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The Movie Sleuth's Top Five Action Figures of 2020

Posted By themoviesleuth 966 days ago on Entertainment - As a preamble to this, I'm clarifying that I am only reviewing figures that came out in 2020 and that I purchased. I can't and won't review anything I don't have my hands on. I dialed back my spending quite a bit this year so its not as abundant in terms of selection but I chose wisely, in my opinion. My main collection focus is Transformers but I venture out of those bounds on occasion. With those parameters set, let's dive right in! Masterpiece Blackarachnia: With the Masterpiece line, you can rely on a few things. Great paint applications, accessories from nearly every major moment that character had in its respective show, and 'perfect' transformations. To be clear, 'perfect' transformations refers to no parts forming or disassembly to make the figure convert from one form to the next. Blackarachnia provided a major challenge as the character model from the show cheated a lot to make that conversion work. The original toy was just a repaint of Tarantulas and since he was already in the show and these were two separate spider species, differentiating them was important. The MP abdomen in spider mode had exposed hinges and parts of the legs but at this scale and without a full shell covering it completely, it wouldn't have looked precisely like the show's character model. None of the Beast Wars MP figures can avoid this as not all the bot parts can be hidden at this scale. In spider mode, the head and pedipalps work great, almost one to one from the show. The legs have one ball joint at the base and one hinge at the first knee for each but pull triple duty working to support the figure, spot-on show accuracy, and end up on the arms as the 'Neo Round Machine Gun'. The robot mode has nearly no kibble or extra parts, and includes a high level of poseability, and, with the swappable faces, makes displaying the figure pretty enjoyable. The inclusion of the stand and web section give her that bonus of a contrasting background. Weapons and accessories are a great addition, especially with the pivotal role that Blackarachnia held across the series. This is a figure I love going back to and I feel Takara Tomy did a tremendous job bringing this character to the Masterpiece line. Big Firebird's Nicee: Technically an unofficial redesign of a Transformers character, Nicee is a heavily stylized version of Arcee. These are commonly known as Third Party figures as they aren't officially licensed by the character owners and usually take liberties the official companies can't or won't afford. Nicee not only gives a sleek, almost art-deco style vehicle mode but uses several parts of that alt-mode shell as accessories to give a variety of display options. The accessories like the pistol give the classic nods to Arcee while the sword and shield lean towards the anime inspirations for this interpretation. An oversized bow and arrow can be fashioned from the backpack/front end of the car mode as well as moving those front fenders to the hip section for another variation of the bot mode. The addition of die-cast in the major joints work incredibly well to balance and support the figure. Double hinged knees and hips give lots of strength to this as well as the die-cast in the ankles. Swappable hands help with the weapons handling and expressive-ness but they accessories don't stay as solidly as I would prefer, mostly the bow configuration. One other accessory of note is the chest plate. I would have rather had the 'Arcee' style head instead of a squishy option for the Power Girl style chest. All in all, I was impressed with how well they pulled off this transformation and made the kibble work as weapons and accessories. The paint is great and the shiny iridescent nature of it works to help it stand out on the shelf. Strategic die-cast and translucent plastic make break up the colors and help give her an overall consistent design.War For Cybertron Siege Spinister: C'mon, that's name is great! Admittedly, he had a stint in the 80's Marvel comics run with his other Decepticon Targetmasters but faded into obscurity in years since. IDW comics put him in the ranks of the Scavengers, a group of former Decepticon misfits making their way across a wild and hostile universe after the Great War. This version of him is the one that made me like the character, often described as the dumbest being in the universe, though there may be stiff competition from Riptide. Shooting first and rarely questioning why, Spinister is a mildly dangerous idiot that needs an equally unreliable pack to run with. The figure does a little bit of cheating to make the legs look like equally sized cockpits while only having one in vehicle mode. The transformation is great at his scale and the poseability works to his advantage in bot mode too. His color scheme works so well that Nicolas Cage can duplicate it and the internet blows up about it. Spinister is one step closer to completing the Scavengers in my display and he's a welcome addition.G.I. Joe Classified Scarlett: Scarlett and Snake-Eyes rank among my top G.I. Joe characters because of the comics. That first silent issue struck a chord that resonates with me to this day about sequential storytelling, competent draftsmanship, and compelling characters. The later comic story where the Joes recount the tale of why Snake-Eyes ties the door open on helicopters is another that just hit me at the right time. Most of my time playing with Joes as a kid was about their relationships and drama, real soap opera kind of stuff. The action was the backdrop to a lot of wild plot-lines and interweaving backstories. This might possibly be attributed to having sisters whom watched soap operas frequently in the 80's. I never had a Scarlett figure as a kid but this one from Classified really makes up for that. The pistol-style crossbow, the knives, and the outfit all make for a updated version of Scarlett I'd like to see more of. The face paint applications and sculpt nail the character for me and I'm so glad to have this on my shelf.TransArt Toys BWM 01 Strange Friend Transmutate: One endearingly tragic episode and man, you've got a fan for life. Now pepper that in across a few seasons and you've got a series that fans can return to and bond over for generations. One such episode of Transformers Beast Wars (Beasties in Canada) is Transmutate. The titular character of this episode is tragic from the get-go, having suffered a damaged spark and a malfunctioning stasis pod before it even awakens. Incapable of adopting an alt-mode and with the intelligence of an infant, Transmutate tries to navigate a conflict it has no stake in or comprehension thereof. This figure is practically the CG model given form. With a swappable face and a light up feature for the eyes, the only lacking part would be the Energon crystal in it's back for flight. The construction, sculpt, paint, and scale make this work perfectly with a Masterpiece Beast Wars display. If you're a fan of the series, there was a previous Build-A-Figure for the 10th anniversary line and apparently a new one coming out next year for retail. As for my Masterpiece display, this one makes the grade.Honorable mentions: The NECA 2-pack arrived on my doorstep in 2021 and the Kenobi figure was released in 2019 but I didn't find one locally until 2020.NECA Casey Jones and Raphael in Disguise 2-pack: Yeah, it's technically two figures but being such a large chunk of the movie revolving around this initial encounter, it's worthy of this spot. Raphael is the same sculpt from the single release but now with a hat and trench coat. Several hands, two sais, a slice of pizza, and swap-outs for the ends of the bandana mask have this figure all decked out for options. Both figures look incredible with the detailing and paint applications. Even Casey's finger-less gloves have the holes for the knuckles painted. The knee and elbow joints are clearly visible but with bare arms and sweat pants, I can't see another way around that. The one downside for me is the wrist limitation. Not being able to straighten them when holding a bat, golf club, or hockey stick really restricts the poseability. That said, the variety of hand options and sports equipment help make this figure feel like the best movie version we can get. Casey and Raph have always been my favorites, from the comics to the silver screen, I related to them the most. I will say this came out in 2020, but since I didn't receive mine until the this year so I don't think I can lump them in with the new year's lot.Star Wars The Black Series Clone Commander Obi-Wan Kenobi: Man, I am glad they made this figure as I didn't think they'd go back to it. Stemming from the Genndy Tartakovsky Clone Wars shorts from Cartoon Network in 2003, this was Kenobi in partial Clone armor as a commander on the front lines. In a particular episode, Kenobi had a speeder lance battle with the monstrous Durge. A few 3 ¾ inch scale figures had been made, including variations on the speeder used in the episode but nothing as accurate since the production went in a different direction from these amazing shorts. Fast-forward to 2019 when Hasbro's The Black Series released this figure with incredible detail and an accurate Ewan McGregor head sculpt. Missing the lance but including a great foot stand (which I wish all 6-inch figures came with), this figure has what I always wanted from The Black Series. Since I still had the first 3 ¾ inch Clone Commander Kenobi and that lance was a bit oversized, it works great with this figure. As much as I love Sir Alec Guinness' Kenobi, McGregor's has such great content around it from his performance in the movies to the Clone Wars cartoons. When Sir Alec mentions he fought in the Clone Wars, this is what I imagined.-Stuart Christensen (function() { var zergnet = document.createElement('script'); zergnet.type = 'text/javascript'; zergnet.async = true; zergnet.src = (document.location.protocol == "https:" ? "https:" : "http:") + '//'; var znscr = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; znscr.parentNode.insertBefore(zergnet, znscr); })();

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