The PoP! Stars give their take on the latest and greatest in Action Figures and Toy Lines in eight (succinct) parts.
I’ve talked about Minimates. A lot. We’ve even touched on HeroClix before. And you’ve all seen the Super Hero Squad/Galactic Heroes/Combat Heroes/Robot Heroes figures which have fallen by the wayside/risen-from-the-ashes of late. But there are more tiny toys out there than you may realize…
Roughly of a size with the Minicons of old (I’m talking the original Bumblebee, not that Armada crap, though I suppose they’re about the same size…) Legends Class figures offer a mix of G1, movie, and television based characters and designs. Not only are these cost-effective and shelfspace-efficient, they allow collectors to get a hold of characters that might not otherwise see re-release, like Trailbreaker (redubbed Trailcutter) to the left. < 4 inches
Then there are Bot Shots. These teensy toys offer all the fun of Transformers on a microscopic scale; more than that, incorporate a rock/paper/scissors-style game, adding to the play value. Character selection is pretty great already and ever-increasing. < 2 inches
Finally, introduced alongside Hasbro’s proprietary construction brick line, Kre-O, the Kreons are individual figures of Transformers characters. Initial offerings saw classically styled Kreons packed one-to-four in a set with larger movie-themed versions of the same characters, presented as construction sets. The sets themselves have seen a lukewarm reception from fans, but the Kreons have been so popular Hasbro has started releasing battle packs. News out of SDCC this year sees a new wave of single-packed Kreons hitting shelves – now with the ability to affect crude transformations! There are also plans for four combiner figures; Devastator, Predaking, Bruticus, and Superion! While the gestalts will only utilize four individual bots, the odd man out from each set WILL be available as part of the single packed line, seen below. < 2 inches
Lucas’s epic big screen adventure gets small in the form of Fighter Pods. Like the Bot Shots above, there’s a game built into these minifigs, and it involves launching the figures out of their vehicles in little hamster ball-like contraptions. I don’t know for sure… but I think they just made “jacks” cool. These figures are probably some of the tiniest on our list, and yet have some astonishingly great detailing. And the chunky mini-vehicles that serve as holders and launchers are pretty freaking adorable themselves! < 1 inch
Hasbro’s other in-house ’80s revival property, GI Joe’s mini-figure future is secure after the announcement of the Micro Force at this year’s JoeCon. Not a lot is known about these precious little buggers yet, but they’re cute and collectible and easily stashed away in a drawer at work when the Regional Vice President is in town. What’s more to want? Oh, how about some as-of-yet-unreleased-in-any-other-scale characters? Thought you might like that… < 1 inch (as far as we know)
First are their Squinkies – roughly the size of the aforementioned Fighter Pods figures, Squinkies are at their core pencil toppers. But they’re blind-bagged and highly detailed and as such, infinitely collectible. Sure, they started as a girls’ collectible, but it didn’t take long before the boys wanted their own, and less time even than that for Marvel Comics to get in on the action. No big surprise, as the ladies have access to a full array of Disney Princess Squinkies. < 1 inch
While Squinkies can be “played with” in a Russian-roulette trading game where kids risk their collection against their friends, there’s no inherent play value in the toys themselves, as with some of our prior entries. Which brings us to BonkaZonks, bane of my existence. Years back, Mighty Beanz became a thing people paid money for – blind-boxed plastic shells with a ball bearing inside that you could do “tricks” with. You can even get Star Wars and Marvel Beanz. I thought we’d hit rock bottom. Then Marvel brought us BonkaZonks – it’s beer pong meets Angry Birds. But damn, if these little… uh… Zonks?… aren’t nifty little renditions of the characters they represent. < 2 inches
Ironically, some of the best mini-figure options come from the DC Super Friends Imaginext line; a company that never seems to please me with its standard scale offerings continually blows me away with its diminutive dabblings. The Imaginext figures are cute enough for youngsters while offering a diverse enough character selection and impressive enough sculpts, paint apps, and articulation for the more mature collector. And unlike Hasbro’s similar offerings, the Imaginext figures are supported by a full line of vehicles and playsets with awesome interactive features. Newcomer Gotham City Jail includes a Bane figure whose veins – when you activate the jail’s action feature – glow neon green with the flow of Venom. Why hasn’t anyone given us THAT feature before? Superman comes with Krypto, Clayface can eat Batman whole, and the Penguin’s packed with a pair of battling black and white birds. If the line has one flaw, it’s the constant reuse of molds, but then what toy company DOESN’T do that? It’s only more conspicuous here when the Joker suddenly finds himself driving some sort of space excavator for no clear reason… < 3 inches
Putting together this list was no small task; did your favorite mini molded men get overlooked? Let us know!