Captain Toy/Michael's Review of the Week

Captain Toy Picks...
The Best and Worst of 2018

Date Published: 2018-02-22
Written By: Michael Crawford

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Dewback Star Wars Black series action figure

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The votes are in, and now it's time for me to get tallying! The Poppies Judges have completed their voting on the Poppies, and the ballot is now closed for the People's Picks as well. It's going to take me a few days to get it all figured out and written up - stay tuned!

While you wait, here's a look at my picks for the best of 2018 - and the worst, when it's applicable. I haven't been as active in every category, and you really need to know the market to pick valid worsts. But I'll give it my best shot and try to hit every category, in my on-going attempt to piss off everyone at some point. I'm changing the worsts this year slightly as well, and simply trying to focus on one 'winner' in each category, rather than a bronze, silver, gold like in the Bests. I may mention runners up, however.

Let's keep in mind that nothing here is fact. It's all my opinion.  Don't get upset, don't get mad, don't get your knickers in a twist over any of this.  Your opinion on this stuff is just as valid as mine, which is what makes it all so much fun.

Here are links to past year's picks (and this years) for comparisons:

My picks:   People's Picks:   Poppies:  
2018 2018 2018
2017 2017 2017
2016 2016 2016
2015 2015 2015
2014 2014 2014
2013 2013 2013
2012 2012 2012
2011 2011 2011
2010 2010 2010
2009 2009 2009
2008 2008 2008
2007 N/A   2007
2006 2006 N/A
2005 2005 N/A
2004 2004 N/A
2003 2003 N/A
2002 2002 N/A
2001 2001 N/A
2000 2000 N/A

On to the list...

Best Overall Company
This year is going to look an awful lot like last year, at least when it comes to this first category.

Bronze goes to NECA. They had a ton of terrific releases this year, especially in the 7" horror category. With what we just saw them show off for 2019, I suspect they may move up my ranks in this category in 12 months.

I'm giving the silver to Hot Toys. It's hard to argue with the quality of their work, and while it's been less interesting since they have become so focused on Star Wars, Marvel, and DC, you still get some pretty unusual characters for the collection. And while I buy less of them these days, at least I know that when I do get one, it's going to kick ass.

And the gold? Last year's winner is a repeat in 2018 - Mezco! They continue to crush it with their One:12 Collective series, offering something unique in the 1/12 market, and covering not just big licenses like Marvel and DC, but the unique, oddball, and unusual licenses like Clockwork Orange. Prices are edging up, but the quality has remained high, and I can't wait to see what 2019 brings in terms of new announcements.

One:12 Collective Iron Man action figure

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Worst Overall Company
Wow. This is way, way too easy.  They 'won' this category in 2017, and it only got worse in 2018. Molecule8 finally delivered on their John Lennon, a figure that I found underwhelming, but then went AWOL on paying their debts. Their treatment of the artists and contractors was abhorrent, and exposed the worst behaviors in the industry.

Molecule8 John Lennon action figure

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Best Overall Line - High End
It's unusual for the Best Picture Oscar to go to one film, and the Best Director Oscar to go to someone who directed a different film. It happens, but generally the two are pretty connected in the minds of voters.

Such is the case for me and the Best Company/Best Overall Line - High End. And that means the top result here should be no surprise.

I'm giving the Bronze to the Batman Black and White statue series from DC Collectibles. It's not easy to keep a series like this rolling for years and years. It's even harder to keep it fresh and interesting. DCC has managed to do both, and while there were a few quality slips, several of the releases last  year were exceptional.

Hot Toys is getting the silver for their Star Wars series. Obviously, they do a terrific job with Marvel, DC, and just about every other license, but the attention they put into the Star Wars juggernaut is evident in releases like Leia and Tarkin.

But it would be weird to gush about Mezco's One:12 Collective line in the earlier category and then not reward them handsomely here. I collect a lot of stuff - just ask my poor wife - but none of it creates the anticipation and interest as this series does.

One:12 Collective Clockwork Orange Alex action figure

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Worst Overall Line - High End
There aren't a lot of lines I even considered for this dishonor. I could rag on Molecule8 again, but one figure does not a 'line' make. And the line I am going to choose produced very little this year - that's part of the problem, but only part.

Star Ace's Harry Potter line was a favorite of mine, but over the course of the last couple years the quality has dropped. Then they switched to an 8" format for a new line while still announcing 12" figures in the original line, causing mass confusion. They didn't do a lot with it in 2018 beyond new announcements, although their one Fantastic Beast release (Scamander) wasn't bad. 2019 should see several new releases, and I'm hoping the overall quality takes a turn upward.

Star Ace Harry Potter Malfoy

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Best Overall Line - Low End
This category has some excellent nominees this year, making it a really tough call for me.

In third place, grabbing the bronze medal, is Phatmojo's DuckTales. Yea, it's an odd choice I suppose, but I was really happy to see a great cartoon line, with a playset and vehicles, on the shelves again.  If these guys would do a full Bob's Burgers line up, I'd be in very every release.

I'm going with a series of mini-busts for my silver, which is unusual because it's rare for a mini-bust line to fall into the 'low end' category. But Diamond Select has done an amazing job producing some kick ass Batman: The Animated Series busts at an affordable price. They released several stand outs this year, and I'll be considering them when we get to the Best Bust category.

My winner this year is the amazing Mythic Legions from the Four Horsemen. Working with their fans, using Kickstarter to its fullest, and creating one of the most interesting series of action figures currently on the market - it doesn't get much better than this. If you're into fantasy style characters and designs, these are a must have.

Image courtesy Four Horsemen/Mythic Legions.

Mythic Legions action figure

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Worst Overall Line - Low End
This has gotten harder the last few years...until 2018.

While there were several movie lines that were unimpressive, it was the return of Mego that gets my ugly gold medal in this category. I'm not sure who thought this was a great idea, but the nostalgia for the originals was already being fulfilled by other companies. No kid is going to want any of these, and collectors are only going to be able to line up for so many licenses. Married With Children? The Brady Bunch? Full House? Out of date television meets out of date action figures, how could that miss?

Mego Peg Bundy action figure

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Eddie Wires Award for Outstanding Paint
This award recognizes production paint work that takes a figure above and beyond, elevating it past other collectibles.

I'm giving the bronze to a terrific statue - Vegeta from Tsume. They are doing some amazing work, and the combination of bright, beautiful paint work with the translucent fiery materials really sets this one apart.

The silver goes to the One:12 Collective Doctor Strange. One of the key features of all One:12 figures is the exceptional production paint. They are going for the same quality we see in the best sixth scale work, and they are doing an awfully good job of getting there. Strange was my stand out, a great figure made almost perfect with fantastic production paint.

But I'm going with an odd ball for my gold this time.  When I thought about great paint jobs I'd seen over the course of the year, my mind kept coming back to one in particular - Judy Hopps from Kaiyodo. She's part of their Revoltech series, and sports terrific articulation for such a tiny figure. But it was the excellent paint that really stood out to me, made even more important because of the generally simple nature of animated figures.

Judy Hopps Zootopia action figure

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Best Male/Female Figure - 18" and up
NECA has been dominating this category for the last few years, and I'm going to give them all three of my top spots this time around.

Bronze is going to their comic based Daredevil, who was far more posable than usual, with a nice assortment of extras.

I also really like their Raphael in Disguise. They did a great job with the quarter scale turtles last year, and these disguised follow ups kept the winning streak alive.

But their best was the Ultimate Deadpool, a figure with a buttload of extras and an amazing unmasked head. They managed to get these into Target stores, and if there is one still floating around by you, I'd grab it before it's gone.

NECA Ulimate Deadpool action figure

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Worst Male/Female Figure - 18" and up
There wasn't any one figure that really leaped out at me in this category for 2018, but there was one I was at least slightly disappointed in. Again, it's from NECA. Their Wonder Woman was less than stellar, and I had some issues with the sculpt and articulation. The articulation was the big problem, something that surprised me based on the quality I've gotten accustomed to with the quarter scale figures from NECA. Again, she's not horrendous, but she's a lot less posable than most of their releases in this scale.

NECA Wonder Woman action figure

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Best Male Figure 12 - 17"
This is always a great category, but in most years it is dominated by Hot Toys. I'm breaking ranks this year however, and recognizing some truly excellent work from others as well.

I will give Hot Toys the bronze for their Yondu. If you put a gun to my head and said I could only pick Hot Toys figures in this category, Yondu would have gotten gold. It's an amazing sculpt and paint job, and the costume and accessories are excellent.

But there's another figure I've wanted for a very, very, very long time, and Asmus finally delivered him. Not only that, but they did it with excellent quality and at a great price. I'm talking about the dwarf with an attitude, Gimli. They used rooted hair for this one, including the beard, and it turned out fantastic. He's a perfect finale to the Fellowship.

Getting the gold is a figure based on one of my all time favorite films, The Princess Bride. When Qmx announced they were producing Westley/The Dread Pirate Roberts (and Inigo soon as well), I was elated. But I was also apprehensive - would they do him justice? I'm happy to report they did, and the figure is simply outstanding in every way.

Dread Pirate Roberts sixth scale action figure

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Worst Male Figure 12 - 17"
There were a number of contenders for this one in 2018: Star Ace's Dementor, Sideshow's Jack Burton, Asmus Marquis Warren, Molecule8's John Lennon, Sideshow's Zuckuss...there was a bit too much mediocrity in 2018.

I'm going with the one that disappointed me personally the most, which is going to vary a lot for everyone. Star Ace dropped the ball on the Pulp Fiction license, and in particular their Vincent Vega was a let down. The costume and accessories were as basic as you can get, so it was all riding on the perfect portrait. And that was a swing and a miss.

Pulp Fiction Vincent Vega action figure

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Best Male Figure 5 - 11"
If I'm being honest, I could give all three awards in this category to One:12 figures. From Iron Man to Doctor Strange to the Special Ops Punisher, there were more than three terrific releases in 2018. But I'm purposefully going to spread some of the love around a bit.

That means bronze is going to the Gammorean Guard from Hasbro's 6" Star Wars Black series. A Target exclusive, this was one you didn't want to miss out on. The overall series had a lot of good releases over the course of the year (they even made Dengar look great), but Gammy stood out as one of the nicest.

Silver is going to another surprise - King Bromden Ironjaw from the Mythic Legions! The whole series is fantastic, but this Gimli wannabee stood out even among the rest. This is a series that has a very loyal and devoted following, and it is with very good reason.

And yes, the gold is going to a One:12 Collective release, but I bet which one is going to be a bit of a surprise as well. I could easily go with Special Ops Punisher...or Doctor Strange...or Iron Man...or the deluxe Joker...but nope. I went with the one that was the most fun, the most unique, and the best overall release: Popeye!  I yam what I yam.

Popeye One:12 action figure

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Worst Male Figure 5 - 11"
Diamond Select has done a great job with their Ghostbusters line, especially when it comes to the 'build a diorama' sets that come with the figures. But one of my big disappointments this year was their Louis, with a huge set of glasses and funky paint job.

Ghostbusters Louis action figure

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Best Male Figure under 5"
I don't collect a ton of these guys, but that's not because there aren't some really terrific releases out there.

The bronze medal is going to Scrooge McDuck from Phatmojo. I love what they did with the Ducktales series, and I wish they'd to this for some other big name current cartoons. It looks like their Bob's Burgers figures in this scale should be in stores soon!

My silver medal is going to the City Hunter Predator from Hiya Toys. Their work on both the Aliens and Predator licenses in the 1/18 scale has been unique and fun, and this particular release was my favorite from them in 2018.

But the big winner of gold comes from the quirky, nostalgic, and tremendously fun series The Outer Space Men - Colossus Rex! These guys are so much fun, and evoke some great memories from my long ago youth.  We just don't get sci-fi toys like this anymore.

Photo courtesy Outer Space Men.

Outer Space Men Colossus action figure

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Worst Male Figure under 5"
I'm going to cut the market some slack in this category for 2018. As I've mentioned, I don't buy much in this scale any more, and because of that, there wasn't something I saw that really jumped out at me with its awfulness. Your mileage may vary.

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Best Female Figure 11" - 17"
While the male counterpart of this category is becoming less and less dominated by Hot Toys, the female equivalent is still all them. Other companies might be making sixth scale ladies, but they have a long way to go to reach the quality we are consistently seeing from Hot Toys.

That's a fancy way of saying all three of my picks come from HT. First up, the bronze goes to Belle, from the live action Beauty and the Beast. This is a figure I feel got the shaft from a lot of fans, or supposed fans anyway. It's not without issues, but they were minor in comparison to the positives.

Hot Toys takes silver with their Leia Organa from The Last Jedi. If you think it's rare to get older leading women in movies, it's even rarer to get them in action figure format. They nailed this sculpt too, one of the most accurate this year.

But my gold is going to Hela, a beautiful figure from spiky head to booted toe. I know some complained about the cape color and exposed shoulder joints, but these were non-issues for me.

Hot Toys Hela action figure

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Worst Female Figure 12" and up
Unfortunately, there were quite a few potential picks for this category, and it was much harder to whittle it down to just one than it should be.

But in the end I'm going to slap the Penny Robinson from Executive Replicas with the tarnished gold. I love the old Lost in Space, mostly out of nostalgia, and I've picked up all the sixth scale figures. Unfortunately, Penny couldn't be much further off, and her only redeeming quality is the static Gloop she came with.

Lost in Space Penny Robinson action figure

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Best Female Figure 5 - 11"
This was a tough category this year, as the number of really well done female figures continues to grow.

I'm giving the bronze to a Star Wars Black series figure - Leia in Hoth Gear! Yep, this overall series continues to impress, and both this Leia and the Bespin version were terrific. I went with Hoth though due to my personal preference for the costumes from this setting.

The coveted silver goes to a terrific release in the Mythic Legions - Gadriel! The angelic warrior has some amazing detail work in both the paint and sculpt, and is a stand out in a series that is filled with amazing figures.

But I have to give the gold to the same figure that won my Eddie Wires award - Judy Hopps. Cartoon characters can be a lot harder to produce than people think, and hitting it on not only screen accuracy but paint, articulation, and accessories makes Judy one of the best figures I picked up last year in this scale.

Judy Hopps Zootopia action figure

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Worst Female Figure 5 - 11"
This was a difficult one to choose. Not because there were so few choices, but because the new Mego series gave me so many.

I get it. Nostalgia. But there's paying homage and there's trying to recreate a look and feel that is vastly outdated by today's standards.  The new Mego line falls firmly in the latter for me.

But while they had plenty of butt ugly female figures over the course of the year, it was the two pack for Full House that really blew my mind. It's a weird license done in a weird format, and I wasn't in the least bit surprised to see them sit, and sit, and sit at the local Targets.

Mego Full House action figures

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Best Female Figure under 5"
I don't collect much in this scale any more, but I still pay enough attention to have some favs.

And it was hard not to notice my bronze pick - Doctor Aphra from the Star Wars Vintage Collection. She's got a very unique look, and the quality of the sculpt and paint work is stellar for this diminutive scale.

I'm giving the silver to another of the Outer Space Men, a line I really enjoy thanks to my nostalgia for 60's sci-fi toys.  Dear Mego - this is how you capitalize on nostalgia but still produce quality figures. Their Astrodite is another killer design. Major Matt Mason wishes she'd been a colleague of his!

I have never bought one of the Nenderoid's, because if I did, I might not stop. They're so damn cute, and yet they have a tremendous amount of detail. Their hero edition of Wonder Woman gets my top spot this year in this category, but all the Good Smile figures are terrific.

Photo courtesy Good Smile.

Wonder Woman Nenderoid action figure

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Worst Female Figure under 5"
As with the male figures in this category, I'm going to pass this year on picking a worst here. I haven't had enough exposure to really pick on anyone fairly. It's much easier to pick out the ones you like than the ones you don't, when you only buy a few.

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Best Build-A-Figure
It's hard to believe but just a few years ago we were considering dropping this category altogether. But now with Mattel and Hasbro doing their best to put out BAF's, and a few other companies holding their own in the category, it's not going anywhere any time soon.

The bronze goes to Krombopulos Michael, from Funko's second wave of Rick and Morty figures. The figures themselves have their issues, but I really like their choices and execution on the BAF releases.

I can't ignore the fantastic work Hasbro has been doing all year with their Marvel Legends BAF's, and I'm giving the silver to their Infinity War version of Thanos. We've gotten comic releases in the past, and it was great to get such a well done movie version to go with the movie ML regular releases.

And the gold goes to a terrific Batman villain - Clayface! Most of the Multi-verse CnC figures leave me lukewarm, but their Clayface really crushed it on every level.

Photo courtesy of Lyle's Movie Files.

Clayface BAF action figure

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Worst Build-A-Figure
We're still seeing plenty of great BAF releases, and 2019 is already off to a strong start. My worst isn't really a 'worst', because it's not all that bad. But comparatively speaking, it was one that left me cold.

Mattel did a 'tube man' BAF with their NXT Takeover series. And it's so dull, so uninteresting, that I couldn't even find a photo of the completed thing out on the web. I'm not a WWE fan, so I have no idea why a Tube Man (you know, the inflatable dude that flaps around outside a car dealership) is a part of the series. But he's definitely not an exciting addition by any standard.

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Best Vehicle
Some really good choices this year, although the number of vehicles on my list of top releases is shorter this time.

The winner of my bronze is not even a vehicle anyone can ride in. But it's a vehicle nonetheless, and it was oh so sweet.  Qmx released their Planetary Express, part of their 'master series'. Good news, everyone - it looks terrific AND it lights up!

My silver is another slightly unusual 'vehicle' - the Dewback in the Star Wars Black 6" series.  Of the various smaller vehicles they've produced over the last couple years, I think the Dewback is easily the best, with a terrific sculpt and paint work, and enough articulation to make posing fun. I started this article with a photo of him (her?) because I knew it wouldn't win a gold, but wanted to showcase it anyway.

Lots of things go into my personal picks, including how much something cost and whether it provided a lot of for the money. My winner of the gold is one such beast - the Flamecycle from Hasbro!  Yep, it came with a Ghost Rider figure too of course, and is part of their excellent Marvel Legends series.

Marvel Legends Flamecycle

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Worst Vehicle
I'm going to pick a slightly weird choice here.  Rather than just go after a single vehicle for some sort of action figure line, I'm going after a whole line of straight up vehicles.

Yep, you guessed it - Cars. Please understand that I own HUNDREDS of 1/64 scale Cars. I own most of the 1/18 scale releases as well. I have original releases and re-releases and variants and sets and some that were just packed in with other items like puzzles! But over the course of 2018, they pretty much lost their way, with fewer and fewer really unique releases and more and more rehashing.  Instead of buying every new vehicle I saw, I picked up maybe - maybe - six. And those were the most unique designs that really captured my attention. More often than not, I simply passed them by.

Had they put a little more effort and more releases into their 1/18 series, I would have been all over those, but they fizzled out as well. *sigh*

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Best Play Set
There was a definite lack of play sets this year, but there were a couple nice ones that made it to production.

Third place is going to a rather unusual Batman related set.  Funko is doing a line called 'Primal Rage', reminiscent of other 80's action figure lines. They did a He-man-esque Batcave for it, and while there are some quality problems, the overall design is really cool.

In second place is another Batman related set. Imaginext always does fun, interesting sets, and I really liked their Wayne Manor. Lots of fun for kids with plenty of action features and some serious size to it.

But my winning choice was easy - the TMNT Street Scene from NECA! This was a convention exclusive, but it was well worth going to the trouble and expense to obtain.

TMNT Street Scene Diorama

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Worst Playset
I'm a little hesitant to pick on these guys, because they have just released their first wave of Bob's Burger figures, and I really, really, really want them to turn out great.

Phatmojo did a nice job with the DuckTales figures too, and the airplane was a great vehicle. I liked the Money Bin play set when I saw it on the shelf, and I'm happy to see them go deep enough into a series to get a play set.  Can you imagine how fantastic it would be to get the burger restaurant?

But once I actually saw the Money Bin out of the box, it was a lot less appealing. Very little play value, and not much detail. They need to do more than create a box that opens.

DuckTales Money Bin play set

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Best Statue
We had a ton of fantastic nominations in this category this year, making the choices really tough. Narrowing it down to a top three wasn't easy for me, but here goes.

My bronze medal goes to the Portegas D. Ace statue from Tsume. They are doing some amazing stuff with their translucent flames and ice, and the paint quality on every one of their statues is getting crazy good. This fiery release was a favorite, but they had several other excellent examples.

For overall wow factor, you can't top my silver medalist - the Hulk Buster from XM Studios. I defy you to see this in person and not gape open mouthed in amazement. The detail and quality combined with the sheer size and magnitude of this beautiful beast is truly something.

But I'm going with a much simpler statue for my personal gold, heavily influenced by my love for the property. Kotobukiya released a fantastic Batman: The Animated Series statue of the Joker last year, and it gets my top approval. A classic design of the highest quality at a reasonable price point - you can't make me much happier!

BTAS Joker by Kotobukiya

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Worst Statue
There were very few statues I saw this year that fell well short of expectations. However, as a huge fan of the Batman Black and White series, I was disappointed in the Spy vs Spy release. Ignoring the design, which left me cold, the paint work was truly horrendous.

The moon faced Wonder Woman in the Bombshells series was a close second.

Batman Black and White Spy vs Spy Statue

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Best Bust
The mini-bust has had a rough couple of years, falling in popularity with many collectors. There's still plenty of great ones being produced, but it's not like the heyday of a decade or more ago.

While the 'mini' hasn't been as popular, the 1:1 scale busts have experienced increased attention. My bronze is going to the amazing Joker from DC Collectibles, designed by Rick Baker. It's a fantastic piece, if you have the room and the budget.

My silver is also going to a 1:1 scale bust - the newest Alien from Coolprops. They have produced a different character each year for the last few years, but this release might be my favorite. Sadly, it's out of my budgetary reach, but I can always dream.

My gold medal winner is definitely within my budget, and that's a big reason why I love this series. Diamond Select is doing these terrific Batman: The Animates Series busts, and both the Clayface and Ras Al Ghul were great releases in 2018...but I'm going to have to go with Killer Croc. No, they aren't at the level of overall quality as something that costs hundreds of dollars, but for around $50 they are amazing.

BTAS Man-Bat bust

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Worst Bust
My worst bust is also coming out of the same series - the DST BTAS set. It's bad enough that their Mask of the Phantasm release is probably the last. I liked the sculpt - I did. But man, the paint work was pretty God awful, and combining that with the end of the series left a bad taste in my mouth for this one.

BTAS Phantasm bust

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Best Designer/Vinyl Figure
Funko dominates the Vinyl world right now with their Pops!, so it's no surprise they have lots of spots on the ballot. But there are some other terrific smaller (and true designer) releases that shouldn't be overlooked.

My bronze medal goes to Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy from Kid Robot. You have to be a Spongebob fan to fully appreciate this daring duo, but I love the design and execution on this pair. They deserve more collectibles attention, and it's great to see Kid Robot provide that with such style and quality.

The silver medal goes to Pete Fowler's Maximilian Cash in his "Weekend In Malibu" design. Pete always does great stuff, and this one is such an eye catching design and concept.

But my top winner is a variation on the classic King Kong. Designed by James Groman, King Korpse incorporates Kong, zombies, and even a GITD feature.  There are a number of variations on the theme, and my favorite is the 'yeti' colors, pictured below.

Photo courtesy Instinctoy.

King Korpose vinyl figure

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Worst Designer/Vinyl Figure
Funko makes a billion figures every year in their Pop! series, and no license is safe.  They do some really fun ones - I'm currently on the look out for the Hormone Monster and Monstrous from Big Mouth - but they also do quite a few that simply baffle me. Who would want one? My pick for last year (and I'm pretty sure he was a 2018) is Louis Winthorpe the third. Who, you ask? Why, Dan Akroyd's character from Trading Places of course!  Even the completist Pop! collectors have to look at a rather dull looking figure from a bizarre license like this and question their life choices.

Funko Louis Winthorpe vinyl figure

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Best Prop Replica
It was a decent year for prop replicas, both expensive and reasonable in price.

I'm giving up the bronze to Hasbro, for their Infinity Gauntlet. Yea, Hot Toys did an amazing one too, but Hasbro is really crushing it with their line of affordable replicas, and the Gauntlet was last year's stand out. Lights, sounds, and a great sculpt, all for a great price.

I'm handing silver to Hot Toys for an unlikely 'prop replica' - their 1:1 scale Groot! You might think of this cute little bugger as just an action figure, but as an in scale figure, he's really a replica. And an awfully good one at that, with the usual amazing quality Hot Toys has become known for.

But my gold winner was an easy pick for me. My favorite replica I bought in 2018 was the Factory Entertainment God Killer Sword. Based on the look from the Wonder Woman movie, this thing is a fantastic looking prop, and extremely high quality for the price.

God Killer Sword replica

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Worst Prop Replica
There were lots of solid, well made, accurate prop replicas released over the year, but one stood out to me as lacking. It stood out to me, because had it been better, I would have picked one up.

It's the Aquaman Trident from Noble. Let's ignore the five points on a trident for a minute, because that's not Noble's fault. This staff was a wood/plastic hybrid, and was around $100 to start.  Considering how good the Hasbro replicas are in this same price range, complete with sound and lights, it was an impossible sell. You can still get one of these at just about any Gamestop for $50, so clearly I'm not the only person who was disappointed.

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Best Building set/Block Figure
While there were a few great sets that weren't Lego out there this year, it really was a year where they dominated the shelves.

All three of my medals are going to the leaders of the industry. Their Hogwart's Castle, obviously from Harry Potter, is getting my bronze medal. Talk about a behemoth! They've done a lot of great sets based on the films, but this one stands out as the 'death star' of the line.

Smaller, but with a very, very cool feature, is the app controlled Batmobile. You know I love Batmobiles, especially Lego Batmobiles, but now you can drive one with an app on your phone? Be still my beating heart!

Last and the very opposite of least is my gold medal winner, another vehicle. Lego has been doing actual cars, not fantasy vehicles from movies, not just generic vehicles from the real world, but actual licensed cars.  As a mini-cooper owner, I liked their version, but it was the Aston-Martin that really blew me away.

Photo courtesy Lego.

Lego Aston-Martin

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Worst Building set/Block Figure
I didn't see any bad building sets this year - everyone was doing some pretty sweet work. Kids who love these toys are having a banner time right now, with solid options from multiple companies.

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Best Misc
And here we are on the final category!

I try to pick some odd balls for the Misc group, but odd balls I think are terrific ideas. The bronze medal is going to one of those - Massive Monster Mayhem! There's action figures, there's the show, but coolest of all, there's role play!  Yes, you can dress up like a massive monster to destroy the city in your wake. It's a fantastic idea that I would love if I were just six years old again. *sigh*

One of the best things about Rick and Morty is that being a fan is actually something the show makes fun of. There's no better example than the Rick and Morty Super Fan plush from Symbiote Studios. I only wish I'd found out about this guy while he was still available.

My top spot is going to a sort of statue, sort of play set, sort of diorama...the 1966 Batcave from Factory Entertainment. This set is 1/64 scale, but even then it's huge. And expensive. And a thing of beauty.

Photo courtesy Factory Entertainment.

1966 Batcave

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Worst Misc
You know I love creepy, weird, gruesome stuff. But we saw the release of something that freaks even me out - Fugglers. Hey, I understand how some people will like these, but those damn teeth just creep me out to no end. Gah!


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Last year was a terrific year for action figures, particularly in 1/12 and 1/6 scale. While things have been on the down side for 1/18 scale the last few years, I expect we'll see an uptick again over the next year or so, as companies start to swing back around. It's all cyclical don't you know.

While the bust market has been...well...bust, the statue market has boomed with terrific quality releases from a number of companies. Prop replicas are doing well too, and I think it's the 'man cave' and home theater crowd driving a lot of this.

Toy Fair just wrapped up, and we saw a lot of great releases in the market for 2019. McFarlane appears to be making a huge comeback tour, snagging several very high profile licenses, and other lines like One:12 continue to expand. It should be another great year for collectors!

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Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

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