Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Best of 2016 part 1

Like the years before, 2016 was a pretty great year for toys. Despite the fact that was G.I.Joe pretty much dead and the He-Man Classics was basically finishing up as well. My collecting in 2016 focused more on my first loves of The Transformers & Star Wars, with a few Marvel Legends and other random stuff peppered in. Even when following my whole set up of increasing my top list by one to match the year (eg. Top 16 of 2016) it was still quite difficult to come up with a short and concise list, there were just so many great stuff released last year. So anyway without further ado, let’s get started with my “top 16”.

First up are a few honorable mentions in no particular order….

Classics Filmation He-Man
Just when I thought I had all the He-Man variations I needed, Mattel goes out and churns out this guy. Looking like he literally stepped out of the TV screen onto your hands, this Classic version of He-Man is just great in its simplicity. He’s the perfect front piece for my Castle Grayskull.

Law & Order
While the G.I.Joe retail line was pretty much on life support for 2016, the Collectors Club continued along with their annual subscription of higher priced action figures. I opted to skip this year’s subscription but I couldn’t resist one of characters released. Law was the first Joe named “Chris” to be released and so for obvious reasons has always been a favorite of mine. Despite having to pay a higher price for him, I felt it was a must to have an official version of this guy in my collection.

Titans Returns Six Shot
I never had the original toy but the idea of a Transformer that could convert to 5 other alternate modes, or in other words, a “six changer” always intrigued me, even if it meant you had to use a good deal of imagination to appreciate each alternate mode. So when the chance to get an updated official version came about, I didn’t hesitate. And fortunately, he turned out to be a pretty fantastic and fun toy. While his different alt modes still look a bit…forced (it’s part of his charm in my opinion), they are all great!  Even the "submarine" mode. This is a worthy and solid modern version of a great G1 concept.

In 2015, Mattel announced that they would be launching a new Thundercats line using the same molds as their Classic He-Man line making them compatible. This seemed like a stroke of genius and Thundercats fans still hurting from the debacle that was the aborted line by Bandai a few years back rejoiced! The plan was simple, launch a basic 6 action figure subscription service for the back half of 2016 (later reduced to 4) then go full throttle in 2017. Then mid year, after people signed up for the subscription, they ripped our collective hearts out by announcing that there would no longer be a 2017 subscription, that the line would be basically dead after 2016. This hurt big time especially since the figures they did manage to release or at least show off were fantastic. And out of all of them, evil mutant Jackalman is hands down the best of the bunch. The detail and sculpt for this guy surpasses all his other fellow Thundercats and most Masters of the Universe figures as well. Hopefully, the company that took over the Masters license, Super 7, will also take up the reigns and continue the Thundercats line as well. They’ve expressed their desire to do so, it’s just a matter of obtaining the license. Fingers crossed that this will not be the end.

And now with that out of the way...on to the list proper....

16) Marvel Legends Emma Frost custom set
I know I’m probably in the minority for preferring Emma Frost over Jean Grey as Scott Summer’s partner. I just find her to be a more compelling character with a better story arc initially starting out as an X-villain and eventually becoming one of the more important X-men members. For some reason Hasbro just couldn’t get a proper Emma Frost figure right. Even the 3.75 version, which was included in last year’s list admittedly, looks kinda off. A few years ago Hasbro released a better 6” version that unfortunately lacked her signature cape and looked too scrawny. It was also very hard to find (and still fetches a real high price in the secondary market). So just as I was resigned to never getting a proper White Queen, I came upon this guy selling a set of custom Marvel Legends figures, including not one but two Emma Frost customs, her classic white garb and her more recent uncanny black outfit. I immediately called dibs and so finally got the proper Emma Frost for my shelf. The fact that these two are customs (and really great ones in my opinion) just adds to their value in my collection, definitely a highlight purchase of 2016.

15 & 14) Fansproject Smart Robin & Quadruple U
I had been eyeing these two 3rd party headmasters ever since their release a few years back. Despite their age, they remain 2 of the best-designed transforming toys ever made in many collectors’ opinions, including mine. Despite that, their relatively high price and the fact that they didn’t really fit in any of my collections helped me resist getting them. But with the launch of Titans Return, Hasbro’s official Headmaster line, these guys lost a lot of their secondary market value, which was good news for me. I snagged both of these up at a really great price in my last Japan trip.

13) Lego Yellow Submarine
A few years back, K’nex released some Beatles minifigures based on the Yellow Submarine animated movie. Now being a huge Beatles fan, I immediately scooped these up. They also released a buildable Yellow Submarine that unfortunately, kinda sucked, so I passed on it. This year, Lego quite un-expectantly answered my prayers for a proper buildable Yellow Submarine complete with their own Beatles minifigures! This was one of those things that upon first sight I knew I just HAD to get. I finally got it towards the end of the year and it is just PERFECT. The build was fun and the end result is just an amazingly accurate Lego rendition of the Yellow Submarine. It’s one of those things that give you a smile when you look upon it on your shelf. As an added bonus, it even came with a Jeremy the Nowhere Man minifigure! I do hope they continue this line in the near future…we definitely need some Blue Meanies!

12 & 11) Marvel Legends Black Panther & Scarlet Witch
In 2016, when it came to satisfying my superhero collecting cravings, I officially made the switch from the 3.75” line to the vastly superior Marvel Legends 6” line. Whether it was because they were directly tied into one of my most anticipated movies of 2016, Captain America Civil War, or they were simply 2 of the hardest Marvel Legends figures to find that year, The Black Panther & Scarlet Witch come out on top as my favorite Legends purchases for the year. Both figures bring it in terms of sculpt and design. The detail all over Black Panther is pretty intricate and the face paint on Scarlet Witch, while not really accurate to actress Elizabeth Olsen is still one of the best done in the line. I was obsessed in 2016 with completing the Team Cap and Team Iron Man lineups, and these two were integral to each side. I’m still waiting for a proper Vision though…come on Hasbro!