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2011 Retrospective:
Our Five Favorite Figures

This week, Vault & I will be looking back at the figures of 2011, what we enjoyed, and what we didn’t. Today, we’re kicking things off with a simple top ten. Vault and I have split the duties, each crafting a list of our five favorite figures released in 2011.

When Vault and I decided to do an article that featured our favorite 2011 figures, we had a healthy back and forth on the ground rules: discussing whether high-end items should be included, should multiple figures from the same line be allowed, should vehicles or playsets be considered, etc. Ultimately, we decided to establish one simple rule: we had to actually own it. No rare releases or expensive products we admired from afar. Just simple toys we had to have in our collections.

We also decided to keep things simple and split the Top Ten into a personal Top 5 for each of us. My choices are below, while Vault’s are on page two. Limited to only five choices, I quickly found myself in trouble. I bought a ton of great toys this year (and a few clunkers) and I really can’t believe I’m leaving some off this list. That in mind, I’m going to cheat a tad (don’t tell Vault!) and dole out two Honorable Mentions to Transformers Generation Scourge & Marvel Universe Cable. Both are figures that I greatly enjoyed, but ultimately just missed the cut.

Noisy’s Picks

#5 Crime Syndicate 5pk (DC Universe Classics, Mattel)

With DC Comics upending the universe and the Classics brand being put out to pasture, it’s not been the best year to be a DC Comics fan. Still, there have been a handful of nice pieces in the DC Classics line this year, but few left me as satisfied as the Crime Syndicate 5pk. After a couple years of buying a DCUC 5pk and immediately tossing 40% or more into the extras box, it was refreshing to want need to have all five figures out on the shelf after I opened the box. Even better, each figure in the set was a nice addition to the line. In particular, I was really drawn to the Morrison trio (above, center three) all of which received some great newly sculpted pieces. The only thing this set left me wanting was more CSA members to complete the team rosters. For more on the CSA, check out the review here.

#4 The Glyan (Glyos System, Onell Design)

For the fourth spot on my list, I have to go with a figure that I haven’t gotten to reviewing yet (oops!). While I’ve got a lot of favorite designs in the Glyos System (Sarvos, the Gobon, etc.), the 2011-debuting Glyan really jumped out at me. Glyos collecting isn’t usually a “gotta get ‘em all” phenomenon, but the clean design, the customizing potential (there’s 25 separate pieces packed into that tiny frame), and the great colorways won me over and the Glyan became the first Glyos figure where I strived to collect all the versions released so far (I’ve got a white Glyan on the way, so a review is imminent!). While the folks over at Onell Design leave the Glyos storyline a little more open so that we may conform it to our own needs, this guy is the equivalent of Stormtroopers or G.I. Joe Greenshirts. They’re the gristle in the mill that makes everything go. With its more human-like features and the variety of colorways allowing for easy customization, the Glyan easily earns a spot in my 2011 favorites. For more Glyos reviews, check out the reviews here.

#3 Vikor (Masters of the Universe Classics, Mattel)

You had to figure at least one MOTU Classics figure was going to be on my list, right? And what a MOTUC figure it is! While there was certainly a healthy selection of nice MOTU figures this year, choosing a favorite didn’t even require a second thought. Vikor was easily my favorite MOTUC figure of the year thanks in large part to the Four Horsemen turning an unused piece of concept art into a fantastic 3-D rendering with plenty of newly tooled pieces. On top of that, Vikor sported a fantastic complement of accessories, real chains, and some new articulation in his ankles. I love my vintage MOTU figures getting updates, but figures like Vikor make me desperate to see the line expand into every corner of the MOTU universe. For more on Vikor, check out the review here.

#2 Low-Light (GI Joe Pursuit of Cobra, Hasbro)

A few years ago, I was crushed when some of my favorites Joes didn’t get the 25th Anniversary treatment when the switch was made to Rise of Cobra product, but Hasbro turned that entire notion on its head in 2011. Figures like Low-Light, Steel Brigade, and Snake Eyes version 54 have left me wishing that Hasbro had skipped a few of my favorites the first go round so they could make them now instead. For the #2 spot on my list, I had to go with Low-Light. Admittedly, he does re-use almost all of Beachhead’s body, but a few new key pieces make him a faithful Low-Light all the same. What really left me with such a high opinion of this figure were the accessories – all seventeen of them. Though I almost immediately lost one despite my best efforts not to a loose 1:18 scale bullet) , his gear really enhanced the figure both for my photo shoot and subsequent shelf display. He’s just a blast to own, no two ways about it. Also, Low-Light gets bonus points for being able to stow all of his gear on his person. That will always be one of the best things about the best Joes. I’m still mad about losing that bullet, but I love Low-Light. For more on Low-Light, check out the review here.

#1 Scarabus (Gothitropolis, Fantastic Exclusive, Four Horsemen Design)

When the idea for this article came up, this was an immediate no-brainer. It should be no surprise to any IAT readers that I’m primarily a nostalgia-based collector – I love getting figures of my favorite comic book characters and modernized versions of toys from my youth. Sometimes though, a figure comes along that doesn’t need a bit of nostalgia to overlook a soft sculpt or a childhood memory to overcome poor quality control. Scarabus (and his eleven toy brothers) were that toy for 2012. Top-notch sculpting, smart engineering, great QC, plenty of articulation, and a nifty part-swapping system for the heads and faces all combined to easily make Scarabus my favorite figure of the year. The Four Horsemen knocked Scarabus out of the park and left the big toy companies in the dust. For more on Scarabus, check out the reviews here.

Alright, those are my Five Favorites for 2011. Are you nodding along in agreement or have you lost all faith in me as a toy reviewer? Let me know in the comments section, but don’t forget to check out Vault’s Five Favorites on Page 2!

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31 comments to 2011 Retrospective:
Our Five Favorite Figures

  • Shadow_Contact

    Great List Guys! Sorry Vault but I’m gonna back Noisy’s list a little more. (Hey he put a Joe figure in his list)

  • Nik

    Damn, I still need that skeleton…

  • manekochan

    I was surprised to see the new Aegis didn’t make the cut. Since she’s little changed from the original and that’s your all time favorite, I figured she’d be a shoe-in.

    • dayraven

      you mean “one of the aegi” don’t you ‘neko? the dude had three tries to get one he liked, and none of them made the list? i’d be outraged if i were you. 😉

      scarabus definitely takes my number one spot for the year, w/ the new gears 3 figs taking a close second… man those things are executed well. and i’d likely have included the MU sentinel, the mcf halo reach brute chieftain, and the gears skorge and kantus figs for my personal list. if the sword of omens wasn’t made from soft turkey skin, maybe that 8 inch lion-o could have made the list… maybe.

      • manekochan

        Well, the first one was from 09, I think, technically. Something like that. The second one was the one he didn’t like much and the third one is the first one with a vest on and different faces.

        • dayraven

          three buys is three buys my dear. but yes, only 2 of those were this year.

          BTW, no one else has said it so i will… why is there an eerie skull reflection on superwoman’s right titty? cuz is that spooky as balls man.

          • AdventureVault

            Yeah, the second Chogokin Aegis isn’t that great compared to the Figma. I do love the second Figma Aegis, but she’s still mostly a retread of the first and I feel that part of being a “best” figure is also being original. That’s why I cut her from the list.

          • Clay

            … and something that might be Ben Grimm or a Goomba on the left one…

            • Brainlock

              Donkey Kong?

            • LOL The comments page on the blog admin is in chronological order instead of being threaded, and your comment totally threw me…

              I struggle with reflective services and Superwoman was very shiny. I don’t know how I managed that skull though.

              For my last OSM review, I built a black box for the shoot:

  • Vikor is prolly the best MOTUC figure in ’11, next to maybe Icarius.

  • Evil Ed

    I’m surprised none of your S.H. Figurarts reviews made the lists. Those reviews were solely responsible for my growing addiction to Kamen Rider.

    • AdventureVault

      My Gokai Red and Kamen Rider Skull Crystal were on my long list because they are great figures, but their body styles were just so similar. That’s definitely not a bad thing since it’s an awesome design, but it’s the same reason I couldn’t pick a MOTU figure. Because I was also looking for originality in my final choices. If I were to pick “best buck system”, Figuarts would probably win it for me.

      Also, sorry about getting you into the addiction but glad to have the company. 🙂

      • Evil Ed

        My two greatest regrets so far are my inability to find a Kamen Rider Skull Crystal for myself and the fact that since the Gokai Blue review picking up some ranger figures. S.H. Monsterarts are looking great, too. What have you done? 😉

  • lists! everyone loves lists!
    Great job guys!
    That also reminds me that I need to buy about 5000 of the skelingtons myself!

    • AdventureVault

      lol, Tell me about it. I think I ended up with 5 all together, but they’re scattered about the house so I can’t say for sure. But I think three were from the first release, and two more to carry the two new shields for the second release.

  • Lay Ze-Man

    Cool lists!

    I think I side a little more with Noisy’s, but I definitely would like to get a couple of those skeletons at some point. Wish they were bigger though!

  • Joseph Tages

    Although it’s the first I’ve seen of them, Embo and the Skeleton look cool. I can see how you guys would have a hard time choosing just five items for each list.

    As a 100% nostalgia-based collector, I have to admit that 2011 knocked it out of the ballpark. No way could I limit myself to just a few, but going by what’s here I have to agree on Scourge, Cable, Vikor, and Low-Light since those are the ones I own. Vikor doubles as the first great Conan figure for me and Low-Light would top the list based on the care and attention that went into both the figure and his accessories.

    • It was tough! I think my initial list was around 18 and then I had to trim it down from there.

      I loved Low-Light. I think that some of the Wave 4 Joes might have unseated him, but I still haven’t had a chance to open the case my wife got me for Christmas. It’ll be awesome when I do though.

  • […] Yeah, Scarabus. That guy’s topping Top 5 lists for a […]

  • StrangePlanet

    The Scarabus/Anubos variant Is my #1 for 2011 easy. That thing is awesome.
    My #2 is the Figma 100, Miku Append. M favorite Figma, and those toys are superrad.
    You guys have some great picks, but yeah, picking a 5-pack as one figure is cheating.