Captain Toy/Michael's Review of the Week

Captain Toy Picks...
The Top Ten Female Action Figures

Date Published: 2016-09-07
Written By: Michael Crawford

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Hot Toys Maleficent sixth scale action figure

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When it was suggested I look at my top ten female figures, I thought it was a great idea.  At first, I thought I'd go for all collectibles - figures, busts, statues, etc.  That would make it a lot easier on me, broadening the number of items I could choose from.  However, as I looked at potential nominees, I decided there were enough figures all on their own to get a solid list. There's enough statues and busts out there to get their own lists down the road as well.

It's also worth noting that you'll end up seeing a couple of these on other lists, past and future, thanks to their overall quality.

Here we go!

10 - G.I. Joe Nurse, Hasbro, 1967
No, I don't own one personally, but no top ten list can be complete without this critically historic figure.  While I'll happily argue that Barbie is the first female action figure, others will just as vehemently disagree, but you can't argue with the first female G.I. Joe. She remains one of the very rarest of the old school Joe figures, and commands big bucks MIB these days.  She is the sort of figure collectors like me dream about finding in a garage sale...sorta like winning the lottery.

Photo Courtesy CollectorToys.Net

Hasbro G.I. Joe Nurse

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9 - Angela, Spawn, McFarlane Toys, 2013
While I never reviewed her, I do have plenty of versions of this figure - way more than I should. Like G.I Nurse, Todd's Angela has tremendous historical importance, ushering in the real 'female action figure' collecting movement. Todd changed the face of action figures with his advancements in paint and sculpting, and he didn't leave the ladies behind. And who can forget the controversy over her panties...or lack thereof? Angela brought to the world of action figures something that had been sorely missing on the male dominated pegs - a strong, warrior female.

Photo courtesy of Mekanda's Blog.

McFarlane Spawn Angela action figure

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8 - Corpse Bride, McFarlane, 2005
I love most of the stop motion animated movies, and many of the character designs lend themselves beautifully to an action figure treatment since, well, they're really action figures to begin with. While I like the work across lots of lines that both NECA and McFarlane have done over the years with stop motion properties, it's really the Corpse Bride (from McFarlane) that really stands out for me. I loved the detailing and the exquisite translation from movie to physical form. The entire Corpse Bride line (all two waves) was terrific, but the lead character stole the show.

Corpse Bride action figure

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7 - Gorgo, 300, NECA, 2007
Here's one I bet most folks don't even remember!  NECA has also done their fair share of lovely ladies over the years, but one that has always stood out to me is Gorgo, from their line based on the  movie 300.  She skates that line a bit between action figure and statue, since her articulation is limited.  Still, articulation is articulation, and the paint and sculpting were outstanding. While some of the male figures in the line were a bit over dramatic in their posing, she has a serene power in her design that sets her apart.

NECA 300 Gorgo action figure

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6 - Alluxandra, Seventh Kingdom, Four Horsemen, 2009
The Four Horsemen are famous for their amazing work for Mattel, including the design and sculpt duties on major lines like DC Universe Classics and Masters of the Universe Classics.  For their own company, they came up with a very cool idea, pre-Kickstarter, that mimics what many small companies use the crowd funding model for today.  They developed action figures and lines based almost entirely on customer input. They gave them choices through the entire process, and let the buyers decide. They eventually narrowed that process considerably, but they produced a number of terrific figures under the Seventh Kingdom (and other) banners.

My favorite female from them is Alluxandra.  Her evil counterpart, Isadora, is also well done, but the sheer amount of detail on Alux's armor and accessories sets her apart. She was actually the Queen in a large set of female mutant figures, heavy on the anthropomorphic cats but with a few other variations thrown in, but there's a reason she's the Queen.

Seventh Kingdom Alluxandra action figure

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5 - Batgirl, DC Superheros, Mattel, 2006
When I did my picks for best Batman figures, my number eight was the Batman from the DC Superheroes line by Mattel.  It only makes sense that the terrific Batgirl from this same series, with her excellent sculpt and even better articulation, would end up grabbing a spot in the list of ladies. The simple, generalized comic style looks great, and they created a highly poseable female figure when most female figures had five poa.

DCSH Batman, Batgirl action figures

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4 - Rogue, Marvel Legends, Hasbro, 2016
I've done six of these Captain Toy Picks lists now, and this is the first time I've selected something from the current year. While things always get better over time, I think it's important to let your favorites percolate awhile to avoid taking the latest hot thing simply because it's the latest hot thing.

But the simple fact is that for all the female figures done in the Marvel Legends lines over the years, very few of them have been great. Great male figures? Plenty of those. But the ladies tend to be...less than perfect.

That's been turning around over the last year or so, however, and I think the new Rogue, based on the classic Jim Lee design, is the shining example of how good this line can be. Sculpt, paint, articulation - she's the complete package.

Marvel Legends Rogue action figure

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3 - Teela, Masters of the Universe Classics, Mattel, 2009
I'll be doing a list of my Top Ten Master of the Universe Classics figures at some point, and I can guarantee without a shadow of any doubt that Teela will be on that list as well. She remains one of the most beautiful, properly proportioned, female action figures ever produced.  The key here is on 'action', with plenty of useful, well designed articulation that doesn't ruin the overall aesthetic. MOTUC has generally had great female figures, but Teela is a true stand out.

Mattel MOTUC Teela action figure

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2 - Black Widow, Winter Soldier, Hot Toys, 2014
Hot Toys has produced four - yes, four - Black Widow figures so far.  In 2010, it was based on Iron Man 2, and it won the Poppies that year for Best Female Figure 12" and up. In 2013, it was based on The Avengers, and it won again. In 2014, they released my favorite of the four, based on Winter's Soldier. And yes, it won again.  In 2015, we got the version based on Avengers: Age of Ultron, and you know the Poppies outcome. This year we're expecting our fifth Black Widow, this time based on Captain America: Civil War. Will it take the Poppies once again?  Odds are pretty good. Unless it doesn't start shipping until 2017.

While the portraits improved with every release, I'm partial to the straight hair we got with the Winter's Soldier version. Obviously you're mileage will vary, but I'm betting at least one of the four is pretty high on your list as well.

Hot Toys Winter Soldier Black Widow action figure

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1 - Hermione Granger, Harry Poter, Star Ace, 2015
I try to avoid the 'whatever came most recent is the best' syndrome, but sometimes it can be hard. The simple fact is that as time has gone by, companies have gotten better and better at producing high quality figures, and the number of great female figures has increased.  My top choice is less than a year old, but was a no brainer for me.  Star Ace produced the youngest version of Hermione in their Harry Potter line, and they did a fantastic job. They have older versions of Hermione coming, but I suspect they've set the bar impossibly high, and every likeness after this will be viewed as the lesser.

Star Ace Hermione Grander action figure

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In Closing...
I tried to look across a lot of types of action figures and styles, and there were plenty that were on my short list as I put together the top ten. DC Direct has done some great stuff, including several versions of Wonder Woman, and there are plenty of other potential DCUC, MOTUC, and Marvel Legends choices. There's plenty of other sixth scale too, including the terrific Takara Catwoman. It was tough to pare it down to just 10, but I think it's useful process to better understand your own tastes, bias' and preferences, and be a better critic overall.

For example, while this list seems pretty well spread out across companies and lines, there is one group that has had quite a bit of influence - The Four Horsemen. Both Teela and Alluxandra are their work, and I'm 99% sure that the DCSH Batgirl is as well. I didn't realize just how much I preferred their work with smaller scale female figures until after I'd completed this exercise.

There will be more female centric lists to come, including best busts and best statues.  When it comes to female characters, those mediums tend to produce the best work, although not always.

So what's your list look like?

If you're enjoying this concept of Captain Toy Picks, drop me a line and let me know!

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Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

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