The People's Picks for 2012!

The Peoples have spoken! From 2000 til 2006, I held an award contest for the best pop culture collectibles as voted on by the readers - that's you. In 2007, I started a new industry awards contest, where the nominations and voting is done by a panel of judges from the industry - companies, media, artists, retailers and collectors.  Called the Poppies, it was a hit...but folks missed not getting to vote too, and have their opinions heard. So in 2008, I brought back the People's Picks, and gave readers the chance to vote on the same set of nominees as the Poppies judges, allowing comparisons to be made. Now it's time for the results of the 2012 People's Picks!

I've also done my own set of bests and worsts of the year for comparison, but I'll be talking a lot in this article about how the readers voted versus the Poppies judges - where they are the same, where they are different, and perhaps why I think that might be.

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

My picks:   People's Picks:   Poppies:  
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

If you have comments you'd like to share, let me know by emailing me.  Let's get this party started!

Best Overall Company

When you have a category with a lot of choices, as is the case with Best Overall Company, you expect to see a lot of division. We actually reduced the number of companies on the ballot this year (and I'm hoping we can reduce it further next year), but there's still enough that you'd expect the winner to have less than 20% of the votes. And you'd be wrong.

In third place, but only a few votes behind second, is Diamond Select Toys. They pulled 9% of the vote, and with some very strong Avengers releases, great mini-mates, and their Marvel Select figures, I'm not surprised that they made it into the top three.

The second place company squeaked by them with 10% of the votes. NECA had a very strong year in the 6 - 7" action figure market, a market that others have abandoned. Their continued success is indicative of their creativity and willingness to take risks on licenses.

But if you thought it would be a close contest for the winner, you'd be way off. Even with a couple dozen choices on the ballot, 35% of the voters picked Hot Toys as their number one company. It's hard to argue when they continue to produce some of the finest looking action figures on the market.


Best Overall Line - High End

Hot Toys remains dominate in this category, with a ton of worthy releases to choose from.

But they don't sweep the category, because Kotobukiya's Bishoujo series of statues took 8% of the votes and third place. I love the quality of these, and you can't beat the price on today's market.

Hot Toys takes second with 27%, a big number of votes for second in any category. Their Batman series of sixth scale figures grabbed the spot, and I loved all their releases this year, including the DX12, Keaton Batman, Nicholson Joker, and exclusive Jim Gordon. Their figures were the only real bright spot on the Batman collectibles market for 2012.

They also took first, with a whopping 35% of the vote. One of my favorite movies of the year was The Avengers, and it's no surprise that Hot Toys releases around the Avengers characters took the win. With some additional big releases in 2013 - including the Hulk - I suspect we'll see this line mentioned again next year.


Best Overall Line - Low End

This category features a much tighter race - and a couple surprises as well! One of the surprises, at least to me, is that DC Universe Classics isn't even on the radar anymore. While it's not too surprising that they didn't take a spot, it was surprising just how few people voted for them.

Another surprise comes in with the third place winner - Mattel's Monster High! And they weren't that far behind either the second place or first place winners...they pulled 12% of the vote. I know these remain popular with collectors and kids alike, but I was still a bit taken aback by the love.

Second place was won with 13% of the vote, and it's an old favorite. Masters of the Universe Classics remains a fan favorite, but it is interesting to see how much they've dropped in this category over the last year. Not only is the vote count down from last year, this is the first time in three years that this line hasn't won this category.

And the winner is one that's not been seen on the list in a very long time, but came on very strong in 2012 - Playmates Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! With some strong plans for 2013, I suspect they have another solid year to come.


Eddie Wires Award for Outstanding Paint

This award was 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.

All three of these winners are very deserving of the honor. The third place spot was taken with 9% of the vote. The honor goes to the Enterbay Masterpiece HD Joker, and I have to say I agree. While I had my own issues with swapping the hands, there's no doubt that the paint work was outstanding.

The second place winner snuck in front with 12% - it's the Hot Toys Samurai Predator! He was mighty expensive, but many felt he was the strongest Hot Toys Predator release of the year, particularly due to the paint work.

I personally loved the winner in this category, and the paint work is definitely deserving of the accolades - the Nicholson Joker from Hot Toys! It was no contest too, with 35% of the vote going its way. While there may have been better sixth scale figures overall last year, the painted make up on this classic character made it shine.


Best Male Figure 12 - 18"

There were an amazing number of great figures in this scale during 2012. With a resurgence of 18" figures and some terrific work in the sixth scale arena from multiple companies, I thought this was the toughest category to choose.

I got a surprise with the third place winner. With 15% of the vote, Hot Toys Iron Monger took the bronze spot. Wow - I incorrectly assumed that this figure would crush the competition like he crushed Iron Man. I'm betting it's the big price tag that went along with the big figure that ruined his chances at the gold.

In second place comes the Keaton Batman. As a big Batman fan, I was thrilled when the announced figures from the Burton films, and I think the did an amazing job capturing the Keaton portrait. Seventeen percent of the People agreed.

I was pretty shocked by the winner however - once again, it's the Nicholson Joker. He edged out the competition with 19% of the vote. I'll be very interested to see if the Poppies Judges agree!


Best Male Figure  5 - 11"

Perhaps my biggest surprise comes in this category, a category dominated for many years by both Masters of the Universe Classics and DC Universe Classics...and they are completely missing this year.

In third place, with 9% of the vote, is the Marvel Select Hulk from the Avengers! The Hulk is a character that lends himself to great figures, but this one really stood out.

In second place, with 11% of the vote, is Engineer Chair Suit Prometheus Alien. People may have been extremely divided on the film, but not so with the figures from NECA. I meant to pick this guy up, but waited too long and he's now long gone from the Toys R Us shelves.

In first place, winning the coveted spot, is a real shock to me - it's Hasbro's Masterpiece Prime! It's not that he doesn't deserve the kudos, because it is an amazing Transformer. It's just a shock to me because it's unusual for the series to do well here, largely because my readers aren't as into these toys. That just goes to show how excellent this figure is!


Best Male Figure under 5"

I have a feeling that this scale is starting to wind down, at least with collectors. While there's a ton of product still on the shelf, I think collectors are starting to slip down the other side of the slope when it comes to their interest.

The voting here was extremely spread out, with the winners very close - and the losers right behind them. The third place spot was taken by the very cool Marvel Universe Beta Ray Bill. Hasbro continues to do a terrific job with the series, and Bill was clearly one of the highlights. This cool little guy grabbed 15%.

In second place, barely sliding by with 16% of the vote, is the super poseable Amazing Spider-Man. He was the only bright spot in the otherwise disappointing movie line.

At 19%, a Hasbro Star Wars figure grabbed the number one spot - the evil Darth Malgus! While I haven't bought a Star Wars figure in this scale in years, I have to admit that this guy was damn tempting. Hasbro continues to dominate in this scale, but I'm still holding fast to my opinion that collectors are starting to lose some interest overall.

Photo Courtesy of Ridureya


Best Female Figure over 11"

There were quite a few lovely ladies in this scale this year, and not just from Hot Toys. It's not even Hot Toys in all three spots!

But they do take third with their cool Resident Evil Afterlife Alice. While I thought the head sculpt and paint was the usual excellent quality, it's really the attention to the outfit that won me over, along with 16% of the voters.

The second place spot is not a Hot Toys figure - it's the SDCC exclusive Hollywood Jem! Integrity Toys is producing this series based on the 80's show Jem and the Holograms, and right now all thing 80's are definitely the rage. A big 25$ of the voters were taking the nostalgia train.

Hot Toys took the top spot with their Babydoll figure from Sucker Punch.  Fans may not of been thrilled with the movie (and that's putting it lightly), but they clearly loved the figures, and gave Babydoll a huge 29% of the vote.

Best Female Figure 5" - 11"
There was quite a bit of variety in this scale as well, and the voters were much more divided than they were with the larger scale ladies.

The third place spot went to the very cool Other M Samus Aran Figma figure from Max Factory. I don't buy a lot of Japanese imports, but I have to admit that this one is gorgeous. It took 16% of the vote.

In second place, with 17% of the vote, is one of my favorites - the Movie Masters Catwoman. Mattel may have tanked the main movie line, but the Movie Masters were a solid line, and Catwoman was a stand out.

The winner had 22% of the vote, and comes from a line that tends to dominate in this category - Masters of the Universe Classics. Lots of fans dissed on Sorceress due to the way the wings were executed, and how they restricted the articulation, but she was still loved by enough to win the gold.


Best Female Figure under 5"

Hasbro dominates when it comes to small scale figures - they can combine sculpting, paint and articulation to create great little characters.

The third place spot goes to the Avengers line with their Grapple Blast Black Widow. All the small figures done based on the film were great, but this one was particularly well done. Turns out, 13% of the voters agreed.

Up next, with 15% of the vote, is the Star Wars Ashoka from the Vintage Collection. The Vintage series was a terrific idea, and they've executed on it extremely well.

The big winner snagged 23% of the vote - the Marvel Universe She-Hulk! She's big, she's bad...she's green! And she's a great example of how you can still have great articulation, sculpt and paint in such a small scale.

Photo Courtesy of OnePerCase.Net


Best Build a Figure

We didn't see a ton of BAF's this year, and with the drop off of lines like Marvel Legends and DC Universe Classics, I'm not expecting a bunch in 2013.

Third place was snagged with 14% of the votes - the award goes to Arnim Zola, a very cool BAF. He's becoming a rarity, that's for sure.

The second place winner (with 25%) is an oddball here. The Judges added Mattel's Voltron, although it's not a traditional BAF. Still, once you get the individuals they combine to form the larger figure, so we decided he counts. And let's face it, it was pretty nostalgic.

The big number one spot goes to the Bat Signal from the Batman Dark Knight Rises Movie Masters series. Now THIS was a great addition to the line, making it even better than it already was. Too bad that the exclusive Jim Gordon with the busted lens was so damn hard to find. They took a solid 30% of the votes.


Best Vehicle or Playset

I've had some suggestions to split up this category into two for next year, and I'll keep that on the table as a potential change.

Until then, they're all one big happy family. The third place winner is a vehicle - of sorts. It's the cool Tron Lightcycle (which included the Sam Flynn figure) from Hot Toys.  While the figure doesn't work without the cycle, the cycle does work without the figure, making it an independent vehicle. It took 14% of the vote.

The second place winner grabbed 15% of the vote, squeaking by the Lightcycle. This one is a playset, and it's a great playset at that - the Sewer Lair for TMNT from Playmates. It wasn't cheap, but it was well worth every penny!

It wasn't even close for first though, as the winner took 25% of the vote and the adoration of the majority of voters. It's the Suit Up Gantry diorama from Hot Toys. This is a great addition to your Iron Man display, and is an excellent example of how well done a sixth scale display piece can be.



Best Statue

The ladies did better in this category than the men this year, but that's no surprise considering some of the amazing feminine character statues that were released.

Kotobukiya's Bishoujo series took 11% of the vote and third place with their beaufiful Poison Ivy. They had a number of nice releases this year, and it's hard to argue with this one.

Second place also goes to a lovely lady - the Baroness Premium Format statue from Sideshow. With almost 13% of the vote, the PF style proves it's still got legs. 

And it proves it again with the winner, the Joker Premium Format statue! The DC license at Sideshow has certainly started out fantastic, and it looks like it's just going to get better in 2013. BTW, the Joker snapped up 19% of the votes.

Photo Courtesy of Sideshow Collectibles


Best Bust

It seems like there are less mini-busts each year to choose from, in this category, but there were a few larger scale busts to add into the mix.

The third place winner is one of those big guys - the 1:1 scale Frankenstein from Factory Entertainment. It received 13% of the vote, and while I wasn't the biggest fan, enough other collectors have made it a success. Hey, the lights and sounds are damn cool!

In second place is a cool Marvel character - Gambit! Sixteen percent of the voters went for this guy from Sideshow, part of their Legedary Scale series. Clearly these larger busts are a hit with fans.

The number one winner isn't a large scale bust, however, but a more traditional size, at least for collectors. It's the Swamp Thing from DC Collectibles, who took the top spot with 16%, and a great design.

Photo Courtesy DC Collectibles


Best Designer/Vinyl
I don't review a whole lot of items in this category, which is why I do my best to bring in other judges with more experience in this area, and to help nominate some unusual items.

I think the judges did a nice job selecting a pretty wide range of nominees this year, and these three winners are all excellent choices.

The third place winner took 13% of the vote. Kidrobot does some great figures, but a lot of Simpsons fans really liked the large scae Matt Groening, Even I couldn't avoid picking one up and reviewing it, and I'm not even a regular buyer of the Kidrobot Simpsons figures.

In second place, with 17%, is the Funko Pop! vinyl figure of the adorable Wall-E, a classic Pixar character. Funko has done a ton of great vinyl figures, but I think their work on the Disney/Pixar licenses has been some of their best.

If you thought you saw the last of Hot Toys in these categories, think again. The win another one with their Batman Cosbaby figures, taking 28% of the vote this time. I have to admit that the Cosbaby style is damn cute in general, and when you use it against the backdrop of the Nolan Batman films, you have an overall winner.

Best Prop Replica
I''m shocked by the results of this category. I can honestly say I've never been more surprised - I'm almost speechless.

In third place is a prop replica I bought as a Christmas present for my nephew. eFX released a nifty set of Captain America trading cards, just like those Agent Coulson had in the Avengers. They come in both clean and bloody, a very cool touch. Fifteen percent of the voters agree.

In second place, taking 23% of the votes, is the Portal Gun from NECA. I haven't seen the gun in person, but I have played the game with my son. I've heard nothing but great things about the gun from fans, and it's clear the votes are deserved.

The winner is also from eFX, but on a bit larger scale - the released the ANH version of Darth Vader's helmet. It's extremely accurate, and while it's not cheap, it's well worth the money.

So why am I so shocked? I simply can't believe that the oustanding Mystic Seer didn't even make it in the top three. It's one of the nicest replicas I've seen...but the People's have spoken, and they didn't agree!

Photo Courtesy of RebelScum

Best Block Figure

I bet you'll never guess who the winner is in this category. Go'll never guess.

Third place goes to one of my all time favorite toy lines. In fact, I've always said that if I could only collect one thing and one thing only, it would be Playmobil. They made it into third with just 5% of the vote, the smallest number of votes to give anyone a spot in any category.

With a much bigger 22%, Minimates takes second. I'm not surprised considering the number of releases over the last year, along with the various accessories. It doesn't look like these are slowing down at all!

And yes, of course, Lego takes first. They don't just take first, they crush everyone with 57% of the votes. With lots of new creative internal ideas combined with great licenses, there's simply no denying their power.


Best Misc

The results to the catch all category are always interesting, as are just the nominees.

Let's face it - a bottle opener shaped like Thor's Hammer is pretty damn unique. DST has a winner with this one, and every self respecting nerd that likes to drink needs one. Fourteen percent of the voters would agree with that.

Second place goes to McFarlane Toys Zombie Head blu-ray case that they produced for the release of season 2. I wasn't a huge fan, but other collectors certainly loved it. Actually, 17% did.

First place is a terrific line of dolls that continues to rack up the bucks for Mattel, as well as spawning copy cats and wannabees. It's the Monster High dolls, a series that's made it into movies and television shows, much like the Masters of the Universe did many years ago.

Photo Courtesy of Pixel-Dan.Com

General Comments
I mentioned earlier that I think collectors are starting to lose the love for the 4" scale action figure. Proof of that is the number of people voting on those figures - for both the female and male action figures, that scale had the smallest number of voters. That sounds like a trend to me.

It's also nice to see a greater variety in the nominees...and the winners. Getting a nice, diverse group of Poppies Judgess helps (since they don the nominations), but it's the Peoples that vote here, and they selected some of the more unique items over the more traditional items.

I remain surprised that the Mystic Seer got snubbed - now it knows how Ben Affleck feels. I'm betting it's because not enough people got the chance to actual use the Seer in person. Or maybe there's just too many Portal fans.

I should have the Poppies completed by Sunday night, or Tuesday at the vary latest. It will be very interesting to see how their picks match up with mine and with the larger general vote, and I think we'll see some real differences this year.


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