Thursday, 31 December 2020

Favourite Toys of 2020

Favourite Toys 2020

It's that time again! Every year I like to sit down and pick my favourite ten toy releases from the past year. 2020 is a year that's involved a lot of sitting and not much else, but even though the world practically came to a standstill thanks to COVID-19 the year's toy game has been EXTREMELY strong. There were so many excellent figures to choose from, that narrowing it down to just ten proved rather difficult (and for the first time ever, I've properly included an honourable mention). As usual this list is limited to figures that were NEWLY released in 2020, so reissues and older figures I picked up don't count. Not to say older figures don't get some sort of representation on here though, since there seems to be plenty of repaint/remould love on here. Anyway, click on for the full rundown and what's sure to be a few surprises!

Transformers Generations Collaborative Back to the Future Gigawatt

A very late entry that came so close to making it into the top ten, a special shout-out has to be given to the second entry in the Transformers Generations Collaborative range. It’s baffling that it took until 2020 for a proper Back to the Future DeLorean Transformer to become a reality, but since it came out this well all is definitely forgiven.

G.I. Joe Classified Series Cobra Commander (Regal Variant)

Brand new G.I. Joe figures at a 6” scale was a very pleasant surprise to start the year, and Hasbro have really brought their A-game with the Classified range. It’s only been a few waves, and the articulation is proving to be the best Hasbro have done on any of their collector lines. It was quite difficult to choose between this and the Cobra Island Cobra Trooper (the number of accessories that has for a $20 figure is crazy), but deep down I knew Cobra Commander was always going to win in the end. A fantastic update to the iconic villain, and the colours on the Hasbro Pulse exclusive “Regal Variant” just make it pop all the more.

Power Rangers Lightning Collection Cybervillain Blaze

While I'd make the argument that the overall quality of the Lightning Collection is still a bit hit and miss, one thing that has been pretty great so far is selection of characters we've had. Power Rangers Beast Morphers turning Go-Busters' Dark Buster suit into a regular villain was definitely one of its better ideas, especially when it results in there being enough attention to the character to get Lightning Collection Blaze. Some might argue other ranger figures are better, but ultimately all the rangers are going to get made eventually - villains like Blaze are going to be few and far between. As a massive Go-Busters (particularly Enter - best Super Sentai villain ever) fan this was always going to be a special release to me, but having it turn out as one the best in line was a very pleasant surprise. Credit to Hasbro - when they make a winner in this line, they do it in style.

S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Titas

Although we finally saw the release of Ultraman Ace this year, overall it’s been a fairly light year for Ultraman S.H. Figuarts compared to previous years - where are all the kaiju figures?! Nevertheless Tamashii Nations have kept ticking away with some excellent releases from the New Generation Heroes era, with everyone’s favourite Sage of Strength coming out ahead of the competition. In a franchise of similarly bodied heroes a muscular behemoth like Ultraman Titas immediately stands out, and Tamashii did a wonderful job ensuring every one of those bulging muscles was sculpted to perfection.

Storm Collectibles Mortal Kombat 3 Classic Sub-Zero

One of the biggest pleasures for me as a toy collector this year has been branching outside the handful of toy lines/brands I’m loyal to, and seeing what else the world of collectibles has to offer. Storm Collectibles are a brand that I’ve had my eye on for some time now, and the release of my favourite version of my favourite Mortal Kombat character was the perfect time to finally give them a go. The scale and materials are a little different to what I’m used to, but Sub-Zero is a fantastic release loaded with all kinds of brilliant accessories. The size difference means it’s probably not a line I’ll buy into that often, but I’ll definitely need a Scorpion for this guy to face off against.

S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Kamen Rider Den-O Sword & Gun Form

It’s pretty much a given that everyone year at least one S.H. Figuarts Shinkocchou Seihou figure will make its way onto this list, but what’s perhaps more impressive is just how the line seems to continually raise the bar with each and every release. Den-O took the form change gimmickry introduced with the Kamen Rider OOO range and took it one step further - giving you a modular figure encompassing two forms in one release. Somehow the parts-swapping between them isn’t fiddly at all, and both forms are able to show off everything the Shinkocchou Seihou line has to offer without feeling like an afterthought of the other. Never has there been a better reason to buy two of the same figure.

Transformers Generations Select Super Megatron

It took three decades to happen, but at long last we FINALLY have a toy of Super Megatron. But don’t let the fact that this figure is an extensive retool of Titans Return Galvatron put you off - if anything this proves that the mould was intended for this all along. With two impressive vehicle modes, multiple robot modes and a pretty nifty face-swap gimmick this is an incredibly fun figure that justifies its slightly higher asking price. I’ve been mostly out of the Transformers game for a while now but I’m coming back full steam next year for the Studio Series 86 line. If this is the kind of releases they’ve been putting out while I was gone, then 2021 should be a blast.

Star Wars Black Series Cad Bane & TODO 360

The Black Series has very quickly become one of my most purchase toy lines, thanks to its reasonable prices and great range of characters (and this is coming from someone who for the most part avoids the characters that are from the movies themselves). But while I’ve come to own quite a lot of them in the last two years, admittedly most figures tend to range from “average to very good” with me. Cad Bane certainly goes above and beyond though - a long desired character that’s definitely been given the treatment he deserved. The standard release is fine, but the (cancelled) convention exclusive version with TODO 360 is the perfect package.

3. S.H. Figuarts Toei Spider-Man
S.H. Figuarts Toei Spider-Man

Another thing fans have been crying out for for ages, 2020 was the year Bandai Tamashii Nations finally delivered a Spider-Man based on the beloved 1978 series. With each and every Spider-Man release they've been steadily refining that body to create the perfect version, and compared to the others that I've handled (specifically the Homecoming and PS4 Advanced Suit figures) this definitely seems like the best so far. Incredible articulation, great colours and yet enough unique traits to make this immediately identifiable as the Toei Spider-Man and not any other version. It's been a while since we got a tokusatsu Figuarts with that many alternate accessories too (Webs! Alternate feet! THREE heads!). Between this, the Soul of Chogokin reissue (complete with Spider Bracelet role-play item), the Super Mini-Pla release and the Marvel 616 documentary on Disney+ 2020 was definitely something of a renaissance for Japan's Spider-Man. If he's getting this much love now, just imagine how much he's going to get when he shows up in the Into the Spider-Verse sequel.

2. Doctor Who 'The Jungles of Mechanus' Dalek Set
Doctor Who 'The Jungles of Mechanus' Dalek Set

Character Options reviving the Doctor Who line in 2020 the way that they did was surprise enough, but seeing actual movie Daleks released in the 5” range (through some rather wonderfully exploited technicalities) was something a lot of fans just didn’t see coming. Despite being an online exclusive, the figures were readily available for a number of weeks so everyone had a chance to grab them, and the toys themselves are among some of the best Daleks Character have produced. Those newly sculpted dome lights make all the difference, especially at a time when Character are still avoiding any sort of retooling wherever they can. While the Reconnaissance Dalek released earlier in the year very nearly made the list thanks to its impressive new sculpt and various features, this two-pack is the Doctor Who line at its finest. 

1. Disney Select Maximilian
Disney Select Maximilian

This one probably comes as a surprise to most of you, but honestly Disney Select Maximilian was always going take the top spot in my favourite toys of the year. I’ve loved The Black Hole for as long as I can remember, and for years I’ve wanted a good quality versions of all the robots that appeared in it. V.I.N.CENT & B.O.B. are great but do have their flaws, however Maximilian is perfect. A big red hunk of plastic that honestly doesn’t have a lot of articulation and doesn’t do a whole lot, but looks incredible, does everything it needs to and hits all those nostalgia buttons correctly. The accessories and diorama (which you may have noticed I’m getting some excellent use out of) are just the icing on the cake. Ultimately it’s not the price, gimmicks or articulation that make a toy “the best”, it’s how it makes you feel when you finally own it. Disney Select Maximilian made me feel like I was five years old again, and you really can’t beat that.

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So as 2020 draws to a close and My Shiny Toy Robots looks back on a year that's given it the most views ever (I'm sure that has a lot to do with the pandemic but I'll take a victory where I see it) I want to thank each and every one of you for checking out this blog - whether you just clicked on a link to look at a picture or have read and commented on the reviews. While I don't have any huge plans for 2021 at this time (right now all I want to do is get on top of my figure review backlog again), one thing I definitely hope to do is produce more show reviews. They kind of fell to the wayside this year since I do most of my tokusatsu watching on commutes, and since I haven't been travelling very much naturally I haven't watched very much either. I know a few of you have specifically requested things, so rest assured I have taken note of them and will try to work them into my own plans. 

Really all that's left to say is that I hope you have a happy new year wherever you are, that 2020 hopefully wasn't too difficult and that regardless 2021 is much better for all of us.

2 comments:

Ink'd Kaiju Dude said...

Nice selection of figures. Ultraman Titas made my top ten list as well. And I agree, where are the S.H. Figuarts Ultra kaiju??? I"m still waiting for Tyrant and Alien Hipporit that were teased last year.

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