Sunday, January 5, 2014

THIRTEEEEEEEEN!!!

So 2013 has come and gone and before we move on to the New Year, it just seems right to stop, pause and look back at the year that was. Unlike my top 12 of 2012, this new list seemed a lot harder to compile. At the start of the year, I made the resolution to cut back on my spending. Now while I admit I still spent a lot on this oh so addictive hobby of mine, I’d like to think that I was a little more selective on what I got. I dialled back the “completist” in me and passed on a lot of stuff I knew I wouldn’t really care much for months later. Long story short, almost everything I got this year was stuff I REALLY wanted (no really) so it was quite hard to choose the top 13….but in the end, I think I managed, so without further ado, let’s get this ball rolling.

13. Saint Walker
When the whole concept of “other colored” corps were introduced to the Green Lantern universe, I almost immediately gravitated towards the Blue Lantern Corps. Aside from the fact that blue is my favourite color, I really liked the emotion that it represented, which was hope, as well as its symbiotic relationship with the Green Lanterns which represented willpower (you can’t have hope without will…etc etc). Saint Walker is the first (and currently, only) Blue Lantern and one of my favourite characters in the Green Lantern universe. First of all, he’s not a “boring” human, but instead sports a cool lanky alien look. More importantly though, it’s his character that really sells it for me, it’s not so much that he is the ultimate optimist, but more that he has a strong and unwavering faith that in the blackest of nights, “all will be well”, which serves as his mantra.

His action figure is pretty straight forward. And unlike many of the other Lanterns I got to complete my rainbow corps which were mostly second hand off eBay, I chose to get a brand spanking new Saint Walker, just because he was my favorite. Unfortunately, when my nephew came over one day and pulled him off the shelf to check him out, he didn’t notice that he caused Saint Walker to drop his blue lantern power battery. Even more unfortunate though was that my dog noticed it on the floor and immediately proceeded to convert it into her new chew toy. I managed to save it before it got completely destroyed, although she did manage to mangle up the battery handle pretty bad…..luckily, it’s still usable if you can look past the chewed up handle….sigh, well in true Blue Lantern fashion…all will be well.

12. Snake Face
As expected, Masters of The Universe Classics had another strong year, in fact, 2013 will probably go down as one of its strongest. There were so many great figures and more released in 2013 that it was so hard to keep this list from being overrun by them. Snake Face is the first Master on the list. As his name suggests, he’s a Snakeman, who has the ability to make snakes spring out of his face…specifically his eyes and mouth. He’s the Masters’ version of Medusa as his real power is turning people who gaze at his lovely face into stone.

I never had this guy when I was a kid so I didn’t know much about him. The rebooted cartoon made him out as one of the more powerful snakemen and his updated design looked really cool. So I was quite excited when they first revealed the new classics version, and he did not disappoint. Even in his non “snake face” state, he sports a great head sculpt with crazy wild eyes, and it just gets better when those snakes come out to play.



11. K’nex Kiss/Beatles
Ok I already wrote about these guys in a prior post so I’ll keep this short. This was one of the best “surprises” I stumbled upon during my trip to the US. In 2012 I got into Lego minifigures, and while these guys aren’t Lego, they’re just as charming. Add a lot of cool accessories like musical instruments, performance stages and even platform boots and you’ve got some cute displays that are a complete win!

10. Mantenna
OK so I first learned about this guy from the Filmation cartoons where he was portrayed as a scrawny wimp that was the butt of all jokes. Little did I know that his actual vintage toy design was quite gruesome. But more importantly than just being gruesome, it was a unique mold, which was a rarity in a toyline known for characters sharing different parts to cut costs. Aside from his eye popping ablilities, another unique characteristic of Mantenna was that he had 4 legs. The original figure basically cheated though in that it fused the pair of legs together so in essence you only really got 2 movable legs.

Anyway, after being spoiled by numerous fantastic updates to vintage figures, everyone knew that an updated Mantenna with fused legs like the original was just not going to be acceptable. Luckily, Mattel thought so too and so when Mantenna was finally revealed and released in 2013, what we got was probably one of the BEST Classics characters ever made. Not only did it completely ignore the wimpy cartoon look and go for a complete update of original monstrosity, they spared no expenses and practically sculpted an entirely brand new figure full of details that sports four uniquely articulated legs! This is Mantenna as he was originally intended to be.

9. Sandstorm
Retail Transformers was where I cut most of the fat from my spending. Aside from a few exceptions I practically skipped out of the entire Beast Hunters line and I cherry picked off everything else. Now one of the most universally praised Transformers toy that was released in 2013 was the Autobot triple changer Springer. Unlike many triple changers done before him, this guy sported three very distinct, believable and simply cool modes. It was win-win-win, but ultimately I decided to pass on him. I was quite happy with my third party Warbot Defender or *not* Springer that I didn’t feel the need to get this new one. But when Hasbro decided to recolor and redeco the Springer mold into his triple changer buddy Sandstorm, I just couldn’t resist.

Upon opening him up and fiddling around I realized that all the talk and praise for this mold was quite deserved. This is one of the best Transformers ever made…ever. What is even more amazing is that when converting from Springer to Sandstorm, they didn’t just settle for a simple repaint. They really modified and added more parts to make Sandstorm look like a completely different toy, in all three modes. You can read more about Sandstorm in this prior post.



8. G.I.Joe Nocturnal Fire
Every year, the G.I.Joe Collectors Club holds JoeCon, which is basically the biggest convention for G.I.Joe collectors in the US. And in every convention, they release an exclusive boxset of figures that are usually united under a certain theme. Problem is, because they are exclusives, they cost a LOT…a whole lot, especially on the secondary market (eBay). For the most part, despite the coolness of many of these sets, I’ve generally stayed away from them because they were so expensive. In 2013 though…I finally caved.

The Nocturnal Fire exclusive is set comprised of 15 figures, 6 joes & 9 cobras. At a $400 price tag that would amount to about $25-26 per figure which in itself is fairly acceptable for an exclusive. The catch is not all the figures were that great and the cobra side had a couple of army builders in triplicate. Thing is, aside from a couple of cobras, all I really wanted were the joes in the set who were some of my favorites as a kid and who had not gotten any modern versions yet. The problem was, if all you wanted were specific figures, your only real option would be eBay where individual figures were being sold but usually at a significantly higher price. Luckily I was able to find a seller from Canada who was selling his singles at a fair and reasonable price. So I was able to get just the figures I wanted without breaking the bank.



Now the Joes from this set all fall under the Night Force banner…which was originally a bunch of Joes re-released by Hasbro in the 90’s repainted in a unified darker color scheme. So although they didn’t sport their original colors, it was really cool to finally be getting updated versions of Psyche-Out, Muskrat, Charbroil, Repeater, Spearhead (& Maxx) and Hit & Run. And for the most part, despite mostly being made up of existing parts with the occasional newly sculpted head or accessory here and there, they all looked great and even better when displayed together.

7. Darth Maul
Cool character, check. Fantastic sculpt, check. Detailed and precise paint job, check. Great articulation, check. All the necessary accessories check check. There really isn’t really more to say about one of the best figures ever released this year. But if you want more, feel free to read my prior post about Darth Maul.



6. Uranos
Last year I included “Phantom” or *not* Fireflight in my top 12 list. He was the first of the *not* Aerialbots that I set out to collect. In 2013, although it took almost the whole year, I finally completed the team and was able to form my first 3rd party gestalt. Superi…I mean Uranos is BIG. To date, he’s probably the biggest Transformer I have on my shelf (yes I passed on Metroplex). And although he might not be perfect in execution, he does have his faults…he looks fantastic.

The Aerialbots were always my favourite gestalt team, and when the first pictures of these guys came out online, I KNEW I had to get them. This Uranos set is a great set and as of now, the BEST representation of the Aerialbots you can get your hands on. Whether they are displayed as 5 separate robots, 5 separate jets or one big combined behemoth, you really can’t go wrong.




to be continued...
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