Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Best of 2016 part 3

If you read the previous part 1 & part 2 you will notice that a certain Transforming line has pretty much dominated my best of list. No surprises here but they continue their dominance in the last part as well. Between the successful Combiner Wars and Titans Return lines from Hasbro and so many amazing 3rd party releases, 2016 was simply a great year to be a Transformers collector. But, spoiler….none of the Transformers I got managed to snag the top spots…so what beat out those robots in disguise? Read on to find out…

6 & 5) Gigapower Guttur & Grassor
When it comes to 3rd party Masterpiece style Dinobots, I was a little late for the party. I missed out on most of the Fans Toys versions that were getting quite a bit of praise but were selling at a price too much for me. Enter another up and coming 3rd party company, Gigapower who released their first Masterpiece Dinobot, Guttur, their version of Snarl in 2015. Sometime in 2016 I figured that if I wanted to get in on the whole Masterpiece Dinobot scene, Gigapower wouldn’t be a bad option. Guttur got pretty good reviews and with their second Dinobot Grassor scheduled for release late in 2016 I figured the slow release schedule make it a lot easier on my wallet. An added bonus was that even if their individual prices were a lot lower than Fans Toys, they were bigger in size! So I took the dive and got Guttur mid year and Grassor “just” made it before year-end and they both did not disappoint.

These guys are how I imagined Masterpiece Dinobots to be. HUGE. While there are many who would insist that the Fans Toys versions are superior, I have to respectfully disagree. Adding the over sized knock off Feral Rex (Grimlock) to the group and you’ve got one hell of a fearsome threesome. Gigapower have said that they plan step up their game and release at least 2 more Dinobots (Swoop & Sludge) in 2017.  I really hope the live up to their promise because so I’m looking forward to completing my Masterpiece Dinobot lineup this year!

4) Figma Skyward Sword Link
This was my first taste of a Figma action figure and it was quite an eye opener. I was amazed at how much quality, care and thought is packed in to this little action figure. It even came with it’s own labeled zip lock bag to keep all the extra accessories safe and sound! I’m not really a gamer but I have been a fan of The Legend of Zelda since day one so when the opportunity came for me to get a fantastic plastic representation of my favorite video game character for my shelf, it was really a no brainer.

Star Wars 6” Upgrades
When I think of one major development in my toy collecting in 2016 it would have to go to the “upgrading” of my Star Wars Black Series collection. When Hasbro launched their Black series a few years back, it was supposed to be THE line for adult collectors, but ever since the first amazing wave, most of the succeeding releases were either hit or miss. Fortunately, some Japan based companies like Bandai’s SH Figuarts and Medicom’s Mafex entered the market with their own Star Wars 6” figures, which were by all accounts far superior (although more expensive) products compared to their American counterparts. I opened the door to getting a few of these figures in 2016 and I was instantly hooked.

3) Bandai Model Kit Captain Phasma
I had been curious about these model kits from Bandai for quite some time but was too intimidated to actually try one. When I finally did though, I was instantly hooked. This was a new experience of actually “building” an action figure. Yup the end result wasn’t some fragile model for display but a well-articulated and solid toy. Of all the models I got, Captain Phasma was my favorite since it improved upon its Black Series version the most. Compared to Hasbro's Phasma, this one looked more feminine, less chunky but still imposing. And best of all, the model’s armor has a fantastic chrome finish, a great improvement over Hasbro’s flat silver paint.

2) SH Figuarts A New Hope Luke Skywalker
The Black Series “A New Hope” Luke will probably go down as one of the WORST Black Series figures ever made. It’s a shame really given that “farm boy” Luke is one of the most iconic figures in the franchise. Luckily, SH Figuarts released probably the best interpretation of Mark Hamill/Luke Skywalker in plastic 6” form. And it was this figure that ultimately convinced me to try out an SH Figuarts action figure. The facial sculpt is so real and lifelike, it’s scary. THIS, or something close to it was what we should have got from Hasbro…but we didn’t, so long live SH Figuarts.

1) Mafex Empire Strikes Back Boba Fett
Finally while the Black Series Boba Fett is considered one of the best the line has ever produced, it isn’t perfect. It’s biggest fault Is that it is just too stiff. It’s got all the joints you need present but for some reason he isn’t very poseable. Case in point, you can barely place his arms straight down on his side!  Plus his paint job, while very well done looks too light and clean. Mafex’ version of Boba Fett manages to address all of the Black Series shortcomings. Better articulation and feel…check, better paint and detailing, check, additional accessories including a flight stand for those awesome jet pack poses? Check Check Check! So despite having a very serviceable Boba Fett on my shelf already, I still felt the need to get this one (and sell off the old one). I know it’s cliché but he’s probably the closest you can get to action figure perfection.