Give a toy 3.75″, and right away it thinks it’s a ruler.
This here is a current top rankings of the best 3.75″ to 4″ scale figures available out there in the whole wide world.
Note: Prince of Persia 3.75″ figs are not included ’cause I can’t find ’em here.
We’ll start from top to bottom.
#1 G.I. Joe
Okay, so here’s why G.I. Joe figures are #1.
First off, they’re relatively widely available. Personally, I have a hard time getting them because they simply aren’t widely available over here. I have to resort to specialty shops and Ebay for my Joe fix. But still, they’re a current line with lots of new figures always coming out, and you can get them relatively easily.
Second, they have great sculpts and color schemes. Oh sure, there’s a lot of parts re-use, and the paint jobs can be pretty bad for some figures, especially for the faces. But otherwise, we’re talking top notch sculpting and there’s a wide variety of paint jobs.
Also, because of the parts re-use and different color schemes, each recycled figure is somewhat justified for repurchase. About the only time they’re not justified is when they stick a little triangle on a COBRA Trooper’s helmet and calls the guy with the triangle a COBRA Officer.
Also also, let’s face it. COBRA has the best troops. Some of the Star Wars troop types, such as the Jump Troopers and EVO Troopers are pretty good, but G.I. Joe (COBRA in particular) simply have the best depth and variation of troops.
Third, they come with a boatload of accessories. Even the least accessorized figure tends to have a good selection.
Finally, articulation is pretty darn good. Joe articulation isn’t near the level of Motion Revive Series figures, and they can’t even beat SIC Kiwami Tamashii’s articulation model. However, Joes still have the best articulation you’ll find in a North American/Western figure of this scale.
It’s not like their articulation is perfect. For instance, they could really do with thigh swivels. Nor are they ultra articulated, as they lack the crazy double/triple-jointed-everything of some Japanese toys. But on balance, these are well articulated figures who’ll do most of what’s required of them.
Ultimately, Joes are tops due to being well balanced in every category.
#2 Motion Revive Series
Motion Revive Series are at this moment, the hands down best 3.75″ figures you can find. So why are they only #2?
First, the line’s been canceled. I think it was canceled around 2009? The newest character designs available are from the 2008 TV series, Kamen Rider Kiva. That said, you can still find them online and even hidden in the corner of your import shops. But yeah, eventually, they’ll be gone. At which point, I shall regrettably have to bump its ranking down. But for now, they’re still here. So get ’em while the going’s good.
Sculpt-wise, MRS figures are pretty show accurate, despite every figure using more or less the same engineering. This is because the shows they come from essentially boils down to a guy in a leather bodysuit with assorted armor pieces stuck on. Oh, and they’re pretty darn durable too, unlike say, Microman figures.
Accessories are somewhat limited, although that’s justified by the characters not having much by way of accessories in the show and also, for import toys, MRS figures are daaaamn cheap.
Articulation, and perhaps more importantly, playability and balance, are superb. These are probably the best articulated figures on this list. It’s not simply because they have a lot of points of articulation and crazy double ball joints and stuff like that, but all figures are well balanced, allowing them to strike a variety of unassisted poses not possible by other toys, such as G.I. Joe.
Overall, MRS are the best of the bunch, but seeing as the line’s already dead, it simply can’t justify top position. In another year or two, it’ll probably end up going the way of Microman. Let’s hope we’ll get a 1/18th toyline of MRS caliber by then.
#3 S.I.C. Kiwami Tamashii
I recently got my pre-ordered SIC KT Kamen Rider Den-O: Sword Form. I’ll get to detailing my thoughts on that guy when I do his review, but with the addition of Sword Form, I think the SIC Kiwami Tamashii line now has a deep enough pool of characters to be justified as a true “toy line”. Here’s hoping they’ll get to bringing us updated, micronised versions of the older SIC figures.
In terms of sculpting, SIC KT is by far, the best and most intricate 1/18th toy line around. Of course, they’re based on the SIC figures, which are already hyper stylized versions of the Kamen Rider cash cow franchise. Technically, a lot of the Hasbro toy lines such as Ironman II and some Marvel Universe toys also match KT in terms of minute details, but if you’ve ever got a KT figure, you’ll agree that it just feels to be a step above the others. I mean, heck they even have translucent compound eyes for their figures.
But even if you say the minute detailing of KT can be matched by other lines, you would be an utter FOOL if you would suggest that they can even begin to approach KT’s paint job. The paint job for Kiwami Tamashii figures is simply leagues beyond any other 1/18th toy line out there. Sorry, but this is just plain fact. It would be delusional to try and deny this. As a lover of all toys, who is usually ambivalent toward paint jobs unless they’re truly terrible, I’m being perfectly objective on this matter. This is most evident on figures like Blade or Sword Form, who really look like they have friggin’ die cast on them.
Accessories tend to be on the skimpy side for KT, although Sword Form is an exception. Hopefully, future figures will continue the trend set by Sword Form, but generally speaking, as of this writing, KT figures have minimal accessory counts.
Articulation and durability… hmm, well, let’s start with articulation. All KT use the same articulation model, which is a very nice model as it hides the joints very well while providing a very high posability potential. I say potential because depending on the design of the figures, some have better articulation than others. Kamen Rider Knight for instance, has a pretty limited range of motion compared to say, Kamen Rider Faiz. Don’t get me wrong, Knight still has pretty good articulation, but he’s noticeably more restricted than some other KT figures.
In terms of durability, KT are based on SIC, which are infamous for being fragile. KT figures seem to have fixed the fragility issue, although I’ve come across a loose-ish knee joints on a couple occasions. It’s nothing that can’t be fixed, and as far as my experience goes, I haven’t come across anything that feels like it might break overly easily. So durability is good.
In conclusion, Kiwami Tamashii might well be the next big thing in the world of 1/18th figures. They have a slow rate of release, but at this point, they are releasing at a constant rate of about 1 per month and they’ve been around long enough that they now have a decent selection to choose from.
As MRS is bowing out, Kiwami Tamashii looks like it’s primed to not only replace MRS, but to claim the #1 spot vacated by it’s elder cousin. We shall see.
#4 Ironman II
The cool thing about Ironman II is that despite the mediocre movie presence, we’re still getting new figures from it. I’m glad that it’s able to sustain itself despite the lack of direct supporting media.
Okay, I’m gonna say this here to start. I’m gonna talk about the articulation first, because it’s pretty important insofar as the reason why Ironman II is not in the #1 position.
The thing is, despite an articulation model that has a greater articulation count over G.I. Joe, the plain fact of the matter is, Ironman II toys are kinda NO FUN to play with.
This is mostly due to the hips mechanism, which makes posing these toys an absolute chore. I mean, you can pose them, and if you use the included display base, you can put them in some pretty funky poses, but you can’t actually play with them. You can’t pose Ironman II figures on the fly, like you would with G.I. Joe or Motion Revive Series.
They make great display pieces, but they just don’t have a high enough degree of “user friendliness” to be great TOYS.
Anyway, sculpting. In terms of sculpt, Ironman II toys are pretty much up there with Marvel Universe and even Kiwami Tamashii. They don’t always have super crazily detailed sculpts, but hey, they’re true to the source and a good sculpt isn’t necessarily a busy sculpt. Take for instance the movie version Transformers, who have too much stuff going on in their design, resulting many of them looking like… well, crap. Literal, crap.
So sculpting’s good for Ironman II, and paint is generally the same kinda thing we expect from Hasbro figures. Which is to say, generally good with slight imperfections, but occasionally terrible.
Accessories for Ironman II figures are okay, but meh.
In terms of selection, Ironman is iffy. Simply put, there aren’t enough villains. We’ve got Crimson Dynamo, a couple Titanium Man and Obadiah Stane aka Iron Monger. Oh, and Whiplash. Hopefully, with the upcoming Drones and another Whiplash coming out, we’ll have a more well rounded cast to go with the multitude of Ironman variants.
This is the main problem with the selection really. There are plenty of Ironman armor, and they’re all reasonably different from one another, but ultimately, it’s all based on the basic Ironman design. This results in Gundam Syndrome, where the toy designs are creatively dead, because they’re all just based on the original Gundam.
Thankfully, Ironman II will likely die in a year or two, or maybe get incorporated into Marvel Universe, so it’ll probably never get to the point where it becomes pointless to get excited to get new toys from it, because they’re all basically the same.
#5 Marvel Universe/Star Wars
To sum up, Marvel Universe has great character selections. Meh to bad paint jobs. And are made of an absolutely shitty plastic material which renders all their articulation moot. They feel rubbery, breakable and chances are you’ll get a figure with a bum leg, because the rubbery plastic is going to get warped by the packaging.
They’re #5, but I recommend AGAINST buying any MU figures. I can understand that it’s a difficult thing to do, because the sculpts are nice and they tend to have lots of great characters for sale, but the plastic is truly godawful, even on newer figures. This is something many reviews don’t seem to mention, so I’m going to reiterate it one more time, the plastic for Marvel Universe figures are plasticrap. As a result of said plastic used, the figures themselves simply won’t be as good as they look in-package.
Now for Star Wars. Star Wars has a great selection of characters as well. This is mostly thanks to expanded universe stuff, especially the games. And the sculpting job for Star Wars is great.
But let’s face it, the articulation for SW is inconsistent between each figure, and a lot of them kinda suck in this regard. The most articulated figures you’ll find will be the Troopers and some of the main characters/Darth Vader, but simply because of their swivel hips, they are virtually immobile from the waist down.
I truly wish that they would update their articulation model so that most characters will have the same articulation and the swivel hips will finally be replaced with a regular ball joint system, because whether or not you’re a Star Wars NEEEEEEEEEEERD, some of the character designs are really cool.
But as is, at best, Star Wars are barely out of the late 80s/early 90s in terms of engineering.