Paul C’s Top 10 Toys Of The Year

Well, it’s now the end of the month, and that means it’s finally time to put out my Top 10 Toys list for the year.  “But Paul, it’s January 31st.  You’re supposed to get this kind of list out by DECEMBER 31st!  You’re a month late!”  Sure, if we use that calendar, I am indeed late, BUT I have a loophole!  Like fellow member of the ROCFam AznKidMatt, I am Asian.  That means I can use…Chinese New Year! 


Yes, that’s why this list is coming out on January 31st, not because I collect so many different lines that I needed an extra month to whittle it down.  And besides, my wife and I are having a baby soon, so Lay Off Me!    


Ahem.  Anyway, without further delay (since this is already so delayed), here are my Top 10 Toys of 4715!

10) Titans Return Sky Shadow


Yes, you read that correctly.  That’s a mainline Hasbro figure in my top 10 and SPOILER, more are coming (#hailhasbro!).  As you’ll be able to tell from the rest of this list, I love to play with my toys.  Not only does this toy look great, but it works incredibly well.  Most complaints about this figure are: He’s a headmaster (not canon), he has waffles, and he shouldn’t turn into a jet and a plane.  None of those things bother me.  As one who loves a fun toy over a slavish recreation of the source material, I’m completely on board with the changes.  His face sculpt is great, his transformation is surprisingly easy and intuitive for combining 2 vehicles into one robot, and he’s solid as hell!  The only thing that keeps him from being higher up on the list is the lack of a waist swivel and the fact that he can’t hold his gun as well.  Small potatoes compared to actually getting all 3 well-scaled Phase Sixers in the same retail toyline.  Whoever would have thought this day would come?

9) The Iron Factory Seekers


I’m compiling these all into one entry as I don’t remember which ones actually came out this year.  I love Legends figures.  I’m right up there with our more prominent members of the ROCFam (Deluxe, AceMilo, Robert D, etc).  Though I definitely enjoy the G1 stylings of the DX9 Legends Seekers, for me, there’s no comparison.  The Iron Factory offerings win.  I like their beefy proportions and I like the Raptor stylization, but where IF wins out over DX9 is in the engineering.  Look at the comparison shots below. 


From left to right, we have DX9, Hasbro, and Iron Factory.  IF is significantly smaller than DX9 in jet mode, but upon transformation, they are almost the same height.  Very impressive.  I’m not saying the DX9 is bad by any means.  I just like the IF for what it has accomplished.  Plus, a BAF clear Seeker?  As someone who loves clear Transformers as much as Deluxe, that was my jam.  Well played, Iron Factory.

8) Titans Return Triggerhappy (and his mold mates Misfire and Sluglinger)


For me, these guys are among the best of the Titans Return line.  I never would have thought we’d get this set of the Decepticon Targetmasters.  Cyclonus and Scourge always get a lot of love, but never these guys.  Getting them all was a treat, but the big bonus is that they’re great toys!  Yes, they share a mold, but they have surprisingly different personalities in hand (probably from those colors), and their transformations feel surprisingly different despite all being retools.  There’s enough that’s different about them so as to not feel boring.  It certainly helps that the transformations are surprisingly complex (but not difficult) for a retail deluxe figure.  Kudos, Hasbro!

7) Iron Factory Bridge Watcher


Another great entry from Iron Factory.  He’s a nice chunky bot of a Shockwave, isn’t he?  His proportions are similar to Quakewave, and that’s a good thing.  His transformation isn’t difficult (once you figure out how to transform those legs.  Man, how many reviews made that leg transformation seem like a nightmare?  It’s super easy once you understand the sequence), and you end up with a great bot and a great gun.  He even comes with swappable hands (on a Legends figure!).  What’s not to like?   

6) Titans Return Top Spin and Twin Twist


Remember what I said 2 entries ago about the TR Triggerhappy mold?  You can pretty much copy and paste that here.  These are a bit higher on the list for me because they were even more unexpected (for me).  These guys both transform into nonsensical vehicles.  They were both gimmick-ridden G1 toys that weren’t great, though they held a special place in many hearts.  I never thought we’d get the pair of these guys, much less a pair that looked great and had yet another fun, complex transformation.  Plus, I LVOE WRECKERS!  #WreckAndRule!

5) MMC Kultur


I am a big fan of the IDW comics.  The first few years of MTMTE and RID really sucked me in and I was dying to get representations of those IDW guys on my shelves.  This was particularly true of the DJD.  The first 2 MMC offerings looked great, but had very particular transformations.  They weren’t much fun, though it was worth it to get them on my shelf.  Tarn here bucked that trend.  Not only did he look great, but his transformation was simple by comparison.  Simple isn’t necessarily a bad thing in this case.  To go from a chunky tank to a chunky bot shouldn’t be tough.  This one was simple enough to be fun, yet involved enough to not be mind-numbing.  I have no problem PLAYING with this guy while I’m watching TV, and because of that, he gets a lot of love from me.

4) Unique Toys Perukill


What more can be said about this guy?  He’s takes the #1 spot on a lot of lists, and he’s well deserving of that spot. Hell, he is my top Transformer, and that says a lot.  He looks incredible in both modes, and his transformation is truly special.  I still don’t really understand how we were able to get a kibble-free Bayformer.  Those designs are Kibble City, yet this one manages to pull it off spectacularly.  The only reason this isn’t my #1 is because he basically stands alone on my shelf.  I don’t have any other MP Movie figures, and I don’t plan on getting any more (unless they turn out like this).

3) Lego Ninjago City


You all knew I was going to have some Lego representation on this list, didn’t you (check out Building Up To It every Friday on the Bricks On The Dollar YouTube or on your preferred audio format)?  Well, this set is a doozy!  At nearly 5,000 pieces, this could have been a very tedious and “complicated” build.  I’m glad to say that this one was a blast to put together.  The box art (done by one Bobby Skullface) looks amazing, but there’s no way it would look like that in person, right?  Well, check this out:


It is every bit as impressive in person as it is on that box.  Even if you didn’t watch the Lego Ninjago Movie (I understand that it’s an acquired taste), there’s still a story to tell with this set.  As is the case with the (real) super-crowded Asian metropolises, this structure is built from the bottom up.  Things are added on top of each other, and this allows a story to unfold.  The bottom level is decidedly old-school.  Lots of stone carvings and structures and there’s a river running through it that you can traverse on a boat.  In the name of progress, modernization must occur.  Let’s just add upwards!  The upper levels are decidedly modern with things like a crab restaurant, a comic shop, an ATM, and even a rooftop sushi restaurant (with a sushi conveyor belt!).  One really fun thing about the build is that cherry blossom tree that you can see on the right of the pics.  It gets built layer by layer as you complete each floor of the city.  It’s not until you finish the blossoms that you realize that you’ve been building an overgrown tree the entire time.  Much like the modern stores and restaurants being built on top of the traditional, the traditional cherry blossom tree is coming through the modern.  I love little details like that.  The play features on this set are just immense (did I mention it comes with 16 minifigures?), and once again, I love to play with my toys. 

2) SH Figuarts Bruce Lee


Any member of the Realm knows how great a Figuarts figure can be.  Super poseable, blistering with accessories, and typically a great likeness to the source material, these are truly action figures for adults.  In that sense, this figure is nothing special.  I own many Figuarts figures and they’re all great.  There’s something about this one though…The likeness is uncanny, and the poseability is very appropriate for Bruce Lee.  I’d love to have Figuarts poseability with all of my toys, but having it on a martial artist is just gravy.  The funny thing is that I don’t really put him in many of your typical action/fight poses.  I love to pose him in that split second before the fight begins…that moment of tension before it all goes down.  You can see the almost feel his muscles tensing up before springing into action.  My true confirmation on the greatness of this figure, though, is that my entire family took notice of it.  I cracked this guy open over Christmas, and as I typically do, I played with it on my own.  I don’t draw much attention when I’m playing with my toys.  Every time someone new walked by it, they were taken aback with how impressive it was.  The poses, the likeness, everything.  If a normie will immediately understand the greatness of a toy without needing explanation from me, I consider that a win.

1) Diaclone Big Powered GV


Man, this thing is one impressive beast.  The price point will immediately put this out of many a comfort zone, but if you also like to play with your toys, do yourself a favor.  Find a Japanese retailer and pick this up.  It’s amazing.  Much like Vehicle Voltron, Big Powered here is made up of multiple vehicles.  What is even more impressive is that those vehicles can all interact with each other.  Connect one piece to another.  Open them up and play with the crane.  Collapse the mech suit and transport it.  And when you’re done with all of that?  Combine them all into a GIANT ASS ROBOT!  Everything about this entire line is a throwback to an earlier time.  Motorized play features, transformations, magnets, clips, everything you remember from your childhood is here…and it’s solid as hell.  No need to worry about poor DX9 tolerances or loose TFC joints.  You can bash this thing around without fear of…anything, really.

So that’s my top 10!  As you can see, my tastes are very varied, but the running theme is that I love to play with my toys!  I know this isn’t the case with everyone else’s sensibilities.  What toys made your top list this past year?

(You know what?  Because I love to talk about toys, here are a few Honorable Mentions in no particular order):

Marvel Legends Marvel Knights


I’m a big fan of the Marvel Netflix shows (though they vary in quality), and I’m really happy to see them represented on my shelf, especially looking as good as they do.  Just a bit more poseability would have put them on my top 10.  I look forward to seeing more in later waves (I want a Kingpin, Black Suit Daredevil, Luke Cage…)

Titans Return Trypticon


I am so pumped to have an updated Trypticon toy.  This is the kind of Generations figure I love.  A modernized interpretation of the G1 toy.  It looks good in all modes, and it is a great use of the play features of the line.  Plus, he can eat Titan Masters!  Just a fun piece all around.


Lego Minifigures


Representing both Marvel and DC here, I’ve picked a sprinkling of some of Lego’s offerings this year.  We have some of the more ridiculous members of Batman’s Rogues Gallery, the stars of Marvel’s newest buddy comedy, and The Spirit Of Vengeance.  If you don’t think these are charming as fuck, you might be dead inside.

Marvel Legends BAF Warlock


Show of hands.  Who actually thought we’d ever get a Warlock figure, much less one that looked as incredible as this?  No one did.  Put your hands down.  You’re lying. 

MMC Calidus - Shadow Ghost Version (TFCon USA Exclusive)


Solid figure, fun transformation, great color scheme, and I love a mustachioed bot.  Excellent!

Lego Ninjago Movie Fire Mech


If you listen to Building Up To It, you know I love me a good mech suit.  This one absolutely fits the bill.  It looks incredible!  The only thing that kept it off of my Top 10 is that it’s not as poseable as it looks, at least not out of the box.  There are some great mods out there that will give it a knee bend, etc, but because you have to do that on your own, it gets dinged.

Paul C

IG: @paulchiu1

Twitter: @paulchiu1

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In a world where toy manufacturers are having a hard time breaking through the gender divide, Lego has had the key all along.  Open a tub of Lego Blocks in a group of kids and both boys and girls will begin to build. They will build cars, houses, spaceships, pyramids, everything they can imagine. The only limits to their creativity are how many blocks they have.


Lego is the ultimate unisex toy and its popularity is growing. Even adults enjoy building with those colorful blocks (Editor's note: to hear from 3 such adults, check out the "Building Up To It" podcast on the Bricks On The Dollar YouTube channel!). Lego even produces kits to build everything from a snow speeder from star wars to the apartment in big bang theory.  These kits have made it possible for the most unimaginative person to build something cool. The build kits have brought more adults back into Legos than ever before.


Thanks to these little blocks, we have an imaginative outlet for both boys and girls as well as a gateway for budding designers.  We know that using the imagination is good for our brain development but Lego adds another element to this.  Manipulation of the bricks by both children and adults helps with those fine motor skills that are so important in our lives. Who would've thought that these little blocks were that multipurpose.


Lego has made it a point to market to all children (and adults). I was watching TV the other day and saw a commercial which brought a smile to my face. In this commercial were 4 children, 3 boys and a girl. They were playing with a Lego set from the Ninjago line. The interaction between these 4 children showed no gender bias and the girl had a lounger as well as the boys.  Finally, a company has made it a point to not assume that only boys will want these toys.  


I believe, that in the very near future, we are going to see more and more of this unisex marketing of toys.  After years of placing boys in shop class and girls in home economics, we are finally starting to see the end of the divide.  As the years move on, I am looking forward to attending more CON’s and seeing more and more female involvement in the events.  As for the social media groups, I am already seeing more and more ladies joining them all the time.  To all the ladies that read this, I say it is time to let your inner geek goddess shine.  


Just a quick addition and I will let you all go back to your lives.  I am thankful that you have taken a minute to read these words.  My geeky side has been blessed by having so many people accept me with open arms and I, for that, I am eternally grateful.  Thank you all and have a great day.


Anna D

First Lady of the ROC

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A Spoiler Free Review Of Thor: Ragnarok

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Before tonight’s Enter The Realm, I thought I’d throw out some thoughts on Thor: Ragnarok.  I’m sure they’ll discuss it in its entirety on the show (assuming the Jackal Squad all got around to watching it), but I figure I’d throw some thoughts out there for anyone wondering if they should go see it.  This will be spoiler free and I don’t plan on revealing anything that wasn’t obvious from the trailers.  If you purposefully stayed away from those, you may want to check out here.  Actually, check out after you take a look at this Lego poster for Thor 3.  It’s awesome! 


Anyway, we’ll start with the bottom line.  Should you see it?  Yes, yes you should.  I REALLY enjoyed the film.  It’s a lot of fun and the visuals are stunning.  Are there things that will be hated by “true” Thor fans or Hulk fans?  Most certainly.  They didn’t bother me at all, but I’ll try and detail some of them below.

First thing:  The tone.  As is often discussed on Nerd Rage Radio (and sometimes on ETR as well), there is a fear that the MCU films are getting too jokey.  As Bobby Skullface would say, “Too many lulz.”  Adam Russman was actually worried that after the success of the Guardians Of The Galaxy movies, Marvel Studios would automatically assume that we need more Chris Pratt-style jokes.  Well, they were right.  This movie is packed full of jokes.  Did I mind it?  Not one bit.  In all honesty, the Thor movies were probably my least favorite of the MCU flicks.  It’s not that I didn’t like them (something has to be at the bottom), but as a character, Thor has always been a bit bland to me (I was never a fan of his comics either).  I enjoyed this shift in tone.  It’s no longer about the warrior/god existing amongst humans.  In fact, the tone shifts significantly from a Fantasy genre film to almost a Buddy Cop film (certainly once Hulk gets involved). 

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Lots of jokes at the expense of Tony Stark and Loki (as should be expected at this point), but there were many others as well.  If you already thought the MCU films had too many jokes, this will certainly disappoint, but as I observed my theater, the jokes were very well received by those less jaded and by the normies. 

Location.  The first 2 films were on Earth.  That grounded the Thor films in a way that was needed, certainly when introducing the god of thunder to a crowd that didn’t know him already.  Having Kat Dennings’ character question all of Thor’s strange actions is a great way to answer the audience’s questions.  Thor: Ragnarok is not on Earth.  It takes place on Asgard or on Sakaar.  Both worlds are fantastic and (for lack of a better term) out-of-this-world.  Doing this frees Thor up to be Thor.  You no longer have to try and explain Thor’s magic through the lens of earth-based science.  Now it can just be magic.  Thor can just be a badass fighter and a great warrior. 

Visuals:  Even if you don’t like the way this movie is sounding, you will still be enamored by the visuals.  Yes, there are some parts that are obviously CGI (Cate Blanchett can’t actually generate knives out of thin air), but for the most part, things are at the level expected with the MCU.  The world is bright and vibrant and the fight scenes are epic.  There is a VERY 80’s sci-fi/fantasy vibe with the visuals, but given the soundtrack and the subject matter, it’s appropriate.  It definitely adds to the fun (I pray that the Ready Player One movie can capture the 80’s feel like this movie did).   

The Cast: This is probably where this movie shines the most.  All of the major players do a great job in their roles.  If you’ve seen ANY other review of Thor 3 (or even just read the headlines), you know that the star player is Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie. 


She’s featured in a good majority of the film and she does very well with her material.  She portrays a complex badass well!

Cate Blanchett is great as Hela.

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I mean, look at her!  You can tell that she really enjoyed playing Hela.  She’s a multi-Oscar award winner, so you know she can play Subtle very well.  She doesn’t have to do that here.  She gets to be broad and crazy and you can really tell she’s having a blast.

Tom Hiddleston is as good as always with his portrayal of Loki. 


By now we expect a certain level of excellence from him in this role.  We get it here, though he’s the brunt of a lot of the jokes.  It’s hard to take the trickster god seriously when he’s so often the brunt of the joke, but the movie doesn’t really focus as much on him this time.  On a separate note, is it weird that when I see Tom Hiddleston with his normal hair, it looks wrong?  He’s so engrained in my head as Loki that when he doesn’t have the long, black hair, it seems off. 

Idris Elba is his normal badass self as Heimdall. 


He has a meatier role this time around (I’m sure this is due to the fact that he’s just so awesome).  A true badass all around.

Karl Urban is fine as Skurge, but he’s probably the most “throwaway” of the cast. 


I feel that he probably had a more complex (and ultimately more satisfying) role in the movie, but his good stuff got cut out for time.  If the MCU ever did a Director’s Cut, he’d probably feature more heavily.  As it stands, he’s…fine.  I fully admit, I may be overly disappointed in this due to my love of Karl Urban in general.

The biggest question mark was Jeff Goldblum as Grandmaster. 


Was he going to bring something interesting to the role, or would he just be Jeff Goldblum?  Well, he was very Goldblum-y.  Let’s get that out of the way right off the bat.  The good thing is that the writers definitely took that into account.  They used his quirks to the advantage of the story and his…neuroticisms played well to the character.   

Mark Ruffalo plays Bruce Banner well as always and Sir Anthony Hopkins does a good job as Odin.  They aren’t in the movie very much, so it’s tough to really critique their characters.  Just know that Anthony Hopkins has a “Sir” before his name for a reason, and Mark Ruffalo gets to be jokey for the first time in a while (again, having this movie set somewhere besides Earth allows for the character to cut loose a bit).

So we get back to my bottom line.  Should you see this movie?  Yes, I would probably give it a high 8/10.  I’ll give it an 8.5 for simplicity’s sake.  Is it going to be for everyone?  Probably not.  I believe Jisk wants his MCU movies to be more serious like the DC films.  He probably won’t like all of the jokes here.  It’s a safe bet that Adam Russman and Bobby Skullface will not like this solely because of the jokes (Joe KW will probably like it).  Will it do well?  Absolutely.  This will be the best performing Thor movie without question.  Should you watch it?  If you’re a fan of the source material, I have no idea if this is accurate, so your mileage will vary.  If you like the MCU iteration of Thor and you like the progression his character has made, you will definitely like this.  If you’re a casual MCU fan, you’ll like this.  If you just want to have some fun at the theater, you’ll like it. If any of those sound like you, go see it. 

Or as Chuck C so succinctly put it:

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Paul C

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IG: @paulchiu1


Twitter: @paulchiu1

Like Lego?  Be sure to check out the Building Up To It podcast on the Bricks On The Dollar youtube channel!