YEAR IN REVIEW: Counting down the top 10 toys of 2020 – part two!

It’s time to continue my rundown of the top 10 toys from last year! If you missed it, then be sure to catch up on part one first. As I explained, this is my personal list of what delighted me the most from the various new figures I picked up during 2020. With that said, let’s crack on!


TOP TEN FIGURES 2020 (cont.)

#8: TransArt BWM-02 Skateboard Gorilla

The Beast Wars entries in the official Masterpiece line are steadily proving to be a bit of a dream come true for collectors like me who were fans of the 1990s’ series back in the day, but one thing they haven’t tackled yet is the idea of Transmetals. Step forward the enterprising TransArt to fill the void, then!

The aptly-named Skateboard Gorilla here is actually the second release from the fledgling third party outfit, after they also released their take on Transmutate last year, but it’s definitely the one that received the most attention from fans. After all, the very idea of Masterpiece-scale Transmetal characters is an intriguing one indeed, although perhaps it’s only fair to mention that this release garnered a lot of confusion too!

In many ways that’s fair enough, especially as it wasn’t entirely clear what the nature of this project was to begin with. A lot of people assumed it to be a straightforward retooled knock-off of the original 1998 toy, which again is perhaps understandable, given how similar in appearance they are at first glance.

In fact, even after you get hands on with Skateboard Gorilla, there’s still a lot of cues that harken back to that vintage original figure, which goes a long way in demonstrating just how cartoon-accurate the toys from that time truly were. This is a new mould, for clarity’s sake, although still one that takes a heavy dose of inspiration from its predecessor.

That’s not a problem, mind – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, after all. Besides, there’s enough good going on here to help Skateboard Gorilla step out of the shadow of that original toy, with plenty of articulation, good looks and of course a massive dose of fun factor. The very idea of a flying metal ape on a surfboard is clearly one that remains inherently ridiculous, but it’s never been pulled off quite as well as this!

The other thing that’s a delight about this guy is that chrome, of course. Whereas the original toys will always require a bit of special care in order to avoid damaging their finish (and even then, a lot of them will flake if you so much as sneeze near them!), TransArt have delivered a product with all the shine but none of the concern.

It’s exciting to see the other characters that TransArt already have on their slate for 2021 (with Transmetal Cheetor and Ravage on the way soon!), especially as, if this release is anything to go by, we should be in for a bit of a treat. I’ve long been thinking that the third party scene should be getting in on the idea of Masterpiece Beast Wars more than they have been, so needless to say, I’m pretty thrilled by it all.

Long story short? This guy is just prime.

Check out the original video on this toy here.


#7: Hasbro Earthrise WFC-E11 Optimus Prime

I don’t collect Generations toys. No, I mean I really don’t. Honestly!

That’s not me being glib (especially as I am aware I have form in this particular area of protestation). Despite the fact that I have previously picked up a couple of the larger lads from years gone by, I’ve never made it a priority to source the majority of the mainline toys, if only because every collection needs limits! That said, I did have the opportunity to check out a few of the more-recent Earthrise examples during 2020, and they were by-and-large a lot of fun.

True, there were at least one or two examples that I found to be a little lacklustre in terms of fit or finish, but there were some definite standouts along the way, too. One of those was most definitely Optimus Prime, who, in rather predictable fashion, ends up being gifted one of the best designs of the line, yet again. I almost wanted it to be someone else, just for the sake of variety, but you can’t engineer what takes your fancy!

So, here’s the thing – he’s not perfect. In fact there are still a couple of grumbles about this guy that I could easily reel off for you, not least of which would be the unsightly bum wheels, the weird grey plastic hand-me-down moulding from his Siege counterpart, and most definitely that rather uninspired trailer component.

But hey, none of that really takes away from what Earthrise OP also does well. Not only is a delightful dish to look at, but he handles beautifully, transforms like a charm and features at least a couple of nifty little gimmicks that made him all-round a lot of fun to play with.

Perhaps ‘play’ is the operative word here, and sits at the heart of how this particular example earned a spot on the top ten list to begin with. You see, of all the various toys I’ve collected, the Generations examples are naturally the ones that are best suited to share with my son (although he does like the look of the other stuff as well!), and of all of them, Optimus is without a doubt the one we’ve enjoyed the most together.

Kind of novel, really, isn’t it? To include a toy on a list like this because it’s actually fun for children to play with? Joking aside, it is an important lesson of what’s at the core of this list to begin with, in that sometimes these things don’t need the best finish imaginable, or need to be layered in gorgeous paint, or even be the biggest technical marvels. Sometimes they just need to delight, and Earthrise Optimus delights hard.

I guess it’s fair to say that he’s been the real highlight of my tentative dip in the Generations waters, delivering entirely to my expectations of what these toys should be about to begin with. Everyone needs a good Optimus Prime toy, after all.

Check out the original video on this toy here.


#6: Newage XM1-B Mista

Bayformers, eh? Love them or hate them, it’s fair to say that everyone has an opinion! In many ways, it’s kind of hard to separate the character designs from the fiction itself, yet that’s entirely what some of us prefer to do! I make no bones about saying that I could merrily not watch Dark of the Moon again for some time to come, yet here I am sticking a toy inspired by that film on my top ten list, as you do.

Now, they may not be everyone’s nostalgic memory of Transformers from whatever era you grew up with (unless you grew up with the live action films, in which case I don’t want to think about the passage of time too much, thank you!), but they still have a certain something that appeals, personally-speaking.

So, when I saw that third party company, Newage, were branching out from their usual Legends-scale fare to deliver a 3PMPM product, well, I was certainly intrigued. Just look at this thing, after all! It’s a very attractive recreation of Soundwave in his Mercedes-Benz mode from the film, and even features his big-screen partners, Laserbeak & Ravage in miniature plastic form. Wonderful!

Fortunately, all three of them prove to be just as great in hand, which is especially fortunate considering that I had to go to some extra lengths to get hold of the limited-release Ravage! Worth it though, considering how adorable both he and Laserbeak are together.

Mista himself is no slouch, mind, and despite being uniformly silver in both modes, still managing to pack in enough pop with those vibrant colour highlights to really shine. The sculpt is magnificent in terms of the detailing and presentation too, making him a true showstopper in hand.

And whilst that transformation is all-kinds of confusion-inducing contortion antics, it still manages to err on the side of being fun to complete over and over (especially once you have the proper order of everything solidified in your brain). It’s worth it for the spot-on alt’ mode result, too.

It’s also worth noting that despite the MPM roster continuing to grow at a healthy rate, collectors of the high-end movie-inspired toys are often a bit hard-done-by when it comes to quality control. After all, there have been more than a couple of examples from the official line where things have been a bit sub-par in terms of execution, and even some other third party attempts have fallen foul on that score, too. Fortunately, the same cannot be said of Newage, who have delivered a robust and sturdy result.

Perhaps it should be no great surprise given their already decent reputation in the Legends sphere, but ultimately it all leaves me hopeful for more from them to go alongside Mista, too.

Check out the original video on this toy here.


#5: Fans Hobby MB-16 Lightning Eagle (and MB-16A Machine Eagle)

Fans Hobby continue to go from strength-to-strength in many ways. Having already made a strong name for themselves with early figures such as Archenemy, they’ve since expanded their line-up to include all kinds of eclectic character choices, and all delivered with their usual sense of stylistic flair.

One design that’s definitely become well-known from them is Power Baser, of course. Though again quite a stylised affair, it’s still *the* Masterpiece-styled Ginrai figure on the market to beat, and has subsequently been re-done in numerous different colour schemes to boot. So what makes Lightning Eagle so different then?

Well, firstly, a caveat, as I appreciate that this inclusion technically breaks my own personal rule about putting repainted toys on the main list, but in this case I think there’s more than enough retooling and additional moulding going on to (just about) warrant it.

Besides, just *look at* it, right? I mean, you surely can’t write this one off as a ‘mere repaint’ with a souped-up colour scheme like that, can you? It’s a stunning modern interpretation of the classic G1 Thunderclash design in all its gaudy ’90s glory!

Even better then, it takes everything Power Baser does well and amplifies it somehow. The quirks of the base design (pardon the pun) remain, but the strengths are that much more obvious too, with the new colours setting off the mould in a way that I’d never fully appreciated before.

Far be it for Fans Hobby to do things by halves, they even put out an actual repaint of this retooled version last year too, with Machine Eagle leading me to utter a term I didn’t think I’d be saying any time in the foreseeable future – “Masterpiece Machine Wars”.

I already feel a real sense of admiration towards Fans Hobby just for attempting to do stuff that’s a bit different, quirky, or just plain off the beaten path, but when the results are as much fun as these two have proven to be in hand, needless to say they earn a spot here (regardless of any technicalities).

Besides, any repaint or retool that can actually improve on the original to this degree is worth a shout, in my book.

Check out the original review on Lighting Eagle and the video on Machine Eagle here.


#4: TakaraTomy Masterpiece MP-50 Tigatron

Oh, did I mention Masterpiece Beast Wars, earlier? Well, with good reason, as they’ve quickly proven to be some of the most exciting releases from the line, in relatively quick succession. All of which meant that I was particularly looking forward to Tigatron here, last year.

It’s always great to see a typically-undervalued character getting their day, after all (Where’s Kingdom Tigatron, for example!), and besides, early promotional pictures had MP-50 looking like he was going to be another remarkable entry into the line-up.

Now the real tea: he’s definitely not perfect. The transformation certainly has a couple of fiddly elements to it and the design of the rear tiger legs and indeed the robot mode legs is more than a little bizarre, in both cases. Perhaps it’s also no surprise that he was met with at least a couple of grumbles when he arrived ready for video reviews, then.

And whilst those elements have been things that have irked me slightly too, there’s a timely reminder to be had about what criteria I’m using to grant the spots on this list. After all, it’s not about which toys are objectively “the best”, but the ones that I’ve personally enjoyed the most. In Tigatron’s case, the sheer amount of good on offer still far outweighs any quibbles I might have, meaning he earns his spot (and his stripes, if you will).

After all, he’s *adorable*. That tiger face is just too much, flawlessly recreating the look of the character from the animation in a way that still only TakaraTomy seem to be able to do to such a degree. The little touches such as the pliable whiskers and moving eyes just add so much character, too.

Then there’s the robot mode, which is chock full of personality and again rather expertly brings to life the Maximal we know and love. It’s not an exaggeration to say that all of the Beast Wars MPs feel like you’re actually handling the animation models somehow, they’re that good.

Truthfully, my only real nitpick with Tigatron is that I do wish his robot knees where more robust, as they do have a habit of giving way a bit during posing, but on the whole he really delivers everything I would want this toy to and more.

My only question now then, is where’s Masterpiece Airazor?

Check out the original video on this toy here.


So, that’s part 2 of our list! Check back for the final part very soon…


About Sixo

Transformers collector from the UK, collecting vintage G1/G2, CR/RID, UT & Masterpiece/3P. Find me at or on YouTube at


Don't miss out on the latest