Not every toy in 2017 was a fidget spinner or a tiny piece of collectible plastic in an unmarked box. Beyond the whirling kid distractors and blind box collectibles there were some outstanding things to play with this year. Just ask Roarin' Tyler.
I had a lot of fun with Toy Time in 2017, kicking off with my second visit to the annual New York City Toy Fair, where purveyors of fun stuff showed off what they had in store for the year to come. A lot of space on the show floor was dedicated to collectibles, mainly those little licensed collectible tchotchkes that used to sit on store endcaps but have recently started moving into the toy aisles in big numbers.
But I'm here to talk about things to play with, not things to look at. The games, dolls, playsets and action figures that keep stores like Toys'R'Us in business. Hopefully.
Here are the toys I had the most fun playing with in 2017.
My Best Friend Tiger
When I said fell in love with FurReal's Roarin' Tyler at Toy Fair 2017, I was not kidding. One would think that with all of that Five Nights at Freddy's nonsense I would be more wary of animatronic animals, but this furry lil' bastard's been my constant companion in the months following his retail release. He roars. He blinks. He responds to my head scratches and nose rubs. If I put my finger in his mouth he makes eating noises. My children love him more than my actual cats, and that's great, because he's sturdier than my actual cats.
They only toy that might be able to replace Roarin' Tyler in my heart is the Toys'R'Us exclusive Roarin' Ivory.
Or maybe I can just get Tyler a friend. Hrm.
He really does love your mother.
Fans wanted him, and they got him. The final super-sized figure in Transformers' Titan Returns line, Trypticon is a massive tyrannosaurus that changes into a space cruiser and an entire freaking city. To be honest, I wasn't a huge fan of the character back in the '80s. Not having a humanoid robot form was a deal-breaker for me back then. These days I am much more tolerant and accepting of alternative robot forms. I've grown so much.
Robots have different ideas about what constitutes a city.
A relatively faithful re-imagining (and enbiggening) of the '80s original, Trypticon is the largest official Decepticon ever produced. More importantly, he gives the updated Metroplex and Fortress Maximus figures someone their size to pick on.
Mr. Poopy Butthole
Funko took some time off from pumping out a bajillion Pop! vinyls to produce a series of action figures based on the animated series Rick and Morty, which many people seem to enjoy. The line features five figures — including Rick, Morty, Mr. Meeseeks and Birdperson — each packaged with a piece of a Snowball (the dog that took over the world) in mech suit build-a-figure. As action figures go they're not particularly impressive, with the awkward look that often occurs when 2D cartoon characters are rendered in 3D, but there's just something about Mr. Poopy Butthole.
It might be the slight smirk. Or is it the accessories, a bottle of prescription painkillers and a cane to help him recover from the horrific injury he suffered in the fourth episode of season two? No wait, it's the fact that his name is Mr. Poopy Butthole. Someone is getting Mr. Poopy Butthole for Christmas.
The Ultimate RC Batmobile
Where does he get those wonderful toys? Mattel, apparently. The Justice League movie wasn't great, but Mattel did a great job backing it up with fun stuff to play with. At the very top of the heap is the $US250 ($324) Ultimate Justice League Batmobile, a 1/10 scale replica of Batman's gun-car. It features real smoke (well, liquid smoke), rattling guns, sound effects and a pretty outstanding dash-mounted camera, in case the included Batman figure gets pulled over.
The Batmobile is controlled by mobile phone, which isn't great for manoeuvring but is awesome for controlling all the moving parts.
I'd planned an exhaustive video review and feature on the Ultimate Justice League Batmobile, but my long-time i09 toy-loving nemesis Andrew Liszewski beat me to it. Hit up the link below to see his take on Batfleck's wild ride.
Let Me Drop This Mix
Hasbro and Harmonix's Dropmix sounded like a really silly idea when it was announced earlier this year. Yet somehow placing cards containing clips from popular music on a board to create mash-ups not only works, but is incredibly entertaining.
The end result isn't always perfect, but getting there is a great time.
Wonder Woman Poseable Action Figures
Yes they have Barbie-ish proportions and say "Barbie Collector Black Label" on the box, but this trio of Amazonian warriors are some of the best toys to come out of Wonder Woman's triumphant solo cinematic debut. Mattel's Barbie designers paid as much attention to the weapons and armour on Diana, Hippolyta and Antiope as they did their faces and hair.
And since these are premium figures and not basic Barbies, they have got the articulation to wield those weapons in impressive fashion. Makes me wish they'd released a line of World War I German soldiers for them to thrash.
Balance Beasts, Balance For The Fun Of It
There's a lot to love about Beasts of Balance, Sensible Object's delightful combination of Jenga and Pokemon. The colourful plastic pieces, the engaging creature evolution mobile game that connects with the balancing base, the Disasterpeace soundtrack to the mobile game. Technically Beasts of Balance came out in late 2016, but with new creatures to stack and game modes to enjoy, it's a game that's kept on giving in 2017.
Anything That's Not A Fidget Spinner
Seriously. Anything. Rocks. Dull knives. Old batteries. A wooden squirrel with a foot missing. A fidget spinner. Dammit, they're even in my list of fidget spinner alternatives!