And now, Scary-Crayon discusses... The Five Most-Wanted Toys Unveiled at San Diego Comic-Con 2009 by: Wes

Well, the last week has certainly been exciting, hasn't it? The 2009 San Diego Comic-Con ended on Sunday -- and even though I wasn't lucky enough to attend and didn't post updates here (Scary-Crayon is thankfully not a toy news site... or a dedicated toy site at all, really), just reading all of the reports and viewing the various galleries from the convention has left me quite exhausted. There were quite a few surprises and revelations from the entertainment industry, some welcome and some... not so much. Seriously, what the bloody heck is this?! And there were lots of wonderful toys on display, which is what we're going to discuss in this article.

Of course, by the above title, I mean that we'll be discussing my most-wanted toys -- and my reasons for wanting them -- in this article. Yes, I do have incredibly awesome powers at my disposal, but unfortunately they don't allow me to divine what you found most attractive among the various figures displayed at SDCC. (If you'd care to share, feel free to leave a comment to that effect!) In addition, you might note that some of the items on this list weren't technically unveiled at the convention, as we'd already seen or heard about several of them beforehand. In fact, unless you count a blurry overhead image, one of them wasn't really unveiled at all! But something new (or at least new to me) about these upcoming toys was communicated during the con to justify their inclusion below, and I've sought to explain precisely what that was at the appropriate points in the article. I think that'll do for an introduction, then -- let the pointless rambling about toys BEGIN!

X. DC Universe Classics – Gotham City Box Set (Mattel)

Yeah, this article is about the top five toys that most interested me at SDCC, but I couldn't go through this article without at least mentioning Mattel's wares. The company had a lot of cool product on display, after all, especially in the Masters of the Universe Classics and DC Universe Classics lines. Unfortunately, despite the consistent praise from various reviewers, the former figures are in no way worth the price of admission -- I'd seriously like whatever day job these guys have that allows them to praise a $12 figure with an figure's $8 paint job yet sports a price tag of $30 after shipping... and that's assuming you're sitting at your computer during the 45-minute window you have to buy them at Given the physical and mental torment I've endured for exceedingly minimal pay, I've actually come to resent my Hordak figure. Every time I look at his mucked up and sloppy silver paint, it is painfully apparent that I paid double what he should have cost. (I have no plans to sell him, though -- in a strange way he both reminds me of my childhood and underscores the ongoing unpleasantness of my adult existence. Besides, if nothing else, looking at him will prevent me from giving into temptation and making future MOTUC purchases... except for maybe Adora. And Leech, if Mattel ever gets around to him. Leech was freaking awesome.)

I have issues with DCUC as well -- the quality control issues with many of those figures were particularly upsetting -- but in general I've found that I'm much more satisfied with them considering that they're not an awful value even at $12 each. As such, I was interested in quite a few of the figures displayed at SDCC. I'd seen many of them before, but seeing them again made me that much more eager to add well-articulated figures of Power Girl and Black Canary to my collection. And while I'm not completely sold on the toy -- the head looks a little weird on that body -- I'm at least curious to see how the Public Enemies Batman turns out.

The Gotham City Three! Wait, that's not right...

But with respect to the new things Mattel revealed at SDCC, I'm most enthusiastic about this "Gotham City 5" set... although I have no idea what Lex Luthor and Superman are doing in the set. Vacationing, I suppose? Anyway, I could certainly do with these more "standard" DCUC versions of Batman and Superman (at present I only have the DC SuperHeroes variant Superman and the DCSH Series 3 Batman), and Batman villains are always welcome. True, I'd probably prefer the Catwoman in black (it's not that I don't like the purple bodysuit, but that's not the purple bodysuit), but that Two-Face is great because it reminds me of one of my most desired childhood toys (I was elated when I got that figure for Christmas). The only figure in the set that doesn't really do anything for me is Lex, and even he's not bad -- I just don't see him replacing that wacky DC Direct Superman/Batman Lex in my Legion of Doom. That toy just looks cool.

So why didn't I give this entry a proper number, you ask? Why give it the Roman numeral "X" instead of "6," or even a place in the top five entries? Well, that's not an X for ten -- here, "X" represents an unknown number. That's partly because how much I want this set will depend upon two main things. First, cost. Given that I don't feel that I really need any of the figures, I'll definitely pass on it if Mattel prices it at $50 or more. $35 or less, however, would guarantee my purchase. That $15 range in between is iffy, and it'll really depend upon what else is in the toy aisle at the time. That is, of course, assuming that I can even find the set in the toy aisle. For the most part, DCUC figures have been MIA during my visits to toy stores -- I think Waves 1 and 3 were the only ones I've ever seen in full at one time, and recently all I've seen are unwanted Wonder Woman and Captain Cold figures. Unless it's a pegwarmer, odds are I'll never see it. Moreover, I've been hearing that this set is going to be a Walmart exclusive, and I have even less luck finding those than your standard DCUC figure. So obviously I'm going to be less interested in the set if I can't even find it -- given that I still have yet to see a single DCUC Wave 8 figure, I've accepted the fact that my Legion of Doom will continue to lack a Giganta for quite some time and directed my toy enthusiasm elsewhere.

And on that note, my most-wanted figures revealed in some way, shape, or form at SDCC '09 are...

5. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen – Dirge (Hasbro)

Admittedly, the recent price hike on Transformers has significantly diminished my interest in these robots in disguise -- while there were plenty of deluxes that I would've gotten at $8 or even $9, I've found myself passing on them left and right at $11+ a piece. Hasbro's current focus on the Revenge of the Fallen line hasn't helped, since I not only don't care much for the aesthetic, but also hated the first movie so much that I refuse to waste my money on the second. And I was interested in several of the movie figures -- the Skids and Mudflap ice cream truck combiner looked cool, and Human Alliance Skids interested me (if only because it comes with a tiny sexy Megan Fox figure) -- but the apparent portrayal of those characters onscreen makes me not want to buy them. I do not need illiterate minstrelbots with gold teeth among my playthings, thanks.

But there are some figures in the movie line that appeal to me -- namely because they're characters that I haven't been able to buy in other lines. And specifically? I'm talking about the Seekers. See, back in Classics 1.0, Hasbro had the brilliant idea of making several of the Seekers only available as Botcon exclusives... and as a result, my Decepticon forces have always felt incomplete. Now, I have no problem taking figures from other Transformers lines and simply pretending that they're the G1 incarnations in some sort of grand merged Universe continuity -- Skywarp and Ramjet are represented by their Classics figures, but I'm using the Superlink Nightscream Reverse for G1 Starscream (I do have the Classics 1.0 Starscream, but a little piece broke off near the pin on one of the calf wings and that makes me very sad) and the monstrous 2007 movie Thundercracker in place of the G1 version (which was one of those blasted BotCon exclusive releases). For those keeping count, however, this is only four of the original six Seekers.

And he'll play a mournful tune...Much love for the coneheads.

So imagine my elation when I learned that the remaining two seekers -- Thrust and Dirge -- would be included in the movie line! Of course, the movie figures don't resemble their G1 counterparts all that much, particularly in robot mode, but they do benefit from having somewhat unique head shapes and retaining the color schemes. Besides, although the Seekers were largely identical in the G1 cartoon and toyline, I rather like their diverse appearance on my shelf. I mean, I'm not a fan of the movie Thundercracker toy on its own merits (in fact, my disappointment with the toy is one of the reasons I generally avoid voyagers -- the value just isn't there for me), but I love how he looks towering above his brethren.

That said, there are more than a few Transformers on the way that I do want -- among them, Animated Arcee and Cybertronian Ratchet -- so why the callout for Dirge? Well, simply put, I'd seen the others before SDCC! Heck, there's a review of the movie Thrust figure online, and even Dirge had been announced prior to SDCC -- it's just that I'd never seen him in any form until pics from Hasbro's Transformers panel surfaced. I've taken the above images from the gallery from that panel, by the way (I've tried to clean them up a tiny bit, but you can see them in their original forms here and here). At any rate, my desire to finally complete the Seeker team -- and the part RotF Dirge will play in that eventuality -- gets the figure a place on the list.

4. Marvel Legends – Fantomex (Hasbro)

Hey, it's Storm Shadow! No? Oh well...You know what? I have no idea who this character is. I mean, I know his name because I asked who he was on a toy forum, and I glanced at this article on Wikipedia, but I've never read any stories featuring him and didn't even bother to read that Wiki article in full. I not only don't know who Fantomex is -- I also don't care. And yet I must have this toy.

Why is that, you ask? Well, I look at Fantomex and I see easy custom figure potential. I mean, stick a Cobra symbol on him (or not), remove the trench coat, and you've got an instant 6" Storm Shadow. (Or you could leave the coat on for the movie look -- it's up to you!) In fact, sans trench, Fantomex could be just about any white-clad ninja. Yeah, you could do various tweaks to match the figure to the specific costume details of a particular character -- I can imagine someone swapping out the forearms and/or hands, or just sanding them down and throwing some wrapping on there -- but straight out of the package Fantomex is pretty much a complete custom.

Personally? I want the figure for a Casshern base. The whole reason I got into Power Rangers figures late last year was that I needed a mostly white-clad character with a relatively slim body type, but -- while I ended up falling in love with those toys -- I question whether they'd make ideal custom fodder due to their lack of certain useful points of articulation. Fantomex, however, looks flipping perfect for a base -- and so much the better if I could swap his forearms with those of a Marvel Legends Quicksilver.

Now, apparently there's no guarantee that Fantomex will be released -- Hasbro is doing some kind of fan poll where the company will release the three top scorers and release them alongside three internal choices -- which kind of worries me since I'd never heard of him until three days ago. Many of the other characters seem much more recognizable to me, so I'm thinking that they'd have a better shot at the prize. Heck, Deadpool's in there and comic fans bloody love that character (he must've gotten cooler after I stopped reading comics, since I never thought much of him during his earlier New Mutants and X-Force appearances). So... yeah. I guess what I'm trying to say here is VOTE FOR FANTOMEX.

3. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – April O'Neil (NECA)

Okay, we've known about this figure for a while now -- NECA's been showing us April since at least February, and we've known that she was going to be among the company's SDCC exclusives for about the last month or two. The news that I found really exciting even came a few days before the con, when NECA officially It's all about the yellow jumper.announced that whereas the SDCC exclusive figure would be wearing a blue jumpsuit, two different versions would be sold at retail: one wearing green, another wearing yellow. So given that I said that I wasn't going to include a figure on this list unless SDCC yielded some new information about the figure, why is April on the list? Well, that previous announcement included images, but press release photos can always be photoshopped -- and for all I knew the yellow April was simply a digital recolor. At the convention, however, April O'Neil in yellow was on display for all to see. And she was beautiful.

Incidentally, since the news of the yellow-clad April broke, I've read a lot of responses from fans that are actually negative. "April wore blue in the comics," they say, "and a cartoon-inspired repaint doesn't belong in a comic-themed line." But guess what, kids? April wore white and grey in the Mirage comics (they were in black and white), and while she did appear in blue on a few covers (and I'm not even sure that's the case; these early covers look pretty monochrome to me), she only wore that jumpsuit for maybe two or three issues of a book that's currently in its fourth volume. Heck, I mostly remember April wearing windbreakers and skintight jeans in the comics. My point is that the blue jumpsuit is hardly iconic, and making it yellow is in no way inappropriate. Besides since the old 'toon version of April is easily the most recognizable incarnation of the character, it does make more sense to release that version of the figure at retail.

Also, save any issue drawn by Matt Howarth, the Mirage comics were never that great. :P

2. Doctor Who – The Third Doctor (Underground Toys)

We're big fans of "Doctor Who" (and especially companion Sarah Jane) here at Scary-Crayon. However, when I was first introduced to the series via the 2005 revival, I didn't like it very much. The episodes were derivative of better science fiction fare; the writing wasn't great half of the time; and the Doctor, though played by the great Christopher Eccleston, was kind of a jerk -- the kind of hero whose carelessness and zeal for adventure result in the needless deaths of a number of supporting characters. (Of course, that was probably a function of subpar writing -- while the Doctor is a bit careless at times and is certainly drawn to excitement, he didn't seem nearly as dickish in better episodes.) I'd started watching on the recommendation of a friend who had been thrilled that "Doctor Who" was returning, and after a few episodes I began jokingly mocking him for his apparent love of the series. He admitted that these newer episodes paled in comparison to the classic series, recommending that I watch them to get a better understanding of why the show is so beloved.

So with a "yeah, sure, whatever" kind of attitude, I picked out a random serial from the old show's 1963-1989 run -- and by the time "Pyramids of Mars" had finished, I was highly hooked. Quite frankly, classic "Doctor Who" might be the most brilliant show ever conceived. The new series still doesn't hold a candle to the classic gems -- and I despise many of these new episodes -- but I keep watching because the classic series has left me with a vested interest in what happens to the Doctor. And yes, it's the same character -- one of the brilliant things about the show its that its hero periodically regenerates into a new form, such that he's been played by ten different actors since his 1963 debut, with an eleventh scheduled to take over in 2010.

The third Doctor and a Sea Devil!The third Doctor and a Dalek!

At any rate, after releasing the fourth, fifth, and sixth Doctors as part as a classics subline last year -- and following the releases of the first and second Doctors as this year's SDCC exclusives -- Character Options and Underground Toys will be bringing us figures of the third Doctor! And since Jon Pertwee's Doctor is one of my favorites (though really each of the classic Doctors except Colin Baker's sixth is "one of my favorites"), I find this news particularly delightful. Granted, it had been rumored for some time and was officially announced several days before the start of the con, but the actual figures were on display at SDCC -- hence the third Doctor's inclusion on the list. My only concern is that I only want one of the sets, but don't know which one to get! I really prefer the outfit on the figure that comes with the Dalek, but I have Daleks coming out of my ears (especially if you count the shuttlecock and paper ones) and no Sea Devils. Decisions, decisions...

And yes, while these figures are distributed in the United States by Underground Toys, they're technically made by Character Options. I don't recommend visiting their page if you live in the US, if only because seeing all of the lovely products available to Britons -- which you won't be able to order "due to weight and/or size restrictions" -- might make you jealous and even a little sad. I want that Series 2 Helen Cutter, darnit. :(

1. Street Fighter IV – Chun-Li (NECA)

No one can escape her mighty legs!

In case I haven't made it painfully obvious in previous features, I love me some Chun-Li. What's not to love about the strongest woman in the world, right? But while Chun-Li's gotten a number of action figures in the past -- and several of them have been quite good -- most of them have been somewhat... incomplete. See, Chun-Li is known for her mightily massive thighs, yet most of her figures have been decidedly lacking in this department. One could even argue that the Capcom vs SNK 2 Chun-Li, while sporting powerful-looking legs that effectively duplicate the look of her thighs in many of her earlier sprites, fails to convey that exaggerated Vampire Princess Chun-Li.quality of the thighs in Chun-Li's later appearances. And although the more recent Revoltech Street Fighter Online Chun-Li has thighs of impressive size, the figure suffers from ugly articulation and the curse of being too darned small.

There's no denying, however, that NECA's upcoming Street Fighter IV Chun-Li figure gets the thighs right. Admittedly, it seems like the company went overboard on the calves, but those are the thighs I've always wanted to see on a Chun-Li figure. The articulation on NECA's SFIV figures is superb, which is also a huge draw -- as much as I like the CvS2 Chun, there are certainly a few more points of articulation that it could have used. From what I've seen thus far, it looks like NECA is poised to give us the best Chun-Li figure yet.

But again, we've known about Chun-Li for a while, so why the inclusion of her on my SDCC want list? Well, in addition to displaying the SFIV figures we knew were coming, NECA revealed a whole bunch of product that we hadn't seen before. And although there were some definite gems in there (I don't usually go for the goofy stylized collectibles, but if this Blanka hits the shelves I'll have a hard time not buying it), I was most enticed by the sight of Chun-Li in different color schemes -- specifically in this black, red, and blue ensemble. I've read a lot of people on the toy forums lamenting NECA's decision to release repaints of the figures and voicing their desire for new characters instead, and yes, I too would prefer new characters to repaints. But if it makes sense to offer repaints in any toyline, it's one based on a fighting game that offers players the choice of multiple colors! And dispute the fact that I generally don't find repaints appealing -- even when the changes are substantial, I have issues with buying the same toy twice (hence my interest in having a diverse Seeker team) -- I can definitely see myself buying Chun-Li in both her traditional blue and this more gothic outfit. Having two versions of the best Chun-Li figure ever probably wouldn't bother me... and if I found that it did, I could always pretend that the latter is Shadow Lady.

There we have it, then -- my five most-wanted toys unveiled (in some way, shape, or form) at SDCC '09. I hope that all those who attended had a wonderful time, that those who didn't were able to keep up from home (and was or will be able to acquire their desired convention exclusives), and that the good people who contributed to the event reap karmic rewards worthy of their participation. I'm not sure what that'll mean for the Mattel employees who preferred to sell their exclusives to dealers rather than consumers, but at least the companies mentioned above can count on my business whenever their products hit the shelves. Kikouken!

-- Wes --
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