As we continue our journey through the highs and lows of toys in 2015, it's time to hit the bigger ticket items. While RAC and I very seldom have a chance to dip in to either the third party or Masterpiece pool, we know that it's an important matter to cover. And so we sought special help from Radio Free Cybertron's Melllvarr (aka Matt) and Diecast (aka Blurr) to add their greater experience for this article. Which isn't to say we didn't still have a bit to add for ourselves... Keep reading, and stay tuned for more 2015 Year in Review!
Still my very favorite Masterpiece figure ever. The transformation is just about perfect, the figure looks outstanding in both modes, and the Diaclone deco is one that I have coveted for years. This holds a special place of honor among my collection.
The Exhaust/Wheeljack mold is one of my favorite car molds to date. It blends vehicle with robot mode perfectly. Vehicle mode from the underside doesn’t even resemble a robot, which is not a necessity to me, but a design detail I can appreciate from an engineering standpoint as well as from a collector's view. It’s nice to get some Decepticons in the Masterpiece line to add some balance to a scale that is tipping heavily in the Autobots favor. Transformation is smooth and everything tabs in to place well creating a solid robot mode, and as a bonus Exhaust also has weapon storage that doesn’t look out of place. This is a true Masterpiece figure in my eyes and I wouldn’t mind seeing a couple more repaints of the mold.
Now, in all fairness, this may just have been my copy of the figure. Tracks was frustration and disappointment personified from the moment he came out of the box. Between the flipping Autobot insignia panel that falls out of the chest, the ridiculous amount of spacing between the ratchets in the knees (and one incredibly floppy knee joint), and the terrifying amount of force it took to separate the legs for transformation (which left horrible stress marks on the connecting tab), I did not enjoy transforming this figure one bit.
He does look really nice in all modes, but switching between those modes is kind of a nightmare.
I do feel bad for awarding Masterpiece Tracks for this, but there aren’t many Masterpiece car molds from 2015, and even though I like Masterpiece Tracks he is the worst of the bunch. Tracks has an awesome vehicle mode, but transformation and robot mode leave a taste of not quite finished in my mouth. Maybe if the backpack in robot mode tabbed in a little better, and he didn’t feel uncomfortably tight when splitting the front of the vehicle in to the legs this would feel like a more complete Masterpiece. Luckily once you do get him transformed in to robot mode, posed, and on your shelf he is still a Masterpiece worth having.
The first impulse was to in-line every image of Star Saber than designer Hisashi Yuki posted to Twitter... but we’d kind of like everybody to read the other half of the article that falls below this category. Yuki was clearly intensely proud of Star Saber - and no doubt the fact that it was the most expensive Masterpiece of the year with essentially zero overseas release or recolor prospects helped motivate him to hype it as well. But for those of us who find Masterpiece on the pricy side, no doubt some of us will be sitting in our beds forty years from now with such a strong recollection of every facet of this toy that we will swear we owned it.
Also known as "The Most Unwanted Until They Told You That You Can’t Have It" award. Exhaust certainly was a subject of note during the early part of 2015 as legal complications caused many retailers to have to stop offering it. Or at least officially stop offering it. And the fandom reaction turned from one of disinterest or even resentment that Exhaust had its own unique product number, to one of intense desire. Because nothing tastes better than the steak you can’t have. And as it goes, once Exhaust was released and became available by one means or another, suddenly everyone stopped talking about it entirely.
Spartan nails the homage to Impactor in all the important ways. The figure amounts to being a largish voyager scale (which looks fantastic next to voyager Springer), the colors are spot on, the accessories are character appropriate, and the face sculpt is great. Spartan has some wonderfully tight joints and locks together solidly in both modes. I highly recommend this figure to anyone who needs more Impactor in their life.
FansToys has been on my radar since Quakewave, and they have continued to impress and improve in their Iron Dibots (Not Dinobots) line. Sever is beautiful in both robot and vehicle mode, plus all the accessories provided with the figure are always welcome. Sever came with a light up gun and sword, as well as an extra face, and swappable eyes for robot and dinosaur mode. Even with a nearly perfect figure some fans complained about the visible hole on the bottom side of the alt mode, for which FansToys is providing replacement pieces to correct with their next figure, Stomp. FansToys has become a must buy for anyone trying to fill gaps in their Masterpiece collection. Now if only they would release their Masterpiece Skyfire already!
It’s hard to talk about value with 3rd party figures because A: they are expensive; and B: as soon as a better version or an official figure is released they tend to lose value. So, I am going to look at this as a value for what you pay relative to other figures. At a retail price of $89.99, Gundog is only $10 over the price of the US-released Masterpiece cars, and you get an awesome looking Hound to display with your Masterpieces.
I don't even know how many different companies are working on Not-Devastators anymore, and I do not care to know. The most frustrating thing about this is that this trend started with unofficial Devastators between TFC and MakeToys. Then it was Predakings, and then Dinobots, and now it is back to Not-Devastators again! There are a lot of different characters out there and a lot of different lines to pull characters from. I think all of the third party companies could benefit from finding their own niche and stop directly competing with one another for the hardcore collector fanbase.
Being a G1 character (or characters) that didn’t get much show time, why do we need three companies doing Masterpiece-style Reflectors? Someone could at least go for a different scale, or something. Reflectors are getting so bad that most people confuse which one is which when seeing photos of them, or when seeing them in person - as I experienced myself at TFCon 2015 in Charlotte. I love having a choice, but this is a character I didn’t need so many choices on.
Unofficial Dinobots are certainly not a new thing that happened in 2015, but it certainly feels like it happened far more this past year. 2014 saw Predacons upon Predacons, and 2016 looks like it’ll become the year of unofficial Constructicons, but 2015 was when almost every imaginable style and variation of G1-inspired Dinobot suddenly went to market. We’re not here to judge which kind is right, since more than a few went entirely different ways, and whose validity is incredibly subjective. But once again we can only step back and look, and think that the unofficial market needs to reach out beyond where they are. A rut is forming from everyone walking the same lines year after year.
Let me start off by saying that I like Fansproject products very much. They are one of the companies I trust most to put out a quality product. However, my trust that they will actually complete their projects is starting to decline. Where are the rest of the Lost Exo-Realm figures? When are the rest of the Saurus Ryu-Oh figures expected? We first saw teases for the Function X line in 2012 and we just got Crox 2 months ago (still haven't seen anything out of that Minerva). And then there is the Warbot line, the Causality line, and the Retro Future line (a one shot?). Are they going to finish these lines or get sidetracked by something else first?
The point is that we have absolutely no idea what to expect or when to expect it to pop up. And when dealing with expensive third party toys it's nice to be able to plan ahead.
This is a third party figure that may have missed your radar, and it’s fitting this award goes to another not-Skyfire figure. Mechaform Sky Guardian was so poorly received, I'm not even sure more than one retailer even carried it. The figure as of now is sold out, but I am not sure whether that's due to good sales, or the result of a low quantity based on low demand. Sky Guardian’s derpy face sculpt and odd proportions with odd design choices made this an easy pass for even the biggest Skyfire fan like myself.
Once again, our thanks go out to Melllvarr and Diecast for their help in producing this article!
Hi everybody. Thanks so much for all your responses! We've loved hearing from you and seeing all the different answers everybody had to their top picks for the last year. As of now the entry period for the giveaway is closed, and only replies prior to this post will qualify to win one of the prizes. We're going to start going through the entries and make our selections which will be announced live during the broadcast of Radio Free Cybertron on January 13, which you can watch embedded on the front page here at TFormers, or at tfradio.net/live. Afterward we'll be contacting the winners via private message here on the forum to arrange for delivery of the prizes.
Thanks again to everyone who contributed, and we hope we'll continue to see you around the forums!
Best Official Toy (Hasbro): Leader Class Ultra Magnus. ??????1/2 out of 4 stars. Extremely impressive transformation for a non-masterpiece figure.
Best Masterpiece Toy: MP-18B Bluestreak. ???????? Waited most of my life for this and got the perfect Transformer.
Best Unofficial (third party) Toy: MTRM-01 Cupola. ??????1/2. Always wanted a Chromedome with working elbows and knees,
Best Official Toy (H): CW Superion
Best Official Toy (TakTom): UW Devastator
Best Masterpiece Toy: Star Saber
Best Unffocial Toy: Maketoys Cupola
Best Storyline: Sins of the Wreckers
est Official Toy (Hasbro) - CW Rook
Best Official Toy (TakaraTomy) TFA Supreme Optimus Prime
Best Masterpiece Toy- MP Wheeljack
Best Unofficial (third party) Toy- MMC Sphinx
Best Comic Issue Or Storyline- Last Stand of The Wreckers
Best News Item (any category) Masterpiece Beast Wars Optimus Primal
Best Toy Reveal- Titan Return Fort Max
CW Devastator: I really, really didn't expect to like Devy so much. I bought him expecting disappointment, however was met with great articulation, cool bot and altmodes and a magnificent combiner.
I must admit that Tak has made some awesom stuff this year, but one that caught my attention was the Blackarachnia toy. It's just too nice to see a screen accurate version of the character being produced.
The entire load of reveals we got in 2015 was fantastic, but the Leader Class Blaster from Titans Return just blew me away, I never expected to see a Blaster that now only would turn into a boom-box, but also have a cool gimmick like headmasters and also be compatible with the new spy tablet figures.
Best Toy Reveal: Magnus, since I was in shock to see the IDW body with Minimus Ambus!
Best Hasbro toy: Combiner Wars Bruticus, because I like all the Combaticons separate and combined, but I cannot wait for the Unyte Warriors still!
Best Takara Toy: Legends Ultra Magnus. I would've put Magnus as my favorite Hasbro toy, but then the first three of my favorite things would've been Magnus... So I put Magnus as Takara's best toy since it had a superior paint job in my opinion.
Best Masterpiece Figure: Blue Bluestreak! He's blue and the Masterpiece Prowl mold... Need I say more?
Combiner Wars Ultra Magnus
Unite Warriors Groove
Best official toy (Hasbro) - Bombshell
Best MP toy (Takara) - Mp Star Saber
Best official toy (Takara) - Unite Wars Devastator
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