Captain Toy/Michael's Review of the Week

Captain Toy Picks...
The Top Ten Defunct Toy/Collectibles Companies

Date Published: 2017-07-05
Written By: Michael Crawford

Please share with your friends!

Dark Shadows Barnabas Collins action figure

Dividing Bar

Dividing Bar


We've seen a lot of toy companies come and go over the last 30 years.  The market has had some real extremes, and it's been a tough road for even the big boys like McFarlane (or Hasbro and Mattel!), let alone all the little companies that pop up and are snuffed out much too soon.

Some of them deeply deserve it. Thanks to shoddy work, crappy licenses, and poor execution, companies like Shocker, N2, or Exclusive Premier don't last. But even those with great quality and great people can find themselves on the short end of the stick when the market takes a turn.

Here are my ten picks for defunct companies that I wish were still in the game. I didn't have too many rules for this one, but I did stick with companies since 1990. Technically, that means there's a big one missing - Kenner.  I didn't include them because by the late 80's they had already become a division of Tonka, and by 1991 Hasbro has engulfed them.

But those are the only 'rules'. That still leaves an awful lot to choose from, too many really, and my final ten are...

10 - Triad Toys
The sixth scale market has seen a lot of players disappear, like Majestic Studios, Drastic Plastic, Ignite, Dog Soldiers, etc. etc. etc. Others, like 21st Century, pivoted away from the sixth scale market. One of the smaller companies was Triad Toys, killed off by inconsistent quality at a time when the market was requiring better and better work.

I'm not pining over their figures though, although their 12" Zorro is still the best version in this scale. No, it's their dioramas that I miss. I still use many of them in photo shoots, and some - like the Boone Town saloon pictured below - were terrific for the price point. Sadly, we don't get much in the way of properly scaled 1/6th dioramas and play sets, and it was one area where Triad tended to be very consistent.

Triad Toys Boonetown diorama

Dividing Bar

9 - Creatus Maximus
When Palisades went under, one of their most talented employees, the man behind the Muppets line, Ken Lilly, went on to form his own fledgling company Creatus Maximus. He created a unique designer vinyl figure line based on the two atomic bombs, Fat Man and Little Boy, and called them Smart Bombs.  The first sets were debuted at Comic-Con in 2006, based on C-3PO and R2-D2, as well as Batman and Robin (as I recall). Unfortunately, they didn't take off, and I don't believe CMX did anything further. Considering the prodigious creativity and imagination of Ken, I think we are all a little poorer for it.

Smart Bombs action figures

Dividing Bar

8 - Resaurus
A company that burned bright but burned fast was Resaurus, founded by Doug Sapp. They focused on video game figures largely, but their big break was when they were tapped to do the toys for Jurassic Park: The Lost World. Their Sonic series is still arguably the best produced, and their focus on excellent sculpts and paint work set them apart. They even did some terrific dinosaurs for the History Channel that are still highly sought after today. Their downfall was attributed to a number of factors, as you'd expect, including internal strife and taking on too many license too quickly, spreading themselves too thin. Had they survived, I think we would have gotten some more terrific lines to rival their work on Sonic.

Photo stolen from the web - if it's yours, please let me know!

Resaurus Sonic action figure

Dividing Bar

7 - Art Asylum
Several of the companies on this list affected the collectibles market with their innovation and creativity, but perhaps none as much as Art Asylum. Their work on the Star Trek license gained them fame, but their creation of the small block figures called Minimates is their legacy. Diamond Select Toys acquired many of their assets, including the Minimates, and have continued successfully producing them for many years.

Star Trek action figure

Dividing Bar

6 - SOTA
Jerry Macaluso has been around this business for a very long time. His current company, Pop Culture Shock Collectibles, produces very high end 1/4 scale statues and full size busts on a variety of licenses. But before that, he ran a successful action figure company called SOTA, which worked in the 6 - 7" market.  Their Street Fighter line remains my favorite take on the classic fighting game, with amazing sculpts and excellent articulation, and their Now Playing series provided some great horror characters like Darkman. They had some great things on the horizon, with licenses like Tremors and The Thing...what could have been! At least we did get the one deluxe set with Mac...

The Thing deluxe set action figures

Dividing Bar

Dividing Bar

5 - Plan-B Toys
When companies explode, their employees are thrown off into the void. Often they regroup by starting another company of their own, bringing the innovation and creativity with them, leaving behind the financial woes. At least to start.

When Resaurus died, several of the talented folks left jobless went off to do exactly that, forming Plan-B Toys. There's always a plan B! They focused on the same terrific sculpting and paint work that made Resaurus a player, and brought better articulation to the mix. They started with a variety of military figures in the 6 - 7" scale, but quickly added in some licensed product, including the excellent Ladder 49 action figures.

I'm not positive Plan-B is completely defunct. They may still be doing contract work for other companies under that brand, and their website is still active. But I haven't seen their own logo on anything in many years now, and that's truly a shame.

Ladder 49 action figures

Dividing Bar

4 - Master Replicas
Mergers and acquisitions can be the death of a company. Sometimes the M&A happens, and it overwhelms and kills the resulting entity...other times the M&A happens because they're already in trouble. It's often hard to tell. Such is the case with Master Replicas, a terrific prop replica company that was killing it for years with their Star Wars replica helmets, light sabers, and other props. Things started to get rocky, they merged with Corgi, and boom, it all fell apart.  Other companies blossomed in the rubble of course, including eFX and Factory Entertainment, but MR was no longer. They produced some great stuff, and the prop replica market took a serious nose dive for several years after their demise. Things have been looking up again the last year or two, but no one has reached their level of quality and production overall quite yet.

Photo courtesy of Rebel Scum.

Master Replicas Darth Vader light saber prop replica

Dividing Bar

3 - Toybiz
I opted to leave Kenner off this list, because I was trying to avoid the vintage companies. By 1990, Kenner was pretty much a dead duck, and Hasbro quickly gobbled them up.

But another player in the 80's was Toybiz, and they managed to hang on for quite a bit longer. Their work with the original Marvel Legends was outstanding, and they created the Build-A-Figure concept for the series. Those early BAF's were epic, often towering over the regular figures at 12 - 14" tall. Now THAT was a BAF!

And who can forget their Lord of the Rings series? They came in number 3 on my Top Ten Movie Based Action Figure lines, a designation they richly deserve. When the rights to do Marvel figures shifted to Hasbro, it was the killing blow to Toybiz, and while Hasbro eventually got their act together with ML's, I still wish we'd seen Toybiz continue on.

Marvel Legends Wolverine action figure

Dividing Bar

2 - Flatt World Figures
Once upon a time, I was part owner and investor in a small company called Flatt World Figures. Our mission was to produce super high end figures in an 8" scale, and we were jumping off the custom work done by Charlee Flatt, hence the name. We successfully brought the Bela Lugosi Dracula to market.

We were a company ahead of our time, and the travails of overseas manufacturing was the end of us.  Whenever a small company talks to me about a bad manufacturing rep or a production plant taking advantage of them, I can fully appreciate and empathize. While there were other issues - I really wish we'd gone with a 12" format against Charlee's wishes, and we should have spaced out some of the licenses a bit more - it was really our inexperience with getting things done at the production facility that bled us dry.

We had the license for Zorro, both the current (at the time) rendition and the classic, as well as the Astro City characters. We had plans and prototypes for Rocky Horror, a line that still hasn't gotten its due all these years later. Do you ever think to yourself "man, if I knew then what I know now"? Yep, I think that all the time.

Flatt World Figures Dracula

Dividing Bar

1 - Palisades
C'mon, how many times to I have to brag up Palisades? You knew they'd be here, didn't you? Everyone remembers and loves their Muppets, line, but what about Ren and Stimpy, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Fairly Odd Parents, or Invader Zim?  I even loved the Pink Panther wave, and included a shot of the Anteater below, simply because it's often forgotten among all the other amazing work they did.

When the collapse came, they were working on expanding their new 4" style of figures into licenses like Terminator, Alien, and others. We'll never know what could have been, but if you have the inclination, pick up some of their other series on the secondary market. Fans of those properties will be glad they did.

Pink Panther action figures

Dividing Bar


There were a lot of potential companies for this list. Let me just give you a few of the ones I considered:

SEG Toys; Lazy Bonz; Equity Marketing; Exclusive Premier; Trendmasters; Drastic Plastic; Toycom; N2; Majestic Studios; Ignite; Dog Soldiers; Vital Toys; Stan Winston Creations; Playing Mantis; Galoob...and the list goes on.

I think I just might do a list for retailers too...sadly, there's been a fair share of those as well.

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 Original Action Figure Lines!
Captain Toy Picks...The Top 'Remakes Required' Sixth Scale Figures!
Captain Toy Picks...The Top Sideshow Sixth Scale Figures!
Captain Toy Picks...The Top Hot Toys Portraits - Male!
Captain Toy Picks...The Top Robot Action Figures!
Captain Toy Picks...The Top Animal Action Figures!
Captain Toy Picks...The Top Action Figure Vehicles!
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!

Dividing Bar

Dividing Bar

Please share with your friends!

Back to Main Page
Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

This page copyright 2000 - 2017, Michael Crawford. All rights reserved.