Wednesday, July 20, 2022

The Best Of 2022: Second Quarter Part 2

Quite a lot can happen in three months. You’d be surprised at how many new toys I’ve actually acquired in ninety plus days. Sometimes I even surprise myself. Yes I buy quite a lot of toys. Many would say too much. But it is what it is I guess. In any case it’s that time to go back to my list to see just what new stuff have made their way into the top ten.

As always, with new toys coming in, we have others moving out. So here’s a quick snapshot of the toys that have exited from my ever changing list. Still great stuff, and definitely highlights for 2022, but not quite top ten good.

10) Fans Toys Rig (Masterpiece Huffer)

Huffer was never one of my favorite Transformer characters, in fact I would place him on the bottom tier of any of my rankings. That being said, this is a really good masterpiece version of the minibot whiner. It’s got a premium finish which is par for the course for Fans Toys. But it also has an original, interesting yet intuitive design and engineering, which is not something Fans Toys is regularly known for. So this is a pure win all around.

9) Fans Toys Tesla 2.0 (Masterpiece Perceptor)

Perceptor was one of the first characters that Fans Toys tackled way back in 2015. And while it was fairly good for its time (actually it was the only MP option for Perceptor for years), 7 years later it feels sorely outdated even by Fans Toys standards. And it’s very obvious in the materials used, which feel cheaper and rather brittle. So it was about time that Fans Toys decided to give us Tesla 2.0. This is not a reissue but a completely new toy designed and built from the ground up.

They really brought their A-game with this new version. Everything about it, from the gorgeous metallic finish to the less clunky transformation engineering is a huge improvement over its predecessor. The only reason why I ranked him this low in my list is because well…it’s Perceptor. But while he’s not the most exciting character, Perceptor is definitely essential to any season three or 86 movie display.

8) Thunder Model La Hire (MPM Hot Rod)

Yes he was your typical Michael Bay one dimensional character that starred in arguably the worst Transformers live action movie of the bunch. But that doesn’t change the fact that this is probably one of the best Bayverse designed MP toys ever made. At this point I’m going to sound like a broken record but he looks great in both robot and alt modes. And transforming him doesn’t cause you to pull out any hairs. So for now he still manages to “stop the time” and remain on my list.

7) Deformation Space Thundercracker & Skywarp

Yes I technically first got this toy last year in the form of Starscream. And yes Starscream was part of my best of 2021. But what can I say? ThIs is one of my favorite masterpiece toys of all time, and having Thundercracker and Skywarp to complete this trio is still a definite highpoint for 2022. So for now, these guys hold their place in my best purchases of the year.

6) Deformation Space Recording Alliance (Masterpiece Blaster)

Last year Fans Toys gave us an updated and more toon accurate MP version of the Decepticon Communications Officer Soundwave. And it was really really good. So much so that it immediately made the Autobot’s counterpart on my shelf, KFC’s Transistor, look old and dated. Well fear not, fresh off completing their MP Seeker trio, Deformation didn’t miss a beat by releasing DS-02 Recording Alliance, their take on a more toon accurate Blaster. 

While some may argue that this guy is TOO toon accurate to a fault, I have no problem with it. And more importantly Recording Alliance is the perfect counterpart for Fans Toys Acoustic wave. He also comes with a Ramhorn which admittedly is a bit underwhelming. Still, I think it’s an improvement over what KFC offered with Transistor. And it will do until an even better one comes along. All in all, for what it is, Recording Alliance is a pretty much perfect cartoon version of Blaster.

5) Super 7 Ultimates Bebop and Rocksteady

In part one of this post, I wrote about how I fell hard into yet another “turtle” hole in 2022, and that was the Ultimates Teenage Mutant NInja Turtles line from Super 7. Despite not being a vintage TMNT collector when I was younger. It was not very difficult to get into this line of modern takes on the original toys. And while the line is chalk full of visually cool and detailed figures, there are two figures that literally stand out from the rest, the evil mutant duo of Bebop and Rocksteady. Given that these guys basically go together like peanut butter and jelly, I figured it would be fitting for this duo to take up just one spot on my list.

For the longest time, I have always wanted to get myself some sort of plastic representation of these guys for my collection. But for some reason, none of the previous releases from the other TMNT lines that I sampled quite did it for me. They all seemed too small. Well these guys definitely don’t have this problem. These guys are massive, and rightfully so. Of the two, Bebop is the definite star with the more vibrant color palette and all the little details in his sculpt such as the turtle skeleton shoulder pads and the working leg brace. But Rocksteady is no slouch either, while his army gear is less eye-catching, his huge and imposing rhino head more than makes up for it.

4) Marvel Legends Bonebreaker BAF

Despite being quite possibly the most prolific toy line I collect every year, not very many individual Marvel Legends figures often end up in my top ten lists. The reason being that for me, the joy of collecting legends is more in completing my favorite teams and lineups. So this is quite the achievement for such an obscure character.

The “outback team” was my favorite lineup of X-men growing up and so by association, the Reavers were my favorite x-villain team (well actually a close second to the Marauders). Slowly but surely, Hasbro has been sneakily building up the Reavers over the past couple years, with Skullbuster (and alt Reese head), Lady Deathstrike and Donald Pierce. To me, Bonebreaker is a firm confirmation that they are committed to completing the team of psychotic evil cyborgs. Aside from the obvious tank lower half, Bonebreaker is a definite visual standout. To make up for his rather static bottom half, Bonebreakers upper body sculpt is so full of maniacal personality. He just elevates the rest of the team in the display. Now all we need is a Pretty Boy and perhaps a deluxe Cole/Macon release with multiple customizing parts. And then we can move on to the Marauders :)

3) Super 7 Ultimates Monkian & Mumm-ra

It took quite awhile but by the later half of 2021, the first NEW figures from Super 7’s Thundercat’s Ultimates line finally started finding their way into collectors’ hands. And by 2022, we got two of possibly the best ones the line has to offer. What? TWO toys in one spot again? Yeah yeah, whatever, it’s my list.

Admittedly, I wasn’t overly excited to receive Monkian or Mumm-ra the Ever-living. They were just key characters that I needed to complete a very basic Thundercats display. But in hand these guys just blew me away. Monkian continues to build upon the amazing work done with Slithe who was released last year. More importantly though, Monkian finally completes the original three evil mutants from the show. Vultureman is set to follow next month and hopefully we’ll get a Ratar-O next year!

But as amazing as Monkian is, he doesn’t hold a candle to Mumm-ra. The first time I held this guy in my hand, I knew that this was a very special figure. Aside from a near perfect sculpt, Mumm-ra is huge. And his size immediately draws attention to him no matter who else he’s displayed with. And as an added bonus, we get Ma-Mutt who is the perfect cherry to this action figure sundae.

Monkian and Mumm-ra revitalized my excitement for Super 7’s Thundercats line a hundred fold. And I can’t believe after years of wondering if we would ever get a decent modern Thundercats line, we are now just a few characters away from finally completing one.

2) Fans Toys Chomp (Masterpiece Skullcruncher)

In 2016, Fans Toys released their version of the Decepticon Headmaster Weirdwolf, called Lupus. It was an odd choice for sure, and naturally everyone assumed that his Headmaster mates Mindwipe and Skullcruncher would follow soon.

Well it took 2 more years for them to finally release Dracula (Mindwipe) along with renders for their version of Skullcruncher (Chomp). Given the relatively short period of time it took Fans Toys to actually release Dracula, everyone (including myself) assumed that we wouldn’t have to wait too long for Chomp to complete this trio. But we were wrong. After numerous delays (and supposedly them going back to the drawing board on his design), Chomp finally arrived a full FOUR years after he was originally announced. And I have to say, it was well worth the wait.

While I am OK with Lupus, he is regarded by many collectors as one of Fans Toys’ weakest releases. Thankfully, Dracula was a whole lot better. And Chomp, well he’s easily the best of the bunch. Yes he has a fairly basic design, but I feel he’s got a ton of personality, especially his alligator mode. It just feels so good to finally have a complete set of Decepticon Headmasters on display. Now if only Maketoys will finally get off their asses and work at finishing the Autobot Headmasters….

1) Cybertron Cavaliers (MPM Optimus Prime)

From the moment I got this guy in hand and messed around with him, there was no doubt in my mind that he would be one of my favorite toys of 2022. And as of the midway point, nothing has topped him yet. He’s just that good. Great design, engineering and presence, what else could you want?

Oh and since my previous post, I was able to fix his one design flaw, which was his extremely weak shoulder ratchets which were prone to tear off. Thankfully the shop I bought this guy from was nice enough to send me replacement diecast parts for free. So problem solved. And a near perfect toy just got even better. While there’s nothing in life as a sure thing….I’m 99.99% certain that this guy will remain on top for the rest of the year….but let’s see. Until the next chapter.