Sunday, January 17, 2016

Top 15 of 2015 part 2

In February of 2015, my wife and I got some amazing news, we were going to be new parents! So a big portion of that year was spent on preparing for the new member of our family. And while I made some sort of effort to try to lessen my spending on my rather expensive hobby, I think a part of me viewed 2015 in another way; that it would be the last year I had to get all these toys before expenses for the baby would have to take real priority over daddy’s collection.

So here we go with the second part of my top 15 for 2015.

10. Masterpiece Tracks
Of the second generation of Transformer car bots released in 1985, Tracks was my favorite. I mean most of the others were either unexciting vehicles (Firetruck, minivan) or just repaints of already existing molds. Tracks was unique and was a cool looking sports car to boot. He also had a third version, which was a FLYING car. So when Masterpiece Tracks was announced I was quite happy and got him right away. While admittedly, this masterpiece hasn’t gotten as much praise as his predecessors, I still like him.

An added bonus is that this guy comes with a number of cool extras. He comes with his own flight stand for his flying car mode and which can be used for the bot mode as well. He also comes with his own human companion Raoul who starred in the only Tracks-centric episode of the original cartoon. And finally as if that wasn’t enough, he comes with a little mini Blaster in boombox mode that zaps you straight back into the 80’s. Again, he’s not the best Masterpiece around in terms of design, but he still looks great and getting him was still a highlight of 2015.

9 . Star Wars Black Series Kylo Ren & Captain Phasma
When Force Friday came around, I told myself that I wouldn’t get caught up in the hype. I made it a point to NOT go to the midnight toy launch in our area. Then came the morning after and I saw all the new toy posts from people who actually did go to the launch and the pangs of jealousy started to stir from deep within. In the end, I couldn’t take it and took off a little early from work to begin my own hunt for new Star Wars toys.

Of course this was months before the actual movie so no one really knew how the characters these toys were based on would turn out. So of course, by default, the coolest looking ones were the ones every collector targeted. We all knew Kylo Ren was the main baddie so he was a definite must have. Captain Phasma just looked amazing so she was another one I had to have.

So the hunt was on and not surprisingly, every store I went to had practically nothing. I went through eight…EIGHT stores in one evening and had nothing to show for my effort. And then finally it happened; on the ninth and LAST store on my list I found BOTH of them! It definitely was a Force Friday for the record books for me! The excitement and happiness I felt when I finally got these two (along with a couple others) makes this one of my best toy related stories for the year.

8. Masters of the Universe Heads of Eternia
In 2002, an attempt was made to relaunch the He-Man franchise with a new cartoon and an accompanying toyline. It was an inspired effort, re-inventing the Masters of The Universe for a new generation. Unfortunately, despite the quality of the new show and amazing new character designs, the re-launch didn’t last long. Due to bad marketing decisions (too many He-Man and Skeletor variants) the toy line bombed and pretty soon the cartoon itself was cancelled.

When Mattel launched their classic line in 2008, at the start they peppered in some 2002 elements to some of their earlier characters, most notably giving some figures two unique head sculpts, one based on the classic design and the other the more modern one of 2002, and fans were happy about this. Then somewhere along the line, some guys in upper management decided to discontinue this practice (probably a cost cutting measure) disappointing a lot of collectors and leaving some major characters who sported more goofy looking classic heads without any cooler alternative.

Fast-forward to 2015, with the Classic line doing the impossible and finishing up the entire original vintage line, Mattel decided to throw fans of the 2002 line a bone. They released a special pack of heads. While a pack of…heads may seem rather morbid, it was EXACTLY what this 2002 He-Man fan needed! While I like and appreciate the original updated vintage designs, some of them just paled in comparison to the more modern look of 2002 so I was ecstatic to finally be able to display some of my favorite Masters of the Universe characters in my preferred look!

7. MP10 Masterpiece Optimus Prime
We all have our “white whales” in our collections, and for a long time, this was mine. When a new updated version of Masterpiece Prime was announced a few years back, I told myself I didn’t need it. I already had the original Masterpiece Prime that I was quite happy with already. Then Takara started focusing on making masterpiece versions of the original Autobot cars which I immediately went all in on. Unfortunately, Takara chose a scale that didn’t really match the original Prime but instead matched their newer version. And suddenly, just like that, my Prime looked out of place and it became quite apparent that he needed an update.

By the time I had made my decision to get the new Prime, the first run had pretty much sold out and was going for crazy prices on the second market. Even Hasbro’s cheaper (but for many, better) version was selling for over twice it’s original retail price. I pretty much resigned myself to not getting a decently priced version of this Prime…ever.

Then the unthinkable happened last year while I was in Hong Kong…I found him. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was the superior US Hasbro version and at only a “slightly” marked up price! I didn’t think twice and scooped him up right away…and I got a free coke in can as well from the vender for my purchase.

Aside from the fact that this Prime matches up perfectly in scale with the masterpiece cars bots, he comes complete with a fully detailed and functioning trailer, something the original one didn’t have. This definitely is the ultimate version of Prime that every serious Transformer collector should own.

6. Star Wars Black Series Jango Fett
Now this was a surprise. I wasn’t expecting this guy to be released til this year. I was just chilling with my family in my in-law’s house after having watched the Force Awakens a second time, when I decided to check out my Facebook feed. To my surprise someone posted a picture of the new wave of Star Wars Black series hitting retail stores and I almost fell off my chair. I knew I had to act fast so we packed up our things and headed home with a quick stop at the mall. Luckily I have the best wife in the world who understood the urgency of the situation ☺

So I managed to snag myself a Jango Fett before he was totally sold out. Funny I had the luxury of choosing which one to purchase. I spent a good minute or two scrutinizing the paint job on the faces making sure I had the perfect one when I realized…I wouldn’t be displaying this guy with his helmet off…DUH.

While I am a fan of Boba Fett, I do think Jango’s toy came out a lot better. Maybe it’s because he was blue and I like blue, but his uniform just looks better with all the matching armor pieces. Of course it helps that his character actually DID more than Boba ever managed in the movies where he had memorable fights with both Obi Wan and Mace Windu, who ultimately lopped off his head. Oh well, you can’t win em all.

to be continued...