Monday, 31 December 2018

Favourite Toys of 2018


It's that time of the year again! Before we usher in 2019 it's time to look back at all the purchases I've made this year and pick out my ten favourites. This year's offerings are a little different that before in that it also features I few things I haven't reviewed on the site (either because I just never got around to it or it's a relatively recent release and it's on the backlog), but like before I've tried to make it as varied as possible so it isn't just a list of ten Figuarts. It's also worth noting that these are my favourite toys of 2018, so not necessarily the best ones I've bought. So while there may be ones that didn't make the cut I've perhaps rated higher, they don't necessarily have as much emotional significance to me as the ones I've listed here.

While most of my purchases for the year have arrived and been inspected to see if they'd make the list (including the ones I haven't put up reviews for yet), there are a few that are exempt either because they haven't arrived yet or (in the case of model kits) I haven't got around to building them yet. These are:
- Super Mini-Pla Kakure Daishogun
- Super Mini-Pla Gridman & Assist Weapons
- S.H. Figuarts Gudon
- NECA Bride of Chucky Ultimate Chucky & Tiffany 2-Pack

But enough of that, on with the list!

10. Figure Complex Amazing Yamaguchi Carnage

Who would have thought there'd be a Revoltech on a list of favourite toys from 2018? The once great line used to rule the roost when it came to affordable Japanese action figures, but in recent years is completely outclassed by the likes of S.H. Figuarts, Figma or even Mafex. But the Amazing Yamaguchi figures are just as their name suggests, providing an incredibly dynamic array of figures from the Marvel Comics universe. Carnage is one of my favourite comic book villains so I was looking forward to this as soon as it was announced, but I still wasn't prepared for the sheer level of options this toy has. It may not fare as well in neutral poses and mastering revolver joints is a bit of fine art, but once you've managed that you've got a highly expressive figure with a whopping 32 different accessory pieces to play around with. And no matter what anyone says, the "click click click' of a Revoltech revolver joint will never not be music to my ears.

9. Transformers Legends LG-60 Overlord

When I first got a hold of Transformers: Super God Masterforce way back in 2006, I never thought in a million years that I'd get a hold of an Overlord figure without paying out a small fortune - let alone a modern articulated one. But the Transformers Legends line is the gift that keeps on giving, and in 2018 presented their Super Ginrai figure with his arch nemesis. Sure the mould's release in the Titans Return line technically makes it a 2017 figure, but the Legends version makes some all-important changes that please sticklers for cartoon accuracy such as myself. The darker blue colour scheme is far more appealing, and the moulded Godmasters is an essential bit of detailing if the toy is going to forgo featuring them in favour of a Headmaster gimmick. The additional feminine Mega head is a strange, but nice touch. If either Hasbro or TakaraTomy would be kind enough to release a Deszaras figure now, I'll be all set.

8. S.H. Figuarts Pandon "The Biggest Invasion in History" Set

The Ultraman range has been my number one priority when it comes to S.H. Figuarts collecting for a few years now, but despite the impressive range of figures Bandai have released I will freely admit that when it comes to execution they often aren't quite as amazing as the Kamen Rider side of things. The kaiju are an especially tough thing to nail as articulated figures, since the designs often mean that they often turn out as limited as the suits they're based off. But every so often Bandai will come up with something that is that good, and this year it was the turn of the S.H. Figuarts Pandon "The Biggest Invasion in History" Set. Already a significant entry in the line due to its status as Ultraseven's final foe, Pandon combines all the best elements of both the S.H. Figuarts and S.H. MonsterArts lines into a truly fantastic release.

7. Robot Damashii Gipsy Avenger

NECA's social media account like to trash talk Tamashii Nation's prices at any opportunity they get, but this year Bandai really took them to town with their Pacific Rim Uprising figures. Not only were these figures bigger than the average Robot Damashii and had a far more widespread release, but they were also priced to directly compete with their Western rivals. Gipsy Avenger was the cheapest of the all, retailing for an unbelievable 2484 yen. For that price you got an impressively posable figure (with the box proudly proclaiming its 24 points of articulation), and an accessory count that might be lower than the norm but still covered off all the main bases. It's an incredible figure on its own, but perhaps the strongest selling point of all is that the low low price offered newcomers the perfect gateway into the world of Tamashii Nations - making their high quality figures more accessible than ever before.

6. LEGO Ideas Voltron

SURPRISE TWIST: A toy that I haven't actually reviewed on the site! For the record I had every intention of putting a review up when I finished building it and even have half the photos already taken, but as others thing took priority it slipped further and further down the list and just never materialised. I have every intention of finishing it though, so hopefully that'll be coming early next year? But yes, the LEGO Ideas Voltron set is an incredible feat in building block construction. Five impressively sized and articulated lions that perfectly transform into an accurate, albeit static from the waist down, 15 inch tall Voltron. And if that isn't impressive enough, the sword is also 11 inches long. Given how underwhelming Bandai's Super Mini-Pla offering turned out to be, this really scratched the itch of having a good Voltron toy that wasn't the Soul of Chogokin figure. It's a big LEGO set so it obviously isn't cheap, but an insanely fun build and an absolutely fantastic display piece.

5. S.H. Figuarts ~Shinkocchou Seihou~ Kamen Rider Wizard Flame Style

It wouldn't be a "Favourite Toys of 201X" list without at least one S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou entry, and boy has there been some good ones this year. Tamashii's premium S.H. Figuarts offshoot has gone all out in 2018, with releases coming more regular than ever and even finally branching outside of the Kamen Rider franchise. On top of that the line began experimenting with soft goods capes and cloaks with Kamen Rider Eternal, eventually leading to the fantastic release that is S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Wizard Flame Style. It arrived a little late in year so I haven't had a chance to get a proper review up yet, but this is perhaps to biggest upgrade to a pre-existing Kamen Rider Figuart we've seen yet. Which really is saying something considering that the original Wizard Figuart really isn't that old compared to the other figures that have been redone as part of the line.

4. Super Mini-Pla Muteki Shogun

Super Mini-Pla has been a bit of an odd line for me. Great choices for releases, but their higher price point compared to Bandai's other candy toy lines meant the end models always fell short of brilliance.  But while their Golion release might have been a big disappointment, things got a whole lot better on the Super Sentai side of things. Live Robo was a truly fantastic model kit, but if anything was just a precursor to the majesty that is Super Mini-Pla Muteki Shogun. This is a Sentai mecha that's been crying out for a modern articulated figure for years, and though it might not be the Soul of Chogokin many had hoped for its certainly a much more compact and affordable alternative. Five individually articulated robots coming together to form a hulking castle of a mech. The addition of the DX toy exclusive weapons and the gorgeous chrome finish on the Flaming Shogun Sword are just the icing on the cake. After this I can't wait to see what the line has in store for 2019.

3. S.H. Figuarts ~Shinkocchou Seihou~ Garo (Saejima Kouga)

The S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou line has consistently churned out some of the very best figures Tamashii Nations have to offer, but rarely are they so good that one feels almost like a piece of art. Shinkocchou Seihou Garo goes above and beyond what you'd normally expect from this toy line and it isn't even just the chrome finish saying that - it's also the insane level of moulding and detailing they've given to the armour as well. Before this figure came onto the scene the original S.H. Figuarts Garo still seemed like a fairly decent figure - getting on a bit in years, but still passable in a collection made up of modern releases. But the Shinkocchou Seihou instantly highlighted just how much detailing was missing from the original, and now I can't even look at it in the same any more. There's no denying that this came with a pretty hefty price tag, but I can't see GARO figures getting better than this any time soon.

2. S.H. Figuarts Ultraman X & Gomora Armour

As I mentioned previously I adore the Ultraman Figuarts range and will continue to buy pretty much every release Bandai come up with, but much like the kaiju the Ultraman themselves have always been lacking that special something. Whether it was the simplicity of the sculpting, the repetitiveness of the accessories or some other key factor, there had yet to be an Ultraman figure I truly thought should be recommended as a "must own". That is until S.H. Figuarts Ultraman X was released. This isn't just a great base figure that offers a bit more on the sculpt and detailing side than your average Ultraman, it also has a brilliant gimmick that doesn't impact on overall articulation at all. I really hope Bandai have plans for more MonsArmour sets down the line, because it would be such a huge shame to simply end the Ultraman X range here.

1. RIOBOT Iron Giant

Given how much I proclaimed in the review that this was is the toy that was missing from my childhood all along, was there any doubt that this wouldn't be in the number one spot? It's another pricey toy for sure, but the Riobot Iron Giant is just perfect. A solid built that uses die cast wisely rather than egregiously, fantastic articulation and most important of all a tonne of personality. I genuinely got emotional opening this toy up when it arrived, and it continues to be the one I immediately think back to when I think about all the great releases there's been this year. If you've ever wanted an Iron Giant figure and don't mind putting the money behind it to get the quality the character deserves, then absolutely do not miss out on this.

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And there we have it! All in all it's been a pretty solid year for toy releases - so much so that I had more trouble narrowing the list down to just ten entries far more than I've had in previous years. Next year is already looking to be just as good, and based on the previews I fully expect the various SSSS.Gridman toys to steel my heart in 2019 just as the show has done this year. All that's left to say is thank you for stopping by to visit the blog throughout the year - every click means the world to me and without your support I would have stopped doing this years ago. While I'm not sure what's in store for next year, one thing I CAN guarantee is that I will finally be sitting down to watch and review both Kamen Rider Den-O and Kamen Rider Kiva. You've been asking for them for years and while it's never fallen on deaf ears, Tsuburaya's hold on me has been particularly strong. But rest assured, 2019 will be the year this blog finally has a full set of Heisei era Kamen Rider reviews!

What were your favourite figures of 2018? Leave a comment below and let me know!

1 comment:

Ink'd Kaiju Dude said...

Cool list. S.H. Figuarts Pandon and Ultraman X made my top 10 best as well. They were both impressive releases.