Monday, January 8, 2018

The Best of 2017 part 1

Another year has passed, and with it came a whole new bunch of toys to add to the toy shelf. While I started off the year with the same annual resolution, which was to not spend too much money on toys, things obviously turned out differently. With so many great toys coming in 2017 and four(!) trips out of the country, it was pretty impossible for me to be “good”. Well with a new year comes a new chance for renewing old resolutions. But till then, here is a rundown of my top 17 toy purchases of 2017.

Anyway, as always let me start with a few honorable mentions that didn’t quite crack the top 17.

Giant-Sized X-Men Minimates
There’s something ultra satisfying about completing a certain team or group of characters. So the opportunity to complete the entire iconic Giant Sized X-Men lineup in one fell swoop was just too much to resist. True these aren't Marvel Legends...but Minimates hold their own special charm and are definitely a worth a place in my collection.

Mafex Rogue One Darth Vader
I already had the previous Mafex Darth Vader, as well as the much improved 40th Anniversary Black Series version. But this guy immediately grabbed my attention when I saw him on display in a toy store in Japan. I was mesmerised. I figured it was well worth the extra purchase to have the Darth Vader who kicked the most ass and gave us the most ecstatic display of evil Sith power we had ever seen on screen in Rogue One on my shelf.

Fans Toys Terminus Giganticus
Bigger isn't always better. Most 3rd party combiners I have are floppy messes, and official Hasbro giants such as Fortress Maximus and Trypticon are overly simplistic and hollow to keep prices affordable. But this isn't the case for Terminus Giganticus, Fans Toys’ masterpiece take on the original Transformers giant Omega Supreme. This guy was so massive that he had to be sold in two parts. He's fairly solid and gives you a semi involved transformation to boot.

Marvel Legends Cyclops
Cyclops is one of the most iconic and important but at the same time most underrated, underappreciated, and misunderstood X-Man. Fortunately for us Cyclops fans (yes all 3 of us), Hasbro finally threw us a bone and gave us not one, but TWO new versions of Cyclops in 2017. And both were done so well, that I have a hard time figuring which one I actually prefer. Some may find his Giant Sized X-Men uniform boring, I think it's simply iconic, and Hasbro didn't cut any corners by giving him an exceptional paint wash finish.

And as if that wasn't enough, we also got a figure of his popular Jim Lee designed 90’s costume….complete with all those excess buckles and pouches. With these two, what else could a Cyclops fan ask for? Ok how about an X-Factor blue and white Cyclops for 2018?.

SH Figuarts Han Solo
Translating a real person’s likeness to plastic form is one of the hardest things to do for most toy companies. And it I said that Harrison Ford is one of the hardest faces to get right. Ever since Kenner produced the first Han Solo action figure in 1978, up until Hasbro’s Black Series version aimed at older collectors, Han Solo just hasn't looked quite right.

Enter Japanese company SH Figuarts with their amazing digital face printing technology. Thanks to them, We finally got a pretty realistic looking Han Solo that successfully translated Harrison Ford’s likeness into plastic form. Completing my main Episode 4 lineup was on of the major collecting highlights for me in 2017, and I couldn't have done it without this definitive version of Han Solo.

17) Club Grayskull Filmation Clawful
When it comes to toy and cartoon appearances, evil warrior Clawful is unique in that his toy and cartoon design look nothing like each other. My first taste of Clawful was in the original Filmation series where he looked more like a dragon than lobster man. He was also pretty smart for one of Skeletors fact he was oftentimes referred to as his right hand man. This is why Clawful instantly became one of my favourite He-Man characters….he was just a level up higher than the rest of his fellow evil warriors.

Curiously, the vintage toy looked nothing like the character in the cartoon since the animators, working on an advanced schedule had only early toy concept designs to go by. Later cartoon versions of Clawful were correctly based on the actual toy but unfortunately he also got a total personality makeover. From one of the smartest evil warriors, he was turned into the dumbest. It was like the Filmation Clawful was a totally different character destined to be forgotten….until Mattel finally released him in plastic form to close out their Classics line. His design is admittedly simpler, but for me it represents who Clawful is supposed to be so I was very happy to finally get him in 2017.

16) Marvel Legends Custom Tigra
The West Coast Avengers or “Wackos” have always been one of my all time favorite superhero teams. And ever since I started collecting Marvel Legends a few years ago, Hasbro has done a pretty decent job at giving us a serviceable Wacko lineup on our shelf with one glaring exception. To this date we have yet to get a modern Tigra. The closest one we have was the one they gave us in 2007 which is hard to find and looks sorely outdated next pretty much all of the newer sculpts.

So me being the impatient type resorted to other means to complete my Wacko shelf. With the help of talented customer Myke dela Paz of Phoenix Force Creations, I got my very own custom Tigra to round up my West Coast team. This was the first full figure Marvel Legends custom I ever had commissioned and I feel it definitely is worth the extra price I had to pay. True there is the very real possibility that Hasbro might release an official version sooner rather than later, I don’t mind. It will most likely be a more modern version with a more conservative uniform...not the iconic bikini that the 90’s version wore so I’m good.

15)Black Series Captain Rex
Despite the poor reception of the Prequels, I am a big fan of the Clone Troopers. To me they are the most elite and combat proficient of all troopers in the Star Wars universe. Stormtroopers don’t even come close. Anyway, Captain Rex has always been one of the most popular and recognizable Clone Troopers, having served directly under Anakin Skywalker in the Clone wars and eventually joining the fight against the Empire as a member of the Rebellion in his later years.

When the opportunity came for me to get a 2017 Hascon Exclusive Black Series Captain Rex I took it immediately, even though I knew a regular version would eventually see release in a few months (what can I say? Low EQ). Rex completes my Clone Trooper officers trio with Commanders Cody & Gree. Of course if Hasbro releases a Commander Wolffe I wouldn’t complain :)

14) Action Toys Eagle Robo
in 2017, Japanese toy company Action Toys finally gave us modern Gobots, you know those “lesser” Transformers. Despite being a fan of Transformers first and foremost, I still do have an appreciation for the Gobots and these new ones really did look pretty good. If you want to be specific though, these new toys weren’t really Gobots per se but instead updates of the original Japanese Machine Robo line that the Gobots were based off on.

Anyway, Eagle Robo...or as most people would call him, Leader-1 was the one I was most looking forward to. And despite the fact that the toy itself is actually a bit fiddly, I really like him. Both jet and robot mode are great, and his accessories, from his jet missiles that convert to his gun in robot mode to very interactive flight/display stand are very well thought out. The rest of the line turned out pretty good too, but this one is definitely my favorite.

13) Marvel Legends Warlock
While most people have the X-Men as their favorite mutant team, I have always been a bigger fan of the New Mutants. And while he isn’t my favorite member of the team, the alien Technarch Warlock is the most unique. Visually, he stood out from the rest of the team who sported matching yellow and black uniforms. And his innocent and child-like personality was a refreshing contrast to the often moody and teen angst filled personalities of his teammates.

When I found out that Warlock would be the BAF for the 2017 Marvel Legends X-Men wave, my jaw just dropped. I knew I just had to have him. In hand he is even more impressive with a super detailed sculpt and paint job. And with Warlock finally immortalized in plastic form, can the rest of the New Mutants be far behind? With the New Mutants movie coming out this year, this seems like a real strong possibility. Come on Hasbro! Make it happen!