Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Best of 2016 part 2

New years resolutions rarely hold true past the first half of the year they are made. Case in point, despite the fact that I made a conscious effort to try and cut down on my toy purchases this year; I ended up going pretty crazy towards the later half. There was quite a lot of great stuff released last year. Definitely more than what I had originally set out to get at the start when I made my resolution. Oh well…. So with that let’s continue on with my list of the best of what I got in 2016.

10) Fans Toys Willis
When it comes to Transformer 3rd Party companies, they all seem to follow certain trends. One moment they’re all doing Dinobots, then the next they’re doing combiners. Well in 2015 everyone slowly started shifting into making Masterpiece style Transformers. I bought my first 3rd Party Masterpiece style Transformers last year in Ocular Max’s Sphinx (Mirage) and Bad Cube’s Sunsurge (Sunstreaker) who both managed to grab top spots on my 2015 list. That trend continued in 2016 where I focused on completing the original Generation One cast in Masterpiece form. One of my most eagerly awaited for the year was Fans Toy’s version of the Autobot jeep Hound, called Willis. Being a unique mold with no other official “repaints” in the line like the “Datsun” brothers or even Sideswipe/Red Alert, I figured that Hound would be one of the later characters Takara would eventually produce due to low reuse possibilities, so I opted to go for an unofficial alternative to place on my shelf. Prior to his Willis’ release, another company, Maketoys had their own version called “Gun Dog” out and he was quite impressive…I almost got him, but there was something a bit off about him, he didn’t look quite Masterpiece-y enough for me so I passed, and waited for Willis. And I have to say he was definitely worth the wait.

9) Lego Star Wars Rebels Ghost
I am a huge fan of the Star Wars animated series Rebels, so much so that they needed some sort of proper representation on my toyshelf. Unfortunately for the longest time, the only Rebels toys that Hasbro produced were simple 3.75” action figures with just the basic 5 points of articulation which I was not interested in at all. Fortunately the Black series started peppering a few characters here and there but it looks like it’ll be awhile before they complete even the main Rebels cast. So in the meantime I set my sights on the next best thing. I came upon an eBay seller who was selling a great Rebels Lego lot at a really reasonable price. It included the main Rebels Ghost ship as well as the secondary ship, the Phantom that were originally sold as a separate set. The lot also included minifigures of the entire Ghost crew. The catch was that this was a second hand lot and already came assembled, but considering both sets were already out of production and were fetching a high price on the secondary market, this was a no brainer! The seller was even nice enough to entertain my request to disassemble everything so I could have the experience of building it myself. I know, I’m weird that way…

8) DX-9 Mightron
2016 will also be noted as the year of the battle of the 3rd party Masterpiece style Megatrons. Prior to 2016, the only existing Masterpiece Megatron was the official one released in 2007…which did not age well at all. Then in 2012, Takara released an updated Masterpiece Optimus Prime and so everyone assumed that a new Megatron would follow shortly. But he never came. Third party companies got tired of waiting around and could no longer ignore the clamor for a proper Masterpiece Megatron to stand toe to toe with the updated Prime. So In 2015, 3rd party company X-Transbots released their version, called Apollyon. Even though he was a major improvement from the official one, he still had his problems and I decided to pass. The next year 2 more companies, Maketoys and DX-9 announced their versions of a Masterpiece Megatron, Despotron & Mightron respectively. Both of which were even better improvements in looks and designs compared to Apollyon. Now while there were some Apollyon loyalists, it was pretty clear that with the absence of any official version, the crown of ultimate Masterpiece Megatron belonged to either Maketoys or DX-9. Again both versions weren’t perfect. From the waist down, DX-9’s Mightron wasn’t as sleek as Maketoy’s Despotron. While Mightron’s transformation was pretty cool and not too complicated, Despotron seemed to have  a more exciting and groundbreaking transformation. But there was something about his look, particularly his face that bugged me. Despite making really high quality Masterpiece style figures, Maketoys had a tendency to forge their own unique style, particularly with their faces that I didn’t particularly like. So after much back and forth, I decided to go with Mightron. Despite his flaws, he just LOOKED like Megatron. Period. His head sculpt alone was perfection. And so in 2016, my Masterpiece Decepticons finally got their leader, and Prime finally got a proper playmate.

7) Unite Warriors Computron/Technobots
When it comes to Combiner teams/Gestalts, the Technobots/Computron are often overshadowed by fellow Autobots combiners the Aerialbots/Superion and the Protectobots/Defensor. True to form when Hasbro launched their Combiner Wars line in 2015, Superion and Defensor got top billing and all the Technobots got was a lazy update of their leader Scattershot. He was basically a repaint of the Aerialbot leader Silverbolt with a few remolded parts. Unfortunately, they didn’t even bother to give his combined version a proper head so when combined with other robots he still looked like a repainted Superion. Fans of the Technobots/Computron were slowly losing hope that they would be getting a proper Technobot/Computron update. Then Hasbro announced a Computron gift set got people initially excited only to be disappointed once again to find out it was mostly comprised of yet more lazy repaints of pre existing figures and still sported the repainted Superion head. Finally, Takara came to the rescue when they announced their version that came with each member getting a brand new head sculpts, weapons and extensive remolds. Most importantly though, Computron’s head wasn’t a repaint but a completely new sculpt. Although he cost a little bit more than the Hasbro version, and would be released a little later, this was really a no brainer for me. And when I got him in hand, he did not disappoint.