I Like (To Look At) Toys!

I’m not really a toy person. I don’t buy a lot of them, and with the exception of The Phantom Menace Toy Craze of 1999, I haven’t bought toys with any kind of heavy frequency since early high school.

As I look around my bedroom/office I can see a fair umber of toys or related trinkets that I have accumulated over the years. A Captain America Mighty Mugg sits in silent, grimacing sentry on a shelf in my trade paperback bookcase. The very top of the bookcase finds Sin City‘s Marv about to get juiced, a Superman from the First Appearance line shaking his fists at the heavens, and Quint being devoured by a porker. I only actually bought one of these things, the other two were given to me.

Next to my TV there is a tiny Sean Connery James Bond that I got when I was a kid in the early 1980s from this great store in my old neighborhood in Manhattan that sold all kinds of random and obscure toys and trinkets, and guarding the shelf full of iFanboy show tapes are a mini Heath Ledger Joker that came out of a cereal box and a kickass Animated Hellboy toy that was given to me as a gift.

I have one area in the room dedicated to displaying toys and that was due entirely to Darwyn Cooke. Once I saw the New Frontier toys I fell in love and put shelves up specifically to display them. To go along with the New Frontier toys I added the only other toy line that I fell in love with, the toys from The Dark Knight Returns (and a Jim Gordon toy from the Dark Victory line snuck in there because they never made a series two for The Dark Knight Returns line which is a goddamn crime).

I love these toys and think they are great show pieces.  Both lines perfectly capture the look and feel of the art from Darwyn Cooke and Frank Miller. I have thought many times about getting additional New Frontier toys (particularly Dr. Fate) but I think the fact that I have no more shelf space is a good natural indicator that I don’t need anymore. Although, I am super bummed that they scraped the idea of including Robin with Batman. I definitely would have paid extra for that. Sigh.

As the title of this article suggests, while I don’t really feel any great compulsion to buy toys I do like looking at them and always make it a point to check out the racks in the stores and peruse the websites. I was over at DC Direct the other day and caught a bunch of toys that I really dug.

I really, really like the new Justice Society of America series based off of Alex Ross’ designs.








These Green Lantern, Flash, and Sandman toys are great! I love that they have heft and bulk. I love that the clothes are just slightly ill-fitting. I love that Alan looks like he could totally kick my ass.

(I don’t really love the Starman, but I think that’s just because while on the printed page it’s a striking design, as a three dimensional toy there isn’t a lot there)

These Justice Society toys made me sit and think for a moment. “Do I need JSA toys in my life?” In the end I decided that I did not, but it was a close call. I just didn’t need to go down that financial rabbit hole, besides I really don’t have anywhere to put them.

In fact, I don’t think I really need any more toys, I’m pretty happy… with… wait, are those Giffen/Dematteis/Maguire Justice League toys?!?







Just look at that Batman! DC makes a lot of Batman toys and that’s one of the best ones I’ve ever seen.

I think that one of the strengths of DC’s toys are that they often do a really great job of capturing the art that the toys are based on and here some of the results are stunning. The J’onn J’onzz is clearly based on Kevin Maguire’s later, beefier version of The Martian Manhunter and it looks positively ripped from the pages. The same goes for G’Nort. While I never really cared much for the character, I always loved that Maguire drew him unlike any other artist out there and in doing so gave so much personality, just in the face, to a character that is usually just the dumb dog with the Green Lantern ring. The thing I might love most about all these figures is the way the realized Fire’s hair. Another great thing that Kevin Maguire did was he always drew Fire with super detailed curly hair. It worked for the character (she is from Brazil) and made her totally stand apart from the other female character. No cookie cutter male and female renderings for Mr. Maguire.

I would put the Ice, Blue Beetle, and Booster Gold toys on a lower tier than the previous four until I get a better look at them. They appear to be fine toys, but just like the Starman from the Justice Society of America set, they just lack the personality of the others.

I will be buying Ron the Black Canary figure because I know how much he loves that awesome 80s costume.

And finally, this new Batman set is notable mostly because I miss the hell out of this costume:


Why did they get rid of it?!?!? It was so great! No more underwear outside the pants! Just all black and badass. That was the late 1990s/early 2000s costume that appeared in Grant Morrison’s JLA and Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker run on the Batbooks. Man, those were the days.



  1. i like the slightly tubby blue beetle

  2. WHAT! No 25th anniversery GI Joes? I’m very dissapointed in you conor…


     G.I. Joe 25th Anniversary Snake Eyes Timber Wave 1


  3. @Animalvader1: I still have my originals, I don’t need the reissues. 🙂

  4. Those reuissues are stupid expensive.  At least in my head, a GI Joe figure should always be $3.

  5. @ conor–Good man! Still, have you seen these things? They’re awesome! When I see them in the store, I just can’t help myself.

  6. Expensive, yeah, but thats relitive. I could spend $8 on a Marvel Legend/DC driect and get a figure or spend $7-8 for Firefly and get a figure, display stand, two guns, and a backpack with removable gas can, Mag light, C-4, and a leatherman multi-tool. Worth it if you ask me.

  7. @conor – I also still have a number of my old 3 3/4 figures, but I had to buy this "new" release: http://www.yojoe.com/action/08/cardedimages/snakeeyes31stormshadow24.shtml  It includes both Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow, but the key is that it contains a reprint of the famous "silent" issue #21 from Larry Hama’s G.I. Joe run with an updated cover by Ashley Wood.

    Also, a link to some very unusual bootlegs: http://x-entertainment.com/updates/2008/08/11/this-is-hulk-man/

  8. I’m with you on this one, Conor. Toys are just way too wicked expensive these days. My shop has them for about $15 – $20 a pop – you buy that Batman set above, you’re dropping $80, which is insane for four ‘action figures.’

    Also, like you, I have managed to pick up some along the way over the last few years, mostly either as gifts or impulse buys. I got the Marvel Zombies Marvel Select figures at Spensers for $8 a piece, and my Dr. Who Dalek, which I absolutely, positively had to have in that 3-year-old, hold-my-breath-and-stomp-my-feet man-child kind of way. Probably spent more on gas and wear-and-tear on my vehicle looking for that thing than I spent on it.

    Looking at toys is fun as well. If I had an unlimited budget and a wormhole to store them all in, I’d probably have collections of all the DC Direct and Marvel Select figures. I never skip the action figure/collectible part of the Diamond solicits, and I have to say, until the comic versions come out, I’m very, very tempted to get those Watchmen figures. 

  9. I must get that G’Nort action figure for my Green Lantern collection…

  10. I have a pretty substansial toy collection. Mostly do to the fact that when i was a kid female action figures all looked like beffy drag queens. And not in a sexy way. But this has made me realize I have a serious lack DC in my collection hmmmmmm…

    But these http//:www.darkhorse.com/Products/Previews/15-276

    are next on my list.  I hope they make on of mom soon 

  11. If I had a soft spot for toys, I’d be all over the Green Lantern Corps. Then it would start to trickle into the other Corps and then I’d be homeless 🙁

  12. I enjoy the many toys new and old around my desk, computer and comics.  I will occasionally add a new figure to the mix, like the Turtles toys that look like the original comic.

    But right now I am totally lost in the nostalgic awesome-ness of the Masters of the Universe Classics line!


  13. Maybe instead of buying new toys, you can take up knitting and make clothes for the ones you have? It’s a thing, people do this, really! Look: http://flickr.com/photos/27822317@N07/sets/72157607273079403/

    Amazing huh?

  14. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    I own less than 30 Mighty Muggs.  Today. 

  15. This makes me want to dig out my old J’onn J’onzz and Wonder Woman action figures.  They should be on display!

  16. i own a ton of superhero toys!! i have a nice captain america collection and i want that blue beetle and booster gold one!!

  17. @sonia: Wow!

  18. I have a vast array of the new Doctor Who figures on my bookshelf (5,6,9,10; 2 Daleks, Rose, Capt. Jack, Mickey, Martha, Donna, Sarah Jane, K-9, The Master, Davros, a Sontaran, Cybermen and a Clock Work robot.) I’m looking to add a 4th Doctor and River Song action figure to the shelf son, too.

    As well, I have a Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner and Luke Cage. I also bought, at last year’s NYCC, for $4, a 90s Iron Man animated series "Samurai Armor" figure, or as we geeks know it, the Silver Centurion Armor. I also have a Johnny Rotten figure, a Shaun of the Dead Figure and a Helo from "Battlestar Galactica" figure.

    I also have the Havok & Lorna and Stars & S.T.R.I.P.E. minimates. 

    I’m not big on figures, but I think they make nice "dressing" for my book shelves.  I’m looking to get a good, Grell-costume Green Arrow, and will probably add these new Jay Garrick and Alan Scott figures to my shelf. And possibly the new Havok figure I’ve seen.

  19. I’m kinda disturbed by the mini Health Ledger Joker that came out of a cereal box… it just doesn’t seem to belong there. 

  20. @WonderAli: Oh, totally.  It’s really kind of awkwardly inappropriate.

  21. @conor: exactly! I think it would ruin my breakfast. 

  22. Glad to see I’m not the only person who prefers the all black Batman outfit.

  23. No love for non-DC figures Conor? I haven’t actually purchased comic-related figures. Yet. I do have some Lord of the Rings and Star Wars collectibles though.

  24. I find myself being very picky when it comes to the look of the figures, and usually why I lean more towards busts and statues although they are ridiculously priced.

    But I think despite the story arc being slightly disappointing, DC’s Hush line came out with some great looking toys. I have Huntress and am hoping to land Nightwing one of these days.

  25. @s1lentslayer: Do you mean besides the Captain America Mighty Mugg, the Death Row Marv, the Animated Hellboy and all the Phantom Menace toys I mentioned?

  26. I want that Cap Mighty Mugg so bad.  But I’d skin a man for a Hawkeye Mighty Mugg.

  27. This fills me with nostalgia. I was deep in the grips of Toy Madness from about 1995-1999, from the moment I first discovered they were making Star Wars figures again up to the night the Phantom Menace came out. Lucky me, I actually ended up getting interviewed on the local news because I was one of the geniuses who showed up at Toys R Us to buy his Jar Jar figure before anyone knew who that was. If I ever get around to converting my VHS to digital, I’ll post that video as a method of atonement.

    I generally consider myself to be out of the action figure habit, but the urge is still strong. I can’t go to Target without pausing in that aisle.

  28. I you look carefully, you’ll see the knife josh uses for his skinning.

    He tries to hide it but it’s clearly there. 🙂

  29. I always have a dilemma though when it comes to comics-related toys. Do you leave them in the packaging or do you open them and play with them? I prefer the later, but gosh-darn-it, they seem to always become so valuable when they are kept in their original packaging! I have fretted over this to the point that I’m buying duplicates of some just so I can display them…

    Also (LOL)…anyone get that awkward moment when you check out at say Target or Toys R Us? "Wow, those figures are cool. You buying those for your kids?"   "Yea…Sure….just put them in the bag and let’s move on. Yes, OK, I’m a 38-year old man still playing with G.I.Joe with Kung-Fu Grip! Nothing to see here…."   LOL 

  30. hmmm, was there any doubt to the fact that I’ve pre-ordered the G’nort?

  31. @sonia – you can undress them as well… there are manga figurines that you can strip 🙂


  32. Wow, 12 year old strippers!


  33. Oooh, I want that Alex Ross Sandman

  34. I mostly collect Movie figures Shaun of the Dead, Robocop etc.. But I do have a love for my Deadpool action figure.

  35. I wish they made DC mighty muggs. Maybe DC Direct will make some Mugg rip-offs.

  36. I keep meaning to get Batman and Hellboy figures for my desk at work, but can never bring myself to spend the money. $20 just seems like a lot for any kind of toy, IMO.

  37. The fact someone created a JLE/I Ice figure is the surest proof there is a benevolent God of creation.

    I will acquire these figures.  

  38. I love to look at action figures and have a few sitting on a shelf in my office but I can’t bring myself to spend that kind of money on something that is basically going to collect dust on my shelves.   That being said, I absolutely never miss the chance when I am in a toy store with my kids to look at the action figures.  It reminds me of spending endless time in the store debating over which Star Wars action figure to buy based on coolness, number of weapons and price.  Ahh the things that consume the 8-10 year old mind.

  39. Korgi has been releasing the Batmobile’s thru the years (ie 60’s Tv show, the 40’s one with the Bubble windows) which I’ve enjoyed getting.  I also bought the Green Arrow based off Identity Crisis.  Thats about the total of my toy collection other than the usual Transformers/GI Joe that I’ve had for forever.

  40. I saw the Rorschach today…and I think I want it.


  41. By the way, I would buy the shit out of that Starman figure if it was a variant with the chin and beard out.

  42. @ Josh.  I personally was diggin’ the Nite Owl II at my shop today.  Just a sweet lookin’ figure.  Rorschach was a close second.

  43. there is a DC version of mighty mugg on the way.  however, the name escapes me and I’m too lazy to look it up…

  44. I own a Galactus mighty mugg. I do wish it would stop watching me though 🙂

  45. Any plans for a way for the users to review toys in the future? Toy of the month? Keychain of the week?