Whatever's cool with me...

Whatever's cool with me...

Thursday, January 2, 2014

HAPPY NEW YEAR! The year 2013 in review...

espresso end Dec '13

Happy holidays everyone (if you're still on leave that is)! It’s that time of the year again. No, I’m not talking about sitting in front of the TV while you munch down excessive festivity calories (yummy!) but you can also do just that while you reflect towards 2013 and all of the goodness it has brought you. I’m looking at things, of course, from the view point of a geek who lives and breathe all-things pop culture.  In today’s edition, you might want to stock up on your milk and cookies as The Rebel reflects on his 2013! Go get ‘em while I wait......

*several frolicking minutes later*

Ok, ready? Let’s go!

Lemme just start by saying that I wouldn’t be who I am today had it not been for the constant support of my lovely better half. She’s also a passionate geek-collector herself. We’re also blessed that our geeky 5-year old is also shaping up to be one too! I can feel the geek-Force flowin’ very strong in this family. Ain’t it grand to be geeks? I’d like to give a special shout out to both for inspiring me to write today’s post.

I’m sure that by early 2014, there would be numerous 'Best Of 2013' lists churned out by many pop-culture blogs and websites all over the ‘Net. In addition to that, people would also look forward to Michael Crawford’s ‘Poppies List’ aka toy award winners come late-Jan/early Feb ’14. Today is simply an insight to The Rebel Page’s very own absolute best among the pile of plastic fixes that your truly had consciously/sub-consciously accumulated throughout the year. Afterwards, I’d be sharing with you some of the movies that really left an impression on me in 2013.

Let’s take a look at the best ‘plastics’ first...

What are my criteria?

As per last year’s guideline, I’d like to say again that my Top 10 choices of best pop-culture items/collectibles were guided by several simple rules. First, price alone should not be the determining factor for determining an item’s standing in the Top 10 list. In fact, I feel that a toy should NOT be deemed as ‘THE Best’ simply because you had to sell your internal organs to get it into your collection! Secondly, ease of finding and equal distribution should play an important part in influencing entries of items into the list....but hey, we’re not living in a perfect world. Most of us collectors had to tolerate major bulls**** played out by major toy companies like Hasbro (their distribution is as efficient as the Dodo bird trying to avoid extinction!) and I can’t tell you enough about Matty Collector’s on-line business model. Thirdly, I might even list a whole toy line/series/group of action-figures as among the best...it simply means that I can’t decide which of the figures inside a particular line/series/group is best among all (so I simply choose the WHOLE bunch! LOL). Lastly, I have to actually own a toy before I can consider it to be part of my list (so it means that I won’t be listing down that Castle Grayskull even though it’s such a landmark release at the end of 2013!).

In no particular order, here are The Rebel's Favourite Action-Figure(s) release of 2013:

(1) McFarlane’s The Walking Dead TV Series figures


Michonne & Andrea on the road

Riot Gear & Gas Mask zombies

1   Let’s face it. Malaysia’s TRU is never gonna bring these gory/bloodied figures onto their retail shelves. They have to abide to certain rules about action-figures not being too ‘graphic’ or something. I don’t even want to talk about the crazy after-market prices that these figures are fetching on eVilbay....which makes my acquisition of these figures at retail (with a little help from a good collector buddy of mine in the States) even sweeter! I love AMC’s The Walking Dead TV series and to finally getting these hard-to-get McFarlane figures in hand is just surreal! These figures are even hard to find in the States I was told. I can’t fathom how McFarlane can’t make more of these when there is an obvious high-demand for them.

2       (2)  MOTU Classics’ Mantenna & Horde Troopers!

      MOTUC Horde haul!

      The Horde Troopers is the epicenter of one of many controversies ignited by Matty Collector this year. First, in January, there was that Ram Man fiasco (more on that later) and many collectors were left fuming when they can’t even get a set of the Horde Trooper 2-pack in October due to Matty’s lack of foresight. This is an obvious ‘hot item’ and many would want multiples of it for army building purposes. Rumour has it that Matty under-produced these and thus sparked massive shortages on Day of Sale. I’m glad I did get mine of course but I felt that Matty could’ve made more of these. I pity the fans who can’t even get a set. Both Horde Trooper pack and Mantenna are beautifully done and represent one of the best work The Four Horsemen has done in recent times. Mantenna is the other October release from the MOTUC line and is also a fan favourite. Thankfully we didn’t have to grit our teeth to get ol’ Manty but imagine the frustrations etched on many collectors’ faces when they could only get one of the two Hordes on sale in October.

3      (3) Hot Toys Movie Avengers sixth scale figures: Hulk – Thor – Iron Man Mark VII

      Hot Toys Sixth Scale Movie Avengers Hulk

      Hot Toys 1/6 Movie Avengers Thor

      Hot Toys Sixth Scale Movie Avenger Iron Man Mark VII

     It’s hard to really ignore the sheer cool-ness of Hot Toys’ sixth scale Movie Avengers line. They were the Best 12” line for 2012 according to MWC’s Poppies Award earlier this year and that was just solely based on several earlier releases (I think it was Nick Fury, Hawkeye and some other Marvel movie properties) so I think they’re gonna win big as well given that several ‘heavyweights’ such as the Iron Man Mark VII, Captain America, Black Widow and that absolute gorgeous/huge Hulk were released this year. I specifically have a soft spot on these 3 figures and I think they were a standout among the rest of their peers inside the Movie Avengers line up. My money is on The Hulk being picked as the toy of the year for the sixth scale category this year over at the Poppies.

4      (4) Star Wars 6” Black Series

     Star Wars: The Black Series 6" wave 2 haul...
    What a surprise it has been for the 6” line. The figures turned out much cooler than anyone had seriously expected. Many had reservations on how the Black Series 6” line was going to be with ‘popular’ allegations that...’They were just gonna look like blown-up versions of the 3.75” line!” or “They can’t even do decent likeness at 6” scale!”. Boy, were we wrong! The 1st and 2nd wave of the 6”Black Series line sold out like hot-cakes here in Malaysia. The first Wave contained some good character choices but it’s really the second Wave that has set Star Wars collectors abuzz with an all-Original Trilogy character line-up. The Black Series was supposed to be marketed as ‘premium’ 6-inch action figures with great sculpt and great paint. I haven’t been disappointed thus far and I’m really looking forward for Wave 3 and beyond. Word has it that a 6” scale Jabba and the Scout Trooper plus Speeder Bike are all confirmed for future releases....holy ****, how cool is that?!

5   (5) Transformers Generations Voyager-Class Springer
      Autobot Springer
     It’s official. Hasbro/Tomy Takara has finally succeeded in making many grown men cry, specifically those who own the expensive TFC WB001 Warbot Defender (NOT Springer figure). That 3rd party ‘Springer’ was good for its time of release and many had predicted that Hasbro/Tomy wouldn’t counter produce something of equal stature. Looks like many ‘Warbots’ are already on sale over at eVilbay the moment this one came out. This is an excellent reproduction of how Springer should look like in toy form. A no-brainer for any Transfomers G1 fan to replace that Deluxe ‘chicken-walker’ Springer Hasbro gave us not so long ago.

6    (6) Marvel Legends’ Hawkeye

      Marvel's Hawkeye

     It’s no secret that Hasbro had Jeremy Renner in mind when they designed this modern Hawkeye figure. I’m quite a fan of this character and I had secretly wished that he would somehow appear as a ‘baddie’ first in the Avengers movie so that it would pay homage to his comic origins (he did). I love this action figure and I think he’s one of the best ones out there from Hasbro’s ‘Return of ML’ line thus far. He fits in perfectly into my ‘modern’ Avengers line-up. Couldn’t highly recommend this figure enough!

7   (7) NECA 7” Marines & Alien AND Dutch & Predator

     Hicks & Hudson vs xenomorph aliens

     Dutch vs Predator

    I love movie-based action figures. McFarlane used to rule to this domain but of late they seemed to more interested in producing sports figurines rather than movie or comic characters. With the exception of the excellent The Walking Dead series, I think McFarlane has lost their upper hand to NECA when it comes to movie figures. NECA’s foray into the Aliens and Predator franchise proved to be highly successful. Their figures are highly sought after and they’re decently priced too at that (not to mention that they’re easier to find than some of the aforementioned figure line!).

8   (8) Sideshow's sixth scale Snowtrooper

     Sideshow Sixth Scale Snowtrooper

    This has always been on my mind since Sideshow did their Storm Trooper and the various incarnations of Sand Troopers. When the preview pictures came out, I knew I had to have one for my collection. Something really intriguing about that bleak visage of winter on their helmets/masks. I love it how Sideshow seemed to have given him a ‘dirtied’ look to imply that Hoth isn’t really as white/clean as you think! LOL. His accessories are top notch too. This is by far my most favourite ‘Trooper of the Star Wars franchise.

(9) MOTU Classics’ Ram Man

     Ram Man

     I consider myself a ‘core MOTUC collector’ and when I say this repeatedly I only expect myself to buy only those core members of both good and evil actions for my ever growing MOTUC collection. Ram Man here has always been at the very top of my MOTUC priority list. Without him, any MOTUC collection will be deemed incomplete. The problem was, Matty seemed to have under-estimate the inevitable high demand for the figure, leaving many collectors in the blue when they failed to procure one during Day of Sale in January ’13. This is a MUST HAVE item for anyone’s MOTU Classics collection and I would’ve gone all out to get him too if I had failed to get him from matty collector’s website back then.

1   (10) Arkham Asylum Bane

      Batman Arkham Asylum: Batman vs Bane

 I missed out on the original Arkham Asylum/City Bane not so long ago due to some traitorous act of a so-called acquaintance (who ended up getting ONLY one of it for himself!). That same figure now albeit its limited articulation and horrible knees, can actually fetch a small fortune if you plan to get him through online stores and eBay. I've always set my eyes on the 2-pack to get the revamped Bane as he's much better articulated now and he seemed to be more menacing than that 1st version. What a great value for money too, you get (yet another) Batman with ol' Bane. This huge hunk o' plastic ranks so high in my favourite 'huge' action figure list that he's actually up there together with my Marvel Select movie Avengers' Hulk, Marvel Select Juggernaut and Mezco's movie Hellboy's Mr Wink. A definite buy for youse Bat-fans or if you're simply into huge chunks of plastic being made into action figures!

Honourable mentions:

1   #1 MOTU Classic's Sky High w/Jet Sled

      Sky High with Jet Sled: Heroic Airship Adventurer

    This year, most of the MOTU Classics collectors would probably list down the recent Castle Grayskull playset as THE MOTUC collection of the year, if not ever! I didn’t get the coveted castle due to some foreseen reasons but I’d definitely think about getting one in my hands in the next couple of months or so (*bracing myself for crazy eVilbay aftermarket prices*). In the meantime, I thought that the Sky High & Jet Sled set was a great addition into my MOTUC shelves. It’s a pity Matty announced that they wouldn’t do the ‘back half’ of the Battle Ram thus leaving us with only the ‘front part’ of it. This vehicle is so iconic to the MOTUC lore and it’s only right that fans should have multiples of it....if you can stomach the ridiculous shipping price that is.

#2 HT Loki

#3 HT Cap America

#4 Sideshow Obi Wan Ep I

#5 TMNT Nick & Classics

#6 Star Wars 3.75” Black Series 

#7 Marvel Universe Hercules


Ok, I no longer have my Marvel Universe (MU) collection with me [refer to #8 below] but this represents one of the last MU figure to have entered my then collection before I called it day for the line. Herc has got to be one of the better sculpted 3.75” action figure I have ever seen in my collecting life and if there was ever gonna be one or two MU figures I could refrain myself from selling, one of ‘em would have been him. I love his suspiciously ‘sneaky’ facial expression, his huge body bulk and you just have to take a look at that great lookin’ Greek sandals. I kinda wish how Hasbro could’ve sculpted their mediocre 6” Marvel Legends Hercules akin to this one!

#8 My decision to quit the Marvel Universe line – Ok, this is NOT a talk on a favourite toy or a toy line per se. I feel that it’s probably worth talking about it here as the year comes to a close. Back during early 2013, as more Marvel Legends made their way into my collection (I had no major successive purchase of MLs since the demise of the Toybiz era till now) it began to occur to me that perhaps it is now best for me to jump back full-time into the 6” scale now that Marvel Legends’ figures are comparatively easier to find than some of the Marvel Universe offerings. I was also rather stressed out to find that many MU wave did not reach Malaysia shores due to distribution issues and such (although this had also happened to Marvel Legends sometime later in ’13 but at that particular point of time it had really dampened my spirit to continue with MU). Some of the better sculpts of certain characters were found in the MU line i.e. Scarlett Witch, World War Hulk, Dr Strange etc just to name a few....they can even put their ML versions to shame!

After giving it a long and hard thought, I finally found the strength to pull the handbrake and dropped the hammer down...time for me to opt out from the line. A collector friend of mine came along perfectly as if he knew that I was going out of the line altogether this year. He offered me a tidy sum for my 60-odd MU action figures (I still kept some of the 3.75” Marvel movie figures though for my son...he loves my movie-verse Iron ‘Men’ and Avengers collection!) and I accepted the offer without any hesitation. I had fun with them but I have no regrets too in selling them. Now I can fully concentrate back onto the 6” line. Thank you for the memories Marvel Universe!

The Rebel’s pick: Best Movies in 2013...

G.I. Joe Retaliation – I love G.I. Joe. A darker sequel to the Rise of Cobra flick. Top notch acting. Bl***y H.I.S.S. Tank was caught on-screen! ‘Nuff said.

Thor: The Dark World – This one was miles better than the 1st Thor flick. I love it that there were longer screen time on Asgard and the other-worldly realms.

Man of Steel – I dissed DC’s The Dark Knight Rises over Marvel’s The Avengers last year. Looks like the re-booted Supes film triumphed over Marvel’s Iron Man 3 and The Wolverine this year. DC finally hit a winning note in my books this year!

despicable me 2

The Croods/ Despicable Me 2 – Because both were super-hillarious! Hey, you gotta have at least one animation in this list right?

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – Watching this film makes you wanna fast forward the rest of 2014 and get to December in a flash. Great stuff from J-Law and gang.

The Hobbit – What better way to end the year than to bask in Peter Jackson’s second instalment of the tale of Bilbo Baggins vs Smaug? Smaug was so believable than many pooped in their pants when he spoke with his booming voice.

(Supposedly great) Movies that I wished I’ve made a point to watch but still I couldn’t find the time to do so:

American Hustle, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, 47 Ronin, Gravity, The Great Gatsby, Red 2, RIPD, Elysium, Ender’s Game, This Is The End, Walking With Dinosaurs

Some disappointments this year.....

  • Crappy distribution by Hasbro/TRU Malaysia – After the Terrax wave, in Malaysia collectors were treated to a very pleasant surprise by finding the elusive Wave 3 (X-Force Deadpool y’all!) on our retail shelves but yet we were frustrated to find that none of the variants exists (where the heck was Blade and Dani Moonstar?). Only half of Wave 2 made it to retail shelves and we haven’t seen any new MLs at retail ever since. Had it not been for specialty toy stores, we Malaysian collectors would not even come to touching distance to owning any of the newer MLs.
  • Then came the much awaited Wolverine wave with that Puck BAF.  We had to fork out a massive RM92 (or approx USD30) for each of those....what the h*** TRU Malaysia? Why are we made to pay such a cut-throat price when the same ones are only selling for about USD15-18 in the States? I fear for the upcoming Spiderman ML wave....*sigh*.
  • Some unscrupulous TRU staff even made pacts with them scalpers to swipe all of the hard-to-find Star Wars Black Series off the shelves. That is the single reason why we Malaysian collectors weren’t able to find any Darth Plagueises or any of the ‘hot’ six-inchers like the Sandtroopers on TRU shelves anywhere. Just when you think you’ve beaten the crowd to a freshly opened case of figures.
  • As a G.I. Joe fan, I was really looking forward to the latest waves of the Retaliation figures. I’ve ranted about this before. The Retaliation figures were not only freakin’ expensive (at USD20 a pop here in Malaysia!) but TRU decided that they weren’t bringing in anything beyond the 2 wave....so no Lady Jaye, Flint or that ‘Ultimate’ Roadblock for us here. Bummer.
  • Bridge Direct’s The Hobbit figures – I still do not see any of Bridge Direct’s The Hobbit figures anywhere in Malaysia despite the release of the second ‘Hobbit movie instalment. They’re as good as non-existent here in these parts of the whole. This has left me gutted as we had previously received tonnes of Toybiz’s LOTR figures back in the day over at our TRUs and such. Of course, one can always look for those over from the internet but not being able to see them at brick and mortar outlets is such a buzzkill considering that many of us actually look forward to grabbing the figures from retail shelves like we did during the glory days of Toybiz. Why aren’t us Asians getting any stocks from Bridge Direct?
  • Disney’s The Lone Ranger movie – Seriously, I think most people went into the cinemas to see Johnny Depp rather than that Arnie...Armie dude. This movie didn’t really live up to its much-hyped publicity thus leaving many cinema-goers with a bad taste in their mouths. Major disappointment.

A few parting words....

Alright, you might find that a few of the items that made it into my list this year hadn’t been in fact, photographed nor reviewed over at The Rebel Page. I must admit that I am a little slow on the photography & reviewing section....OK, you got me there...I’m VERY SLOW on catching up on my collectibles’ reviews and photographs. But they will come nonetheless. Some of my 2013 items will definitely spill over to next year’s postings no doubt about it as I strive to juggle my work & life commitments with the running of this poorly-managed blog of mine.

You might also notice that I still haven’t watched some of the highly-rated movies in 2013. So don’t fret if any of your favourite flicks were not mentioned in my ‘best movies’ list.

What can I say... I still think that The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones were (still) the best TV series throughout 2013. Maybe it's because that they were based on printed mediums and that I'm totally into book/comic adaptations? Perhaps....but I should really start watching other heavy-hitters of '13 like Breaking Bad etc. 

You might have your own versions of your Top 10’s. You might even disagree with some/completely with what I’ve laid out for you as the best among the best for 2013. These are purely my opinion and I’d love to hear how yours might turn out to be.

Do share your links over at the comments page so I can take a look into what yours would look like.


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The Combollector said...

Awesome list! I am glad that one of my favourite toyline, McFarlane's The Walking Dead is part of the Rebel's Top 10.