We’re counting down the ten best toy lines of the year!
2018 was another banner year for long-running toy lines like Marvel Legends and Star Wars, and a resurgence for previous stalwarts like Mattel’s DC Multiverse, but it was the exciting new toy lines which impacted me the most. Here’s my picks for the ten best toy lines of the year.
10. Voltron 84 (Playmates)
Late last year, Playmates dropped a teaser that their Voltron license didn’t just cover the Netflix animated series, but also the classic 80’s cartoon, with the reveal of the five lions based on the vintage series. Sure, we saw these same lions released by Mattel a few years ago, but for those that missed out this seemed like the perfect opportunity to revisit the Voltron of yesteryear. And it certainly was– each of these five lion figures is well made, with toon accurate designs and useful articulation… and the combining feature was very effective, working much better than other Voltron toys of the past.
9. Ghostbusters (Playmobil)
I was charmed by the inventive, entertaining Ghostbusters line released by Playmobil in 2017. And this year, they followed it up with two new waves of toys which matched the fun of their licensed products. While Playmobil basically tackled the first movie with their first year’s toy line, they expanded to include both Ghostbusters II and the Real Ghostbusters animated series in 2018. Along the way, they also added cool action features and vehicles to the animated line, and a new bit of ghostly technology to the sequel sets which kept these great toys feeling relevant, while building upon the impressive first year of toys they already established.
8. Predator (NECA)
It felt like 2018 was a light year for NECA’s longest running toy line, but in retrospect we got a healthy number of new Predator releases, and each of them proved why NECA is one of the best toymakers out there. Whether it’s the fantastic all new Fugitive Predator from this year’s Shane Black film, perfect updates to older figures like the elusive Ahab and the Bad Blood Predators, or the release of the long-awaited Dark Horse series, including the first ever 7″ Machiko action figure, there was something for everyone in this mix.
7. DC Multiverse (Mattel)
For a few years now, it seemed like Mattel’s DC license was dead in the water. This makes it doubly frustrating that in 2018 A) they finally stepped up their game and started releasing some genuinely great DC-inspired action figures, and B) they apparently lost the license to Spinmaster. I’m still processing the new master licencor news, but in the meantime I can say 2018 was a remarkable year for Mattel’s DC Multiverse line. Long considered an afterthought of the successful yet outdated DC Universe Classics collection, the Multiverse line came into its own over the past twelve months, releasing the first movie-based toys to feature real scan paint apps in their portraits (the Aquaman movie collection), as well as some of the best artist tribute toys ever to hit mass retail, such as the Wal-Mart exclusive Harley Quinn. What hurts the most about the Spinmaster news is that, toward the end of the year, it seemed Mattel was genuinely starting to figure things out, and I would have loved to see what their three-year plan for this toy line was, apart from outside variables.
6. DuckTales (Phat Mojo)
What makes for a truly great line of toys? I guess the answer is ultimately subjective, but for what it’s worth I consider it a combination of accuracy to source material, and overall fun factor. And on both these marks, Phat Mojo’s Target-exclusive DuckTales toy line ranks high. Based on the 2017 series, these figures perfectly capture the excellent modern-cum-Carl-Banks aesthetic of the show, and deliver the entire core cast (including chief antagonist Glomgold) in the first release. While lacking in super articulation,each of these figures matches their small-screen counterpart perfectly, and the choice of accessories (at least two per figure) is ingenious for any fan of the animated series. Of all the toy lines released in 2018, Phat Mojo’s DuckTales is the one which has me eagerly awaiting news of a followup in 2019, and I think that truly says something about the toymaker’s knowledge of this brand.