Monday, January 15, 2018

The Best of 2017 part 2

Ok so I know this is getting a little ridiculous adding another number to my “best of” list to coincide with the year (top 25 of 2025?) but with the sheer amount of purchases this year, it really is hard to whittle everything down to a proper top 10...and well..I’m lazy. I promise i’ll try and figure out something in the near future. But in the meantime….here’s the next installment of my top 17.

12) DNA Design Susanoo
I already wrote about this guy in my 3rd Party Transformers post but for those who missed it, Susanoo is 3rd party company DNA Design’s first attempt at a full Transformer figure and it’s a pretty ambitious one. Based on the Decepticon pretender and Metallikato master Bludgeon, Susanoo is far from perfect, he can be a little fiddly to handle and VERY frustrating to transform, but he looks so good, I’m willing to look past all that. Plus he’s got a very good range of articulation making him really fun to put into different action poses. This guy is probably one of the best looking Transformers on my shelf...period.

11) Bandai Movie Realization Ronin Boba Fett/Jango Fett
For the longest time, I’d been going back and forth for months on whether I would purchase anything from Bandai’s Movie Realization line...which reimagined iconic Star Wars characters as ancient Japanese samurai. Of all the characters, it was Ronin Boba Fett that tempted me the most.

These guys looked magnificent, but the last thing I needed was yet another toyline to get into. Anyway, earlier this year, while accompanying my wife while she shopped down Granville road in Hong Kong, I spotted a random sign on the street for a toy store located in a nearby side alley, so we checked it out for kicks not expecting to really find anything. For the most part, the little shop had nothing I was interested in except...wouldn’t you know it, they had a Ronin Boba Fett at a special sale price (about 50% off) and that was game over for me.

Towards the end of the year, Bandai released Ronin Jango Fett which I spotted during a trip to Japan. While I had no real intention of getting him (expecting him to be a simple repaint of Boba Fett), seeing him in person made him hard to resist, so I caved. To my surprise, it turned out that Jango wasn’t just a straight up repaint, he actually had some subtle resculpts and different accessories. In fact in hand I kinda like Jango a little more than Boba Fett. Anyway regardless, you can’t go wrong with either of these guys...and you know how the saying goes...two ronins are better than one.

10) Maketoys Downbeat
In 2012 Takara released MP-12, Masterpiece Sideswipe and with that came the realization for MP collectors that Takara was definitely looking past just the core iconic characters for this line. With THAT door open, many assumed that Takara would jump at the chance of making a masterpiece version of arguably one of their most popular Autobot cars, Jazz. But 5 years and over 25 plus releases later, despite numerous rumors, Jazz has yet to make his official masterpiece. So in the end it was up to a 3rd party company to fill in that void on collector’s 1984 masterpiece Transformers shelves. 2017 saw the release of 2 “masterpiece” Jazz toys; “Downbeat” by Maketoys and “Coolsville” by Toyworld. I ended up getting Maketoy’s offering since he looked cleaner and more importantly was released first.

Prior to Downbeat, I had heard so many great stuff about Maketoys but for one reason or another had never gotten any of their previous offerings. So I had high expectations for Downbeat and fortunately, he met all of them. I’m pretty sure Takara will eventually do an official masterpiece Jazz and he’ll definitely have his work cut out for him to outdo Downbeat...he’s that good.

9) Fanstoys Sovereign
Early in 2017, I was still in Masterpiece denial. I was pretty much set on collecting *just* the season 1 & 2 characters. I told myself I didn’t feel the need to complete the season 3 lineup even though I already had a Masterpiece Rodimus & Ultra Magnus. Then during my trip to Hong Kong, due to a lack of things to buy (yeah right!) I realized that it would be nice to get myself a *masterpiece* styled Galvatron. Unfortunately he was nowhere to be found, so I went home empty handed.

Then just as if it had been fated...when I got home, I was tipped off by a friend that there was another collector online selling off his Fanstoys Sovereign, their take on a masterpiece Galvatron. I promptly contacted him, struck a deal and just like that I was officially on the road to complete my season 3 Transformers lineup. Fanstoy’s Sovereign is everything you could ever want in a masterpiece Galvatron, he’s big, solid and looks like he can pretty much beat up any other Transformer on my shelf. Plus he’s one of the only robots I have that comes with his own necklace accessory.

8) Open & Play Big Spring
2017 saw a number of 3rd party versions of the Autobot triple changer Springer. While most collectors held out for the releases of the more established 3rd party companies, like Fans Toys and Mastermind Creations, I opted to take a chance on the Springer offered by brand new company called Open & Play, and it was one of those few times that the risk totally paid off.

For a first offering from a company, Big Spring is really impressive. Sure he lacks any solid diecast and his face sculpt is...questionable, but he is a real fun toy. He looks good in all three modes (a rarity with any triple changer), and he presents just enough of a challenge in his transformation from mode to mode to keep things interesting, plus his articulation is pretty good. What else could you ask for? (OK seriously, a better face sculpt would be nice).

7) Black Series Princess Leia custom
With Japanese company SH Figuarts giving us 2 great action figures of A New Hope Luke Skywalker & Han Solo, all we needed was a decent princess Leia to finish up this iconic Star Wars trio. Unfortunately, the only compatible “ANH” Princess Leia figure was the one released by Hasbro and she sported a pretty pretty pretty bad face. It was so bad that after only a few months of her release, Hasbro went back to the drawing board and resculpted a new head for the next batch of Leia figures. While this improved head was definitely better, it still looked lacking next to SH Figuarts Luke & Han.

So I decided to take things into my own hands. I found this amazingly talented action figure customizer Myke Dela Paz, on Facebook and he agreed to paint up my Leia to make her shine...and shine she did. He did such a great job that I spent the rest of the year sending him the rest of my Black Series figures for him to bring to life with his painting skills….but it all started with Leia, the crown jewel of my 6” Star Wars collection.

At the end of the year, SH Figuarts finally announced (and showed a prototype) that they would be doing ANH Leia, and admittedly it looks good and knowing me, I’ll probably will end up getting her, but based on the current photos, I still think my custom Leia looks better, so she will not be displaced any time soon.

6) Bandai Model Kit General Grievous
Say what you want about the Star Wars Prequels, I will always appreciate the new worlds and characters they introduced into the Star Wars Universe (yes...even Jar Jar). And one of my favorite characters from the prequels was the evil droid cyborg, General Grievous, who sported a very unique and quite menacing appearance.

A few years ago I jumped at the chance to get the first 6”-ish sized Grievous toy, which was released in the Disney store’s elite series...and unfortunately it was one of the worst toys I ever laid my hands on. First of all, he was primarily made of die-cast which made him clunky and unnecessarily heavy. His ball joints were so poor that his arms were so loose they kept falling off. And worst of all, he could barely stand! I sold him off in a heartbeat! 

Fortunately, in 2017, Bandai announced the release of a General Grievous model kit. I was already a big fan of their model kits and so the prospect of being able to build a Grievous from scratch was so exciting. This was easily one of my most anticipated releases for the year. When I finally got him he definitely did not disappoint.

Despite being a model kit, he was pretty sturdy and well balanced (as I expected, the model’s “lightness” served more as an advantage for this particular character) and easy to pose. Assembled out of the box, this guy is already amazing, but I decided to take it a step further by commissioning another talented customizer, Marvin dela Cruz to give him a more realistic paint job. The end result, while very subtle really brought this guy to life!