Childhood was the time for playing around inside our own detailed worlds. Often, these worlds were pulled from the pages of our comic books and Saturday morning cartoons. Filled with crime fighting, explosions, and saving the occasional citizen, spinning grand tales of fighting bad guys (or occasionally the good guys) filled many afternoons and fueled the dreams of children all around the world.
One thing that kids love to do to help immerse themselves into their worlds is to use toys and dolls to help act out each story. Realizing that there was plenty of opportunities to be had with this, toy companies have jumped at the opportunity at creating entertaining dolls and playsets to provide visual aids for kids everywhere. Some of these toys can be pretty awesome, but for every one awesome, there are two or more terrible ones that either don't even look like they belong, or are straight up knock-offs that were some cheap company's attempt to confuse grandparents shopping for their grandchildren. So today, let's take a look at the worst and some of the best in superhero toys.
30 Bad: Super Spider-Man
We're coming in hot with our first entry, a Superman who seems to have crossed streams with the Marvel multiverse, and came out with the wrong laundry basket. Or, the universe decided to get experimental and combine Supe's costume with the friendly neighborhood Spiderboy. It's like the knock-off company only had a Spider-Man action figure and some Superman heads and capes, found out that Superman was more popular at the moment, and decided to just wing it by painting over the original and hoping no one would notice. And let's not even get started on that random light they put in his chest!
29 Bad: Mr. Potato Head Wolverine
Everyone knows that Hugh Jackman is the only image to come to mind when they think of the Wolverine. The foul-mouthed, snarky, super-healing clawed mutant that everyone loves was perfectly portrayed by the Australian actor.
It looks like a new contender for best Wolverine has finally appeared though.
Who thought Mr. Potato Head had that much inner rage to draw from for the role?
28 Good: Wonder Woman's Invisible Jet
How would you like to own an actual invisible jet? Now you can, with the help of clever marketing and strategically placed weights. Yes, believe it or not, this was a very real toy sold by Hot Wheels, and no, there is nothing in that package. This toy makes in on the "good" list by the sheer virtue of the guts it took to develop and product such a product. Well done, Hot Wheels, you know how to troll with the best of them.
27 Bad: Wonder Woman Scissors
Wonder woman is a symbol of empowerment for girls and women everywhere. She's the most powerful fighter in the DC Universe, either by virtue of studying under her sister Amazons for centuries, or in at least one version, taught by Aries himself. So imagine a fan's surprise when they find a Wonder Woman product for children that is, well, look at it. Back to the drawing board with this one, guys.
26 Bad: Revenger's Incredible Fella
There are knock-off toys, and then there are knock-off series. The Avengers is a well-beloved franchise that is recognized around the world by just about everyone. So you'd think that no one would really bother to make such an obvious knock-off as the Revengers. Someone did, however, and using the bare minimum of effort to avoid copyright infringement, they didn't even bother changing the not-Hulk's famous adjective.
25 Good: Hulk Buster Lego Set
No matter the intended audience, Lego is pretty well-known to have some epic sets and products. Case in point, we have a Hulk-Buster Iron Man suit that looks like it's ready to go straight into battle. The attention to detail here, using only small pieces of Lego and only a few custom parts, makes this particular toy almost a replica worthy of display rather than just an action figure.
24 Bad: Pink Able-Bodied Daredevil
There's just so much going on with this action figure, it's hard to know where to begin. While knockoffs skirt the word of copyright law by their very nature, that still doesn't mean it's infuriating just how badly they can mess up a character. The color being wrong can be forgiven.
Giving Daredevil eyes, however, not so much.
Somehow, that just stings worse the Spider Superman from earlier.
23 Bad: Dread Dormammu
A cosmic horror that would both excite and disturb Lovecraft's darkest dreams,
Dormammu is supposed to be an entity that transcends space and time. By that token, you would think that the knock-off company would at least try to make a devouring horror look at least a touch more intimidating. When your dark space deity can be mistaken for the Human Torch at a glance, you know you've done something wrong.
22 Good: Bat Armor
Batman going toe to toe with any truly powerful being seems laughable on paper. Sure, the world's greatest detective might be able to dig up some weakness or contingency, but at the end of the day, it's just some guy in a bat suit. But when that bat suit is also tremendously powerful power armor, things seem less ridiculous. Manufactured to take on Superman himself, this armor is ultimate proof as to why Batman will always have a place fighting god-like beings. Who wouldn't want an action figure to commemorate that amazing moment?
21 Bad: Bizarro
Parallel universe Superman sounds frightening enough. The Injustice comic book and game arc certainly helped us see just what kind of world we'd live in if Superman ever went dark. However, Superman ruling the world is nothing compared to the likes of Bizarro, the creepy, zombie-like alternate Superman that no one want's to be saved by, if he ever did that. It seems that the universe felt that his toy should stay in character, because no one wants to play with this shoddy Superman toy with Bizarro's head attached to it.
20 Bad: Mario, Master Of The Universe
Where to even begin with this knock off? The inaccuracies are enough to make any nerd worth their salt cringe themselves out of existence. Apparently, Mario decided to use his favors with Princess Peach to not only get a bunch of work done to make himself taller and more proportionate, but to also hit the gym and protein powder hard. Don't do this to yourself, Mario. You've got a choice!
19 Good: Lego: Dr. Strange's Sanctum
Benedict Cumberbatch made a smashing debut onto the Marvel Cinematic Universe scene with his incredible portrayal of the powerful Sorcerer Dr. Strange. At the end of the film, Dr. Strange is appointed Sorcerer Supreme and takes up residence in the New York Sanctum, which, in essence, is his own personal Hogwarts-style mansion. Come Infinity War, Dr. Strange has to help Iron Man and Spider-Man defend New York from Thanos' minions, and this playset, which looks to be a detailed Lego version of the Sanctum, you'll have one less thing to have to imagine while waging your epic battles.
18 Bad: Superhero Set (And Some Other Guys)
Barely skimming copyright title? Check. Badly painted, not-quite-right action figures? Check. Wrong spelling on said title? You betcha.
This here is the poster child of "just right enough to confuse detached parents and the elderly."
Only three of those figures are proper superheroes, with the Power Ranger only counting as one in certain circles. Shrek and the random car, however? Not so much. Kids, it never hurts to send a photo of what you're looking for, for your Christmas or Birthday lists. It hurts a whole lot more to unwrap something and receive this.
17 Good: Wolverine Claws
These bad boys look like they should belong on the other list, but hear us out: these would make any fan of Wolverine jump for joy. Almost any other adamantium claw toy would probably be a parent's worst nightmare. The risk of poking someone really badly would be enough to give an adult a cold sweat. With these guys though, that foam would only present a real problem if they found an eyeball. Otherwise, any rambunctious kid is free to do their very best angry Hugh Jackman impression.
16 Bad: Wrong Batgirl Action Figure
OK, clearly whoever did this did it on borrowed time. Somehow getting their hands on what looks like some of the original art assets for the packaging, they managed to stick what looks like the cheapest and barest copy of Batgirl into some packaging, and get it onto shelves. Knowing that a cease and desist letter was coming at them at light speed, they likely sold as many as they could, and disappeared off the face of the earth. That's the only explanation for such blatant copyright infringement.
15 Bad: Spider-Man Adventure Hero
This toy is proof of concept that even licensed toys can miss their mark by miles. Almost as bad as the Spider-Man motorcycle, this set of two action figures imagines a world where Peter Parker was an outdoors-man even while acting as his alter ego. This Spider-Man can not only fish (with matching overalls), he's also an accomplished archer (with not so matching khakis). Because apparently, Spidey can catch criminals with nothing more than his webs, his fists, and his one liners, but needs to go full survival mode to catch some fish or rabbit.
14 Good: Spider-Man City Playset
Sometimes it can really help to have some visual aids when playing out epic scenarios. Or even mundane ones, depending on your mood. This playset features an urban playground for toy Spider-Mans to play in, obviously meant to resemble Parker's hometown of New York City.
It even features a fire hydrant, a crane, and even some recycling bins.
There even appears to be a tiny underground Spider-Man cave.
13 Bad: Superman Robo T-Rex
Why are there two Superman action figures? Why is he riding a robot T-Rex? What is that black piece at the bottom supposed to be? Why does the packaging say "Superman Come Back?" So many questions, so little time. And most likely, those questions will never be answered. Children can take tremendous liberties with their imaginations, certainly, but even they might be wondering why a man who can fly or even leap great distances needs to ride a robot T-Rex. Though, now that we think about it, no one really needs a reason to ride a robot T-Rex.
12 Bad: Spider-Dog
If there's anything to be said about Spider-Man, is that there's a nearly endless supply of merchandise with his name on it with most of it being ridiculous. That being said, you can't really blame such a wide variety of companies for trying to get a piece of the Spider-Man property. Take robo-dogs for example. This modern example of this 90's toy is just a regular version of the toy painted to look like Spider-Man to draw in superhero fans. It's the kind of tie-in that makes you want to laugh out loud at it's obviousness.
11 Good: Batgirl Van
It's rare that you get to see an even somewhat decent superhero toy aimed at girls. When they do appear, they're usually make up sets, girly-fied costume pieces, or some cutesy doll house or hair salon. This toy, however, is a shining example of how something can be both girly and exemplify girl-power in one fell swoop. The van, while a girly purple-pink color, also freely sports what looks like a mobile operations center complete with Batgirl's costume and a hi-tech computer for all her research needs. Who knows, this might just inspire a few young minds to turn their interests towards management and tech-related careers!
10 Bad: Spider-Man House
Can anyone explain just what is going on here? At first glance, this is just some shoddy kid's toy given out with fast food. Like the container for a Happy Meal was converted to create some kind of bizarre promotion for a movie. This house playset looks like it's been made for slightly better toys to be played with within it.
This spider-abode even has a curtained doorway and a Spider-Man welcome mat.
Somehow, we doubt Spider-Man would let himself be caught anywhere near this place.
9 Bad: Discount Iron Man
Tony Stark is a self-styled genius billionaire philanthropist, who seems to master just about any skill he sets out to accomplish (except for creating lasting human relationships, but that's a discussion for the movies). One of the things he's managed to master is how to create power armor with style. It seems the day this suit was made was one of his 0ff-days. It isn't even properly painted, with bare plastic that is just begging for a bit of detail. Better luck next time, Stark!
8 Good: Wonder Woman
As mentioned, good superhero toys centered around women are a rare thing. This is another one of those wonderful exceptions to that awful rule.
This high-quality action figure almost looks like it could go on display.
Gal Gadot's portrayal of Wonder Woman as a warrior rather than just another hero in tights had many girls racing out of the theater to make swords out of sticks, and any child would love to own such an awesome action figure of the everyone's favorite Amazon.
7 Bad: Bungee-Cord Spidey
Clearly, someone learned that Spider-Man got his mask inspiration from a wrestler, and learned nothing else about him. While the extended Spider-Verse certainly likes to play around with Spider-Man's name, including himself, it's curious where someone got the idea to give Spidey an actual Spider-Grapple. Or at least we hope that's a spider shaped grapple that he's holding.
6 Bad: Superman Spinner
Plenty of Millenials remember the toy flying fairies, beautiful Barbie-like dolls that had wings that came out from their arms. After being placed on a special platform, the cord was pulled and the doll would go flying and spinning up into the air, sometimes traveling fair distances. This concept works well for fairy dolls, not so much for the Last Kryptonian. Last time anyone checked, the boy in blue doesn't use his cape to spiral up into the air, and no matter how you spin it, there's just no way that this toy doesn't look goofy whether it's flying or not.
5 Bad: Ninja Wolverine
The title sure makes this toy sound like a lot of fun, and maybe lots of kids would have a blast with something like this. However, this toy just rubs you the wrong way. There's something about the fighting machine mutant learning to become a stealthy assassin that sounds awesome on paper but just doesn't fit in practice. Just look at this toy: Poor Logan looks like he's going to burst out of that martial arts gi.
4 Good: Millennial Spider-Man
Spider-Man: Homecoming was a fresh return of the Webhead, with Tom Holland finally portraying both a believable Peter Parker and his alter ego. One of the many details that Homecoming got right about our web-slinger is the surprisingly oft-forgotten fact that he is, in fact, just a teenager. One of those details included how Peter uses a cell phone to call his aunt just like any other teen, just like this toy is happy to show, as well as a backpack for his things. This little details will help any kid recreate their favorite scenes without having to borrow props from other toys!
3 Bad: Blond Jason Momoa Aquaman
It's obvious at a glance that this toy was meant for young children, considering how simple it's designed. The simple paint job, with only two colors for the seahorse and only five for the hero himself, it's clear that this toy was made with swift production in mind.
That does not, however, excuse the fact that they used the wrong color for this Aquaman's hair.
While almost every comic book in the past about Aquaman shows him as blonde, a simple Google search would have shown that this long haired version, which is clearly supposed to be Jason Momoa, is supposed to have dark hair. That all by itself will likely ruin it for any hopeful kid excited about Aquaman this Christmas.
2 Bad: Old Action Figures
Toys from another time are always something to behold. No matter how well made they were back then, they almost never hold up to today's high standards. Forget making sounds or even real-looking hair; old toys are almost indistinguishable from knock-offs sometimes. Just take a look at these three action figures. We have an uncanny looking Wonder Woman who has just the broadest strokes of color for her costume. That Superman looks like he has a receding hairline. The only passable toy here is the Adam West Era Batman at the back.
1 Bad: Anne Hathaway Catwoman
And finally, what on Earth happened here?! It's like someone started making an Anne Hathaway bobblehead but changed their mind halfway through. Then, they proceeded to shrink her proportions all the way down to her feet. And those eyes! Their sad look just stares into your soul, while the strange attempt at portraying the slightly outward slope of Hathaway's eyes just makes you think that there was a mistake at the toy factory. You know what? This toy wins the "Bad Toy" contest.