YEAR IN REVIEW: Counting down the top 10 toys of 2021 (part 1)

Whenever I assemble one of these lists, I often reflect on how quickly the prior year seems to have zipped by, although it feels like 2021 was faster than ever! The last twelve months was another strange time for most people across the globe and that impact was certainly not lost in the field of toy collecting, either.

For one thing, when I (finally) sat down to start assembling this ranking of my favourite toys from the previous twelve months, I was struck by how hard I found it to distinguish between releases that came during this time and which had occurred in 2020 – the last several years all seem smushed into one, somehow!

Still, the opportunity to reflect on the year’s collecting is never anything but a positive one in my eyes, especially as it can feel like a welcome tonic from assessing some of these toys with critical eyes for the normal review cycle. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a fun process, but it’s here I get to put some of those nitpicks aside and just let loose with which releases have truly delighted me the most, despite whatever faults they might have.

As with last year’s list, I will say I found approaching the task a little daunting this time around (hence, I suppose, why it’s arriving a smidge later than planned!), if only because of the sheer volume of great toys that continue to be pumped out for our collective perusal. More than anything though, it’s finding the right means to distinguish between each of them to the point where I can conclusively state which are “the best”.

Naturally, there are all the classic criteria, such as design, engineering, articulation, creativity, execution, quality… all the stuff that would usually form part of my assessment whenever a new toy comes up for review. However, this list is different, as I say, and at its core, there’s only one factor that matters to me when ranking the toys contained within – fun! Put simply, which toys did I enjoy the most in the last year?

Which in turn makes this a very personal endeavour, full of decisions that suit my specific tastes. Some of those are based on stuff that can be measured by the usual considerations mentioned above, but there’s also a kind of ‘x-factor’ involved, in many ways. Some toys are enjoyable even if they’re not the most articulated, the best engineered, the most creative or even the best executed. Some toys scratch a different kind of itch, you might say.

It’s also worth stating clearly that I don’t expect everyone to agree with my choices – that’s sort of par for the course! It’s not about which toys are objectively ‘best’ so much as which ones I personally enjoyed the most, and that’s a purely subjective arena, to begin with. Inevitably, there are also plenty of toys I would have loved to include but couldn’t – such is the nature of these lists.

Naturally, I should also clarify that this list is made up only of toys I have personally picked up during 2021, most of which were Masterpiece and third party equivalents. I did have my hands on a few Generations toys during this time, but if I didn’t collect it, it won’t feature here. Equally, I’ve only included new moulds released within the last twelve months, and have discounted anything I picked up retrospectively from a previous year.

So here’s the plan – I’ll be discussing two categories of toys. First up is a look at the best repaints from 2021 (based on moulds first released in previous years), and then it’s the main event – the top ten figures of 2021, based on all-new moulds from the last twelve months. Couldn’t be simpler, eh?

Final thing – as with the previous couple of years, I’ve split the list down into several parts to make it more manageable. So without further ado, let’s get cracking with part 1!



SPECIAL MENTION: X-Transbots MX-12T Gravestone (Youth Ver.)

Third-party Stunticons are a thing. Seriously, it seems like everyone and their grandma is giving the Decepticon car crew a go at the moment. Yet it’s to X-Transbots’ credit that they found a way to offer an alternative to the regular cartoon vibe with their Youth versions, those being G1-toy-inspired re-releases of all five toys with a surprising amount of newly-moulded parts in the mix. The first three figures have all been a delight but it was Gravestone that I was especially looking forward to and he did not disappoint.

I admit that toyetic Masterpiece-styled releases weren’t something I ever anticipated needing for my collection but with more and more options starting to emerge now, it’s kind of hard to resist! After all, there’s something bizarrely nostalgic about it all, despite owning the original versions of all of these characters, and XTB has really tapped into that with their gang.

Again, it’s the level of effort that they’ve employed here that makes this work, with numerous parts newly moulded specifically for the Youth repaint, including a new head and chest, and loads of striking new paint applications thrown in for good measure. Let’s hope we get to see the combined mode soon!

Check out the original review on this toy here.


SPECIAL MENTION: Toyworld TW-C07E Constructor (Orange Ver.)

Toyworld Constructor is pretty much the poster boy of the 3PMP combiner scene, having also sort of set the template for how future characters have been handled too. The scale of the thing, the partsformery combined mode solution – it’s all stuff that’s celebrated by a lot of collectors and once you get any version of it in hand, it’s not too hard to understand why!

I already own two versions of this mould (the green and G2 yellow takes) but once I saw it was coming out in a new orange colour scheme, I knew it was time to give the big fella one more go! After all, I’m a sucker for anything that homages the 1990s Generation 2 toy line, and as I also own both the original sets of yellow and orange Constructicons from back in the day, this was too good to pass on!

Truth be told, there are some clear flaws with this guy that become apparent once you get him in hand, all of which I covered during my initial Unboxing video. Some joints, such as the wrists, should be way tighter and I find it impossible to handle him without bits popping off aplenty, all signs that perhaps it’s time for Toyworld to finally retire the moulds here at long last. Yet despite all of that, nothing can take away from just how much fun it is to see a truly mahoosive orange Big Man in a G2-inspired 3PMP line-up.

Check out the original review on this toy here.


RUNNER UP: Fans Hobby MB-06D Power Baser & MB-11D God Armor (Orange Ver.)

Speaking of large orange repaints, here we have another design that’s been put out multiple times over the years already, but still inspired me more than enough to give it one more go! Some of you may be aware that I’m a *huge* fan of the original Fire Guts God Ginrai figure from 2002, so the idea that Fans Hobby may one day reference it with their Power Baser design was always a bit of a pipe dream of mine.

Still, it seemed like it was one of those that would probably never come to fruition somehow, maybe just a smidge too niche even for a company willing to put out G1 Turbomaster and Machine Wars nods from this very core design. How wrong that was, as Fans Hobby have well and truly embraced the orange here!

The Power Baser design may not be without its quirks, but as a total package (and with God Armor thrown into the box as part of a gift set for the first time) there’s no denying how much fun you get with this one. Gimmicks aplenty, so many modes you could almost lose count, and one heck of an impressive combined mode once you cycle through it all.

Yet despite being a release I’m already familiar with, this set embodies everything that makes great repaints so much fun to handle and, dare I say it, ends up as probably my favourite of the now six uses the mould has had thus far. I’ll say this for Fans Hobby – they’ve got guts.

Check out the original video on this toy here.


WINNER: TakaraTomy Masterpiece MP-39+ Spinout

Whilst in any other year, orange Power Baser might be a shoo-in for the repaint top spot, in 2021 there really could be only one deserving winner. I loved the original MP-39 Sunstreaker design so much that it (albeit narrowly) earned the #1 ranking in my 2018 year in review, so perhaps it’s little surprise that some three years later, I’m back to proclaim just how marvellous the subsequent spin-off, Spinout truly is.

All of the fantastic features from Sunstreaker are expectedly carried over, making this lad a true tour de force in the fun stakes, to begin with. The opening doors, pop-up headlights and bonnet section are all as remarkable as ever, yet it’s that incredible rear engine flip (allowing the toy to show off as both a more traditional Countach and the suped-up super tuning alternative) that remains the standout gimmick in my eyes. It’s toy engineering out of sight of so many other figures.

But hey, what differentiates this lad from Sunstreaker (and previous repaint, Cordon) anyway? Isn’t it just more of the same? Well, yes, it is, and especially with Cordon’s toy-styled head being a direct carry over too. Yet there’s just something so sublime about that raucous hot red finish that is nothing shy of mind-blowing in hand. And besides, some toys are just so good that they’ll top a list no matter how many times they’re recoloured!

In many ways, it was always inevitable that we would end up with this trio of toys complete before too long, yet finally seeing it done remains a real treat all the same. I still marvel at Sunstreaker even three years on, so the chance to admire the core design another two times since has been a true added bonus.

Check out the original video and review on this toy here.



#10: Transart BWM-04 Black Agent

Moving onto the main event here and kicking us off at number 10 in terms of new moulds is a perhaps unexpected entry from relative third-party newcomer, Transart – it’s Covert Agent Ravage, at your service!

And yes, perhaps this is a bit of an unusual choice in some senses, especially as although there is an alternate form of sorts, it’s most definitely best thought of as a non-transformable figure given what a dog lunch it is. Seriously, I know there’s a long-running joke of some beast modes just being a robot crouching down on all fours but in this case, it’s never been more true! Total waste of time, in my opinion.

However, put that to one side and you’re still left with a remarkable robot form, and one that expertly captures the look, feel and presence of the on-screen animation model from the 1990s’ Beast Wars cartoon. Just one gander at that exceptionally accurate noggin and I can hear Lee Tockar doing his best Russian accent in my head. It’s perfect.

In many ways, that’s the main thrill with Black Agent, as it swings so close to the screen that it puts many other attempts in the shade (including the recent official Generations attempt) and gives us a toy that longtime Beast Wars fans like me have been yearning for over the last two-and-a-half decades. It’s a note of personal irony that I finally picked up the original 1999 Metals Jaguar figure and the 2004 Binaltech BT-11 Ravage for the very first time this year, alongside Transart’s fantastic effort fulfilling such a wish. So many wonderful attempts at a fan-favourite character, and this unofficial stab is just the icing on the cake.

Of course, it helps that it’s also a fun, well-articulated take on the Predacon spy too, with some nifty gimmicks such as magnetised holster slots for his guns to attach to his hips. Really, why would you even need him to transform when the robot mode is as good as this?

Check out the original video and review on this toy here.


#9: Mastermind Creations R-48 Optus Pexus

Full disclosure – I didn’t expect to enjoy this toy nearly half as much as I did! I say that honestly as someone who isn’t as familiar with the IDW canon as I should be, but also who counts their previous favourite MMC releases as being those that fall under the Ocular Max umbrella and typically go for more of a classic G1 vibe.

So, imagine my surprise and sheer delight when Optus Pexus arrived and instantly proved to be a real whirlwind of impeccable design, superior articulation, superb finish and glorious aesthetic. Any toy that can pull of the kind of poses that Pexus manages with such easy grace and poise is alright by me.

And hey, it’s not like the lack of understanding around this particular fictional portrayal of the character matters here, does it? I mean, it’s Optimus Prime (or yes, Orion Pax, fine) – how much more do you really need, at the core of it? There have been lots of amazing OP toys over the years and they’ve had a lot less inherent backstory than this guy to go on.

Besides, did I mention the guns? Because he comes with guns. Lots of guns. And they can attach on his arms, his back and, well, in his hands I suppose. Look, the point is that he’s pretty heavily stacked and it looks kind of awesome. You get the picture.

So yes, a very welcome surprise and one that has me immensely excited for the even-more-handsome black repaint, Optus Nox. Keep ’em coming, MMC!

Check out the original video on this toy here.

So, that’s part 1 of our list! Check back for part 2 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