Wait, what’s this? A new post to this site? YES!
Basically I decide that I wanted to maybe actually use this thing that I pay money to maintain to post my top toy lists for 2018 as I also try and get myself back to working on my own personal projects in the coming year.
So with that said, we’re going to start with Transformers – specifically, the official Hasbro/Takara Tomy varieties. To lay down some ground rules for how this list works:
- Toy must have been purchased and received in the calendar year of 2018 (this excludes stuff like MP Sunstreaker, who I was messing with Dec 31 of 2017)
- Toy does not have to have been released in 2018 to qualify – it can be something I only just got this year
- Five things plus an honorable mention of “something that’s not on the top 5 but deserves to be brought up all the same” are going to apply for each list.
So let’s get down to brass tacks:
Honorable Mention : SDCC Throne of the Primes w/ Optimus Primal
I’m a big Beast Wars fan. So the fact we got a new Optimal Optimus mold in 2018 was frankly an amazing thing. It really is a nice mold, and the retail one is pretty great even though it makes some color compromises (which I need to fix still with the unopened Reprolabels I’ve got off to the side.)
But the SDCC release is the perfect package – it gives Primal a really really cool cardboard throne with a faux-ratcheted mechanism for storing all 12 Prime Masters in it. A sceptre that can store the other 4 Prime Masters released. And of course a crown. It really adds a bit of an Infinity War vibe to the character which is pretty great.
And even more importantly, it does something that I’ve never really considered re: this toy – it actually IMPROVES on the color work. Look, I love Beast Wars. I love the original Optimal Optimus. But I have to be perfectly honest – when I take off my nostalgia filter, it’s hard to argue that the SDCC version isn’t superior. They did what I’d never even CONSIDERED and mapped his Season 1 colorscheme to the toy, and in doing so enhanced the entire experience. It maps incredibly naturally and is a “why did nobody think of this before” thing. (I mean hell, the Matrix chamber in his chest even allows them to evoke Primal’s S1 chest detailing!)
#5 : Power of the Primes Counterpunch
When this toy first got announced, we were all wondering what the hell it meant. Were they retooling Jazz into Counterpunch somehow? Were there steps we didn’t know about on that toy? How would a combiner peg be incorporated? Little did everyone suspect that what Hasbro ACTUALLY had planned was an ENTIRELY NEW MOLD – one that eschewed the linewide combiner compatibility in favor of just remaking the original Punch/Counterpunch toy with articulation.
He’s got the same head reveal gimmick. Two sets of hands in order to switch the thumb placement in the two robot modes. And even some hideable faction symbols for either mode. And when comparing him to the last two releases that the TCC did, well, he blows both away – the original Sunstreaker retool has aged horribly (even though it was an inspired concept in its time) and the TCC Counterpunch, while also a nice toy, lacks the dual robot modes.
Ultimately, this guy had to be acknowledged on this list. Such a nice toy indeed.
#4 : Studio Series Blackout
When news of Studio Series first leaked, it was a weird thing to think about. The idea that the Transformers films had been around for a decade now is still kinda nuts, and it’s even more nuts to think about how in that time a generation of fans that grew up with the original films are now adults with disposable income to spend on better versions of the toys they got back in the day. And with Studio Series, Hasbro’s designers were determined to get a (mostly) scale-accurate feel into the toyline. After years of scale not really being a consideration, its return to toylines has honestly been pretty fantastic to behold (and I look forward to 2019’s ambitious ROTF Devastator combiner as a showcase of this.)
Leader Blackout was one of those pipe dreams the fans kept pining for that entire decade. Blackout’s original Voyager toy suffered from the old model of packaging everything in vehicle mode – as a result, they had to fit a giant helicopter in that box, resulting in a very short Voyager that didn’t scale well with anything in the line. And while this new toy still compresses a lot (like the CG model), it being packaged in robot mode means it goes from a large intimidating robot to a MASSIVE helicopter. (And in fact, the Black Mamba upscaled knockoff of said toy looks to be even more impressive and massive)
Blackout’s got the size we always wanted and clamored for. And an even more accurate robot mode, complete with the horribly designed legs of the movie CGI model. Which highlights one of the weird odditites of Studio Series in a nutshell – the toys are accurate to the point of replicating some of the WORST design decisions of the CGI designs faithfully, and not only do I not deride this but I celebrate it. (See: Brawl’s AWFUL shoulder design for instance, lovingly and accurately remade in toy form in 2018).
Studio Series is the toyline I never thought I’d love, and going into 2019 I’m eagerly awaiting to mess with the new takes on Jetfire and the aforementioned Devastator combiner.
#3 : Power of the Primes Battletrap
Technically these are a set of two separately carded releases – Battleclash and Roadtrap. But you can’t discuss them in isolation given how integral the combining gimmick is to these two figures.
Battletrap is a great example of taking a G1 toy and improving on it – unlike the original G1 Duocons, which had 2 altmodes that combine into one robot mode, his two parts are two entirely separate Transformers that then combine into an incredibly posable G1 Battletrap robot mode. He’s fun and fantastic, and there’s really not a lot to elaborate on with him- once you have him in hand, you understand very quickly why he won Hasbro’s fan poll for the best Transformers toy of 2018.
#2 : Siege Optimus Prime
While these are technically 2019’s new product, as per usual, wave 1 started to show up in late 2018 – and thanks to some odd Hasbro Toy Shop shenanigans, I was able to get the first wave of Siege for some pretty good prices up here in Canadaland.
2018 and 19 have actually been very kind to Optimus Prime – coming off the heels of 2017’s MPM release, we got the Studio Series mold (which while I don’t have it, I’ve heard great things), the really cool POTP Leader, and later in 2019 the movie 1 Studio Series retool plus the Bumblebee movie release (and of course MP Prime 3.0 at his insane price). And going into Siege, I will admit that my initial thought on this mold was “oh great a new Optimus Prime; I guess we do need to keep the character current for new buyers after all.”
And instead what we got is the first true successor to 2006’s Classics Optimus Prime mold. Sure it’s an odd “Cybertronian truck” that’s the 80s cab with some tweaked greebles, but the robot mode is phenomenal. Incredibly posable, with ankle tilts, wrists, and a fantastic headsculpt, and an incredibly intuitive/satisfying transformatino to boot. Plus, with Siege, scale is once again at the forefront of the toyline, meaning that he’s a proper size to go with all the bigger and smaller robots in the line.
I never thought I would get excited for a mainline Optimus Prime toy like I have gotten excited for Siege Optimus. Never mind declared an OPTIMUS PRIME toy the best toy so far in the line. And here I am.
#1 : Masterpiece Dinobot
Okay. This one was an obvious no-brainer to anyone who knows me. It’s the toy I was MOST hyped for in 2018 – a toy that I never could have possibly IMAGINED would exist. Beast Wars Dinobot is very much a CGI design of its time that cheats so thoroughly that I never thought he would get any sort of show accurate representation – never mind in Masterpiece, where I figured after Primal and Cheetor we were probably done.
And THIS TOY. THIS TOY. It pulls it off. It goes from the laughable bad 90s CGI velociraptor to the “there is no way this actually transforms” robot mode in an incredibly intuitive and satisfying way. It’s incredibly posable. Has multiple face options WITH MOVING MOUTHS. Light up eyes. A spinning rotate blade gimmick. And, because it’s being done to scale with Optimus Primal, is on the larger end of Masterpiece releases, standing around the same height as Masterpiece Optimus Prime (2.0).
Dinobot is truly one of the grails of my collection. An amazing toy of one of my favorite Transformers characters. I love Beast Wars Megatron and I love that he is also getting a Masterpiece toy (which will dwarf Dinobot because again, scale.) But Megatron was never the challenge to pull off that Dinobot was always going to be. And yet they tried. And succeeded.
And so Dinobot is the Robbie Rotten chorus and Majel Barrett of my list: he IS Number One.
Coming up next for my lists: Third Party Transformers. Aka the big money sink for the dedicated transforming toy collector.