Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Favourite Toys of 2019

Favourite Toys of 2019

Has another year gone by already? 12 months a whole lot of reviews later the time has come to sit down and think about what were some of my favourite toy releases from 2019. As usual it's worth noting that I'm only counting figures that were first released in 2019 (so reissues like the excellent S.H. Figuarts R2-D2 are sadly disqualified) and that I've managed to review for the blog so far. There are a fair few releases from November/December that I sadly haven't got around to yet (or in some cases, haven't even arrived yet), but even so I'm fairly confident in my picks this year. So without further ado, let's bring on the list and find out what my favourite toys of 2019 were!

(and if you think including two-packs is technically cheating, you might want to look away now)

10. Doctor Who Eighth Doctor & Dalek Interrogator Prime Set
Doctor Who Eighth Doctor & Dalek Interrogator Prime Set

While the Doctor Who line can't really measure up to the other entries in this line when it comes to sculpt or articulation, there was just something so exciting about having new figures to look forward to this year that at least one of the releases deserved a space on the list. Sure this two-pack consists of a retool and a repaint, but this is exactly how you go about doing a set like that. Who ever thought we'd ever get Big Finish-inspired Who figures, let alone a Dark Eyes-era Eighth Doctor? The new series Dalek mould also looks fantastic in blue and silver, with that additional paint wash giving it more depth than ever before. 2019 was definitely baby steps, but hopefully this will be the start of Doctor Who toys regaining some of that former glory.

9. Power Rangers Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin Red Ranger & Zeo Gold Ranger
Power Rangers Lightning Collection Mighty Morphin Red Ranger & Zeo Gold Ranger

You can't talk about toys in 2019 without mentioning the Lightning Collection. This was the year Hasbro took full control over the Power Rangers franchise, and when it came to their brand new collector-orientated toy line they definitely came out swinging. There so many releases this year (many of which I haven't even bought myself yet) that could have easily made this list, but the MMPR Red/Zeo Gold 2-pack seemed like a solid choice just for the amount of hype it created. "Officially" related as a convention exclusive (though seemed to be sold just about everywhere in the UK), this set was just one of many power moves Hasbro made to assure fans they wouldn't repeat the same missteps Bandai of America did. While both figures have some minor accuracy issues, that doesn't at all take away from just how fun they both are.

8. Star Wars Black Series Emperor Palpatine & Throne
Star Wars Black Series Emperor Palpatine & Throne

2019 was the year that Star Wars took over my life once again. I finally took the plunge into buying both Black Series and Movie Realization figures, and if there's any part of my collection that's grown the most over the year it's that. But as much as I've enjoyed buying Black Series figures few of them have truly wowed me in the same way other toy lines do, so when one really good one does come along it definitely stands out. The Emperor Palpatine and throne set went far beyond what one would usually expect of a Black Series figure - if completely reworking the old Palpatine figure and throwing in his throne wasn't enough, Hasbro also gave him a range of accessories that could easily rival a Figuarts release. And given that Bandai have now announced a Figuarts version - one which costs 16,000 yen and comes with two unarticulated Royal Guards, Hasbro's version definitely comes out on top as the one offering more for your money.

7. S.H. MonsterArts Gamera [1995]
S.H. MonsterArts Gamera [1995]

Given that it's mostly used to wheel out a new Godzilla mould every now and again you can't help but forget that sometimes the S.H. MonsterArts line exists, but all it takes is a new Gamera figure and you'll definitely have my attention. Gamera: Guardian of the Universe is my favourite Gamera film, my favourite kaiju films and honestly probably one of my favourite films in general. As great as the previous two MonsterArts releases were this was the one I was waiting for, and Bandai didn't disappoint. The sculpt really captures the more rounded look of the 1995 suit, and the various flight parts are a brilliant exercise in unique effect parts. Maybe one day we'll get a Gyaos to go with it, but since that's probably wishful thinking this is better than nothing.

6. S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Kamen Rider OOO (TaToBa Combo)
S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Kamen Rider OOO (TaToBa Combo)

It's pretty much a given that any "top 10 toys" list I produce at the end of the year is going to include at least two S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou figures - they are genuinely that good. But usually the much bigger question is which ones? Kamen Rider Diend would have certainly been in the running had it not bizarrely been a Tamashii Nation 2019 exclusive, and as good as the new Raiga Saejima version of Garo is it's still essentially the same figure that hit the number 3 spot last year. So instead I've settled for what I consider to be the biggest glow up the line has produced so far. I could go on forever about how much I hate the original S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider OOO TaToBa figure, but this one is a whole different story. This is the toy OOO has deserved all along, and the additional combo change gimmick was a very unexpected surprise.

5. Super Mini-Pla Galaxy Mega & Delta Mega
Super Mini-Pla Galaxy Mega & Delta Mega

The Super Mini-Pla line continued to plough on this year, with Super Sentai releases from both Denji Sentai Megaranger and Choujin Sentai Jetman. Both ranges continued the high bar Bandai had set for themselves with the Kakuranger kits at the end of last year, but the Megaranger set was particularly special just for how different it was. Rather than the usual five or six components forming one robot, here we had two chunky, fully-transforming spaceships. The builds themselves are a whole lot of fun, the kits are as articulated as you'd hope and then the combined Super Galaxy Mega is an armed monstrosity of a robot. Plus the Power Rangers in Space connection certainly helped for their popularity in the West as well.

4. Star Wars Black Series Chopper (C1-10P)
Star Wars Black Series Chopper (C1-10P)

Of all the Star Wars figures I've bought this year, who would have thought my favourite would be a tiny little Astromech Droid with a bad attitude? Despite it's size Black Series Chopper goes above and beyond what I've come to expect from Hasbro's flagship Star Wars range - not only packing a ton of features into the figure itself but also bundling some excellent accessories as well. Perhaps more importantly though the release of both Chopper and Ezra this year fans came two steps closer to completing the main Rebels line up. Though not officially confirmed by Hasbro yet leaks have suggested Zeb will indeed be joining them next year, and if that's the case then I fully expect him to make the list in 2020 as well.

3. Power Rangers Lightning Collection Lord Zedd
Power Rangers Lightning Collection Lord Zedd

Nearly every release in the Lightning Collection so far has felt like some sort of Hasbro power move to assert dominance over the much-maligned Bandai of America, but in terms of getting fans to immediately pay attention to the line none were quite as bold as putting Power Rangers' most famous villain in the very first wave. Yes there's been Lord Zedd figures in the past but none of them have ever been particularly accurate and thus ultimately rather forgettable. The Lightning Collection Lord Zedd on the other hand showed that Hasbro mean business. Not just a great figure, but hopefully a confirmation that Hasbro are just as committed to bringing fans toys of the villains as they are the rangers themselves.

2. S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Belial
S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Belial

After primarily focusing on the Showa era since the beginning of the Figuarts Ultraman range, this year Bandai properly turned their attention toward the modern era and completed the New Generations Hero line up with the long-awaited Ultraman Ginga and Ultraman Victory. But before then they also covered another beloved part of Ultra history - Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy. Arguably the true starting point of the franchise's "current" era, the film debuted fan favourites Ultraman Zero and his eternal rival Ultraman Belial - both of whom received figures this year. Zero is great, but Belial is further proof that villains always get the best toys. From his more muscular sculpt to demonic hands, this is an Ultraman figure quite like no other and (as good as Belial Atrocious may be) the Belial we were all waiting for.

1. S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Kamen Rider Kiva (Kiva Form)
S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Kamen Rider Kiva (Kiva Form)

In 2019 there could only be one winner. After over a decade of waiting Kamen Rider Kiva finally arrived to fully complete the main Kamen Rider line up, and Bandai Tamashii Nations made sure that he was absolutely worth that wait. It's pretty much a given that a Shinkocchou Seihou figure is going to be one of the best S.H. Figuarts figures you ever handle, but somehow Kiva managed to be that little bit better too. A perfect sculpt with crisp, vibrant colours and a wealth of extremely cool accessories (the alternate 'Hell's Gate' right foot especially), Kiva is nothing short of perfection. Even if you're someone like me who utterly hated Kamen Rider Kiva the series, its suits are a thing of beauty and Bandai has done it proud. A very worthy winner.

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And with that comes the end of not just another year, but the end of the decade. Looking back on the posts from this year I'm glad I finally got to round off those Heisei era Kamen Rider reviews with Den-O and Kiva. I've got a couple of Showa era shows I'm eager to check out in the early part of 2020, but the plan is to eventually revisit some classic Super Sentai and finally review some fan favourites like Kakuranger and Carranger. But on top of that you can also expect the usual stream of anime and toy reviews, with many exciting additions already planned for the year ahead. Thank you for supporting the blog throughout 2019, and hopefully you'll all come and visit again in 2020. Happy new year!

By the way...what were your favourite figures of 2019? Let me know in the comment section below!

2 comments:

Oar said...

Galaxy Mega and its buddy are definitely my number one, but I'm not surprised at all to see the magnificent Kiva at the top.

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