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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! Things are a bit crazy right now, as everyone knows, and even with all this time spent at home, it seems like there's more to do than ever.
While you wait, here's a look at my picks for the best of 2019 - 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:|
Best Overall Company
This year is going to look an awful lot like last year, at least when it comes to this first category. There's been some nice work from various companies, like Hasbro, Four Horsemen, and Qmx. But the same three are doing it again for me this year, only in a slightly different order.
Hot Toys falls to the bronze medal, at least for me. While they remain a powerhouse in the market, other sixth scale companies are starting to make gains. And while they are the go-to company for Star Wars or Marvel, the lack of diversity in their offerings is hurting them.
NECA is moving up to the silver this year. They continue to rock the horror releases, and have found a way to make both the 7" fully sculpted figures and 8" clothed line extremely popular with fans. They did a bang up job on their IT offerings, and have kept the 1/4 scale fully sculpted figures on the market.
For the third year in a row, my gold is going to Mezco, and yes, it's all because of the One:12 Collective. It remains one of my personal favorite lines, and they are finding new ways to expand the capabilities and features. While some might think of them as the Hot Toys of 1/12, the reality is they have one up on them - they still make figures from lesser known licenses, a big plus in my book.
Worst Overall Company
In 2017 and 2018, this was way too easy. Molecule8 gave us a company to loathe. But as is always the case, a winner of this category can only go on for so long, and they are no more.
So who does that leave? I'm going to be honest with you here - I didn't have one company that really deserved the honor this year. Oh, there are companies that disappointed here and there. McFarlane hasn't really wowed anyone with their big comeback. Mattel still has plenty of distribution issues. Funko makes Pops. I almost went with Star Ace, because they have certainly dropped the quality of their sixth scale offering...but have made up for some of it with the terrific DeFo-Real series of vinyl figures.
While these things are annoying, none of them are truly crimes against humanity. Okay, maybe Pops. But while no one stooped low enough in 2019, have no fear - I'm sure someone will manage to blow it in 2020.
Best Overall Line - High End
When I'm talking 'high end', I'm generally discussing lines in the $75 a piece and above range. Only one of the three winners from last year ended up here this year, but the winner remains the same. It's going to take some effort to dethrone them.
Third place is going to a company that's always in the mix, but for a different series this year. I'm giving the bronze to the Marvel releases from Hot Toys. While they did some bang up work on Star Wars as well, it was their Marvel figures that did more for me in 2019, thanks in large part to the work on Black Panther related goodies.
My silver is going to a newcomer to my list - the Game of Thrones by ThreeZero. Yea, Cersei was a let down, but they gave us a terrific White Walker, Arya, and Brienne all in 2019. With the season 7 Tyrion in early 2020, they're off to another great start.
And the winner? Why yes, it's the One:12 Collective. They did figures from a wide variety of licenses, all high quality and all pushing the boundaries of what's possible in the scale. We saw more light features this year, and some really creative designs. And yes, it was definitely the year of the Gomez.
Worst Overall Line - High End
Unfortunately, the same line wins this year as last. Yep, it's Star Ace's Harry Potter series.
The reason they get my disapproval here isn't because they are abysmal. In reality, the releases have been largely mediocre. Over and over again. It's not like they didn't release anything - there were technically 6 figures released, although only four unique characters. I didn't hate any of them - but I didn't love any of them, either. The work was bland, and as much as I love this particular license, that's an almost unforgivable sin.
This was a series I was all in on for a long time. Now, I've skipped ordering any of the Christmas kids or the Santa Hagrid, and I haven't ordered the v2.0 of Hagrid either. I'll still pick up the unique characters, but it's not with the excitement I once felt.
Best Overall Line - Low End
Another great year in the aisles, thanks to some terrific toy lines.
My bronze winner you can't actually get in the toy aisles, but that's not part of the requirement. I'm handing third place to the Hiya Toys Predator series of action figures. They did some terrific releases, and these little guys have excellent articulation, sculpts, and paint work. I don't do much with the 4" scale these days, but these are definitely worth it.
Last year's winner is falling to silver for me in 2019. I really love everything that the Four Horsemen is doing with their Mythic Legions series, and some of this year's individual figures are going to show up in other categories as well.
But they got edged out this year by the old reliable Marvel Legends. Hasbro has improved the quality of their figures across the board, and we got some really cool characters in 2019. There's a ton of them too, with waves hitting with much more regularity and with much better distribution.
Worst Overall Line - Low End
While they only produced a few figures, the McFarlane Harry Potter series has been a huge disappointment. They didn't have to be - their Game of Thrones series one was well done, and some of their Batman stuff has been nice. But this set of the teen kids was a huge step backward, and I didn't even bother picking them all up. Considering how big a Potter fan I am, that says a lot.
Eddie Wires Award for Outstanding Paint
This award recognizes production paint work that takes a figure above and beyond, elevating it past other collectibles.
Best Male/Female Figure - 18" and up
While NECA dominates my buying in this scale these days, Hot Toys did do a couple of outstanding figures last year.
Hot Toys gets the bronze for their new Vader. He is an amazing figure, as all their quarter scale releases have been. However for me, he's a bit too much like the previous releases to get a higher award this time.
NECA gets the silver for their Pennywise based on the new IT. Another great figure in their series, and when you have a large collection of these all together, they really are eye popping.
Hot Toys does get the gold though, and it's for their deluxe Joker. I haven't bought a Ledger Joker in years, but I was sorely tempted to spend the bucks on this one. If you can only have one, this is the one to get.
(image courtesy Hot Toys)
Worst Male/Female Figure - 18" and up
No bad figures in this scale in 2019, at least not for me. I'd be interested in hearing from you though if you picked up something you thought deserved some ridicule in this scale.
Best Male Figure 12 - 17"
This is always an exciting category, no matter whether it's the Poppies or the People's Picks. Will Hot Toys take it this year, or will someone else sneak in there?
Someone else is definitely getting the bronze, at least from me. I've mentioned before how much I like this figure - he got the Eddie Wires award just a minute ago. Yep, it's the White Walker from ThreeZero, perhaps the best of their Game of Thrones series so far.
I am giving the silver to Hot Toys though, for their terrific release of Bucky Barnes. He has one of the nicest head sculpts and paint jobs I saw all year, and is one of the few Marvel additions I made this year to the collection.
But my winner is from another company altogether - Quantum Mechanix. In fact, they won this award last year with their Princess Bride! This year, I'm giving it to them for their Star Trek Scotty, a figure that fleshes out the bridge crew nicely. Yea, I still really, really want Checkov and Uhura, but if Scotty ends up being the last, they at least went out with a bang.
Worst Male Figure 12 - 17"
I had a few candidates here, including the Hot Toys JL Aquaman. I could have also gone after those God awful 12" figures that pepper the toy aisle these days, pretending to be something more than a lump of plastic, but that's just too easy a target. Instead I went with one that I liked less over time.
It's the Star Ace deluxe Dementor. This Harry Potter release is another example of the mediocrity I discussed earlier. I can cut them some slack for going with this design for the character, but there's very little here and it's a very expensive figure. Two hundred bucks has to get you more than this relatively unarticulated figure with few accessories.
Best Male Figure 5 - 11"
This is a really tough category this year, with plenty of excellent releases in a wide variety of series. While I could easily pick more than one from the same line, I'm purposefully going with three different lines for my choices.
For the bronze, I'm going with Kronnaw from the Mythic Legions. You could actually go with any number of figures from this series, because they released a bunch of great characters in 2019. I didn't get started with this line at the beginning, and my bank account is probably happy I didn't, but I suspect it will always been one I regret passing on.
For silver, I'm going with a figure from a series that simply does not get the love it should. DC Collectibles has done one of the greatest BTAS lines ever produced, and sadly, not enough is said about it. I'm picking their Scarecrow for this category, but again, there were a ton of choices that were all deserving.
No big surprise, but I'm giving gold again this year to a One:12 Collective figure. They did a lot of course, but the one I'm picking was a tough one to get. It was their Toy Fair Blade, a figure that was packed to the max with excellent extras. While the costume was not traditional, it was a fantastic design.
Worst Male Figure 5 - 11"
I'll probably get grief for this one, but there's a particular figure that really disappointed me this year. I've heard a ton about how great the Soap Studio sixth scale stuff is, and based on that I picked up their Bank Robber Joker. Sadly, he was not a $100 figure.
He does have a nice outfit, and there's plenty of great accessories. But the articulation was underwhelming, the paint work below average, and a portrait that was undersized. Again, at that price point, I was really expecting a lot more.
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.
Worst Male Figure under 5"
As I said, I don't buy a lot in this category any more, so I'm going to cut them some slack and skip my worst. Best for those who are close to the market to make that call - what's your pick here?
Best Female Figure 11" - 17"
While other companies produce plenty of sixth scale female figures these days, Hot Toys generally runs away with this category, sweeping more times than not. But for 2019, it was one of the 'nots'.
Mattel is getting the bronze and a lot of kudos from me for doing a terrific series of Barbie's based on real life female heroes, called 'Inspiring Women'. My specific pick here is Katherine Johnson, a woman who was instrumental in American space travel. Others include Sally Ride, Rosa Parks, and Florence Nightingale.
My bronze is going to ThreeZero and their terrific Brienne from Game of Thrones. She was one of my favorite characters on the show, and getting such a well done figure in the series was a thrill.
Hot Toys does get the gold, thanks to their amazing Shuri figure. I already gave her my Eddie Wires award, but the overall execution on this figure, from sculpt to paint to outfit, was absolutely spot on.
Worst Female Figure 12" and up
Here's a rare situation - I just gave a figure from the ThreeZero Game of Thrones line my silver medal for Best Female Figure 12" and Up, and now I'm going to give a figure from the exact same company and series my worst of the year.
Cersei Lannister actually has a much better portrait and paint job than some people admit. Calling her a 'barbie' is nonsense, and this head could be used in a terrific custom.
But that costume. Ugh. The stiff material just isn't working, and with almost no articulation and almost no accessories, she's a real disappointment.
Best Female Figure 5 - 11"
It's amazing to me to see the sheer number of excellent female figures available these days. No longer are they the short packs and back up characters.
My bronze medal is going to Cara Dune, from the Star Wars Black series by Hasbro. I loved her on Mandalorian, and the figure does the character justice, with a solid portrait, good articulation, and terrific design.
My silver is going to a girl from a series that was overlooked last year - Airbender. DST did a really nice job with these, and the Katara has great articulation and an excellent sculpt. If you haven't checked out the full wave, do yourself a favor and do it now.
The gold is going to a One:12 Collective release, which is probably no surprise. They did a couple females in 2019, but it's Hela that really captured my attention. I love the character design in general, and Mezco did a terrific job bringing it down to 1/12 scale.
Worst Female Figure 5 - 11"
There were a few choices I considered here, including Delores from Westworld and Supergirl from Star Ace. But I went with one that came from another series with tons of potential that ended up being a huge let down.
McFarlane is trying to regain some of their luster in the action figure market, picking up a few licenses and dipping back into the 6 - 7" scale pool. One of those licenses was Harry Potter, and I already discussed what a disappointment the overall series has been.
Hermione was a particularly bad release, suffering from the same issues of paint and sculpt as Ron and Harry. The license has so much potential, but this appears to be another missed opportunity. The photo below is a McFarlane marketing shot - she did not turn out that good, sadly.
Best Female Figure under 5"
I don't collect a lot in this scale, but I did pick up a few things I really liked this year.
My bronze is one of those. I've mentioned what a great job Hiya Toys is doing with their 4" series, and the Injustice Harley is a nice example. They also have some great Predators, all well worth checking out.
The new Dark Crystal show on Netflix was great stuff, and Funko produced a terrific line of small figures based on it. Their Aughra gets my second place choice here, and was probably the most popular figure in the wave, judging from what I've seen on the pegs.
My gold medal winner is a bookend with the winner of the male category in this scale - Bride of Chucky, from NECA. This deluxe release featured a ton of extras including multiple heads, and is the definitive version in this scale.
Photo courtesy NECA.
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.
There's no shortage of great Build-a-Figure releases these days. Picking just three for my personal list was tough.
I'm starting with Caliban in the bronze medal spot. I've always liked the character, and this was one of the stronger designs this year.
My silver is going to another character I've always loved - Lobo. I happened to stumble across my old DCU version of this guy, and the new BAF from the Multiverse series is a worthy upgrade.
I'm a big Batman fan, and a big fan of his more monstrous villains, so it should be no surprise that my gold medal winner is Killer Croc, another release in the Multiverse series. I still don't have all the parts to finish him, but I'm going to fill them in on the secondary market. Crappy Mattel distribution...
(image courtesy Action Figure Barbecue)
Most years, this is a really, really tough choice. In fact, many years this is a worst I skip, because most BAF's are damn good.
Ah, but it was easy this year. Molten Man was weak all the way around, and easily deserves getting the raspberry.
I'm picking some distinctly different vehicles this year. And no, the Ecto-1 didn't make it out til 2020.
In third place is the nifty Steve Hearsell. C'mon, a hearse? In a kids toy line? This is as great as when Playmobil did their executioner. I love it when dark characters are included in toy lines, so this guy getting some recognition was a no-brainer for me.
The second place award is going to one of the cool Marvel Legends vehicles they produced as part of their two packs. They've done scooters and even Prof. X's hover chair, but I really liked Captain America's motorcycle. The vintage look of the figure and bike was a big selling point for me, and I'm glad to see them continue this concept into the new year.
But the winner comes from a line I discussed earlier - DC Collectibles Batman The Animated Series. As I said, this is a line that's been woefully overlooked by a lot of folks, and their Batcycle was another terrific addition to the series.
(image courtesy DCC)
Last year I picked on the overall Cars line, because it had lost its way in recent times. As part of my recent collection cataloging, I realized I have over 800 carded or boxed Cars...now, I'm sure there are plenty of dups, but I haven't bought more than a handful in the two years. Can you imagine how many a die hard collector would have right now, particularly if they were a completist? All that being said, the line has improved some in the last year, so I'm giving them a pass here. In fact, I'm giving pretty much all the vehicles I saw this year a pass - nothing stood out as truly deserving of the dishonor.
Best Play Set
There weren't a ton this year that really stood out to me, although I'm sure there were plenty I forgot.
NECA released a version of their cool Street Scenes play set, which had been an exclusive earlier. The exclusive version got the gold from me last year. This one was stripped down a bit, but it's still a great set for 6 - 7" action figures.
Hasbro gets the silver for a re-release of a vintage set - Jabba's Palace. I believe this was a Walmart exclusive, or at least that's the only place I ever saw it show up. It was a great set back in the day, and this one is just as sweet.
My top choice is quite the personal pick. I love sixth scale, I love westerns, I love Tarantino - that means the Door of Habadashery from Asmus, part of their Hateful Eight line, was an easy winner for me.
I got nothin' this year. I was happy with all the dioramas I picked up, and I didn't see any on the shelves of the local stores that stood out as suffering from suckitude. You?
This was a really tough category this year, with a lot of companies producing some amazing work in this area.
My bronze is going to the Drogon from ThreeZero. This is one of those grail pieces for me, and I'd love to add it someday to my Game Of Thrones display. Yea, the odds aren't good - it's not going to get cheaper with time. But a guy can dream, can't he?
Up next is Juggernaut from Sideshow. He gets the silver for all kinds of reasons, not the least of which is his sheer scale and size! I love the dynamic design as well, and this is an amazing statue of a character that never gets a lot of love in collectibles format.
My gold is going to another Marvel character, but this time the statue is from XM Studios. There has never been quite this beautiful a version of Dark Phoenix, and the overall design is one of the nicest I've ever seen.
(image courtesy XM Studios)
I picked on the Batman Black and White series last year - I'm going to do it again this year.
And for pretty much the same reason. The Marc Silvestri Batman was actually a very cool design, as you'd expect being based on his artwork. But the paint quality was terrible, a low point for their releases in 2019.
While smaller busts haven't been quite as popular as they once were, the 1:1 scale versions are popping up with greater and greater frequency.
One of the leading companies working in this area is Queen Studios, and they are getting my bronze medal for their Terminator from T2. This thing is amazing, with a life-like quality you'll rarely see in any statue or bust. Sadly, there's a serious price tag to go with it, but for the collector who has everything, there's still this.
Not all small scale busts have been abandoned, and Gentle Giant continues to crank out some great Star Wars releases. I loved their Amanaman, a terrific alien that finally got his due in this series, and the silver from me.
But my gold is going to one of the big boys - very big boys. The 1:1 scale Venom from Sideshow is a masterpiece, a true work of villainous art. If you're lucky enough to have one of these in your collection, you are a fortunate collector.
(image courtesy Sideshow)
Diamond Select has done a variety of lower cost busts the last few years. Most of these are quite nice for the price point, but occasionally they slip below the bar of acceptable, even at the cheaper price.
Dick Grayson from their Batman 1966 line is one of those. I was disappointed in the paint work, which is usually the Achilles Heel that gets a bust or statue into one of my worst lists. The skin was clumpy, the eyes were wonky, and there was far too much slop. You can cut the price to a point, but when the quality suffers this much, you've gone too far.
Best Designer/Vinyl Figure
We didn't get a ton of unique or unusual nominees this year, and I'm a little disappointed. But there's some nice mass market stuff that made it on the ballot.
I really like the Mezco Designer Series, and their Michael Myers is getting my bronze. It's nice to see the 80's horror still getting the love it deserves.
Funko tends to dominate of course, but there was only one set that really stood out to me this year - Kang and Kodos. Hey, it's the Simpson super fan in me that compels me to give them the silver for this Gamestop exclusive.
My personal favorite, getting the gold, is from a brand new line - the DeFo Real series. Star Ace started producing these in 2019, and so far they are off to a really strong start. My pick goes to their creepy Pennywise, in his standard appearance. If you're into the whole deformed style, check these out.
Worst Designer/Vinyl Figure
Okay, I know I just picked the Funko Kang and Kodos for the silver in the Best category, and yes, I did buy four or five Pop vinyl figures over the course of the year. But I'm giving the whole damn line the 'win' here as well, same as 2018.
Why? Because they make so many, many boring characters. I've tried to get it, I really have, but the extreme number of licenses and characters just seems nuts to me. Clearly, I'm in the minority.
Best Prop Replica
There were plenty of nifty replicas in 2019, although I didn't personally pick up as many as in past years.
I did buy the Mutagen Canister from NECA, and it gets my bronze. Complete with some delightful radioactive slime, the cartoony look is perfect for your TMNT display.
There were quite a few helmets produced in 2019, and my personal favorite was Punisher Iron Man Helmet from Hasbro. It's identical to the MKIII release, but it has the Punisher paint job. There's a light up feature too, but it's really all about the amazing weathered paint job.
My top pick comes from Chronicle. Dark Crystal saw some renewed interest thanks to the Netflix show, and they produced an amazing Emperor's Scepter. I don't have it yet, but it's on my short list to pick up very soon.
(image courtesy of Chronicle)
Worst Prop Replica
None for me. I think with Hasbro really stepping up their game with the $100 or so replicas they've been producing, it's had a very positive effect on the entire market.
Best Building set/Block Figure
There were a number of newcomers to the building block world, but Lego still dominates for me.
I love the original line up, and the Steamboat Willie set is one of the few I bought last year. It's a bit overpriced, no doubt about it, but the old cartoon is such a classic I couldn't turn it down, and it grabs my bronze medal.
If you like your sets big, you'll love the silver medal winner. With 4700 pieces, the Imperial Star Destroyer is magnificent. They've always done excellent Star Wars sets, but this one is one of their best.
The gold winner is much smaller, but still Lego. It's the Flintstones, a set I never, ever expected to see. These unique sets are always cool, but this one was simply too retro to pass up, even for me. C'mon man, it's the Flintstones!
(image courtesy of Brothers Brick)
Worst Building set/Block Figure
Bear with me a bit here - this is a bit of a stretch. The sets themselves weren't that bad, at least not that I know of. I didn't pick any up, but I didn't hear any large scale complaints about the Mega Game of Thrones sets.
The concept just seems doomed to me. The Mega series, which includes Megabloks, tend to be geared more toward kids. Yea, I know that seems to be a funny thing to say, since clearly Lego were originally intended for kids. But over time, Lego have become more than that, and adults collect and build the sets with as much passion as the under 10 set.
But Mega haven't reached that point. They still tend to be a kid oriented line, and GoT is definitely not a kid oriented license. Mcfarlane already tried doing building sets for this license, and flamed out badly. I can't imagine the Mega line up fairing any better.
Here we are, down to the final category. This is a catch all sort of thing, and believe me, some of these picks are defintely 'misc'.
Certain 'action figures' don't fit well into any of the other categories, and they end up here. Such is the case with my bronze winner, the Brachiosaurus from the Jurassic World line up. This thing is huge, and a terrific addition to any dino display.
My silver medal goes to a weird one - Star Wars lunch boxes in sixth scale. Yea, these are actual Star Wars lunch boxes, called 'tiny tins', but sized for your sixth scale figures. Gentle Giant made sure your 1/6 figures will be going back to school in the fall with nerd style!
My personal winner isn't a collectible, really. But it is very, very nerdy. Have you seen the new show Lego Masters? Think baking contest show but with Lego. Yea, it can be stupid and insipid at times, but it does give adult builders a bit more respect, something all nerds could use.
I'm going to complain about something I've complained about before, but it's been bugging me with intensity recently, and so is very fresh in my mind.
Blind boxing. God, I hate it. My personal annoyance right now is the Funko Rick and Morty Series 3 mini-figures. I have about half, if you take into consideration the various store exclusives, and the simple fact is that I must buy the others off Ebay. I have way too many doubles already, and at 5 or 6 bucks a piece, that's a tremendous waste of money.
Conclusions:So there you have my picks for 2019. Sorry they were late this year - it was a really busy winter for me, and hopefully by the time we do this again, I'll finally have my collection all set up in a new display area! I've only been working on it for seven years, but the last few months have seen me actually make terrific progress. More on that in the months to come!
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