Toy Tribute: Top Ten Favorite Toys from the 2000s

It's the beginning of a new decade, so everyone's a bit "Top Ten List"-happy. I'm no different, so prepare yourself for The Dork Dimension Top Ten Favorite Toys of the 2000s! These toys aren't necessarily the "best" toys of the decade, just those that ended up being my personal favorites. So, let's check out my most memorable toys of the decade, counting down from 10....

10. Plasma Dinosaurs T-rex (Mega Blox, 2007)
Plasma Dinosaurs was a really cool toy line of dinos with rubbery parts that you can pop off and swap with others, creating freakish saurian hybrids of which even Steven Spielberg would be proud! The sculpts are cool caricatures of the dinos they're supposed to represent (especially this T-rex), without going crazy with the stylizations and losing what makes the dinosaurs cool in the first place. They also come with an egg in which you can place the dino-parts... as well as slimy dino-yoke! Dinosaur toys with a gross play feature? It's like Mega Blox created a toy line just for me.

9. Dragonball Z Krillen (Irwin Toys, 2000)
I was a huge fan of Dragonball Z back in the late 90's, but I was never all that interested in the toys... until Irwin released a really sweet line of DBZ figures in 2000. They were the perfect blend of collectible and toy: the sculpts are representative of the characters, but there's something about that flat, matte plastic and limited (but useful) articulation that makes these figures seem perfect for playtime. Krillen was my favorite character in the series, so it's no surprise that he gets the nod here.

8. Energon Unicron (Hasbro, 2004)
It was almost 20 years between the first appearance of Unicron in Transformers: The Movie and the first release of a Unicron action figure in the Transformers: Armada toy line. But the wait was worth it. This figure was all that we could have hoped for in an Unicron toy: it transforms into a planet, the design looks very much like Unicron from the movie, and there are plenty of play features like shooting missiles, light-up eye/hand, chomping planet munchers, and open-up storage compartments (which are always fun). Pair this dude up with his mini-con (which transforms into a moon), and you've got yourself a whole planetary system of fun. I prefer this redeco from the Energon line to the original Armada version myself. The black with green highlights is a great color scheme for a galactic planet killer.

7. Masterpiece Optimus Prime (Hasbro, 2004)
I'm not a huge Transformer collector, so it's kind of surprising that two TFs make this list. But Masterpiece Optimus Prime is no ordinary Transformer. He's a huge piece of perfectly-rendered G1 Prime goodness. This is the one piece that you'll probably find on most top-ten lists for this decade, and for a good reason: it's virtually flawless, a true masterpiece (hence, the name). And while Prime looks fantastic, his articulation is "off the hook" and the cool play features, like the opening chest that reveals the Matrix, make him an undeniably awesome toy.

6. Ultimate Muscle (Bandai, 2002)
Children of the 80's likely remember M.U.S.C.L.E.s, a toy line featuring hundreds of monochromatic intergalactic wrestlers. I'm a huge fan of that toy line, so much so that I dedicated Nathan's M.U.S.C.L.E. Blog to the awesomeness that is M.U.S.C.L.E. more than 10 years ago.  Not surprisingly, when Bandai released the Ultimate Muscle line in 2002 (based on a cartoon that is a sequel to the one that inspired M.U.S.C.L.E.s), I flipped out. This line had much of what made the original M.U.S.C.L.E.s so much fun: there were a countless number of weird wrestlers to collect in fun primary colors. They even threw in some cool fully-painted wrestlers. The line unfortunately died before its time, but it was great while it lasted.

5. Enterprise D (Diamond Select Toys, 2009)
It's no secret that I'm a huge Star Trek fan (with a concentration on Next Generation studies), but my lacking starship collection is a serious embarrassment. Fortunately Diamond Select Toys helped out by releasing this incredibly awesome rendition of my favorite Trek starship. It has a screen-accurate sculpt, flashing lights, sound effects, a separating saucer (held to the Stardrive by a super-powerful magnet, no less)... what more do I need? I'm tempted to get another just so I can mash the Saucer Section in the ground a la Generations. (Read more in the toy review here.)

4. Armodoc (Onell Design, 2009)
I haven't had as much fun with toys in years as I have had with the Glyos toy line. And in my eyes the star of the line is Armodoc, a robot whose parts are removable and reconfigurable (like all Glyos figures), leading to hours of fun playtime. The design is weird yet familiar, exuding a strange mix of a bad ass robot design with fun Playskool-esque vinyl plastic. Armodoc seems like he's half-robot, half-kaiju... and ALL COP. This dude went a long way in solidifying my Glyos addiction. (Read more in the toy review here.)

3. Mystic Fury Donatello (Playmates Toys, 2005)
When the TMNT cartoon was revived in 2003, Playmates stepped up to the plate and cranked out some figures based on the new toon. The figures were adequate, but not quite epic... until the Mystic Fury wave, that is. Some Turtles purists will likely scoff at the wacky body paint and over-the-top facial expressions, but those features are what make these figures so much fun to me. And let's not forget the articulation: the Mystic Turtles have loads of POAs, including many that are not common in Turtles figures like grasping hands, hinge knees, and movable toes. Donatello is the coolest of the Mystic Turtles, with a face sculpt that is the most awesome in Turtle history, even considering NECA's much-lauded Mirage-styled Turtles. Mystic Don is not only my favorite Ninja Turtle figure of the decade, he's my favorite of all time.

2. Godzilla 2000 (Banpresto, 2000)
The decade started off on a good note when Godzilla 2000 was released in theaters in the US. And of course I had to pick up a vinyl figure of the new Godzilla design. I decided to branch out from my usual Bandai Godzillas and pick up this one from Banpresto instead. Standing at 10 inches tall, this Godzilla is not only larger than his Bandai brothers, he also features details that they lack, like individually sculpted teeth. He's big, he's green, and he commands a display shelf. The weird thing is, these Godzilla vinyls were available in crane machines in Japan. We get crappy stuffed animals in our crane machines, while the Japanese get this?! What a travesty.

1. King Kong (Mezco, 2006)
The top toy of the decade comes in the form of the Eighth Wonder of the World, King Kong! While I was a big fan of the 2005 movie, I loved the new Kong design even more, and I needed a great figure to showcase my fandom. Playmates surely wasn't going to help me out; its King Kong line was an abortion, with horrible sculpts and crappy play features. But Mezco came to the rescue with this 15-inch simian of excessive damned-dirty-ape awesomeness. Mezco offered three face sculpts, but the Rampage Kong face was clearly the favorite, featuring Kong baring his gnarly teeth ready to take a chunk out of any hideous creature to cross his path. Kong has some pretty good articulation too: ball shoulders, wrists, and ankles, as well as swivel neck and hips. My giant monster collection features some pretty interesting characters, but all of them are overshadowed by Mezco's King Kong.

And that's it for this decade! It will be interesting to see what the next decade holds for toy collecting. Will Star Wars continue to be the omnipresent juggernaut that it has been for the past 15 years? What will happen to the TMNT property when Nickelodeon takes over? Will we see movies of more 80's toy lines like Masters of the Universe and Thundercats? And what will we see in terms of classic Power Ranger collectibles? Stay tuned!


  1. Here's the runners-up... they just missed being in the Top Ten, but deserve to be mentioned anyway (in no particular order):

    NECA TMNT Donatello
    Jabba's Palace Rancor w/ Luke
    Ephant Mon
    ROTS Wookiee Warrior
    Racer X w/ car (Speed Racer movie line)
    MOTUC Mer-Man
    The Batman w/ retractable line (from the 2004 animated series)
    Movie Masters Batman (Dark Knight suit)
    Power Rangers Super Legends Mighty Morphin' Green Ranger

  2. These lists are TOUGH! How to narrow it down? Do you go by historical or personal significance? It also would suffer in a Glyos way from being asked this question today - the prime toys I think about today being Glyos and Transformers (and Suckadelic's offerings, if you can consider them toys in the traditional sense), and MOTUC, to a lesser extent. There are certainly things I would forget about, like some of the Mezco offerings (like Cinema of Fear, that have been the best representations of some horror characters in plastic to my eyes).

    Will have to think on this some more.

  3. This list goes only by personal significance. There are plenty of toys that are more significant from an all-inclusive collector's perspective, like the BMF Millenium Falcon and pretty much anything from Hot Toys. I didn't include those toys simply because they're too expensive for me to own. And because I don't own them, I don't have any emotional ties to them so they're pretty unimportant to me. I'd rather be totally selfish and talk about my personal favorite toys of the decade. ;) And I think it's more interesting for me to talk about toys that mean something to me, you know?

  4. I agree Nathan, I say let the big public Action Figure sites make up lists pertaining to "historical" significance as a whole hobby.
    I'd personally much prefer to see peoples personal favorites, rather than see more of the same.

    I think you picked some interesting pieces though for sure. I don't think I'd have every picked a Godzilla or King Kong figure. And I like that you picked Krillen as a favorite! We don't get enough offerings of this character as it is. I owned the Masterpiece Prime, but traded it. He looked amazing, but I just couldn't get myself to like him as a figure. He just seemed loose in some areas to me, like the legs.

    I'd have a hard time making a top 10 list, as I've bought so much crap this past decade. But I also passed up tons of it in the first 5 years or so.

  5. Mystic Fury Don! I've recently fallen in love with this figure as well -- especially since I've modded the head of the figure (as well as my other Fightin' Gear/Mystic Fury Turtles) in order to increase the range of the ball-jointed neck. The mod also makes the head easier to pop off, so I've been having a blast with my simply swappable TMNT noggins. :)

    And KONG! That figure definitely belongs on a list of cool toys, so bravo for including it. Even with the relatively limited articulation, I kept my grumpy-faced Kong up here for weeks.

    Unicron looks pretty cool, too -- I often scold myself for not picking up the Armada version when it was on clearance at TRU for like $20 (I wasn't into Transformers at the time). The Energon recolor looks hideous, though.

    Anyway, great list, Nathan!

  6. That Mystic Fury Donatello figure is pretty rad, but isn't his bandana a little excessive?

  7. Do you mean the length of the bandanna? The Turtles in the Mirage comics (at least, most of the comics) and the later cartoons had relatively long bandannas, so this length is pretty normal. I'd say that the longest bandannas were in the 200x cartoon, which were long enough that they went down to their belts.