Sunday 31 December 2017

Favourite Toys of 2017

2017 has come to a close and since I had so much fun putting a list together last year, I thought I'd go ahead and count down my top 10 favourite toys that I've purchased and reviewed over the last year. It's been a great year for S.H. Figuarts so as expected the line pops up a fair few times, but there's also a few surprises along the way too. To keep the list as varied as possible I've tried to spread the Figuarts entries across different series (so one Kamen Rider, one Ultraman etc.) on top of an additional entry for the Shinkocchou Seihou line. 

Honourable mentions for the handful of figures I bought this year, but haven’t been included as I either haven’t reviewed them yet or they’re still in transit. Few of them would have probably made the top 10, but they deserve a mention regardless:
- Proplica Gurren Lagann Core Drill
- Figma Deadpool [DX Edition]
- Figma Red
- S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Kamen Rider 1
- S.H. Figuarts Takeshi Hongo
- Nendoroid Ash Ketchum
- NX-Edge Style Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann

Now that's out of the way, let's take a closer look at some of my favourite releases of 2017!

10. S.H. Figuarts Nappa

With Dragon Ball Figuarts now back in full swing, the first spot in this list goes to a character that’s been long overdue release – S.H. Figuarts Nappa. First seen all the way back in 2012, it’s taken five long years for Nappa to see the light of day and thankfully a fair few improvements have been made along the way. This is actually a brand new mould first seen at the 2016 Tamashii Nations event, fully armoured and sporting a far better sculpt than the old prototype. Nappa’s release seems to have also gotten the ball rolling on other Saiyan Saga figures getting released too, with Yamucha having just been released and Tenshinhan following soon. S.H. Figuarts Nappa is hulking brute of a figure, complimenting Saiyan Saga Vegeta perfectly and getting the line one-step closer to covering its most important villains.

9. The LEGO Batman Movie Minifigure range

Ah LEGO, my earliest collector obsession. Back when I was a child all my money went on LEGO, but as I grew older and the kits got more and more expensive I slowly moved away from it. 2017 saw the release of the excellent LEGO Batman Movie, and as you'd expect came along with kits of various sizes and price points to tie-in. I picked up a couple of the smaller sets and had a lot of fun with all of them, but arguably it was the accompanying minifigure wave that truly reignited my passion for one of the biggest toy brands in the world. Counting a whole wave of figures as one might be cheating a bit, but there's just so much fun here that it's impossible to single any out. As well as some great variants of the core cast, there's some brilliant reinterpretations of obscure and classic villains that just goes to show how much love was put into the film. What's even better is there's a second wave coming in 2018 that has an even better selection of characters!

8. Transformers Legends LG-46 Targetmaster Kup

In addition to rekindling my long-lost love affair with LEGO, 2017 was also a year I picked up Transformers in a way I didn't expect. Hasbro's Titans Return line tapped into my love for Headmasters, while TakaraTomy's cartoon-accurate remoulds and repaints in their Legends line turned them into must-have figures for me. Kup is my favourite Autobot, and the Legends figure has pretty much I could ever want from a modern toy of him. Modern articulation combined with a G1-styled alt mode, the perfect head sculpt and then an additional Targetmaster on top of all that. It's a huge shame that the Legends line won't be continuing with Power of the Primes next year, because I'm sure the stuff they'd have come up with would have looked spectacular.

7. S.H. Figuarts Dada

The biggest S.H. Figuarts highlight for me this year has been the range of monsters and aliens on offer in the still relatively-new Ultraman range, with each subsequent release pushing to be better than the last. After beginning work on Ultraseven as well as continuing on with the original series’ most famous faces, the line ended 2017 on a high with the Tamashii web exclusive Dada. Free from the usual limitations brought on by the more restrictive suit designs, Dada is a fantastic figure with even better accessories – the kind that make you want to pick up more than one. The Ultraman Figuarts line hasn’t come far enough to stand toe-to-toe with the likes of the Kamen Rider range just yet, but if it keeps evolving like this in 2018 it feels like just a matter of time.

6. Figma Twilight Princess Link [DX Edition]

With The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild being 2017's game of the year, Nendoroid Breath of the Wild Link is perhaps a more fitting candidate for this list. But as great as that toy was, even it can't stand up to Figma's Twilight Princess Link which is arguably the definitive Link toy. This is a vast improvement over the old Skyward Sword toy, with far superior detail and sculpting. The DX Edition takes things even further, with an impressive array of accessories that nicely cover Link's signature weaponry from the game. If you only ever need one Legend of Zelda action figure, make it this one.

5. Uchu Sentai Kyuranger Minipla KyurenOh

Super Sentai minipla hit a new personal best this year with the Uchu Sentai Kyuranger range, with KyrenOh undoubtedly being the best of the bunch (note: I don't actually own them all but from what I've seen the others don't look like they'd top this).  Spread across two different waves, KyurenOh's swappable limb interactivity and the line's articulation go hand in hand, with the first wave especially coming out beautifully. Even the seemingly cumbersome Kyutama gimmick doesn't interfere too much with the end result, which is a model kit that looks fantastic both with and without paint. Minipla have come a long, long way over the past few years and I can't wait to see what Bandai cook up when they tackle Lupinranger vs. Patranger next year.

4. S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Kamen Rider Accel

The Shinkocchou Seihou range is currently hitting Kamen Rider W at full force, with the release of Accel, Skull and the event-exclusive Joker this year along with Eternal and FangJoker (as well as a standard web release for Joker) set to follow in early 2018. A bigger surprise was both Accel and Skull being standard retail release, given that previously any other non-titular Riders in the line had been web exclusives. Both Skull and Accel are incredible figures that live up to the line’s high standards, however Accel slightly edges Skull out thanks to his more unique design. The original Accel was certainly beginning to look its age, to get this nice shiny new one complete with more accurate sculpt, working Gaia Memory gimmick and alternate “illuminated” head couldn’t have come at a better time.

3. S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Genm Zombie Gamer Level X

After inexplicably moving two steps backward with last year’s Kamen Rider Ghost range, it was back to normality for the current Kamen Rider series Figuarts as it moved into the realm of Kamen Rider Ex-Aid. 2017 saw a lot of strong releases, but the most anticipated one was also the best one. After making his debut on Christmas Eve last year Kamen Rider Genm Level X (aka “Dangerous Zombie”) immediately took the fandom by storm and cemented Kuroto Dan’s place as a firm fan favourite. The wait for the figure’s release in October was a long one, but certainly worth it. A perfectly sculpted figure that highlights all the intricacies of the Level X suit, together with enough articulation to pull off Dan’s signature poses. Arguably the must-have Figuart of the year – if you can still find it for a decent price that is.

2. Beast Box BB-01 D10BB-02 Ghost Dog

My toy habits are very much an (un)healthy diet of a few select lines, so when something new comes along and wows me you know they’ve done something right. 52TOYS’ Beast Box figures have definitely been a highlight of 2017 and while I really like their recent JOJO releases, it’s the original dinos that won my heart. BB-02 appeal to be far more on an aesthetic sense, but I also can’t deny the cuteness of the growing line’s mascot. Cheap, quirky and full of character, these little cubes instantly liven up any display or desk space.

1. Transformers Masterpiece MP-36 Megatron

My favourite toy of 2017 is the one I undoubtedly paid for the most for, as well as being something I’ve dreamed about owning for a long time. Despite once being fully immersed in the Transformers fandom, a G1 Megatron figure (let alone a decent one) was always something that eluded me. MP-05 was far too expensive for me back then, and given the noted fragility of the figure that was probably for the best. However when MP-36 was announced, it was time to buy what would quickly become the crown jewel in my Transformers collection.

The transformation to gun mode is both stressful and fiddly but damn is MP-36 an impressive toy. Looking absolutely incredible in both modes (the gun mode’s panelling can be forgiven given just how perfectly shaped it is) along with great articulation and a wealth of fun option parts and accessories, this really is the only official G1 Megatron figure you’ll ever need.


Thank you to everyone who's read and commented on this blog throughout 2017 - it's your patronage and feedback and gives me the motivation to keep going with it. While I've made a promise to myself in 2018 to cut back on spending a little bit (space is a luxury I don't have at the moment!), you can still expect a steady stream of toy reviews (as well as getting a bit more on schedule with show and movie reviews) as that resolution will probably only last a few months anyway. All that's left to say is happy new year, and let me know what your favourite releases were in the comments below!

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