And now for the third of my toy retrospective lists of 2018 – namely, that of the NON-transforming toys. Action figures, roleplay items, high and low end… all of that stuff is included here. And to refresh on the rules:
- 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.
Lots of cool stuff came out, but only so many got to make my list – a list which admittedly is very subjective:
Honorable Mention: Robot Spirits Gipsy Avenger
Pacific Rim Uprising was a fun film. Not as great as the first one, granted, but I personally enjoyed how it moved away from the “real robots” feel of the original and into a more Super Robots anime feel. But what put it above the previous one was the toyline – for the first Pacific Rim, the toys suffered somewhat due to licensor complications – NECA had the license, and early waves had pared down articulation so they could try and get them on Walmart shelves (a strategy which failed, I should note). Also, they were NECA toys…. don’t get me wrong, NECA stuff looks nice, but the quality isn’t always the best.
Bandai getting the license for Uprising was a huge coup – here we had THE pre-eminent masters of action figure articulation taking the lead, and it was clear the designers had something to prove, as they put out figures that rivaled the high end Figuarts in articulation but for a more budget price. They didn’t have the high gloss finish and heavy paint applications a lot of SHFs tend to have, but the posability/alternate hand options were all there, for half the price of a Figuarts and around the same price as what NECA’s offerings had been.
Really, the main reason I used Gipsy Avenger is that he’s basically the main character/showcase figure of the line. Obsidian Fury is also a gorgeous toy, but I never bought him, and while I have and love Saber Athena, Gipsy Avenger is just the better looking figure.
This is kinda a toyline that’d be easy to forget. I have a couple of them on the shelf in the other room. But they deserve the mention because BUDGET SHFs THAT ARE STILL NICE TOYS AND HYPER POSEABLE TOO.
#5 : SH Figuarts Kamen Rider Genm Level 0
Rider Figuarts are always fun. The Ex-Aid mold is a great mold. But the BETTER version of any Ex-Aid molds are the versions that are Dan Kuroto.
Dan Kuroto is a fantastic character. One of my favorite Rider villains period. He’s a fun villain elevated by both his main and suit actor into a force of nature that has managed to get the distinction of being the second actor likeness Figuarts toy. (Hell, if my copy of that figure had arrived this year, he’d be on the list instead of Level 0 for that reason – it’s a HUGE deal that a Toku VILLAIN has gotten that distinction.)
So Kuroto being on this list is more a case of “I want a representation of him on here,” and while I really like the Level Billion that I have, Level 0 is just a great redeco of the already good Ex-Aid mold as a character that I love.
*eagerly awaits getting both Shin Dan Kuroto and Dan Kuroto Shin sometime in late Jan/early Feb.*
#4 : Star Wars Black Series General Veers
There were some REALLY good Black Series releases in 2018. With the implementation of their new face painting processes into the Star Wars toyline, Hasbro’s stuff has jumped up in quality and is now very much on similar footing to SH Figuarts as far as character/actor likenesses go. 2018 saw some great Imperial officer releases, like Grand Moff Tarkin, and Admiral Piett.
And then there’s Veers. I believe he suffered a bit in availability in the US due to ToysRUs’ closure there, but up here, he was an easy to find TRU exclusive, and is quite simply the best of the Imperial officers released (yes, better than Tarkin! I know!)
The fact he has a great rendition of Julian Glover’s face is one thing that makes him a good toy, but what makes him a GREAT toy is the accessory count. As in the films, Veers is seen in both his officer’s uniform addressing Darth Vader, AND in his combat armor on his AT-AT. And this toy release gives us BOTH options, with removable armor AND an officer’s cap!
I love me some Imperial officers, and while Tarkin is still my favorite characterwise, Veers is by far the best of their toys.
#3 : SH Figuarts Thanos
I’m a big Thanos fan. Admittedly I’m rather recent relatively speaking to said fandom – after seeing Avengers’ post-credit tease in 2012, I got intrigued and decided to read Infinity Gauntlet.
Within a year, I owed a ton of Jim Starlin Thanos collections. And I continued to buy Jim Starlin Thanos stories here and there (and am very much enjoying his current Infinity trilogy while hating the way he and Marvel parted ways again recently – goddamn editorial). So yeah, this was something I was going to buy as soon as it got announced (in addition to the pretty solid Marvel Legends BAF of this design). He’s a compelling hypercompetent villain who is often written as a protagonist, with a complex series of inner thoughts and motivations and often his own greatest enemy and the source of his own defeats.
It’s a good movie Thanos toy. Solid likeness, and great articulation, though admittedly it lacks some of the finer details that weren’t present in any of the earlier renders provided to licensors, like the fancier gold detailing on his shirt (the only release with this is the BAF rerelease in the 3pack.) Plenty of alternate hands, including a fingersnap on his ungloved one, and I really like the way his shoulders are designed with moving parts (it’s rather similar to what Bandai did with Kamen Rider Genm Level Billion, who came close but didn’t make this list.)
#2 : MAFEX Gwenpool
“WTF is with this Gwenpool character” was a thought I had when I heard she was getting her own backup stories in the comics. The idea of what was a cover gimmick Gwen Stacy Month mashup with Deadpool being an actual character was dumb. Then I read her story in Marvel’s Holiday Special issue that year, authored by the great Chris Hastings and drawn by the awesome artists of Gurihiru… needless to say, I was very VERY quickly sold on the character. Hastings took what could have been a gimmick character and made her a Proper Character I was willing to read more about, and over the course of her ongoing’s run, I did. (Hell, half the reason I’m presently reading West Coast Avengers is because it’s a book she’s currently in.)
Hasbro did a Marvel Legends toy of her earlier this year, and I was prepared to buy that as the first proper Gwenpool action figure merch. While I wasn’t a huge fan of the realistic styled face as opposed to her more anime/manga look in the comics, it fit with the toyline’s aesthetics so whatever.
Then MAFEX revealed THIS gem. And she became one of the more highly anticipated action figures of 2018 for me. Based straight-up off of Gurihiru’s rendition of her with a bunch of accessories (INCLUDING A SMARTPHONE!) and an awesome unmasked head (she’s a character who I prefer unmasked in that art style, I gotta be honest), she was exactly the toy I wanted. And getting her in hand, I have been very very pleased.
Presently super hyped for the redeco she’s getting in 2019 of the end-of-series alternate timeline future evil Gwenpool design.
#1 : Marvel Legends Infinity Gauntlet
When Hasbro announced that they were making prop replicas in the Marvel Legends line, starting with the Iron Man helmet, I was intrigued. When they put out a fan poll requesting people to vote on what they wanted to see, I made sure to vote for the Infinity Gauntlet on that thing. For obvious reasons.
Then we got the Gauntlet. Which uses that classic technique of “pull the rod in order to close the fingers” that’s present in many a toy oversized hand… but for EACH. FINGER. SEPARATELY.
It remains the only Marvel Legends or Star Wars Black Series prop replica I’ve paid full price for. And appeals to me personally as a Thanos fan – objectively it might not be the best thing I got this year, but subjectively it totally was. (Hell, I got a deal on a loose Thanos BAF partly on account of wearing it at Calgary Comic Expo and letting a dealer give it a try.)
About the only thing it can’t do is finger snap. An unfortunate limitation, sure, but it’s a pretty kickass toy prop replica indeed.