Oh hey! Another post! One of those things I rarely do!
This one being yet another listicle – like I did about a year ago, it’s time for another Top Five (plus one) post of the Transformers that I enjoyed the most from last year. This doesn’t necessarily mean I think they were the Absolute Objective Best of the year – there were a LOT of great toys after all – but these official Transformers releases (Hasbro & TakaraTomy) were all were among my favorites and are of note.
As for the ground rules for this list:
- Toy must have been purchased and received in the calendar year of 2019
- 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.
And with that said, I guess I’ll start with the list, then…
Honorable Mention: Studio Series 35 Jetfire
Jetfire’s a bit of an odd duck of an honorable mention. Honestly, I don’t particularly care for his design as a Jetfire, which is why it’s weird. But he’s very much emblematic of what I’ve found to be the core appeal to me of Studio Series, which is why he made the list.
Specifically, while he’s not a great design, the toy NAILS it. It’s as good an SR-71 as one can get in toy form that transforms into a super screen accurate depiction of Jetfire. It then can break apart and become power armor for the Voyager Optimus Prime mold, which is a very cool bonus. But more importantly, it’s a really good toy of a really iffy design.
And that design ethos is what fascinates me about Studio Series. Tehre’s a bunch of toys I’m excited for where I can’t say I ever really LOVED their design but the accuracy of the toy in replicating the look is the appeal in of itself. Going into 2020, Studio Series is gonna be going strong, too, as by year’s end I’ll finally be able to assemble a fully transformable to all component modes ROTF Devastator – something I REALLY wanted a decade ago and that we’re finally getting now.
#5: Studio Series 38 Optimus Prime
One of the highlights of late 2019 was how, well, GOOD the Bumblebee Movie was. It was a great change of pace from the previous Bay films, and had some solid acting, casting, designs, and cinematography courtesy of having a director who a) was already a big fan b) has extensive experience in stop motion, like Travis Knight. Throwing caution to the wind and ignoring prior continuity, they redesigned a number of characters for a few minutes worth of footage set on Cybertron, making them look like the designs that we all kinda wanted back in 2007 – G1 but modernized so that they don’t look like a mess but are recognizably the characters.
Optimus Prime’s robot mode is straight up that “G1 but more streamlined aesthetic. He’s got fairly humanoid proportions and all the hallmarks of Optimus in a very VERY posable package – and then turns into an accurate 80s freightliner all the same with a really complex transformation that results in most extraneous truck kibble either streamlining or hiding away. This was very much a toy that I thought I had missed out on back in early 2019 due to his lousy availability for retail pricing in Canada, but a chance visit to a Walmart shortly before Christmas allowed me to fill that hole and acquire this marvel of a toy for myself.
#4: Cyberverse Deluxe Bumblebee
Cyberverse was a pleasant surprise of a show – while expectations were not super high of a series that was going to be “Bumblebee-centric with 11 minute episodes”, by the midpoint of Season 1 it became clear that this was, in fact, a really solid series. Season 2 continued to kick it up a notch as well, making me both excited and disappointed.
Specifically, disappointed because the Cyberverse toyline was firmly directed at a younger set of kids. Limited articulation and prioritization of gimmicks littered the line, so even when there was a good depiction of a character to be had, it was missing some key feature we took for granted, like proper head articulation or even knees, and for a price tag making the toys unpalatable for many adult fans.
So when they revealed at NYCC that Cyberverse was, in fact, getting a line of proper Deluxe figures, many, myself included, got hyped. These were actual Deluxe toys, with all of the hallmarks thereof, of characters whose designs were SCREAMING for better toys. And of wave one, Bumblebee was head and shoulders the strongest in the line – a solid transformation, great posability, and accurate robot and vehicle modes.
With wave 2 on the way, I’m really hyped for the Arcee we’ve been promised. And disappointed we still don’t have any Seekers in the deluxe line – but hopefully time fixes that oversight, and hopefully they’re not just clones of Starscream’s body type.
#3: MP-44 Convoy/Optimus Prime 3.0
This one was a no-brainer, really, due to how good it was. Yes, it’s Yet Another Masterpiece Optimus Prime, but, well… it’s a great one. While MP-10 went for a more general “let’s make a good posable G1 Optimus”, this toy instead opted for the modern design aesthetic of “the goal is the 1984 animation model.” And BOY did it deliver with an AMAZING transformation.
Everything comes apart and goes back together in an incredibly intuitive way, much like MP Sunstreaker, and in a more successful manner than MP Bumblebee 2.0 and MP Hound (they’re good toys, but they have their flaws. And Hound’s got some scary QC issues reported.) The question buying it was “is this worth the 500 bucks,” and upon messing with the trailer it became VERY CLEAR that they very much had that price point set for a reason. The trailer’s loaded with configurations and options, including magnetic strips even that support Diaclone driver feet and storage for all the accessories. And as I said… the transformation is just MAGIC. It’s amazing how they shift mass off of the cab into the legs in order to allow for that slimmer, more humanoid animation accurate look with an insane range of motion.
It’s also a mold that’ll get a bajillion repaints looking forward. If you want to experience it, I kinda have to go recommend trying the upcoming Black Convoy instead, if only because the trailer is more expensive bonus than anything, so the fact Black Convoy doesn’t have one means you get a way cheaper toy as a result.
#2: WFC: Siege Jetfire
This one was probably my most anticipated Hasbro release of the year, after his unveiling at Toy Fair back in February. Everyone expected Omega Supreme to be the big reveal that would get us all excited – but then John Warden’s enthusiastic showing off of all the features in this new Commander-class pricepoint launcher stole the show and my anticipation.
He’s basically Skyfire from the G1 cartoon, and super slavishly so. Unlike the 3P MP-scaled Skyfire I already own (the bad one, not the FansToys one), he doesn’t need to partsform. He has your now-standard Jetfire battlemask/addon cannons. A faction-swapping gimmick to replicate scenes from “Fire in the Sky” where he’s on the Decepticon team. And, in one of the coolest features, closing his hand results in a 5mm port ejecting itself automatically from the wrist in order to make plugging in a gun all the easier. And not only does it retract as well, but it does NOT compromise wrist articulation!
Quite frankly, Siege as a toyline was really really REALLY good. So many A+++ releases. I ended up getting just about all of them (as of right now, I’m only short Rung/Singe/Spinister of the ones I wanted.) If I had to direct more honorable mentions that way, I’d definitely flag the new Springer mold, the Optimus Prime that made last year’s list, and of course the titanic Omega Supreme.
#1: MP-43 Beast Wars Megatron
Was this ever in doubt, knowing that they did a Masterpiece grade toy of my absolute favorite Transformers character of all time?
It’s like Dinobot was in 2018. A pitch-perfect screen accurate representation of Megatron. Except unlike Dinobot, his original toy being fairly accurate meant there was far less of a need for crazy alchemy to pull him off.
He’s a big toy. A crazy large amount of soundbytes, some really good articulation including moving dino pupils, dinosaur armor that removes purely to facilitate a scene in the cartoon where he’s not wearing his T-Rex kibble… he really does a lot. Paint is pretty much perfect, QC is fairly good (there were some reported issues with his waist I never encountered on mine) and posability is *chef’s kiss*.
Also, between Megatron and (the less impressive but still really nice in robot mode) Blackarachnia, that much closer to getting all of S1’s cast in the MP scale, with us now having 5 entries in the show cast. I don’t think we’ll ever see that myself, but then, TakaraTomy DID tease something for Year of the Rat in 2020…. *crosses fingers*. In any case though, Lio Convoy’s coming in a couple months, and he also looks quite nice indeed.
Coming up next: My other “top toys of 2019” lists – the unlicensed transforming toys one, and the non-transforming toys one. And it’s not much of a spoiler to say that this isn’t going to be the first time a Megatron figure will take the #1 slot…
All images for this article save for the header taken from official stock photography.