’s because they felt like a store cut down in their prime.  Toys R Us, however has sadly been past their prime for decades at this point.  Watching them close is a little bit like watching the death of a relative who hasn’t really been themselves in years.  It’s sad, but there was never really much to save.

Ultimately, I’m sorry for the employees who are now out of a job.  I’m sorry for the toy companies that have lost a major buyer.  Lastly, I’m sorry for the kids that will never get to experience Toys R Us.  And I empathize with them, because I never really got to see it at its greatest.  I equate my experiences with Toys R Us to watching the scene in the first Toy Story, where a distraught Buzz Lightyear tries flying for the first time.  I wanted so badly to see them succeed, and they looked like they might make it so many times, but ultimately reality always set it, and they’d always come crashing back down to the ground.  I’m sorry they never quite made it.

Still, even as someone who was never quite a Toys R Us Kid, I bid you farewell, Geoffrey.  Thanks for making my collection 550 figures stronger.

*Also, I forgive you for that time your website totally stole one of my photos.  It seems silly to harp on that now, doesn’t it?

Four Years

And here we are.  Another year of reviews completed.  I’ve been writing a lot recently of how the milestones are lessening the more of them I make it to, and I think that sort of holds true here.  365 reviews doesn’t hold as much weight the fourth time you do it, I guess.  Still, a year’s a year, and it’s certainly nothing to sneeze at, right?

So, first thing’s first, the biggest news of the day is the site’s new address.  After four years, it’s safe to say this is a serious venture, and a proper domain was worth the investment.  Welcome to TheFigureInQuestion.com.  Now let’s get to the crazy numbers!

Over the course of the last 365 days, I’ve written 262,690 words about a total of 466 action figures, 6 vehicles, 1 playset, and 1 movie.  That’s the most words I’ve written in a year, and also the least total subjects I’ve written about.  I may need to learn brevity.

This year, the site’s total views rose up past 150,000, and we gained an additional 18 followers, bringing us to a total of 125.  Thanks for joining us, guys!  There were 28 comments, excluding those made by me, your faithful reviewer.

Looking at the contents of my reviews, my prevalently appearing line was Marvel Legends, which was the focus of 67 of my reviews.  Coming in second was basic 3 3/4-inch Star Wars figures at 56 reviews, followed by old faithful Minimates at 40 reviews.  Hasbro was by far the company whose work I reviewed most frequently; they made the items reviewed in 132 of my posts.  Despite going under a decade ago, Toy Biz still took the #2 spot, with 41 reviews, and Diamond Select Toys were just behind them at 40.  As of today, I have reviewed 47.4% of my collection, which surpassed 4000 unique figures this year.

Stepping outside myself, the site had 10 guest reviews this year from 3 reviewers, adding a total of 7,250 words to the site.  Thanks guys!

Speaking of guest reviews, this year also saw the introduction of a new full-time feature, The Blaster in Question, written by my buddy Tim Marron.  Tim’s been a guest contributor since very early on, and I’m very happy to have him on board in a larger capacity.  Now you guys don’t have to exclusively read my droning on!

I’d like to also take a moment to acknowledge some of my favorite review subjects from the past year.  I found it a little difficult to pick out the standouts this year, not because of a lack of good stuff, but because of the high quality of so much of what I looked at this year.  Here’s my top 5!

#1271: WARLOCK

Hasbro was really on a roll with Marvel Legends this year, and this whole assortment was one of my very favorites.  I’m a huge fan of the character but never dreamed of seeing him as a Legend and I certainly didn’t expect his figure to be this awesome.


I was really excited about The Black Series when it first launched, but that faded a bit, as releases started becoming harder to get and more middle of the road in quality.  The initial release of this figure was both hard to find and of rather poor quality, which really bummed me out, given the importance of this look.  Fortunately, the 40th Anniversary release came along and fixed both of those things, giving me probably my favorite Leia figure to date!


Mezco’s One:12 Collective has been making a pretty big splash in the last year.  I was looking for a good entry, and there’s not one much better than Space Ghost.  There was a very long wait for this figure, but the payoff was very definitely worth it.


Oh man, speaking of long waits for figures.  I backed this two years ago, while I was high on action figure Kickstarters.  In the midst of everything going on, I almost completely forgot he even existed, so when he arrived it was a very welcome surprise.  The Fwoosh succeeded in making a very fun figure here and I look forward to seeing more.

#1439: MANTIS

Another Hasbro figure?  Listen guys, if I hadn’t been careful, this whole list may very well have been Hasbro figures.  They had a good year, and their Guardians Vol. 2 were some of their very best offerings.  Mantis just happens to be my personal favorite, but Star-Lord, Gamora, and Rocket would be just as at home on this list.



It just wouldn’t feel right to overlook I Am Elemental completely here.  This group is still one of my favorite toy companies out there, and Wisdom Warriors continued their trend of awesomeness started by the Courage Series.  IAE is producing consistently fun toys and I look forward to their next release!


Like IAE, it just doesn’t feel right to do up one of these lists without mentioning NECA.  This set could have been an easy re-do, but NECA had to go and put their best foot forward and improve upon the originals in every way.

Thanks again to all my faithful readers who have stuck by me through all my crazy ramblings, and thanks to all of those who have joined me along the way.  I couldn’t do this without you guys!

That’s pretty much it…

Action Figures, Bleach, & Protective Headgear: A Force Friday Story

Last Friday was Force Friday II, the big product launch for all of the cool stuff coming out to tie-in with this December’s The Last Jedi.  There were a number of midnight openings for various retail stores, with Toys R Us really leading the charge.  This is my third attendance of such an event, and each time I’ve had a rather different experience.  If I had written this right at midnight on Thursday, it would have been a rather angry, distraught, and disappointed screed about everything wrong with fandom.  There’s still a piece of that in this writing, but it’s really just an involved set-up for the much better part of the story.  Let me ‘splain.

I arrived at my local Toys R Us at about 9:15, with both Tim and Super Awesome Girlfriend in tow.  There were five people lined up outside the store.  The first four looked to be long-term Star Wars fans; the sort of people you’d expect to see at an event like this.  The fifth was an older woman with bleach-blonde, dressed in a pink t-shirt, spandex pants, and adidas flip-flops; she seemed out of place.  She informed us that her purse next to her was saving a spot for her daughter; perhaps the daughter was the Star Wars fan and this woman was just being a supportive parent?  Her first utterance of what would go on to be about a hundred 40 Year Old Virgin jokes aimed at the fans in attendance served as an indicator that the “supportive parent” guess was incorrect.

By 10:00, another five people had joined this woman in front of us in line.  They all wore the same basic attire, with the same hair, and, apparently, none of them were this woman’s daughter, who she was still saving a spot for.  They were all happy to take a spot ahead of us in line, and more than happy to join in on the first woman’s bashing of everyone attending.  The phrase “wouldn’t usually be caught dead at something like this” came up many times.  Eventually, the daughter arrived, another entry in the bleach-blonde brigade.  She too joined in on the mocking of the fans.  Oh joy.

With their whole cult in place, they began quizzing everyone what would be the hot items this year.  It’s a pretty standard tactic for speculators who are looking for a quick buck; something most of the fans in attendance had dealt with before.  We mostly responded with something along the lines of “well, I have a list.”  When they received no satisfactory answer from direct questioning, they instead took to listening in on everyone’s conversations.  Tim and I actually had quite a bit of fun with this, and began having a fake conversation about how important it was that we get a number of items that any fan would know are complete shelf-warmers.  Despite this brief respite of fun, but 11:30, after two hours of listening to them insult my fellow fans and just be generally ugly people, I was about ready to call it quits and just head home.  Fortunately, Tim and Jess were able to talk me down a bit, and we ended staying through.

By the time the doors opened a little after midnight, each of the seven people in this group had grabbed their own shopping cart, and despite the very polite TRU employee’s instructions to enter single file, not shove, and not run, they proceeded to barrel through the doors in rows of two, using the carts to push others out of the way, while making a mad dash for the main aisle.  When I got back to the aisle, the group had gone straight to work scooping the entire contents of shelves right into their carts.  I almost gave up again, but then I took a closer look at exactly what was being scooped into their carts: Funko Pops.*  They hadn’t found their way to the actual figures at all. 

I made my way through the chaos of the aisle, and managed to piece together a more or less complete set of the small-scale figures, along with the one vehicle I really wanted.  No sign of any new Black Series figures, but I was content with what I had, so I made my way to the front of the store, on the way passing the cult of bleach-blonde speculators, who now had three shopping carts absolutely overflowing with merchandise.  And then I started laughing to myself.  The content sort of laugh that comes from seeing someone so ugly, so repulsive, and so reprehensible come face to face with karmic justice.  You see, in addition to the cart overflowing with an entire rack of Pops, there were also two full carts of Black Series figures.  Not the new, desirable ones; oh no.  Two full carts of the Jyns and Cassians and Poes and Finns and Zuvios that have been rotting on the pegs for almost a year.  The ones that Target was just clearing out for $3 a piece a week ago.  And they paid full price for every single one.  Best of luck unloading those, ladies.

Now, if at this moment, you’re thinking this karmic justice is the “better part” of my story, let me stop you there.  My joy doesn’t come from someone else’s misfortune, as just and satisfying as it may be.  My joy comes from about 20 minutes later, after a good portion of the crowd from the TRU made their way over to the Target across the street. 

When I got there, the store was mostly cleared out, but there were still a few items to chose from.  Shortly after I got there, a family with a young son, no older than 4, who had been near the end of the TRU line, came into the main aisle.  An older fan held the replica Poe Dameron helmet.  The father of the boy quickly dashed over and asked where this man found the helmet and were there anymore.  The fan pointed them in the direction and said there was one left last he checked.  Of course, by the time the family got to the spot, everything was gone.  The father came back to the helmet-wielding fan and began asking what other stores might be open and might still have this item in stock, explaining that this was the one item that his son had really been looking forward to getting.  The older fan paused for a moment, before outstretching his arms: “You can have mine.”

This guy got it.  He understood the importance of this moment.  He understood that this was more than a business; that sometimes, the most satisfying thing is just being nice to someone else.  Before departing, the boy’s father stopped, turned to the fan and said: “Sir, I need you to understand the importance of this moment.  What you just did?  Giving this up to my son?  Across the street someone else did the opposite.  My son and I will remember this.  Thank you, sir.”

I don’t have anyway of getting a message to this person, but if I did I like to tell him this: sir, I don’t know your name, or anything about you beyond the one hobby we share in common, but last Friday, you were my hero.  You salvaged my night from being utterly miserable, and you reminded me that there are still good people out there.  Thank you for that.

*No offense to anyone who collects Pops.  I have been known to enjoy them myself, but in a week’s time, the Last Jedi Pops will be available from practically every retail store in the country.  They may be popular, but they’re unlikely to be scarce anytime soon.