MWC's Picks for Best/Worst of 2007

Ah, another year older and deeper in debt.  At least we got plenty of tasty items this year to add to the collection!  You've seen the Poppies, so now it's that time again for my picks for the best (and worst!) of the year.  This had been a tradition for many years now, and you can see some of my past picks and my readers here:

My picks: Readers Picks:
2006 2006
2005 2005
2004 2004
2003 2003
2002 2002
2001 2001
2000 2000

I had a REALLY hard time doing the list this year.  I don't know if it's just the senility settling in, but remembering everything that came out this year was hella hard.  Hopefully I didn't manage to completely forget anything obvious...but if I did, I'm sure you'll let me know!  On to the awars:

The Best Overall Company
The number of companies to pick from has been getting smaller year over year for the last several years now.  Even if companies still survive, their output often drops so low that they are practically off the radar.  But even with fewer companies, the choice was hard to pick the best.  With all the increased competition, the companies that have survived have stepped up their game, trying to remain in business.

For me, there's more to being the Best Overall Company than just producing great product.  There's customer service, how much the company loves what their doing, how they treat their own employees, and their general outlook toward themselves and the world around them.

The company that gets the Bronze medal this year is Hot Toys.  I think 2007 was a defining year for them, in which they stepped up and produced some truly amazing sixth scale figures in multiple licensed lines.  Their non-licensed product continued to rock, but it was in the licensed world where they really made a huge noise, and it looks like things will only improve in 2008.

The silver is going to Mattel.  Yep, one of the big two is getting a major medal for Best Company.  But Mattel has made huge improvements in listening to the fans of various properties, and hiring (or becoming) huge fans themselves.  They've done everything they can to keep the Justice League line alive, and managed to keep the DCSH style of figure not just going, but expanding it with the DCUC line.  The sculpting has been top notch, the quality has improved overall, and they've been more in tune with collectors than ever before.  Some folks will complain about their distribution woes, but that's a problem across the industry.  Mattel can't make retailers buy or stock on a timely basis product.  Some folks complained about things like the 'Big Lots exclusive' Cyborg Superman, and yet that was actually a very positive thing.  Mattel managed to find a retailer to carry that wave when no one else wanted it - they could have simply scrapped it and I wouldn't have a Cyborg Supes on my shelf now.  Instead they put the effort in to getting it out to us, believing that having it somehow is better than not getting it at all.  I have to agree.  I hope Mattel continues on their collector friendly trend, and my one request would be that they get off the 'variant' and 'chase' themes.  Please.

The gold is going to an old regular here - Sideshow Collectibles.  Not only did they make some amazing product this year across a broad range of licenses and collectibles, including the Star Wars Maul and Ob-Wan, the Hulk and Cap PF's, and several of the comicquettes, but they made getting the Medicom and Hot Toys figures easier to get by distributing them.  A lesser company with poorer vision might have simply considered these companies competition and done everything they could to interfere with them, but Sideshow sees the complimentary nature of their businesses, and has actually helped promote them.

Not only that, but they continue to be one of the best companies for customer service I've ever known.  A positive attitude of caring and concern for the employees, customers and fans is something that comes all the way from the top down through the organization, and it's refreshing to see.

Best Overall Line
Once again this year, lots of lines came and went.  There were plenty though that I could have chosen, and in fact, I could swap in 3 others for my 3 picks with very little effort.

Bronze goes to the 25th Anniversary Joes.  Hasbro captured the magic with these guys, and several of the figures were truly outstanding in sculpt, articulation and play value.  Any time they touch the Joe property of course, they get a ton of complaining from the collector community, but they really couldn't have done a better job than they did here.  I'm sad to see the Sigma Six figures go away, but at least the 25th Anniversary stuff is a worthy successor.

The Silver medal is awarded to the Legendary Comic Book Heroes from Marvel Toys.  They took a big chance here, and one that doesn't appear to have paid off finanacially.  But they still managed to set the bar for sculpt, articulation and BAF's, keeping the rest of the industry on its toes.  And for folks looking for a Pitt, Judge Dredd, Madman or other independent comic figure, they produced just about the best you'll ever see.

The Gold goes to the DCSH/DCUC line.  I'm a DC fan, and as regular readers know, my feelings for the work DC Direct has done has been mixed at best.  Now Mattel has broadened an already great line to include some truly classic DC characters, and they've done a terrific job.  You can't lose sight of the fact that these are mass market toys and not high priced specialty market collectibles, so there's still going to be some quality issues, but I have to say that I was pleased far more than I was disappointed.

Best Mini-Figure Line
I almost dropped this category this year.  There's really no competition at this point, so I don't have a Silver and a Bronze.  But the DC Mini-mates were so damn cool that I just had to give them the Gold.  If you haven't checked them out yet, you really should.

Diamond Select is really putting the push on with the mini-mates in general for 2008, with more movie lines hitting as well as more DC waves.

Best Male Figure (18" and above)
This is another category that has mighty few pickin's this year, largely because I put the Premium Format mixed media figures in with the Statues.  The large plastic figures have become pretty much only done by NECA, so it should be no surprise that they dominate the winners.

Their Rob Zombie version of Michael Myers takes the Bronze.  I had no interest in seeing the movie - and didn't - but the large scale version certainly captured the look.

Getting the silver is their latest version of Jack Sparrow from At World's End.  I'm not sure I really need another Jack, but this one was certainly well done with another terrific head sculpt.

I did need the guy getting the Gold - the Ultimate Bumblebee from Hasbro.  Actually, I didn't need it but my son certainly did after seeing the movie, and he was rewarded by Santa.  This guy not only transforms extremely well, but he has all kinds of cool sounds and actions.  He wasn't cheap, but the play value was through the roof. 

Best Male Figure (12" - 18")
This category gets tougher every year, as Sideshow, Medicom and Hot Toys really duke it out for the top spots.

The Bronze is given to the Ultimate Ghost Rider from Hasbro.  Yep, a cheap 12" figure gets one of my top spots.  The reasons are simple enough - he kicks ass.  The bike worked great and looks fantastic, and the figure is the best of the Marvel Icons line.  I like this guy better than the far more expensive Medicom Ghost Rider, so that's got to tell you something.

The silver is going to Sideshow for their New Hope Obi-wan Kenobi.  Sideshow actually produced a number of really nice figures this year, but Obi-wan stands out for me as one of the best overall, not just great in one or two areas.

The Gold goes to the Endoskeleton from Hot Toys.  This guy is a work of engineering genius, and while I originally had some issues with the color, I have to admit to liking him more and more the longer I own him.

Best Male Figure (under 12")
There were a ton of good choices in this category, and it's another area where I could easily swap out these three for another three on my list.

For Bronze I went with Hagrid from the NECA Harry Potter line.  Not only was the sculpt terrific, but this was a turning point for them in terms of paint quality.  They'd had plenty of trouble with the previous factory, but the switch really improved their figures in the last half of the year.

Next up is silver, and my pick is Pitt, the BAF from the first series of Legendary Comic Book Heroes.  While other companies have toyed with the BAF concept, the folks from Toybiz that went to Marvel Toys are still the masters.

The gold goes to a figure that I had one Hell of a hard time finding this year - Clayface.  It was only thanks to a reader that I was able to finally snag one, and I'm sure glad I did.  He's a terrific sculpt with much better articulation than I expected, and sets the tone for the whole DCSH/DCUC line.

Best Female Figure (12")
For me, this category is predominately Sideshow this year, except for the one spot that counts the most.  I didn't get a lot of sixth scale female figures from other companies, and what I did get wasn't all that.

The bronze is going to Bousch Leia.  I never did a formal review on this one, but she was the best Leia done to date.  She also goes great with the wonderful Jabba The Hutt and Throne display.

Sideshow gets the silver with Asajj Ventress, another Star Wars lady.  I liked both the comic and realistic head sculpts, and the female body was a huge step forward for Sideshow in terms of articulation.

Finally, Hot Toys takes the gold with their Pirates of the Caribbean Elizabeth Swann.  I'm really, really impressed with the quality of this figure, and it's the best Swann head sculpt we've seen from any of the many companies producing figures.  If Hot Toys can maintain this type of quality, they could give every other company a serious run for company of the year for 2008.  Unfortunately, I don't have a shot of her - so enjoy Asajj!

Best Female Figure (under 12")
There were lots of good choices in this category, way up from the past couple years.

Getting the Bronze is Mrs. Claus from Mcfarlane.  Yea, she's not everyone's cup of tea, but she was still a mighty fine looking sculpt.

Silver goes to their competition, NECA, for the Gorgo figure from the 300 line.  Wow!  Rarely do I think an action figure is hot...this one is hot.

The new Wonder Woman series from DC Direct had the great Donna Troy figure, who easily snags a Gold medal.  No, she's not articulated, and yes, she's still too expensive, but damn, they did a fantastic job on the sculpt and paint.  Sorry, but I didn't have a photo of her, so I had to go with Gorgo below, but Donna takes the gold.

Best Statue
Keep in mind that I include Premium Format mixed media figures as statues.  I do that because of the price tag, which puts them quality wise with high end statues, and because at the end of the day that's what they really are.

Having said that, I'm giving the bronze to the Hulk PF.  This huge green guy is a fantastic version of a classic character.  If a Hulk fan can only own one Hulk statue, it should be this one.

The silver is also going to Sideshow for Jabba's throne.  Yep, that thing counts as a 'statue' to me!  And it was extremely detailed, and yet not nearly as expensive as you'd expect.  Heavy, but not too expensive.

Sideshow also takes the Gold for me, and this is the only category any company swept.  But you're going to be surprised by the winner.  Nope, it's not Cap, or Spike, or the Mary Jane comicquette, or one of the's John Wayne. Yes, this is a very personal preference, but that's not to say that this PF wasn't truly amazing.  This figure embodies everything that's great about the PF style - there's cloth, leather, polystone, stuffing - it's a true mixed media statue.  They did the Duke proud.

Best Mini-bust
There were a lot of great choices in this area this year, but Gentle Giant tended to dominate the landscape.

My Bronze is going to someone else though - DCD for the Women of the Universe Batgirl.  The whole series has been nicely done, but this one really stood out as exceptional.

The Silver is handed over to the ANH Obi-wan Kenobi from Gentle Giant.  The head sculpt is great, but what really sold it for me was the pose, much like last year's Snape.  Getting the right pose can't be stressed enough when working with busts and statues, and even small mistakes can lead to an unattractive item.  Here, they got Old Ben just right.

There were plenty of other great choices from GG this year - Mad Eye Moody, Voldemort, Chewbacca - but my pick for the gold is Gandalf.  This is one of my favorite versions of that perennial character, and the light up feature is just icing on the tasty cake.

Best Articulation
Lots of companies have been getting in on the articulation game, but only a few have been doing it right.

Bronze goes to a surprise company - Mattel again. And again, it's because of the work on the DCSH and DCUC figures.  While not truly 'super' articulated, they have the right joints that work well, which is far more important than lots of joints that don't.

Silver goes to the company that defined articulation, at least when they were called Toybiz.  Now they're Marvel Toys, and they're still setting the bar for combining articulation and sculpt.

And since you know how much I love sixth scale, you know I'd have to have one company from that area in my top three.  While the Hot Toys body is *almost* as good, I still have to give the nod to the Medicom base body.  It's a little to short for some things, but you can't argue with the number of truly natural poses you can get with it.

Best Sculpting
Thankfully, this was a really hard choice this year.  Lots of companies were really doing their best to create excellent looking figures.

You know how happy I am with DCSH/DCUC, and the number one reason for that is the excellent sculpts.  Because Mattel has been smart enough to employ the Four Horsemen in this area, they've managed to step up above all other mass market retailers in this area.  Now let's hope it expands to more of their lines next year!  If I could make ties, I would have tied them with NECA for the bronze, but since it's only one...I went with Mattel.  Okay, so it's really the Four Horsemen providing the talent, but you can't fault Mattel for having the sense to go with them.

I'm handing silver over to Mcfarlane.  Yep, the company that wins year after year is coming in second this time around.  It's not so much that the competition blew them away, but rather that nothing I saw from McToys this year made me say "wow".  There was the usual solid, reliable work from them in this area, but nothing outstanding that made me look twice.  They still produce the most consistent quality sculpts in the business, but NECA is breathing down their neck.

The Gold goes to a totally unexpected company - Hot Toys.  In 2006, their sculpts were good, but not outstanding.  In 2007, they really stepped up the game (due in large part to some new sculptors they brought on board), with amazing sculpts on the Pirates of the Caribbean line, Rocky, Prison Break, and even improved versions of Rambo.
  They've come a long way in a short period, proving that it's possible.

Best Packaging
The package might end up in the trash, but it also helps sell what's inside.  This was a good year for packaging too, with more emphasis on unique bios and graphics for each character in a wave, more background information, better instructions in many cases, and less waste.

I'm actually doing something I never do - giving bronze to two companies in a tie.  Hasbro is taking silver this year for the Star Wars carded figures.  I love the presentation, especially with the McQuarrie concept figures, and it's some of the best Star Wars toy packaging in years.  But Peril Unlimited gets a silver too, because of their innovative packaging for their Ash Zombie.  PU is a one man operation, and they were on a shoe string budget.  How best to save money, yet do something creative?  Their zombie came packed in a body bag - how cool is that?

Silver goes to an old favorite - Sideshow.  I just raved about their work with the ANH Obi-Wan again, with a completely collector friendly approach and great text.  Hey, it even has the magnetic closures.  They're always looking at ways to improve it too, which makes them tops in my book.

But Gold is going to Marvel Toys for their Legendary Comic Book Heroes.  They showed some real innovation by designing clamshells for mass market - not specialty market! - that are actually 'collector friendly' if you're careful.  Yep, you can actually open these and get the figure out without destroying the package...if you're careful.  And they designed them that way, it wasn't simply a fortunate mistake.

I'm giving Mcfarlane an honorable mention for their Simpsons packaging.  Bright, attractive AND informative, they managed to squeeze in background information on the characters and episodes, along with some hilarious lines from the show.  I complain enough about the lack of personalization on packages that I ought to recognize when someone does it right.

Best vehicle/play set/deluxe set
This was by far my easiest set of choices, and all were driven by recent acquisitions.

The Bronze is going to the Simpsons set "The Island of Dr. Hibbert".  This was a set that really looked good on the shelf, and had not of the paint issues that has tended to plague Mcfarlane's animated lines.  I liked it so much I bought a second to keep MIB, and I haven't done that in years.

The Silver is going to a vehicle that got lots of bashing - the Ultimate Black Pearl.  I'm pretty sure this version came out in 2007, and it has the sails, unlike the 2006 version.  Zizzle did produce one extremely fun vehicle, with a ton of play features.  My son loves this thing, and while parts can come off easily, that's actually a GOOD thing, since it avoids actual breakage.  The parts pop right back on, easily enough for a six year old to do it.

The winner of the Gold is my easiest pick of the year - the Hot Toys Power Loader with Ripley.  Yea, it's expensive, but it's also a true marvel of plastic engineering.  This is one of the coolest toys I reviewed all year, and I'm very glad I picked it up, even at the extreme price tag.

Best New Idea
As always, there were some nifty new lines and ideas this year.

The bronze goes to the DC Super Friends.  Yep, I'm a DC guy, so when you give me cool toys like these designed to get those little ones interested in REAL superheroes, then you know I'll be on the bandwagon.

And while it wasn't really a new idea this year, Sideshow gets silver for expanding on the excellent idea of importing and distributing product for Hot Toys and Medicom.  Other companies might have balked, considering that they are a form of competition, but Sideshow has been smart enough to see - and then reap - the benefits of such a relationship.

NECA is getting a gold here for working with Borders to get their Harry Potter product in front of the right audience.  This is something other companies should be pursuing when handling the more 'adult' style licenses - get them into stores where people buy the dvd's, books, etc.  I can't help but think that Lost figures might have done a bit better had they been next to the DVD boxed sets at Best Buy, rather than next to the Sports figures at Toys R Us.  Bravo to NECA for getting this going, and I hope they continue the trend with the HP license (and others) as appropriate.

Ah, now we get to the dreaded 'worsts'. You know where to send the threats and hate mail.

Worst Overall Company
I had a really tough time picking the Bronze winner.  Let's face it, once the game was stepped up, and the market tightened, most of the chaff was cast off.  My winner of the bad bronze is also a company that can do amazing things - just not consistently.

I'm giving the third place finish to Gentle Giant.  It was a hard decision, because there are some great folks there, and they can do some of the most amazing work in the industry when they give it their A game.  But the inconsistency (compare Elrond to Gandalf), the rock star attitude of upper management, the over reliance on exclusives, and the extremely weak first year of their collector's club all added up to major dissatisfaction over all.  They managed to end my compulsion to have a complete collection of Star Wars mini-busts.  That took real effort on their part.

Second place, or stinky silver, goes to SOTA.  Again, here's a company with some great folks behind it, trying to keep things rolling.  But it looks like the pressures of the market might be getting too much for them, as the paint and quality of their figures slipped tremendously this year.

And who gets the grungiest gold?  Oh, c'mon.  That's a no brainer.  Unfortunately.  It's Shocker once again this year.  With promises of figures from multiple licenses, and nothing to show for it, they managed to disappoint what few fans they have.  But delays aren't my real issue with them, since that can happen to the best of companies.  The second and third place companies have good folks who are struggling, but Shocker can't even claim that.  No, it's their attitude toward that adversity, and their attacks on people asking the questions you'd expect would get asked.  The rude, immature and childish behavior only helped to compound their other issues, and swirling rumors of stiffing the folks who did work for them didn't help.  I'd include a photo, but the only thing they released with the unarticulated and unpainted Gwar con exclusive.  And I was smart enough not to spend any money on that one.

Worst Line
For every rose there is a thorn. For every wonderful line of action figures, there's a stinker warming the pegs.

Busted bronze goes to Frosty the Snowman.  They tried, so I guess they get points for that, but the figures were weak to begin with, and not basing them on the original show killed it for me.  Here was a line that I really wanted to add to the huge Christmas display, but they just weren't worth it.

Tarnished Silver is going to Hasbro's Spider-man 3 line.  The movie was a stinker, and the toy line didn't do any better.  Hasbro managed to redeem themselves a bit later in the year with some of the BAF releases, but the main 5" line was a huge disappointment to me.  At least it had that in common with the film.

God awful Gold is handed over to SOTA's Now Playing series. As money got tight and issues arose, it was the paint ops on these figures that took the hit at manufacturing time, and it showed.  They didn't release much this year, with just series 3 and the Thing playest under this banner, but they were definitely a huge disappointment.

Worst Mini-figure line
I'm skipping this category this year.  There really wasn't enough released, and what was released was generally great.

Worst Male Figure (18" and above)
We didn't get a ton of 18" figures this year, so picking bad's was pretty tough.  Poor NECA dominated the field, so they dominate the good AND bad picks.

I'm giving boring bronze to Hannibal Lector.  Had the field been a bit broader, he probably would have fallen more in the middle, but in the narrow field this year he stands out for me as one I was not as impressed with.  The paint and sculpt didn't upscale as well as I'd expected, particularly since the small version was so good.

Slappy silver is going to Captain Teague, who made for a great 7" figure, but when NECA scaled him up, he ended up looking like a cigar store Indian.  It doesn't help that the voice activation didn't work properly on mine, due to how the hole is hidden by clothing.

Goofy gold was an easy, perhaps because there were so few released this year.  It's also easy for me because I don't get the appeal of Tonnor dolls.  They're Jack Sparrow was...astoundingly bizarre.  Their Joker for next year looks even worse.  I don't have a photo of him (search around though, and I'm sure you can find one.  Be prepared to shriek), so let's look at Teague again.

Worst Male Figure (12" to 18")
There was plenty of sixth scale goodies this year, and that means not just plenty of good, but plenty of bad.

Blightful bronze is going to the 13" Deluxe Nightwing.  Some folks will vehemently argue with me on this one, but he's a great example of everything wrong with the male body that they developed.  The awful cuffs on the gloves and boots didn't help, but if you think this guy is worth $60, you need to spend more time looking at what other companies are doing in the sixth scale market.  The poor 12" Sao from Zizzle almost edged Nightwing out for this award, but Sao was only twenty bucks.

Sickly silver goes to Sideshow.  Oh, c'mon, I know they do a great job most of the time, but with this much product getting released, you knew they'd get one guy in here.  And the one that made it is the Yavin Luke.  Once in awhile, weeks or months after I review a figure, I have to ask myself "What the Hell were you thinking?".  This was one of those cases in which I was much too easy on this guy.  The more I looked at him, the less I liked him.

Finally, there's gag me gold. I defended Marvel Icons more than most when the license switched to Hasbro, and I even have their Ghost Rider in my top picks.  Silver Surfer and Thor were might fine too, but there's really no excuse for the abomination that was the Punisher.  It's hard to believe this guy was even in the same series.

Worst Male Figure (under 12")
It's no surprise that many of the worst lines and worst companies manage to produce the worst figures.

NECA's Ron figure from the Harry Potter line wins the broken bronze. NECA had a factory that couldn't paint to save their lives, at least at the start of the year.  Ron was one of those poor figures that took a lot of abuse because of it.  Fortunately, they seem to have corrected that issue by the end of the year, and the latest release of HP figures was much improved.

Soiled silver is handed over to the Creature from the Black Lagoon by Toy Island.  Lots of folks actually like this series, so I'll be in the minority again.  But as a huge fan of the Creature, I was severely disappointed by this anorexic version.

Greased up gold slides on over to an easy choice - the God awful purple Venom from the 5" Spider-man 3 line.  I suppose it should be no real surprise that a movie figure, particularly one in the 5" scale, would win again this year.  His compadres in the Superman and Batman Begins line managed to make waves in this category too.

Worst Female (12")
I took a pass in this category last year, but I have a couple worth mentioning this time around.  None of them were truly awful, but they fell short of the bar being set by other figures.

I am giving blah bronze to Ripley from Hot Toys.  This is the version that came with the Power Loader, which I just raved about...but I have to be honest about her.  She's better than I expected based on the bashing she received early on, but she's still not HT's best work.

And suckalicious silver goes to another mediocre figure that will illicit some discussion - the 13" deluxe Powergirl.  While I'm not thrilled to death with the 13" line, I can find some nice things to say about Batgirl and Catwoman.  Powergirl?  Ugh.

I don't have a photo of her, but trust me when I say that the gold is going to a figure that makes the previous two look like Jessica Alba.  Nekkid.  And oiled up.  Mmmmm.

That would be Zizzle's version of Elizabeth Swann.  This figure came in a two pack with another Jack Sparrow.  If you paid attention, you saw boxes at the store where the Jack was missing and Elizabeth was still there.  That's because Jack tore his way out of the package just to get away.

Worst Female Figure (under 12")
Here's a cagetory that never has a shortage of choices.  Perhaps it's because women are so beautiful, and some companies seem to try so hard to ugly them up.

I'm giving brassy bronze to SOTA for Meg Mucklebones.  The poor paint work certainly hurt her more than any other figure in the Now Playing line up.  The werewolf was dull, but Meg was less attractive than normal, and that's tough to pull off with a chick that ugly to begin with.

The sleazy silver goes to DST for the Kennedy figure in the third series of deluxe Buffy figures.  She appears to be in some sort of amalgamated anime-realistic style, bringing the worst of both worlds together.

Finally, the ghastly gold goes to Hasbro for their Marvel Legends movie Jean Grey.  Let's face it, the ML line has never been particularly kind to the ladies, but Jean was just butt ugly.

Worst Statue
Once again this year, I didn't buy any of the winners in this category...kinda makes sense, eh?

Bungled bronze goes to a Premium Format figure.  Yes, sometimes they stumble.  For me, they stumbled on the Frodo Baggins, which is one of the weakest PF's they've done so far.

Gentle Giant gets the silver with their Clone Trooper Kustomz.  I'll talk more in a minute about the whole line, but this was the only one to hit stores in 2007.  And it's as ridiculous in person as it looks in photos.

GG gets the gnarly gold too.  This goes to their inconsistency again, since they can win awards for bests and then turn around and get worsts in the same category.  They get the gnarly gold for the Obi-Wan in Clone Trooper gear.  Even if you manage to ignore the prototype, you can't ignore how bad this head sculpt turned out.  Then you compare it to the original sculpt we were shown at shows, and you cry.

Worst Mini-bust
It was way, way too easy to pick out awful busts this year.  Too much crap was produced, even in some usually excellent lines.

Buggered bronze is gracefully handed over to DST for the Mephistopheles mini-bust from Ghost Rider.  An unnecessary bust out of an awful movie.  Had the sculpt and paint not been as bad as the movie, perhaps it would have avoided this honor.

Skanky silver goes to a Gentle Giant mini-bust from their Harry Potter line - poor Cho Chang. What happened to this sculpt?  The poor girl could be scarred for life if she actually thought this looked anything like her.  It doesn't, and I hope her friends told her so.

Garish gold belongs solely DST this year.  They get this honor for uglying up my current favorite actress, Kristen Bell.  Their Veronica Mars looks like her, if you've been doing tequila shots and hit your head repeatedly.  Yea, GG could have gotten hit for another one here with their Elrond bust, but let's face it - he's not as pretty as Ms. Bell.

CORRECTION!  DST dropped me a line to let me know they had nothing to do with this one - it was all Cinequest working with Gentle Giant.  The bust is still the worst, but at least DST can't be blamed for it's atrociousness.

Worst Articulation
Now we're into the company specific categories...

This is one that some companies actually aspire to.  They don't put articulation high on the list of priorities, so it's no surprise when it isn't there.

Blocky bronze is going to NECA.  They have caught up to Mcfarlane in many ways, and perhaps surpassed them in a few.  Unfortunately, they've followed in their footsteps on articulation as well.  There's a few figures they produced this year that had some useful joints, but for the most part they've gotten into the business of making plastic statues.

Static silver belongs to Mcfarlane.  Any surprise they're in the top three?  While in some years they produce a few articulated figures, this year was pretty much a barren wasteland when it came to joints.

Grounded gold is owned by SOTA though.  They pushed Mcfarlane out not because they're figures were less articulated, but because they were once a company that did articulation so amazingly well.  But economic pressures made 2007 a very different year for them, and the lack of joints (and sometimes silly choices in joints) hurt them in this category.

Worst Sculpting
Is it any surprise that some of the worst companies end up winners in this category as well?

The baggy bronze is going to Zizzle.  Let's be honest - the POTC line has never been a stellar example of excellent sculpting, even considering the scale.  They did manage to redeem themselves a bit with the work on the Swashbucklers line, but it's too little too late to keep them completely out of the running.  It's a good sign though that perhaps they can shake off the dirt and move forward with better work in 2008.

Sad silver is going to going to Diamond Select Toys.  They contract everything out of course, and the consistency was all over the place.  (EDIT: DST let me know they do have some in house sculptors).  Some lines, like BSG, I was quite pleased with.  Others, like the third series of deluxe Buffy, I was not.  Taking into consideration on busts, statues and figures in total over the year, I ended up less enthusiastic overall.  They need to stick with the one or two shops that are providing them the best work at this point, and they can have a much better 2008.

I'm giving gunky gold to a company that makes everyone else look good in comparison - Shocker Toys.  I suspect this is our last year to beat up on them though, or perhaps they've just finally learned to keep quiet until something good is about to happen.  They hired some good sculptors, but seemed unable to get the best from them.  While none of their figures made it to market, the prototypes were enough to send you running.

Worst Packaging
Yea, you don't care about packaging.  So skip to the next section :D

The bronze goes to Hasbro for one very specific package - the Ultimate Ghost Rider.  I still remember fighting my way through cable sized twisty ties by the dozen to get that poor guy free.  *shudder*

Saggy silver is going to Disney's packaging this year.  They usually end up in the bottom three someplace, due to the huge, oversized packages that are such a massive waste.  And while some have at least looked good (POTC for example), the Ratatouille and new Indy stuff looks uninspired.

SOTA is getting the gross gold for their latest Street Fighter releases.  They come boxes that are much too large, and lack much creativity.  A bigger package isn't going to necessarily convince people that an action figure is worth the higher price.  As 'green' gets to be a bigger and bigger issue, this kind of wasteful packaging will get less popular. 

Worst Vehicle/Playset
This category was too easy as well this year.  Maybe my expectations are just getting too high.

My blasted bronze goes to the Mount Crumpet playset that went with Mcfarlane's Grinch series.  While I liked the series itself, the playset did very little for me, not even capturing that particular moment very well.  And the action feature?  Better left unsaid.

Squishy silver is handed over to The Thing set from Now Playing.  SOTA's woes contined with this set, lacking paint and even having sections in slightly different colors.  Considering how much I love this film, this was one of the big disappointments of the year.

And gooey gold goes to Hasbro for something that isn't exactly a vehicle or a playset...but I wasn't quite sure where else to put it.  It's the Star Wars Transformers.  Go ahead, pick any one of them.  I have no idea if kids are flocking to these, but somehow I doubt it.  When you have your choice between good Transformers based on actual Transformers and goofy Transformers based on characters that aren't Transformers, I suspect they'll pick the former before the latter.

Worst Idea
When the market is booming and things are selling, bad ideas can come and go without ever causing a ripple. But when things are tight, and everyone is struggling for sales, bad ideas can spell disaster. My three picks for the worst ones this year...

The Cars line from Mattel is one of the best movie lines in years.  And so the idea to add the 'minis'  gets my bashed bronze.  Why?  Well, first, you can practically see them reading the Toy Marketing 101 book.  "Oooo, if a line sells well, it says here to make bigger versions and smaller versions!  We already tried the bigger - so let's do minis!".  The problem is, the normal line is still doing well, and has been managed extremely well by Mattel.  Now the minis will cannibalize their own line, and take shelf and peg space away.  Odds are quite good that it's success will be minimal at best, and put a big dent in the success of the regular series.

Slappy silver is going to Mcfarlane around the Simpsons line.  The movie figures did well, but it seems like such a wasted opportunity around the regular series.  With McToys being the guys that are supposed to push the envelope, I was expecting a lot more creativity.  What we got with series 1 and 2 just seemed so uninspired, and not like the folks behind the line were all that into the license.

And finally, ghoulish gold goes to Gentle Giant for the Kustomz line.  Star Wars meets Rat Fink.  I can see Hasbro making a mistake like this, thinking kids might want to combine two completely unrelated things, but who thought adult collectors were going to line up for something like this?

Most looking forward to in 2008
I always have plenty of stuff I'm looking forward to each year.  There's quite a wide range this time around, with something cool in just about every scale.

I can't wait to see what Hot Toys does with The Dark Knight.  I'm really looking forward to the film, and after seeing the much improved work HT did with the Appleseed figures, I can't wait to see their take on this Batman and perhaps....the Joker.

I'm also looking forward to the DCUC line as the year unfolds.  I'm hoping sales are good enough to propel this line through at least a half dozen or more waves and multiple years - I have my fingers crossed!

Hasbro just announced their Cloverfield monster, and he's a whopping $100, but I'm looking forward to seeing how he turns out.

And with all the excellent film licenses hitting this year - Dark Knight, Star Trek, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, Iron Man - I'm hoping that we get a turn around on the generally dismal toy offerings related to them.

So that's it for me - thanks for another great year, and your continued support of the site!

This page copyright 2003, Michael Crawford. All rights reserved. Hosted by 1 Hour