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Captain Toys Picks for Best/Worst of 2015!

Poppies 2015

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You might be wondering...where's those Poppies results? What about the People's Picks? C'mon, man get on the stick!  Hey, I'm on it, I'm on it, and I should have all the info on both awards very soon. While you wait, here's a look at my personal picks for the best last year, as well as my picks for the worst in every category. I have made one change this year, and it's to the Worst selections. Instead of doing three, similar to the Bests, I'm only doing one. Enjoy, and feel free to drop me a line with any comments!

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

My picks:   People's Picks:   Poppies:  
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

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Best Overall Company:
There were a lot of great companies doing great work in 2015. Picking a top three was tough, but not as tough as finding any for the 'worst' category.

My third place pick is a new kid on the block, at least as their own entity. Star Ace is actually a part of the larger X-Plus, a company that's been around for a number of years and is well known in the vinyl figure and Godzilla circles. Star Ace focuses on high end sixth scale, and have made a major splash with their Harry Potter releases. Not every figure has been a home run, but the work has been solid and included some major hits, like Hermione. They've announced a number of great licenses for 2016 including Hunger Games, 300, and Underworld, making them a company I'll be closely watching in the coming months.

In second comes an old stand by.  Hot Toys continues to impress, and with their expansion into major league licenses like Star Wars, their domination of the sixth scale universe is complete. It's not all sunshine and puppy dogs for them, with newer companies like Star Ace, Asmus, ACI, and ThreeZero pressuring them to continue innovating and raising the bar. Hot Toys is responding well to the challenge, blazing the trail into areas like rooted hair and remote control sound/light features.

And the winner? For me that was a company that defines consistent. NECA is consistent year over year in picking great licenses and producing solid line ups. Aliens, Terminator, Gremlins, Predator, all had excellent releases this year. Add in a successful run with their 8" clothed figures, some really terrific 1/4 scale releases, and their unique old school video game line - not to mention their fantastic DC releases - and you have a company that knows how to execute and produce the figures their fans crave.

Dark Knight Rises Joker action figure by NECA

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Worst Overall Company:
As I said, it was far harder to come up with any companies doing such an awful job to deserve a 'worst' in this category. While I did manage to think of a couple, they aren't at the low water level that we've seen in past years. There are a few that I found frustrating at times - Mattel, Hasbro, Funko, Sideshow, Gentle Giant, McFarlane...all of them did something to annoy me. But it wasn't consistent or problematic, signaling a bigger issue. This isn't a bad thing, and I hope it will last...

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Best Overall Line - High End:
This was a really, really tough one. Not finding three to pick, but only picking three! There were a lot of really great lines this year, and narrowing it down was difficult.

Third place goes to a series of statues that hasn't gotten as much press as it should, but is near and dear to my heart. As a big fan of the 1960's Batman television show, I've been continually dismayed at the dearth of high end collectibles. While we've gotten a fair share of Batman and Robin, there's no real depth to any of the high end lines. But Tweeterhead is doing their part in correcting that with their line of statues based on the Batman show. They released both the Catwoman and Batman in 2015, with Robin shipping right at the end of the year (I'll have my review up shortly). And with characters like Penguin and Mr. Freeze on the list to produce before they finish, I suspect this will end up THE series of collectibles to own for any serious fan of the show.

Up next is a line I mentioned earlier - Star Ace's Harry Potter series. In 2015 they released casual Harry and Ron, Prisoner Sirius, Mad Eye Moody, regular Sirius Black, Voldemort, and Hermione. Some were exceptional, some only average, but the overall quality has been great for a new comer. This is the first really terrific high end line for the license, and as a big fan, I have to say I'm extremely happy.

And the big winner is a but of an odd duck - I'm going with the One:12 Collective line from Mezco. This highly articulated line with cloth costumes in a 6" (sorta) scale has been all the rage. We've seen multiple releases of the DKR Batman along with his nemesis, the Mutant Leader, and several variations on Judge Dredd as well. This year looks to be huge for the line with their move into the classic Trek series, and they've already show prototypes of Spock and Sulu. Just this week they started pre-orders for their Batman and Superman based on the new film, and they look fantastic. I really love the style and design, and it's so rare to get a new, unique entry in the action figure world that ends up successful as well.

Judge Dredd SDCC One:12 action figure by Mezco Toyz

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Worst Overall Line - High End:
Sometimes these 'worst' picks are hard, not because it's difficult to pick, but because the one you pick comes from a company you have faith in. This is one of those times.

You see, I really like this company. I think they are going in the right direction, and we've seen the products improve with each release. But overall, the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit line from Asmus was my biggest disappointment for 2015. It's not for their lack of trying, and they are one of the few companies to step up and listen to customers when they have valid complaints. Their last couple releases of 2015 reflected this earnest attitude, with obvious improvements. I just received Saruman, and my fingers are crossed.

Asmus Hobbit Tauriel action figure

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Best Overall Line - Low End:
There was a distinct shift in 2015 away from the smaller 3 - 4" licensed lines toward 6" and even 12" releases instead. That's reflected pretty heavily in my choices here.

Slipping in at third is a line that fans have a love/hate relationship with - Star Wars Black 6" series by Hasbro. There's some really good sculpts hidden under those $20 paint jobs, the selection has been good, and we even got a TIE Fighter in 2015.

In the second place spot I have a long running line - Marvel Legends by Hasbro. I've been pleasantly surprised by the quantity and quality of the releases in 2015, and it looks like the pace won't slow in 2016. The Build-A-Figure choices have been great, and they've done a nice job integrating the film and comic world.

And my winner is a line that I've been frustrated with at times, but which I just can't stop loving - the Batman Animated series from DC Collectibles. Yes, there are way too many breakage issues. But the heart wants what the heart wants, and mine wants these 6" scaled animated characters from all the great 90's cartoons. I'm not a completist on very many lines any more, but this one has me sucked in and caught hard.

Batman Animated action figures by DC Collectibles

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Worst Overall Line - Low End:
This is usually a pretty easy category to pick.  Since we're talking lower bucks, quality tends to be lower but expectations remain high. But it's not quality that drove my choice, but selection and distribution.

Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory with a first place medal in this category is Hasbro's Star Wars The Force Awakens line. I know, how could that be possible? But the initial assortment of figures, hyped so heavily in advance, was far short in assortment and wow fact from previous movie releases. The six inch Black series was more interesting that first day of toy release than the 4" line, and that's not a good thing.  When I add in the switch to less articulation for the regular figures, I just feel sad. Thankfully, the line has improved in most areas since the movie was released, but that first impression was not good.

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Eddie Wires Award:
This award is in honer of the great Eddie Wires, whose work remains an inspiration in the industry.  There's no worsts here, only bests, and the important quality is the paint - what collectible had a paint application so good that it took the overall item to the next level?

I'm giving the third place spot to one of the many versions of this character released since his debut in Avengers 2 - the Hulkbuster ArtFX statue by Kotobukiya. The basic red and gold armor is beautiful to behold, and the weathering and damage add a tremendous amount of realism.

In the second place spot is another gorgeous statue - Marilyn Monroe by Blitzway. No matter how beautiful the woman is, getting a similarly beautiful sculpt and paint job seems almost impossible.  Companies try and fail all the time, and the usual culprit is the flat, unappealing paint application. With Ms. Monroe, Blitzway has taken a lovely statue to the next level with amazing paint.

My winner is a real stand out, at least to my eye - it's the Whiplash MKII from Hot Toys. This wasn't a figure I was excited about. I already had a regular Whiplash, which was quite nice, and the armored version on screen wasn't all that interesting to look at. Yep, big dude in beat up old looking armor. We've seen that before. But in hand I was really impressed by the intricate wear and damage, and how realistic the entire figure looked because of it. Sure, the paint work on the face was the usual spooky real we expect from Hot Toys, but the armor is where this figure really shines, all thanks to an amazing paint application.

Iron Man Whiplash MKII sixth scale figure by Hot Toys

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Best Male Figure - 1/4 scale and Up:
This is a category that almost died a few years ago, but thanks to NECA, Enterbay, Hot Toys and a few others, it has come back stronger than ever.

The big boy in third might be an unusual choice, but it's worth giving them some credit.  Hasbro did several super large scale (48") figures this year, and I really liked their Darth Vader. They still call them 'battle buddies', although they are larger than the original 31" series. He has a nice motion activated sound feature, and is the Star Wars equivalent of a My Size Barbie. Now your kids can have a light saber battle with a Vader their own size!

My choice for silver is Boba Fett, from Hot Toys.  The latest addition to their QS series, he's as beautiful as you'd expect considering the price point. You get the quality of a high end mixed media statue, but with all that great articulation and useful accessories.  If you're looking to replace your Fett PF, this is the way to go.

The big winner is a personal favorite - the Batman Returns Penguin from NECA. NECA produced a lot of figures in this scale during 2015, and I bought most of them. But my love for all things Batman and my love for the Burton Penguin design made this one tops for me.

Batman Returns Penguin action figure by NECA

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Worst Male Figure - 1/4 Scale and Up:
I picked up quite a few in this scale during 2015 - it is a favorite scale of mine - but none that I saw, handled or worked with were a disappointment! That's a rarity with this year's picks, with only two other categories out of the 18 having no 'worst' selection.

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Best Male Figure - 12" - 17":
This is always a hotly debated category, although the eventual winner tends to be no real surprise. My top pick might be a little surprising though, since he wasn't even on the ballot.

The bronze medalist was, however. On the ballot, that is. It's the second entry in the Game of Thrones license from ThreeZero - Ned Stark. While he wasn't *quite* perfect (they have to keep working on the hair sculpts), the likeness, paint work, costume and accessories were all excellent.  This is the sort of release that puts pressure on the top dogs in this category to do better and do more. His lower than average price point makes that pressure all the more intense.

The silver medalist comes from the top dog, Hot Toys.  If I were completely license neutral, this guy would have probably won, and I can't deny that the likeness is simply amazing.  It's the battle damaged Robocop figure with the visible Murphy head sculpt. 'Wow' is just one of the words you'll say when you see this guy in person.  I had to cancel my order due to simply too many products hitting (and I already had all the Robocop figures I foolishly thought I needed), but this will be one I regret not having in a few years.

And the winner? Nope, Chewbacca wasn't on the ballot, but I think he deserves this honor. I never thought I'd see the big furball make it out in sixth scale at this level of quality, and while there are still a few nits to pick, he was easily my biggest surprise of the year. He is a figure that photos just don't do justice - get one in your paws and you'll see what I'm talking about.

Star Wars Chewbacca sixth scale action figure by Hot Toys

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Worst Male Figure - 12" - 17":
When you get a LOT of figures in a particular scale, a few of them have to end up on the bottom of the barrel.

And my number one pick for worst? It's a real toss up, thanks to the large number of figures in this scale that I mentioned. No, I'm not talking about all the terrific stuff released by Hot Toys, Sideshow, ThreeZero, Star Ace, Asmus, ACI, etc. etc. etc. Sure, they had a few stinkers in there too *cough*Snake Plissken*cough*, but nothing so atrocious as to garner this honor.

The large amount I'm talking about is the new age of sixth scale at mass market, where Hasbro, Mattel and others are producing those awful, cheap, crappy 12" figures for every line imaginable. They must be selling, because the keep cranking them out. That tells me kids still love the scale, and I'm glad to see them getting to play with larger figures, since that will produce a nostalgia factor for that scale 30 years from now. I don't mind that they are entirely sculpted - remember, a large part of my love for sixth scale comes from owning almost every Best of the West figure as a kid. But they are just so damn cheap, with crappy articulation, crappy sculpts, and even crappier paint. Kids don't need 80 points of articulation and complex screen accurate accessories, but they should get something better than a dog chew toy.

Titan Heroes Spider-Man action figures

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Best Male Figure - 5" - 11":
There were a ton of potentially great choices here, making the choice both difficult and easy at the same time. With the rush to the 6" scale with many lines and licenses, collectors have been blessed with lighter wallets and bigger displays.

Riding in on the third place pony is the Joker from the Batman Animated Series by DC Collectibles. Actually, there's a half dozen excellent choices from this series, but I thought I'd go with the iconic Joker as the overall best representative of the quality and style of the line.

On the second place horse is another great super hero release from an unexpected source. NECA followed up their surprise release of the Michael Keaton Batman with the release of three more DC movie/TV based characters, and I'm picking their Christopher Reeve Superman for second place. This was another line that had breakage problems, but the overall appaerance - and wow factor - dwarfs the concerns, particularly if you win the joint lottery and get a good one.

And riding into the winner's circle is yet another super hero, this time my man the DKR Batman from the One:12 Collective series by Mezco. They released him in multiple versions, but the basic figure was one of the best things I bought all year. I can't wait to see what they have in store with the classic Trek line, and I hope to see them expand on the superhero theme.

One:12 Collective Batman action figure by Mezco

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Worst male Figure - 5" - 11":
This was a particularly contentious category for me, with the Dark Horse GoT Petyr (way out of scale) fighting with the Funko Malcolm Reynolds (more issues than I care to list) battling it out with the Disney Elite Grievous (ugh).

After much internal debate, the big winner/loser is Grievous. While I generally like the Star Wars Black series better than the Disney Elite series, the Disney toys DO have some very good things going for them. With the use of die cast metal, I thought for sure Grievous would be the guy to hit it out of the park. Instead, he struck out looking. The articulation was the big problem, and he was almost impossible to pose and work with.  What could have been the crown jewel ended up quite tarnished, and disappointment like this tends to linger in the memory.

Disney Elite Star Wars General Grievous action figure

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Best Male Figure - Under 5":
This is getting to be a smaller and smaller market, with less emphasis on this scale with most new movies. Sure, Star Wars will always be hitting this scale hard, but other newer films have avoided the tiny figures. That made picking three all the tougher this year.

My pick for second runner up is Carl from the Walking Dead, produced by McFarlane Toys.  Yes, I realize the Walking Dead series is right on the cusp, and technically belongs with the 5" - 11" crowd. But I think the style and feel fits in better with the other 4" lines, so I'm sticking him here. Sue me. They did a great job on this latest Carl, even if the character does annoy the Hell out of you.

The first runner up is one you might not have heard about from Warpo Toys - the Cultist! He's just an adorable little Cthulhu cult member...seriously, how cute is that?  I love when smaller companies produce funky and interesting stuff, and Warpo did just that with this guy.

And the winner...he's from the Marvel Infinite Series's Korg!  Yea, he's got a mug only a mother could love, but Hasbro did a fantastic job with the detail and design considering the scale. If I still collected these, he'd be front and center.

(Photo courtesy Marvel Toy News)
Korg Marvel Infinite action figure by Hasbro

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Worst Male Figure - Under 5":
As I said, I'm cheating a bit in this category by including the Walking Dead figures from McFarlane. But the style and size seem to be a better fit with the 4" figures currently on the market, and it would be unfair to pit them against the sort of work we are seeing in the 6 - 7" market right now.

While I picked a couple in my top three in other Under 5" categories, I'm selecting one as my worst as well.  It's the 'bungee cord' Walker, a figure with a silly 'action' feature and weak sculpt. While I love most of the figures in the line, sometimes they drop the ball big time, usually with the walkers, and usually because of a silly attempt to create a play feature.

Bungee Cord Walker Walking Dead action figure by McFarlane

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Best Female Figure over 11":
Quarter scale wasn't good to the ladies this year, but every other scale was.  While people not familiar with the market bemoan the lack of Rey figures, the rest of us realize how much better the situation is than just a few years ago, and the promising forward trajectory.  Just look at this year's choices in all three scales and you'll see how much better - and broader - the competition is over previous years.

I don't give Medicom a lot of love, and have avoided many of their figures in more recent years. But I'm giving third place to their new, younger version of Hit Girl. It helps that this is a character I loved on screen, but they get credit for pulling off a very nice sixth scale representation.

My second place award is going to Hot Toys Black Widow, and she's done fantastic in this category every year for the previous three as well. This time it's the Age of Ultron version, and I'm sure that the Civil War release - you know we'll get one - will be on the 2016 ballot.

The top winner might be a surprise, but not to those that have her in hand.  I'm very happy with what I've seen from Star Ace overall in the last year, but their work on the Harry Potter Hermione is pretty amazing, particularly for a new comer to this style and scale. The rooted hair was a perfect choice for this character, and they knocked the young portrait out of the park.

Harry Potter Hermione sixth scale action figure by Star Ace

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Worst Female Figure over 11":
Thankfully, this was a tough category for me. Almost every female figure in the larger scale was at least decent this last year.

Even the winner of the worst had some good qualities, but overall I felt Eowyn from Asmus was a let down. The portrait is still too Barbie, and while I applaud them for attempting rooted hair, the bright blonde color just reenforced the Barbie similarity. Add in some of the weakest costume pieces I've seen them do, and it was the low light of an otherwise solid year for the ladies.

Lord of the Rings Eowyn action figure by Asmus

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Taking third is another Ripley from the terrific Aliens series by NECA. They've done a fantastic job with this series overall, and the work on Ripley has been particularly keen.  It's nice to see the human star of the franchise get some love, even if she is a girl.

In second is a terrific Marvel Legends figure - Maria Hill!  Hasbro made you buy a three pack to get her, but she was well worth the effort. A beautiful head sculpt and a much less gangly, goofy body than we usually see with female ML figures.

And my first place spot goes to one of the females from my favorite low end line, the Batman Animated series by DC Collectibles. They did several great females so far, but my favorite is the cute and fun Roxy Rocket, complete with rocket. This line is already going deep and broad with their selection, but Roxy was a figure I never thought we'd see, let alone done this well.

Roxy Rocket action figure by DC Collectibles

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Worst Female Figure - 5" - 11":
When you get a lot of choices overall, you can end up with a lot of choices for the 'worst' category. That's unfortunately the case here. I waffled around a bit before I finally settled, but it was paint that killed the beast.

I'm calling out another Marvel Legends female figure, but not for good reasons this time. My pick in this category is Spider-Woman (although Spider-Girl is a close second), due to the awful, awful paint job. There's slop, and then there's this hot mess.

Marvel Legends Spider Girl action figure by Hasbro

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Best Female Figure - Under 5":
No shortages of good choices here either, even with the move away from this scale overall. That says a tremendous amount about how far we've come with the addition of female figures to the shelves over the last few years.

Third is awarded to another Walking Dead figure from McFarlane - Carol!  Yea, I know, she's right at 5", how dare I, what can I say? She's been one of my favorite characters on the show for the last 2 seasons, and McFarlane did a great job considering the scale.

Second goes to the jungle inspired Shanna, part of the Marvel Infinite Series by Hasbro. Another character that you might never expect to see, and yet not only did we get one, we got a terrific one with great sculpting and paint. You have to love a lady in a loincloth...

And the coveted first place goes to a woman you might not realize at first glance is a woman...but don't make that mistake.  It's Captain Phasma from the Hasbro regular Star Wars line up. Do I wish her helmet was removable? Yes, yes I do. But the costume is still pretty bad ass on it's own, and she was my personal favorite in this scale this year.

(Photo courtesy
Captain Phasma action figure by Hasbro

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Worst Female Figure - Under 5":
I don't have a specific female figure for this category this year. Instead, I have a situation with a female figure that should have been in this scale that was someone bizarrely overlooked. I'm sure it was just a mistake.

In the film the Avengers: Age of Ultron, Black Widow has a terrific scene in which she drops out of the Quinjet riding a motorcycle. Sweet. The plane, being such a cool vehicle, got several incarnations in this scale, and none of them - at least none that I saw - included Black Widow on the bike. Instead, and this is the best part, they had other male characters, like Captain America, doing the honors. This wasn't a single occurrence - here you can see it with the Lego set (although to be fair, at least they had her flying the jet on the box cover), or here it is with the 'Cycle Blast' Quinjet, where she doesn't even warrant a spot on the box anywhere. Seriously?

Cycle Blast Quinjet

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Best BAF:
A few years ago, there was a hot debate on whether to even keep this category around any more. No debate any more, and while Hasbro continues to pump them out in 2016, Mattel is back in the fray as well. But for 2015, it was really Hasbro that dominated with their Marvel Legends series.

My third place pick is one of those, Hasbro's Ultron.  I mentioned earlier that they did a nice job this year combining some of the movie designs with the comic designs through out their ML waves.  This Ultron is a good example, capturing his look from Avengers 2 and doing it in BAF format.

Second place is another ML BAF, the funky Hobgoblin.  While this guy lacks the overall mass and size that we once saw with every BAF or CnC figure, he makes up for it with a fantastic sculpt and paint. He also has some sweet accessories, not something you often see with a BAF.

My top pick for this category is another ML release. I'm going with Hulkbuster, an impressive BAF that reminded me of the bulk and beauty of BAF's of yore. While the movie has created a lot of interest in the character, this is one of the best mass retail versions.

Hulkbuster Marvel Legends action figure by Hasbro

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Worst BAF:
It's hard to make a bad BAF.  Getting something extra like this almost seems like it's a freebie, even when you know it's not, and the ability to build another unique, unusual, and often large figure is such a plus that complaining about it seems somehow wrong.

But there was one general BAF concept this year that I thought just didn't work - the 'build a weapon' that Hasbro included with the Star Wars figures.  The weapons seemed silly and goofy, and certainly didn't drive me to pick up any of the figures. While some kids might have found them fun - remember, accuracy and realism isn't always a top priority to an 8 year old - collectors were left pretty cold by the execution of the idea overall.

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Best Play Set or Vehicle:
While there are some very nice high end choices here, all three of my selections are geared toward lower end lines. That's not to say they were all 'cheap'...

Standing on number 3 on the podium is Power Loader from Aliens, done up with great care by NECA. They've kicked butt with this line in general, and while the Power Loader was pretty expensive, it was also detailed, intricate, and highly articulated. This is the sort of vehicle that really adds a tremendous amount to a collector's display or a kid's enjoyment.

Over the number two spot is another large vehicle scaled for figures in that 6" or so range - the TIE Fighter from Hasbro. This is part of their Star Wars Black series, and is an example of the kind of commitment they have to the line. If you were lucky, you snagged it on sale, but even at full price it's a terrific addition. I'm hopeful that it sold well enough for them to commit to more vehicles, especially focused around the Force Awakens. How cool would Rey's speeder be? And how about a Tatooine Luke and Landspeeder? Please?

Perched atop the highest spot on the podium is the animated Batmobile from DC Collectibles.  When you pick the overall line as your favorite of the year, it should be no surprise to see various individual items win in other categories, and this is one of those situations.  I fell in love with the Batmobile when I first saw it at SDCC, and the final product did not disappointment.

Batman animated Batmobile by DC Collectibles

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Worst Play Set or Vehicle:
Sticking with just one worst makes for some interesting conversations with myself, particularly when there's plenty of potential candidates for a category. Regular readers know I hate vehicles that are designed for characters that don't need them, like cars for Spider-man or motorcycles for Vader. There were plenty of that sort of silliness this year, but I ended up going with something that bugged me quite a bit in a more traditional sense.

My choice is the Nazgul Steed from Lord of the Rings, produced by Asmus. While they've done some nice work on other sixth scale figures in the series (particularly the evil doers), the horse was a huge disappointment, particularly considering the price point. A terribly designed articulation hurts him, and it would have been far better to just put him in a single static sculpted pose.

Nazgul Steed by Amus

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Best Statue:
My picks for this category were dominated by the ladies this year. Again, it's a testament to how many more choices there are for collectors and fans of female characters. That's not to say they aren't still pretty sexist representations, but hey, I'm a guy.

Taking bronze is one of those uber sexy representations, this time of Black Widow, done up beautifully by XM Studios. I love the perfect pose, including the detailed wall/fence behind her. While no one in real life could ever look quite like this comic book representation, don't hate her because she's beautiful.

Getting the silver is another gorgeous woman, but this time she was very, very real. Blitzway produced the quarter scale Marylin Monroe, and fans have been tremendously happy with the result.  A lot of that has to do with the exceptional paint job, and I suspect she'll do really well in the Eddie Wires voting as well as this category in the People's Picks and Poppies.

As much as I love the Monroe statue, I have to go with my heart on the top pick. My gold medal goes to Catwoman from the 60's Batman television show, produced by Tweeterhead. I'm loving the series so far, and out of the first three releases, she's easily my favorite.  Great pose, great setting, beautiful detailing and paint work - she has it all.

Catwoman 1966 Batman statue by Tweeterhead

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Worst Statue:
This was another worst where I actually had three that stood out in my mind, and I had to wrestle with the various cons for awhile before making a final decision.

I'm a completist when it comes to the Batman Black and White series of statues, or at least I think I am. I have a fear that they've snuck one or two out when I wasn't looking, but I've done my best to keep up.  Not every one is a hit, but more often than not they are solid.  My one disappointment with the series this year was the release of the Dick Sprang Batman and Joker, and since I can only pick one, I'm going with the Joker. While the general style matched the art well enough, the sculpt was soft, and the details needed to be better defined. Then there is the paint job, a sloppy mess all around, even in gray scale. It was certainly not their finest work.

Batman Black and White Dick Sprang Joker statue

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Best Bust:
This is a category where there wasn't a lot of releases this year...and I haven't been paying as much attention. Oh, I still buy my share of the polyresin halflings of the collectibles world, but not at the level and variety I once did. That makes it a bit tougher for me to make my picks.

I'm going to go with full scale Dark Knight Rises Batman from Sideshow for the third place spot. It's hard not to be impressed by 1:1 scale busts, and while I couldn't quite bring myself to pull the trigger on this one, I was impressed by the overall sculpt and paint.

I'm giving second to another full size bust, this time from Pop Culture Shock - Akuma!  Light up eyes are always a plus, but the detail work that PCS does on the sculpting and paint has to be seen to be believed.

My winner is another large bust, but it's not 1:1 - thank God.  I thought that Smaug from Weta was perhaps their best of their Hobbit related releases. The character was a personal highlight from the trilogy, and he deserved this sort of high end treatment.

(Photo courtesy Weta)
Hobbit Smaug bust by Weta

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Worst Bust:
Maybe I just got lucky, but this is only one of three categories this year where I don't have a solid 'worst', and it's the last one as well. There were a few that were less impressive than others, but nothing truly awful, at least not in my experience.

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Best Designer/Vinyl:
I'm not a big collector of vinyl figures, but I do love checking them out at SDCC or at the local comic shop. There remains so much creativity and artistry in this category, both in the mass market world and the artisan market.

Getting a bronze medal is a figure from Munky King - Mr Pumfrey and his Astounding Mechanized Perambulator. C'mon, the name alone is amazing! And yes, I know I used a 'z' instead of an 's' in the name. They've taken steampunk and added a little whimsy (I love that word), creating a highly detailed vehicle for Mr. Pumfrey.

Getting a silver medal is the super cute Abominable Snow Cone by Monster Toys. Not only is the cross over design amazingly cool, he even comes with a couple perfect accessories.

The gold medal goes to Bruce, the Jaws shark produced by Funko for the ReAction line. There were two versions - the regular release and the bloody variant they did for SDCC. Personally, it's the bloody variant or nothing for me, but overall the shark was one of the coolest vinyl figures I've seen. It's Bruce!

(Photo courtesy Cardboard Connection)
Jaws Bruce vinyl figure by Funko

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Worst Designer/Vinyl:
Since I gave Funko some love for their Bruce, it seems fitting they also get the worst.  It's not for a specific release, but rather their overall handling of SDCC and their exclusives. They tried altering their approach to selling the very limited figures on the floor last year, and it was even worse than the insanity from years past. Casual fans can't even get near their booth over the entire four days, and it must be tremendously frustrating for their core fans who attend.  Their collectibles are also very solidly based on the concept of completism, and not getting an SDCC exclusive can end a collectors' interest before it has a chance to take root. Once upon a time, every company attending SDCC tried to use the exclusives as a marketing tool - only two major players, Funko and Hasbro, hold on to the concept that the only way for fans to get them is to stand in line for hours or pay huge aftermarket prices. Other companies like Sideshow, NECA, Mattel, Mezco, and Gentle Giant have found other ways to distribute their exclusives and still create an enjoyable atmosphere for fans attending. C'mon Funko, I know you can do it.

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Best Prop Replica:
This seemed like a pretty quiet category this year, at least to me.  Perhaps it was the lack of big blockbuster movies that lent themselves to replicas, or perhaps it was simply my own myopia. Either way, there weren't a ton of great choices for me in this category.

Coming up behind in third is Kylo Ren's lightsaber from Hasbro. It's been awhile since we got a really well done, new light saber in the tradition of the Master Replicas style, and this one was a nice surprise.  Very well done, it was even available through retailers like Toys R Us and Target.

Almost winning but not quite is the Halo Master Chief motorcycle helmet from NECA. It's a prop replica (from a game, but still), AND it's a functional helmet? That's not something you see every day, and while I doubt any of the Hell's Angels will be wearing them, they are still damn sweet. Now if they'd just do a functional blaster...

The clear winner for me is the USA Today edition with the Back to the Future cover. The idea that they would go through that much trouble to commemorate the anniversary of the classic film was so cool, and they did it in a way that pretty much everyone had a chance to pick it up. Nice job!

(Photo courtesy Erin Snyder)
USA Today Back to the Future

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Worst Prop Replica:
There weren't a ton of poorly executed prop replicas this year, but that didn't make the choice more difficult. If anything, it made it quite clear.

This was one of the easiest picks of the bunch.  I'm going with the Back to the Future Pepsi bottle for so many reasons. First, it's a bad replica since it looks like poor cosplay version of the actual screen prop. Second, it was pretty much impossible to get. And third, see second. In the photo below, the prop is on your left, the replica on the right. If you're going to charge me $20 for a plastic bottle of pop, at least make the logo match.

(Photo courtesy
Pepsi Perfect Back to the Future

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Best Building Set/Figures:
I don't buy a lot of building sets, and usually when I do, it's Lego. This year I made an exception to that rule, buying quite a few of the McFarlane Walking Dead sets as well.

Taking the bronze is the Walking Dead, by McFarlane.  While it's not exactly a traditional 'building' set but more of a model, the breadth and depth of the line so far has been really impressive.  The sets can be difficult to construct at times, and this is a situation where glue is your friend, but my son and I still had some great times putting them together.

Snagging the silver is from another company making waves in this market - Megabloks.  I love their Despicable Me Minions series, with a wide assortment of figures, sets and vehicles. I can see these being highly addictive, and avoiding them is probably good for your wallet. But any kids that love the little yellow goofballs will have a ton of fun with these sets.

My pick for the gold has a lot to do with my personal tastes - I'm going with the Big Bang Theory set from Lego.  Lego did a tremendous number of very cool sets this year, including their Wall-E, several of the Scooby-Doo releases, a bunch of the DC sets, and even more of the Star Wars vehicles. But I love the show - don't start going on about why you hate it - and the idea that we even got this set is just amazing to me.

(Photo courtesy
Big Bang Theory building set by Lego

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Worst Building Set/Figures:
While I picked the Walking Dead in general for a bronze medal above, I have to say that the one set I found tremendously frustrating this year was Daryl on his Motorcycle.  I had to glue in all that damn flora, and even getting the bike together took some careful effort. It wasn't a terrible set, but certainly a frustrating one, and the only one that I can really say fits this category.

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Best Misc:
This is the oddball category where weird items go to win.

The final bronze medal is awarded to the 1966 Batmobile...bottle opener. Who doesn't need another bottle opener around the house? And if you're going to have one, why not have one that's based on the coolest car to ever hit television? Thanks Diamond Select!

The final silver goes to the carton of cage free Aliens eggs from NECA. NECA hasn't just produced every conceivable alien, they've given us this hilarious set, perfect for your kitchen counter.

And the last winner - at least on the 'best' side - is 'Star Walls' from GTP. Yea, we all know what they really are.  These 1/12 scale hard plastic walls are perfect for building those Star Wars dioramas with your Black series figures. They don't have the light feature yet, but soon, and they are also planning 1/6th scale versions.

Star Wars Walls by GTP Toys

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Worst Misc:
I usually get a bit off topic with this category, and I'm about to do it again. I'm not picking a particular line or figure or collectible, but rather a trend we saw this year across multiple companies and multiple lines - joint breakage. Obviously, the most notable were the DC Collectibles Batman Animated series, the Funko Legacy figures including Firefly, and the NECA DC heroes, like 66 Batman and the Reeve Superman. Brittle plastic seemed to be everywhere, and try as they might, it appeared that getting away from it was very, very difficult. Let's hope that the factories have learned their lesson the hard way.

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Please share with your friends!

And there you have it - my picks for best (and worst!) of 2015.  I'm still busy working on those results for the Poppies and the People's Picks, but I should have them ready for you in the next week. Thanks for reading!

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