While I don’t own every Flash and Flash-related action figure ever created, I’ve done pretty well for myself over the years in that department…
Around when I got bumped up to my Staff Writer position at Wizard around 2005, I almost immediately set about populating my desk with as many action figures I could cram on that surface. It was an example set by our esteemed Editor-in-Chief, Pat McCallum, who had about every Marvel Legend created to that date plus a slew of DC Direct products crammed on the window sill behind his desk, and a tradition I felt proud to join.
While I amassed many figures of all kinds from Marvel to DC to pro wrestling to Mexican bootlegs I couldn’t quite identify, Flash had always been one of my favorite characters period, almost certainly my favorite character visually, and Nova didn’t have any toys (or so I thought until “Commander Awesome” himself, Jesse Thompson, proved me wrong), so Wally West, Barry Allen, Jay Garrick and their friends and foes became the dominating force on my desk.
After I left Wizard for Marvel in 2007, I figured my Flash collection probably wouldn’t blend in well at the House of Ideas, so I relocated it to a space of honor on one of our bookshelves here at the apartment in Saddle Brook and have continued filling said shelf since.
I tend to value my Flash collection in quantity over quality for the most part, but nevertheless, here are the figures I subjectively consider the best of the best.
But first, a pair of honorable mentions to two items that only I own…
Marvel Legends Dracula Flash
The aforementioned Sir Patrick McCallum surprised me one day by dropping this sucker off at my desk unprompted, because he was just that kinda boss. Seriously though: how fucking awesome would The Fastest Lord of the Undead Not Really Alive be? This remains one of my most prized possessions.
Justice League Unlimited Black Flash
Rickey made this beauty for me a couple months back and gave it to me for Christmas. Look at how much work went into this bad boy? My boy smothered this guy in black and gave it a creepy zombie look a line like JLU was never quite intended to have, but that’s what makes it rock so hard.
Ok, Top Five proper…
5. “The Batman” Shadowtek Flash
I dig the Justice League Unlimited figures plenty, but sometimes they’re a bit too streamlined for my liking; the toys that came out of the Shadowtek line from “The Batman” after the Justice League appeared on that cartoon presented kinda the next step up, adding a nice amount of detail to that template, but not so much you lose the bouncy energy of the animated style. I’m of course partial to the Shadowtek Flash, with a really neat face sculpt, the overblown upper body and those fleet little legs ready to kick it up to light speed.
4. DC Direct Super Friends Flash
The “Super Friends” cartoon was a bit before my time, and while I did catch the reruns on Cartoon Network later in life and watch the DVDs (worth it if for no other reason than to watch Geoff Johns geeking out in his Aquaman shirt on the extras) and certainly appreciate the fun and overblown innocence of the show, I’m no devotee. However, this figure is somehow instant nostalgia for something I have nothing to be nostalgic about and just makes me smile. And how could I not given that big toothy grin on Barry Allen’s face! It’s not the most well-sculpted or articulated job by any means, but there’s just something warm and welcoming about this guy.
3. New Frontier Flash
Speaking of fun and nostalgia, you’ve got this guy, from the second series of figures released based on one of my all-time favorite stories, Darwyn Cooke’s New Frontier. I’m not the world’s biggest Barry Allen devotee, but I was a huge fan of Cooke’s romantic swashbuckler take on him and everything I liked from that characterization is transferred perfectly into this figure. The face is so perfectly Cooke, with the rounded head, bushy eyebrows and exaggerated smile, while the twist of the arms and his neat little backpack accessory (not pictured above) make it clear he’s ready to kick Captain Cold’s ass or run a bomb into a giant sea monster. I also like that the figure is lithe, so Barry really does come off like a true runner.
2. JLA Classified Flash
On the extreme other end of the spectrum, you have Ed McGuinness’ bulky, thick take on Wally West, bursting with muscles and not looking like he could do much speeding, but sure seeming as if he can kick plenty of ass. I love McGuinness’ art and the way he makes every character he works on stand out and seem to leap off the page, and a nice side bonus to that style has always been that his designs look great as toys, something DC Direct has clearly clued in on over the years, putting out dozens of figures based on his work. Is this a practical looking Flash? No, of course not, I believe I just covered that. Is it an awesome looking Flash? Hell yeah! Just check out how dope McGuinness gets the details on his costume and how perfectly that little smirk comes across.
1. DC Direct JLA Series One Flash
The 2006 JLA series of figures from DC Direct is one generally overlooked by my estimation, which is a shame, because in my humble opinion, it’s one of the most well-done lines ever and produced what I feel is the best Flash figure of all-time. Though it wasn’t hugely touted, the designs were based on the work of Carlos Pacheco, who did the box art as well, and the results were awesome. Pacheco is one of comics’ master draftsmen and has a degree of skill in his pure craft that is virtually unmatched, so the composition of these figures don’t look gimmicky or goofy, they just look right, Flash particularly so. Pacheco strikes the perfect balance between the thin Cooke Flash and jacked-up McGuinness Flash to create a Wally West who doesn’t look ready to throw haymakers with Superman, but clearly keeps himself in shape with those global marathons. Toss in a nicely-muted shade of red and you’ve just got a good-looking, well-done figure that looks great no matter how you pose it.