Saturday, December 31, 2011

Toy of the Year 2011

 What is the Toy of the Year for 2011 in the Dungeon's? As we come to the close of 2011, and all the Christmas presents have been opened and played with, I have to ask that question. "Which toy gave me the most joy?"

There are so many toys and so little time, so for the sake of this blog entry let's limit the criteria to "Must have been purchased in 2011" - which automatically sets aside most of my personal favorites;  "Did well in terms of page-views" and take into consideration articulation, design, fun-factor and overall "awesome coolness".

Then I realized that merely naming the Toy of the year is sooo limiting and only comes in handy as a title and entry for search engines. Soooo. I'm going to expand it to the Top Twelve Toys - one toy per month - for this entry.

# 1 - January - Avatar AMP Suit

Mech Suits. Show me a toy collector who doesn't dream about trudging around in Mechanized armor dishing wanton destruction via mega-joules of accelerated particles or magnetically accelerated spent uranium shells; making the very Earth tremble as your foes' stomachs knot up as the mere sound of your approach heralds the arrival of the Avatar of Death, and; shrugging off damage and enemy fire as one would shrug off a summer shower.

So the first candidate for the Darklord Dungeon Toy of the Year award goes to the Avatar AMP Suit. The one with the GAU-90 30mm Machine gun - not to be confused with the SecOps Amp Suit which is not so armed and hence is... kinda boring.

While I may have had misgivings about the over-all design of James Cameron's design (Which screams SHOOT ME HERE), the paint, articulation and detail that went into this G.I. Joe friendly Mech makes it dear to my heart.

#2 Feb - R2-D2 Bar

FIRST! The runners up for the month of February: It was a very sexy February what with one of the last Marvel Legends to enter the market - the Black Widow - with her ab-showing, firm-buttock proudly displaying, and breast popping physique. It really helped that she is highly articulated and very flexible.

Keeping with the theme and not to be out-done, Jabba the Hutt, the king of sexy himself, brought his massive form over in a rolling throne complete with drugs, pillows and the first naked female humanoid who's not covered in fur or scales

But the month's winner keeps with the month's sexy theme: the sobering realization that you may wake up with someone you shouldn't have  - which more often than not happens - which is why the R2-D2 bar was born where all toys can pour their hearts out to a friendly bar-keep.

# 3 - March - Wreck-Gar

This in my opinion is probably the best Transformer to come out in 2011. You gotta love a character that just practically invites people top come over and customize him. And it's really, really cool that Wreck-Gar can actually ride himself just like the Junkions did in the Transformers movie.

Wreck-Gar is the only Transformer that I bought more than one of simply because... well he needed something to ride.

# 4 - April - Iron Grenadier

April saw the influx of the new G.I. Joe Toys. I was even accused of going over to Hasbro and stealing them because I had them before anyone in the U.S. did. The runners up this month are: Transformers Generations Warpath. He's cartoon accurate (Despite transforming into a Halo Scorpion Tank and not his traditional Sheridan) and hella cool complete with his onomatopoeic "Zowee"(ZOW-333) and "Kapow! (K4-90W) inscribed on his side.

The second runner up is Cobra's Shadow Tracker, the Capoeira master who heralded in Hasbro's new G.I. Joe "Battle wrist" joints which provided for a plethora of new action poses for the G.I. Joes.

But this month's winner is the Cobra Iron Grenadier!  Why? For several reasons, paramount among which is that despite most people loving body armor, walking around with a cannon that can rip through tanks and laughing off small arms fire is just as appealing; further, we have a fetish for Aliens inspire weaponry - though the Cobra Iron Grenadier lacks the mounting arm that Sgt Vasquez had in the movie for their M-56 Smart Guns.

# 5- May - G1 Prime Matrix of Leadership

This month's runners up include: General Hawk as a member of the G.I. Joe City Strike team. Of all the modernized G.I. Joes to enter the market, I really like his look - spartan, realistic and equipped with enough gear and ammunition to put up a proper fight and that battle-laptop grants him that air of authority that screams "I'm in charge! Let me check my Facebook"

Second up is Perceptor - who admittedly I hated at the start because, despite the fact that he was cartoon accurate, he transformed into an ATV and not into a microscope like he did in the cartoons.

Happily some fans who were probably just as disappointed figured out how to transform him into a microscope and I also found out that he had a fourth form. Now he serves as head-waiter in the R2-D2 bar.

But my biggest winner for the month of May was an accessory pack by a third party group that made a... sorry for the sacrilege... mediocre toy, really great! The BTS-03 - G1 Prime Matrix of Leadership from Best Toys.

Face it, G1 Optimus Prime is pretty lame, low articulation, no real hands, an ion-cannon that's not cartoon accurate. This upgrade from Best Toys not only gave Optimus Prime a kick-ass Matrix to fill the empty void where his heart should be, but gave him new hands that increased his articulation and new weapons, including a cartoon accurate ion-cannon and a jet-pack.

For that we should be thankful.

# 6 - June - Noble Team

June was a very memorable month for me as I had my very first exhibit thanks to Mark Cerbo and the rest of  Transformers Philippines. So, thanks to the Philippine Toycon there was a ton of toys that came out this month. The runners up include:

The Lord of the Dance himself, Cobra Commander! I love this guy because he's soooo... well thought off. He was designed to look like a middle-eastern dictator, fan and haughty, but remove the heavy coat and you have the physique of a lean dancer - with really, really nice shoes.

This was the one time that I didn't feel bad about buying a  Cobra Commander - especially after I consider just how many Cobra Commanders I already have. Underestimate THIS Cobra Commander at your own peril.

Next up is the new villain introduced in the Transformers Dark of the Moon Movie: Shockwave. Kinda sad that Shockwave didn't come with his Driller - that big tentacle thing in the Videogame and in the movie, but still Shockwave is a solid figure with a wonderful design from all angles.

I'm actually looking forward to future 3rd party modifications to Shockwave. I'd love to see someone come up with the Driller and a way to light up his chest area, his monocle and perhaps even his cannon.

But this one's Toy of the month award goes to Carter A259- Noble 1 who completed Noble Team which, till today remains one of the most popular posts in this blog. While the entire Noble Team was featured in July, I just felt that getting Carter in June completed the group so here he is as the winner for June.

#7 - July - Ultimate Optimus Prime

I honestly do not know why this is so popular or why people still like to view it. It's one of the most horrible toys that I've ever received and as far as I'm concerned, it does not deserve the name "Ultimate Optimus Prime"

The only thing this toy has going for it is the size, other than that: No, it did not appear in the movie; Even the trailer is a pale imitation of what appeared in the movie and the wheels keep collapsing; it looks like a butterfly and Optimus definitely did not look like that in the movie; the weapons-system is a pop-up gigantic cannon whose lights and sound effects are cheap and poor; articulation is practically non-existent, and in robot mode, without the cannon, his head is disproportional to his body - it's tiny.

Yet for almost six months now since it first appeared, it's been consistently at the top of what's being viewed on this blog.

#8 - Aug - G.I. Joe SkyStriker

The hands-down winner for August is the return/redesign of the classic G.I. Joe SkyStriker. Based upon the US Navy's (Now, ironically, the Iranian Army's)  F-14 Tomcat. Despite the fact that this version of the G.I. Joe classic was slightly smaller because Hasbro stuck to the cartoon version of the G.I. Joe SkyStriker which reduced the F-14 to a single pilot fighter and Captain Ace did not come with a parachute, this version of the G.I. Joe SkyStriker allowed users to customize the Skystriker to be piloted by any of six (6) G.I. Joe pilots - or you could keep it generic.

I went with Captain Ace.

#9 Sepember - Air Raid

The runner up for this merry month is an upgrade piece for the Halo Warthog. If you played Halo: Reach, then you saw the appearance of a Gauss Cannon atop the Warthog so this upgrade was a really nice and simple upgrade to an already wonderful vehicle.

There are those who will argue that the addition doesn't really do anything and that the existing chain gun is enough. But I think that the additional "tough" look adds more character. Besides it make my Warthog unique.

But the winner this month is the Transformers Dark of the Moon Air Raid. I have to admit that I was slightly disappointed about how Air Raid didn't even come close to looking like Air Raid in the DOTM Video Game, but he turned out to be quite a nice buy. There's something very retro about him - without being stiff, he's actually one of the most flexible Transformers I have - that is very appealing.

#10 October - Arcee

It has always puzzled me why Arcee was never ever officially made by Hasbro - at least the comic book version was never made, Hasbro has several iterations of her in the market. As a result we have to turn to third-party Chinese Transformers that have slightly shoddy workmanship and are probably toxic to the touch. One such case is the highly articulated, fairly nicely detailed TRNS-01 Valkyrie - AKA Arcee.

#11- November - Cliffjumper

My birthday month and a week spent in Singapore made this one of my most memorable months this year. The runners up for this month are: Zarana - while this may not be the over-expensive and very rare black version of this 2011 SDCC exclusive, it is one of the finer sculpts ever to leave Hasbro and a must have especially if you intend to purchase the new Seven-pack Dreadnok set.

Hopefully in 2012, we'll see a Thunder Machine on the market next to a new G.I. Joe HAVOC.

Next up is Transformers Prime: Arcee - eaily one of the most flexible Transformers int he market. A fine sculpt, great concept and that's both feminine and deadly.  Arcee is a must have if you're into the Transformers Prime Cartoon series. It's a nice step up from the  Arcee from the Transformers Animated Series and a sign of great things to come from the Transformers Prime toy-line.

She's so fine that the only reason I'm giving the Toy of the month award to Transformer Prime: Cliffjumper is because he's voiced by the Rock and is a higher valued collectible because... well he dies  (And he died well laying out the Smackdown all the way down Jabrobi Drive).

12 - December - DA-15 Jetwing Prime
The month of December presented a natural influx of toys into the Dungeon, including two toys that I spent months waiting for: DA-15 Jetwing Prime and DA-28 Striker Prime both from Takara. This month's winner goes to the Optimus Prime that could take all that gear and look really kick-ass in the process: DA-15 Jetwing Prime

"I'd like to thank the Academy for whatever the hell this is."

I have to admit that it was a tough decision, but after careful consideration of "Fun-Factor", articulation, design and detail, and sheer "Awesome coolness" nothing comes close to the Cobra Iron Grenadier, especially once you salvage the TRAAAC support arm from the POC Destro to give the Cobra Iron Grenadier a more "Aliens" look. 

So congratulations to the Cobras, Hasbro, and to everyone who visited the Dungeon this year. May 2012 be a toy filled and happy one! 


  1. Outstanding year end round up. And I like your choice for the winner too. Plenty of great toys this year.

  2. i think jetwing optimus prime should win i mean look at it its pure awesome


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