It’s SDCC week! Yes, we are just days away from the biggest event in the nerdy calendar kicking off — filled with exciting news, jam-packed panels, remarkable cosplay, and, hell yes, so many ways to empty your wallet on shiny, exclusive toys and merchandise. Heading to San Diego with your piggy bank? Here are our recommendations for the best of the best we’ve seen.
Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers Pins ($US12 ($17) Each)
One of the cutest things Boom has at the con this year to represent its Power Rangers comic series are these pins — not of zords, rangers, bad guys, or even the putty patrol, but simply the battle cries of each Mighty Morphin team member as they morph and summon their zords. Simple, effective, and so very very hard not to buy a complete set of.
Star Wars Retro Prototype Darth Vader ($US13 ($19))
Inspired by the original prototype action figure from Kenner back in the day, this 3.75" Darth Vader doesn’t just replicate the old-school design of one of the most iconic action figures in toy history, but makes him fabulous. Look at all those colours! To boot, each Vader sold is actually pretty unique — aside from the black cape, the colours of each part (replicating the old prototyping process) come in random combinations, so your Vader is pretty individual compared to someone else’s.
Star Wars The Black Series The Rise of Skywalker Sith Trooper ($US32 ($46))
With a new Star Wars movie on the way, Hasbro always likes to treat con-goers with a little early look at the toys they have planned, and The Rise of Skywalker is no exception. This year fans will get their hands on an early access edition of the fearsome Sith trooper. While everyone else will get one as part of the main Rise of Skywalker merchandise later in the year, this version has con-exclusive packaging and accessories.
Transformers Ectotron ($US150 ($214))
Hasbro’s Transformers/Ghostbusters crossover has already given us some very cool merchandise, but this is the coolest of them all: a nearly 25cm-tall Optimus prime, clad in Ecto-1 colouring. Not only does Optimus come with a ghost-slime-smeared convoy truck that folds out to turn into a ghostbusting base (complete with little Slimer figure!), even the packaging of this toy is amazing: it’s an entirely wearable cardboard proton pack. Maybe the best thing we’ve seen out of the exclusives this year?
Justice League Comic Colour Aquaman ($US60 ($86))
Beast Kingdom’s 1/9-scale Aquaman is already a pretty impressive rendition of Jason Momoa’s take on the King of Atlantis. But taking his muted Justice League armour and giving it the comic book sheen, á la what the Aquaman movie itself ended up doing for his gear? Brilliant.
Carol Corps Dress ($US225 ($321))
Elhoffer’s line of swanky Marvel fashion is getting a huge boost at SDCC this year, but our favourite piece in the collection has to be this dress, inspired by the Kree version of Carol’s suit in Captain Marvel. From the colours to the collar, this is both a smart-looking piece of fashion and yet also delightfully geeky.
Metropolis Maria ReAction Figure ($US15 ($21))
It’s not every day you see Metropolis merchandise, let alone exclusive Comic-Con Metropolis merchandise. But Super7's line of retro-style action figures gets a very cool addition in the form of one of the most iconic robots in cinematic history. Maria clocks in at 3.75" tall, and features metallic chrome plating and a special collector’s coin in the packaging.
Super Cyborg Megatron ($US75 ($107))
If you want something retro that’s way bigger, you could go for the 12" Megatron that’s part of Super7's Super Cyborg line, an homage to classic Japanese mecha toys. This exclusive version of the Decepticon leader is in “X-Ray” colouring — clear plastic, with metallic-painted chest to make it look like you’re peeking right into Megatron’s insides. Turns out there is more than meets the eye to this Transformer!
Approximately Seven Billion Funko Pops (Various, $US15-35 ($21-50))
Funko always goes big at Comic-Con, but this year, they may have gone stark raving bonkers. There are over 60 different Pop figures spread across various exclusives this year. The Rise of Skywalker’s Sith Trooper? Popped. Batman Holding an SDCC swag bag? Popped. Man-Thing? Popped. The Pting from the last season of Doctor Who? Popped! And that’s just a few of our favourites.
Editor's Note: Keen Aussie punters should be able to pick up most of these Pops from their local pop culture store — but they're likely to be the only collectibles on this list that we'll ever see.
Did you know that Comic-Con’s original mascot was a toucan? Well, you do now, because he has his own 50th-anniversary Funko Pop. Head on over to the unofficial SDCC blog to see them all!
She-Ra And the Princesses of Power She-Ra Vs. Shadow Weaver 2-Pack ($US40 ($57))
Just before She-Ra and the Princesses of Power came out, Dreamworks teased fans with action figures of She-Ra and Cat-Ra, but they were of the small and limited-articulation variety. At Comic-Con this year, fans can get a truly great She-Ra figure experience with these badass dolls of the heroic princesses and her sinister rival among Hordak’s forces, Shadow Weaver. She-Ra comes with her iconic sword to march into battle with, while Shadow Weaver has magical spell effects, and, kind of hilariously, a little plinth to pose her tattered dress ends around so you can recreate her skulking about like she does on the show!
Hot Wheels Marvel Spider Machine GP-7 ($US15 ($21))
Mattel always picks something great to turn into a Hot Wheels toy, and this year they knocked it out of the park — move aside, Spider-Mobile, the star of the remarkable Japanese Spider-Man tokusatsu show, Takuya Yamashiro, is here in his Spider-Machine! A recreation of the absurd car Takuya used a few times in the series, it answers the question of “why does Spider-Man need a car?” with “we already gave him a giant robot, so why the hell not?”
Jurassic World Legacy Collection John Hammond ($US15 ($21))
Nothing puts the “action” in “action figure” quite like a toy of Richard Attenborough. The architect behind Jurassic Park not only comes with packaging based on the gate to his Dino-topia, but with his iconic walking stick and even a little stand featuring a baby raptor. Presumably so that you can buy an Ian Malcolm action figure and immediately have him ponder if Hammond’s scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.
The Strange Lives of Batman Four-Pack ($US80 ($114))
Mattel have some of the best exclusives at the convention this year, but given that it’s Batman’s 80th Birthday, there’s no surprise that one of their finest offers in San Diego is all about the Dark Knight. As part of the celebrations, they’re acknowledging the lighter side of Batman’s time in the Silver Age with four figures inspired by classic and occasionally silly adventures. As well as a classic Silver Age Batman, you get the Negative Suit Batman from Detective Comics #284, the Zebra Batman from Detective Comics #275, and then the one, the only, Rainbow Batman from Detective Comics#241.
Captain Marvel Goose Collar Set ($US45 ($64))
Sometimes, Comic-Con isn’t just about picking up things for yourself and your human friends. Give the feline in your life the Captain Marvel treatment with this little collection inspired by Carol’s inherited space-kitty, Goose. As well as a collar so your cat an essentially cosplay as Goose (unless they’re already named Goose, in which case, new collar!), the set continues the Flerken theme with a light-up cosmic cube key chain — your cat is not a tentacled alien nightmare, do not feed it to them — and some pin badges based on Carol’s Kree and hero suits.
The Dark Knight of Gotham City ($US45 ($64))
Every year Lego has nightmarishly hard to get exclusives that are completely awesome, and this year’s are no exception. One of many brands celebrating 80 years of Batman, its DC offering this year is a vignette depicting Batman doing what he does best — brooding on the edge of a Gargoyle-encrusted Gotham rooftop, ready to swing away at a moment’s Bat-Signal. The use of the scene’s perspective to portray the Gotham skyline at night behind Batman is fantastic, and Lego should make more little scenes as sets like this outside of swanky con exclusives!
Captain Marvel and the Asis ($US45 ($64))
Meanwhile, on the Marvel side, Lego has something similar on offer to its DC set, but different enough to make it interesting. Like the Batman pack, it’s a vignette, but instead of an environment to pose Carol Danvers in front of, it’s a vehicle — mainly the Asis, the experimental craft Carol and Monica Rambeau (also included as a minifigure!) was testing before her fateful encounter with Yon-Rogg. As well as a minifigure of Carol in her Kree Starforce suit, the Asis comes with a bunch of little extras, including FX blasts to replicate Carol’s binary abilities, and even an elaborate tentacle build to turn an otherwise cutesy lego Goose into a plastic flerken nightmare.
DC/Dark Horse Batman and Superman vs. Predator and Alien Two-Packs ($US60 ($86) each)
The ‘90s were a time of excess, especially in comics, which is why Dark Horse and DC teamed up not just in 1991, but in 1995 as well, to pit Batman and Superman against the sci-fi horrors of the Predator and Alien’s Xenomorph for two, totally wild comic book events. These new 18cm action figure two-packs celebrate those ridiculous crossovers, giving you a bunch of cool accessories in the process. Like a bat, for Batman! How literal.
Fans have been seeing versions of these toys teased for quite a while now, so it’s nice to see them finally being released, even if it is in limited Comic-Con quantities.