Engineernerd’s Year in Review 2011

December 28, 2011 | By More


2011 has been an odd year for me. I’ve kind of slid away from my typical collecting and moved into other lines. A couple of big films have highlighted collecting in general this year.

Let’s start with the downside. I’ve been a Star Wars collector for a long time. The line is probably the largest part of my collection. However, I’ve really gotten away from it this year. I’ve really only bought the Admiral Ackbar. Yes, there have been some really excellent figures this year, I just didn’t get any of them. There a couple reasons why.

The first being price. The vintage line has been running a dollar or more a figure over the Clone Wars and Legends lines and to be honest I can see why. Most of those figures come with more accessories or game type pieces. Oh wait, they are on vintage cards. Yes, it is cool. But I don’t see why they should cost any more.

The second issue is more of a wide spread issue seen across many lines, distribution. Errex was able to find figures I’ve never seen in the wild. I’ve never seen a Gamorean or some of the other great figures for the vintage line I would have been interested in.

This issue was also seen in the GI Joe line, as well the Marvel movie lines. Personally, I’d have bought a bunch more figures this year, if I could have found them. (That’s a low blow, Engineernerd.)

One line that did not suffer from distribution issues was Green Lantern. Combine that with a movie that way under performed, poor articulation and paint, and we still have figures peg warming. To my knowledge, there weren’t any characters in that line that were particularly hard to find. The Lantern Corps was pretty well filled out in general.

The opposite of that model is the Marvel Thor and Captain America lines. Fairly, small lines with waves that were not well distributed, the Marvel movie lines had a ton of potential. The major issue that both of these lines shared was an over salting of the main character. While both movies had a number of characters in them, the toy lines are focused mainly on the main hero.

I think back to the first Star Wars lines. Even though Luke and Han are the main heroes, they were normally back one per wave. The initial Star Wars lines for each film were a good mix of both heroes and villains. While I don’t mind things like camo Captain America, he does me no good unless there are bad guys for him to battle.

Enough of the downside. What made me happy this year? GI Joe. Both the Pursuit of Cobra and 30th Anniversary lines have brought myself, as well as number of other collectors back to the line. These figures have really raised the bar for 3 3/4″ figures in terms of articulation and sculpting. I can’t forget my favorite part, a plethora of well done weapons and accessories. Where sometimes I’ve felt some of the Star Wars and Marvel lines have phoned it, you can tell behind each of the GI Joe figures is somebody that really does care.

The line didn’t stop there. The GI Joe line had some really great vehicles this year, as well. I really can’t say how much I loved the VAMP. At $20 with a figure, the VAMP may have the biggest toy deal of the year.

I think there needs to be a mention of  Figure of the Day, as well. A cool nerdy take on the daily deal sites, Figure of the Day has had some pretty great deals since starting earlier this year. Their Striking Deal when an item sells out is a pretty cool feature, too.



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  1. Joseph Tages says:

    Distribution continued to be the major problem this year. There were so many lines to choose from, but scarcity made things difficult. I had no luck with the Vintage SW Gamorrean Guard and most non-prequel figures like Bespin Han and the now infamous Wedge Antilles. Likewise with the Warriors Three and Sif from the Thor movie, Generations Windcharger and Grapple, Pursuit of Cobra TRU exclusive Spirit, and a few others that I’ll remember later.

    That said, we had some real gems turn up in 2011 and there was something for everybody. I have a feeling that 2012 will continue this trend. Here’s hoping!

  2. Tom says:

    I think distribution is karma’s ugly sister, and both of them are bit…
    I mostly agree with you comments about the Joe stuff, I really think Renegades show was mishandled and the fact that the toys didn’t come out until the show was all but canceled just goes to further that.
    Regarding the Marvel movie lines, I wasn’t really surprised that their was a lack of villains but still disappointed. I had a glimmer of hope with the 2 pronged approach to the Cap line (Movie and Comic) but all that seemed to add were repaints of recent Marvel U stuff.
    Going into this year I had worried that I’d go broke trying to keep up with all the cool new product slated for release, but honestly it was really easy to pick and choose and I mostly got what I wanted either finding it in the wild or through the network.
    Probably the best toy related thing for me this year was Intergalactic Toys, while they don;t specialize in the lines I collect per say the whole buy-sell-trade thing means stuff is always popping up, plus the people I have met over there are great.

  3. Howie says:

    Green Lantern “did not suffer from distribution issues” ha! That’s a great way to put it. Great post.

  4. FakeEyes22 says:

    I’ve mentioned that I think many of the Vintage Collection Star Wars figures have been amazing. The trick is to know what’s all new, since those are the best ones.

    The price was a real issue for me, too. Part of me forgives it since there are so many all new figures like the Gamorrean Guard that take things to a higher level with soft goods or optional weapons or body parts that earn that price. The downer comes with some of the figures that are in part or entirely recycled just to get that character on a classic style cardback. That’s a cool idea, but not for me since I open everything. Some rused characters need at least a slight update in sculpt to earn a spot in this premium line. Others are decent enough to cut it, but the price jump becomes tougher to swallow when this same figure cost less and included a Build-a-Droid piece not long ago. I forgive the lack of accessories, since they tend to include whatever is essential to the character and scene, just like 25th Joes did to match their vintage counterparts. I do miss the occasional cool diorama building set piece accessories and smaller characters being packed in a pair. The new Podracers each include a droid, but the droids are older, limited sculpts.

    Distribution has been a killer for Star Wars and G.I.Joe. I’m pretty excited about my new Episode I characters that have been upgraded really well and remind me of the incredible excitement I felt leading to the film’s release. A piece of this excitement was killed when I realized that I still have yet to see a Walrus Man from a prior wave, and I’ve got no idea if I’ll ever see him. I did randomly find the highly prized Wedge Antilles, who is the ultimate poster boy for this problem.

    Marvel Universe certainly did up their game this year, huh? There’s still some crummy paint, but it’s generally getting better that the ridiculous slop they started out with. Right now, it’s mostly the attempts at washes that go wrong. Check out First Appearance Wolverine who looks like he’s just stared into the Ark of the Covenant and Gladiator whose head looks like a rotten grape.

    I love that they’re phasing out the rather horrible bucks that the line launched with(even though some still pop up) and now we’ve got some great new neck, thigh and ankle joints as well as a pair of huge body sculpts that really earn your $9. I’m hoping the original female body finally goes away soon since it’s pretty awkward while I feel the all-new X-23 is nicely done.

    Another thing about Marvel Universe? Potentially frustrating variants aside, this line is doing a great job rotating older figures you may have missed into new assortments. Every figure I originally never saw has popped back up again it seems. The only real distribution/assortment foul-up I feel happened was packing in too many Iron Man figures while there is an entire 3 3/4″ Iron Man movie figure section in the same aisle. This led to a few solid Iron Man pegs in my area over the past year and a half.

    G.I.Joe figures? No other figures jump over hurdles to earn your money the way these do while recycling an excellent library of parts so well that you can hardly complain. Tons of accessories and some vintage style figures that make me wish all of 25th could be redone. I’ve got no idea how the paint on these is almost always flawless. Whoever is making these are huge toy fans that absolutely love every minute of their jobs, and it shows.