Sunday, 27 July 2014

SDCC 2014 Highlights

That time of year has come and gone again, those few days where collective geekdom comes together in the nirvana that is San Diego Comic Con. Whether it's TV/Film announcements or the wonderful displays of new collectibles from the biggest names in the business, there's always something for somebody. So here I am giving a little rundown on what got me excited.

The action figures are my main love of SDCC. It makes British conventions look like a car boot sale. Now there a ton of properties at SDCC, Hasbro's Star Wars, Marvel and Transformers lines, Playmates Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles lines (Classic Shredder and Krang look amazing) and Mattel's various DC toy lines of varying quality. Now despite all of this stuff being cool I don't really collect these things anymore, but it's nice to see what's being made. 

Underground Toys had a large display at the con but had nothing new to share. Not even the upcoming Ace and The Time of the Doctor figures. That seems like a pretty big misstep in my book, but I'm sure we'll get new Classic Doctor Who goodies eventually.

Hot Toys

Everything Hot Toys produces is amazing, and even for properties I have no real interest in like Alien, Predator, Robocop, Back to the Future, it all looked bloody incredible. There was a big push for Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy range, all of which were very impressive. There were, of course, other characters from Marvel's cinematic properties on display, but for me it was Hot Toys Batman products that got me drooling.

The top figure that caught my eye was the upcoming Batman figure from Batman Returns. Hot Toys announced this property two or three years ago, and it was never mentioned again, leading many to think the line was scrapped. Thankfully this was not the case. This version of the Bat-suit has always been my favourite, and although I already own the 1989 version I am sorely tempted. There were no accessories on display but if it comes with a Michael Keaton headsculpt then I may have to start saving up the pennies. I'm hoping that a Danny Devito Penguin is not far behind because that would look incredible. I also have permission to get that from my other half after she bought me a screen used 'Oswald Means Order' badge from the film. So I'd love to have the figure stood alongside that.

Finally there was Arkham City Batman, another property that was announced around the same time as Batman Returns. We'd seen teases of Batman's hands and even of the Joker (not at SDCC), but this was the first full reveal. I'm not sure what to make of this one. Yes it looks cool, but I'm put off by the thick rubber suit and the nappy like underwear. Otherwise it looks fantastic, but it didn't wow me enough to think I'd want to fork out £180 for one.

DC Collectibles - Batman the Animated Series

I've posted a ton of stuff on this line already, including the reveals at SDCC. I'm disappointed that none of the accessories were ready to display, but this is shaping up to be a fantastic line. It's definitely going to be one I'm sticking with for a while. DC Collectibles also had some great figures from their Designer Series based on Greg Capullo's artwork in Batman on the Zero Year saga as well as some rather lovely statues.

Mattel - Masters of the Universe Classics 

Ah this one always turns up. I've said it many times but this is my main toyline at the moment, especially now the Doctor Who line is only limping its way into existence. The final items of the 2014 line were revealed; in October we have Eldor, his first time as an action figure since the original never made it passed the prototype stage of the cancelled Powers of Grayskull line. This looks like a cool wizardy character to display alongside He-Ro and the rest of the Preternian characters. I'm a real sucker for MotU history, so this is sure to be a fun one. November sees the release of Tung-Lashor (gotta love the names), which comes with a normal and a tongue head. As the penultimate Snake Man, I'm rather pleased with this one. Not sure about the weird hands though, I think they needed to give him the 200X version's claws. November also sees Bow's trusty steed, Arrow, as the oversized figure. I'm rather pleased to get a normal looking horse in the line, so that's cool. Also that month comes the holiday item, Gwildor. Yes, Billy Barty from the 1987 movie. The figure looks spot on, but that's just the problem. It looks like it's from a toy line based on the film rather than a Classics figure. I'm not sure what they could have done to 'classicize' it, but it's not quite right for me. Perhaps they needed to cartoon him up a bit or something? He comes with a huge version of the Cosmic Key a la the film and the original vintage toy. Now Gwildor is a little person with an accesory about his same height, how that equates to a $35 price point I have no idea. Madness.

To wrap up the year we have a Princess of Power figure, Mermista. This looks to be a lovely figure. Interchangeable legs and fish tail in a shimmery blue deco, what's not to love? As an added bonus there is also a new vehicle, the Battle Ram, complete with Jet (Sky) Sled and a new version of Man-At-Arms with 200X pony tailed head on a Filmation-esque body. Personally I'd have preferred a Snake Armour variant, but I don't see that ever happening. It's $110, so £64 for us Brits, and I can't help but think they could have skipped the new Man-At-Arms and the altered Jet Sled to keep costs down. Money grabbing buggers.

To round off 2014 the last few figures of the Princess of Power mini-sub were revealed. I can take or leave PoP outside of the main characters so I didn't bother subbing (but Goddamn do I want that Light Hope figure, he looks frigging gorgeous), but October is Sweet-Bee, November is Galactic Protector She-Ra, a 'what if' figure that looks at what She-Ra may have looked like if she became part of the New Adventures of He-Man line in the 90s (and a must buy to boot), and finally Spinnerella closes the sub in December. 

Now it's all down to 2015! The Final Year! Well, until it's rebranded in 2016. Next year promises to complete every vintage character from the original 1982 toy line, all vintage PoP characters (of which there's three left), and all a-list Filmation, NA He-Man and 200X characters. That sounds like a lot to cram into one year, but somehow they've figured it out. I expect boxsets and mini-subs to accomplish this. What will become of the line in 2016? Well seeing as they did this huge bit about how amazing the current DC Comics iteration of the franchise is, I'm guessing we'll be seeing New 52 comic book versions with a few left overs scattered in for good luck. That really will be a time for cherry picking as I have no interest in DC's designs.

So what was shown? Well in January we have Lizard Man from the Filmation cartoon, complete with Skeletor's sword and the Diamond Ray of Disappearance from the same show. This is awesome! Lizard Man had one appearance, but he's become much loved. In February it's Ninjor, now named Ninja Warrior due to copyright. I had no interest in this character, but he looks rather cool. They've made him look very snazzy and upped the decos on him so he's not boring to look at. Also that month is Snake Armour He-Man vs Battle Armour King Hss from the 200X line. This is a must have! A must, must, must have! I've wanted this version of He-Man since the line began and this new version of Hss knocks socks off the previous version! The only bummer is that the 'snake torso' of Hss doesn't come in the set, it's packaged with another toy later on (probably Sssqueeze, the final Snake Man). That's really crappy.

March is the Fan Choice figure, which was Huntara. I don't know who she is as I've never watched her episode, but reading up on her she sounds like a fun character and looks cool to boot. Also that month comes the subscription exclusive, complete with new mini-comic and Castle Grayskull poster, which is Oo-Lar the jungle He-Man (or original minicomic He-Man) that also comes packaged with a vintage style He-Man head. Honestly, I think the new head looks much better than the head they use on the current He-Man figures. Finally a wing was teased, suggesting that April's figure is Angella from PoP and the convention exclusive is a three-pack of Skeletor's Hover Robots from the Filmation show with interchangeable claws. Excellent. So there's a lot going on next year. To sub or not to sub? That is the question...

Lots of cool stuff going on from my side of things, and that's not even getting into the other cool stuff they had at SDCC. What were your favourite reveals from the con?

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