I’ve been on the Poppies Judging Panel (under media) for the last couple of years, I’ve contributed to a list of nominees from various categories to determine which toys/collectibles/props were the best for that particular year, where the judges decide and the people also get to decide. I really enjoy being a part of that as it’s great to see the sometimes varied results between industry and public.
However, it got me thinking that I’d like to do my own list of toys I thought stood out to me the most in 2016. Because with many people voting sometimes you don’t get to see your favorites get the number one spot.
Firstly, I have imposed upon myself the condition that the toys must have either been bought or reviewed by yours truly, if that hasn’t happened, then they don’t make the list ( so no Hot Toys Deadpool, even although I technically did buy it when I was in Japan, it was for a friend and not for me.) Secondly, I’ve tried my best to keep the list as varied as possible, even If I really didn’t buy a lot of new toys this year (I did, in fact, buy plenty of old ones) and thirdly, if I didn’t buy the toy but either my father or brother did and that makes it technically in the same house as me, it’s still up for consideration.
I’d also like to make the following honorable mentions:
Hot Toys AOU Quick Silver
Takara Tomy MP-30 Ratchet
Hot Toys Terminator Genesis T-800 Guardian
Takara Tomy MP-11NT Thrust
Mattel Defining Moments Ric Flair
TEN – Mattel Emma (WWE Basic Series 65)
This might be a bit of an underwhelming choice for number ten spot on what should be a very important list of the best of the best toys of 2016. But after going to the WWE’s NXT event here in Sydney and seeing Emma sitting on the toy store shelf when out and about with my family and passing on her, when a second chance came up to buy her from my local hobby store, I didn’t think twice about it.
I do love my wrestling figures and I do love purchasing the occasional toy based on an Australian actor etc. (Thor comes to mind right now) and after having a bit of a play with the figure once I got home and teaming her up with Zac Ryder (her current real life boyfriend) I was pretty happy with the figure.
It’s a fun figure, with plenty of play value and a great head scan to match her current gimmick perfectly and that was enough for her to score a spot on the list, sometimes it’s nice to be able to buy a toy you do not have any real desire to own, but find plenty of things you like about it after your purchase. (Impulse buying be damned!)
NINE – NECA Private Vasquez (Aliens Series 9)
NECA are slowly but surely lifting their game and doing a great job with the licenses they have, putting out a great number of figures and strong offerings in plenty of different scales, one of the few NECA figures I did buy this year was Vasquez to go with Hicks and Hudson. It was no easy feat to track her down either. I was over in Japan in November and tried my best to find her (being released just recently before I left) But had no luck what-so-ever.
That was until one of my last days there where I decided to check out a few stores in Akihabara that I normally pass by. I found a store with her, but they only had the display one left, then I asked if they would sell me said display stock, to which the clerk said “yes” (or in this case hai!) I did have to buy her as a set with the albino Aliens warrior but why not, sometimes you have to make compromises when out hunting.
Once back in Australia I was able to have a good look at the figure and a bit of a play and could see why I had trouble finding one, it’s one of NECA’s better figures they have made in a while and as of this writing the best Vasquez figure to date by any company, Strong likeness, great articulation and excellent accessories make for one kick ass figure!
EIGHT – Fujimi Kumamon Bear (Ptimo Series 002, Plastic Model Kit)
It’s not that often I buy a model kit, but from time to time I do make the exception. The Japanese character mascot Kumamon, created by the government of Kumamoto Prefecture to increase tourism, its popularity exploded in 2011 and he started appearing everywhere. I had seen this bear around during my travels in Japan and I’m always on the look out for Japanese mascot or character toys which are quality toys or action figure versions of the character.
Upon visiting my local Lala Port shopping centre and hobby store contained within, I noticed in their case shop section, they had this particular Kumamon bear for sale (already assembled too), so, of course, I bought it straight away! ( If I have learned anything from my travels in Japan, it’s if you see something you want, don’t hesitate to buy it or someone else might buy it before you do!)
I was very impressed with it once I had it in hand, multiple mouths and eyes that can be changed out as well as a good amount of articulation makes Kumamon very posable. It’s pretty much a perfect example of what I would want from a mascot toy.
SEVEN – Hot Toys Scarlet Witch – Age Of Ultron VER. (MMS 301)
I’ve already reviewed Scarlet Witch last October, so if you want to read about my thoughts on her, check out the review here. I wasn’t expecting to like Scarlet Witch that much, but after having her in hand and having fun taking pictures of her for my review she won me over. I haven’t bought too many Hot Toys figures this year, but she is definitely a standout for me, the excellent head sculpt and outfit coupled with great articulation and accessories, for Hot Toys first release of this character she was a home run.
SIX – Takara Tomy Laserwave (Transformers Masterpiece series MP-29)
Like Scarlet Witch I don’t actually own this toy, my brother does. However, he’s still up for consideration and deserving of being ranked number six. As far as Takara Tomy’s Transformers Masterpiece Series is concerned after a shaky start they have now hit their stride and are releasing numerous and quality toys from the G1 series, that have been designed to match both the cartoon and toy, almost perfectly. Laserwave is a solid addition to the line, even if a lot of fans complain about the height and colour of the toy, in hand, it’s an amazing figure and it’s great to get more Decepticons to help fill out the ranks. Laserwave comes with only a few accessories compared to other releases, but in my opinion, he’s still value for money (third party can GTFO).
FIVE – Hot Toys Stan Lee (MMS 327)
I had fun tracking Stan Lee down when I was over in Japan, I didn’t think he would be so hard to find, yet somehow he was. I ended up picking him up from Osaka’s Entertainment Hobby Jungle of all places and even more surprisingly for a good price (20,000 Yen) MISB. (Still cheaper than Australia by at least $100 after currency conversion!)
Then I went to Toy Sapiens and they had plentiful Stock, but the price was not worth it, (28,000 Yen) and I managed to spy one more in Akihabara for around the same price I paid in Osaka so at least I didn’t feel ripped off.
Another figure I have in hand but am yet to review (see what happens when you wait until November to make a lot of purchases you’ve been holding off on!)
This figure is truly a work of art, especially the head sculpt and as you know with Hot Toys that is one of the most important aspects of their figures. The amount of detail is amazing and it’s an excellent likeness to Stan Lee, for me this is easily one of Hot Toys best efforts.
You also get a number of accessories and various hands, but the best part about this figure is it’s potential and by that I mean for funny photos or posing with your other Marvel figures, much like Deadpool he’s comedy gold and that’s what makes him so great as the possibilities are endless, just think of it as an extension of the cameos the real Stan Lee makes, the figure is just that fun.
FOUR – Mattel Harlem Heat – Booker T and Stevie Ray (WWE Elite Series 46)
I’m going to lump these two figures together because they are a team and they are both from the same series. When Mattel announced these figures I was excited, being a WCW/nWo fan from the 1990s, the more WCW era figures Mattel makes, the happier I am.
I knew there was a good chance they weren’t going to stuff them up, they had already made Booker T when he was in WWE so at least we weren’t going to get that version of him again. I was really hoping we were going to get just what I thought we would, classic WCW era Harlem Heat figures. Mattel have done an excellent job and even taken queues from Toy Biz with the singlet top construction. But the most important part is they both have the same tights design and same colour tights, so they actually look like the legendary team that they are! (which Toy Biz, unfortunately, didn’t do)
From head scans to the details on their costumes these figures are near perfection, they even have new torsos and they are both different torsos for each figure too. They come with some different bandanas/hats and sunglasses to complete the look. I couldn’t ask for anything more from Mattel which is why these guys are so high on the list, they are executed exceptionally, easily some of Mattel’s best work in 2016.
THREE- Takara Tomy Inferno (Transformers Masterpiece series MP-33)
I already knew this particular figure would be somewhere in my top ten, even from the prototype pics I knew Takara were going to make something special, it wasn’t until I had him in my hands, no less than two days until I flew out of Japan (Thanks, Amazon JP!) that I knew this was an amazing figure.
Upon opening the box, the quality and detail blew me away, I was most impressed with the size of the fire truck and then I transformed him, the transformation is a joy and really well thought out, I love the fact that the whole ladder hides inside Inferno’s back!
He looks just like the animation model and much like previous mp releases you get a number of accessories, to cater to toy and cartoon version of Inferno, personally I’ll be keeping him with cartoon head and toy truck parts as I think that’s the best of both worlds and it’s nice that’s an option! I’m finding it very hard to find anything beyond minor nitpicks to be negative about. Takara Tomy have done an excellent job and had a great year as far as their Transformers Masterpiece line is concerned, in my opinion, and another case of third parties GTFO.
TWO – Hot Toys Black Widow – Civil War VER. (MMS 365)
Yet another figure I put off purchasing initially upon release or even pre-ordering, after the two sub-par head sculpts for Black Widow I wanted to make sure Hot Toys did a good job and didn’t stuff it up.
Thankfully they didn’t, this is their best Scarlet Johansson head sculpt to date. They’ve had a lot of attempts, but this one suppresses them all quite easily. Coupled with excellent rooted hair and a plethora of accessories this figure is almost the definitive Black Widow from Hot Toys, they’ve come a long way with the body suits as well and I think the material used works well not hindering the articulation too much and hopefully won’t deteriorate over time.
I was really impressed with this figure out of the box, I’m sure some collectors are suffering from Black Widow fatigue, but seeing this is my first purchase of a complete Black Widow figure (Winter soldier doesn’t count as I sold her as soon as I received her) besides buying a loose head sculpt, I was quite pleasantly surprised. This is easily the best Black Widow so far, it will be interesting to see how Hot Toys plan to top it.
ONE – Bandai Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (SH Figuarts)
Out of the three released turtles (Donatello, Leonardo, and Raphael), it was just too hard to choose just one, so like Harlem Heat they are together as a team.
I had fun hunting all three of these figures down while I was over in Japan, it’s definitely a great feeling going from store to store on the hunt and ultimately being rewarded.
Bandai normally does a pretty good job with their SH Figuarts releases (the Monster Arts figures come to mind about now) and when these cartoon versions of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were announced a lot of people were excited, me included. The sculpting is spot on when compared to the 1980s cartoon.
With plentiful articulation and metal shins and feet these figures are extraordinary, not to mention the numerous accessories and additional head sculpt for each turtle, Bandai have really set the bar high and come out tops against anything Playmates and even NECA could hope to achieve with their TMNT figures in my opinion (NECA really need to include some more accessories with their 1/4 scale offering, plus it seems like they are still using cheap and brittle plastic for their 1/4 scale figures joints, if the pictures and stories are to be believed, but they are still head and shoulders above Playmates).
So that sums up what I thought about the figures I purchased in 2016, sure there were a few big names missing and my opinion might differ greatly from yours, but like I said, this list had a few particulars to make it a little different from the standard “best of 2016 list” with the upcoming Poppies everyone can have their voice heard loud and clear about which figures were the best for this past year.
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