Friday, October 15, 2021

The Best Of 2021: Third Quarter

Amazing how time flies when you’re having fun. At this point we’re closer to the end of the year than the start and before long I’ll be finalizing my top ten list for 2021. But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves as we have another quarter of new toys to integrate into my ever changing list. So let's see what new plastic goodness the last three months have brought to the shelf.

Once again, you know the drill, let’s give a proper sendoff to previous items in my top ten list that have been pushed out by the new entries.

And let’s also give mentions to some new toys that while all cool didn’t quite manage to crack the top ten.

Action Toys Buggy Robo

Ok this one took me by surprise. The only reason why I got him was that I had quite a number of Machine Robos as a kid, even before Transformers. And for some reason I believe I had two Buggy Robos so he was played with quite often. I wasn’t really expecting much from this guy but when I got him in hand, this toy immediately brought me back to my childhood. I know I can say that for many toys but this particular one really gave me “the feels”. Nostalgia aside though, this Buggy Robo is a really solid toy that is fun to flip back and forth between buggy to robot.

Black Series Wrecker & Tech

Individually, these guys aren’t anything spectacular, but they basically complete the original line up of Clone Force 99, better known as the “Bad Batch” on my shelf. So that in itself makes them worth including this quarter. Unfortunately we’ll probably have to wait till next year to get “O-meega” and “I-ckoe” he he.

Siege Rainmakers

For some reason, the original release of this 3 pack was quite difficult to obtain here. So thank god for reissues! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the Siege tetrajet seeker is probably one of the best Transformer toys produced by Hasbro in quite some time. And that’s my unbiased seeker loving opinion :) And given that these guys never left Cybertron to get reformatted into Earth jets, these are most likely the most accurate toy versions of this screaming neon trio that anyone can get their hands on. Now if Hasbro will get around to reissuing their Earthrise Ratchet and Paradron two pack!

Marvel Legends Red Skull, Ursa Major & Darkstar

It’s about time we got a decent Red Skull figure. That’s all I have to say about this guy. The only thing that would’ve vaulted this guy into the top ten is if we got a more classic Jack Kirby head design. But as is, he’s exactly what my Captain America rogue gallery needed.

And speaking of more comic classic villains, I’m sure the Winter Guard/Supreme Soviets aren’t what usually comes first in people's minds. But for me, getting Darkstar and Ursa Major in one Marvel Legends wave was such a treat. Who wouldn’t want Russia’s answer to the Avengers on their shelf. And even if you weren’t a big fan of the team, how can you not love a HUGE GIANT BEAR MAN in your collection! I already have a Marvel Select Titanium Man on order so all we need is a classic Crimson Dynamo (The modern BAF is a cool stand-in for now) and a classic Vanguard and we can call this team complete! But if for some reason Hasbro would want to give us a Perun, Sputnik or Fantasma I wouldn’t complain.

Studio Series 86 Slag, Wreck Gar & Gnaw

Hasbro’s Studio Series 86 line continues to be one of the best collecting highlights for me in 2021. And the hits keep on coming. While there are certainly some nits that can be picked with each of these guys, overall aside from their Masterpiece versions, they are possibly some of the best plastic representations of Slag, Wreck Gar and Gnaw ever made. No previous versions of these three, official or 3rd party come close.

And now it's on to the main list.

10) Marvel Legends Quasar

When I first started reading comics…...some time ago, Quasar was the hot new hero that Marvel was trying to push on us readers. I still remember clearly him “auditioning” to Captain America for Avengers membership. He flew off and returned in a few seconds and handed Cap a small stone….from the moon! Anyway when he debuted in his own solo series, I ate it up hook line and sinker. Since then, Wendell Vaughn, better known as Quasar has been one of my favorite classic Marvel cosmic heroes of all time. So I was thrilled when he finally got a proper Marvel Legends figure. Sure it’s not his classic costume, or the more modern get up he wore as a member of the Annihilators, but this is a good start. I’ll happily get the other versions once Hasbro gets around to making them too!

9) 3D Printed Max Rebo Band

Sure these guys are more like statues than actual toys, but they serve as a major part of my Jabba’s palace diorama display. They’re so good at what they do that even my Turtles and the God of Thunder dig them!

8) Black Series Bo Kattan & Asajj Ventress

Two extremely well done figures that have been requested and desired by collectors for years. It’s only right that they keep their place in my list.

7) Zeta Toys Armageddon (Masterpiece Bruticus)

Ok so I’ve already written extensively on this guy and the pains I took in deciding to ultimately get him. What started out as me reluctantly parting with my much loved Unique Toys set for some future peace of mind turned into sheer delight when I finally got around to messing with this guy. Yes aesthetically the individual Combaticons aren’t the best, but they’re all pretty solidly engineered and are decked out in beautiful metallic paint. And more importantly, their combined Bruticus form is massive, imposing and will not fall over or break apart on you.

6) Black Series Beskar Mandalorian

Given all the multiple purchasing options for Mandalorian out there for us collectors, having this Black Series one decked out with it’s own custom accessories just makes this Mandalorian a little bit more special for me.

5) Kingdom Galvatron

Now this guy had quite a memorable debut in collector’s hands. The first batch of this toy came with misassembled shoulders that made his arms hang down a little lower than usual. While it was possible to fix this problem with the toy in hand, it wasn’t a very easy solution...and a little bit scary to do in my opinion. While initially I decided to just live with the issue, ultimately I decided to “do the procedure” and fix my Galvatron.

Now I know there is a whole discussion on how brand new toys shouldn’t HAVE to be fixed by the consumer. In the end, with the right tools, the procedure itself turned out to be a snap and weirdly enough, it kinda gave me a greater appreciation for my toy since I fixed him myself. Assembly issues aside, THIS is the Galvatron that I have been waiting on for years. He’s not undersized or finicky like the Classics/Henkei version. And he doesn’t have any unnecessary head master gimmick or wonky “3rd mode” like his Titans Return release. This Kingdom version of Galvatron is just a no frills package of pure purple Decepticon insanity, just the way Unicron intended it to be.

4) Siege Jetfire

Last time I said that this was one of the best Transformer toys Hasbro has ever done ever. And I still standby that claim. Despite being in this list since the first quarter, he’s definitely not lost any of its lustre.

3) Skybreaker (KO “The Last Knight” Masterpiece Megatron)

The 3rd party Movie Masterpiece (MPM) Bayformers rabbit hole was something I fell deep into during the second quarter of the year. While the excitement for them has kinda died down, I am still very happy that I ended up getting this guy! As far as transformations of official and 3rd party MPM Transformers go they mostly fall into either two categories: overengineered and unintuitive or oversimplified and unexciting. Fortunately this Skybreaker falls into the rare category in between which makes it quite fun to transform (in my opinion) from a cool looking alien jet to an imposing and completely kibble free robot.

2) Kingdom Rodimus Prime

As far as previous toy releases go, Autobot Leader Rodimus Prime had it even worse than his Decepticon counterpart Galvatron. While we’ve had quite a lot of Hot Rod toys, we’ve only really gotten one modern CHUG version of Rodimus Prime since the original G1 toy. While the Power of the Primes version released in 2017 had a cool concept of a Hot Rod toy combining with his “space winnebago” trailer to form Rodimus Prime, it didn’t quite hit the spot for me. So I passed on it.

This time around, Hasbro pulled out all the stops in releasing an updated Rodimus Prime. While initially it seemed a bit excessive to release this voyager sized toy at the higher Commander Class price point, having the toy in hand it’s pretty obvious where the extra cost goes. Compared to the excellent Earthrise Optimus Prime that came with a cheap trailer that felt like an afterthought, Rodimus Prime’s trailer quality and build easily justifies the higher price for me. It’s a shame that Hasbro didn’t go this route with Optimus Prime and give him a proper and complete trailer as well. I’ll gladly pay an extra cost for some extra quality.

Just like Galvatron, this Rodimus Prime finally fills a long empty hole in my collection.

1) 3D Printed Rancor

So far despite a slip up during a live online Q&A, there still has not been any official announcement of a Haslab Rancor. Not that it matters really, as I am still over the moon with my big boy over here. 3D printing truly has gone a long way and has given us collectors a more proactive solution to getting the long missing items in our collection through the customizing route. And so this guy has stayed strong on the top of my list. Let’s see if he can hold on until the end of the year!