Whether you’re introducing superheros to your little one or bonding over cape crusaders with your teen, we’ve rounded up the best superhero toys for kids, by age and manufacturer.
We are living in a golden age of superheroes.
Yes, the genre has existed since Superman’s debut in July 1938, but never have they been so prevalent. You can still find Superman, Spider-Man, and Wonder Woman having adventures in monthly comic books. But you can also see them in blockbuster films on the big screen, as well as animated and live-action television series. Video games starring the Avengers and the Justice League sell millions of copies and YouTube is filled with kids and cosplayers creating their own superhero epics.
But the best superhero stories are still those told with the most basic technology. With a few toys and a little imagination, kids can craft superhero tales to rival anything made by Disney or Warner Bros. Kids put together massive crossover team-ups in which Aquaman joins the Guardians of the Galaxy to take down Lex Luthor or Spider-Man and the Penguin join forces to stop a rogue Batman.
Fortunately, we’re in something of a golden age for superhero toys as well. Manufacturers have always been willing to slap a logo on any hunk of junk and call it a tie-in (the Star Trek Spock helmet still stands out as the most egregious example). But wider interest in superheroes has not only emboldened toymakers to up the quality of their products but to also go deeper into the comic book universe’s roster. Kids today can get an action figure of Z-level Daredevil villain Frog-Man or the cartoon squirrel Green Lantern Ch’p of H’lven.
In fact, with so many choices, parents may find themselves overwhelmed. Fortunately, we here at Nerdy with Children are here to save the day. Here are the best superhero toys on the market, whether you’re buying for a toddler just entering the wild world of capes and tights or you’re getting a collector’s item for a teen still proud of their geeky side.
By age four, kids want to start telling their own stories. Sure, they’ll still need toys that can hold up to wear and tear, as the battles may consist of little more than slamming the figures together, but parents can start to get a little more intricate.
At this point, super-nerdy parents will still need to hang back on going straight to their obscure favorites. Your kids will likely want to stick with the characters they know best, which means Spidey, Batman, and Captain Marvel.
For kids of this age, the gold standard is the Imaginext line from Fisher-Price. The line focuses on well-designed, but highly durable, figures from Marvel and DC (as well as other pop-culture properties, such as Jurassic Park). These figures fit into a wide range of awesome playsets and vehicles, like Iron Man Hulkbuster armor or an Avengers Quinjet.
But if my four-year-old is any indication, the standout in the Imaginext line is the Transforming Batmobile. Kids can drive the car with a simple remote control and most Imaginext figures fit in the cockpit. And with a press of a button, the Batmobile changes into a command tower that shoots discs, complete with awesome sound effects.
As cool as these figures are, some kids don’t want to just play with the hero. They want to be the hero. If that’s your child, you still have plenty of options. One can easily find generic superhero caps and masks with logos placed on them. But if you’re like me, the inconsistencies in these costumes will annoy you (Spider-Man doesn’t wear a cap!).
Thankfully, the DC Super Hero Girls line is here to help. This 21-piece dress-up trunk features everything your child needs to be one of the three greatest heroines in the DC Universe. With these masks, capes, and shirts, your child can become the Maiden of Might Supergirl, Batman’s partner Batgirl, or the Amazing Amazon Wonder Woman! And if your kid’s creativity can’t be contained by cannon, they can mix and match the costumes to create their own amalgam character.
AGES 7 – 9
At age seven, things start to get serious. Not only do kids start expecting more from the complexity of their toys, but they want some more unusual characters than just Superman and Spider-Man.
In some ways, that’s good news for nerdy parents, because they may want to hear about your love for B and C-listers like Firestorm and Ms. Marvel. But kids will still want to be the author of their own stories, which means that they’ll probably push your suggestions aside to find their own weird heroes.
Hot Wheels are a perennial favorite for kids of this age. Low-cost and high-quality, they are the perfect toy for a budding motorhead. For children who like their cars to be on the geeky side, Hot Wheels offers a variety of super-hero-themed vehicles. This includes not only classic choices such as the Batmobile and the Spider-Buggy but also some head-scratching options. Why does the Flash need a car? I don’t know, but I’m excited to hear the story my kid makes around it.
The most exciting superhero toy from Hot Wheels is the Ultimate Batcave Playset. Twisting a classic Hot Wheels ramp through Batman’s headquarters gives kids the chance to create high-speed adventures featuring the Dark Knight, or anyone else who happens to drive through!
For years, toy manufacturers saw superheroes as boy-only toys, restricting girls to an occasional Wonder Woman or Supergirl figure. Fortunately, that trend has passed as toymakers come to realize that everyone loves superheroes.
As already mentioned, the DC Super Hero Girls line contains some of the coolest toys for comic book-loving kids of any gender. But one place the line really excels is introducing more obscure characters to children. Sure, the line may be based around better-known heroines, such as Batgirl and Harley Quinn, but it also includes Teen Titans member Bumblebee and new Green Lantern Jessica Cruz.
Like your standard fashion doll, the Jessica Cruz figure comes with cool accessories and realistic hair. But with a glowing power ring and an awesome costume, this Green Lantern is ready to do battle with Sinestro, Star Sapphire, or any other villain who would threaten the cosmos.
AGES 10 – 13
I’ve raised two tweens already and I have another ready to enter that age, so believe me when I tell you that ten- to thirteen-year-olds are complex creatures. Caught between the pressures of their peers, whether they be real or virtual, and the increasing need to express themselves, tweens are always looking for something unique to be a symbol of their identity without alienating their friends.
Social media and superhero dominance of pop culture have made this age even more complicated, as nerdy kids have far more options than ever before (back in my day, people couldn’t name one Avenger!). But those options need to be recognizable by others, otherwise, the message being sent won’t be understood.
Nerds my age best know Gwen Stacy as Peter Parker’s murdered girlfriend, the woman he failed to save when Green Goblin tossed her from a bridge in a classic story from 1973. But thanks to recent comics and the great film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Gwen Stacy is Spider-Gwen aka Ghost-Spider, a superhero in her own right. Although this 12” figure from Hasbro carries the “Spider-Gwen” branding from Into the Spider-Verse, it has everything that makes Ghost-Spider great, including an incredible rendition of her killer costume.
Nothing says “tell your own story” like Lego, a point that the toymaker has embraced by gaining licenses from all aspects of pop culture, from Harry Potter to Super Mario Bros. Of course, that includes superheroes.
Many of the superhero kits pull directly from MCU and DCEU films, such as this Rhino Face-Off kit that recreates the end of Black Panther. But some of the best come from lesser-known characters whose movies haven’t been released yet. The Battle at the Ancient Village set is a perfect example, as it stars Shang-Chi, the Master of Kung Fu. A long-time character in Marvel Comics, Shang-Chi is virtually unknown to those who don’t’ read comics. But that’s about to change when the character’s starring film releases later this year.
With this set, your child can get the jump on the general public. Not only can they create a gorgeous dragon figure, but they can stage their own martial arts action plots with mini-figs of Shang-Chi, his friend Xialing, and the villainous Wenwu.
If your teen loves superheroes and toys, then it’s not just a pastime for them. This is an important hobby, a way of life. For nerdy teens, it won’t do to just slap a Marvel logo on a race car and call it good. No, these toys need to have the attention to detail and fidelity to characters worthy of their devotion. These toys need to dig deep into the universes that spawned the characters to find their most outrageous outliers and most obscure alternates.
For a nerdy parent, this is when it gets really fun because now you and your child can truly bond over your love of superheroes. Not only can you teach them about the stories that you loved, but they can teach you about the newest adventures and versions of the worlds you thought you knew.
Even as video games and movies get more complex, puzzles remain a favorite among creative children. So it’s no surprise that superheroes explode on puzzles of different types, including this 3000-piece puzzle featuring the Merc With a Mouth, Deadpool. Created in 1991, Deadpool is a relatively recent Marvel Comics star, but he is one of the most popular.
As teenagers grow more dedicated to their hobbies, they’ll want items equal to their devotion. For many, that means collectibles, figures that they’ll keep in their boxes and display for years to come. That also means figures with options and alternates, so they can celebrate every part of their favorite heroes.
Following the lead of MacFarland Toys, manufacturers have created their own lines of collectible toys and statues. For DC Comics fans, the best option is the DC Collectable line from DC Direct, which creates highly detailed versions of characters from the deepest corners of the comic book universe.
This statue of Mera, Queen of Atlantis, takes that “deepness” literally. Not only does it feature a character known for her undersea adventures with her husband Aquaman, but it’s a virtually unknown version. Based on the DC Bombshells comic books, which reimagines DC Comics heroines as WWII-era warriors, this Mera figure comes with not only several points of articulation and a removable hat, but also different hands that your child can switch out to make perfect poses.