Toys, board games, video games and more … The best translations so far.
The original mini-comics came with the toys themselves in 1985 before DC Comics picked up the rights with a four-issue miniseries that Christmas, and then a regular series that lasted nine issues. Not surprisingly, the toys only outlasted the comic by a year.
9. Dungeons and Dragons
After DC Comics “Advanced Dungeons and Dragons” series in the late 80s, IDW Publishing’s series was based on the 4th Edition of the role-playing game by TSR. Dungeons & Dragons ran two years (2010-2012) before going on ‘indefinite hiatus’ (codeword for Magic: The Gathering has taken over). A few mini-series have popped up since, but D&D’s best days may be behind it.
8. Masters of the Universe
Mattel’s big action figure line enjoyed film and cartoon status back in the 80’s, but nostalgia has fueled several titles (and publishers) to return to Eternia for more adventures with He-Man and Skeletor since. Marvel, Image, and DC Comics have all had runs with Prince Adam and his alter ego, even teaming them up with Superman on several occasions to do battle for Castle Grayskull.
7. Sonic The Hedgehog
One of the longer running titles on this list, Sonic The Hedgehog was a 1991 video game created by Sega. Archie Comics (!) picked up the publishing license and twenty years later, Sonic The Hedgehog, Sonic X and Sonic Universe are still being published.
6. My Little Pony
Hasbro’s plastic pony toys from the early 80s have soared back to popularity in recent years. Multiple comic book series from IDW Publishing have kept Bronies happy with tails (‘tails’, get it?) for friendship and magic.
5. Tomb Raider
Since the original release the Playstation video game by Core Design and Eidos Interactive in 1996, the adventures of Laura Croft have been translated into over nine games, two feature films (starring Angelina Jolie), an amusement park ride, and several comic book titles by Image and Dark Horse Comics.
4. Magic: The Gathering
First published by Wizards of the Coast in 1993, “MTG” has become the world’s premiere trading card game with over twelve million players worldwide. Dark Horse Comics took a crack at publishing comics based on the game in the late 90s before Hasbro and IDW Publishing teamed-up to create the first of many limited series in September 2011. The comic books fill in background stories for the characters featured on the playing cards while the world waits for an inevitable feature film adaptation.
Microsoft’s console launcher for the original Xbox, Bungie Studio’s Halo is one of the best selling video game series of all time. The first person shooter centers on the experiences of Master Chief John-117, one of a supergroup of Spartans fighting against an alien race known as the Covenant. Several attempts to bring Halo to the big (and small) screen have come and gone, but Marvel has been publishing limited series based on the universe since 2007.
Hasbro’s “robots in disguise” toy line debuted in 1984. Thirty years later, it’s more popular than ever thanks to big-budget movies, cartoon series and even more toys. Marvel Comics published the first comic book adaptation, with an intended four-issue limited series that was expanded to 80 issues. In the early 2000s, Dreamwave Productions published two limited series before going bankrupt. IDW Publishing then picked picked up the rights and have been releasing multiple Transformers comics every month since.
1. G.I. Joe
Based on Hasbro’s relaunched action forces doll line from the 1960s, G.I. Joe became “a real American hero” in 1982 with all new characters and adventures, complete with vehicles, playlets and a supporting cartoon series. Duke, Snake-Eyes and Scarlett’s battle against Cobra Commander, Storm Shadow and Destro were chronicled in comic book form by Marvel Comics (and mastermind Larry Hama, who still writes for the series) for 155 issues between 1982 and 1994. G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero also featured the first television commercial used to specifically promote a comic book. After a brief hiatus the Joes returned in a series by Devil’s Due Publishing (2001-2008), and again in several titles by IDW Publishing.