2021 Toy Releases in Review

This is an end of year summary of what moved the needle in the toy aisles, as well the secondary market for 2021.

If this past year had one word to describe the toy market, it would be VINTAGE, because that what ruled the toy aisles in 2021. From Ghostbusters to Masters of the Universe, and from Power Rangers to Jurassic Park, Retro was most definitely in this year. So let’s take a look back at the year to see how this new trend affected the toy market, as well as the secondary market values of the original items that inspired them.

As has now become the custom each year, Marvel rules the box office AND the toy aisles, as Hasbro continues to crank out some seriously fun action figures based on our favorite cinematic universe. Hasbro’s Marvel Legends line has become huge and continually adds new product with each new release on the big screen, as well as the small screen at home. This year marked four new releases on the big screen, Black Widow, Shang Chi, Eternals, and Spider Man: No Way Home. In addition, we saw Wandavision, Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki, What If..?, and Hawkeye on the small screen through Disney Plus. Personally, I would say that makes for a spectacular year, but what do I know? This high visibility of the Marvel Universe keeps the toys in high demand, and a desire for kids and collectors to search for older figures they may have missed. We also saw the Secret Wars action figure line from 1984 trending upwards this year.

Star Wars
2021 was not a banner year for our favorite galaxy from far, far away. Not only were there no movies released this year, but no live action television series either (Unless you count Book of Boba Fett which was released on 12/30). In fact, the only new media that Star Wars had in 2021 was the Bad Batch animated series (which was amazing). On the toy aisles, Hasbro still cranked out their Vintage Collection and Black Series lines, which both continue to sell extremely well, but Star Wars vintage items did not see a ton of movement this year, mostly due to a lack of visibility. Don’t get me wrong, these items are probably never going down in value, but they really didn’t move upwards very much either. What did show some positive movement was Hasbro’s Power of the Force line from the mid to late 90’s. Kids from that generation are growing up and are beginning to treat the line with a form of nostalgia. Collectors are also beginning to see the value in this massive and very underrated toy line.

GI Joe
The GI Joe toy line was back in 2021, with their new Classified series, as well as the Retro Figure line. The Classified series has become a fan favorite as they offer a new highly detailed 6 inch sculpt of our favorite Joe characters. The Retro line also saw some success this year with seven new figures (Destro, Roadblock, Scarlett, Cobra Officer, Cobra Trooper, Grunt and Stalker), as well as a new Cobra HISS Tank and Cobra FANG Helicopter. There had always been a strong market for vintage Joe figures from the 1980’s, so the release of the retro figure line didn’t really cause a lot of movement for the secondary market items.

What would a toy aisle be without some great looking new Transformers figures, and there were a LOT to chose from in 2021! First off, Hasbro brought back their popular Generations line with nearly a hundred new figures. Some were retail exclusives but most were widely available across the market. The Cyberverse series also continued in 2021 with several new figures. This series began in 2018, and is still going strong today. The Studio Series was back with 21 new figures. The Studio Series is a high end and highly detailed line of our favorite transforming robots. Due to the ever present new Transformers figures being released and highly popular animated series on Netflix, visibility for the Transformers remains as strong as ever. This high visibility keeps demand for the vintage items strong as well, making the G1 Transformers an excellent investment, if you can find them at reasonable prices.

2021 was definitely a fantastic year for the Ghostbusters franchise as our favorite spook catchers came back in a big way. Hasbro brought back the original figures from the vintage Ghostbusters line in retro form, featuring the classic versions of Peter, Ray, Winston and Egon. There was also Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, Green Ghost (Slimer) and Ecto-1. A new line called the Plasma Series was released, which featured characters from all Ghostbusters mediums in 6 inch form. These new figures were highly detailed and sold extremely well. Several roleplay accessories saw releases in 2021, including Proton Blaster, PKE Meter, Proton Pack and Ghost Trap. Hasbro also introduced a couple of super cool Ghostbusters/Transformers crossover figures in new and vintage packaging. Finally, Hasbro launched a highly detailed Proton Pack through their HasLab campaign that will ship in 2023. And if that wasn’t enough, there was the new Ghostbusters: Afterlife movie released this year, which was a big hit at the box office. All of this translates into some serious upward movement for all Ghostbusters products, but especially the classic toy line from the late 80’s and early 90’s.

Power Rangers
The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers were back in 2021, and showed the line is still going strong since fist being released in 1993. Hasbro continued their popular “Hasbro’s Power Rangers” line in 2021 with their Retro-Morphin series as Wal-Mart exclusives. These new figures featured all the original rangers as they initially appeared in their vintage toy packaging. Also continued for this year was the Rangers Lightning Collection, which features a wide variety of highly detailed characters from several different shows. The Dino Fury line was introduced in 2021 with a brand new Power Rangers team fueled by dinosaur power. Finally there was the Super 7 series of Power Ranger figures in 3.75 inch form. There were several figures released and will continue into 2022 as well with an “Ultimates” line. We saw a lot of new Power Ranger products in 2021 with a lot more to come in 2022, which bodes extremely well for the franchise and their loyal collectors and fans.

Jurassic Park
Even though there was no new movie released in 2021, that doesn’t mean interest in the hugely popular franchise waned at all this year. There were still a lot of new very popular products released. Jurassic Park has the distinct advantage of having several different audiences, as they not only have their fans and collectors, but also just about every kid on the planet loves dinosaurs, whether they recognize the characters or not. All of this is good, because we saw a TON of new Jurassic Park items released in 2021. There was the Dino Escape series, which featured several different dino’s in a smaller size packs, as well as large scale. This Dino Escape series featured different sub-sets as well, including Wild Pack, Fierce Force, Roar Attack, Mega Destroyer, Jurassic Campers and several different attack combo packs. Mattel also continued their Legacy Collection, which featured figures and dino’s from the original JP films. Last but not least, there was the Amber Collection, which were highly detailed 6 inch versions of our favorite Jurassic Park characters. All of this BEFORE the new movie is released in the summer of 2022, so I can’t wait to see what Mattel has in store for us next year!

Masters of the Universe
When Netflix announced they would be releasing a brand new Masters of the Universe animated series this year, being overseen by Kevin Smith, we all figured it would be good, but WOW! Masters of the Universe Revelation spurred new interest in the franchise and brought it back to the forefront once again. Mattel capitalized on this success by releasing a new action figure series based on the animated show. These figures were highly detailed versions of the newer and more physically accurate iterations of their characters from the new show. Mattel also released a new “Retro Play” series, featuring the vintage Masters of the Universe characters on their classic packaging. This new Retro line included most of the major characters, as well as new Battlecat and Panthor sets, but the highlight of this line was most certainly the Castle Grayskull playset. The playset came with a newly sculpted Sorceress figure as well. These new toys and animated series definitely renewed interest in the vintage line from the 80’s, which saw a trend upwards in 2021.

DC Comics
Not to be outdone by Marvel, The DC Universe released a ton of new product in 2021, along with several new media projects. Marvel may have gotten most of the super hero buzz this year, but DC still cranked out a new “Zack Snyder” version of Justice League and a new Suicide Squad movie. on the small screen, we got Star Girl, Superman and Lois, Doom Patrol, Titans, Legends of Tomorrow, Bat Woman, and Flash, not to mention all of the animated projects released throughout the year. That’s a ton of new material, and Mattel didn’t let us down by releasing a ton of new action figures to go with it. Their popular Multiverse line was continued in 2021, which features popular DC characters across just about every medium including movies, shows and comics. A new Spin Master series was released with characters having a special action feature. McFarlane Toys also released their own Multiverse line, featuring characters across several different mediums as well. These figures were highly detailed sculpts of our favorite DC characters. All of this translated into some serious high quality action figures for collectors and fans.

The Mego Corporation re-launched in 2018, and have released some seriously cool figures since then, and 2021 kept that streak alive by showing us some completely awesome new figures. For this year, Mego continued their hugely popular Star Trek line with new releases, as well as several new additions to their Horror Icons line. Mego brought us Planet of the Apes figures with a brand new series this year, with many fan favorites. Their DC Comics partnership continued in 2021, with new releases of our favorite DC characters in both 8 inch and 12 inch formats. A new 14 inch line was launched this year, which included popular characters from their Star Trek and Horror lines. These new figures are much more detailed than their smaller counterparts, with realistic costumes and accessories. Finally, there were several figures based on popular movies and shows as well, such as Young Frankenstein, Willy Wonka and Lord of the Rings. Mego continued to impress this year, and has consistently shown they are definitely back and here to stay. The impact these new figures have had on the vintage toy line prices has been minimal, but the demand and popularity for the classic Mego figures has always been incredibly high.

That’s certainly a lot of new action figures and toys released in 2021, but there were so many more from various franchises that I just didn’t have room to list here. There was a boatload of new figures released from Super 7, including Thundercats, Aliens, Disney, Star Trek, Universal Monsters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and a host of other shows and movies. Funko also released a broad range of figures from many different franchises and mediums. There were several new figures from the Wrestling world, with their WrestleMania and Elite lines. McFarlane Toys continued to crank out bunches of new products and figures, featuring characters from several new movies, shows, and original concepts. All of this, and so much more.

Well, that about does it for the year of 2021. It was most definitely an odd year when it came to politics and social issues, but in the world of toys and action figures, the sun was always shining bright. It seemed like every major franchise released a ton of new and high quality products this year. With all the new movies, shows, books and comics scheduled to be released next year, there is certainly no shortage of material for new toys. As great as 2021 was for new toy releases, I have a feeling that 2022 will be even bigger and better!

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