Friday, July 8, 2022

The Best Of 2022: Second Quarter Part 1

And just like that, we’re halfway done with 2022! So it’s time once again to look back at some of my favorite purchases from the past three months and revisit and tweak my ever changing top ten list for the year. So let’s get started!
As always, let's start things off with a bunch of honorable mentions. There are quite a lot this time around so to make things easier, I’ll go through these in batches based on lines that I actively collect along with some odds and ends. So here are my favorite purchases in the past three months that didn’t quite make the top ten.

Marvel Legends

In a given year, I probably buy more Marvel Legends figures than any other line. The thing with Marvel Legends though is that for me, the true joy in collecting this line is in completing my favorite teams or lineups. So individually, while most of these Legends are very well made, not a lot of them actually make the top 10. Case in point is the latest wave for the upcoming Thor Love & Thunder movie.

While I passed on the repetitive Guardians in the wave, I did find most of the Thor figures on clearance, so I got myself Thor, Jane Foster Thor, “King” Valkyrie, Korg and Gorr. While individually they are all quite good, it’s when they are displayed together that they really make a great impression on me. And if I end up enjoying the movie immensely who knows, maybe one of these guys will manage to move up in the rankings.

Since Captain America is my favorite hero of all time, this 20th Anniversary homage to the original Toybiz Marvel Legends line is a definite highlight for me. While Hasbro has come close in the past to giving us a definitive version of Cap, they never quite got it right. The most recent 40th Anniversary version was almost there, but as great as it was, its colors were just too dark for a classic version. And while this new version is not a perfect slam dunk either, thanks to some questionable design choices (a shield with holes!), it’s definitely the best Cap we can get our hands on for now.

The Black Series

As for Star Wars, three Black Series figures are definitely worth mentioning. The most obvious one is Echo who finally completes the Bad Batch team for the display. Aside from that though, I think he is the best looking and sculpted one of the…batch. The next two may be a little more unexpected. I know they were for me.

First up is Sgt Kreel. Yes I know he’s basically a Stormtrooper with a lightsaber but something about that very notion…”a Stormtrooper with a lightsaber” just compelled me to get him. And I couldn’t be happier with what I got. This is my first experience with the new and improved Stormtrooper mold and I have to say I am very impressed. It is a definite improvement over the original one. This guy is solid and has just enough little embellishments here and there to make him stand out in the display.

And finally, possibly the most controversial of the bunch, the wookie bounty hunter Black Krrsantan. Like many readers, the moment I first saw Black Krrsantan in the pages of the Dr. Aphra comic book by Marvel, I was dying to get a plastic version of this dude on my shelf. And when his popularity grew even more with his live action debut in the Book of Boba Fett a few years later, Hasbro finally gave us…..a Chewbacca figure painted black. And the fandom cried for blood.

Yes this is a cheap cop out on Hasbro’s part, but trying to think logically on this one, from the start, this specific “comic” version was probably in the production pipeline well before they knew he would be coming out in the Boba Fett show. And to give them credit, they did give us a new and pretty good head sculpt.

Anyway I gave his webgrear a simple do over with a new base coat and some dry brushing and it made a world of difference. Yes, the Chewbacca mold is too skinny for Krrsantan, but for me, this’ll do and he looks great with Dr. Aphra and her evil droids. I’m also pretty confident that a proper live action version is coming…I mean Hasbro can’t be that stupid as to not give us one right?

Transformers Legacy

On the Transformers front, Legacy continues to CHUG along coming out with consistently good to great bots. Clampdown, Knock Out & Ransack are basically repaints/retools of previously released toys but I would argue that all three are better than their predecessors.

While some may complain that Clampdown’s deco is not faithful to the original e-Hobby release, I actually prefer it. The use of light beige over red further distances him from Red Alert and seems more fitting for a police bot. He gives me a highway patrol type of vibe.

Knock Out who is a G1-ified version of the vain Decepticon turned Autobot from the Prime series is a heavily reworked Studio Series 86 Jazz but you wouldn’t really notice if it wasn’t pointed out to you. Solid robot mode, but where he really shines is in his alt mode that sports very flashy yet subtle decos that truly make him a…well, knock out.

And then we have Ransack who is a retool of the Insecticon Kickback. First of all, I’m so happy that we finally have official modern Deluxe Insecticons. He literally just has a different head sculpt…but it works. And because his extra parts aren’t translucent like Kickback’s, they work better visually as the insect mode’s abdomen.

And finally we have the lone unique toy in the bunch, the Decepticon triple changer. Usually when it comes to triple changers, the engineering involved to do two alt modes usually leads to sacrificing the look of one to make the other and the bot mode look good. But despite having a rather clunky jet mode, his tank mode is pretty good, and most importantly, his robot mode is possibly the best looking Blitzwing Hasbro has ever come up with. He looks fantastic standing next to his mate Siege Astrotrain. And hopefully we won’t have to wait too long for Hasbro to finish off this triple threat with an updated Octane.

Transformers 3rd party

As a self proclaimed “seeker whore”, it’s always a highlight every time I add a new seeker trio to the collection. Especially when I get a set as excellent as these Jinbao seekers. These guys are slightly tweaked KOs of a previously released legends scale set by New Age Toys. While I am not really a legends scale collector, I obviously made an exception for these guys.

Alexandra Trese

For those not familiar, Alexandra Trese is the main character in a Filipino comic book called Trese first published in 2005. In the series, she is a healer-warrior and protector of humanity from supernatural beings from the underworld based on Filipino folklore. The comic gained a wider audience when it was turned into an anime influenced series on Netflix. Anyway this is an officially licensed action figure made independent Filipino toy designer LooseCollector Collectibles, so that’s double Pinoy pride right there. This is an obvious labor of love and the end result is an action figure just as good or even better than any Marvel Legend or Black Series figure out there.

Ultimates Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Well talk about another rabbit hole I fell into this year. I wouldn’t be what you would call a diehard Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fan. But I have dabbled a bit in the toys every now and then. As was the case when I decided to go all in on a set of Ultimates Turtles from Super 7 some time last year. I got my last turtle a few months ago and since then...well, I’ve gotten more. I never collected the original toy line, of which these are modern renditions of, so there really isn’t much of a nostalgic factor here. They’re just really well made and sculpted toys that I have completely fallen for. While there are a couple of obvious standouts (which I will cover later on), this “instant” collection as a whole is a definite highlight for 2022.

Ultimates Tygra

And speaking of Super 7 Ultimates, after years of disappointment and longing, we are finally on the verge of pretty much completing the main cast of Thundercats this year! Due to numerous delays and factory production problems it took over two years since I clicked on that pre order link, up to finally getting the actual Tygra action figure in my hands. Since Tygra is my favorite T-cat, this was easily one of my most highly anticipated figures. But objectively speaking, as a figure, he’s just OK. I dunno, he’s great but is easily outshined by other Thundercats figures that I also received this year. You’ll hear more about those guys when I hit my top ten list….in part 2.

to be continued....