YEAR IN REVIEW: Counting down the top 10 toys of 2019 (vintage edition) – part two!

It’s time to continue my rundown of the top 10 vintage toys that I picked up last year! If you missed it, then be sure to catch up on part one first. As I explained then, this is my personal list of what delighted me the most from the various classic Transformers toys I collected during 2019. So let’s crack on!

 

#7: Wreck Gar (1986)

OK, full disclosure – I never would’ve imagined that I’d be putting this fella on any kind of top ten list prior to picking him up again in August. You see, I’d already owned this toy back when I was a teenager, as part of a second-hand job lot I picked up at the time, and, let me be frank, he’d not exactly blown me away.

But it’s funny how impressions can change when you finally come across toys like this in immaculate condition and get to experience them all over again as though for the first time. I’m no stranger to having to clean off and upgrade old toys myself, but there’s no doubt that for me a really minty specimen can make all the difference!

So it was with Wreck Gar, who was purchased on the final day of TFNation after I thought I’d already scoured the dealer hall for all it was worth. I was killing time by idly sifting through one of the tables that I’d already visited a few times, and suddenly unearthed two Wreck Gars in plastic baggies. The other was stickers applied although still in good condition, but it was this lad who caught my attention immediately.

Yes, I’m not sure how I or anyone else had missed him all weekend, but right there was a completely pristine copy of the 1986 Junkion with an unused stickersheet, looking as good as when he was first opened. Even better, the price being asked for him was surprisingly reasonable and the dealer in question was happy to take an offer on account of wanting to pack up shortly. Bargain!

So maybe it’s not just the lovely condition that enamoured me to this lad so much, but the feeling of having scored a real treat for a great price too, eh? Who’s to say, but either way I found myself being really quite taken with Wreck Gar as soon as I got him home and started giving him the once over.

I guess what makes me chuckle is had I not seen him at TFN, then this would absolutely have been a toy that I would have put very low down my priorities list when assembling my G1 collection. Yet now I’m so thrilled to have him sitting on the shelf alongside his 1986 comrades – he looks a treat!

In many ways I’m now kind of sad that they never made more G1 Junkions, as it would have been really something to see a whole host of the quirky characters lined up in similar style. Still, at least I can now honestly say that I think the one we got is pretty cool.

So there you go, a surprising but nonetheless very welcome entry!

 

#6: Action Master Exo-Suits (1991)

I’m going to cheat a little bit again now by including not just one but FOUR different toys in one entry! In fairness to me though, how could you expect me to choose between this lot, eh? After all, I never anticipated I’d be collecting all of these wonderful European-exclusive toys in such minty condition all within the space of the last 12 months!

So who are these guys, anyway? Well, after Transformers ended in 1990 in the US, the line continued throughout European markets and we were lucky enough to continue receiving new toys (as well as a number of releases recycled from Japan). That meant we got a number of new Action Masters never seen in the American market, most of whom are now very hard to come by.

The Exo-Suits were a small spin-off subline where the Action Masters were packaged with transformable vehicles that turned into suits of armour. Kinda weird, but kinda cool! The figures themselves were all repaints but to my eye remain some of the best paint jobs of the entire AM line. Oh, and two of the suits also featured battery-powered gimmicks allowing them to actually drive along the floor.

Sadly they’re also quite fragile toys, so can be extremely difficult to find in even fair to good condition. Locking them down in the standard I was after for a decent price was no easy task, hence why I’m so surprised to be sitting here putting them all on this list!

First up is Rumbler, the main toy for which is a redeco of Sprocket. I think the colour scheme on this lad is just immense, to say nothing of that gorgeously yellow vehicle he comes with!

This guy requires the most care and attention out of this whole squad, as those blue mace accessories are so brittle and fragile that they threaten to break if you look at them the wrong way. Needless to say I’m doing my absolute best to be careful with them!

The other Autobot here is called Circuit, who comes with a rather fetching red race car. That already makes him pretty cool, in my book.

Circuit is a repaint of Axer, and is notorious for his exo-suit featuring one of the most… suggestive weapon placements in the whole of the G1 line. Action Master, indeed.

Next up is Slicer, an Action Master Wheeljack repaint who comes with the same motorised vehicle as Rumbler, albeit in different colours and without the fragile mace accessories. Oh yeah, and he’s flippin’ gorgeous!

I’ve long admired this particular toy, so it’s a real thrill to finally own a copy. I’d love to see the character get more love with repaints of other Wheeljack toys, but at least this original version is nothing short of breathtaking.

And finally, we have the pièce de résistance! If you had to force me on the subject, I’d definitely say that Thundercracker is my favourite from this subline just for how wonderfully weird his colour scheme is! Not just a powder blue all-in-one for this lad, no sir.

Like Rumbler, it’s hard to find this guy in such pristine condition, so Thundercracker has definitely earned himself a pride of place. In fact all four of these guys are just a genuine treat to own, and were always going to win a secure place on this list come year end.

 

#5: Wave 2 Autobot Pretenders (1988)

Did you know, not everyone likes Pretenders? I kid, I kid, but every time I post a photo of one of them online it amuses me that someone will mention how little they value them as toys. Bizarrely I used to think much the same when I was little, but now I bloody love them!

Having collected the first wave of 1988 Autobots last year, I was very keen to find the second wave trio in similarly nice condition. Well, it took a bit of doing, but I managed it in the end, although one of them in particular proved very hard to find!

First up is ginger babe Sky High, who like his comrades features a large animal face on his Pretender shell chest. There’s something wonderfull dorky about this lad that I just can’t help but adore.

The inner robot mode is probably my favourite of the three here, with a lovely colour scheme and nice, slender proportions. He’s the tallest of the lot, and looks the business with his rotor blades slung on his back.

The copter mode is also pretty neat even if it doesn’t look particularly aerodynamic, and finishes off this wonderful toy rather nicely.

Next we have Splashdown, this time representing a bit of a sea theme with his shark-motif chest plate. I love the vibrant blue colour on display here.

Again, the inner robot is really nicely done and looks great with his stickers freshly applied.

The boat mode is a nice change of pace and just about manages to avoid looking totally like a folded-over robot. Well, almost.

Finally we have Groundbreaker, who was by far and away the biggest pain to find in nice condition. I looked at so, so many copies of this guy, but they were never good enough. He’s extremely prone to paint chipping, you see, and I was only interested in finding one in the same condition as Sky High and Splashdown, so it took a lot of patience!

As it happens I still need to apply a set of stickers to my copy, something which I will get around to soon enough. Even without them he looks pretty ace though.

His vehicle mode finishes this set off really quite well, looking almost a bit like a tank with wheels. It’s the first time I’ve ever come across this set of toys and I really rate all of them a lot more than I thought I would!

Overall I’ve been completely blown away by these three, and they’ve ended up becoming one of my favourite parts of collecting over the last 12 months. It seemed like it wasn’t going to happen for the longest time, but it’s great to finally have them all together.

 

#4: Action Master Megatron, Soundwave, Shockwave & Starscream (1990)

OK look, anyone who follows me on social media should know by now that I have a bit of a thing for Action Masters. Yes, I know not everyone feels the same, but I genuinely think the little guys get a bad rep! Sure, they’re “Transformers that don’t transform”, but they still have a lot of charm and feature some really great depictions of classic characters.

In fact, I remember growing up and being thrilled to finally own some of these guys for the first time, as their original toys were long since unavailable to me. Characters like Megatron, Soundwave and Shockwave were all prominently featured in both the cartoon and comic of the time but were notoriously absent from toy shelves for a good 5 or 6-year stint.

Perhaps it’s for that reason that I’ve chosen these four in particular to kind of represent the somewhat extreme Action Master binge I’ve been on over the last 12 months or so. I mean, it might have been a bit unreasonable to put the whole line up for consideration, right? There’s something about these four Decepticons that just works so well for me though, starting with the sheer awesomeness of Megatron.

I mean, seriously – just look at this thing. It’s at once completely ridiculous and yet undeniably awesome. I also like to think that it’s what spawned the rise of Megatron transforming into a tank, for what it’s worth.

The main Megatron toy itself is wonderful, with a really fantastic face sculpt and a great mould to represent the iconic Decepticon leader. I’ve seen this toy in significantly worse-for-wear condition before, so I was really pleased to find him for a cheap price but still looking great.

The transforming tank is also great fun to play around with, even if it’s the main figure itself that I’m most interested in. It’s a shame he doesn’t come with a small fusion cannon for his arm, but he’s still pretty well-stocked when it comes to weaponry.

The real coup though is seeing him square off against Action Master Optimus Prime. It’s bizarre to say it, but Optimus and Megatron toys don’t always work as well opposite each other as well as these two do!

Next up is Soundwave, who is just a wonderful rendition of the classic character. I turned my nose up at a lot of examples of this guy, as they’re all too often paint work – especially on the chest area. I’m so pleased I held out as my copy looks just great!

Then we have Shockwave, who I think might be one of my all-time favourite Action Masters. The design is just flawless in how it brings the one-eyed character to life, positively dripping with that cold, calculating personality. I love the colour scheme too.

And finally there’s none other than Starscream, who earns a special place on my list for being a really awesome birthday present from a group of friends last year. A truly unexpected but welcome surprise, it’s been fantastic to have him join the ranks in such pristine condition.

The jet vehicle he comes with is also kinda neat, although it does look a bit like a weaponised mobility scooter in its transformed state but hey – it’s still a great toy overall.

So there we have it – 4 choices to represent a cast of many more. In a year when I collected a huge portion of the Action Master line (I’m so very nearly done!) these examples stood out above all others. Never let anyone tell you that Action Masters aren’t wonderful things to behold!

 

So, that’s part 2 of our list! Continue on to part 3 here.

TTFN

About Sixo

Transformers photographer & blogger from the UK with quite a well-known carpet. Collects both vintage G1/G2 and Masterpiece/3P.

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