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Year In Review 2015 - The Best Of Toys Part 1: General
ExVee - Wednesday, January 06, 2016

With 2015 now behind us, it's time to take a quick look back and reflect on what the year gave us. It was quite a busy year at times, and most of the excitement focused around Combiner Wars. For our 2015 Year in Review, we're going to break things up in to a few divisions, and where better to start than with the topic of the year, Combiner Wars? Below you'll find our picks for some specific categories to the line, and that'll be followed by a few more special areas of recognition. Click the title link to get started, and stick around for the rest of our 2015 Year in Review articles!

The Combiner Wars Awards

  • Best Limb: Drag Strip

    The unfortunate realization as we pondered this category was that no one makes a particularly good arm. Whether it’s lacking connection strength between the robot legs comprising the giant forearm, or vehicle bits that get in the way of posing, or just simply being far oversized and either ugly in the combined whole or clumsy to try to use, every base mold ends up flawed to some meaningful degree. While Drag Strip does not escape having issues, it seems to find the best balance of any. The robot arms obstruct the shoulder joint a bit, but everything holds together solidly, it’s not overly bulky, and it looks nice. No one is perfect, but it seems like wave one got this right and produced a combiner limb that no subsequent mold has been able to beat. As for leg duty, well, no one is any better or worse at that. It’s easy to turn in to a box.

  • Best Torso: Silverbolt

    There are rules in Transformers. First waves are awful. Toys designed to be the core of a Superion or analogue are horribly designed. But Combiner Wars Silverbolt breaks both of those rules. Inconceivably, the designers got it right on the first try with Silverbolt. While its solo robot mode is good, it’s not the subject for this category. And where Silverbolt excels is at being a Superion torso. It’s well proportioned, locks together in to a sturdy structure, and offers excellent poseability in the legs which even now no other torso can truly match. Soon enough we’ll see if Sky Lynx may dethrone Silverbolt in this regard, but even if it does there was over a year where Silverbolt and Superion were the best at something. All the rules are out the window now.

  • Best Combiner: Defensor

    So, how can the best combiner be composed of a series of molds that includes neither the best limb nor the best torso? The trick to that is that Defensor has the best balance of attributes all-around. Silverbolt is the best torso... but the Aerialbots aren’t great limbs. And while none of the line’s limbs are perfect at their jobs, none of the Protectobots are particularly bad at it. The added bulk of Hot Spot’s Torso Mode helps balance out Rook’s chunkiness in a way that Silverbolt just can’t. (Though you might not want to pair him with Blades. Just a suggestion.) And while Defensor’s torso may not have the balance of form and function that Superion’s does, it’s decent looking in its default standing pose, and other poses are less of a hassle than anything to do with Menasor/Ultra Prime/Optimus Maximus. And the individual robots are probably the strongest overall of the line as well. If you were only ever going to get one combiner, Defensor is it.

Special Awards

  • Best Devastator: Unite Warriors

    This is a difficult call, because when it comes down to it there’s little appreciable difference between the Hasbro and TakaraTomy takes on Devastator. Ultimately what pushed this to the Unite Warriors version was simple details: The deco tweak making Devastator’s face a bit darker than the silver forehead, and offering the option to switch between the separate eyes or visor. For Hasbro you had to buy separate versions of the set to have that choice. Unite Warriors may lack a little in deco for the Constructicons while adding a little more to their jointing, but as Devastators go, we still think Unite Warriors just edges out Combiner Wars.

  • Shiniest Devastator: SDCC (Obviously)

    I’m still not sure that plating sometimes random-seeming parts of the Constructicons was necessarily the best idea, but with the exception of Mixmaster it does stay hidden almost entirely in the combined mode. Were the chest wing the only visible chromed part on Devastator you’d have a really nice look in the combined form. Alas, Mixmaster’s chrome drum makes Devastator very shiny indeed, and unfortunately to its detriment.

  • Most Expensive Deluxe: Groove

    Let me say to start, no one should buy Unite Warriors Defensor solely for Groove. But people will, and as the only exclusive piece of one of these Unite Warriors sets, that does, technically, elevate Groove to the alarming status of most expensive Deluxe of 2015. If you know of a Deluxe this year that cost more than $170, let us know!

  • Biggest Swords: Combiner Hunters

    It’s rare for accessories to sell you on a set as much as the core figures, but Combiner Hunters did it. Take three fairly shortpacked figures from late 2014 - Arcee, Chromia, and Windblade - and give them new color schemes. In other years that might be enough for an exclusive set... but this is the year we got SDCC Devastator. So since you have a set of Deluxes that has to compete with Devastator to begin with, why not make that literal and give them all giant weapons to hack at him with? And by some miracle, all three figures can actually stand with their weapons. Even Arcee, who is using a sword heavier and taller than she is herself, one designed for a toy three or four price points above her! Quite a turnaround for a mold notorious for having trouble holding anything at all.

  • Most Upstaged by Japanese Counterpart: Robots in Disguise

    So, somewhere in the last few years Takara has turned in to the company their non-Japanese fans always claimed they were, going well beyond Hasbro’s budgetary capabilities in terms of paint and deco. When you couple that with the favorable exchange rate and Takara’s sneaking interesting recolors, remolds, oddities, and molds they didn’t otherwise have a place for, Transformers Adventure is the Takara fanboy’s dream of the line that truly is vastly superior to the Hasbro equivalent. Why would anyone spend $16-$20 on an underpainted Warrior-class figure when you can get TakaraTomy’s version for just a few bucks more?

  • Best GI Joe Toy of 2015: Viper

    Aww, harsh. But sadly also true. The fiftieth anniversary of GI Joe - and thus action figures in general - only produced a dozen figures on the mass-market, all of those reuses of existing molds and Toys R Us exclusives. The Collector’s Club produced four times as much product this year. (Not counting the TF Collector’s Club’s release of Serpent O.R.!) So yeah: bad year for GI Joe.

    Except! Hasbro finally produced something people have been asking for since probably 1984: the first explicit crossover figure between GI Joe and Transformers. A remold of Powerglide, Viper is a Cobra Rattler with a new headsculpt designed to evoke Wild Weasel, its traditional pilot. The insignia is not just a blending of the Cobra and Decepticon emblems but a specific adaptation of the markings used on the classic Rattler. Maybe it’s overstating it to say that this is the most care Hasbro put in to a GI Joe product this year... but not by much.

last 10 shown - scroll to view more   TFormers Member Comments
5:56 am

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.... read more 
12:26 am

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. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Wait... read more 
12:09 am

Best Official Toy (Hasbro) - CarZap w/G.B. Blackrock Kreon (my screen name on *most* TF forums is G.B. Blackrock, so I kind of *have* to say that!)Best Masterpiece Toy - Blue Bluestreak (at last, it exists!)Best Toy Reveal - Nuremberg Toy Fair 2015, CW Devastator obscured by bald man 
11:10 pm

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    
10:48 pm

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 Pri... read more 
3:59 am

Best Official Toy (Hasbro):  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.   Best Official Toy (Takara/Tomy): I must admit that Tak has ... read more 
Erimus Prime
10:48 pm

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 ... read more 
3:21 am

Best Official Toy (Hasbro)  Leader Class Thundercracker Best Official Toy (TakaraTomy)  Legends LG15 Nightbird Shadow Best Masterpiece Toy Masterpiece Blue Bluestreak Best Unofficial (third party) Toy  Gundog Best Comic Issue Or Storyline Sins of the Wreckers Best News Item (any categ... read more 
1:12 am

Best Official Toy (Hasbro) Combiner Wars Ultra Magnus Best Official Toy (TakaraTomy) Unite Warriors Groove Best Masterpiece Toy Masterpiece Tracks  
1:24 pm

Best official toy (Hasbro) - Bombshell Best MP toy (Takara) - Mp Star Saber Best official toy (Takara) - Unite Wars Devastator 
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