This is a list of my top 10 Transformers and Transformers-related toy purchases in 2017; new toys that I have found the most enjoyable to play with, that have impressed me the most personally or have inspired the greatest creativity in me. There will be no disclaimer about opinions and such this year, because it would be futile to spend any more time on anyone who cannot unpack and understand every detail of the opening sentence of this article. The toys are the focus. The offerings in 2017 have been of such a high standard that by the end of March, I already had a top 5 which I felt surpassed the previous year’s offerings. Interestingly, only one of those toys from March has ended up in my final top 10. The figures I have left out have been of a ridiculously high quality compared to other years in which I have compiled this list. Let’s get straight to it.
#10 – Hasbro Transformers Titans Return Sky Shadow
Let’s start with a surprise, a surprise to you and a surprise to me. When wave 4 of Titans Return shipped, I was looking forward primarily to the Deluxe class toys where TR had been shining since the first wave. The rest would occasionally be purchased by me with completism in mind, but Leader class Sky Shadow – an obvious pre-tool for Overlord – was a bit special. A gorgeous colour scheme through and through and a superb jet mould stood him apart from the eventual Overlord figure from wave 5. On top of that, Sky Shadow had a simply stunning headsculpt, an area in which Hasbro and TakaraTomy continue to excel. With basically five modes to enjoy, including a base mode that I have used repeatedly in Cybetron cityscape photography, Sky Shadow represents peak play value in this line. Above all, though, was the breathtaking genius engineering that allowed a pair of non-descript legs and a crotch to turn into a massively convincing tank! A tank whose main features are all but hidden in robot mode.
#9 – Hasbro Transformers Titans Return Shuffler
This toy is almost entirely deserving of its place on the list for the very fact that circumstances have conspired to give us a Shuffler toy – still called “Shuffler” – in a Hasbro Transformers line. Its brilliance lies in the details, details that show the rest of the Transformers-creating world why HasTak still absolutely own the small scale. Let’s try to dissect what we have here; a formerly exclusive Japanese Headmaster Warrior character mass released across Hasbro territories. In addition, for a line of Titan Master toys that were fun accessories with questionable alt modes on occasion, we have Shuffler who turns into an accurate and legitimate elephant with articulated trunk! Then he has the audacity to add a new, and complete believable, tank mode. Not enough? Ok then, how about a third mode as a brutal-looking futuristic tommy gun. Still not satisfied?! How about one of the very best headsculpts in the line (already full of headsculpt champions) on the actual headmaster mode? He’s not done. The actual Titan Master robot’s little headsculpt is that of a wee elephant man. This is one of the very best Transformers at this scale I have ever experienced, and I felt compelled to own 10 of the blighters. It’s Shuffler!
#8 – FansToys FT-16 Sovereign
FansToys have had an exceptional year, even better than the previous one. They started off 2017 with the incredible Grinder and Sovereign, of which only the latter makes it onto my list. In terms of looks, I think this might be the most gorgeous figure they have produced. I looked at it and was utterly convinced it was all the Galvatron I’d ever need. FT’s increasing ability to nail a headsculpt culminated in a fantastic looking figure with multiple options for the face, all very characterful and simply spot on. Heft and posability were great, in fact he was almost too hefty! My one gripe remains how easily the cannon attachment falls off his arm and how easily its flap opens up. The transformation on this toy has come in for justified criticism; others hate it but I adore it. It’s long enough for me to need to sit down and make time for it, but I found the process to be very logical and easy to follow. That in itself is an achievement for 3P MP figures today. The shoulders are hell to separate from the main body, but when you’re as in love with the looks as I am – in BOTH modes – and enjoy its transformation as much as I do, it’s hard not to award it such a high billing. I love all the details and how he won’t let my gaze wander when he’s on display. Absolutely premium level stuff.
#7 – MakeToys Cross Dimension MTCD-03SP Thunder Erebus
Cross Dimension was a MakeToys sub-line that I respected a great deal, but swore off after Striker Manus. I did this simply to limit costs and the number of toys coming into my collection, because Manus and Rioter Despotron sure were excellent figures. That resolve was totally broken by Thunder Erebus, an unexpected review sample. I love virtually all versions of Powermaster Optimus Prime I have ever owned, but posability and proportions have always presented a challenge for designers of his toys. Along come MakeToys to deliver a figure of exceptional posability, intuitive transformation, solid build quality, gorgeous finish and proportions, as well as heaps of playability. This is almost the perfect adult-aimed Transformers collectable. It can sit on your desk and look detailed enough to pass as a display piece, it’s posable enough to pull off that premium figure look and there is enough going on there to keep you fully occupied should you choose to have a play. It was so refreshing to be able to transform a reasonably complex 3rd party figure with no need for instructions. Exceptional design and execution; next year’s Thunder Manus release with the “Divine Parts” will be something to behold.
#6 – MakeToys Re:Master MTRM-11 Meteor
I had been calling MP-11 Coronation Starscream one of the toys I would rescue in a fire since 2013. I felt it was everything I wanted from a premium version of my first ever Transformer. The years began to expose its shortcomings as Masterpiece and 3rd Party figures evolved, but it was still the standout Starscream for my collection. Along came MakeToys in 2017 with their MTRM-11 Meteor, a toy that I must admit I questioned. Why bother? There’s been an official release, so the sales would always be heavily compromised. When the figure was in hand, I understood just how much closer to the current MP aesthetic and design Meteor was compared to MP-11. There’s much more posability and far more cartoon accuracy, and although that is not to everyone’s liking, for Starscream it is everything to me. The jet mode is not as real-life accurate as MP-11, but the robot mode is a dream come true for me. I paid no attention to those bemoaning hollow wings or a face that was too dark, these were not things that affected my appreciation of what MT had created. I am bewitched every time I cast my eyes over to Meteor, and while it’d be nice if things like the nose section fell off less regularly during transformation, with care it is possible to keep it all together. The fact that he’s displaced an official Masterpiece in my affections is a very big deal in this collection.
~ INTERLUDE ~
A short interlude, if I may. The reasons for excluding certain excellent figures that I acquired, such as TR Trypticon, FansToys Grinder, FansToys Phoenix, MakeToys Downbeat and Fans Hobby Flypro, are manifold. Some of those figures took a lot of their excellence from previously designed Masterpiece offerings (Grinder), some just needed too much work out of the box (Trypticon). Others were visually magnificent and solid but were not toys I’d reach for to play with or transform ahead of what I have chosen (Downbeat, Phoenix) and had one or two transformation steps that frustrated more than thrilled (Downbeat, Flypro). A figure like MMC Turben inspired much creativity in me and was immediately accessible and fun, but I sold it and in the end, if I am happy to live without a figure and have not missed it, it does not deserve a place in the top 10 for me. Toys like Unique Toys Peru Kill might have featured any other year, but 2017 was the year I decided to amputate Bayverse figures from my collection, so I never bought it. In fact, there are many high profile figures I didn’t buy; MP Cheetus, FansToys Koot, FansToys Apache, PotP Legends, Deluxes, Voyagers and Leaders etc. Diaclone Big Powered GV and MP-39 Sunstreaker arrived at the very end of 2017 – or have yet to arrive – for me, and it would not have been fair to rush the experience to get them onto this year’s list where other toys have had months to work their magic on me. Those two figures especially deserve to be enjoyed in their own time and may appear on my 2018 list.
I would also like to highlight Fans Hobby as the breakout toy manufacturer of the year. Every figure they produced from Archenemy to Power Baser, via their tremendous Monsterbots, have been quality toys. The biggest disappointments of the year for me were Masterpiece MP-35 Grapple (horrific paint flake) and Legends God Ginrai (terrible lack of stability with the awful Godbomber). KFC’s Ditka and Bold Forms Gladius were two figures I’d have rather never come into contact with, either.
Anyway, back to the countdown!
~ END INTERLUDE ~
#5 – MakeToys Re:Master MTRM-10 Galaxy Meteor
I rate any Transformers-esque toy that instantly gets my attention from a line and continuity that I don’t collect or take an interest in. Galaxy Meteor was immediately beautiful and interesting to me, capturing the distilled essence of Starscream in a body I was familiar with from various Cybertron and Galaxy Force toys I’d seen down the years. Knowing the articulation and quality MakeToys would imbue the figure with, I suspected it would be something I’d enjoy. I had no plans to buy it, then saw it in person at TFNation and couldn’t put it down. Superb feel in hand, tremendous play value and stunning looks all worked to charm me. I eventually left the show without it, but regretted it. Cue a bizarre string of events where I received it as a review sample, then the toy got cancelled and re-instated for release after a hashtag campaign across social media started by myself and Sixo. Looking back, and having had this toy in hand for a few months, it is unthinkable that a figure so enjoyable and gorgeous would be denied the fandom. I placed it above the G1 style Meteor because on the shelf, without fail, I’ll reach for Galaxy every time. Possibly the best-proportioned robot figure I’ve ever owned. Oh, the alt mode is fantastic too!
#4 – TakaraTomy Diaclone DA-06 Dia-Battles V2 Cosmo Maneuver Type
You’d be forgiven for thinking this was cheating, after all the regular release Dia-Battles V2 topped last year’s countdown. The Cosmo Maneuver release completely remoulds the central Battles 02 segment, giving the toy gigantic cannons, new boosters and hands (and an extra set of hands in the cannons!) as well as remoulded Bullet Fighter parts, a slightly new headsculpt and fresh, striking colours. It did feel like a new toy with all the fancy changes, a gorgeous and extraordinarily fun new toy. The cannons are a fabulous addition and – of course – there are myriad combination options with the 2016 Dia-Battles V2, as well as the mass of Powered System Suits that TakaraTomy unleashed upon the line in 2017. The only negative mark I can put against this figure is that the ankles are not tight enough to deal with the extra weight of the new backpack and accessories, so he tumbles frequently. Other than that, this is a spectacular figure that still takes my breath away. I have two and will one day purchase a third, especially as it makes for a brilliant Cybertronian-esque city building for my elaborate photo backdrops. He misses out on a higher spot purely by dint of being a heavy remould of an existing figure from 2016.
#3 – TakaraTomy Transformers Legends LG-46 Targetmaster Kup
I was already going to give this place to Hasbro Titans Return Kup, but then I got the TakaraTomy Legends release, and oh my goodness, what a lesson in how to take a fabulous toy and improve it even more. Kup has one of the most beautiful transformations I’ve ever experienced on a deluxe class toy, second only to Triggerhappy in recent memory. The magic woven into the conversion of the legs never fails to impress me; I marvel at the ingenuity and the execution. On top of being a fun Headmaster version of Kup, TakaraTomy added their exclusive mould Targetmaster which – once again – shows everyone they are king of this small scale figure business. Articulated, ingenious and simply stunning, the Targetmaster partners on LG figures are worth the entry price alone. This is on top of two extraordinarily faithful and attractive modes, great articulation, kibble-free robot mode and hordes of personality, all packaged up in one of the best mainline Transformers toys I’ve ever owned. Simply brilliant.
#2 – MakeToys Re:Master MTRM-06 Contactshot
Any other year. Any other year and this is a number 1 toy. It would have pushed Dia-Battles last year all the way, such is the magnificence of MakeToys’ Contactshot. Autobot Targetmaster Pointblank may not be a character on the radar of many a collector, but for someone who has always loved Targetmasters as a gimmick above all others and has been building a G1 post movie collection, this was a landmark release and announcement. From conception to prototype, all the way through to production, I knew this would be a hit. The final product was absolutely everything it promised to be, with a lack of attachment point for the “Targetwarrior” in car mode the only drawback. Excellent transformation, supreme posability, extraordinary feeling of quality and solidity all make Contactshot the standout 3rd Party figure of the year by some margin for me. The robot mode and car mode are belters, too, with their incredible looks. It is surely impossible that this character will ever receive a better figure, and if MakeToys can produce a toy in their Re:Master line to top Contactshot, then everyone else on the 3P scene can just go home. What an absolute delight of a toy, ultimately fulfilling the promise shown by 3rd Party toys for some years now.
#1 – TakaraTomy Transformers Masterpiece MP-36 Megatron
HOW Expensive?! How much paint?! How slavish to the cartoon?! How many reports of QC issues?! All of these were reasons I avoided buying MP-36 Megatron, until it was almost too late. I hated being told it was something I “had” to own. When people decide what you need to buy and what you need to enjoy, it becomes harder to see the wood for the trees. Eventually I gave it a shot, for that exorbitant price, because I had to know for sure. I made sure through the kindness of others to get a MP-36 Megatron with no visible paint damage out of the box, and proceeded to fall utterly and hopelessly in love with what must be the most astounding Transformers toy TakaraTomy have ever produced. There’s articulation and expression, and there’s what Megatron can do. I’ve never believed any toy in my collection to ever look or feel so alive with personality or accuracy. It cannot be understated what a remarkable achievement the engineering of this figure is. It has a very complex and lengthy transformation, but one that can be learnt on your first return trip to robot mode. When you’re done with it, you’ll sit back and take a breath at the wondrous things you’ve done and seen.
It’s not ok that MP Megatron suffers irreversible paint wear upon attachment of the stock and silencer parts, and I used that fact to advise reviewers against giving him a perfect score when MP-36 came out. Then of course, I got my own and understood that even that loss of paint that usually is a dealbreaker for me does not tarnish MP-36 enough to even knock him down one place in the toughest top 10 I’ve ever had to assemble. The gun mode is superb, I adore it. It’s so much fun to handle the figure in that mode. In robot mode, he’s peerless. Peerless as a Masterpiece, as a Megatron, as a Transformer. The accessories are gorgeous, Megatron himself is the pinnacle. I think about this figure all the time. I miss it when I can’t see it and I can’t resist picking him up to play whenever I can. Even with that long and potentially wearing a transformation, I decided long ago that I would play and play with this toy until it crumbled to dust in my hands, because no collector and fan should ever be deprived of that experience. I’m even saying things about it now that I hated being told before I owned it. If I break MP-36 today, I’ll buy another tomorrow because I simply cannot be without it. In a year where my top figures were painful to assemble with wonderful items left out, the top spot has never been so easy to choose.
#0 – TakaraTomy Transformers Masterpiece MP-11ND Dirge
Because some prat is gonna ask.
Happy new year and see you in 2018!
All the best