Captain Toy's Picks for Best and Worst of 2010!

You're probably wondering where the Poppies and People's Picks awards are - I'm working on them, but it takes some time. While you're waiting, here's my own choices for best - and worst! - of 2010.

Here are links back to past year's picks for comparisons:

My picks:   People's Picks:   Poppies:  
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

Feel free to disagree with me - that's kind of a big part of doing these lists and reading them. If you feel strongly enough, let me know by emailing me.  Now let's get to those picks! 

Best Overall Company

This category is tighter this year...but it's still pretty close to a no contest. C'mon, you know it's true.

Let's start with third place though, where I'm going with a company that a lot of people really, really, really hate, and yet I think they're doing some things that put them on the right track. Who? Why Mattel of course! I'm as pissed as the rest of the collecting world when it comes to the snafus around Matty Collector ordering and the total disaster that is Digital River. And the distribution woes continue for Mattel and their DCUC series. But when it comes to a huge toy company actually getting it when it comes to collectors, I can't argue with some of the work Mattel has done, especially around Masters of the Universe Classics, DC Universe Classics, and Ghostbusters. Not every decision was a smart one, and not every move was a good one, but it's rare that a company of this size (and with a general bend towards kids) will actually try to provide the collector community with quality product.

In second place comes a dark horse - threeA Toys. I haven't been a big buyer of their product, but I have noticed how happy their fans (and the fans of the property World War Robot) have been with their work. They mixed things up a bit this last year with different scales, and the quality of the paint and sculpting is top notch. Buyers are very happy at this point with pretty much everything they're producing. They might be small, but you should keep an eye on them!

Ah, then there's the top spot. Do I really need to espouse all that is great about Hot Toys? Their production paint work remains the best on the market, and their sculpting has only improved. With continued improvements to their TrueType bodies and even better accessories and costumes than in 2009, 2010 was an excellent year for them. They continue to make great licensing decisions (almost always, anyway), and when they announce they've picked up your favorite movie, you know two things - they'll do an excellent job, and you'll have to sell your soul to afford them all.

Worst Overall Company

Sadly, I'm going to give another third place trophy to Mattel, but this time it's for Worst Company. I know, I know, how can I give them a third place in both best and worst? That's the Sybilesque nature of the company. As much as I love what they've done with MOTUC and DCUC, as much as I truly appreciate the uber-cool PKE Meter, and as much as I applaud some of their risky choices, I have to admit that the ordering of their product remains a huge annoyance, as well as the inaccessibility to some of their DCUC waves. This last year also saw soaring costs for DCUC, a trend that could easily end the series.

I'm picking Jazwares for my second place, but it was a hard decision. There's some good people there, really good people, but I can't ignore that they gave us the Percy Jackson and the Robot Chicken lines, two that disappointed me in terms of quality. If these awards were about the people working for the companies in question, there'd be some very different choices, believe me, but this is really about their execution during the year.

My gold spot goes to McFarlane Toys, not for what they did this last year, but for what they didn't do. It's sad to see the once great leader of the industry reduced to so little output. While their Sports lines continue, their other licensed and unlicensed action figures have all but dried up. McFarlane made action figures cool - it's hard to envision a market without them. I've included a photo from several years ago as a reminder of days gone by. Evil Frosty might return each year with the arrival of magic snow, but I fear McFarlane won't be so lucky.


Best Overall Line - High End

Hot Toys dominated this category in 2009, but not so much - at least for me - this time around. There's some other companies challenging them, and doing a great job at it.

My third place pick is going to a bit of an oddball, but I was very happy with the overall series - Cover Girls of the DCU. Not every release was my thing, but as a set these are rivaling some other classic statue series in quality and design.

Second place goes to threeA's larger World War Robot (WWRA) series. Sadly, I don't own a single one, but I love what I've seen in other's collections and the paint work is rivaling the best on the market.

Still, as much as these other companies are knocking on the door, it's still a Hot Toys series I put in first. They did some great work once again on several licenses, including Michael Jackson and Iron Man 2, but for me it was their Terminator 2 series that was tops in 2010. They released three key figures - the T-800, T-1000, and Sarah Connor - and all three were exceptional. They even threw in the T-1000 in Sarah Connor disguise for the serious fans. With more on the way in 2011, it's good to be a Terminator fan.

Worst Overall Line - High End

When you're spending big bucks, you expect the best. It's no wonder then that it's usually this category that has the most vehement proponents. There's plenty of worsts when you start discussing lines where people are spending upwards of hundreds of dollars on the product. However, I'm going to take heat on all three of my choices this year - I can see it coming like a freight train in the distance. But if you don't take some heat, why bother?

Just in case you thought that all I ever do is smooch up on Hot Toys, I would like to point out that I'm not always happy with their work. Most often that's because they decide to do a character even when they can't get actor likeness rights, which is a personal pet peeve of mine. But sometimes, as in the case of my third place choice, it's an overall disappointment in what could have been. In third place, I'm putting their Watchmen series, which only amounted to two figures - Silk Spectre II and the Comedian. I had my disappointments with both figures, and then there is the biggest disappointment of all - that the choice of these two figures to start the series probably doomed it to ending right there. I don't mind adding in the DC Direct Dr. Manhattan (sans suit) with these two on the shelf, but without a good Rorshach, what's the point?

I'm going to take some heat for my second place choice too, because I know the series has a big share of fans. But I gotta say that I think the jumbo-sized Vintage Star Wars figures from Gentle Giant are a huge rip. For a whopping $100 or more, you get a hollow, over sized reproduction. As you can tell, I think it's a big marketing scam, but your mileage may vary.

In the number one spot is a series that's sort of a series...but again, only had two real releases. That would be Mattel's Superman 12" series, or set, if you prefer: Superman and General Zod. Zod technically hit in 2009, but it was just before Christmas, making it tough for anyone to properly include him in the 2009 voting. Both figures are mediocre at best, and the most crucial element for the Supes was the Reeves likeness. Unfortunately, he's a big fail in that regard, and you shouldn't be surprised if you see him show up again in my list a little further down.


Best Overall Line - Low End

Two of my three picks in this category are probably about as obvious as you can get. So let's start with what might be a surprise in my third place slot - the Toy Story Collection from Thinkway. They upped the selection this year with the Toy Story 3 characters, and I really love the Lotso. These are about as accurate to the movie as you can get, with electronics added in for great effect. Thinkway has done a terrific job with this license right from their very first Buzz Lightyear, and while these are a bit on the high end for low end, they're worth every penny.

Now to the obvious picks. I'm giving my silver spot to DC Universe Classics, and if you've been reading my reviews for the last few years, it's no surprise. Yep, Mattel can drive me nuts, but this is one of the best DC action figure lines ever produced.

And yet it doesn't get the top spot. That goes to Mattel's other successful collector's line, Masters of the Universe Classics. And here's the weird thing - I have absolutely zero interest in He-man, never watched the old cartoon or the later version, and have no nostalgia for any of the characters. It's a testament to Mattel's work on this series (assisted in great part by the Four Horsemen's designs and sculpts), that I recognize what exceptional toys they are first, collectibles second. If every action figure series that hit your local Toys R Us has this level of sculpting, articulation and play, I'd have nothing left to whine about.

Worst Overall Line - Low End
There never seems to be a shortage when it comes to the worst in the low end category. I had three easy picks, and I bet you can think of some others.

My third place is one of disappointment more than of outright poor quality. I had huge hopes for The Last Airbender, both as a movie and a toy line. The movie was a big let down, and the toy line wasn't far behind. Some of the 3 3/4" figures weren't too bad, but for the most part, it was far less than it could have been.

Another let down for me was the last wave of Harry Potter figures from NECA. With the second to last movie hitting, we only got three figures, and two of them were rehashes of Harry and Snape. Fenrir was the only new character, and terrible paint ops plagued the entire series.

But those two lines are no where near as bad as the total crapfest that snags my top spot - Percy Jackson. Here's a line that we'll see on clearance shelves almost as long a Speed Racer, and that's a bad, bad thing.


Eddie Wires Award for Outstanding Paint

This is a new award, created in memory of the amazing artist Eddie Wires. Many people in the industry knew Eddie, and everyone inside and out loved his work. The Poppies Judges thought it was appropriate to create a special award in his honor that in turn honors a collectible that stands out due to it's exceptional paint quality.

There were some really terrific choices in this category, and of course Hot Toys had several that were just outstanding, like Aldo Raine and Royce. Enterbay's Bruce Lee statue was also an excellent contender, making it all the more difficult for me to pick just one. But I did, and that one is the Silver Surfer comiquette from Sideshow. The liquid smooth appearance of his silver body was really impressive, all the more so because silver tends to be such a difficult color for companies to get right. It's often too thick or too thin, and issues with consistency can run rampant. But the work on the Silver Surfer statue was just amazing, and left a truly lasting impression on me.


Best Male Figure 12 - 18"

In recent years, this category has been completely dominated by Hot Toys. Let's face it, 2008, 2009...nobody was going to touch them. But anytime someone leads, others follow, and eventually the followers start catching up. In 2010, Hot Toys started to feel some competitive heat on their heels.

I'm giving my bronze spot to threeA for Drop Cloth in the World War Robot series. Actually, you could have given this award to just about ANY of the figures in that series - they are all outstanding. The fan base continues to grow as well, as more and more fans realize these figures are available.

Second place silver is going to another non-Hot Toys figure: Galactus from Hasbro. This guy is actually part of the Marvel Universe series, a small scale action figure line available at most mass market stores. But this huge Galactus fits in this category due to his monstrous size. And since his release, Marvel Universe fans have been unable to stop talking about him.

But while Hot Toys was feeling some heat, they haven't yet lost their lead in this category, and I'm giving Hot Toys the gold for their T-1000 from Terminator 2. Actually, they had several great figures this year - Aldo, Royce, the T-800, War Machine, any version of Iron Man...but for me, the one that really stood out was the T-1000 with the swappable cop uniform, multiple heads, and cool magnetic bullet wounds.

Worst Male Figure 12 - 18"
To be completely honest, there weren't a ton of awful 12" figures this year. That doesn't mean I had a hard time picking my three, however.

Third place goes to the Mattel Superman. As Poe Ghostal so rightly pointed out, there have been plenty of Supermen done in this or a similar scale, and one more was not really necessary UNLESS it captured the likeness of the great Christopher Reeves. It didn't.

Second place is actually too short for this category - it's the Ultimate Aang from Last Airbender. While he's a little shorter, that's because they took a shot at making him sixth scale, and his atrocities (poor articulation, weak sculpt and paint) make him more appropriate to be judged against others in this scale.

There is one stand out for me this year, one 12" action figure that was jaw droppingly bad. An awful sculpt, no useful articulation, and a voice feature that sounded like he was drunk - really drunk - the Hannibal figure from the A-Team line was the easy winner.


Best Male Figure  5 - 11"

Here's another of those tough categories this year with multiple great figures. My bronze third place pick comes from the Marvel Select series, a line I haven't collected a whole lot in the last couple years. But their release of Abomination is perhaps the best rendition of that character we've ever seen.

Next up in second place is a SDCC exclusive - the DC Universe Classics Plastic Man. He really wasn't the best of the DCUC line in any one category, but the overall package was just terrific. This is what every SDCC exclusive should be: cool character, great accessories, imaginative packaging, and a very unique design. And he wasn't all that tough to come by, even if you didn't attend!

My first place winner was a really tough decision. I knew it was going to be something out of the Masters of the Universe Classics, but which one? There were so many that had cool extra features, or swappable heads, or just terrific was a very tough choice. After much internal debate - and several adult beverages - I decided to go with Trapjaw. He was an early 2010 release, but he was one of my favorites for the entire series so far.

Worst Male Figure 5 - 11"
Third place in this worst category is going to the little discussed Megamind line from Toyquest. In particular, I had issues with the Megamind Henchman, who should have been a knock out, but really was disappointing. The lack of articulation and sloppy paint, not to mention the extravagant price point, really hurt this figure. Thankfully the movie (and the Megamind figure itself) were much better.

Second place is one you probably completely forgot about - Public Enemies Major Force. Actually, you could swap in the name of any of the Public Enemies figures here, as the whole wave was worthy of dishonor. Sloppy paint, cheap plastic, and once again, that nasty price point are going to make this wave the low point of the DCUC one offs.

But the big winner for me is a figure I mentioned earlier: Fenrir Greyback from Harry Potter. The paint work was atrocious on this series, and every Fenrir I saw on the pegs had serious issues.


Best Male Figure under 5"

This was a really tough category for me, because I didn't buy a ton of figures in this scale during 2010. But that doesn't mean I didn't see a lot, since this is a hugely popular size right now.

My third place vote goes to Bespin Luke, one of the best Luke's we've ever seen and certainly the best Bespin version we've ever seen. Hasbro continues to amaze me with the improvements they make in this scale across all their lines, but the Star Wars series in general was terrific.

I love the movie War Machine, but I have to be honest and say that the comic series War Machine was so good that it hurt...and it got my second place award. All the old school Iron Man fans who also happen to love their figures tiny can now die happy.

My top pick in this category is also a Marvel character, from the Marvel Universe series - World War Hulk. This is one of those figures that makes you stop in the aisle and say "wow", even when you have no interest in the character. Great sculpt, fantastic paint - this guy had it all. If you are looking for proof that good things come in small packages, you've found it. I didn't review him, but check the link for some great shots at Battle Grip.

Worst Male Figure under 5"
As I mentioned earlier, I didn't buy a lot of figures in this scale this year, but I saw plenty in my meanderings. And not all that I saw was beauty and grace.

Back around Halloween, Target was selling the Jun Planning NMBC trading figures and I picked up several. The worst of the bunch was Lock, Shock and Barrel, who caused me no end of frustration. Hey, it's another property I love, and these weren't blind boxed. But they were really poor quality, and I had trouble keeping several of them together. I felt ripped, which is always a sure sign that it would show up here.

I've complained about this series already - and I'm not done yet - but I'll beat the dead horse by picking the Last Airbender Aang for second place here. Which one? Does it really matter? Actually, the smaller figures were the best the line had to offer, but there were still enough issues for me to warrant a second place slot.

First place goes to the Disney Indiana Jones figures. Yea, it's not exactly fair, since these were not billed as being the greatest thing ever. But the paint job was truly atrocious, and even small children...small blind children...would have been unhappy.


Best Female Figure over 11"

There were enough ladies this year that the judges decided to split up the female figure category into two - those over 11", and those under 11". Since we did that with the Poppies and People's Picks, I figured I'd do it with my own categories too.

In third place is a real dark horse - literally. I didn't give her a great score when I reviewed her, but Ghost from Triad Toys grew on me over time. I love the comic character, and I think that the Triad body works best for her. Add in a terrific looking costume, and she managed to find her way onto my list.

My silver medal winner isn't even one I reviewed - Tomorrow Queens by threeA. As you can see, this is a company that's doing well in my picks this year, and these lovely ladies sold me.

Hot Toys takes first place here as well with another Terminator 2 figure - Sarah Connor. While I'm not as big of a Terminator nut as some people I know, I do love the films, especially 2, and this bad ass rendition of Sarah does her proud.

Worst Female Figure over 11"
There's surprisingly few awful ladies in this scale for 2010, and I had to dig pretty deep.

Hot Toys might be taking my first place picks in most areas, but not everything they did this year wowed me. As I mentioned earlier, I was disappointed by what happened with the Watchmen series, especially Silk Spectre II. The face sculpt was pretty, and the rooted hair worked fairly well, but the costume was a huge let down, and takes third place here.

My second place slot goes to Helga, from Triad Toys. She's not awful, but I had enough individual issues with her (especially the helmet) to end up disappointed, and as it should be obvious by now, I hate being disappointed. The busty body didn't work as well here as it did with Ghost either, a problem I also saw with the recent Barbwire.

But first place goes to one of the less attractive DC Deluxe figures released this year - Poison Ivy. Has this poor girl every gotten a decent sixth scale or even pseudo sixth scale rendition? I don't think so, and it seems so unfair.


Best Female Figure under 11"
Other judges are probably going to spread the love around when it comes to the more dimunitive ladies, but for me, it really does revolve around just two series.

In third place, I'm selecting the fairly recent Raven, from the DCUC. She isn't the most articulated, and if you end up with bad ankles you can get a tad frustrated, but the face sculpt and design of the cloak are excellent.

Second place goes to a lovely lade of the MOTUC. The good girl She-Ra gets this award, and she's about as beautiful as they come in Eternia.  Add in some terrific extras, and I couldn't ignore her.

But first place goes not to the good girl, but the bad girl - Evil-Lynn. Hey, if the women can love the bad boys, than the men can love the bad girls. Again, a beautiful sculpt in combination with some terrific accessories gives her the edge over the competition.

Worst Female Figure under 11"
I thought the whole series was over priced, but perhaps my least favorite figure in the Pixar Collection was Jessie. The pose was slightly awkward in the larger scale - here, it's downright goofy. Like some of my other picks, the reality is that the whole line was below standard, amplified by the extreme price. Ten bucks? It was practically armed robbery. Some were slightly better than others (I can understand breaking down for Buzz or Lotso), but Jessie had little going for her to command such a premium.

My other two awards are going to ladies in the DCUC. While I love the overall series, the sad truth is that they have a serious issue producing attractive female figures in this line. It's not unheard of, but it's not the norm.

My silver pick is Donna Troy. I suspect some folks liked her more than I did, but the pose and articulation worked poorly together, leaving her prone more than upright.

Mary Batson gets the gold though, due to a less than attractive sculpt, articulation and pose issues, and even some paint problems. This is one of those situations where multiple minor issues came together to make one big one for me.


Best Build a Figure

Some people considered the Build a Figure concept a silly marketing fad, and yet after all this time it's still producing some of the best figures we see all year. Finding a bad BaF or CnC (as Mattel likes to call them) is nigh on impossible.

I'm going to give my third place trophy to a non-Mattel figure - Roberto, from the Futurama series by Toynami. He's a favorite character of mine anyway, and the figure was one of the better released in the series in 2010. Sadly, it doesn't look like we'll be getting any more Futurama BaF's for awhile.

Second place is going to Trigon, from DCUC. Mattel is doing a terrific job with their Collect and Connect figures, producing excellent sculpts for characters that might not otherwise get released. Trigon is not a figure I'd ever expect to see, but I love how he turned out. He's the kind of BaF that can convince me to buy an entire wave, something I might not otherwise do.

My first place pick is also going to Mattel, and it's also DCUC...sort of. It's Arkillo, who was the CnC figure with the first wave of Green Lantern DCUC figures. I'm loving all the attention that the Green Lantern theme is getting this year, and Arkillo is an excellent addition to the shelf.

Worst BAF

I'm sticking with the same thing I said last year - I wracked my brain, and yet I couldn't come up with a single BAF, CnC or other similar product to put in my 'worsts' category. Maybe I'm just a sucker for the concept, but everyone executed it really well this year.


Best Vehicle or Playset

2010 saw a nice assortment of vehicles and playsets in a lot of different licenses.  I'm going to step back to one that's truly a toy, with no designs on being 'collectible' at all. It's a terrific toy too - the Joker's Fun House that's part of the Imaginext Batman line. These sets are designed for the younger crowd, and the figures and action features are imaginative and fun. Hey, I had to buy one for myself!

Second place is going to something a bit more traditional for the collector base - Battle Cat from MOTUC. With Panthor coming, we'll have two of the coolest cats around. Again, a terrific sculpt and design from the Four Horsemen along with excellent articulation makes this feline one of the best releases in the series all year. And technically, since He-man is supposed to ride on his back, he's a vehicle!

My gold medal pick is an obvious one - the new HUGE AT-AT from Hasbro. I have the last release as well, and this one just makes it look sad. It's not just monstrous in size, but it includes all kinds of excellent action features and sounds. There's plenty of room to carry all your Imperial forces!


Worst Vehicle or Playset
Sadly, I couldn't manage to come up with three worsts this year - I don't know if that's a testament to improved quality in playsets and vehicles, or just my inability to remember. But I do have one that's a standout...

My gold medal winner - or loser - in this category was an easy pick for me. As nice as Battlecat was for He-man, Appa was the mirror opposite for Aang. Everything about Battlecat screams 'great toy', and everything about Appa moans "awful toy".


Best Statue

If the economy was bad, it wasn't obvious in the number or quality of high end statues released last year. I had no trouble picking out three exceptional examples, and could have thrown in several more.

In third place, I'm going with the Marvel Bishoujo version of Phoenix from Kotobukiya. I love most of the designs, and I thought this version of Phoenix was particularly beautiful.

I already gave the Silver Surfer from Sideshow the Eddie Wires award, but it's also getting a second place spot here. The inclusion of all the swappable limbs made him not just a gorgeous statue - he was also the most versatile I saw all last year.

My top pick though is one more of personal taste than downright perfection. I'm going with the Sideshow Premium Format Mola Ram, who once again had some great swappable pieces (including two heads), and captured the best moment of this Indy villain beautifully. As a companion piece to the ToD Indy, he's just about perfect.


Worst Statue
In past years, this was an easy category to find worsts. Everyone is stepping up their game though, and those that didn't are no longer playing.

So it's with difficulty that I picked these three. In third place is the Marshall Roger's Batman Black and White. I love most of these, but this time the pose (the strangler look) really didn't do it for me. The quality was still there, but the look just turned me off.

My second place was also a statue that was tough to put in this category - the exclusive Sideshow Rocketeer. It's pretty rare for any Premium Format figure to end up here, and I'm betting some folks will be surprised by my pick. It's true that the Rocketeer is on display in my home, and when he's fully dressed as the Rocketeer, complete with helmet, he's a pretty sweet statue. Still too expensive for what you get, but sweet nonetheless. But the additional un-helmeted portrait was weak, and ended up hurting the exclusive, rather than helping it.

In first place is the fun but flawed Mickey Mouse as Indiana Jones. I really, really wanted to love this statue, since I love Indy and every human being on the face of the planet loves Mickey. But the sloppy paint and general poor quality ended up - you know what I'm going to say - disappointing me. Maybe I have too high of hopes? But isn't dreaming big what Mickey is all about?


Best Bust

The number of companies doing busts has seemingly shrunk, but those left are still doing some very nice work.

Bowen still does some of the best busts out there, particularly if you're a big Marvel fan. Their version of Pyro released in 2010 was one of the coolest designs I saw all year, showing off just how creative they can be.

I complain a lot when it comes to Gentle Giant, but I also think that when they're on, nobody can beat them. One of my favorites this year is their their Faun from Pan's Labyrinth. Here's a movie with some funky monster designs, and Gentle Giant pulled of the main character beautifully in their bust. Sadly, I don't expect to see too many more characters released.

Gentle Giant also impressed me with Kreacher, for the Harry Potter series. A terrific sculpt supported by great paint, and a cool character to top it off. What else could you ask for? He was good enough to take my top honors here, partly due to my love of the license and my thrill that they've kept it alive.


Worst Bust
As I said earlier, when Gentle Giant is on, they're really on. But too often these days they are producing quality sculpts with sub-par paint work. And while I went with three good busts (two of which were Gentle Giant), I'm only going with two bads. Again, I didn't see that many that really deserved to be in this list.

My second place bust on the worst list is suffering from weak paint - Cedric, from Harry Potter.  These problems seem to be the worst in the Harry Potter line, too, which hits me even harder.

My top place pick is Sirius Black. Poor Harry Potter. Along with the awful paint, the sculpt was a tad lacking as well on this one, making him a bit more of a catastrophe than Cedric.


Best Designer/Vinyl

I don't buy a lot of Designer or Vinyl figures, but I sure do see a lot of them over the course of the year. My third place pick is one of those personal taste things - it's the Beetlejuice Mez-itz. I was happy to see Mezco up the size of their Mez-itz this last year, and I bought many of them released so far. Beetlejuice is one of my favorite characters, so it was a natural that this one would rank high for me.

Second place goes to a pair - Carl and Russell from Up, done by Hot Toys.  If I had to pick just one, it would be Carl, but I figure no one wants just one of this inseparable pair.

But my first place choice here is a bit of an unusual one, at least for me. It's Black and White and Red All Over, a really unique figure. Remember all those jokes when you were a kid? This guy's certainly no joke! I didn't review this figure, but you can find some great shots at this link.

Worst Designer/Vinyl
Sadly, I didn't buy or even look at enough figures in this market during the last year to provide worthwhile thoughts when it comes to the Worsts. On top of that, the potential candidates here are largely 'art', which makes it more of a matter of taste than one of quality, and my tastes are pretty bizarre.

Best Prop Replica
Mattel surprised me at SDCC with their announcement of the full scale PKE Meter prop replica.  It looks as good as something produced by one of the high end companies, and came in at a reasonable price too. Lights, sounds, moving arms, all done in a very realistic style.

Another one of my favorites gets my second place spot - the Coraline doll from NECA! I loved the movie, and the doll is an excellent replica at a very, very good price. Don't pass this one up if you're a fan of the film, as it's going to be a classic.

My first place winner is also a classic, and is also from NECA. It's the Freddy Glove, complete with metal blades.  While this is based on the new film appearance, it's still a classic, and they've managed to create a very realistic prop at a very reasonable price.

Worst Prop Replica
Another category where I don't have enough bad selections to fill three slots is the worst prop replica category. I was back in the habit of buying my fair share of props this year, but most were pretty well done.

In second place is the Noble Collection Jake knife from Avatar. The problem here isn't one of quality - the knife really does look terrific. But I was upset by the scale, as the weapon is woefully undersized.

When I saw that the classic fountain from the Detroit Zoo was so predominantly featured in the Coraline film, I thought for sure we'd see a replica snow globe readily available. We did finally get one - a long time after the movie was released - but it was no where close to the film version. The Detroit Zoo really blew it on this one, missing a terrific opportunity, and takes top dishonors here.

Best Block Figure

We're seeing plenty of block figures these days, with more new ones (I just bought a few of the Trio Batman figures for myself) popping up every day.

Mini-mates are like an unstoppable beast - no matter how close they seem to death, some how they manage to resurrect themselves once again. With a ton of cool new figures last year (including some great stuff in the Ghostbusters series and the Universal Monsters series) they seem like they'll go on forever, and they get my third place vote.

Second place goes to an old favorite of mine - Playmobil. I once said that if I was told tomorrow that I could only collect one series of figures and nothing else, my choice would be Playmobil. With all those cool concepts and great figures (and no need to spend hours building anything), they were and are a personal favorite.

My gold goes to the master of the small block figure - Lego. This last year they introduced the single packed mini-figures, and these things are hotter than Texas asphalt. While the concept was simple, it appeals to both old collector and young fan equally.
Worst Block Figure

All block figures are cool, so I'm not going to call out any of them specifically in this category. However, I will take this opportunity once again to rail against the annoying blind boxing of these figures. Kubricks is bad enough, but with the new LEGO mini-figures, you end up with a ton just trying to complete the set. I find it a) a huge waste of money and b) a turn off to collecting them. My son doesn't have quite the same issue, since he's not the one spending his hard earned money on another damn pilot figure.


Best Misc

When you can't figure out where to put it, put it in 'misc'. And that's exactly where my three picks belong.

For the third place award here, I'm going with Bigfoot, the huge Imaginext remote controlled beast. I don't know about you, but I couldn't resist pushing the demo button every time I walked through Target. This guy seemed to do it all, and he's Bigfoot for cryin' out loud! It simply doesn't get any cooler than that, at least if you're a 5 year old boy...or me.

I'm giving my second place nod to the Triarama Dioramas from Triad Toys. I love cool looking diorama pieces in sixth scale, but they are always so damn expensive. Triad has answered the need by producing this series of much more affordable sets, allowing you to really spice up your display.

It was a no brainer for me who should get the number one spot here - Mattel's Monster High. I honestly have no idea how they did it, but they managed to make old school Universal Monsters hip and cool again. My 9 year old daughter loves these things, and she's not alone - the dolls were one of the hottest toys for Christmas. I'm just thrilled that another generation will know who the Creature from the Black Lagoon is. Or at least who his daughter, Laguna Blue, is.

Worst Misc

Here's a weird and wild category - anything goes here, at least for me. Other people would probably pick specific figures or lines, but I'm going with the less obvious.

In third place is the insanity that is the San Diego Comic Con panels. I love the con dearly, and have been going for many years now. The folks that put it on work tirelessly to do their best, but at this point it's no longer possible to attend the panels with any sort of regularity. Last year I think I made it to one - one! The lines were too long, the rooms too small. I fear that they'll collapse under the weight of their own success.

While my second place complaint isn't new, it's been a few years since it's been on my list. But the ludicrously rising prices of 2010 are going to doom some lines, particularly the mass market versions. I don't know how action figures can survive in a market where 6 - 7" figures are about $15, and even the 3 3/4" scale is hitting $10 at times. Parents are going to look elsewhere for their kid's entertainment.

I already complained about this, but my top worst for 2010 in the 'misc' category is the Digital River online order fulfillment and processing service for Mattel. Digital River is one of the largest outsource companies for ecommerce - and if their pathetic effort with Mattel is any indication, I can only assume that someone is sleeping with someone on a global scale.

General Comments

It was a tough one this year, at least for me. Picking bests was difficult because there were so many to choose from, and picking worsts was twice as difficult because there was so few. We've seen a lot of market shake out over the last couple years, with companies that were doing poor work paying for it by disappearing. Those companies that remain can't afford to produce a lot of mediocre crap, so instead they are producing fewer but better items.

2011 should be very interesting, as several companies, including Enterbay and Dragon in Dreams, take a shot at upsetting top spot Hot Toys. The partnership between Hot Toys and Sideshow has grown further, and with Hot Toys taking a swing at Indy, we know anything is possible.

One of these days I might not even be able to do a 'worsts' list, because I won't be able to find enough to whine about...naw, that ain't going to happen.


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