In some ways, including Hot Toys on this list is unfair. They operate in a completely different corner of the action figure market than the other four entries. The Hong Kong-based manufacturer of high-end collectibles specializes in a larger scale than most, utilizes a much more incredibly detailed production process, and, as a result, costs a heck of a lot more money. However, out of all of the sixth scale figure manufacturers (and there are many of them these days), Hot Toys is unique in that it still manages to work some manner of dark magic that allows their action figures to appear so lifelike that it is, frankly, uncomfortable. If movies are your thing, you can do absolutely no better than a Hot Toys action figure, whether it be Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow, Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark or that Wookie of mystery, Chewbacca. Just be prepared to pay for it.
Not having the coin to drop on a Hot Toys figure that costs upwards of $200 doesn’t have to mean the end of your collecting career. NYC-based toy company Mezco Toys, who made their name with their Living Dead Dolls line of stylized horror characters, entered the fray in 2015. The One: 12 Collective line of action figures are often referred to as “mini-Hot Toys”. Though produced in a smaller twelfth scale, Mezco’s action figures boast many of the hallmarks that made companies like Hot Toys so popular: cloth outfits, an above average amount of accessories, and expert sculpting. When you combine all of that with the lower price point, it’s easy to see why the One: 12 line has become one of the premiere brands in 6-7” action figures.
New Jersey-based National Entertainment Collectibles Association have made a name for themselves, not only in the 7”-8” market, but also the quarter scale field. In addition to being THE name for horror-based action figures, the company has recently been making Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fans’ dreams come true. Utilizing loopholes in Playmates’ holding of the TMNT license, NECA has managed to bring their highlydetailed and expertly painted Turtle figures from different eras of the franchise to conventions and specialty stores. This has further cemented their place on the shelves, and we haven’t even mentioned their all-encompassing Alien and Predator lines.
If quantity over quality is your thing, you can do no better than good ol’ Hasbro. That might sound like a backhanded compliment, but I truly don’t mean it that way. Hasbro’s quality has been growing by leaps and bounds in the last few years, especially in their Marvel Legends and Star Wars Black series, and shows no signs of stagnating. They have also been adding more accessories to their individual figures, improving their actors’ likenesses, and generally giving you more bang for your buck. That bang for your buck is what brings me back to the quantity thing. Hasbro’s figures, on average, cost between $20-30. If you’re more interested in grabbing every character from a franchise rather than having a single lifelike, miniature Harrison Ford staring at you? That goal is definitely Hasbro’s jam, and they excel at it.
This final choice will likely be a matter of contention among collectors. Some people will argue for Bandai and their S.H. Figuarts line or Medicom’s Mafex products. Those are all fair points to make, but it’s the Japanese manufacturer Kaiyodo’s Revoltech brand that pushes them onto the list for me. Revoltech (a blending of the words “revolver” and “technology”) figures, which use a very specific “Revolver joint” articulation scheme that offers a wide range of motion, have been on the scene for quite a while. However, in recent years, Kaiyodo launched the sub-brand “Amazing Yamaguchi”, which focuses mainly on Marvel and DC Comics characters (though Transformers will be joining in on the fun soon). I cannot fully express the joy in being able to arrange SpiderMan and Batman in the crazy, impossible poses that comic book artists have been drawing for decades. That fun factor is what, for me, pushes them above the average.