Saturday 31 December 2022

Favourite Toys of 2022

Favourite Toys of 2022

As the world gradually begins to ring out the end of 2022, it's time again to count down some of my favourite toy releases of the year. Sadly the rather extensive back catalogue I started the year with hasn't gotten any smaller, but thankfully I've still made time for this bunch of fantastic figures which are all worthy of joining your collection. As usual I try to make these lists specifically for figures that were released in 2022, but given the sheer chaos that is Hasbro's release schedule these days there a couple from the beginning of the year that are perhaps a little debatable. Not that it really matters - I got all these figures in 2022 and that's all that counts. So without further ado read on to find out which figure made the top spot, and be sure to let me know what your favourites were in the comments!

S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Ribut

To stop this list just being too Ultraman heavy (the line did INCREDIBLY well this year), Ultraman Ribut gets the honourable mention position for this year rather than joining the top ten proper. For a relatively obscure character whose main appearances take place in an online-exclusive ensemble series, Bandai Tamashii Nations really went all out on the Malaysian-born Ultraman Ribut. Not only is the design itself fantastic in the way it takes the classic Ultraman colour layout and modernises it, but the range of relatively unique accessories Ribut has makes this an absolutely killer release. But what's perhaps most amazing of all is that Ribut was a general retail release, which just goes to show that even in a time of increasing Tamashii Web exclusives Bandai will still throw out a big surprise every now and again.

Power Rangers Lightning Collection Finster

At a time where steady price increases and seemingly worse quality control is making me (and I'm sure many other collectors) more and more disillusioned with the Lightning Collection, it's nice that Hasbro can still produce a figure every so often that reminds you just what the line is capable of. With Lightning Collection Finster it's all about the detail - the amount of moulded detail and accessories packed into this figure makes it almost like a mini-masterpiece, the perfect six-inch representation of Rita's chief monster maker without a QC problem in sight. While figures of the rangers themselves will always naturally be Hasbro's priority, arguably one of the biggest appeals of this line is that it isn't afraid to tackle villains as well. With Scorpina also hitting shelves this year to join Goldar and Finster, surely it can't be long before Squatt and Baboo (as well as a single-pack Rita) follow to complete the Moon Palace posse.

Doctor Who 'Warriors of the Deep' Collector Figure Set

Surprisingly no Daleks making the list this year (although the History of the Daleks range continues on as strong as ever), but the 2022 Doctor Who online exclusive was definitely one to take note of. After YEARS of hoping, we finally have Silurian figures! While some might scoff at the fact this release was a set of three identical figures, the fact you're getting all three Silurians that appeared in Warriors of the Deep in one fell swoop makes it worth the £29.99 asking price. Even though the Doctor Who line still doesn't seem strong enough to produce all-new tooling for its releases, there are so many new parts packed into these that you wouldn't even notice that they're (rather fittingly) built off of the Sea Devil figure from 2008. If next year's releases prove to be anything like this, then maybe the line isn't doing too badly after all.

Star Wars Black Series Death Watch Mandalorian

Another thing that's been a long time coming, but 2022 was the year we FINALLY got an army build Mandalorian figure in the Black Series that wasn't built off of the incredibly dated Boba/Jango Fett mould. Even though the Death Watch Mandalorian only appeared in one episode of The Mandalorian for a few minutes, this figure is everything you could ever want in an army builder. A great design, a great colour scheme and most importantly articulation that lives up to the modern standard of the Black Series. I'm not much of an army builder, but even I was tempted to pick more than one of these guys up.

While The Book of Boba Fett might have divided Star Wars fans somewhat, S.H. Figuarts is one area where the original bounty hunter in Mandalorian armour didn't disappoint. After three years Boba Fett returned to the Star Wars Figuarts range in his newly-painted Mandalorian getup, and the cleaner look definitely owed itself to the line better than his original armour did. Sharper than ever, this Boba Fett boasts bold colours, fantastic articulation and soft goods that really enhance the overall look. The accessory count is pretty great too, giving you all the Boba Fett essentials on top of some pieces to recreate key moments from his grand return. Sure the likeness on the unmasked head might not be perfect, but when everything else on the figure is this good who the hell cares?

S.H. Figuarts -Shinkocchou Seihou- Ultraman

After Ultraman Tiga left collectors dubious that Ultraman could make the jump to Shinkocchou Seihou as well as Kamen Rider or GARO had, this release came along and (mostly) put those fears to rest. Bandai's celebration of the franchise's 55th anniversary gave us what's arguably the "definitive" Ultraman figure - scaling up the previous release as well as adding bolder colours and far more suit detailing. Of course the biggest shakeup here is the articulation, with this Ultraman able to pull off all his signature poses like a dream. The inclusion of soft parts may cause some collectors to remain sceptical, but so far there don't seem to have been any stories of QC nightmares like there was with Tiga. Here's hoping next year's Ultraman Dyna release is more of this.

S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Jeanne

A rather late entry to the list given that I only did the review a few days ago, but Kamen Rider Jeanne is more than deserving of her place. In a year where Shinkocchou Seihou didn't really do much for me in the way of Kamen Rider, the Kamen Rider Revice range came along and showed that the main S.H. Figuarts line often has just as much to offer as its "premium" offshoot. While all of the Revice releases are definitely worth your time Kamen Rider Jeanne easily stands out as the best of them all, which is pretty fitting considering she was also by far the best character in the series as well. A great design that shows a thinner body doesn't necessarily mean a lesser figure (take note Hasbro), Jeanne is everything you could want in a Kamen Rider figure and so much more.

S.H. Figuarts Ultrawoman Grigio

Yet another case of finally getting something that was long overdue, 2022 was the year Ultrawoman Grigio finally escaped Tamashii Nations purgatory to properly complete the New Generation Hero lineup. The first female Ultra (and second female overall, though only beaten by a month) to be released in the Ultraman S.H. Figuarts range, Ultrawoman Grigio immediately stands out against her peers but has far more to offer than just a cutesy look and unique colour scheme. Wonderfully poseable and with plenty of accessory options (SIXTEEN hands!), Grigio is not just a great figure - she's also a reminder of how generous Bandai can be when it comes to extra parts. I love nearly every figure in the Ultraman range but Grigio very quickly became a firm favourite.

MAFEX Knightfall Batman

A figure that technically should have been in last year's favourite toys list, the usual MAFEX delays (although this was a particularly long one) meant that Knightfall Batman falls comfortably into the 2022 list instead. Between this and Ben Reilly Spider-Man it was a year where MAFEX was truly taken over by blonde-haired replacements, and even if you're a bigger fan of Bruce Wayne and Peter Parker it's hard to care when the releases are this good. Knightfall Batman is pure 90s goodness - those bold metallic colours, spiked shoulders and possible cape make this a really special release. There may be plenty of alternatives for comic book superhero figures out there, but time and time again MAFEX prove that their level of quality is hard to beat.

2. Transformers Generations Selects Black Zarak
Transformers Generations Selects Black Zarak

A bit of a surprise entry given that I haven't even done a review for it on this blog, but given this humongous thing can't even fit into my light box I never quite worked out how to do it justice. But this was the year I finally caved on a Titan class Transformer, and even though I've seen it for a fraction of the price in the last few months I have absolutely no regrets. Standing at an incredible 21 inches tall, Generations Selects Black Zarak recreates War for Cybertron Scorponok in all his Masterforce glory - complete with a Headmaster homage to his bizarre pirate getup in Zone. Getting Haslab Victory Saber at the end of the month was a pretty big deal too, but with that at least I already owned the Masterpiece figure. I NEVER thought I'd own an official Black Zarak, so this is an extra special piece in my collection. 

S.H. Figuarts Zenkaizer

Was there any real doubt who was going to take the number one spot this year? 2022 saw the momentous return of Super Sentai to the S.H. Figuarts line and what a return it was. In the seven years they've been gone S.H. Figuarts have improved so much when it comes to build, proportion and articulation and to see all of that crammed into a single figure was really special. Zenkaizer was arguably the perfect character to bring the range back - his unique colouring ensuring that he could work perfectly as a one-off release to celebrate the franchise's 45th annniversary if the figure didn't prove to be a success. Thankfully that was far from the case though, with the figure being so good that Bandai released it twice in the same year (look forward to a review of the event exclusive Zenkaizer Black coming some time in January) as well as cementing the line's return with the release of Don Momotaro and preorder solicitations for Twokaizer. Welcome back Super Sentai Figuarts, we've missed you.


And that's a wrap for 2022! Once again I'd like to thank each and every one of you that's stopped by to read a review or comment on the blog - I'm sorry that anonymous commenting has been turned off for the time being (one particular person felt it necessary to spam reviews with abuse and I got sick of it after a while) but hopefully I'll turn it back on sometime next year to allow for more (and hopefully better!) interaction. On a personal note while I entered 2022 on a high with a new logo for the site, I'm ending it on a bit of a low after a difficult few months. Things are looking up though and I'm entering the new year with a renewed sense of optimism. I'll be throwing myself into the site for the next couple of months as a bit of a distraction, hoping to finally get that backlog down a bit and get back to more frequent series reviews as well. But for now, have a great new years' wherever you are and I'll see you again in 2023 for more reviews!


Oar said...

Thank you for another year of fun posts! I really enjoy getting my fill of toys and shows through your blog, and seeing your thoughts about whatever new thing is around.

John Hood said...

Happy New Year! Always look forward to your reviews!