Action figures companies initially struggled to adjust to the growing popularity of video games among their target audiences. Instead of buying action figures, kids and young collectors were spending their time and money on video games instead. But then the two worlds began to merge, and action figures were being produced based on the biggest characters and properties in gaming.
Suddenly new worlds and characters were being captured in plastic, and the attention of a lost generation was being regained as young collectors were starting their action figure collections around the digital characters. Video game action figures have become a major share of the action figure market in total, with numerous major lines and even entire manufacturers being dedicated to video game figures.
The following list takes a look at five of the best examples of toy lines and manufacturers creating action figures based on video game properties.
5. DC Unlimited / DC Collectibles
DC Direct was one of the most prominent collectible action figure manufacturers in the industry, but they were limited to characters appearing in DC Comics. The DC Unlimited brand was then established, allowing DC Direct to move outside the bounds of the comics, often into the realm of video game figures. The most recent name change, to DC Collectibles, allowed them to remain in the video game arena without too many questions.
Throughout the company's history, they have created absolutely beautiful figures, that while often lacking articulation, capture the art style and fluidity of gaming splendidly. The Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City lines take a shot at two of the biggest games in superhero history, while the World of Warcraft, God of War, Mass Effect, and Starcraft series each capture prominent gaming brands as well.
4. McFarlane Toys Halo
When it comes to video games, few are as popular or well recognized as the Halo series. The protagonist Master Chief is only rivaled in prominence by the practically infinite number of characters which can be created in the games' multiplayer modes. Individuals are able to create a digital character that's exactly to their liking, and McFarlane Toys has enabled action figure collectors to do virtually the same thing with their Halo line.
Where most lines only produce a select number of figures based on prominent characters, McFarlane Toys has managed to follow that standard model as well as producing nearly infinitely-customizable figures with numerous accessory, color, and body variations. They started with a standard action figure line years ago, but have somehow transformed it into something unlike anything else in the toy aisle.
3. Square Enix Play Arts
Every other example on this list is a toy manufacturer making video game action figures. Square Enix is a video game developer making action figures. But that doesn't mean they do it poorly. In fact they do it really well. The original Play Arts figures and subsequent Play Arts Kai figures are some of the biggest, best, and most-articulated video game figures being produced.
Play Arts figures are a slight step up from NECA's Player Select, including a much higher price tag. And Square Enix doesn't just produce figures based on characters from their own games, but actually license out other properties as well. That makes Play Arts one of the most varied and desirable line of action figures out there.
2. NECA Player Select
There is no company that has captured the move toward video game action figures as well as NECA. They produce the some of the best traditional figures in the world, and often focus their efforts on video game licenses. This has resulted in a variety of unmatched video game action figure lines like Resident Evil, BioShock, Gears of War, Assassin's Creed, and numerous others.
Their figures combine unparalleled sculpting and painting techniques, each of which bring the characters to life. NECA also manages to sneak in loads of articulation to make them playable, not just display pieces. And it's all accomplished at a reasonable price point. NECA is undoubtedly the king of video game action figures for the masses.
1. Hot Toys Video Game Masterpiece
Hot Toys is the undisputed leader in the production of top-notch 1/6th scale action figures. They make the best figures in the world, and like with every other property, they make the best video game action figures on the market. The sculpting, articulation, paint, and accessories are completely perfect in every regard. From the earliest Resident Evil figures to the most recent releases, Hot Toys has always gotten it exactly right.
The major Hot Toys video game properties are Resident Evil, Assassin's Creed, and Metal Gear Solid, but that limited list says nothing of the movie properties which often cross over into video game territory. Any fan of video games who also collects action figures will want a Hot Toys Video Game Masterpiece figure as the jewel of their collection. They're far from cheap, but they're also the best.