2005 will perhaps be best remembered as the Year of Business as Usual.
While there were some amazingly solid efforts from Bandai, Takara, Yamato,
Aoshima, Max Factory and a half dozen other second and third-tier manufacturers,
there was very little in the way of truly break-out products. Sure, Bandai
wound up the GD line on a high note by giving us Aquarion, perhaps one of the most
ambitious toys in recent history, but that was the notable exception.
As it was, we got more SOCs, Masterpieces, AG’s, HCMP’s, Transformers, Max
Gokins and other collectibles than our wallets could possibly absorb.
It is then perhaps understandable that we have become slightly jaded over the
years and have forgotten just how unlikely something like Aquarion, or an HCM
Asshimar actually is. In 2005 we have felt the weight of the market shift
away from the traditional consumers (ie; Japanese children) and come to rest
firmly upon the otaku and their gaijin imitators. Gone are the days when
the Yamato YF-19 — tab B and all — was the oasis at the end of the Great Toy
Desert. Today, we are firmly in the crosshairs of collectible manufacturers,
expertly marketed to from every direction. If one makes merely a passing
attempt to stay abreast of Japanese toy news, it’s not unusual to become bored
with the new SOC a full three months before it’s even shipped.
It is through this haze that every new release must wander and hopefully find
a way to separate the robo-geek from his yen. And so it is not altogether
unsurprising that the winner of this year’s contest was not the biggest, nor the
fanciest, nor the most heralded, but rather the one with the most character.
And though his face may be hid “amid a crowd of stars”, the numbers show that he
clearly shone the brightest.
In 2005 the toys stayed the same. If we find less to please us here
than at this time last year, it is because we have changed.
8th place (tie) – Studio Halfeye Godanner
Another resin edifice to kanzen henkei insanity. Unfortunately, at roughly
$450 SHE maintained their tradition of pricing insanity as well, thereby
limiting the potential market for this piece to all but the most ardent fanboy.
8th place (tie) – SIC Kamen Rider Faiz
Another year, another PVC nightmare.
8th place (tie) – Marusan Giant Size Godzilla (super7 version)
It is bigger than all of your SOCs combined, it glows more than the
stuff they use to keep Michael Jackson in check, and it came in two
colors that reference original colors. What more do you need?
8th place (tie) – GD-07 Flame Convoy
I voted for Flame Convoy as the toy of the year because it’s everything a transforming toy should be. Flame Convoy is fun to play with, looking and feeling legitimate in its two forms as dragon or robot, and without seeming fiddly or poorly represented. The sculpt is fabulous and the colors are fun without being overly garish. The articulation isn’t perfect, but Flame Convoy displays very well. He looks great, and tough I might add. The gimmicks on Flame Convoy are well implemented and genuinely add to the play value with the sounds of roars or laser guns in the respective modes, and the pop up hydra heads are brilliantly fun. Bottom Line; this is a toy that is made to be played with.
8th place (tie) – Extended MSiA Zeta Gundam
EMiA Zeta features the best that MSiAs currently have to offer: great articulation, a superb sculpt, and since it’s Extended, a spiffy paint job to boot. On top of which, it’s transformable, albeit in a parts-swappy way. And it comes with a bonus head to recreate the infamous Zeta Zaku; what’s not to love?
8th place (tie) – DX Majin Gattai Magiking
What makes Magiking such a wonderful toy is the fact that it can recombine into a huge and cool-looking dragon in addition to having a funky robot mode. The engineering is also simple, yet elegant. Sure, it doesn’t have great posability or diecast content, and it carries the stigma of being a Sentai robot, but it looks great in both combinations and is above all a fun toy.
7th place (tie) – Yamato Koenig Monster VB-6
Released in the twilight of 2004, Yamato’s VB-6 was unable to find a
significant place in the hearts of this year’s robotaku voters. Every now
and then Yamato manages to clamber out of Recolour Hell and remind us that it is
still capable of daring greatly.
7th place (tie) – Max Factory Mazinkaiser
Superb piece. You can hold this piece horizontally without its legs flopping forward. Yeah,
love the crotch-clicking action the SOCs & Aoshima never had!!!!
7th place (tie) – Masterpiece King Exkaiser
I like Brave and I’m glad to see Takara applying its high grade collector’s mentality to a product other than Transformers.
7th place (tie) – Kaiyodo Gazelle the Peace Maker
This one is too awesome. As expected of from the great 3 (Nightow, Toytribe & Kaiyodo) a another masterpiece anime figure is created :) Highly detailed,
beautifully posable and intricate original weaponry. A has that killer look. Probably
the non-robot figure toy of the year, IMO.
7th place (tie) – THS-01 Galaxy Convoy
My vote’s for the HBS: its design and heft made it feel like a decently-built piece. It not only looks great but it’s also one of the few import toys I actually play with on a semi-regular basis.
7th place (tie) – Daigokin Great Mazinger
A lot bigger and heavier than its predecessor, Daigokin Great Mazinger is the ultimate monument to gokin lust. It truly is the heavyweight champ! What presence to behold. The great T28 deserves to have it placed at his side!
7th place (tie) – Force Impulse Gundam Metal Material Gundam Quality
I voted for the Metal Material Gundam Quality Force Impulse Gundam because it is the perfect combination of slick mecha/real robot design with classic die-cast toy appeal. To me, the Force Impulse Gundam is actually one of the more visually appealing interpretations of the classic Gundam design. Its anime-accurate translation into a premium toy in the Metal Material Gundam Quality line is nothing short of magnificent. The 1/100 scale lets it blend in with several Gundam toys of the past (New Material Model, Metal Material Model, and Arch Enemy figures, among others) and gives it a large enough size to make it very detailed, but not so large as to make unwieldy. The die cast parts give it stability and a nice heft, but there isn’t so much diecast that you would worry about things like paint chipping. Its parts separate and combine
flawlessly into their component vehicles, just like the anime, but without detracting from the sturdiness and poseability of the toy. Indeed, with playability and gimmicks that will enthrall kids, coupled with detailing and die cast to satisfy older collectors, the Metal Material Gundam Quality Force Impulse Gundam represents a new breed of chogokin toy for the 21st century.
7th place (tie) – Aoshima New Getter Robo (metallic version)
I can not in good conscience vote for a PVC figure because of their use of paints and toxic plasticizers of unknown stability.
I narrowed my choices to Studio Halfeye Godanner, GX-29 Black Ox, and the Aoshima. But I would say overall, this year was somewhat lackluster and hence the huge list of nominees.
I don’t own the Godanner but from what I’ve seen it is by far the most impressive toy this year. The transformation itself easily blows away the gimmicks of every other nominee. But there is a moral dilemma when it comes to picking a SHE toy as TOTY. Each TOTY should have reasonable lasting value. By the inherent nature of its metal screws on resin components, the Godanner will eventually become a limp rag doll and the $450 price tag makes that inevitability even more painful.
I love the Aoshima because it is so beautiful and is pure diecast delight. The Aoshima is not a brick but its poses are limited. The Black Ox does have the requisite gimmicks and the diecast to be TOTY. The all black paint is also very appealing to most people. TOTY should be the Black Ox because a TOTY should be a toy that can be added to most everyone’s collection without any regrets. But I vote for the Aoshima because the Black Ox is just too damn boring to look at.
6th place (tie) – M-1 Go Hipporito Seijin
Spare me, oh, ye Toy Gods, for voting for a toy I don’t own yet. But, c’mon, it doesn’t take a Vincent Z to see that this year pretty much blew for new toys. …Or does it?
All the better…more chogo-cash to blow on vintage. Ah, but the Hipporito Seijin! It ain’t no secret that I dip into the vinyl kaiju funk. And there, I like to wallow.
And not just ANY old vinyl kaiju, mind you! I require gimmickery, damnit! This is why I loves me glowies so much. Simple yet wonderful gimmickery. What does ol’ Hippie offer??? A MAGNET!!
It has a magnet in the hand. A MAGNET IN THE HAND!
6th place (tie) – HCM Pro Asshimar
The HCM Pro Asshimar is such a great solid and posable toy that amazes me everytime I see it at work!
Ever since I had the very special privilege of witnessing first hand Tomino’s “revisioned” scenes involving the Asshimar at the World Premiere of the Zeta Gundam movie last October I’ve wanted a toy just like this.
Transformable MS’s, especially the Asshimar in the Zeta TV series left such a deep impression on that generation and is doing even more so with the new movies.
I really feel this HCM Pro captures that same strong onscreen impression I felt with the crowd that special day.
This is without a doubt the toy of the year for me. I hope it gets the respect it deserves.
Fort Max says:
As money tightens and shelf space shrinks, I’ve become increasily infatuated with the new trend of high quality mini figures.
Since you can’t vote for a line I’ve decided to use the Asshimar as my spokesperson for the HCM Pro figures.
Their high quality paint & construction has impressed with each new release while their fun-size proportions & stockpiles of weapons have given my hands a steady supply of fiddle fodder throughout the year.
6th place (tie) – GigaByte Garada K7
What else can you say about it; it’s freakin’ huge and cool!
If I have to choose any, I have to go w/ a villain. Reason being is that our beloved heroes would be nothing without the twisted, warped, hate-mongers known as “the bad guys”. Drum roll please: GigaByte Garada K7.
Now I wanna state that I don’t own this item. All I know is its 36″ inches tall and looks creepy as all hell. I mean com’on; he’s got giant friggin’ blades coming out from his head. I’ll say it again >>ahem<< GIANT FRIGGIN' BLADES COMING OUT OF HIS HEAD! He was a classic Mazinger villain and one of the forefathers to the great monster/robot baddies to come. I mean let’s face it, the bad guys never gets any glory. Case in point, there’s plenty ‘o’ good guy ‘bots to own, but when you wanna have them battle someone who you gonna pit them against? Cobra? Decepticons? Made up Lego thingies..? The Renegades? (Okay forget the last one). Seriously! Who wouldn’t want a sweet looking Lightning Satan that was on Starvengers/Getter Robo G or tremble at the feet of the great and all powerful Darius from Gaiking. Villains are highly overlooked and taken for granted and I know I’m not the only person who thinks so! I mean wouldn’t you once like to see Tom eat Jerry. -BigD P.S. Gaiking SOC GX-27 comes in 2nd. I actually own it. Every time I take it out of it packaging it cuts me. The world needs more toys that can cut little children.
6th place (tie) – GC-01 Galaxy Convoy
Sturdy. Fun. Well-engineered. One touch and your Fanfic will flow from your keyboard like surging hydraulic fluid through Convoy’s bulging thighs.
i voted optimus cuz i like transformers. and optimus is the best transformers. they keep making optimus all the time and it always looks the same right?
6th place (tie) – AG-01 Scopedog
A vote for AG-01 was really a vote for the Actic Gear line. Although
Yamato kicked off the VOTOMS nostalgia with their incredible 1/12 Scopedog last
year, Bandai, Takara and CM’s wasted no time cashing in on the act with their
own offerings, the most prolific of which promises to be Takara’s tiny, but
hopefully obsessively-expansive AG line. Of course there is the, ahem,
small issue of the toys size, and the fact that 2005 gave us seven Scopedog
recolours in this scale, which probably hurt its chances. With Max
Factory’s up-coming offerings, as well as Takara’s 1/18 scale Microman-compatible
Scopedog along with a dozen other non-Scopedog AG variants sure to follow, look
for 2006 to be the Year of the Dog.
5th place – Max Factory Guyver 01
With significant improvements in sculpt and articulation, Guyver 01 is toy of the year for me. It doesn’t have the OMGOMGOMG FANBOIGAZM!!! quality that the Scopedog is getting, but that’s no excuse. This was a great year for toys and Guyver 1 has to be the best for me for a number of reasons:
It is simple, yet complex. Austere, yet Beautiful.
The paint apps are pure and simple and very clean; the teal color is vibrant and insectile: a warning to predators that this creature is deadly and quite possibly poisonous. The articulation shows a quantum leap from the first release of 03, with better engineered elbows and hips. Brilliant use of soft pvc on the upper thigh armor allows it to have both excellent hip articulation and source-accurate sculpting. And for all you fetishists out there, it’s even got a little bit of metal (the hinge pins on the chest are solid metal; not much but it’s there).
The main reason it’s toy of the year, is because this is the quintessential action figure of a very much beloved character that has not had a toy outside of vinyl kits and some very well done fan-made dolls.
Max Factory normally goes all the way!
And it was truth with the Guyver offerings…great finish, good poseability, and a stunning presentation..extra hands plentiful, so
you can pose your Bio Booster fighting, blasting, punching or wrestling.
The display stand comes with a back support, to make sure your Guy’ doesn’t fall flat on his face…and most important, there has never been a version of any Guyver that
you didn’t have to put together…and most probably, if you put it together, it is a compromise for all the Max factory one can offer.
4th place (tie) – GX-29 SOC Black Ox
I found this to be a very basic/simple toy, and it really rekindled a flame in me for the Soul of Chogokin line.
Black OX perfectly captures the essence of the melding of new engineering with old design. A smooth black finish with hidden gimmicks that were almost
unattainable back in the 70’s or 80’s, yet with simple design that mimics the original concept very well. The other choices are all terrific, but this is also has to match up under the scrutiny of being a TOY, something that can be played with without fear of it breaking or things falling off.. Black Ox measures well here too, with solid joints, balanced weight and a good chunk of metal included.
4th place (tie) – Chogokin Doraemon
Erik Sjoen says:
Solid. Retro. Gimmicks galore.. It’s got the funk. What more can you say.
In a world where the biggest guns mounted on the broadest armored shoulders is given the most sophisticated treatment, it’s refreshing to see the same respect and attention to detail being applied to something as fun and innocent as this. It’s hilarious, funky, lovingly designed,
ridiculously inspired and, if carelessly tossed around, it could actually kill you. Awesome.
ball-shooting lump of metal.
3rd place – SoC Xabungle
Voted Xabungle just because it’s amazing how much is right about it.
If TotY ever went to multiple catagories, however, I would have voted the AG line as best idea/line/concept/whatever.
Thus let it be written!
Tiny and blue, but worth the well-spent cash. Sure, he requires four sets of wheels, but who wouldn’t love that folding cockpit, those sexy folding wings, and that extra Brockary. Extra. Model. Brockary. Say it with me….Extra…Model…Brockary… You know you want to.
I voted SOC Xabungle for toty because it was the Xabungle toy that never was, the missing link in the HCM legacy. It compliments the HCM Galliar perfectly, and the Broccoli kit is mind-blowing. It’s packed with gimmicks and accessories, has loads of play value, and relatively few problems. I was going to nominate Gaiking, but as much as I love the character, he’s not as much fun to play with.
Despite its failings (shoulder weapons popping off and those bloody antenna), SOC Xabungle is a great toy that has the look and feel of an early 1980s Godaikin toy, coupled with very good articulation, a ton of accessories, a really great sidekick in kit-shape, and a transformation that was supposed to be ‘impossible’ to pull off in toy-form.
2nd place – GD-99 DX Aquarion
There will only ever be one Kawamori and one Bandai. Which begs the
question; if Bandai and Kawamori can’t make an Aquarion toy that works, who the
hell can? It appears that Bandai perceived that robot fans were clamoring
for something different. The lesson here to be careful what you wish for.
The Aquarion is an excellent fresh newcomer. A new anime with an nice design, IMHO. The toy is a great representation of the robot in the toon, with great engineering and good packaging, too. It just stands out as my fave for this year.
I voted for the SOC Aquarion because it represents a commitment to pushing the envelope of what is possible in the areas of engineering and design. The effort was to make something new and great. The toy has a little too much kibble etc..but it went the furthest to make the kind of toys that I love.
As haphazard the design and transformation may be, the Aquarion stands out as a toy that innovates more than any other toy in this year’s offering. It attempted the impossible and pulled it off, albeit with mixed results. Definitely deserving of a tip of the hat, if not the TOTY crown. All hail Aquarion!
The Yamato Koenig Monster comes as a close second, if only for design’s sheer audacity.
No toy from 2005 pushed the envelope in engineering and design further than the Aquarion, despite it’s apparent flaws.
1st place – Gaiking SOC GX-27
For the third time, Bandai’s SOC line takes the coveted TOTY crown.
Not particularly for execution, since we now take excellence as a given when it
comes to an SOC, but because of the character in question. If anything,
the SOC Daikumaryu made fans more hungry for a modern diecast rendition of
Gaiking than before. It took four years and 22 SOCs between, but Bandai
finally delivered. Not without its flaws, it filled the void none the
less. And as the results below show, domestic robotaku are not significantly
different than their Japanese cousins when it comes to character worship.
Bald Evil says:
What more could you ask for? Here is a fantastic rendition of one of the iconic super robots, including a complete alternate “power up” mode along with a huge array of accessories. SOC Gaiking is my pick for TOTY!
Marvin Lee says:
We’ve been bitchin’ about getting this since GX-05 came out. ’nuff said.
This was a tough choice in picking a TOTY. There were no standouts like the years before and seemed like a pretty level field. In a field of great figures I voted for GX-27 SOC Gaiking NOT because it was so
much better than the rest but because of my emotional attachment to the character which gave it the edge.
1. It’s Gaiking, one of the best super robots/very popular.
2. It’s an SOC, IMHO, the best collector toy line going.
3. It’s large enough to display along with other SOC’s/Godaikins/Popy’s.
4. It’s got a decent amount of die cast to justify the gokin title.
5. It’s got lots of accessories and a fancy display stand that works.
6. It’s got the spring loaded arms.
7. The transformations and combining work well enough.
8. Its a 2-in-1 with the powered up version vs. the normal version.
9. The only con is the armor for the legs are pretty loose and sometimes the legs retract too easily.
10. Its ToyboxDX TOTY 2005!
It’s the “full-size” version of Gaiking that everyone’s been begging/hoping/praying for since the release of the SOC Daikumaryu over four years ago… and he’s a great toy, to boot!
“He’s a Samurai! He’s a robot skull!” What’s not to love?
It’s fricking Gaiking, for Chrissakes!
I’m giving my vote to Gaiking, just because so many of us were waiting for a great Gaiking figure after the long wait/tease of Wee-king. Once
receiving it in the mail, it was all and more than I expected.
Because it’s fucking GAIKING!!!
Bandai’s SOC Gaiking continues the line’s almost spotless tradition of taking a vintage robot design and bringing it to life for the modern collector. From horns to toes, the SOC Gaiking reverberates with everything that is good about Japanese toys – eye-catching aesthetics, refreshing mutability, intricate gimmickry, well thought out display. The fit and finish of this toy demonstrates the best of a manufacturer’s ability to transmute love of a design into a 3-dimensional object. Bravo.
About time a new and useable figure of Gaiking was created. All hail! :)