MWC's Votes for the Best and Worst of 2000! 
Posted 12/13/00

If you haven't voted yet in the Galaxy's Best and Worst Toys of 2000 poll yet, don't dispair.  Just click on this link, and it will take you right to it to voice your opinions!  I'll be compiling the results and posting them next Wednesday.

But this week, you get to see my picks.  I'll stick with the same categories that I asked you, and we'll see how we compare.  Be patient with this page if you have a 56.6 modem - there are an awful lot of pictures.

You can still vote for your choices for Best and Worst of 2000 by going here - I'll be posting the results of the poll next Wednesday.

Best Company - This is a tough one for me this year, so I'll pick a couple runners up.  2nd runner up:  Dragon.  They produced figures with great articulation, great accessories and great packaging, but their sculpting needs to improve.  Also, I'd like to see them branch into a little broader range of figures.  1st runner up:  Playmates.  Yep, a couple years ago they were one of the worst, after having helped destroy the Star Trek license with silly tricks and gimmicks.  But they are back this year with a fantastic line in the Simpsons.  Great sculpting, cool character selections, and great playsets - hey, doesn't that sound like Star Trek?  Let's hope
they don't botch it this time.  And the Winnah is:  Sideshow Toy.  With consistently terrific sculpting and toy design in their Universal Monsters series, and their movement into the 12" market, Sideshow Toy is a company that always gets my attention.  New announcements from them are something I always check out with great anticipation, and I am expecting great things from them in 2001.
Best Overall Line - Okay, I may have given best company to Sideshow, but the Playmate's Simpsons is my top pick for overall line this year.  There are very few lines I buy every figure from these days, and even fewer that I anticipate the way I anticipate every new Simpsons wave.  I hope we see this wave continue to produce figures and play sets through 2001 and beyond. 

Other lines this year that were in the running included the Famous Covers (which were hurt by too few releases) and the Island of Misfit Toys from Playing Mantis.

Best Male Figure -  There were actually plenty of figures to choose from this year.  Included on my list of top single figures are the 12" Frankenstein's Monster from Sideshow, the Masterpiece Edition 9" Batman, the Son of Frankenstein also from Sideshow, the Flukeman from McToys, the 12" Fireman from 21st Century, and the Abominable Snowman from Playing Mantis.

But the numero uno is...Dave from Dragon.  Here's one of their figures where not only were the accessories, uniform, packaging and articulation fantastic, but it was a great head sculpt to boot.  My fantasy would be Western figures or Medieval figures produced by Dragon - they'd be superb. If you haven't purchased from them yet, do yourself a favor and your wallet some harm and try one out.  I guarantee you can't buy just one.
Best Female Figure:  As always, the pickings were slimmer for the ladies than the men.  I didn't realize just how slim until I started to consider the possibilities for this honor.

Dragon did fairly well with both the Winona and Linh figures.  Of course, Hasbro beat us up side the head with various Leia and Amidala versions, and the Defense of Naboo Amidala is a runner up.  Toybiz gave us several X-men, but the 6" movie versions were awful, and the Famous Covers, while much better, we'd already seen before.

That leaves DC Direct, and of their offerings this year, I really thought Zatanna was the top figure.  She gets my nod for this award, although we have a couple interesting competitors that may make it out just before the end of the year - Elektra from Toybiz, and Matilda from 21st Century.  But until I see them, the jury is out.

Best Articulation - This is a tougher category this year than ever before.  While some companies continue to under whelm us with their poor articulation, several others really upped the stakes this year.  21st Century, Sideshow Toy both have excellent 12" articulated figures; eXtreme Detail showed that 3.75" figures didn't have to go without plenty of joints; Island of Misfit Toys from Playing Mantis were proof that great articulation didn't have to cost a ton; and Resaurus gave us a oodle of joints in the 6" Special Forces line.

But the clear winner for me is Dragon.  They had the ultra-cool double jointed elbows and knees a year before anyone else, and they've expanded their body styles and sizes again this year.  Sideshow may give them a run for their money next year once they put out more than one figure, but for now my choice is Dragon.

Best Sculpting - Lots of companies did some truly wonderful sculpting this year.  The new Realscan technology that Jakk's is using produced some great likenesses in both their wrestling lines and the Charlie's Angels Dolls.

Sideshow continues to impress me with their work, and while Moore's figures may be nothing more than statues, I can't fault the art.

But once again this year I have to give the nod to the company that started the trend toward exceptional sculpts - Mcfarlane Toys.  Love him or hate him, Todd's company produces the best actual likenesses on the market today.  From the Movie Maniacs, to the movie lines such as Austion Powers series 2 or Little Nicky, to the wonderful children's book Where the Wild Things Are, his company captures likenesses in a way almost no one else can.

Best Packaging - Not too many companies give us much in the way of packaging innovation.  Occasionally we'll get a well designed cardback, but that's due to artistic use of graphics or well designed layout.

One company does do innovative AND attractive packaging though, and they get the award.  That would be Dragon, with their colorful, well designed boxes that allow the collector to remove the figure and it's accessories without any damage, not to mention providing informative text.

I'm hoping we see other companies follow Dragon's lead, particularly in the 12" market.  I realize how difficult it is to make any sort of resealable bubble/cardbacks, but there is no reason that companies like 21st Century and Sideshow Toy can't imploy similar techniques to Dragon with the packaging on their 12" lines.

Best Vehicle or Playset - this was a tough one.  There were two leading contenders, and obviously from the picture above, the Treehouse of Horror playset from the Playmates Simpsons line was the one that squeeked it out.  So who was so close?  The 12" Speederbike/ Trooper from Hasbro.  It's was certainly the best 12" vehicle ever put out for the Star Wars line, but the price point didn't help it.  On the other hand, the terrific value, sound chips, and included figures made the Treehouse of Horror my choice for the number one spot.

Another vehicle that should get a special nod is the Speedracer Mach 5 from Resaurus.  While it didn't do well at the retailers, it is a truly wonderful vehicle.  Great quality and attention to detail, all at an affordable price.


Best Web Resource - since I provide three web resources for collectors myself, and since I personally know many of the folks that run the other sites, I think I'll just opt out of this one.  I will say that the choices for today's toy collector have greatly improved over just two or three years ago!


Best Idea/Innovation - of all the questions, this one was the easiest for me.  If I haven't made it obvious enough by already selecting the Simpsons line as winners of two of the above categories, I think this is a truly terrific line.  And the playsets with built in voice chips was a fantastic idea.  After seeing others completely fail with the concept of voice chips, it's refreshing to see a company that can find the right way to do it.
Worst Company - Toybiz almost ended up with this award this year. Considering the X-men movie figures and their mediocrity, the lack of Famous Covers figures, and the overall lackluster performance of the company, they were a close second.

Close second to who?  Oh, that's easy - Hasbro. Consider the big three lines - Star Wars?  80% of the 12" line was barely acceptable, and the distribution on the 3.75" line was awful.  G.I. Joe?  21st Century and Dragon kicked their ass with innovation and quality.  Batman Beyond?  Uh, yea, right.  I think the 100th Edition Batman pretty much summed up that line this year.

I'm hoping that we see Hasbro turn themselves around next year, but considering their big innovations were buying Pokemon and Wizards of the Coast, I don't have a lot of confidence.  At least Mattel still has Barbie, and seems capable of keeping the line alive.  With Joe, Star Wars and Batman, there doesn't appear to be anything to look forward to in 2001.

Worst Overall Line - I wish the toy companies didn't give me so many to pick from for this category every year.  The God awful Battlefield Earth toys rank up there as one of the major stinkers of the summer, and lines like Pokemon, Digimon and Dragonball Z all leave me completely cold.  Let's not forget some of those fine wrestling lines, like the 'Gross Out Wrestlers' or the butt ugly ECW fare.  Other lines such as the Saturday Night Live figures reached new lows in poor sculpting.  And then there were the lines that were just plain stupid like Crocodile Hunter - "Danger, danger, danger".

But this year one line truly stands out for me.  It's a line that could have cleaned up, having a major hit movie behind it and truly unique and unusual looking characters, props and accessories at it's disposal.  That would be the Grinch line of action figures from Playmates.

How bad are these figures? The movie has been number 1 at the box office for three straight weeks, it's two weeks BEFORE Christmas, when every parent on the planet is spending wads of cash, and yet these toys are already on clearance at my local Toys R Us.  Talk about a failed opportunity!

The real problem with this line isn't the Who's - the likenesses for them are pretty good.  The articulation is good as well - no, for this line it's the awful sculpting on the Grinch himself.  He simply didn't translate well into this format, and it's a shame.  There wasn't much imaginative use of the movie sets or props either - other than a couple small vehicles, there is little of real interest. Too bad for Playmates, too bad for fans of the Grinch.

Worst Male Figure - There are always plenty of figures up for this honor.  Every company, no matter how talented or innovative, produces a clunker once in awhile.  Most of the Classic figures were pretty weak, in particular the Classic Clown.  The German Machine Gunner from 21st Century came out with one of the all time worst head sculpts/paint jobs in recorded history. Sideshow gave us 'monster wrestlers' - okay, they were Little Big Heads, but they are still pretty stupid.  But one figure stands out.

Only one figure has the audacity to take a classic super hero and take him to a new low.  If Spider-Man could see himself in those ridiculous shorts, he'd have the Beach Spider-Man figure from the Spider-Man Adventures line banned from the planet.  Not even Hasbro, with all their multi-colored Batman variations, has treated the character with such utter disrespect.  For God's sake, he comes with a beach ball!

Worst Female Figure - Picking the worst female figure this year was far harder than picking the best, because there were just so many more choices.  Mcfarlane Toys managed to give us the Crone from Sleepy Hollow, a second bit character, a stupid action feature, and pretty much a lump of plastic.  They didn't do much better with Janis Joplin.  Sure, the likeness is great, but she's a statue masquerading as an action figure, and way overpriced.

But nothing this year comes close to the atrocity of female ugliness that is the 12" Rosanne RosannaDanna.  Gilda Radner gave us some of the finest characters to ever grace SNL, and yet this is the best likeness they can offer?  I'm always amazed when the estate of someone gives the okay for a train wreck like this.

Worst Articulation - Here again, Mcfarlane Toys gave PLENTY of possibilities to win this award.  With dozens of new figures this year, and 80% of them practically solid blocks of hard plastic, Todd has done everything he could to drive the 'action' out of action figure.  Where the Wild Things Are, Yellow Submarine, the Anime series, Movie Maniacs, Spawn Classics, Little Nicky...I could go on and on listing the poorly articulated lines they've produced this year.

I don't want to pick on poor Todd though.  I suspect his baseball isn't worth as much these days.  No, instead I'll single out a line that is lucky to have more than a couple points of articulation each - Final Fantasy VIII.

These figures were very attractive in the packaging, but the extremely limited articulation made them far less exciting once they were opened up.

Worst Sculpting - There's never any shortage in this category.  One figure stands out in my mind as being a terrible sculpt - Mary Katherine Gallagher, from the 6" SNL line by X-Toys.  A couple of the figures from this line could get at least a passing grade, but the repressed but aggressive Catholic school girl looked absolutely nothing like the actress.

X-Toys isn't well known for doing much in the way of above average figures, but this is terrible.  Sure, you get some decent accessories, but the price point on these was atrocious as well.

Worst Packaging - How about I just say every manufacturer that still completely ignores the MOC and MIB collector? That's probably easiest, as I can't think of any card art or box art that was truly horrendous.


Worst Vehicle/Playset - I think we saw more playsets and vehicles than ever before this year, and the fact that it's tough to think of a truly bad one is pretty amazing.  But there were a couple stinkers.

Mr. Tweedy's Pie Thrower from Chicken Run gets an honorable mention, since it's nothing more than a recycled vehicle from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

The vehicle I did pick is another recycle, or more accurately, re-release.  The original BTAS Batmobile was one of the finest ever produced, and it wasn't surprising to see the Kenner division of Hasbro re-issue it.  That's an old trick of theirs, and they are the masters.  Unfortunately, they decided that even though it had been five years or so since you could find one on the shelf, they better change the color.  In doing so, they took a classic and painted it up like Al Gore on a Saturday night.

Worst Idea - This years award for dunderhead move of the year goes to Toybiz.  By waiting for weeks after the release of the X-Men movie before releasing the Famous Covers versions of the characters, the killed any chance they had of selling well.  Toybiz seems desperate to kill the best line of figures they have, and I fear we'll see little in the way of new FC's during 2001.
What I'm Most Looking Forward To - You won't guess this one.  Nope, it's not the Simpsons.  I know those will be excellent, and I'll get them all.  But the set of figures I'm most looking forward to are the rest of the Western figures from Yamato.

If you've ever visited my Western Action Figure Archive, you know just how nuts I am about any sort of western figure, particularly in 12" scale.  With three more figures planned, this line has me really excited for 2001.

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