The People's Choices for the Best and Worst of 2000! 
Posted 12/20/00

The votes are in!  No dangling chads! And no need to involve the Supreme Court!  Here's the results of our Best and Worst of 2000 poll. 

Let's talk about the winners of the 'Best' categories first...

First up, Best Action Figure Company.  Fifteen different companies were named, but it was really a race between five.  Sideshow Toy receives an honorable mention with 11% of the vote,  and DC Direct squeeked past them with 13%.  The top three were McFarlane with 14%, Hasbro with 16%, and the winner is...Dragon with 18% of the vote.

There's two interesting things to note here.  First, Toyfare selected McFarlane as numero uno.  Why the difference?  Clearly Toyfare and other industry mags have not yet caught on to the fact that the 12" market is booming.  Max Steele, Action Man, G.I. Joe, and 21st Century pull 30-50% of
the shelf space at most Toys R Us stores.  Dragon, Marmit, and Blue Box are gathering momentum through the comic and hobby shops.  Yet there is very little coverage of these figures in the industry magazines.

The second oddity is Hasbro - how the hell did they get number 2?  I haven't a clue there, but it's clearly a case of either loving them or hating them, as you'll see when we get to the votes for Worst Company.


The next category was Best Overall Line.  This was almost as big a blow out as MSU over Seton Hall this week.  There were only two contenders for the top spot, although 21 lines were mentioned.  Second place, with 14% of the vote, is the extremely popular DC Direct line of figures.  But the big winner, with 23% of the vote, is the Simpsons.  Clearly, Playmates has a huge winner on their hands with this line.


In the category of Best Male Action Figure, there was almost no agreement. With the largest number of different names thrown into the hat - 43 - there was clearly no quorum.  There were lots of one, two, and three vote receivers, making everyone's percentage pretty low.  The top spot was a four way tie, with the Masterpiece Edition Batman, the Abominable Snowman from
the Rudolph line, the new 12" Frankenstein's Monster, and the new Dagobah Vader all pulling 6% of the vote.

There were a couple other interesting points, however.  42% of the vote were for 12" scale male figures.  And if you combine the figures and look at the companies that produced them, Hasbro is the clear winner with their boys taking 17% of the vote, with McFarlane a close second with 14%.


With far fewer female figures done each year, it's not surprising that there weren't as many nominees in the Best Female Action Figure category.  The winner here, with 13% of the vote, was Tiffany II from the Classic Spawn line.  Second place went to Black Arachnia, with 9%.


In the category of Best Articulation, we had another smoker.  It wasn't even close, as the excellent 12" body developed by Dragon took home the bacon with 27% of the vote, far ahead of the second place 21st Century, who had 13%.


The blowouts continue, with the Best Sculpting award going to the obvious choice - McFarlane Toys with 40%.  DC Direct was second as a company with 15%.  If you only look at the named figures themselves, it was a three way tie between the Simpsons, Where the Wild Things Are, and Green Arrow from DC Direct, all at about 8%.


The Best Packaging award shows that collectors do care about not just presentation, but preserving the packaging.  The overwhelming winner, Dragon with 27% of the vote, is an excellent example of boxes that are collector friendly and attractive.  The Simpsons, DC Direct and McFarlane were all runners up.


There were plenty of nominees for the Best Playset/Vehicle of 2000 - 25 - but there were only two that received the majority of the votes.  The 12" Speederbike/Trooper from this last summer was a close second with 18% of the vote, but the clear winner was the Simpsons Treehouse of Horror playset. Truly unique and creative, this playset was a big winner with the fans of the Simpsons and action figure collectors alike.


The next category was Best Web Resource.  The Raving Toy Maniac took 24% of the vote, with Michael's Review of the Week in second at 13% (thanks!) and at third with 11%.  Web sites dominated over other web resources, such as mailing lists (only 1 nominated) or newsgroups (only 2 nominated).


Over two dozen ideas were nominated for our last 'best' category - Best Idea of 2000.  Hopefully that indicates that there was plenty of innovation this year.  But two nominees stood out well above all others, and it was a tight race for these two.  But the Simpsons Playsets/Voice Chips technology won out over Jakk's use of the Real Scan technology by 21% to 18%.


Now we get into the nasty categories - the Worst of 2000.  Interestingly enough, some of the folks taking home the gold will also be taking home the brass.


The Worst Company of 2000 was the easiest choice for people to make.  They only nominated 12 companies, and of those 12 one received over half the votes (54%).  Hasbro is probably the only ones surprised that they won this 'honor', as collectors have complained about every line they produce this year, with the handling of both Star Wars and G.I. Joe drawing serious fire. One can only hope that we see a turn around in 2001, but with the top dog coming from the Finance side of the business, I have little hope.  Instead we'll see lots of cuts, lower quality, and an attempt to boost the margins and business they already have.  Next year is going to be a rocky ride for Hasbro.


The Worst Line was also a pretty easy choice.  That should send the winner a message, because there were PLENTY of bad lines to choose from.  But Star Wars, with 21% of the vote, was far ahead of its stinko competition, like Battlefield Earth (10%), the DC 9" figures (7%) and the WWF (7%). Collectors feel Hasbro has mismanaged this line terribly, and the bottom
line on the balance sheet seems to reinforce this opinion.


Just as with Best Male Figure, Worst Male Figure was a tight race.  But poor Beach Fun Spiderman won out, and as my personal favorite I was not surprised.  What a truly awful figure...but I complained about him enough last week.  He received 11% of the vote, but if you look at the nominees by which company produced them, Hasbro rocks the house with 33% of the vote.
Clearly there's a problem here, if Hasbro is creating such poor figures with this kind of consistency.


When it comes to Worst Female, Hasbro gets a break.  It's a tie between Winona (10%), who took a lot of heat for being so frail, and Chyna (10%) who, well, consider the source material.  If you look at these votes by company, Toybiz gets the nod with 28% of the vote.  That's not surprising however, since Toybiz makes the majority of female figures on the market today, between the Xena, X-men, and the Famous Covers lines.


Next up - Worst ArticulationMcFarlane was the easy target, and gathered 36% of the vote as a company.  The Star Wars line was a close second, with 26%.  DC Direct and the Simpsons also picked up a few votes.  Articulation has been making a comeback across the board after being left out for a couple years, and it's very nice to see.  Surprisingly, at least to me, is that Moore Action Collectibles didn't receive a single vote in this category.


For Worst Sculpting, Hasbro lines once again were the predominate choices. Overall, Hasbro lines received 37% of the vote, with Star Wars being the single most often mentioned line.  The Rocky Horror figures from Vital Toys gets an honorable mention as well.


No contest on the Worst Packaging, and poor Hasbro gets slammed again, gathering a whopping 67%, spread out over Star Wars, Action Man, Batman lines, and Pokemon.  Even if you only consider this by an individual line, Hasbro gets hit again, since Star Wars accounted for 26% of the vote. Perhaps they need to hire some new packaging engineers?


In the next category, Hasbro gets dragged through the mud again.  For Worst Playset/Vehicle, as a company Hasbro takes home 50% of the vote, and the Star Wars 12" Dewback/Trooper wins as an individual figure with 23% of the vote.  Since there are piles of this ugly sucker at just about every Toys R Us across the country, this shouldn't surprise anyone.


The last 'worst' category was Worst Idea.  If you consider all the ideas nominated individually, there was no clear winner.  Lots of ideas received one, two or three votes.  But if you consider the ideas at a company level, you'll never guess who takes the most licks...Hasbro.  From doing the DC 9" Superman and Batman as Target Exclusives, to the Jedi Force Files, to Pokemon, to the 6" Jedi Dual line...of the ideas nominated, 36% were Hasbro's.

It should be noted that there were others of interest.  Exclusives took heat, as they always do with collectors, as did the over use of twist ties, and the excessive use of paint swipes to make figures look 'dirty'.


So what are folks looking forward to next year?  That was the point of our last category - Most Anticipated.  Two things became obvious - there are a couple things that folks are really anticipating right now, and there are lots of things that folks are anticipating in general.

The two top winners were a tie - DC Direct and the new super articulated Classic Spiderman figures.  Both of these received 11% of the vote, followed closely by Dragon and Famous Covers with 9% each.  I think that many fans are anticipating the new Spiderman figures, and that goes to show how good product, along with good marketing, can build demand early.


I'd like to thank everyone who participated in the poll.  Hopefully you've found the results as interesting as I have!


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