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Best Of 2017: RAC's 4 Favorite News Stories Of The Year
RAC - Friday, January 05, 2018

Wrapping up his Best Of 2017 series, RAC looks back at the things that excited him more as news stories than anything else this past year. A lot of those come down to toys that didn't necessarily make his Best Of list for the year, but did unfold in interesting ways news-wise. Pour yourself a bowl of Trypticon's Titan Master Crunch and keep reading to see the best news of 2017!

4. Bumblebee Movie

Two to four movies later, I finally got my wish: a Transformers movie not directed by Michael Bay. While Bumblebee: The Movie was already in the planning stages before Transformers: The Last Knight's release, the shockingly low revenue for that film put a very fine point on the idea that we need a fresh perspective on Transformers films. And we're getting one! Written by TF Writer's Room member Christina Hodson and directed by Travis Knight, an animator whose directorial debut Kubo & The Two Strings was very well received, Bumblebee is a lower-budget production set to feature less than a half-dozen Transformers. It's also set in 1987 and has a woman for a main character. In short, it sounds different. And I'm more than ready for different.

3. Valvotron

I have a soft spot for silly promotional things, and Valvotron is up there with the silliest. Valvotron is a Transformers: The Last Knight tie-in, a very `80s robot that looks like it turns into a Valvoline oil bottle (but doesn't). I never got one, because you had to buy a lot of oil or an oil change, and I don't own a car. Details! But this is definitely in the realm of "I'm very glad this goofy thing exists."

2. (The Idea Of) Legends God Ginrai

God Ginrai was one of those toys I always wanted. My brother had Powermaster Prime, and I never got the reissue at ToysRUs in the early 2000s, so it's still lodged in my mind as one of those "get eventually" things. Not quite a "Grail," but definitely a want. So when TakaraTomy remodeled Super Ginrai in late 2016 in ways that could only mean a Godbomber was coming, I was excited. The toy itself... didn't exactly bear that excitement out.

Ginrai - which I got in the "Magnus Prime" boxset version - is cooler looking than the Titans Return Leader Powermaster Prime it adapts in some ways, but PMOP is more stable by far. Add to that the instabilities of Legends series Godbomber, which is the most Takara of the Takara-produced figures I've handled in years, and well... prepare for a very fidgety super robot. But once you've got it together, it looks great on a shelf!

The folks I feel really sorry for, though, are those who got LG35 and LG42 separately just in time for TakaraTomy to announce a boxset that restores Godbomber's G1 chrome and includes Titan Masters of Cab and Minerva. That is just plain old dirty pool.

1. The Boxset Saga

This was a lot of fun and it lasted most of the year. Slightly before Toy Fair, we got fed some rumors about "Strength" and "Speed" boxsets that would appear at the show, and sure enough! Crisis On Velocitron and Siege on Cybertron showed off some neat recolors and remolds of existing figures into much-desired characters: Laser Optimus Prime! Nautica! Quickswitch! Tidal Wave! Metalhawk! A US release of Super Ginrai in Magnus Prime! And to top all that, included were special diecast Titan Masters of major characters Rodimus Prime and Thunderwing, and new molds of the Autobot and Deception Clones!

Now, here's the thing: the boxsets account for two of the four modern Tech Spec stats, and even show all four stats on the sides. Also, the distinguishing feature of the Clones was that there were two for each faction with separate alt modes, and we got one of each. So, weren't we due two other boxsets...?

As it turns out, no. Or at least, that was seemingly the plan at one point but had clearly been abandoned well before Toy Fair, likely doomed by the sales of the Combiner Wars boxsets. I'd lament harder, but I got G2 Superion for $30. $30!

But there had to have been plans, yes? Things had to have been readied for this set! In the end, though we got no official confirmation, it became pretty clear that there were assets set aside for the "Intelligence" and "Fireblast" sets that never came to be. Titans Return exclusives Headmaster Arcee with Ultra Magnus and Grotusque with SporplonokScorponok are clearly refugees from those sets, given that their bonus Titan Masters are made of diecast metal and were called out as being the "Ultimate" Titan Masters for those stats on an imaginary cereal box. And the other two clones are widely and readily available at Walgreens now... which is a real headache for anyone who didn't spend $200+ on the other two boxsets to get their twins. (Luckily, TakaraTomy is saving the day here with matched sets in the next few months. Importing will be easier and cheaper, which is just plain sad.)

Now, at the dawn of 2018, there are still questions tied to these boxsets! What were the Voyagers and Leaders that we never got? Will we see them down the line in some capacity? And why do Arcee and Grotusque have boxes that look suspiciously like mailers for a Transformers Collector's Club of some sort... which matches how they ring up in ToysRUs' computers?

2017 was a good year to be a Toy Detective, and most of that comes down to this set of four boxsets, this small pool of 20 figures. Here's hoping there are more mysteries to solve in the coming year!

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