The People's Picks for
Best/Worst of 2005
There were plenty of votes again this year,
as about a thousand of my readers weighed in with their thoughts on the best
and worst figures of the year. It always takes a little while to tally
the votes, but now finally I have them counted and ready for your enjoyment!
The Best Overall Company
This year we're seeing a huge difference over past years. Companies
like Mcfarlane and Palisades aren't even in the top 4 - Mctoys wasn't even
in the top 7! There's only one company returning to the top spots from
last year, and the percentages are much more evenly spread this time around.
place goes to NECA with 13% of the vote. This surprised me because I
have very vocal section of my readers that always find things wrong with
anything NECA does. These numbers indicate to me that there's a far
larger non-vocal group that's very happy with what they've seen.
place goes to last year's second place company, and a company that's been
top three just about every year - Toybiz. They picked up 14% of the
vote, barely being edged out by the top dog. Most distrubing to me
though is that with the recent announcements of Hasbro taking over the
manufacture, distribution, and most likely all aspects of the Marvel mass
market toys, that folks aren't more disappointed with the end of a company
they loved. Perhaps they still hold out hope that some version of
Toybiz will remain, and while some of the handful of employees most likely
will, with a giant gorilla like Hasbro involved, things most certainly will
not remain the same.
And the big grand
prize winner this year - Mezco! People were obviously very happy with
the exceptional offerings they put out in the second half of the year.
Mezco took in 16% of the overall vote.
top six were rounded out with honorable mentions to Sideshow (12%),
Palisades (11%) and SOTA (8%).
Best Overall Line
With all the great choices for best line of the year, it should be no
surprise that the voting was extremely well distributed. Fifty five
different lines got at least one vote!
place received 7% of the vote - and was one of my picks as well! It's
the Nightmare Before Christmas line from NECA, which was a top pick for me.
should be no surprise to see the comic based Hellboy line in the top
three. With 13% of the votes, they took second place. I'm
betting we'll see Mezco high in these rankings once again next year.
winner shouldn't be a big surprise - with a commanding 19% of the vote,
Marvel Legends took the spot. Again, I'm amazed that people aren't
more disappointed that Hasbro has stepped in, since the odds are good that
lines like Marvel Legends won't fair well through the translation.
do think it's interesting that there wasn't a line this year (unlike past
years) that took a commanding lead. Things were much even this time
around, probably due to the sheer number of very well done lines being
Best Mini-Figure Line
I actually admit that I may have screwed up in this category this
year. Somehow I managed to forget the Quee line, and there were enough
write in votes to get them noticed, rare for write in votes.
Of the rest of the mini's I had on the
ballot, the winners were clear. The top two matched up with last year,
but our third place winner is new to the pack. Palz took third with
about 19% of the vote. Now, I picked on them in my awards because of
the blind boxing, but readers weren't so harsh.
Mez-itz took second once again this year,
with 20% of the vote. They trailed the first place winners, Marvel
Mini-mates, once again this year. The mini-mates managed to take 23%
of the votes.
Best Male Figure (18")
This was a blow out this year. There was no doubt who the big
winner was, but third place surprised me a bit. With 10% of the vote,
the Premium Format Luke squeaked in. He was not my favorite PF of the
year, so that took me off guard. However, he was one that I'm betting
more people saw, giving him the leg up on perhaps the Phantom of the Opera.
Second place was snagged by Gandalf from NECA.
If you've seen him, you wouldn't be surprised that 12% of the voters
Finally, the readers and I matched up again -
36% picked the comic based Hellboy. There's no doubt in my mind that
he truly deserved it as well.
Best Male Figure (12")
This year, the top two figures in this category were close, but it was a
long way back to third place and beyond.
Third place was won by the Cigarette Smoking
Man from Sideshow. He remains one of the best sculpts I've ever seen
out of Sideshow, and 7% of the voters were happy with him as well.
Second place scored a big 20% of the vote -
the Medicom Darth Vader. For all the complaints of scale and cost, he
still ranked awfully well.
The big winner, with a whopping 22% of the
overall vote, was NECA's Jack Skellington. It looks like the NMBC line
is a huge winner for NECA across the board.
Best Male Figure (under 12")
This is always a category with a spread vote, since there are dozens and
dozens of possible answers, and everyone has their personal favorites.
Thirty seven different figures got at least one vote, not counting write
ins! Still, some folks managed to agree.
third place winner, with 8% of the vote, is Super Grover. A lot of
folks have been sorely disappointed that the Sesame Street line seems locked
in limbo, and this love for Super Grover is no surprise.
place goes to the comic Hellboy, who snagged 12% of the votes.
Obviously, Hellboy was the LOTR of our Academy Awards this year.
Interestingly enough, the movie Hellboy from Mezco took this same place in
this same category last year!
place winner might be a surprise to some, but not to those that bought all
of the Marvel Legends series 10 - the Sentinel! This guy was simply
too cool, and snagged 13% of the votes.
Best Female Figure (12")
There aren't many companies doing 12" female figures these days.
It's no surprise then that in past years, Sideshow dominated this
category. This year however, all three top prizes went to different
Sideshow only took a third
with their Vampire Buffy. She picked up 17% of the vote, and Sideshow
does get an honorable mention for Autopsy Scully, who managed to pull fourth
with 15% of the votes.
A figure I'm not
sure really belongs in 2005 got the second place award with 19%. It's
the Kerberos Panzer Cop from bbi, Midori Washio. She was smoking hot,
but might have actually hit in 2004...hey, I didn't review her to 2005
The top winner was the clear
favorite though, with a commanding 28% of the votes. Sue Storm, the
Invisible Woman, made it out in not one but two 12" rotocast
versions. One was painted and one was clear, but they were both huge
Best Female Figure (under 12")
There aren't nearly as many great female figures every year, so finding
the best is usually much easier. I'm happy to say, at least in terms
of the top spot, my readers and I were right on target.
place goes to Sue Storm, this time in the smaller form. 10% of the
voters said she was their favorite. Toybiz could have packed her a bit
better, but most collector's were fairly happy with the final version.
Buffy fans spoke up with the second place award going to the Deluxe Buffy
from Diamond. She picked up 11% of the overall vote.
the top spot goes to my favorite for the year, the Corpse Bride.
Mcfarlane outdid themselves with this one, and a whopping 26% of the voters
Most categories are close, some decided by only a handful. This was
NOT one of those categories. The winner was a landslide, and actually
received more votes in this category than any other company or figure in any
one best category, even than the 18" Hellboy!
let's start with third place - Sideshow. They picked up 10% of the
vote, and beat out every other sixth scale company, even though many still
complain about the design of their bodies.
place went to my top pick, SOTA. Their Street Fighter line has set a
new expectation for combining articulation and sculpt.
the big winner, with a ginormous 37% of the total vote, was Toybiz.
Again, I'm shocked that so many people seem to appreciate the articulation
and quality of the Marvel Legends line, but have so little concern over the
effect Hasbro will have. Yes, because Hasbro has done so well with
articulation in the past.
There's always been one champion in this category - and this year is no
different. There is a couple companies sneaking up on them, but
they've got a way to go.
Mezco took third this year, grabbing
11% of the vote. They also edged out Palisades, who were number one
last year. This year they grabbed only about 10% of the voting.
place went to last year's third place winner, NECA. They grabbed 13%
again this year, catching up on that number one spot!
who was number one? Is it any real surprise that without Palisades to
threaten them, Mcfarlane took the top honors? They grabbed 23% of the
vote, and the number one position. I picked them number one as well.
My favorite this year, Hasbro, didn't make it in the top five of the readers
picks. They went with a little more traditional choices.
put Palisades in third, barely squeaking past Mezco. Palisades got 11%
of the total vote.
The readers also
showed some love for Mcfarlane and their pretty inserts, giving them
14%. Who knows, if they included some basic character specific text on
the inserts, they might take first!
but maybe not, because first place Sideshow is going to be tough to
unseat. They grabbed 17% of the votes again this year.
enough, these were the three same top vote getters as last year, but in a
completely different order!
Best vehicle/play set
No vehicles took top honors this year from the readers. They selected
only play sets as their favorites.
third place was another of the Marvel Legends items, the Fearsome Foes of
Spider-man. This boxed set of figures took 15% of the vote. It
will be interesting to see what lines Marvel answers with next year.
place goes to another Mezco line, Family Guy. The Peter vs the Giant
Chicken diorama/set got 19% of the votes.
first place winner was another one for NECA and their NMBC line - the Oogie
Boogie vs Jack diorama! It took 22% of the votes.
Best New Idea
There's some surprises here this year, especially the big winner.
was shocked to see the Cubes come in third place, with 11% of the
vote. They edged out Superhero Showdown to take a place in the top
Second place was a surprise as
well, not because I didn't expect the concept of Build a Figure not to do
well, but because I thought it would take first place hands down. Even
with 26% of the vote, it didn't quite make it to the top.
that went to the dark horse winner, Darth Tater. Somehow the little
goofy guy managed to snag 27% of the votes, taking the top spot as best idea
of the year! To be fair, it wasn't just Darth, but the Spud Trooper,
who was listed together, since the concept was the combination of Star Wars
and Mr. Potato Head.
Ah yes, the worsts. If you think the
world is made up of puppy dogs and sunshine, then I'd suggest ending right
about here. But if you believe in constructive criticism, then let's
move right along!
Worst Overall Company
Remember when I said I didn't understand how people could be so unconcerned,
and some downright pleased, that Hasbro is taking over for Toybiz?
This category again reinforces my confusion.
Third place as worst company for 2005 goes to
Hasbro, with 11% of the vote. They beat out SEG for God's sake amongst
my readers, and yet when they replace the company that you've selected as
one of the best of 2005, nobody breaks a sweat over it. My head hurts.
place goes to Jazzwares, and I can bet that's mostly due to the rough start
they had with the Mortal Kombat line. I don't expect we'll see them
stay in this category next year.
top vote getter was no surprise to me, but I wasn't so tough on them this
year. JAKKS took 14% to get the dishonor. Since I didn't review any
JAKKS product this year, let's go with a photo of the second place winners.
This was one of the most spread out lines of the year, certainly more so
than the best line of the year category. Just about everything got at
least a vote.
But Willy Wonka managed
to just barely eek out Mortal Kombat to take third place, with 9% of the
votes. Right ahead in second was King Kong (also with 9% when you
round it up), and taking the first place spot, barely edging in past the
competition, was Alias from SEG, with 10%. Last year folks were much
more united in their hatred of a single line, but this year the hate was
spread around pretty good, with 54 different lines getting votes.
Worst Mini-figure line
This is a tough category, since most of the remaining mini-figures are
pretty good. But some just seem to attract the wrong kind of
Stikfas managed to make it into the third
place spot, with 12% of the overall. I'm not too surprised, since
while they had their fans, they never seemed to really catch on.
I'm not surprised by second place either, the
Smitis. Another set of mini-figures that never managed to pull away
from the pack. They picked up 15% of the vote.
And the top vote getter won't surprise most
folks - it's the Shockinis, with a solid 25% of the vote. I suspect
that the voting isn't just about the figures though, and has something to do
with the negative image the company has gotten around the
Worst Male Figure (18")
I had a really tough time with this category, because just about every
18" figure was at least good, if not outstanding. It seems the readers
didn't have nearly as much trouble.
place went to Luke Skywalker from Sideshow. He picked up 10% of the
votes, and I'm not too shocked. I thought he was one of the weaker
Premium Format figures last year.
place went to Patrick Bateman, who also scored high in my own list for this
category. He picked up 19% of the vote to snag this award.
a whopping 36% of the readers agreed that Willy Wonka, also from NECA, was
the worst 18" figure of the year. Perhaps it's just left over
hate from the movie, or maybe they were still disappointed by the small
figures. Or maybe, just maybe, NECA dropped the ball on this
Worst Male Figure (12")
Once again, my readers and I agreed on the worst 12" male figure - but
not the second and third place winners.
They selected General Grievous as their third
place winner, with 11% of the vote. I do have to admit that getting
his articulation to actually work was a major issue.
They gave second place to the Chewbacca from
Hasbro, with 13% of the votes. This was clearly not a good year for
Hasbro sixth scale. And to just further cement that thought, they
(like me) picked Sidious as the worst male in the 12" category this
year, with 16% of the vote.
Worst Male Figure (under 12")
This is a category where individuals always know exactly what they hate,
but having them agree is fairly rare.
So when 12% of the voters say you're bad, as
they did with Malcom Reynolds, then you're bad. But not nearly as bad
as if 18% hate you, which was the case for the Willy Wonka smaller sized
figure. And God help you if 20% of them all agree that you deserved
this award, because you probably do. Since they gave Humpty this
honor, as did I, I think we have a pretty clear winner.
Worst Female (12")
Now it's on to the lovely ladies. Except, since this is for worst
female in the 12" scale, these are the not so lovely ladies.
Unfortunately for Sideshow, when you're the only one making a lot of female
figures in this scale, you're going to end up with a few dogs. They
took all three honors this year.
almost missed third place, but the Planet of the Apes Nova figure managed to
just barely edge ahead of the closest competition, taking the spot with 15%
of the votes. They took second as well, this time with Willow from the
Buffy line. No Buffy fans should be surprised that 27% of my readers
gave her the thumbs down. And number one? That was easy, and I
picked her number one for this category too - Pamela Voorhees. She
snagged an amazing 30% of the vote to take home the medal to Jason.
Worst Female Figure (under 12")
Not all the ladies in the smaller scales were bathing beauties either.
Unfortunately for Miss Voorhees, NECA did their own version of her in the
7" scale, and managed to get 9% of the vote for their work, good enough
for a third place finish.
I was a little surprised by the second place
winner, who received 14% of the vote. I had picked Scarlet Witch as
the worst of the year, and when Toybiz even admits she's so bad they wanted
to retool her, you know she's bad. But 14% wasn't enough to take first.
That's because Sydney from the Alias line by
SEG took 28% of the total vote, easily taking the first place spot.
Perhaps it's because no one should be allowed to make a woman like Jennifer
Gardner look that bad.
Let's get back to the general company categories. This was another one
I had trouble with, since most companies have gone a long way to add
articulation whenever possible.
Readers seem to be sending a bit of a message
this year. There was no doubt who the big winner was, and it was
another of those landslides. Just like Toybiz received the most
overall votes in any best category with their win of the best articulation,
so did the winner of this category have more votes than any one else in any
worst category. To make it even more impressive, they had more
individual votes than any other category period, best or worst!
But let's start with the distant third place
winner, with just 7% of the vote, DC Direct. The later releases from
them show improvement though, so perhaps they won't show up in this category
again. Second place was won with just 8% of the vote, and goes to
Mattel. So who won?
no surprise it was Mcfarlane, but winning it with 43% of the vote was a bit
of a shock. Almost every other person picked them for this award, and
to get that much consistency across that many collectors is very
unusual. Good thing McToys doesn't care about articulation!
This is another tough category these days, because the bar keeps getting
raised - and companies keep striving to reach it.
10% of the readers felt Mattel wasn't doing enough to keep up, a score good
enough to get third place. Jazzwares ended up in second with 12%,
certainly due to the work on the first series of Mortal Kombat. And
the big winner received 14% of the votes - JAKKS Pacific.
We're winding down, but hang in there and don't miss out on my general
thoughts. There's some interesting things to consider coming out of
this year's overall results.
we get there, let's talk bad packaging. This might have been the most
diverse set of votes ever, and I don't think anyone avoided getting at least
a few. But with 8% of the vote, JAKKS took third. Hasbro managed
to beat them out with 10% of the vote, but the top winner (if you want to
look at it that way) was DC Direct with 15% of the vote. I can't say
I'm surprised, since most of the DC Direct boxes these days are extremely
dull in appearance.
Most of the voting for the worst sets was centered around three clear
winners this year.
The late entry was the DEVO set from NECA.
It was a set of very rough sculpts on identical bodies, and it's no surprise
it got 17% of the votes. That's not as much as the Batman Begins
transforming Batcave though, which took second place with 21% of the total
But the big winner was probably
more than one playset - it was the deluxe Alien vs Predator sets from
Mcfarlane. The reduced scale of this line didn't help much, and 25% of
the voters hated them.
I bet you can't guess what wins in this category this year! Oh wait,
you probably can...
It was almost a
complete blowout, but the Alien Vs. Predator sets, those same sets that just
won the last category, also got 9% of the votes for worst idea. The
idea wasn't the playsets themselves, but the switch to the smaller scale.
excessive number of con exclusives managed to snag another 15% of the total
vote, and most people are getting pretty tired of them. But nothing
came close to the major league 39% of the vote that blind boxing got.
But companies are unlikely to learn anything from this.
Most looking forward to in 2006
Nobody wants to end on a downer, so let's look at what folks are most
looking forward to next year.
second and third place winners in this category are actually tied at 13% of
the vote each. One of them is the new 12" line of Star Wars
figures from Sideshow. That, along with the 12" and Premium
Format Lord of the Rings licenses, makes Sideshow a company to watch this
The other is a line we've been
waiting for an awfully long time - Sesame Street. Collectors may still
be interested, but are retailers? Or more importantly, are any of the
retailers that were interested going to still be in business?
the big winner with 17% of the vote was Marvel Legends. Again, here's
a line lots of folks claim they were looking forward to, yet there's very
little concern being voiced about its likely demise. I have my
theories for why that is - I'll let you guess what they are for now.
So that's it for another year, and the people - or at least
my readers - have spoken. There weren't many surprises to me, since
much of this follows the standard stuff we're hearing on the boards.
As I mentioned, I am surprised by the reactions to the
Hasbro/Marvel deal, when it certainly spells big changes for the Marvel
lines. But we'll see just what happens as months roll out.
My biggest disappointment is how far Palisades have
fallen. Just last year they were tops in a ton of categories, and now
they're barely mentioned. If I were a betting man, I'd bet there won't
be a radio button for them - or Toybiz - on the ballot next year.
NECA did well, as did Mezco. SOTA took the categories
I expected, as did Mcfarlane. But what's the future for these four
companies? Online retailers simply do not buy in the kind of quantity
to make creating plastic figures under $15 a viable option. A company
like Sideshow doesn't have to fear, because they produce such a limited
number at a high price. The online buying community is certainly big
enough to keep them fat and happy, and Sideshow could easily be the company
of the year for 2006. But what's to become of the specialty companies
trying to survive in the low price, higher quantity market? Toys R Us
closes more stores, the Musicland family closes more stores, and stores like
Wal-mart and Target will stick with the kid oriented lines. The golden
age is over for most action figure collecting, at least for some time.
Who's going to survive 2006? One thing is for certain - it won't be