To anyone reading this, it's my first post on TFW, thanks for taking a look. This is a look at my collecting activity as at the end of 2019. Purchases made in 2019 have been many and varied for me, with some not surviving a mass character cull I made in the third quarter. I rediscovered that I am a Masterpiece and 3rd party equivalent collector first and foremost, with only a passing interest in Legends sized figures if the toy looks good enough and the transformation is fun enough. I dabbled in Iron Factory figures in the first half of the year, and I was extremely impressed by the fit and finish of their releases. Their IDW inspired Megatron is a superb piece, with so many options for display, look and even transformation. I was also impressed with their Shockwave, seekers and Warpath, but in the end decided it wasn’t sustainable to maintain a fully-fledged IF collection alongside my MP collection. Of the purchases made in 2019 which are no longer in the collection, two of the very best which I was reluctant to part with were the Transform Element Optimus Prime and the TFC Toys Ultimate Commander in the GI Joe Rolling Thunder Camo deco. Both of these toys were absolutely rock-solid in terms of build and materials, and the finish and overall presence in all modes totally blew me away. I can totally see why collectors made the TE Prime their upgrade of choice on the still superb, but ultimately dated, MP10. I was dead set on keeping him as my Optimus until MP44 finally breached my defences (more on that one later). Once the second head was released by TE it changed this toy from a good one to a great one, with as clean a robot mode you could hope for, and a transformation which while on first visit seemed too difficult soon became intuitive and well executed. What a great first release from TE! IT has me excited for what they do with their Mirage next year. The TFC Prime was such a pleasant surprise in terms of heft and sheer playability. Its interaction with Diaclone Reboot figures was refreshing and afforded many photographic opportunities to discover all of the tiny-figure-friendly fold-out parts and little seats included with this toy. The basic core robot was also pretty limber for such a large piece, and it was very satisfying when this poseability carried over to the super robot mode with all of he armour and missile pods attached. This guy didn’t need any extra firepower, and I was reminded of Trailbreaker’s quip in IDW’s MTMTE about Fortress Maximus’ leg cannons when looking at him in super-mode. Leg cannons do rock. Other 3rd party pieces worth a mention from 2019’s purchases include X-Transbots’ Herald, their masterpiece Crosscut, Mastermind Creations’ Azalea (I opted for the Medic version to compliment the Stealth version I purchased last year), and the white version of Magic Square’s Light of Freedom Optimus Prime with its beautiful pearlescent finish. XTB’s Stunticon releases this year (Drag Strip and Dead End) were fantastic additions to a strong team, the alt modes being particularly pleasing. It was unfortunate that Drag Strip had widely reported issues with the shoulders, and mine suffered from one of the screws attaching the folding part of the front spoiler mashing into the cheese-like plastic of the main body and consequently falling apart. This was an unwelcome throwback to XTB releases of old, and totally at odds with the rest of the team, and the rest of their releases of late. I’ve since moved on XTB’s Stunticons to focus on Fanstoys’ efforts. On the official side I also enjoyed the toy version of Takara’s Masterpiece Megatron, MP36. Such an eye-catching representation of the character. Sadly, as mentioned before, many members of the collection needed to make way as part of my efforts to refocus on characters which mean something to me, whether from the Marvel Comics, TF The Movie, the Sunbow cartoon or because of toys which I owned or never got the chance to own as a kid. This meant a number of repaints and remoulds were moved on to new homes, including Delta Magnus, Artfire, Maketoys Bounceback, Cordon, the Blue/Silverstreaks, the Lambos Clampdown and Tigertracks, Red Bee, MP36+, Nemesis Prime, the Rainmakers, Exhaust, Loudpedal, MMC Liger & Enmitus and the pieces mentioned in the previous paragraph. It’s always tough to have a clear-out, but needs must to keep the hobby feeling fresh, and to make way for some new acquisitions. Some of these new acquisitions weren’t actually new characters at all (I’m looking at you Wheeljack, Bluestreak, Mirage) but are super-enjoyable for the renewed appreciation of old moulds brought about by a tasty new paint job and tweaking some parts here and there. I absolutely love Wheeljack, and I think his repaint made him look a lot more like a premium figure because of the white paint used instead of plain plastic. Other Autobot characters in my collection got a refresh this year, with MP Sideswipe traded out for Badcube’s Steamroll, MMC’s Terraegis swapped out for XTB’s Aegis, Fanstoys Spindrift trading places with XTB’s Neptune, and Masterpiece Hot Rod finally bowing out in favour of Fantoys Hoodlum. I think most of these swaps have turned out well (I’ll make mention of Hoodlum later) with XTB’s Seaspray being a superb toy for a character which ought not to be commanding such crazy attention to detail in the form of accessories. Beach ball, bucket & spade, water skis, tow rope, water effects – probably only missing beach towels and a parasol. As for the bad guy ranks, I finally acquiesced and managed to get hold of the Takara Masterpiece Coneheads in the last quarter. I have mixed feelings about these, as the alt modes and the way these guys look make me pleased to have the characters in my display (I particularly like the grim faces on these), but the moulds themselves are a little outdated, and the stability so hit-and-miss, that I’m still undecided whether to get the MakeToys Coneheads or not. Decisions, decisions. One of my favourite characters got the re-paint overhaul in 2019 – MP+ Shockwave. My original MP Shockwave and Fanstoys Quakewave both made way for the latest incarnation of old one-eye, but I’m so glad I got him. The colours on the painted are on the money, and he just looks so much more menacing than the previous incarnation of the mould. It’s worth mentioning a little side-bar at this juncture, just a little one mind you. This was the acquisition of New Age’s Insecticons, which I simply had to get once I saw how small they really are. Initially I had these down as a display prop for my Fanstoys Insecticons, but I’m very pleased to report that they are mightily fun toys in their own right. Great representations of the characters, and at that size real marvels of engineering. MMC’s releases this year have been superb, their all-in-one Combaticons are shaping up beautifully with Vortex and Swindle ticked off, but it was Saltus which was one of the surprises of the year for me. It is a dead-on manifestation of Springer, plus a super fun toy in terms of transformation, articulation and presence in the display. Saltus did the unthinkable and dethroned the Fanstoys equivalent Apache, itself a good toy but slightly awkward in comparison, as my Springer. This is one of the contenders for toy of the year for me. Fantoys also made their mark in no small way with their releases this year, and I can’t get away from how good their paint, materials and finish on their toys look. I was not sold on their Hot Rod when it was first released, but I picked one up this year at a reasonable price to compare with the official version. I must say it wasn’t love at first sight with this guy, with the lack of articulation in the shoulders, the inability of the head to look up or down and a stock face which looked a little weird to me. There were also the paint chips on the bonnet, which weren’t great. But . . . when he’s grouped together with his buddies Kup, Arcee and Blurr he just looks so good. The paintwork where it isn’t chipped is so eye-catching. And I have grown fond of his transformation, and the way he has seats for small dudes to sit in (even MP Ultra Magus’ Daniel will squeeze in if you try hard enough). Fanstoys Jabber is another toy which divided opinions on his release this year (is he blue, is he purple, or is he blurple?), but he’s unsurpassable in terms of looks for me. Both modes nail the character so well, and the colour (which is blue, by the way) is so vibrant. A good year for Movie bots. I also obtained Fanstoys Willis, their Hound, in early 2019. He’s a great figure, and I found him to be spellbinding in alt mode, particularly that rich green finish. Alas, I have caved in and opted to pre-order the Masterpiece Hound, hence why I have let Willis go. Fingers crossed the official is as good as Willis. Most of the Fanstoys noise was reserved for their combiner figures in 2019, to the extent that I abandoned my XTB Stunticons once FT’s Spoiler was acquired. Spoiler is one of the better figures from this year, the magic of all that mass shifting in the transformation, and the superb glossy finish in alt mode make him a favourite of mine already. FT Maverick, their Silverbolt, was underrated in my opinion. Road King was a hard act to follow, hence why I think Maverick had his work cut out competing. He didn’t have the most dynamic articulation, and caught some unfair flak for not being finished straight out of the box, but make no mistake, this is a lovely toy. The transformation is involved, but clever and rewarding when you get him into jet mode. His jet mode is a “wow” moment which reminded me of transforming FT Phoenix for the first time. Finally, FT’s Road King, their Motormaster, is one of the best toys I’ve played with or looked at, full stop. An immense presence on the shelf, he looks every bit the intimidating bully-boy in bot mode, and he also kills it with the alt mode. I’m still astonished how an entire trailer is incorporated into the figure. Yes, he’s got the big backpack, but for me it just increases the beefiness of the bot mode. Such good articulation, including one of the rarer natural looking ab-crunches, he’s definitely a contender for toy of the year for me. And so we moved towards the end of the year. The aforementioned sell-off of non-core characters in my collection came about because of me acquiring the most controversially priced figure released this year. MP44 Convoy v3, or Optimus Prime to the layman. In the build up to his release I was steadfastly refusing to contemplate getting him, and had already made myself very happy in January with the TE Optimus. I thought MP44 was too much money. I didn’t care for the back pack. I didn’t like the little red parts visible on the back of the legs. And I thought the figure looked a little too slender in the pre-release product shots. But then I found out a couple of things. The accessories included three human figures. The trailer was re-engineered, with further options for playability. The articulation on the figure was off the charts. And finally, Peter Cullen. The voice of my childhood hero, recorded and on demand as part of the figure. Suddenly I had to get him. To hold this figure for the first time was like holding THE Optimus Prime in your hands. For me, the TE Prime immediately looked stiff and somewhat characterless in comparison, which are unfair labels to tag a great toy with. Sometimes there’s something about the way Takara put together face and head sculpts which unquestionably captures the essence of the character, and this is probably the best example for me. It’s most definitely a contender for toy of 2019, but it’s not perfect. I have experienced a couple of small paint chips on the waist, my copy’s left knee ratchet has the problem with no clicks, and his antennae needed a little straightening out of the box. For the money he should have been completely perfect, and required no fixes or interventions. He’s also got the issue of the fuel tanks not lining up straight enough in alt mode to allow a couple of the blue side parts to tab into the vehicle properly. But then I remember MP36 Megatron having all of his paint issues, and I still love him. MP44 is extravagant, but it’s the best Optimus, the definitive article. Probably the most divisive figure this year is Takara’s new Masterpiece Bumblebee, MP45. I confess to feeling like this re-boot was unnecessary, especially in the face of so many officially unrepresented G1 characters. And then the promotional pics came out. Those feet. That back pack. The dopey looking faces. The tiny arms. All things which made me think to steer clear. I was happy with my MP21, and an application of Toyhax cell shaded window stickers kept me happy for a while. But then, as with MP44, MP45 started to grow on me. The chibi car mode is delightfully silly, and it paints the cartoon aesthetic in a way that the MP21 alt mode does not. MP45 is slightly built, and very delicate, but that’s who the character was. He was the most vulnerable Autobot, the most child-like, he got into the most scrapes, which is why I think he has so many admirers and representations in the Transformers universe. This toy is by no means one of the best of 2019. But where he commands respect is in the desk-bot category, where he has reigned supreme as something to pick up and mess with, something to “broom” around in alt mode when things are getting serious at work. It’s the one toy which has elicited the most attention from my non-Transformers savvy colleagues in the last couple of weeks as they go past my desk or come to chat with me. Yes, he has boat feet, yes he has funky proportions, and yes I think he cost too much money, but he does bring joy when I look at him or pick him up and play with him. Now properly at the end of the year, I’m waiting for Fanstoys Goose (Skydive), MP Hound and last but not least Toyworld’s Constructor, Perfect Edition to show up. Devastator is one of my favourite characters, but I am very late to the party with the Toyworld offering. I have had a Unite Warriors Devvy with the DNA add on kit for the last 3-4 years, and it was one of my favourite toys. But with the advent of Fanstoys combiners, I’ve decided to trade up to a true MP scale Devvy to match the rest of my collection. I hope this one works out! I also hope you have had as much enjoyment from collecting as I have in 2019. Have a Merry Xmas, and a prosperous New Year – until all are one!