OK look, everyone is busy compiling their “best of 2019” lists right now (assuming they haven’t done so already), and yours truly is still lagging on the subject a bit. I admit it. But hey, it’ll happen, I promise.
In the meantime, let’s take a quick look forward to some of the stuff that we know is happening in the coming year, as we count down the 8 releases we’re absolutely buzzing for in 2020!
#8: FansToys Thomas
FansToys have quite the slate on the go right now, huh? As is usually the case they’ve announced a whole raft of different characters, including no less than two separate combiner teams and some insane projects like their as-yet-unnamed Fortress Maximus. I’m also really looking forward to the likes of Sheridan and Iceman, both of which are on the near horizon, but for my money it’s FansToys Thomas that really looks exciting right now. It’s not just that we’re long overdue an attempt at a Masterpiece-styled Astrotrain (although boy, are we), the toy itself looks really superb.
That robot mode is *chef’s kiss* levels of cartoon accurate, whilst both the alt’ modes look on point and there’s even some fun to be had with the train track accessory that’s included.
My only hope for this guy is that FT manage to deliver a triple changer that isn’t so mind-numbingly hideous to transform that you end up wanting to leave the thing in robot mode the whole time. Some of their recent designs have been pretty complex in how they convert, so this is going to be an interesting one to see. Fingers crossed though as it looks amazing from the photos we’ve all seen so far, and here’s also hoping that Berserk, their attempt at a Blitzwing is finally not too far behind!
#7: Unique Toys Dragoon
Whether you loved or hated The Last Knight, it seems most people can at least agree that the design for Megatron in that film was pretty swish. Certainly a huge departure from what we’d seen of the character before, but also a really sleek design with a nifty transformation in its own right. Well, after similar efforts such as their Peru Kill and Challenger were well-received, Unique Toys are back to release this big guy, which looks to realise that character design in stunning form.
Oh, and I say “big guy” with a lot of conviction – he seems to be absolutely huge from the comparisons we’ve seen thus far! Equally it’s all shaping up to look like UT have delivered another surprisingly screen-accurate ‘bot with an intriguing transformation scheme. Their recent efforts have all been great fun so here’s hoping they keep that momentum and knock this out out of the park.
#6: Fans Hobby Athena
Fans Hobby have some great things going on right now. They’ve been on fire with recent projects such as Double Evil and God Armor, carving out a relative niche by producing some epic 3PMP representations of Masterforce characters. From their upcoming 2020 offerings there’s no doubt for me that it’s Athena that has caught my eye the most, as they promise to bring us the first Masterpiece-styled Minerva! And does she look epic!
The photos they’ve shown off so far boast a super-articulated robot form, and the car mode looks absolutely to die for. Then there’s the fact that we know we can count on Fans Hobby to produce well-made and above all *fun* toys that leave us feeling a lot of confidence in this release. Can’t wait to see more!
#5: KFC Junkions
This is likely one of those projects that people may have forgotten about, but KFC toys first teased the idea of producing a set of Junkions aaaages ago. Of course they’ve already released Crash Hog (their Wreck Gar) and fellow Junkion, Dumpyard, but these four releases (Castoff, Dregs, Gunker and Scraps) would be the crowning glory to complete the set.
Now sure, you may be sitting here thinking “does anyone really need a set of up to six Masterpiece-styled Junkions?”, and to be fair it’s a very good question to ask! But hey, when they look as adorable as this lot then it’s hard to not be at least a little excited! My only hope is that KFC refine the design a little to improve on that annoying handlebar transformation from the first two figures, which is something they have claimed will happen. Otherwise, bring them on!
#4: X-Transbots Monolith
I’m pretty sure I’ve spent more than enough time banging on about how excited I am to complete this team already, and even did a whole article about the various options for 3PMP Stunticons already! Still, with final team member Gravestone already landing in many collectors hands, we’re one step closer to being able to assemble the full Big Man. And boy… I cannot wait.
You see, despite Gravestone rounding off the roster, the final release will be in April (or thereabouts), when his trailer section will enable us to combine them all into Monolith. It feels like a bit of a wait at this stage, but the design itself seems to be worth it so we’ll just have to be patient a little longer! As well as the combined form, I’m really intrigued by the base mode the trailer can transform into. Should be a lot of fun!
#3: TakaraTomy MP-48 Lio Convoy
The first official toy on our list and it looks like a doozy. It’s bizarre to think that other than a black Nemesis-style repaint of the MP-44 mould and the “Burning Convoy” repaint of Optimus Primal , this guy is currently the only confirmed upcoming Masterpiece toy on the roster (not to mention the only new design!). Oh, and it’s a Beast Wars character… from the Japanese continuity no less! Fortunately it looks really stellar and I for one cannot wait to see it come to fruition.
LOVE that MP Lio Convoy is the same size as Encore Big Convoy. They look great together! Can’t wait for this. pic.twitter.com/7EnGfC6Mij
— Sixo (@SixoTF) December 31, 2019
The idea of a fully cartoon-accurate Lio Convoy has been one that a lot of fans have been clamouring over for years, and MP-48 looks like it’ll definitely deliver on that score. The beast mode might be a bit out there for some Western fans unfamiliar with the anime, but hopefully the overall design will be enough to get people excited about it. Oh, and I’m thrilled to see how he measures up versus the recent Encore Big Convoy!
Will more Masterpiece news be on the horizon soon? Logic says yes, TakaraTomy will no doubt be working on any number of projects behind the scenes, so we’ll doubtless be due an announcement or two before too long. In the meantime I’m going to keep salivating over pics of this guy until he finally drops.
#2: Toyworld Freedom Leader
Some designs just seem to capture everyone’s hearts and minds, don’t they? There’s something about the look of Optimus Prime from the Bumblebee film that just nails the character in many ways, and it’s proven so popular that seemingly any representation of the on-screen likeness in toy form proves to be a hit. So it’s perhaps no surprise that excitement for Toyworld’s upcoming attempt is at fever pitch, although it’s probably also to do with the fact that it looks like a bloody marvel!
Woof, Toyworld really knocked this one out, huh? pic.twitter.com/lUck0RO2eu
— Sixo (@SixoTF) November 20, 2019
The robot mode appears to have nailed the design in so many ways, but the fact that it also transforms is somewhat mind-boggling. Oh, and then he’s packaged with a veritable boatload of fun accessories that you just know is going to make for an enjoyable photoshoot. Yeah, I can’t wait for this.
It’ll also be very interesting to see how this unofficial transforming version shapes up next to the just-released and officially-licensed ThreeZero Optimus Prime. That figure is beyond stunning but I’m still up for this one too!
#1: ThreeZero Soundwave & Ravage
And onto the final release on our list, and the one that I’m truly the most excited for! I’ve recently started picking up a number of the 3A/ Threezero Deluxe-scale releases, including their Bumblebee, Blitzwing, and just in the last fortnight their Optimus Prime, and they’re all quite astounding. Supremely screen-accurate in a way that is hard to imagine of transforming toys, they also boast an impressive attention-to-detail in their design and superior craftsmanship in their quality and build. And now they’re going to tackle Soundwave!
So yeah, they don’t transform. I think pretty much every time I post a photo of one of them online someone will point that out as a critique, but in all honesty once you have one of these things in hand you quickly forget about why that’s even an important factor! I’ve been so enamoured with Optimus that he’s monopolised much of my attention since he arrived, and from the look of Soundwave so far he promises to be every bit as impressive. Oh hey, and he even comes with a Ravage too!
The question now is whether we’ll see more of the Bumblebee crew realised in this form. After all, there’s still potential for Shockwave, Shatter, Dropkick, Starscream, any of the Autobots… the list goes on. One things for sure though, if they keep being as stunning as this thing looks to be, I’ll keep being interested!
So, that’s our list! What are your most anticipated items for the year ahead?