Friday, 17 December 2010

10 toylines in 2010 that I liked

Here's a list of toylines that was sold in 2010 that had me excited.  There were a lot of new stuff being sold this year including the Prince of Persia, How to Tame Your Dragon and Avatar movie toylines.  Construction toy wise, Lego brought out Toy Story, Ben 10 and Prince of Persia, while Megablocks continued with their HALO stuff.  Then Hasbro had some of the most interesting toys of the year with the entire Marvel universe, Transformers and GIJoe.  Which toyline did I like the best?

10. Ben 10 (Bandai America)
Hey, that's to be expected.  Any list with 10 in it probably deserves to have a Ben 10 in the 10th spot, but this time it's apt for me to place Ben 10 here since, well, I did look forward to the entire line when I was opening him as part of Monster October.  Ben 10 is also one of the least loved toyline as there isn't a good deal of info about the toyline on the site.  My Ben 10 posts have got some of the largest numbers of hits, and they are poor companions for info.  I like the cheap price points of the toys and the fact that they have been flooding every market that I've had the pleasure of visiting this year (which is a total of 3 different countries).  I like how the aliens look so different from each other, yet somehow still maintain the same "feel" as the others of the line.  I also like the way that the great character design is translated into plastic.  It would have placed higher if it had more articulation and action features though, but I'll happily take what's available.

9. Strawberry Shortcake (Hasbro)
Hey, I have to throw in something unexpected to keep everyone on the seat of their pants (or something like that)!  Seriously though, I was surprised at how much I was drawn to the relaunch of this toyline and I've been picking them up when I think I can get away with it (Har har!) and when they are on clearance.  The characters are bright and cheerful and colourful and it goes well on display.  Add that to the fact that they smell nice (and is a nice counterpoint to my almost smell-less Mossman) and that's a winner.  They have the usual five-points of articulation and rooted hair.  The playsets have tons and tons of accessories, and some of the accessories look really great.  Barbies these are not, but they harken back to a time and place where people named after food was the norm.

8. Tardis (Underground Toys)
Who wouldn't want an actual levitating Tardis?  I know I would.  This isn't a toyline per se, but it's just so cool that I'd like to have it.  It's a pity that they couldn't make the inside of the phone booth larger than the outside, but oh well...

7. Toy Story (Mattel)
I haven't opened my Toy Story figures yet, but I did get Twitch (my 9th best MotUC!), Klunk and the Pizza Express Aliens a couple of months ago.  I think Pixar really nailed the design of the toys from the 80s, including Twitch and Klunk.  These are scheduled to being opened next year though, but despite being a movie tie-in toyline, the figures are great.

6. Scooby Doo - gitd (Character Options)
Character Options is a British company that makes all sorts of toys including Doctor Who action figures.  What I'm after in this toyline are the gitd Scooby figures.  These aren't even articulated, but who cares about articulation when they can be played after lights out?

5. DC Universe Classics (Mattel)
I dedicated a whole month to these guys half a year ago (was it that long ago?).  These figures are awesome from the sculpt (awesome) to the articulation (awesome).  There were lots of logistics and quality issues though, with the paintjobs and missing parts (I'm still missing the leg that comes with Hal Jordan).  Then there's the fact that Mattel seems to be putting them out such that nobody can complete their superteam on a timely schedule (it was only after 3 years that the Morrison JLA was completely available!) and that's a huge downside for some collectors.  This toyline is also massive... and expensive!

4. Lego Toy Story (Lego)
What do you know, another movie related toyline... wait, it's the same one that I've already mentioned, but a different toyline.  The Lego Toy Story sets from this year was some of the best Lego has ever produced, from the Western Toy Train to the Pizza Express Truck.  The figures (some of which are minifigs) are awesome and so much true to the original vision of these figures.  These are fun to build, fun to play with and fun to destroy.  And if one's bored with the original set, one could always convert it to something else!

3. Revoltech Sci-Fi (Kaiyodo)
Yes, another Toy Story tie-in line, but this entire line is not exclusive to the Toy Story figures.  The Revoltech line includes all sorts of media properties.  The sculpting on these figures is amazing, and the articulation is top notch and based on actual metal ball sockets.  Thanks to this being a Japanese line, there are tons of swapable body parts including multiple heads with different expressions and hands in different positions.  The downside is that some of the figures, like Jack Skellington, is a bit too unstable, but that's only because the original design was that way.

2. Masters of the Universe Classics (Mattel)
Is it any doubt that this line will make it into my list?  Is there any surprise that these aren't holding the top spot on the list?  Well, it's not to me.  This year, the character selection has been good, but these aren't the figures that really wowed me.  Optikk?  Gygor?  Tytus?  Blegh.  Trap Jaw?  Roboto? Whiplash?  Neutral switzerland.  Keldor? Marzo? Carnivus?  Erm... OK.  I was excited about Orko and uh... Grizzlor, but other than that, I was rather indifferent to the line.  Hopefully next year I'll get the figures that excite me more - Modulok, Glimmer, Sagitarr, Quakke!  Not to mention Extendar, Rokkon, Stinkor, Sorceress and Marlena!

So that's the top nine so far.  Before I reveal the top toyline that I looked forward to this year, let's do a quick recap.

10. Ben 10 - Bandai America (Japan / US)
9. Strawberry Shortcake - Hasbro (US)
8. Tardis - Underground Toys (UK)
7. Toy Story - Mattel (US)
6. Scooby Doo - Character Options (UK)
5. DC Universe Classics - Mattel (US)
4. Lego Toy Story - Lego (Denmark)
3. Revoltech - Kaiyodo (Japan)
2. Masters of the Universe Classics - Mattel (US)

So that's a rather good spread of toys with Mattel holding three out of the top 10 spots.  Hasbro, despite its multiple toylines only registered one hit in the top 10 so far and it's not even for something that they are well known for (Marvel Universe/GIJoe/Star Wars/Transformers).  

Lego had a mediocre year and were duds in many of its themes including the Bionicle-like Ben 10 licensed theme.  Meanwhile of its original theme, the Kingdoms were a letdown after a highly successful run on the Castle Fantasy theme; and although Atlantis was interesting visually, it didn't incite the kind of interest in a Lego fan like me that Lego was probably hoping for.  Prince of Persia (licensed theme for Lego) was also interesting, but again, I wasn't too into it.

The surprises in the list is interesting.  I never knew I'd enjoy Strawberry Shortcake, and the two British companies - Character Options and Underground Toys came completely out of nowhere for me.  I'm going to guess that they are still flying under the radar for most people.

And since we are talking about countries, the US still lead the list with 4.5 out of 10 (so far).  I'm counting Bandai America as being 50% US and 50% Japanese.  Europe is next in line with 3 out of 10 (and the breakdown there is 2 out of 10 for the UK and 1 out of 10 for the rest of the EU).  Japan holds down the fort with 1.5 out of 10, which means it's above Denmark, but below the UK (and the EU as a whole).  Well, thanks to the number one toyline that interested me the most this year, which is another Japan-US collaboration (and thus 50% Japan, 50% US), it gets tied with the UK at 2 out of 10 final score.  The overall US showing is only 5 out of 10, of half the toylines on the list.  And what's the top toyline that I liked the most of 2010?

1. Transformers Animated (Hasbro/TakaraTomy)
I only got into this toyline this year after watching the three series of cartoons.  Yes, the cartoons were bad, but the toys were excellent.  Although the overall look of the toys were designed in the states by Hasbro, the actual mechanics and sculpts were done by TakaraTomy in Japan.  This is truely a 50-50 collaboration between the two companies, both of which released slightly different version of the toys in their respective markets.  What's not to like about these toys?  The looks are sleek, angular, yet not square.  The articulation is superb thanks to the Japanese engineering.  The transformation is amazing, and again, thanks to the gurus in Japan, there are even some automated steps when certain things are done.  The play value, even without the transformation is high as there are tons of action features, but also each toy is actually two different toys, a vehicle and a robot.  The accessories in the line is some of the best, form Optimus Prime's axe to the entire toolbox that was included with Ratchet.  I know I'm a bit late (since these toys are so 2009 in the US), but I would even nominate the toys (particularly the Japanese repaints) as the best toyline of 2010.

So what have you been buying this year?  What has got you most excited this year to buy?  Feel free to comment below!

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