Captain Toy/Michael's Review of the Week

Captain Toy Picks...
The Top Ten Action Figure Vehicles

Date Published: 2017-05-10
Written By: Michael Crawford

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Mattel MOTUC Wind Raider

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Last month I put together my Top Ten Action Figure Play Sets. Immediately, I got lots of questions about why such-and-such was not on the list, and 9 times out of 10 it was because they were vehicles, not play sets. But that's a tricky distinction, since you play with both of them in similar ways. My definition of play set and vehicle might be different than yours, and there's no real right answer.

To me, it's simple. If it's supposed to be a vehicle, something intended to transport the characters from one place to another, it's a vehicle. It doesn't matter how big it is, it doesn't matter how many figures can fit on it or in it, it doesn't matter if 99.999% of the time the vehicle never actually moves. A vehicle is a vehicle.

However, I suspect that at least a couple of my choices in this top ten list are going to feel an awful lot like play sets to you. That's okay - like I said, there's no right answer. You pick your list, I'll pick mine.

By the way, you'll notice there's no animals on my list. That wasn't intentional, and I'd count them as vehicles. But there simply aren't any cool enough to make this list. Perhaps they deserve their own...

And with that brief introduction - let's go!

10 - Ghost Rider's Bike, Hasbro, 2007
You'll notice I used photos of the Hot Toys Ghost Rider Flame Cycle for the Facebook or Twitter links. As regular readers know, I always use something that's NOT in the Top Ten for those photos, since showing you one of the winners would be a pretty silly spoiler. While I really do love my Hot Toys Flame Cycle, it didn't quite make the cut. Instead, I slipped the Hasbro version in front of it for a couple reasons.

The Hasbro version has a fantastic sculpt and paint job for a mass market release. The figure fits great, the bike actually rolls, and plenty of collectors used this bike with their custom sixth scale Ghost Rider figures before the Hot Toys version was released. In fact, it's still an excellent low cost alternative. 

It doesn't light up, but it does come with a pretty rad Ghost Rider figure. all for little bank. Ah, yes. You got all that sweetness for a fantastic price as well. That's a very hard combination to beat. Prices these days aren't quite so cheap, with a loose version going for around $80 - $100, and a boxed one running $150 - $200.

Ghost Rider Flame Cycle bike

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9 - Batpod, Movie Masters, Mattel, 2008
Everyone knows I'm a big Batman fan. I vowed not to pick *too* many Bat-vehicles..but c'mon! There's so many great ones!  I considered the Batwing from Kenner for Batman Returns, as well as the Kenner Batmobile based on the Burton designs. Let's not forget Hot Toys who did their own version, as well as a fantastic Batpod...there's just so many to choose from, and I'm such a sucker for the character.

I ended up with three of the ten, not too bad I suppose. Perhaps I need to do a Top Ten Batmobiles...anyway, taking the number nine spot is the Batpod from Mattel that was released as part of their Movie Master line for the Dark Knight. This is a 1/12 line, and the detail and quality of the bike was exceptional. It's a little tricky getting Batman on there just right, but it is possible, and he looks terrific once you work out the kinks.

Movie Masters Dark Knight Batpod

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8 - Judge Dredd's Lawmaster, Mezco, 2016
I was also trying to keep recent releases as limited as possible. It usually takes some time for a great toy to peculate, and I wanted give some of the more recent vehicles that time. But I ended up a couple exceptions, and the number 8 choice is the most recent release of the bunch, coming out about a year ago.

The Mezco Dredd and Lawmaster were done up in several colors and variations, but it doesn't matter which one you get - they all rock. The build quality is excellent, and the sculpting and paint are top notch. The scale is about right too, a problem the 3A version suffers. But it's the lights and sounds that take this thing way over the top, and it's one of the best recent collectibles of any kind when it comes to its use of these features. There's multiple loud sounds, bright lights, and it's all easy to use. I suspect that when I do a Top Ten Light/Sound Features list, this guy will be on it.

Mezco Judge Dredd Lawmaster

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7 - Technodrome, TMNT, 1990
The first three choices were getting progressively more modern, so it's time to take a jump way back in time with this fantastic vehicle from the Playmates Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line. The Technodrome is one of those vehicles that was also a play set - it's huge, and opens to reveal all sorts of fun goodies. Not nearly as many goodies as depicted on the cartoon, but still, it was a terrific vehicle.  With a jail and trap door inside, monster tank treads to roll along, and a giant eyeball on top, it's my favorite TMNT vehicle. And that's saying a lot considering the plethora of vehicles Playmates has produced over the years.

If you're looking for one these days, expect to pay around $200 - $300 for a complete minty version. I grabbed the photo below from a vintage dealer called Space N Traders.

Technodrome MOTU Vehicle

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6 - Dragon Walker, MOTU, Mattel, 1984
To fully appreciate this vehicle, you need to see it in action, as in this 1984 commercial. It's a motorized vehicle, a big plus right out of the gate. It's a unique Masters of the Universe design, another big plus. And I'm going to go out on a very sturdy limb and say it has the most unusual method of forward movement of any action figure vehicle, taking it over the top for me.

If you haven't got time to watch the commercial, here's the basics: it looks like a small carriage on top of a long set of legs. For each step, the carriage moves to the very front of the underlying legs, then the back legs swing around out in front, and the process repeats. I'm telling you, those MOTU designers were doing some serious drugs.

The secondary market prices are dirt cheap on this guy, a rarity with the vintage stuff I usually have on my lists.

If you're looking for anything MOTU/He-Man related, head over to Battle Ram, which is where the photo below was obtained.

Masters of the Universe Dragon Walker

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5 - M.A.S.K. Rhino, Kenner, 1985
One of the most beloved toy lines of the 80's is M.A.S.K.. If you weren't just the right age in the mid-80's, you probably never even noticed it, but for those kids born at the right time, it was a marvelous set of figures and vehicles. How often does a toy line outlive the cartoon that spawned it?

There were plenty of vehicles, but the Rhino gets my vote as the best.  This big rig looks innocent enough, but included all kinds of nifty features, allowing it to 'transform' (not in an Tranformers sort of way, but in a much more straightforward way) into the "Mobile Defense Unit". It had a second vehicle hidden in the tractor hitch, it had a battering ram and guns, Hell, it had working ejector seats!  How cool is that!

Current prices are in the $50 - $75 range for loose version, and $150 or so for a boxed example, depending on condition of course.

The photo below is from the terrific site CollectionDX.

M.A.S.K. Rhino vehicle

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4 - Batmobile Animated Series, DC Collectibles, 2015
Here we go with Batman related vehicle number 2, and yes, it's a Batmobile. My second favorite Batmobile design (right behind the Burton version) is the classic animated look from the Dini/Timm shows. We had a few nice ones over the years, but it wasn't until 2015 that the car was given the ultimate reinstatement it deserved. DC Collectibles has been doing the whole series up right, but this Batmobile not only looks amazing, but has some fantastic light features as well. They followed up with the Batwing, and while I love it too, it can't quite match the beauty of this toy.

Batman animated series Batmobile

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3 - Tumbler, Hot Toys, 2009
And here's my final Batman related vehicle, and of course, it's another Batmobile. You didn't think I could completely ignore the amazing vehicles that Hot Toys has been producing, did you?  I'm sure many of you would put the Delorean on this list, and yes, I love it. It's a thing of beauty. But it can't take the place in my heart that is firmly held by their Tumbler. This vehicle proved they could do it - they could make a vehicle in this huge scale, do it with real quality and amazing detail, and do it for a price that wouldn't end in divorces all over the country. While both the Batman Returns Batmobile and Delorean are fantastic (not to mention the Power Loader, the Batpod and the Flame Cycle), I don't see any vehicle bumping the Tumbler any time soon. Unless we finally get that 66 Batmobile...

Hot Toys Tumbler Batman

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2 - Millenium Falcon, Hasbro, 2008
Hasbro has done the Falcon a million times, some good, some not so much, but they've all been loved by kids. It's an amazing on screen ship, and having a version for your 4" Han Solo to pilot has been a thrill for more than one generation.

Of the various releases, I'm going with the 2008 version as my big number 2 on the list. It's huge, around 30" long. It has tons of sounds, lights, and special features (and will be another to show up on *that* Top Ten list), all easy to use. It has a far superior paint job, both inside and out. And it is a huge pile of fun, a fantastic toy that teenagers today (remember, it was released almost ten years ago!) will pine for as adult collectors.

The photo below is from the one and only Star Wars site,

Millenium Falcon

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1 - U.S.S. Flagg, G.I. Joe, Hasbro, 1985
Yep, a boat is a vehicle. But even I have to question whether the U.S.S. Flagg, centerpiece of any 80's G.I. Joe collection, is a play set or a vehicle. I mean, c'mont - it's 7 1/2 feet long! But I'm sticking with my rule - if it's a vehicle, it's a vehicle. And so perhaps the greatest vehicle OR play set of all time is in the number one spot here. If your parents bought this for you as a child, you'd better damn well get them a room with a window at the nursing home.

You don't even want to think about prices for this vintage behemoth. We're talking hundreds for a loose version and thousands for a boxed version. Is that really a surprise though?

The photo came from Hisstank, the terrific Joe site that focuses on more modern releases, but has plenty of vintage discussion as well. I have no idea who the kid is, but he had one damn sweet birthday that year!

U.S.S. Flagg action figure vehicle G.I. Joe

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There have been lots and lots of amazing vehicles over the last 50 years, and you'll certainly have your own top ten.  It's tough to distill that many collectibles into such a small list, and I think this list will actually result in several more, including Top Ten Animal Figures and Top Ten Batmobiles.

If you're enjoying this top ten concept of Captain Toy Picks or have a suggestion for a future list, drop me a line and let me know! I've added a section below with links to all the past Captain Toy Picks... features:

Captain Toy Picks...The Top Television (Live Action) Action Figure Lines!
Captain Toy Picks...The Top Movie Based Action Figure Lines!
Captain Toy Picks...The Top Underrated Action Figure Lines!
Captain Toy Picks...The Top Action Figure Play Sets!
Captain Toy Picks...The Top Ten Smart Purchases!
Captain Toy Picks...The Top Ten McFarlane Lines!
Captain Toy Picks...The Top Ten Bad Action Figure Ideas!
Captain Toy Picks...The Top Ten Toy Fair 2017 Reveals!
Captain Toy Picks...The Top Ten Unproduced Action Figures!
Captain Toy Picks...The People's Picks for Best of 2016!
Captain Toy Picks...Best/Worst of 2016!
Captain Toy Picks...Top Poppies Winners of the Past Ten Years!
Captain Toy Picks...Top Ten DC Universe Classics Action Figures!
Captain Toy Picks...Top Ten Christmas Action Figures!
Captain Toy Picks...Top Ten Joker Action Figures!
Captain Toy Picks...Top Ten Superman Action Figures!
Captain Toy Picks...Top Ten Animated Action Figure Series!
Captain Toy Picks...Top Ten Toy Things I'm Thankful For!
Captain Toy Picks...Top Ten Premium Format Statues!
Captain Toy Picks...Top Ten Horror Sixth Scale Figures!
Captain Toy Picks...Top Ten Horror Action Figures!
Captain Toy Picks...Top Ten Sixth Scale Disappointments Over $100!
Captain Toy Picks...Top Ten Sixth Scale Disappointments Under $100!
Captain Toy Picks...Top Ten Palisades Muppets!
Captain Toy Picks...Top Ten Wanted Licenses in Sixth Scale!
Captain Toy Picks...Top Ten Batman Black and White Statues!
Captain Toy Picks...Top Ten Masters of the Universe Classics Action Figures!
Captain Toy Picks...Top Ten Female Action Figures!
Captain Toy Picks...Top Ten Prop Replicas!
Captain Toy Picks...Top Ten Simpsons World of Springfield action figures!
Captain Toy Picks...Top Ten Batman action figures!
Captain Toy Picks...Top Ten Sixth Scale Grails!
Captain Toy Picks...Top Ten Sixth Scale Figures!

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Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

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