Thursday, January 7, 2021

The Best Of 2020: Part 3


Aaaaaaand we’re DONE with 2020! Now while the first few days of 2021 haven’t really proved to be any different, there is a stronger sense of hope in the air as the new year rolls in. There’s no doubt that 2020 was one of the toughest years we’ve all collectively had to go through. Which is why it’s even more important to try and look back and reflect on whatever good we all experienced in the past year; family, friends, new skills unlocked, and of course for collectors like myself, our favorite new toys. 
So while I haven’t been able to update this blog as regularly as I would have wanted in the past year, writing about my favorite toy purchases of 2020 was something I couldn’t NOT do. So it's time to finish off what I started last year and finalize my list for the best toys of 2020

I have to say while the year started out rather slow, things picked up in a big way for the last third of the year as all the POs I made at the start of the year started arriving en masse. So this time around there were quite a lot of great toys to choose from. Again it may be due to recency bias but a majority of the final list has been pretty much composed by new entries. As a result, we say goodbye to toys from the previous list that didn’t quite make the cut this time around.


And now it's time for some honorable mentions:

Super 7 Club Grayskull Stratos

For all intents and purposes, the whole MOTU Classics line is done. And this is one of the last releases, so for just that he deserves some sort of mention. Aside from that though, Stratos has always been a favorite of mine since he was the first MOTU figure I ever got. I also specifically liked his Filmation appearance more than the toy as it looked more...human and heroic, covering up his bare feet with nice clean red boots.



Marvel Legends

Of all the different toy lines I collect, Marvel Legends are probably the most prolific in terms of releases and this year was no exception. These three were some of my favorites.

Mystique

When the first live X-Men movie first came out in 2000, Mystique, played by Rebecca Romijn had one of the most memorable redesigns and presence in the film. 20 years later we finally get a plastic rendition of her character and it’s pretty much perfect. The sculpt is 100% unique and insanely detailed. And Hasbro gets plus points for going with the original version and not the lousy “mutant and proud” version played by Jennifer Lawrence in the later movies.


Silver Centurion Iron Man

Of all the numerous versions of Iron Man armors, the Silver Centurion armor was my favorite version (not counting the classic version of course) since this was the armor Tony Stark wore when I really started getting into comics. More specifically, this was the armor he wore as a member of the West Coast Avengers, my favorite lineup of the team. So ever since this was announced, it was one of my most highly anticipated figures. It may not be as flashy as one of the later armors, but you really cannot beat out on the nostalgia factor. 


Toxin

Unlike the Silver Centurion Iron Man, I had basically no nostalgic connection to this character. It’s just a really cool looking figure. Just when I thought Hasbro couldn’t couldn’t get any more…..monstrous with their Monster Venom, Toxin comes barging out of the gate looking like he can eat Monster Venom for lunch.



Ms Marvel/Warbird

This was one of my Marvel Legends grails. I missed out on this figure, when she was first released as part of a 3 pack with Captain America and Radioactive Man. Since then, she has gone on to be one of the most expensive Marvel Legends figures selling in the secondary market. While Carol Danvers isn’t my favorite character (especially the overpowered MCU version...yuck) I do recognize her importance in a predominantly male classic Avengers lineup. And this black suit version is my preferred version, since it's unique to her and doesn’t look like a female version of the classic Mar-Vell suit. But I really couldn’t really justify to myself the high price she was selling for. So I was resigned to never getting her (fat chance Hasbro would ever green light an updated version of this design in an SJW infested world), until a good friend of mine offered to sell me his for a really really...really great price. I couldn’t resist and snatched her up right before the year ended. 


Transformers Earthrise

Although there was a discernible dip in the overall QC of releases, and all those hard to find and higher priced exclusives were quite annoying, Transformers Earthrise continued the excellent toyline first started by Siege.

Bumblebee

While his small size doesn’t seem to justify his exclusive price point, the actual mold/design originally used for Cliffjumper is a really good toy. But what really takes Bee over the top is the premium paint job. While the term “mini masterpiece” is used a lot to describe a number of releases in this line, this Bee really lives up to that moniker.


Quintessons

While this was not something I was clamoring for, having at least 1 Quintesson Judge and 2 Allicons flanking him on either side makes for quite a nice presence on the shelf. Throw in a 3 pack of premium painted KO sharticons and…..all I need is a nice 3D printed pit of judgement he he. Seriously though, I really hope Hasbro continues down this road with even more Quintesson characters to add to the display.


Runamuck and Runabout

It’s not really a surprise that it took so long for Hasbro to finally get around to making modern versions of this Decepticon duo. These guys aren’t one of the more popular Decepticons on the block but I like them more than I probably should. What's more important to me is that they pretty much got it right with their first go and I’m pretty happy to finally have them on my shelf.


Scorponok

While I initially got Scorponok with the attitude that I was just filling up a space in my collection with one of the more prominent Decepticons characters, I was pleasantly surprised with what I got. Of all the Titan characters released by Hasbro, Skorponok easily became my favorite of the bunch. I normally don’t too care much for Titan base modes, so the fact that this dude also transforms into a giant scorpion is a major plus. And as for the robot mode, all I can say is the ANKLE TILTS make a world of difference.



Third Party Masterpiece Transformers

These guys were more of upgrades of characters I already had on the shelf, but they were all major improvements over what I previously had.

X-Transbots Paean (MP Hoist)

Hoist isn’t really a favorite of mine, which is why I didn’t feel the urgent need to replace my Badcube Lorry on the shelf for the longest time. I actually liked Lorry’s design which wasn’t too slavish to the toon design. Unfortunately over time, Lorry started getting more difficult to handle as his numerous joints started loosening up. So I bit the bullet and replaced him with X-Transbots Paean and I’m glad I did. Despite his more toonish look, his engineering is more straightforward and not as complicated as Lorry.


Fans Toys Dunerunner (MP Beachcomber)

Although I find him a bit on the tall side, Dunerunner by Fans Toys is a complete improvement over X-Transbots Arkose in almost every way. Again he leans more on the toon design, but the fact that he can tuck away and hide his engine and roll bar cage neatly into his robot body for a super clean back is quite impressive. 


Transform Element Speed Star (MP Mirage)

MMC Sphinx was one of the very first 3rd party masterpiece toys I ever got. And while many people were blown away by its design, I was never really into it. I mean don’t get me wrong, it’s a very good toy and was definitely the best version of an MP Mirage available for the longest time. I just never really understood the hype. So I was quite happy that newcomer company Transform Element finally gave us a new MP Mirage option with their Speed Star. While his engineering can be a bit of a challenge, it’s nowhere as complicated or over-thought as X-Transbots or Bad Cube. And he just plain looks better in my opinion, especially in his robot mode. This upgrade was pretty much a no brainer for me.


Black Series Ahsoka Tano

For many Star Wars fans, the release of the 7th Season of the Clone Wars series was a major highlight of 2020. And rightfully so, it focused on the breakout star of the series, Ahsoka Tano. Hasbro decided to follow suit and give us a new younger version of Ahsoka based on her appearance in the Clone Wars series. While this new figure seems to share some parts with the older Rebels version, this one feels like a better figure. While the Rebels figure looks great, it feels a little static and stiff. I was quite surprised that this newer one feels more dynamic and poseable, particularly the head which sports shorter lekku (the head tails). 



So there you go. Like I said the last 4 months of 2020 did bring quite a lot of stuff. So much stuff that even just the honorable mentions make up a sizable list on their own. So I’ll end it here for now and give the actual top ten their own dedicated post.





to be continued...
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