Listicle: Top Five Non-Transforming Toys of Twenty Ninteen

And now we come to the last list of the set – the one that’s for all the stuff that was awesome in 2019 that ISN’T some kind of transforming toy. There’s a lot of neat stuff that came out, and plenty of things that I’m going to highlight here and there. Bandai, GoodSmile, Hasbro… between the three of them (and other companies of course) there’s so much cool stuff that came out.

So one last time, ZE GROUND RULES, and then the list.

Toy must have been purchased and received in the calendar year of 2019. A preorder does not count as a purchase in this case; purchase means it’s available to buy now.

Toy does not have to have been released in 2019 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.

I will say too that the “received in the calendar year of 2019” was a big limiter on this list. As there’s a bunch of tail end of 2019 figures that I didn’t get until 2020 that would have been contenders to make it onto this list.

Honorable Mention: Power Rangers Beast Morphers Steel Robot Ranger

2019 saw a lot of big changes in western toyline licensing, one of which actually having its roots back in 2018 – namely, Bandai of America losing the Power Rangers license to Hasbro. People were shocked that Hasbro had swooped in, and were eager to see just what Hasbro was planning to do with the property – especially given that they clearly had a long term intent to buy the franchise outright. (Which they did do a few months later.) But we didn’t get to see what their offerings would be like until 2019, when the license changeover officially happened.

Now, originally I was going to talk about a Lightning Collection figure here. LC is to Power Rangers what Black Series and Legends are to Star Wars and Marvel – highly articulated 6″ figures at affordable price points – and they’ve had some really good figures, including a quite nice Lord Zedd. But he’s NOT who I’m going to be gushing over because of something they did in their main line.

Namely, proper justice for Beet J Stag.

See, back when Beast Morphers’ Japanese footage source, Go-Busters aired, Beet J Stag was THE BEST. He was a robot, he was a Go-Buster, and he was fantastically self-centered and quirky, always forcing himself into center stage. And given that Go-Busters marked the beginning of the end for Sentai Figuarts releases, the idea of a good 1:12 scale Beet J Stag very much seemed like one of those “when hell freezes over” pipe dreams.

And then in the more gimmicky, simpler articulation line, Hasbro did it and MADE A PROPER BEET J STAG. Sure, he’s called Steel in Beast Morphers, but he’s got a very good amount of articulation for his price point – shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees, and even outward hip articulation. About the only thing that he’s sorely missing, really, is ankle tilts.

But as a Beet J Stag toy, he’s one THAT EXISTS AND THAT I CAN PUT WITH MY OTHER TOYS. And this makes me very very happy.

5: Star Wars Black Series 6″ Emperor Palpatine

This was originally going to be about a different figure as well – specifically, the kickass store exclusive Mandalorian Heavy figure that came out at Best Buy in the US and TRU in Canada (yes, we still have ToysRUs! And people shop there!) But thinking about it, I had to shift gears in favor of ol’ Sheev himself. Palpatine’s always been one of my favorite Star Wars characters (I LOVE me some unequivocally evil powerful bad guys), and this release does him proper justice.

It’s not actually the first time Palpatine’s gotten a release in Black Series – I do in fact have the original release. But this one upgrades on that one in several ways. His robe is more specifically tailored to him, for one, rather than just being a black Jedi robe reuse – this means the hood is somewhat pinned so that the cowl sits far better. The hard plastic skirt has also been replaced with cloth, which allows him to better pull off sitting poses (kind of a necessity given his main accessory). And last but not least, the head… is really good.

The original release didn’t have a great headsculpt. The paint apps on it were really not good at all, in fact. But this one benefits from the newer face scanning and printing technology Hasbro has at their disposal for the line – the face is pretty much perfect. And it’s not the only one, either – he’s also aside from a neutral Palpatine pose has a “gleeful evil” face and an “angrily electrocuting Luke” face.

To top off this whole package, bumping up the price of this release is the fact he comes with his throne. So you can have Sheev sitting back and chilling out as he awaits for his schemes to come to fruition as foreseen.

Hopefully he’s not the last figure they do of him, either. I’d love to see something of his Supreme Chancellor look from ROTS, his Crimson Hooded Space Pope Senate outfit, his Yoda Duel/Maul Asswhooping brown and black getup, and of course the undead ghoul and rejuvenated Sith avatar looks from TROS….

….yeaaaah I’m a Darth Sidious fanboy.

4: Figma Saber Alter Shinjuku Version

There were a lot of good figmas in 2019! And a lot of Fate figmas, too. Yep, I fell down that rabbit hole alright…

So figuring out what figma I was gonna pick as representative of the 2019 releases was hard. Astolfo is great, Mordred is pretty solid… but ultimately, I love it when anime character figures are in moreso casual wear that looks stylish – and Saber Alter’s certainly looks quite stylish indeed.

But really, there’s a big reason she vaults up in my lists, and it’s a dumbass one that again caters very specifically to me personally – she comes with FOOD. As in, a hamburger. With a separate hand containing a sculpted wrapper that you can put the burger in. And on top of that, SHE’S GOT AN ADORABLE DOG, TOO.

It’s not the only Fate figma that got food. The Jeanne Alter casual figure did as well. But I missed the preorders on that given this Saber was a more last minute purchase decision after I went “FOOD.”

The other big weakness I have when it comes to accessories, amusingly, is smartphones. Figma DVa did come with one of those, but quite honestly Saber makes it into the list because I like the look of the toy more and it’s still a freaking hamburger.

I”m kinda really looking forward to the 2020 list, that said, given that the tail end releases of 2019 didn’t get here until after I’d closed off this list – there’s a couple figures in there that I’d highly anticipated.

3: FlameToys Furai Starscream Model Kit

Yes, it’s a Transformer! But it’s a non-transforming one, so he weasels his way onto this list! One of the neat additions to the licensed end of the Transformers merchandise pool, Japanese company FlameToys started putting out their model kits in 2018 – each one consisting of a highly posable depiction of a Transformers character. Some are ripped straight from the comics, like the IDW Megatron based on Alex Milne’s design from MTMTE, while others are original reimaginings by Studio TRIGGER director (and massive Transformers fanboy) Akira Amemiya.

This Starscream is one of the latter, and it’s something that again, I believe was technically out in late 2018, but that I didn’t actually get and build until 2019. (And it’s the only one that I did build in 2019, otherwise I would have put one of the others ones I have into consideration.)

He’s, well, he’s super anime and super stylish. While he doesn’t transform, he has an INSANE amount of posability and you can get him into basically any Super Robotty pose you can think of, looking badass as hell. And if you’re new to building model kits, he’s a fun way to spend several hours clipping pieces off of sprues and assembling – while there’s glue recommended at points in the instructions, none is actually needed, so he’s a good model kit for people unfamiliar with building them.

And if you don’t like building your own model kits, there’s gonna be a release for that, too – FlameToys is putting out some prepainted assembled versions of their model kits with some incredibly gorgeous full paint apps applied. But really, if you’re getting a model kit, where’s the fun if you’re not putting it together yourself?

2: SH Figuarts Kamen Rider Kiva

2019 marked the end of this long-running Rider Figuarts punchline as April saw the release of this figure at long last. Of the many many Riders to have gotten Figuarts releases in the past, Kiva was the one that got skipped over, that never happened, that became the figure that everyone joked about as the one that Bandai was not going to make just to drive everyone nuts.

The joke got even stronger when they did a Figuarts release of Kivala, a derivative character of Kiva who got all of 5-10 minutes of screentime in an entirely different show.

So it was a big deal when this guy went up for preorder. And better still, he’s in the modern Shinkocchou Seihou line, meaning his articulation is just that much better than all the older Kamen Rider Figuarts releases and in some very snazzy looking collector-oriented packaging. He’s not the only Rider who got a much needed modernization in 2019 – the new Kamen Rider OOO release is freaking GORGEOUS – but as a character who had never gotten a toy UNTIL NOW, he kinda takes priority over OOO. (And I say this as someone who hasn’t seen Kiva but has seen OOO.)

1. SH Figuarts Shin Dan Kuroto/Dan Kuroto Shin

It should come as no surprise really that God takes first place on this list. While this release DID come out in 2018, given I missed the initial preorders and got the reissue, I didn’t receive mine until sometime in early 2019. This is one of those oddball figure releases that you would NEVER expect them to do, except that they did it on account of the massive popularity of Dan Kuroto, one of the main antagonists of Kamen Rider Ex-Aid. (Which is already two and a bit shows old…. good god.)

He’s not the best Rider villain ever (unfortunately for him Evolt was a thing in the VERY NEXT SHOW) but he’s definitely up there. What made him special was his actor’s rubber face and fantastic body language – and this pair of figures captures that to great effect, being the SECOND time that Rider did a non-armored figure of a Rider (the only prior one being Rider-1 himself!)

I’m talking about these as a pair because aside from faces and accessories, they’re basically the same toy. To get the complete set of faces, you need both. And to get the CONTINUE pipe, you need to get Dan Kuroto Shin. But really, having two bodies is to your benefit as a collector, because all of his faces are GOLD and it means you can have multiples on your shelf.

Kuroto isn’t going to be the last unarmored Rider Figuarts, either. Coming up in early 2020, we’re getting a full figure of Ankh from Kamen Rider OOO in his human form. Which I would be all over, had it not gotten that much more expensive to import Tamashii Nations webshop exclusives….

(Goddammit Bandai)

All photos mine save for the SHF Kiva pic, because APPARENTLY I never actually took one. That one’s an official promo pic.

Posted in Toy Crap

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