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.
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.