Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Eighth Anniversary

I've played things a little differently this year - rather than trying to cram my picks into this post over the course of a few hours before this blog's birthday rolls around, I've added items to it gradually, over the course of the year (and pretty much finished in June, bar an honourable mention or two), so that it can go live in the morning. It's been quite a year for special releases of one kind or another, with Takara Tomy's Unite Warriors and Legends interpretations of Hasbro's Combiner Wars and Titans Return figures and some phenomenal third party products. I can't decide whether I'm glad I got back into TransFormers back in 2003, or if I'm spending too much money and letting these damned things take up too much space in my flat... I've certainly had to rotate a small chunk of my collection back into its boxes... and may decide to flog some stuff off on eBay...

But let's forget all that for the moment, and celebrate my top eight purchases since last year (with apologies for listing some figures I haven't yet properly written up!)...

1. WeiJiang 'Deformation Era' M01 OP Commander
This was a no-brainer, surely? It's basis was one of the best official TransFormers molds
from recent years, upscaled and improved upon in so many ways, creating what should
surely become the benchmark for Masterpiece figures. This would be well worth the
money even without the knockoff/upscaled weapons, but they're a welcome addition.

2. Platinum Edition G1 Trypticon
One of my last remaining Generation 1 'Holy Grail' toys, when Hasbro decided to release
this - for the first time in the UK - shortly before Christmas 2015, I didn't take long over
deciding to buy it as a Christmas treat to myself. While it's a bit clumsy and simplistic by
today's standards, there's still something very compelling about it, and I'm always tickled
to see it walking along under its own (2x C battery powered) steam.
3. Unite Warriors Combiner Haunt Leader Grand Galvatron
Easily one of the longest, most convoluted names in TransFormers history,
Grand Galvatron - ahem - unites several continuities (G1, Armada, TF Prime) into a gestalt
based on the G1 Galvatron toy's colourscheme. Its torso alone is more varied and
impressive than Hasbro's version of Galvatron, and it's a defined set, with a proper
explanation for its components, rather than the 'choose your own random limbs'
conglomeration with the most hastily-concocted, throwaway explanation I've seen
outside a Timelines character bio. Mine may suffer from a few loose joints, but the
overall figure is an awesome sight to behold.
4. BotCon 2016 Combiner Wars (not Timelines) Airazor
A cute femme-bot mold reused to create yet another FunPub Beast Wars tie-in.
While the mold isn't the most stable Hasbro/Takara Tomy have ever produced, it's an
excellent choice for the character and, for me, was about the only must-have part of
BotCon's swan song.
5. Movie Advanced Dino
While it's a huge shame that Dino didn't get an official release outside of Japan and that
the only transforming plastic interpretation we have is this Takara Tomy retooling of the
Revenge of the Fallen Sideways mold, it's a quirky mold that I quite liked, and this thing
is easily acceptable. It could use some third party parts, like the replacement feet available
on Shapeways, but the head sculpt is excellent and fits the mold well.
6. DotM Mechtech Que/Wheeljack
Another figure not released outside of the Asian market, this is quite a well-painted figure
considering it's a Hasbro-branded figure. It's not perfect, but the overall effect is closer to
the earlier movie figures than the more recent ones, and the accessories are cool.
7. Movie/G2 Dreadwing & Smokejumper
An event exclusive boxed set from Japan, released in 2010, this tends to be quite expensive
on the secondary market, but I was lucky enough to be the only bidder on an eBay auction
with a UK-based seller. The set I got isn't in perfect condition, but it's very cool nonetheless.

8. Beast Wars Metals Airrazor
Honestly, one I would have been happy to skip because of what I perceived to be a
simplistic transformation and a silly 'vehicle' mode, not to mention the lack of weapons
other than the claws mounted on her wrists, this turned out to be a pretty neat figure,
made with some gorgeous plastic... though the 'Seaplane' mode is still daft.

Honourable Mentions:
Iron Factory IF EX-16 Pink Assassin
Essentially a miniature, simplified version of Azalea, Iron Factory's take on a Cybertronian Arcee
may have a simplistic transformation, but robot mode is every bit as good as some of her larger
counterparts and, thanks to the myriad ball joints and double-jointed knees, is actually more
poseable than Hasbro/Takara Tomy's own awesome,almost-thirty-years-in-the-making take on
the character. The super-cute aesthetic works better here than it did on their 'Windsaber',
but her vehicle mode is a bit disappointing...
TF Dream Factory PJ-01 Evil-Blood Blade & UFO Toys UP-02 Mega Arm
Not a figure, but two entirely separate upgrades for a figure. If UFO Toys brought
a surprise left hook, TF Dream Factory provided the decisive knockout blow with their
UV-light spewing Murder Arm, transforming a lacklustre Leader class figure from 2009
into something that looks a lot closer to the movie CGI... in robot mode, at least. The only
downside is the mismatched colouring of Mega Arm - seemingly designed for the
Shadow Command and Dark Energon/Nightmare repaints more than the original
Rumour has it, upgrades for the legs are in the works...
...then all we'd need is a new body and a new head. Ahem.
KuBianBao Deformation Detective
While WeiJaing's upscaled knockoff of Evasion Mode Optimus Prime was a revelation
and a true Masterpiece, beyond almost anything Hasbro or even Takara Tomy have
produced, this was something of a let-down by comparison. Despite the die cast parts
and remolded head, it really feels like a knockoff. With all the metal in the torso, the robot
is very top-heavy, and those feet weren't especially useful on the dinky Hasbro Hound.
On the upside, it was fairly cheap, so I don't feel ripped off at all.

BotCon 2005 Flamewar
Having been hunting for this at a reasonable price for most of the last ten years, I'm glad
to have finally added her to my collection. She may be nothing special by today's
standards - indeed, the character has even been given a more contemporary body - but
this is one of my all-time favourite TransFormers molds, and the colourscheme is cool.
Unite Warriors Bruticus
A more G1 cartoon-oriented colourscheme and a proper Blast Off rather than yet another
bleedin' Firefly repaint (seriously, Hasbro, how many characters are you going to make
out of Firefly and Alpha Bravo?
). It's a shame Vortex wasn't more comprehensively
remolded, but at least he's approximately the right kind of vehicle.
Timelines Ramjet
A toy I wasn't expecting anything from - I haven't bothered picking up
Armada Starscream or any of the repaints because the new, smaller mold
didn't seem like a huge improvement on the original in many ways other that articulation -
but which turned out to be pretty cool. Slightly annoying that the Club's last ever
Timelines figure had some of its paint rubbed off in the box because they neglected to
add a layer of foam above the toy, but that's happened before...
MMC Reformatted Feral Queen & Nero Queen
Exclusively created for the Canadian TFCon 2016, the brought over for TFNation by
Kapow Toys, the seventh and eighth repurposings of the Azalea mold look awesome,
but certainly aren't deserving of a position in my top eight purchases of the year due to
the mold showing its age and a rather brittle feel to some of the materials.

So, that's it for another anniversary... Next year, hopefully, it'll be a top nine, likely with another few honourable mentions. I figure that, after this blog has hit its tenth year, I'll just keep doing an annual top ten purchases... assuming I'm still buying TransFormers by that point.

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