So I like video games. They're as much a part of my life as toys, though perhaps not as easily obtained for a good while. My parents weren't big on getting me video games back in the day, and rightly so, because when I borrowed various systems from friends it was all I did. I borrowed an NES and perfected Mario 3 and eventually got an NES for my own (an extra from a friend) and fought through Mega Man 3, TMNT, Zelda, Contra, and so on and so forth. Not long after that I also borrowed a Sega Genesis from time to time and...well...Sonic the Hedgehog. I mean, there were other greats on the Sega like Castlevania Bloodlines and Jurassic Park (depending on what you had access to; I was limited) but Sonic the Hedgehog was MY THING back then. So much so that I can still turn on Sonic 3 hooked to Sonic & Knuckles and blast through it without much thought.
It goes without saying that my love of both video games and toys had planted in me the seed of desire for action figures of my favorite video game characters. This was a problem back during the heyday of the NES, Genesis, and SNES (and other side items I can't remember). They gave you numerous products in the form of cereals, clothing, lunchboxes, stickers, and sometimes trading cards...but on the toy front all we had was fast food kid meal toys. My only Sonic was a little thing that just acted like a car; you pushed Sonic into his little shooter (looked like flames or smoke, I think) and pressed the button to launch him. There! Super speed. All you need, right?
Weellll.....I wanted more. Somehow running around with that figure and bouncing off of "enemies" (whatever I had around at the time) wasn't cutting it for me; and standing the wheeled figure next to other figures didn't really seem like Soinc to me. He wasn't ready to interact or do anything else like G.I. Joes and Superhero toys were. Where were the Sonic action figures? Where were any of them, for that matter? Mega Man got a short-lived toyline that was...admittedly a little ugly lookin' (though I still wanted them badly), and well...Mario - arguably the most famous of them all - also mostly survived toy-wise in the fast food market.
I wish I had some sort of answer to the question of why toy companies didn't feel the need to make toys of video game characters back then. Maybe video games were already thought of as toys? Maybe they thought: "Hey, if kids want to play with Sonic, they'll just play the game! Why would they touch the toys?" Who knows! What I do know is where the video game toys went -
- to the future! Well, the future relative to my past childhood self, because the Sonic toys in question started a couple years ago, which would make that the past. So the future compared to my childhood but the recent past compared to my adulthood (adulthood, anyway, in the very loosest sense of the term). YOU GET ME anyway, what did you come here for, words 'n such? On to the pictures!
That was my first pic of a Sonic figure as well as the first pic with my new camera at the time (still the camera I'm using today).
....meeeyeah okay so that's not totally true. They were pumping out some gigantic things around the time of Sonic Adventure, but the size and sculpts just put me off. So far that I remember they only got worse and increasingly themed (I know there were some space suit versions with magic emerald staves or something). The biggest problem was the huge size, honestly, because they pretty much dwarfed most other toys. They had to be around 5 to 6 inches, but the proportions required the heads and hands to be big, so the large size just....ugh.
Anyway, Jazwares started fresh with a 3 inch (or about) size that was just perfect! Since the characters have always been smaller than humans, the size kinda works out for a lot of other action figures. Granted, these aren't anywhere near as useful as they would have been when I was a kid ('cause these woulda exploded my head with rainbow mushroom clouds of excitement back then) but hey, I collect toys still so I'm still excited to get something I've always wanted.
One of the first items I was able to find was a two pack with Knuckles and a translucent blue Sonic. Why color Sonic like that? Well...it's cool! That's pretty much it. I heard that the manager for the toyline at the time liked translucent figures, so there you go - and hey, I can't argue with that logic, 'cause I love 'em too! I'd say this could be a "speed" Sonic, or some such thing. My young nephew Ian suggested that this be an after image for when he's running.
Now Knuckles was the star of this set, and I suggest you pick 'em up if you find him because he looks like he jumped right out of the artwork!
You can probably already tell, but these are old pics. This is the same as the archive of He-Man jokes throughout the blog, as I'm trying to collect all the older photos I've taken over time. This was, of course, back in 2009. Knuckles is still one of my favorites from the line. His "dreads" get in the way of the arms a bit, but it's no trouble to bend the arms under them and get some cool poses, as you can see.
The next one is an old comic I wrote up to make use of the translucent Sonic:
WHOA-HO, comedy! Hot-cha-cha-cha.
I was hooked right from the start; the articulation on these are pretty nice for the size, and you can get some neat poses out of them. Sadly, getting Sonic in a mid-run pose is a little awkward, but I'm willing to let that go since that was just about all he did with the kid meal toys of old.
Next, Jazwares branched out a bit into a guy I was REALLY looking forward to...they just...made 'em a little big.
Now I don't usually go for giant figures like this, but Metal Sonic is one of my all-time favorite game villains, so I made an exception (evil-robotic-versions-of-the-hero are one of my weaknesses, if you remember).
He isn't bad overall, but he's not amazing enough to track down now. The articulation is a little awkward, and he's so heavy in spots (with loose joints) that he'll fall over more often than not.
Giant Metal Sonic was, thankfully, a precursor to a normal sized version later on; in a comic pack.
Now would be a good time to say a little bit about Jazwares, as this figure displayed the standard Jazwares problems: Quality Control. You may have heard the term, however usually matched with the word "No" and possibly in caps. Toy collectors throw out "QC PROBLEMS" more often than they actually buy toys, so it's no wonder that you really have to take any comments about QC with a grain of salt - and that includes my own. From my point of view - collecting across the board with any 'ol action figure that catches my fancy - I haven't noticed that many errors along the way. I have, of course, but not many. Takes a lot to get me to notice too, like Toybiz when they were doing Marvel Legends. Out of all the broken toys I have, Marvel Legends take up the majority. Dunno why those broke more than others.
The next in line is Jazwares. I won't go into my history with them yet, but I'll say that the Sonic figures have some problems with the tiny joints they use. You may be able to see the visible hip on the picture above; the peg is not completely attached to the rest of the hip. It's hard to explain, but I'll just say that I could pull the legs right off if I wanted, and it would be tough to get it back together again. This basically meant that I had to check the packages before I bought them, and I noticed this problem a lot (I had to replace my first Knuckles for the same leg problem, and other figures are showing signs of coming off the peg). They seem to have fixed the problem for the most part, but I still check all the same.
In the same vein (though maybe not QC) the feet and hands were stuck. If you moved them without running them under hot water and removing them first, then you could twist the pegs right off. This is of course not a good example of Jazwares QC issues, but that's a topic for another post.
...of course, another problem I run into with Jazwares is that though the QC issues seem to pop up often with their product, I still can't fault them completely. The leg on Metal Sonic never fell off, it just could be pulled off easily. Also, once you loosen the joints, they work fine. On top of that: WOW that is a nice sculpt! What's more: Jazwares does listen when folks ask for improvement (at least; they were with Sonic):
The one on the right is the second Metal Sonic released; it came in a two pack with Robotnik (Eggman, for you younger folks). Everything was improved! I didn't have to warm up the joints in hot water, the joints were all secure, and they even spiced up the paint job a bit, making him darker and a bit more metallic.
So, though I complain about Jazwares, I can also say that this second Metal Sonic is one of my top favorite toys, which is awesome, because as I said: He's one of my top favorite game villains! So making an awesome figure of a character that I've wanted since childhood certainly keeps me from being unhappy with Jazwares; especially since they go out of their way to fix problems that arise.
Anyway, Robotnik follows the same quality of sculpt, so this looks just like the Robotnik you'll remember from recent Sonic games. Kinda wish he were able to hold things, but I'm not gona count that against him. He's around Joe size (a little bigger) so if you can fit his fat butt in something, then any vehicle you can find would look good with him. He's Robotnik! Chances are he's already built something like whatever you'll give him anyway.
Now as far as Sonic goes for me; I've been trying to stick to characters I know. I haven't played many of the new games (or even some of the spin-offs like Knuckles Chaotix) so I didn't end up getting the other characters they put out around this time, like Amy Rose, Big the Cat, Vector, or Espio (even though I knew them from the comics). I did end up with some side guys, however, when I picked up the Super Pack.
This was a three pack (that you may still be able to find at Toys R Us) that contained Super Sonic, Super Shadow, and Super Silver. I knew of Shadow and Silver, but I didn't know much of the story behind them. You'll notice in the first pic of this post that I ended up getting the normal versions of both guys, but I'll cover that in part two. The main part of this set was of course, SONIC.
I don't know why, but somehow I never expected a Super Sonic figure, which is sort of another holy grail from my childhood days. I was obsessed with the whole "collect the emeralds and become super" thing (and this was before I knew anything about Dragon Ball Z). I worked it into a lot of stories when I was a kid.
Another cool thing about this set was that it came with all of the Chaos Emeralds! Those were the extra collectibles throughout most Sonic games, where you can beat the game without them, but you get a special ending and (in most games) use of Super Sonic if you get all the emeralds.
Now the emeralds were a little off, because the yellow and orange ones were very close in color. Also, I don't think those colors were correct? Maybe? I know the emerald colors have changed over the years, so basically the only thing they did that was off in the pack was making two of them in too similar a color. They fixed it in a later pack, and also removed those black lines from the whites of Sonic's eyes.
So that was my collection before the most recent offering from Jazwares, marking the end of part one. Overall, there were problems throughout the toyline, but Jazwares made the move to fix them every time. Granted, it requires you to buy the fix (though, if I remember correctly, Jazwares personally replaced broken Metal Sonics if you sent it in) but the fact that they did it is what counts.
I was quite happy with the figures they released during this time, and never gave a second thought to classic styled figures beyond a hope for a classic Robotnik. The next wave of figures took me by surprise...
Join me in part 2!