Captain Toy/Michael's Review of the Week

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

Date Published: 2016-10-26
Written By: Michael Crawford

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Mezco Chucky mega scale action figure

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With Halloween earlier this week, it seemed fitting to put together my top ten picks for the scariest, spookiest, creepiest toys of all. There's been a million of them too, and as I started to peruse all the potential picks, I realized this was another case where I better break things up a bit.

So this list is going to be 'action figures'. That means no busts or statues or dolls or prop replicas. Just action figures.  And because of the sheer number of potential candidates, I'm also holding off on any sixth scale action figures - for now. I'll do a 'Top Ten Horror Sixth Scale Figures' next week, but this week it's just the smaller toys.  The first person to ask me why Sideshow's Jason or Hot Toys Predator aren't on this list is going to get a very hard virtual bitch slap.

Even taking out the sixth scale figures and all the other collectibles, it was a mighty tough job narrowing this list down. I tried to spread things out a bit among various companies, scales, and styles, and every one of these figures really 'wowed' me when I first bought it, and still impresses me today.

Here we go!

10 - Pumpkinhead, SOTA, 2006
Some of the figures that end up on my top ten picks did not do well when I initially reviewed them. Such is the case for poor Pumpkinhead. This 1/4 scale figure was released by SOTA, a company well known for the exceptional sculpts.  He's a great example, with lots of nasty detail and screen accuracy.  The design is a favorite of mine too, because we simply don't get enough 'dude in a rubber suit' style monsters any more.  But unfortunately, the paint work on this guy was way under developed, and did not allow you to truly appreciate the underlying sculpt.  I've seen some repaints, and he really does shine.

Another plus for this figure is the scale.  This was back in the first real surge of 1/4 scale figures to hit the market, with McFarlane, SOTA, Mezco, and NECA all jumping into the pool. I almost had the Lord of Darkness figure here instead, also from SOTA, but I decided the character (and movie) were more fantasy than horror.

Pumpkinhead mega scale action figure

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9 - Predator (1/4 scale), NECA, 2010
Speaking of 1/4 scale, NECA has years of success in the market. A great example is their Predator, based on the original film. They've done a number of other versions, both from other movies and variants on this original design, and every one of them has been excellent.

NECA has also done a great number of excellent 7" scale Predator figures, and while none of them managed to make it to the list, they are all certainly worthy contenders. They just don't have the sheer mass of this guy, which isn't for everyone, but always impresses me.

Predator 1/4 scale action figure

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8 - Metaluna Mutant, Sideshow, 2000
Sideshow did a ton of wonderful horror figures in their early days.  While most of those were sixth scale, they did do a terrific 8" line of classic Universal Monsters. There are a ton in this series that still stand out today for their quality and accuracy, but my favorite is the Metaluna Mutant. The monster was such a funky, weird design to begin with - he's wearing pants! - and Sideshow did him proud with their release. DST has done a modern version as well which is quite good, but the older Sideshow version is still my favorite.

Sideshow Metaluna Mutant action figure

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7 - Creature from the Black Lagoon, Diamond Select Toys, 2014
The DST Metaluna Mutant may not have unseated the Sideshow version, but with my all time favorite Universal Monster, DST did manage to take the grand prize. Sideshow did a wonderful version of the Creature from the Black Lagoon in their aforementioned 8" line, but when DST released him a SECOND time in their own series, they finally nailed it. From sculpt to paint to articulation, this is my favorite Creature in this general scale and style.

DST Creature from the Black Lagoon figure

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6 - Army of Darkness, Palisades, 2005
In the mid aughts, the end of the road was approaching fast for Palisades.  They expanded their repertoire into 4" scale action figures, and went after a classic license - Army of Darkness. With the popularity of the new television show, all things Ash are cool once again, and it's worth remembering how great this line was. Yea, I know it's a bit of a cheat - I'm not picking one figure for this slot, but a whole line. If I were forced to pick just one, it would be the S-Mart Ash that was in the second wave. But hey, this is my damn list and my damn rules, which I can break any time I want. Neener, neener.

There were quite a few figures over the course of two or three waves...don't remember if they managed to get to the third wave or not. They had a number of exclusives as well, of course. Sadly, they were cursed with breakage issues at the start that left some people with a bad taste, and their plans for other licenses in this scale - like Terminator - never managed to see the light of day.  You can still snag most of these guys for half way decent prices, and they are a lot of fun.

Palisades Army of Darkness action figure

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5 - Island of Dr. Hibbert, McFarlane, 2007
Not too long ago, I did my Captain Toy Picks...Top Ten World of Springfield Action Figures list. That list was WoS style figures only, which ruled out my next pick from contention. But now that we're talking horror, I think it's time for a shout out.

McFarlane took up the Simpsons license after Playmates (and before NECA), and produced diorama style figures that were themed around specific episodes. Easily my favorite is the Island of Dr. Hibbert, another great Treehouse of Horror concept. You got eight characters in one diorama, and it was some of McToys best work on the license. And how can you argue with another Comic Book Guy variant?

Simpsons Island of Dr. Hibbert action figures

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4 - Jaws, McFarlane, 2001
I've been kind of quiet on McFarlane, and that's definitely odd when you're discussing horror figures. Their Movie Maniacs line gave us some fantastic figures, and they covered a ton of different monster themed licenses. They created some of their own as well, like Tortured Souls or Twisted Fairy Tales.  There was plenty of great stuff, but only a few that really stood out for me long term.

One of those is their Jaws diorama. We just don't get enough Jaws merchandise, and when McFarlane produced this small (the figures are only a couple inches tall) diorama of the boat, it was long overdue.  Here we get to see Bruce at his best, happily munching away on Quint, blood everywhere. I had this guy on display at my work for years, but sadly it was finally busted up too badly to fix.  It's one that I hope to replace in the collection some day, although they tend to go for crazy money now.

McFarlane Jaws action figure

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3 - Halloween Diorama, NECA, 2004
Seems like 'dioramas' are doing well here! Another one that really wowed me when I first received it was the NECA Halloween set, with Michael Myers and Dr. Loomis. It's just a chunk of grass, the front steps, and a bit of the porch railing, but it looks terrific on the shelf.  The light up pumpkin is a great touch, and both the Loomis and Michael figures were excellent versions. Like McFarlane, NECA has done a TON of horror figures over the years, and personal preferences will drive what you end up picking, but for me, this set was at the top of the list.

NECA Halloween diorama

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2 - Sam, Trick R Treat, Sideshow, 2008 
Back in 2007, Michael Dougherty wrote and directed a fun little Halloween anthology called Trick R Treat. His most recent film was Krampus, and sadly, it's not nearly as much fun as his first hit. The movie starred Sam, a precocious trick'r treater with a nasty lollipop, who wove himself through the seemingly unrelated stories.  Sideshow produced a large figure based on Sam the following year, and it sold first. But as the film took off as a cult hit, so did the character, and once the figure sold out, secondary market prices shot through the roof.  It's a really well done figure, with a cloth pajama outfit, cloth hood, and creepy face sculpt hidden underneath. Mezco is doing a new 15" version which should satisfy the market, but this original will always be my favorite.

Trick R Treat Sam action figure

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1 - Jason, Cinema of Fear, Mezco, 2009
I can guarantee no one saw this pick coming. But then, this is such a diverse category, I'd be hard pressed to guess anyone's number one pick.  The figure that wowed me right out of the package and still wows me today is the tiny 4" Cinema of Fear Jason, from Mezco.  Theirs is a company that seems capable of success in any scale, style, or market.  Their recent work with the One:12 Collective is just another example of them breaking ground.  Back in 2009, they did a few figures in the 4" scale, including some horror icons.  I remember how cool the movie Hellboy was...but it was their Jason that really knocked my socks off. He has all the detail and quality of a 7 - 8" figure, packed into that tiny body. They also released Freddy and Leatherface, but sadly, neither were nearly as good as this one.

Cinema of Fear Jason action figure

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In Closing...
As I put this one together, I noticed some oddities. First, there have been a ton of Walking Dead and Buffy the Vampire Slayer figures from multiple companies, and I'm a huge fan of both shows...and yet nothing was good enough to make it to the list. That's surprising and disappointing at the same time.

You'll also notice that there are a metric ton of NECA, Mezco, and McFarlane figures left to choose from.  This was a tough one to narrow down, because horror figures have been heavily produced over the years.  I suspect there will be lots of great suggestions that I don't have on my list, simply because there are so many great choices.

And don't worry - I'll do a sixth scale horror list next week, all on its own.

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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