Saturday, December 20, 2014

Transformers of the Year

So, here we are. I'm actually beginning to type this on December 30th, so a little earlier than normal, which is always iffy since Hasbro likes to do 11th-hour releases at the end of the year (like me finding T30 Dreadwing last New Year's Eve). Without further ado:

Best Legion class: Grimlock - For most of the year, we didn't get any new Cyberverse toys, legion OR commander; it appears that subline died with Beast Hunters (well, at least until now, since the neo-RiD legion wave 1 is hitting stores). Anyhow, Walmart did get a bunch of Age of Extinction exclusives, including a single wave of 4 single-packed legion class repaints from previous lines. One  of the best things about the Beast Hunters Cyberverse series (a great series all around) was the Abominus Terrorcon molds, and I always thought that Rippersnapper, admittedly the weakest of the bunch, wold nonetheless make a decent Grimlock. Lo and behold, we get one! Granted, he uses AoE Grimlock's more coppery/orange colors, but since it's a TFP base mold, I'm using it as some version of TFP Grimlock anyhow. I DO wish he had been packed with BH Optimus's sword; there is actually ANOTHER Grimlock repaint of this mold (more black, some red) that does include that sword, but it isn't getting released domestically or something.

Runners up: I would have said Rot Gut, as he is essentially a TFP version of MTMTE's Blip, a terrific minor character, but this wave didn't get released in the US. A shame, as I was hoping to be able to build an Abominus from repaints, but neither Hn-Grrr nor Twinstrike have ever shown signs of getting repaints at all. Intead, I'll probably guess neo-RiD Steeljaw that has just been released, mainly for the awesome animalistic car mode and werewolf bot mode.

Best Commander class (traditional: tiny toys of big characters): Starscream. This guy is such a better Commander Class Starscream than the TFP version(s) that it's not even funny. It's also the best small version of Starscream overall, in terms of kibble management and whatnot. The Waspinator targetmaster is a great touch, finally giving us a set of toys that accurately depicts the size difference between G1 and BW transformers. I like that the null ray cannons have handles that can be used by both 3mm holes and traditional 5 mm holes - that's pretty swank.

Runners up: Again, I would have picked BH Ultra Magnus for (like his voyager counterpart) being a great remold of an Optimus toy and introducing the Forge of Solus Prime into Cyberverse, but his wave (also including the ONLY official domestic TFP Unicron toy as a Megatron repaint and a Bludgeon remold of Shockwave), tragically didn't make it to the US either. I may have to track down at least Magnus sometime...

Best Commander class (newer: normal scale toys of tiny characters): This might have to be a tie between Swerve and Tailgate; they make such a great pair and despite having Terran, not Cybertronian, alt modes, they look like they jumped right off a page of MTMTE. However, I also have Shrapnel and Cosmos and they are fantastic too. In fact, this class (sans targetmaster partners, sadly) is probably the single biggest thing I'm looking forward to from Combiner Wars. These guys are a lot like a new basic/scout class, but they also manage to handle their own slightly smaller scale very well. The only ones I haven't gotten by now are Bumblebee and Cliffjumper (they do look a bit iffy). No real runners up.

Best Deluxe class: Man, this is hard...this is where Hasbro really banged it out this year. I suppose for purely personal reasons I choose Armada Starscream. He's a great mold anyway, and the dynamic look of the original toy deserved the larger range of movement that the new deluxe has. I DO wish he had come with a tiny version of Armada Swindle, but his twin energon swords (a much better alternative to the original's one wing sword) and the Centuritron wavemate, made of 3 minicons, more than makes up for Swindle's absence.

Runners up: A lot! Jhiaxus, Centuritron, FoC Skywarp, ARCEE, Windblade, etc. It's easier to list what I didn't like, which includes Skids/Crosscut, Rattrap, Chromia, etc.

Best Voyager: AoE Drift. Yes, the remold of DotM Skyhammer into a Samurai. I did not care much for most of AoE, but in lieu of them making an actual triple-changing Drift, this toy made a great substitute.

Runners up: Honestly, I haven't been as impressed with many of the Generations Voyager this year. Rhinox looked good but needs a lot more paint. I think I'd have to pick Slog here, because he's the first Sludge update...EVER. And he looks pretty good, too/ I got one for my boy for Christmas, along with the TRU Swoop Evolutions 2-pack.

Leader class: All of these looked sub-par this year, and of the three (four? Does AoE FE Optimus count?). I guess Jetfire is the best, but even he suffers from needless fake kibble and hollow limbs.

Runners up: Grimlock looks a little better than either large-scale AoE Optimus toy.

I think that sums it up. So, Transformer of the Year?

I pick....Swerve. Seriously, he's a triumph of both engineering (simple and still gets the job done) and good transformers fiction from MTMTE. I think he technically came out last year, but didn't really become easy to find until this summer or so. SO much character in a tiny, affordable package!