Friday, April 13, 2018

The Best of 2018: First Quarter

No this isn’t a mistake. I know 2018 is far from over but like I said in one of my previous “best of” posts, I promised to change things up with regards to my best of lists because at the rate I was going, I was looking at doing a top 25 or 2025. So I figured this would be a good time to try something different.

I pretty much explained what how I was going to do in the previous post so without further ado….let’s get started with the best of 2018….so far.

10) Marvel Legends Spider Punk
Ok so I am not the biggest Spider-Man fan out there. I never really collected his comics regularly. But every now and then, a major Spider story arc does catch my attention. 2014’s “Spider-verse” was one such story. For those of you not familiar with it, it tells the story of the supervillain Morlun and his family, the Inheritors as they set off to hunt down and exterminate all the versions of Spider-man across the multiverse….and there apparently are quite a lot.

One of the most unique versions of Spider-man that caught my eye was Spider Punk from Earth-138. Now I don’t know anything about this guy but come on...who wouldn’t want a Spider-man with a metal spike mohawk, denim vest and sneakers? His look was just so ….odd that he made quite the impression.

Anyway Hasbro seems dead set on producing as many versions of Spider-man as they can and who would blame them as most versions would just require a simple repaint. On the other hand, a Spider Punk figure would need more than just a repaint so I really wasn’t holding my breath. But Hasbro surprised us by releasing a Spider Punk complete with not only all his quirky design elements intact, but with his own guitar and variant hands holding a guitar pick and another signing “rock on”!

My own personal Spider-verse is shaping out nicely. Now let’s hope they don’t take too long to give us the Indian Spider-man, Pavitr Prabhakar or the Spider-man of 1602, Peter Parquagh.

9) Power of the Primes Legends Battleslash & Roadtrap
Ok so technically this is kinda cheating since these are 2 characters...but one really can’t go without the other.

This is definitely the case of Battleslash & Roadtrap. In the original G1 toyline they were collectively known as Duocons. They were 2 vehicles, a helicopter and a van that combined to form the Decepticon Battletrap. For their modern debut, Hasbro decided to take this concept one step further, by giving the separate vehicle modes their own unique robot modes and still retain their ability to form a fully articulated combined form of Battletrap.

Official Hasbro Transformers rarely make a dent in my annual best of lists, but these guys are just so much fun to fiddle around with, they definitely earned their spot on my list...for now.

8) Marvel Legends 90’s Cable
A couple years ago Hasbro gave us an updated toy for the mutant Cable. The problem was that he was TOO updated as he was based on his modern and current (more cybernetic) look. While it was a nice figure, what almost everyone really wanted, including myself was Cable as he was in the 90’s sporting all the over-the-top details his creator Rob Liefield was known for. Fortunately, Hasbro was listening and we eventually got the Cable we wanted. Insanely huge gun? Check! Vest with huge shoulder pads? Check! Pouches? Check! Oversized communication thingee on his ear with matching glowing eye? Check Check Check!

7) Marvel Legends Songbird
Who doesn’t love a character with a good backstory. The hero Songbird originally started out as the obscure C-D level villain Screaming Mimi. In an attempt to take advantage of the absense of the Avengers and fool the general public, Mimi joined the fake superhero group called the Thunderbolts led by Baron Zemo under the new identity of Songbird. Eventually, she and her teammates realized they preferred being actual heroes or villains and eventually betrayed Zemo. After leaving the Thunderbolts she eventually even joined the ranks of the Avengers.

Anyway, a Songbird action figure was teased to us quite some time ago but she only finally came out this year. While initially I wasn’t quite that excited (her prototype didn’t look all that great) the figure eventually won me over when I finally had her in hand. While some may find her look tacky with the white & pink hair and all...I find it quite fresh and a welcome callback to the more heroic looking costumes of the 90’s. It’s a great relief from all the more real world darker hued costumes most heroes sport nowadays. And her sound energy construct wing accessory while big and bulky is just icing on the cake, making her truly stand out on my display.

6) Amazing Yamaguchi Captain America
Captain America, more specifically Steve Rogers (sorry Falcon-Cap fans) is my favorite superhero. And while I don’t set out to buy every single plastic form of the Captain, I am more prone to the occasional impulse buy of any interesting version of the star spangled Avenger.

The Amazing Yamaguchi Captain America by Japanese toy company Kaiyodo was definitely an impulse buy. The selling point of this line is that their figures are highly articulated enabling them to achieve numerous difficult and dynamic looking poses that most regular action figures are incapable of doing. Their downside is that they also sport a unique anime stylized look that usually isn’t for everybody. Which is why I never got into the line.

In Cap’s case though I feel that they sorta dialed it back on the stylized look (or maybe this is just me trying to rationalize my purchase) enough at least for me to be extremely tempted. And after watching a lot of positive reviews on the guy I was eventually convinced provided I find him at a decent price….which I eventually did, so he was bought. And I definitely didn’t regret my purchase.

5) Marvel Legends Vision/Scarlet Witch 2 pack
For the longest time, The Vision was the one glaring hole in the MCU Avengers Team Iron Man lineup. So when Hasbro finally released him, MCU toy completists around the world rejoiced. And as cliche as it sounds, this guy was definitely well worth the wait. The fact that he came with a previously released Scarlet Witch didn’t matter much either, especially since this newer version has the more realistic face printing technology that gives her a much closer resemblance to the actress Elizabeth Olsen.

4) Marvel Legends Sasquatch
I am one of the few and proud fans of the obscure Canadian superteam Alpha Flight. So when Hasbro announced that main member of the team Sasquatch would be the build-a-figure for their first Deadpool wave for 2018, it was really a no brainer for me to pick up the entire wave just to complete the guy (it didn’t hurt that 90’s Cable was also in said wave). I am really hoping against hope that his release isn’t just a one off thing and is a positive sign that Hasbro has plans of releasing even more members of Alpha Flight.

3) Super 7 Mini Comics Trap Jaw
Like many characters in the MOTU universe, evil warrior Trap Jaw sported diverse looks across the different medias he came out in. This sickly greenish-yellow skin version was how he first appeared in the mini comic that came packed in with his original action figure called “The Menace of Trap Jaw”.

As the story goes, the alien cyborg from another dimension, Trap Jaw accidentally obtains the powers of Castle Grayskull and it takes the combined forces of He-Man & Skeletor to defeat him. To my knowledge this was the only place where this version of Trap Jaw came out, but it was a memorable enough debut and unique look that left a lasting impression on me. This is how Trap Jaw should’ve been moving forward and not the bumbling idiot he was more often portrayed as.

2) Bandai Manga Realization Samurai Captain America
Now this guy was one of my most anticipated figure ever since his first prototype pictures surfaced almost a year ago. I am a big fan of Bandai’s Manga Realization line wherein key Marvel characters are reimagined as ancient Japanese samurai. Just like the Amazing Yamaguchi line, this highly stylized look may not be for everyone but I am totally sold on it.

He may not be as dynamically poseable as most action figures, but for me he doesn’t have to be. I may be a bit biased because this is Captain America, but I think this is definitely the most creative and visually amazing action figure they have released so far in the line.

1) GigaPower Graviter (Masterpiece Sludge)
3rd party company Gigapower is pretty much known for one thing, and that is their line of massive Masterpiece styled Dinobots. They are also unfortunately known for their very slow release schedule of pretty much one new dinobot a year. While this can be quite frustrating for completists with low EQ, on the flipside, every eventual release is like Christmas for those loyal to the company. And Graviter is no exception. This guy is huge, heavy and most importantly well made. Anyway, I’ll refrain from writing too much about this guy because I have a strong feeling that like his fellow previously released dinobots, Graviter is almost a lock for the final top ten of 2018.

to be continued...