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:
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Best Female Figure (under 12")
There were lots of good choices in this category, way up from the past
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.
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.
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.
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
dioramas...it'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.
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
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
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 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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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!
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!