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
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.