KYQ (kyq) wrote,

KYQ's Top Eleven Toys of 2008!

'Allo all. Been back for about a week now and after suffering from a nasty cough/cold combination, terrible jet lag and lots of other various unpleasant things, I finally feel alive enough to post here again.

I could talk on about how crappy the week was, but you don't want to hear that. You want to hear about

KYQ's Top Eleven Toys of 2008!!

Why eleven toys this time? Because I freaking can, that's why.

Anyway, 2008 was quite a year for toys; what with several new lines coming out and all, with myself getting into a whole entirely different series of toys, and not to mention things like the economy getting shitty (still IS shitty) and prices of oil-based products (and thus, toys) going up.

Regardless, there was still a lot of great product that came out, although sometimes a great product doesn't always have great support (such as QC) behind it. Anyway, the rules this time are simply this: it has to be a toy or collectible figure of sorts that either was released in 2008, or had to be something I purchased in 2008. There we go, now on with the list:

#11: Souchaku Henshin series - Kamen Rider Kiva (Kiva form)

It's probably pretty damn obvious that I've become a decent Kamen Rider fan for nearly the whole of 2008, and one show that really got my interest was Kamen Rider Kiva. It's got a good blend of darkness, action, and comedy, and it helps that Kiva himself has a really great design.

Thus being the collector that I am, I needed a good action figure of the said protagonist to have on my table, and this figure fit the bill.

Why it's in the list:
Great detail, good articulation, good representation of a sharp design, cheap, loads of fun.

Why he's not #1:
Some inaccuracies detail and proportion wise, chrome as nice as it looks, is hard to maintain, looks a bit outdated by Bandai's own 'SHFiguarts' line of figures.

#10: Figma - Lucky Star Tsukasa Hiiragi

Yes, you, Tsukasa. I adore 'Lucky Star', pretty much because it is really similar to 'Azumanga Daioh', one of my most favourite animes ever. With its whimsical and tongue in cheek style of humour, Lucky Star is just a barrel of laughs for anyone who's into Japanese pop culture. And then there's Tsukasa, who's always the butt of many of the jokes, the poor thing. This is probably one of the primary reasons why I like her so much - she still smiles despite all the crap she goes through.

Max Factory hit the ball out of the park with their Figma line of figures in 2008, and I was overjoyed to hear that they were doing the girls of 'Lucky Star'. While all of them are great releases, I find Tsukasa to be the strongest of the bunch as she doesn't quite suffer from the few common tiny flaws the others do (Konata's hair restricts her articulation, Kagami lacks her signature facial expression).

Why she's in the list:
Cheap, great sculpting and detail that's very faithful to her show appearance, good articulation, has accessories and an interchangeable face that are directly from memorable scenes in the show, her head is really round and is awesome to rub/roll on the table.

Why she's not #1:
Could've used a few more faces, is still rather light on accessories compared to other Figmas, swapping hands can be rather precarious.

#9 Transformers Henkei - Hound

There hasn't been *too* much regarding TFs for me to get too excited about in 2008, with a few exceptions. Sure, Animated was a great line, but the really delayed and staggered release of figures, plus the numerous QC issues really sapped a lot of its thunder for me. But one line that did deliver a few pleasant surprises was the Universe/Henkei line, and one of my favourites is good ol' Hound. With a great Binaltech figure some years back, I didn't quite expect to see a new figure of Hound anytime soon, much less one that actually beats the Binaltech one. But here we go!

Why he's in the list:
It's freaking Hound, cheap, has great sculpting and detailing, good articulation, clean, simple and satisfying transformation, nice blend of G1 homaging and modern aesthetics.

Why he's not #1:
A tad bit small, some QC issues, especially with the American version, has his hologram gun, but for some reason it wasn't designed to be hooked onto his shoulder like his G1 self and thus doesn't peg in securely (and that's annoying).

#8 Transformers Universe - Inferno

And here's another TF bloke I thought I'd never see a new toy of again. Inferno's always been a nifty side character of a vehicle type that we can never get enough of - Fire Trucks! But not only do we get a new Inferno that's a fire truck , but he's a fire truck that I actually see along the streets of Boston here. Go figure!

Why he's in the list:
Has fantastic detailing, even on his back!. Has a great head sculpt, a good, clean and very satisfying transformation, has some of the best QC I've seen in a mass-produced TF (or a TF in general) in a while, cheap & cheerful!

Why he's not #1:
Looks a bit odd from some angles, what with him essentially having no crotch..., no ladder and/or wings from his G1 version which were pretty distinct physical traits of his.

#7 SHFiguarts - Kamen Rider Gatack

To me, Bandai's been making a lot of right moves these days, what with the standard of their toku-toys getting better and better. One such example is their SHFiguarts line, which is simply put, awesome. Essentially just taking kickass action figures with meaningful bits of diecast and good durability and detailing, the line has also been giving us a good variety of Kamen Rider characters, either offering us highly improved versions of older characters or filling in missing gaps. Coupled together with a very reasonable price, I can only see this line getting better - and milking me dry.

It was really really hard for me to pick just one figure to represent the line in this list, but I eventually settled for everyone's favourite loser, Kagami, aka Kamen Rider Gatack, simply because anyone that screams and shouts like him is awesome in my book. And he does a jumping roundhouse kick for his special move (eat shit and die, Chuck Norris!).

Why he's in the list:
He's your friend, KaGAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAmi, great detailing and good articulation, solid durability, cheap

Why he's not #1:
Some of his proportions look funny (long neck for instance), doesn't have his Masked Form, joint tightness is kinda inconsistent from figure to figure.

#6 Fansproject 'City Commander' Trailer/Trailer for Classics Ultra Magnus

Hasbro and Takaratomy have committed many crimes against TF fans, and one of them has got to be the fact that we've not gotten a proper, new G1 Ultra Magnus toy for eons. Nearly all the time these days, he's a white repaint of Prime, and that's just fucking annoying.

Imagine the anticipation when of all things, a 3rd party fan group, announces that they were gonna mass produce a custom trailer for Classics Ultra Magnus that will turn into his armour and combine with him! Yeah, it was pretty damn awesome, and it more than delivered. It looked great, transformed fairly smoothly and fit Classics Magnus perfectly.

Now if only someone were to make an MP Magnus Trailer...

Why it's in the list:
Completes Classics Ultra Magnus and gives us a new PROPER Ultra Magnus toy at last, great aesthetics that are both classic and modern, fitting into the Classics/Universe/Henkei line perfectly, solid as a rock, great QC that puts many official TF stuff to shame.

Why it's not #1:
Pretty pricey, especially if you don't already own Magnus, some parts are quite literally a 'SNAP' fit, and that gets kinda worrisome (no reports of breakage yet though), is a piece-former, rather inefficient use of mass, with more than 1/2 the trailer turning into a huge sodding gun/BFG, said BFG is too damn heavy for Magnus to lift up and is pretty damn useless.

#5 Kamen Rider Kiva - Kivat Henshin Belt

As much as the figures and photobooks are important to tokusatsu shows, the backbone of their merchandise in my opinion, are the 'henshin' toys, and it's these toys I've had the benefitting of learning how to appreciate in 2008. Sure they're for kids, but so are dolls, Transformers, GIJoes, and numerous other 'collector' lines too, so who is anyone to discredit henshin toys?

They're normally cheap, are very simply yet very creatively designed, and are very entertaining, often hilarious. Just...don't go parading one around in a party or anything.


Why it's in the list:
Lots of sounds, speech and lights just like the show!!! (advertisement voice), lots of fun to mess around with, makes a semi-decent prop maybe!, Kivat himself is cute and has loads of personality such as a 'happy' mood and 'grumpy' mood, tons of play value.

Why it's not #1:
The belt itself looks pretty cheap, the belt is hella small, Kivat's voice is somewhat different from the show's.

#4 Figma - Saber Lily

As I mentioned before, Max Factory's Figma series is quite a force to be reckoned with. Finally bringing articulation and good sculpting together, as well as some good licenses to boot, Figma has me buying characters from shows I barely know or even care about.

One example is the Fate/Stay Night series that I just never bothered to get into. Ironic then, that the Fate/Stay Night girls are some of the best figures I've ever bought, with Saber, and lovely Rin rounding up the ranks so far. But the one figure that caught my eye months before she was released was Saber Lily.

She was pretty much the same great Saber figure, only with many significant character design changes. She was Saber alright, but in an elegant shade of white and black, as well as some much needed wardrobe tweaks, I was entranced, and had to have her. Some preorders later, and the rest was history as they say.

Why she's in the list:
Great, great figure with good articulation, great sculpting, beautiful paint detailing, gorgeous design that's elegant and alluring (the backless top, finally losing those frumpy trousers, and garther belts!), nice new face sculpt, beautiful artwork on the box.

Why she's not #1:
Some joints are still a bit of an eyesore, some even more so (such as her bare shoulder joints), could use more facial expressions (especially a smiling one  or something), has the same regular sword as normal Saber which is kinda dull, is packed together with a crappy fighting game that also jacks her price up and makes her pretty expensive.

#3 Hot Toys Movie Masterpiece - The Joker

I have never really been a total, hardcore Batman fan, what with me generally not reading much comics and only following cartoons and whatnot. But I am a Batman fan, albeit a casual one, and one that appreciates a damn good movie - such as The Dark Knight. There's probably nothing I can say that hasn't already been said a million times before, so I'll just say that I'm a big fan of the Joker, and Ledger did a great job of it.

So it made perfect sense to me to get a great Joker figure. With me having ventured into the world of 1/6 figures in 2008, Hot Toys' Joker effort was more than good - it was as phenomenal as the movie itself, and I was gushing about him for weeks after getting him. Even though Hot Toys themselves had since topped this effort with a later figure, this figure still gets top marks from me as it looks like what it should - an awesome, realistic, definitive Joker.

Why it's in the list:
Fantastic, almost eerily realistic face sculpt that is guaranteed to scare the shit out of your children, good articulation, great fitting clothes, meaningful accessories, poses and photographs extremely well.

Why he's not #1:
Some bits of his clothing aren't that well done (velcro vest, ugh), fist pegs like to pop off at the wrong end very often, is pretty sparse on accessories, doesn't really resemble Heath Ledger (though it still looks like a great Joker), pretty pricey.

#2 Odin Sphere - Gwendolyn

Odin Sphere was probably one of the most memorable games I played in the Summer of...2007 I think? It had gorgeous 2D graphics with amazing animation and attention to detail, and essentially was like a Shakespearean play but in the guise of a video game. In my humble opinion, the game skirted the lines of being a video game, and being a work of art.

Funny now that with a company (Alter) finally making a figure of a character from Odin Sphere, it'd be similar in the very same way. This lovely, lovely figure of Gwendolyn, the valkyrie protagonist from the game, also skirts the line between being a figure of a game character and being a work of art.

It helps that she was a great character with a beautiful design, but the sculptor's work here makes that even doubly so. I rarely ever buy PVC figures, what with their limited 'play value'. But Gwendolyn (or Odin Sphere) anything is rare, and a figure of such detail and beautfy is even rarer.

From her base to her armour to her clear wings and especially her face, Gwendolyn is a figure I highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend if you like Odin Sphere, collect PVCs, or even have the slightest bit of interest in beautiful winged maidens that are fully capable of sweeping down from the heavens and stealing your heart.... and kicking your ass.

Why she's in the list:
Very loyal interpretation of a great design, fantastic attention to detail (the feathers on her wings, the armour, the lace in her clothing), great paint job, beautiful sculpting, especially of her face and body, looks very impressive and makes a fantastic centrepiece that has general fantasty appeal, not just anime/video game.

(yes even her bum is beautiful. I am not perving, honest)

Why she's not #1:
Rather expensive, box she's in is pretty damn oversized, the pose she's in has very very little support and is of questionable stability, being supported only by 2 pegs that plug into her foot that can break (mine did, and had to glue it back -___-).

#1 BM! Project - Kamen Rider The Next Rider 1

Well well well, this should come as no surprise eh? The instant I got those Movie Realisation figures last year, I knew deep down inside I was on the path of no return. I got knee-deep into the world of 1/6 figures, and it was Kamen Rider that was at the forefront of this insane, expensive, yet immensely satisfying hobby.

It helped/didn't help that I liked the remake movies, 'Kamen Rider The First' and 'Kamen Rider The Next' a good deal, and that Medicom/BM Project were more than prepared with figures of all the heroes from those movies. And how could I resist? They're superbly articulated bodies with gorgeously tailored outfits over them, and full of epicness.

It was immensely difficult for me to pick just one Rider to represent this series for me, and I waffled around my choices a ton. In the end however, I probably would have to go for good ol' Rider 1 from The Next.

He's a cool character, his Next redesign was great, and it also helps that he was the only one to get a figure in his human form, making him the most 'complete' of the Medicom Riders I have. But really, this praise goes to all the Medicom Riders, those expensive but beautiful bastards.

Why he's #1:
Great representation of a great redesign of a classic character, fantastically tailored outfit that looks and feels great, great articulation and poses very naturally and realistically, photographs extremely well and looks impressive.

Why he's not perfect:
Underlying body is very fragile and breaks easily if not manipulated properly (but it's not too hard to replace any broken parts), clothing sometimes restricts articulation and can get damaged if one pushes it too far, really really expensive. I mean really. Goddamn.

And as a little bonus:

Honourable mention: Transformers Masterpiece Thundercracker

Well I whined, groaned, growled and cursed, and even though it took them almost a freaking year, Takaratomy finally gave us a Masterpiece Thundercracker to round out the Masterpiece Decepticon Jets! Sure the mold's kinda been milked a ton by now, but I still feel it's the best Jet-former we've had to date, turning from a good robot into a great jet that has almost no excessive under-carriage that plagues many other Jet-formers.

The fact that they bothered to round out the seekers, which is getting pretty rare these days, it was an easy buy for me, and you can count me thankful.

Why he's mentioned:
Great mold, FINALLY, all the seekers!, Fantastic colour scheme. Alternate face looks hilarious.

Why he's not in the list:
Mold's been used many many times, and is pretty old news by now. Still has many of the same flaws the mold has (such as the stressing wing joints) that haven't been addressed, some misassembly issues, What took them so long?

Overall, 2008 was a great year for toys, and 2009 looks set to be even better, what with MP Grimlock and Kamen Rider Decade in the horizon.

And now in closing, here're the Seekers beating up Bumblebee, as beating up Bumblebee is always funny to me!

Nyuk nyuk nyuk nyuk nyuk...

Tags: 2008, kamen rider, lucky star, pvcs, top eleven list, top ten list, toys, transformers

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