Ok, so it could be a bit early for this kind of post. Christmas isn't here yet, and some of the more high-profile TF toys of the year (MP Rodimus, Kre-O Optimus, etc) aren't in my possession...yet. Even so, someone started the yearly "Best of" thread over on the Allspark, and I figured I could go ahead and compile a tentative list here, and I'll revise it later in the month if necessary.
I'll be breaking everything down by toyline, and then by size class. Ultimately, I'll post Basement Invasion's Transformer of the Year.
Ok, here we go:
Reveal the Shield:
Legends class: Megatron, for Hasbro having the ***** again to make a realistic gun mode G1 Megatron. Also, bonus points for making the barrel the fusion cannon instead of back kibble. Extra bonus points for making it compatible with the Masterpiece Seeker mold!
Scout class: not that I have it yet (I did manage to win one on ebay for only 2x retail the other day, though), but Windcharger kinda takes this one by default. I mean, his only competition was Chopsaw, and no movieverse repaint is going to be able to compete with an elusive new-mold G1 character. It's just too bad we never got Frenzy/Rumble to go with Windcharger.
Deluxe class: Perceptor. Very cool alt mode that echoes the Animated version of the character, and a great bot mode to match it.
Voyager class: Lugnut, no question. Yeah, Solar Storm Grapple (I swear, it's like I could just make shit up and it'd be a TF name) is pretty cool, but Lugnut is fantastic. He not only manages to be a great homage to the Animated version, but also be a much better toy.
Deluxe class: Well, this is the only category, isn't it? And there's so much awesome to choose from...I guess I'll have to go with one of the most recent entries, Black Shadow (well, Sky Shadow, but whatever). See, the thing is, most of the other awesome new mold guys (Kup, Scourge, Warpath) would have inevitably gotten new molds anyway, or at least gotten an homage mold from some other part of the franchise. But a new Black Shadow was never going to happen. Well, at least until we also got a new Thunderwing, the original version of whom the first Black Shadow was remolded from. Even then, the release of Generations Thunderwing last year didn't guarantee a new Black Shadow. He'd have to at least get a new head mold, and there was always a chance that the Thunderwing mold could end up as one of those (nowadays) rare molds that never gets repainted. Or Hasbro could have just repainted him as someone totally unrelated (Earth-mode Terrorsaur!) or brand-new. But, no - Hasbro took the opportunity, made a new head AND chest piece for the toy, and one year after Thunderwing we got Black Shadow. And, right now, he's relatively easy to find, too.
Dark of the Moon: OK, the big bad movie line of the year.
Mini-con: Yep, there are four older minicons repainted and put in DOTM-style packaging, so I figure they could get a shout-out here. "Dualor" is the best of the set, being that he's basically a Grimlock minicon (a Classics Terrorsaur repaint, if you couldn't figure it out). Still, Catilla (from the tiger minicon mold) gets up twinkles for being, well, a Catilla
Cybervese Legion: I dunno. There's a lot of fun ones here. I'll have to settle for a 3-way tie between Sideswipe, Roadbuster, and Crowbar. Sideswipe has a fun, clean transformation, Roadbuster is just a lot more than you expect from a legends/legion toy, and Crowbar is really interesting (not to mention pretty posable).
Cyberverse Commander: On the Allspark, I posted Hatchet as my choice here, but now that I think about it, I'm going with Blackout. He has an amazing transformation and manages to be a much better toy than his TFM Voyager counterpart. Add in the tiny Targetmaster Scorponok, and you're golden. Really, this size class has been one of the best new things about 2011. The only real "duds" are Optimus and Sentinel, and even they're decent (especially the Battle Steel Optimus repaint with the new weapons).
Cyberverse Action Sets: I've only got the Megatron one, and even that one I just got a few weeks ago. It's pretty cool, though. I'll eventually get Shockwave, since it's not clear that he'll get a single-packed release, but all the other ones are passable.
HA Scout/Basics: Maybe Icepick? I think that's my favorite to transform, and it makes some good ninja poses. Plus, Sgt. Chaos is pretty cool. Doesn't have the best weapon mode, though; I think that goes to Whirl.
Deluxe: Cyberfire Bumblebee. The new BB mold for DOTM is pretty awesome, but when Hasbro slapped this deco on it, they really hit a home run. It's like BB is possessed by the Fallen. It's great. Also, bonus points to a very awesome (and fun!) Laserbeak.
Voyager: Megatron. Just a great, creative voyager. Also, one of the few DOTM toys to have an integrated Mechtech weapon. Both Shockwave and Sentinel are fun, too, though.
Human Alliance (large): Roadbuster. Yeah, he's the only DOTM HA I have right now, but he's also really good. His car mode is really cool and he has a very interesting, involved transformation. One of the best HAs and reason for this size class to continue.
Leader: Sentinel. When you're competing against an oversized BB and a sort-of-crappy Ironhide, it's easy to be #1. However, I think it's awesome that we can even say the phrase "Leader class Sentinel Prime" without it being a pipe dream. All you Bay haters better thank the movies for giving some of the really obscure characters a spotlight.
Kre-O: Seeing as how I only own 2 of these sets, and there aren't that many releases in each of the "size classes", I think I'll just break it down between the sets themselves and the Kreons:
Sets: Megatron. Between him and the larger Bumblebee, he's a bit more interesting in terms of blending design traits of various Megatrons. It's easy enough to construct an awesome wheel cannon, a la Cybertron Megatron, for him too. Also, the truck mode looks really cool, and the tiny cell is fun.
Kreons: Of the ones I have, I'll go with Shockwave. He's just a cool looking little guy, mostly due to his helmet/face. The gun could be better, though.
Transformers: Prime (First Edition):
Deluxe: As of this posting, this is the only class that has been released in the US. While I own the normal releases of Starscream, Arcee, and Bumblebee, I've yet to open them as I'm saving them for Christmas. The two toys that I do have open, NYCC Arcee and Bumblebee, I'd say that Arcee is the better of the two. Bumblebee is pretty cool (I especially like the shoulder transformation), but Arcee is the best version of that character that transforms into a motorcycle. Also, G1 colors FTW.
Basement Invasion Transformer of the Year: ???????