Saturday, January 20, 2018

The Best of 2017 part 3

If you’ve read the first two parts of my top toys for 2017, you will notice a trend with what kind of toys I focused mainly on this year. Well…*spoiler* final five won’t really shake things up too much. Despite a lackluster movie toyline, 2017 will go down as one of the best years for Transformers collectors between all the 3rd party company releases and Hasbro and Takara themselves stepping up their game as well. Star Wars toys also had a pretty strong showing over the excitement over The Last Jedi. Luckily though, there still is some room at the top for one more surprise purchase. So with that, let’s go and close out my top 2017 list.

5) Unique Toys Peru Kill
2017 saw most Transformer 3rd party companies focusing on doing “masterpiece” versions of Generation 1 characters. With their combined releases, they were able to cover almost 80-90% of the major characters. So towards the end of the year, a few companies started moving onto other characters, more specifically, the live action movie “Bayverse” characters.

Now the Bayverse designs are a mixed bag for fans...some love them while others totally detest them. I myself am caught somewhere in between. I can appreciate many of the character designs, but for the most part, most of them look like twisted hunks of metal.

Anyway, because many of the character designs are overly complicated, Hasbro often had to cut corners or “cheat” by using “fake” folded up car parts in the robot modes in order to make some designs work in plastic form. Or worse yet, they resort to “shell forming”....relying on an outer shell to form the alternate mode and cover up the robot mode.

This is not the case though for Unique Toy’s Peru Kill, which is their masterpiece version of the bounty hunter Lockdown, the main villain from the 4th movie installment, “The Age of Extinction”. From a design and engineering standpoint, this guy is really impressive. To transform him, you literally have to turn his sleek Lamborghini car mode inside out to produce his giant, menacing and highly detailed robot mode, who looks like he literally stepped off the movie screen. It sounds intimidating but the actual transformation is so well done that after the initial attempt it is actually very enjoyable. And if that weren’t good enough, he even comes with his fully poseable mech wolf thingee, Steeljaw to keep him company.

I have no plans of going down the Bayverse masterpiece route in 2018 (never say never). Peru Kill looks so good as a standalone piece on my shelf, I don’t really feel like I have to.

4) Figma Metroid Prime 3: Corruption Samus Aran
I never considered myself a video gamer. I can count the number of games that I loyally follow with one hand. Metroid isn’t even one of them. I barely played the original Nintendo 8-bit version and didn’t touch any of the other sequels that followed. I was aware though of how this was one of the more popular Nintendo franchises out there. So eventually I gave their offering for the Nintendo Wii, Metroid: Other M a try and well...I loved it!

In my first trip to Japan, I got my very first Figma figure, that of Zelda hero, Link from the game Skyward Sword and I was really impressed by the quality of this toy, so much so that I felt the need to buy another Figma on my second trip there.

I had my sights set on a Zero suit Samus figure. Samus being the main character in Metroid and the Zero suit being her unarmored version. Of course I would’ve preferred the armored version, but with that being an earlier Figma release, I figured it would be a long shot for me to find it.

As it turned out, while I was in Japan, Figma released a newer version of Armored Samus so I happily bought it, along with the Zero suit version. Now while the Zero suit version was...ok, Armored Samus totally blew me away. Aside from including the typical extra Figma part for various display options, she looks amazing and is such a treat to get into various dynamic poses. I never had so much fun playing with a single action figure.

3) Bandai Movie Realization Sohei Darth Maul
Darth Maul is probably my favorite character out of the Star Wars Prequels. So when I found out that Bandai would finally be including him in their amazing Movie Realization line reimagined as a Sohei “warrior monk” I was over the moon.  I knew I needed to have him in my collection.

Seeing how Bandai translated his iconic red spiked face into a demonic Japanese mask (his actual face underneath is surprisingly even worse (in a good way) was so in awe inspiring. Aside from his amazing head sculpt though, as a whole, this figure seemed like a step forward design-wise for the Movie Realization line.  As beautiful as the previous releases were, from Darth Vader, to the Stormtroopers, to even Ronin Boba Fett, they were all very similar in that they were all armored up samurai.  Maul gives us something new with his more streamlined design.

Anyway I was pleasantly surprised when he was released in Japan at the same time I was there, like it was destiny to have him on my shelf. There really isn’t anything more to say...I love this guy ha ha.

2) Takara Tomy MP 36 Megatron
Designing a robot that transforms to a handgun is probably one of the hardest jobs to do, from the original G1 Megatron toy released in 1984 to that atrocious MP-05 Megatron in 2007, Transformers collectors have been dying for a proper Masterpiece Megatron. In between 2015-16, various 3rd party companies tried to satiate fans with their own takes on an MP Megatron to varying degrees of success. But despite their specific merits, none of them quite got it right.

Finally in 2017, Takara released their 2nd attempt at a Masterpiece Megatron and it was….glorious. MP-36 basically puts all the other 3rd parties in their place. Aside from looking exactly like the Megatron in the original cartoon, this guys crosses off all the points you would look for in a true masterpiece Megatron. Perfect robot and gun mode? Check. Amazing articulation, check. And most importantly, the transformation, while intricate is not headache inducing, easy on your fingers and dare I He comes with numerous accessories from the gun extensions expected to come with every MP Megatron as well as weapons and various face options that give this guy even more character.

Compared to 3rd party companies, Takara doesn’t have so many MP releases in a year, but for the most part, their releases are obviously a notch higher in quality and more innovative than anything 3rd party companies produce. In a way, MP 36 Megatron changed the game and redefined what a proper masterpiece Transformer should be. This by all rights should’ve been THE toy of the year, and would’ve been, had it not been for one more last minute purchase for 2017.

1) Takara Tomy MP 39 Sunstreaker
If you are a regular reader of my blog you’d know that my all time favorite Transformer is the Lambo brother Sunstreaker. When Takara released the Masterpiece version of his brother Sideswipe way back in 2012, I was hopeful that Sunstreaker would follow soon after. But as the the years passed and other Autobots made their MP debut, Sunstreaker was nowhere to be seen. The word circulating was that Takara supposedly wasn’t able to produce an MP Sunstreaker because his altmode, that of a concept modified Countach wouldn’t be allowed by Lamborghini.

So I began to accept that reality that an MP Sunstreaker wasn’t meant to be and resorted going down the 3rd party route to get my “MP” Sunstreaker. Sunsurge, by Bad Cube was a more than serviceable substitute and I was very happy with him. Then in May this year, Takara announced the unthinkable….an official Masterpiece Sunstreaker...and he looked amazing! Just looking at his initial pictures, I knew that this was going to be something special. It would be a long 7 month wait before he would finally be released in December.

When I finally go him in hand, all biases aside, I knew I finally had the best toy of 2017. MP Sunstreaker continues what MP 36 Megatron started, which is a highly articulated very cartoon accurate robot with a slick and very innovative transformation into a fantastic race car. And speaking of his alt mode, I’m not sure how true the whole Takara not being allowed to produce a toy of a modified Countach, but they gave us the option to display him as a regular Countach without the exterior engine exhausts as well as his modified mode. And it’s all built in! The engine exhausts aren’t extra parts that you tack onto the back of the car, they simply flip over to hide underneath. Aside from that neat trick, the car also comes with opening doors, engine cover and pop up headlights! The rear lights are also switchable to give you either a realistic look or one based on the toy. Oh and he even has that anti aircraft gun that was featured in the cartoon to shoot down Thundercracker, which neatly tucks in his back as well. All these cool features and he hasn’t even been transformed yet!

So the robot mode looks perfect, as mentioned before he has so many points of articulation making almost any dynamic pose possible. Again I swear I’m not being biased but this guy is bar none THE BEST masterpiece sorry masterpiece transformer...wait….best Transformer Takara has ever produced. Period.

I only have one real problem with this guy...he looks so good that he makes his brother Sideswipe look sorely outdated….time for Sideswipe 2.0!

So there you go….once again 2017 was quite a memorable year for the toyshelf. Here’s to looking forward to what 2018 will have to offer.