2017 has been another outstanding year on the Transformers scene. Titans Return ran wild with the zest of the spirit of Hulkamania, Beast Wars has risen from its prehistoric grave, Power of the Primes restored the honour of the Dinobots and third parties spammed us with Springers. There were more hits than Stock Aitken Waterman ever knocked out. So as it’s that time of year when we think of others, the things we’ve done, accomplishments, regrets and are generally at our most reflective, here is a list of ten of my personal favourite toys that my girlfriend said I wasted money on this year.
Start the Bullseye prize board music….now.
10. Titans Return Slugslinger
Innnnnnnnnn one. Where Titans Return really hit its pomp was with the deluxe class. Slugslinger, as one of the final mainline releases, showed up in a wave otherwise filled with repacks, but such was the extent of the retooling and paint apps that it ended up being probably one of Titans Returns finest hours. A retool of a retool it may have been, but the love, care and effort that went into it ensures it shines just as brightly as any other.
9. Maketoys MTRM-11 Meteor
“Listen Morty, sometimes people like to blow their hard earned money on something virtually identical to something they’ve already bought six times. They just do. I hate to break it to you, but what people call “collecting” is just a cycle of abandoning all common sense and sound financial practice. It hits the wallet hard, Morty, then it’s forgotten as you move onto the next shiny new thing, leaving you surrounded by M-Masterpiece Seekers. Dust in the wind, Morty. All we are is dust in the wind. Break the cycle. OH CRAP A NEW MASTERPIECE OMEGA SUPREME!.”
8. Titans Return Overlord
Overlord went from Powermaster to Leader class Titan Master with little fuss. Each of the Leader class figures in Titans Return have a simplified feel but it works for Overlord, a toy you have to literally rip in half to form both a tank and jet. Deftly managing to pull off an accurate G1 homage , including two Titan Master shaped slots in the chest to replicate the vintage toy, with lips that tick the IDW box – Overlord is a figure that covers almost every base. Just to emphasise his base covering ways he even turns into a base.
Perhaps he’s making up for squashing Pipes…..too soon?
7. Titans Return Misfire
6. Maketoys MTRM-9 Downbeat
For whatever reason Takara seem reluctant, or unable, to give us a Masterpiece Jazz so Maketoys stole a march and gave us about as perfect a Masterpiece-a-like Jazz as we could ask for. A trademark quality finish covers a toy that is complex but never stops dishing out the fuzzies. Downbeat set a high bar for Maketoys right at the outset of 2017 and they went on to deliver several phenomenal releases throughout the year and make me want to snuggle them at night.
5. Power of the Primes Swoop
After a near 30 year odyssey to gain a G1 Swoop, a year later Hasbro release a new Russian mobster coat wearing effort in the first wave of Power of the Primes. Built to modern deluxe standards, Swoop is the desk toy I have most struggled to put down other than when I got drunk and lost him amongst the Christmas decorations for a week. An almost slavish G1 homage that hews close to the cartoon and comics rather than the vintage toys, it still manages to retain plenty of elements only found on the vintage toy, with a dash of modernity added to the wings, to satisfy just about everybody. This is the toy that 1985/86 Liam forced his Grandma to ask every shop assistant to check definitely wasn’t in the stock room.
I really should have reviewed this guy. It’s a wasted opportunity to unload a barrage of Jurassic Park gags and references. I was too preoccupied with whether or not I could, that I didn’t stop to think if I should.
4. X2 Toys Skycrusher
Many of you will be raising your eyebrows and wondering what business this toy has being here, so allow me to justify its inclusion. As much to myself as anyone else. With Skycrusher, X2 took the reverse approach to Perfect Effect, and built a figure with more metal than I think I’ve ever seen on a toy that didn’t have Tonka on the box. A lush premium feels covers almost every aspect of the figure from the materials, through to the use of paint, to the articulation and joints tighter than me when asked to buy a round. But then there’s that undersized face which makes the figure an easy pass for so many. Shame, as it ends up being the most criminally overlooked toy of the year when if they’d gotten the head right, it would have been on many top 10 lists, not just mine when I’m drunk.
3. Masterpiece MP-39 Sunstreaker
When I initially put this list together – Sunstreaker wasn’t on it. My original plan was to have it posted before Christmas so I could get on with the festive eating and drinking, but a nagging feeling persisted that being released right as the death knell falls on 2017 meant I wouldn’t be able to have him on my top 10 for 2018 if he was great. So I held on and am relieved that I easily give in to internal nagging because Sunstreaker rolled in and reignited my love for Masterpiece. It may seem a lofty spot to give to a figure whose new toy glow is still at full beam, but I am blown away by how it manages to feature a complex transformation that produces two great looking modes – yet doesn’t make me want to scratch my eyes out in frustration. I have much more to say but I’ll save that for a review.
Or I’ll get drunk and leave it far too late.
2. Titans Return Trypticon
So very close to taking the top spot, Titans Return Trypticon is what happens when Hasbro completely deliver on all the promise of a line. Where Titan class Metroplex and Fortress Maximus suffered from meh robot modes and half baked alt modes, Trypticon gets almost everything right. Thick plastic makes him feel like a toy from a previous decade, three fully realised modes that homage the vintage toy, whilst Full Tilt is so good he could be a single release figure in his own right. This is exactly the sort of special feeling that should come with a toy gracing the Titan Class banner.
1. Masterpiece MP-36 Megatron
Who else could have topped this list? How often do we get Masterpiece toys that turn into actual guns? It’s as rare as a Des Walker goal but 2017 finally scratched the Masterpiece itch we’ve all been struggling to reach and graced our shelves with a brand new Masterpiece Megatron. Not only did it look the part in both modes but the engineering wows you with virtually every inspired step, as the spectre of complexity keeps feeding you treats. MP-36 isn’t just a figure that fills a void and moves on it’s a clear labour of love that stands as the pinnacle of a line that has been a love letter to the past. This toy gives you everything you could want or ask for from a Masterpiece Megatron and still manages to produce so many unexpected turns. MP-36 also includes so many accessories it looks like it’s mugged Santa.
So there you have it folks. 2017 has closed it’s doors, the last left over Christmas food is being stuffed in our tummies as we finish off the remaining alcohol welcoming in 2018. It has been another fantastic year for Transformers and third party figures and there are many other figures worthy of inclusion, but had to be left out unless you wanted a ten part epic on par with Beowulf. This list represents ten of my personal favourites that I put together whilst drinking plenty of rum and listening to Nik Kershaw’s classic 1984 track, Wouldn’t It Be Good, so is in no way a definitive list – nor should it be taken particularly seriously. So please don’t send me hate mail because there isn’t a Cosmos on it.