Toylines for Videogames [10/17/01]

I would have to say that outside of the movie and cartoon markets, video games have provided one of the strongest pushes in the toys and collectible realm in the past few years. Considering that only in the last few years have they even been considered as a plausable line of sellable media, partly due to the growth of videogame stores (like Electronics Boutique, Babbages and Software etc.) where these toy lines can be sold as accesories to the games available. The history of this growing market has been littered with weak, substandard lines.

Tomb Raider - Initially, Toy Biz released Lara Croft as a single figure with a number of accesories. While fans of the game series were pleased to finally have a figure, most could not get past the fact that the figure was an obvious repaint of a previously released X-Men figure with repainted monsters from other toy lines. This, of course, was on if you chose to leave Lara in the package. Once out, Lara was immediately impressive on the fact that she couldn't stand on her own (partially due to her oversized shoulders) and that she was so flimsy that you would be afraid to do much with her. Fortunately, a better series of figures came out later from Playmates, which looked more like Lara Croft and were not only sturdy, but came with their own sets an a number of good accessories.

Company Mascots - These lines have fared well, considering that they focus on videogame characters that everyone is familiar with. Both the Mario Kart series and the Crash Bandicoot series consisted of quality figures that were well-scultped in a fairly hand-held size. While the Legend of Zelda series was a smaller size, they came as two packs. All in all, their immediate recognizability has helped iin not only getting them to the shelf but to insure that they at least sell decently. Some other decent lines of note: Donkey Kong 64, Sonic Adventure, Gex.

Street Fighter - Since Toy Biz acquired the rights to this series, all I can say is that most of the series that have come out (Street Fighter, Marvel Vs. Capcom, Darkstalkers) have been average at best. Often, the figures looked clunky or underdetailed. Buying figures in these series was definently a gamble. Only when Resaurus got a chance to do their own line of well detailed Street Fighter figures did this legendary game series finally manage to get a line worth owning.

Resident Evil - Another series that initially came out from Toy Biz. This time around though, the first two series (based on RE1 and RE2) were decently done. They weren't as top notch as later series, but compared to some of the crap that was floating around out there... This series was eclipsed by the limited Real Shock series that came as boxed sets from various Resident Evils and even included Regina from Dino Crisis. Most recently, a high quality Biohazard series from Palisades has come out, including characters from all of the four major games (Leon - RE2, Nemesis - RE3, Nosferatu - RECVX, etc.).

While the influx of console game toys has increased, PC games have also seen a rise in toy lines. Diablo, Everquest, Ultima Online, Quake and Duke Nukem have all seen toy lines. While none of these have gotten the mainstream treatment, they have been nice finds for fans.

One of the biggest toy deals has been for Squaresoft. They have not one but two companies putting out toy lines for their extremely popular series, especially Final Fantasy. Toy Biz made decent money on a boxed set of figures for Final Fantasy 7, but in all reality, finding the Japanese imports of the figures were more gratifying (especially considering that the boxed set didn't include all of the figures). After that initial success, Toy Biz went on to make a full-blown Final Fantasy 8 line and then a more reserved FF9 line. They also got the rights for the movie and the upcoming FFX line. On the other hand, Palisades Marketing grabbed the rights to do the Guardian Forces from FF8 and later a series of monsters. Also, they did a series based on Front Mission 3, which showed good quality, even if it wan't too successful.

I would be remiss not to mention possibly the best line of videogame figures to come out: Metal Gear Solid. This series by McFarland Toys made videogame toys almost a mainstream item. They were sturdy, high-quality and well scultped. News of the upcoming toy line for the sequel has really made a buzz in the toy collecting industry.

In all, I would have to say that I hope more toy lines based on games see the light of day. Since the quality is getting better, almost by requirement, fans of most game series should be able to find plastic replicas of their favorite games. While not every niche game will get this treatment, most of the more popular games should get something that collectors and fans will want to get their hands on.

- - Kinderfeld

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