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2020 in Review : The Best of the Rest

As those who follow my site regularly will know , while I cover a lot of companies and lines in terms of news - my reviews are for those figures I purchase myself and for my collection, This is predominantly Star Wars Black Series and Marvel Legends, but I also pick and choose some other figure - and it is from these I am going to pick the "best of the rest" for 2020.

I am going to start with McFarlane, a company I am a very reluctant collector of having been burnt on recent lines like Star Trek, Harry Potter and Game of Thrones that go one wave and are then cancelled. 2020 saw McFarlane focus almost exclusively on their new DC Multiverse line, and there were some fantastic looking figures released although with a very heavy Batman bias. I vowed to stick to movie figures only from this line, and my only purchase in 2020 was for the Golden Armour Wonder Woman and sadly she does not make my "best of" list.

McFarlane did launch a new line in 2020 in collaboration with Games Workshop and it ticked a lot of boxes for me as a one time collector and player of Warhammer 40k. The first figure on my "best of" list comes from this fledgling line in the shape of the almost universally positively received Primaris Assault Ultramarine Intercessor. This is such an impressive bulk of a figure with surprisingly good articulation. The design is also clever in that it allows a base figure to be reused over and over again with amended décor and parts to recreate different chapters. The release of "artist proof" versions is also very clever allowing collectors to buy and paint their own. I hope this line continues at pace in 2021.

I have been a NECA collector for a number of years too, particularly focused around Terminator and Aliens as well as dipping my toe into figures from classic movies like Predator, Gremlins and Robocop. It is clear when you look at the releases made by NECA in 2020 that their number one focus by a country mile was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle line, and while I have been tempted by the movie Turtles, I have so far left this line alone as a collection too far in terms of cost and space.

Another line I have also not partaken in as yet is the new Back to the Future series from NECA. With three Marty McFlys already released and a 4th on the way, I am waiting to know I can get a classic pairing of the 1980's Doc Brown and Marty before committing.

So my NECA purchases this year were limited to the Alien 40th Anniversary figures and the Terminator releases from Terminator Dark Fate and a special Terminator boxset. The Aline 40th Anniversary figures have been frustrating to get in the UK as the prices on NECA are climbing insanely and retailers are keen to sell the new figures as waves - as they know if they don't they will be left with a big backlog of peg warming Big Chap figures. For this reason I skipped wave 1, but did go all in for wave 2 and it is from this wave my fist NECA "best of" pick comes from.

The NECA Brett figure, and the accompanying Parker, brings us a step closer to a full Nostromo crew and the figure is pretty well executed with his Hawaiian Shirt and Nostromo badged cap and jacket.

My second choice is from Terminator and is the John Connor figure, as originally released as a US only exclusive in 2019 for San Diego Comic Con. NECA did make us rebuy the Ultimate Sarah Connor in order to add John to our collections - and they dropped his dirt bike accessory which is a real shame. The figure is however a very nice piece, and the T800 arm in glass tube is one of the cooler accessories to date in the Terminator line.

Our site visitors also voted for John & Sarah with their views, and the set review finished 2nd in terms of most visits in 2020 in the "Other" category.

I said at the start my main collections are Star Wars Black Series and Marvel Legends, but that is not strictly accurate as the one collection I have been curating a lot longer than both of these Hasbro products is a Character Options Doctor Who 5 inch figure collection, dating back now 14 years to its launch in 2006.

The line is certainly not as detailed in terms of sculpt, articulation or paint work than the more modern lines - but it has a charm to Whovians like myself, and has avoided the temptation to change its looks over time ensuring a figure bought in 2020 is the same style and finish as one from 14 years prior.

The line, like the Doctor, has regenerated a few times over the years and has even survived a cancellation. The current iteration from 2017 onwards has more or less been supported fully by B&M stores in the UK who commission sets of figures each summer. These set tend to be rereleases or repaints, but then in 2019 we saw the first new head sculpt with Harry Sullivan - and in 2020 this trend went mad with Character and B&M bringing us new figures of the likes of Sgt Benton, Captain Yates, Romana I, Romana II and a classic 1970's Sarah Jane Smith,

It is the original UNIT set from Claws of Axos that I have picked as my first Doctor Who "best of" choice. While the Brigadier was a repack, the figures of Benton and Yates were effectively brand new with a new head sculpt and a clever overcoat piece over the existing Brigadier figure to create a new body. The only downside was the modern weapons included - and this was corrected when the set was repurposed later in the year as the Terror of the Zygons set.

The success of the Doctor Who line at B&M prompted Character into a general release wave at the start of 2020 with new figures from the 13th Doctor era sold across a number of retailers. They also produced their own exclusive set in the Summer and it is this set that takes my 2nd "best of spot". The Jungle of Mechanus set features two Classic Daleks from The Chase and the beauty of the set is not so much the story on which they were based and their fleeting appearance, but more so that this is as close as we are likely to get to true 1960's Technicolour Movie Daleks

Our site visitors had other Dalek Sets in mind for their choices in 2020. Outside of Star Wars and Marvel, the hands down most popular review in terms of visitors was the December release of Ace and the Imperial Dalek. The Coal Hill School set brought back arguably the most sought after classic Dalek and at a price that army builders could subscribe too - meaning we will see quite a lot of Ace figures hit eBay.

Doctor Who also took the 3rd spot of "other" figure reviews in terms of visitor numbers with a good showing from the B&M History of the Daleks Set #3 from Dalek Master Plan.

As we head into 2021 I have a few hopes for some of these lines - notably that NECA continue to support Aliens in particular, despite the focus on Turtles, and that we do finish off the Nostromo crew with the incoming Ash figure and then perhaps flight suit versions of Kane, Dallas and Lambert. I think more Terminator figure are less likely which is a shame, but you never know...

For McFarlane I would love to see more movie figures in their DC Multiverse. Right from the start I have said how great a Keaton Batman for example would look alongside a Reeves Superman or figures from The Dark Knight. I also hope the Warhammer 40k line continues with ongoing Space Marine Chapter releases - but also with other races introduced. I know the Necrons are the current focus in the WH40k universe, but imagine scaled McFarlane figures of the Chaos Marines or Genestealers!

2020 was a great year for Doctor Who with the highest volume of releases for some time via Character and in B&M stores. I don't want to tempt fate by predicting anything for 2021 just more of the same please - surprise us and delight us with more clever tweaked classic figures, and keep the classic Dalek's flowing.

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About Me : As a child of the 70's and 80's I grew up in a golden age for action figures and in my youth bought and sold myself through collections of Star Wars, G.I. Joe (Action Force) and M.A.S.K. while also dabbling in He-Man, Transformers and Ghostbusters. Roll forward and I am now reliving that Youth with the action figures of today and am a collector and fan of the larger 6-8 inch figures from my favourite movie and TV licences - including the ones mentioned above, but also the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Doctor Who and the Aliens. I launched The Mephitsu Archives in 2015 with a view of creating a UK focused site or these figures where fans can pick up the latest action figure news, read reviews and get information on where to buy their figures and what is currently on store shelves. I hope I am delivering that to you guys...

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