for the Best and Worst of 2000!
|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
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
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
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
|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,
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
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
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
|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
|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
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.