With the success of The Simpsons, Matt Groening and David X. Cohen pitched the idea of Futurama to Fox. It was a series that followed the adventures of Philip Fry, a 20th century pizza delivery man who is accidentally cryogenically frozen, and thawed in the 31st century. In the show, Frey works for his distant relative Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth as a delivery man for Planet Express along side his new friends, Bender, Leela, Zoidberg, Amy, and Hermes.
The cast includes such notable names as Billy West (Ren and Stimpy), Katey Sagal (Married...With Children), Phil LaMarr (Madtv), Lauren Tom (King of the Hill), Tress MacNeille (More animated movies and shows than we could ever list), and John DiMaggio as the voice of Bender (and also Marcus Fenix from the Xbox 360 exclusive series Gears of War).
The series ran from 1999 to 2003, then was dropped. The show was immediately picked up by Cartoon Network, and ran in syndication from 2003 to 2007. When their contract expired, Comedy Central not only picked up the rights to run the show in syndication, but also the rights to produce new episodes. The show was recently renewed for its seventh season on the network.
In terms of action figures based on an animated television show, the 2007-2009 Toynami series of Futurama toys is one of the best we've ever seen. Not only are the figures meticulously sculpted to match their animated counterparts, but the packaging is one fine piece of colorful eye candy. Each small box is uniquely designed to coincide with the figure inside.
Unlike most toy lines, Futurama's was not broken down by any particular series, but rather by year. Tonami would announce what figures they were producing in any specific year, and then proceeded forward. There were no waves, or series numbers.
While there was certainly room for the series to grow, in its three year span Toynami made sure to produce the majority of major players in the series, though they didn't steer too far from this path to produce many secondary figures.
An interesting aspect to the series mimics one as seen in the recent Hasrbo Star Wars line where with each figure you purchase you receive one part for a robot. There were two robots that could be completed by purchasing every figure - Robot Devil, Roberto and Robot Santa. A better sculpted, and more durable Robot Santa would become available later as an exclusive, but this would remain the only way to obtain the Robot Devil and Roberto figures.
The full list of basic figures include;
Chef Bender (2009)
Captain Yesterday (2008)
Professor Farnsworth (2009)
Super King (2008)
Zap Brannigan (2008)
There were five exclusive packs produced for the series;
Fry and Leela (San Diego Comic Con 2009)
Santa Bender and Robot Santa (San Diego Comic Con 2008)
Zoidberg - Mating Season (San Diego Comic Con 2007)
Glorious Golden Bender (San Diego Comic Con 2007)
Zoidberg - Mating Season - Blue Variant (Toyfare 2007)
There were also small "Tineez" figures produced that while they have the same type of packaging are not considered to be part of the set. We won't go into those here.
The secondary market has been incredibly kind to these figures. Depending on the character, one alone can set you back a hundred dollars, with the majority selling for between fifty and sixty dollars each. This is excellent news for secondary market dealers, and a nightmare for buyers. But, no matter how you look at it, that's an impressive price increase in a series that ended only a few years ago.
Join us next time when we take a look at Stargate!
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