Hot Toys is a Hong Kong-based action figure manufacturer specializing in high-end collectibles based off of movies, primarily. They’ve only been around since 2000 but are as acclaimed as any toy manufacturer can be. With a price point between $200 to $300 for most figures, they aren’t cheap. But they are also very, very well made. Sculptor Yulli Choi from South Korea and painter JC Hong, also from Korea, lead the elite team tasked with crafting 1:6 scale replicas of characters from popular movies including Batman, Predator, Star Wars, Back to the Future and many more. Not only are the ball-jointed dolls extremely poseable, they also feature incredibly realistic likenesses of the actors who portray the characters, and tiny hand-sewn detail on their layers of clothes. I recently visited Hong Kong and as I own at least 30 Hot Toys figures, I made it a priority to visit their only brick and mortar store, Toy Hunters, and also their Secret Base, a type of museum to their work.
Toy Hunters was founded in 1998 as a Toy Store in CMTA Centre in Kowloon. It still operates there today. It’s a relatively modest store that specializes in military, sci-fi, comic book and supernatural action figures. Because of their success, they eventually decided to make some of their own toys. That was the birth of Hot Toys.
In 2000, Hot Toys was created and specialized in creating 1:6 scale military action figures. Their quality was much higher than the average action figure and in 2003 they began attaining licenses to produce figures based on popular movies. Their figures based on movies are known as their Movie Masterpiece Series (MMS). Some figures go beyond their high standard by using one or both pieces of their proprietary technology: Intrchangeable Face Techniques (IFT) which use powerful magnets to let you swap, say, the mouth/chin area of Batman or Captain America to show different expressions; and Eyeball Rolling System (ERS) which allows you to move parallel eyeballs on a figure. These are known as their Deluxe Series (DX).
Their licensed figures include Predator, Alien, Terminator, Marvel, DC, Star Wars, and even real-life celebrities like Michael Jackson. Their price point does not seem to be a sticking point for collectors. Rather, they know they can count on an extremely detailed and durable product. Their high standards for quality appear to justify the costs. Their figures aren’t carried in many retail locations. If you live outside of Hong Kong, as most of us do, you need to pre-order their pieces (most sell out) from an official distributor such as Sideshow, the official distributor for the U.S.
In 2013, Hot Toys opened their Secret Base in Sino Center, Kowloon, just a few blocks away from Toy Hunters. Secret Base is a retail location on the 20th floor of a retail building, with no prominent signage until you are inside. But fans know where to find it. It’s not just a store, though. In fact, their products are kept in a back room and you have to just ask for a specific item. Rather, the space functions as a type of museum, with all of their figures displayed in elaborate glass cases. And with that, I’ll shut up and just share with you the photos I took so that you can see for yourself.