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People's Picks for Best of 2015!

Poppies 2015

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The voting is complete, the caucus' wrapped, the stumping done.  My readers voted on the same ballot as the Poppies Judges, which I like to call the "People's Picks", and here are the results. It's always fun to compare what collectors selected in the 19 categories for Best Pop Culture Collectibles of 2015 with the actual Poppies results. You should be able to do that by the end of the week, when I post those results as well! If you're looking for my personal picks (including some worsts), just head over here. Enjoy, and feel free to drop me a line with any comments!

Please share with your friends!

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 on the ballot this year. That usually means the votes get spread out quite a bit, with winners getting percentages in the teens. Not so this time around, with the top three snagging almost 70% of the total.

The third place winner is Hasbro, with 9% of the vote. I'm betting the new Force Awakens merchandise went a long way to warming collector's hearts once again.

In second is my top pick for the year - NECA. They grabbed a very respectable 20% of the vote, and a silver medal. It's hard to ignore all the fantastic work they did last year, especially with the horror and DC lines. You're going to see their releases in the top three of a lot of these categories as you read through the results.

The winner didn't surprise me, but the dominate 39% of the vote they received did. Yep, it's Hot Toys, a favorite for more years than I can count. With the Marvel, DC and Star Wars licenses in sixth scale, it's going to very, very difficult to unseat them in 2016, but there are several companies that are going to try very, very hard.

Darth Vader action figure by Hot Toys

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Best Overall Line - High End:
Considering the licenses that Hot Toys has right now, I thought it was possible for them to sweep this category this year. They didn't, but it was close.

Third place goes to the spoiler, the One:12 Collective line up from Mezco. They managed to get 11% of the vote with only a few Batman and Judge Dredd figures released in 2015, setting pretty high expectations for their final outcome in this same poll next year, after they release some Classic Trek and Batman vs. Superman figures.

Hot Toys takes over after that, getting 18% of the vote for their overall Marvel line up.  With a ton of movies hitting this year and some figures based on last year's film selection still set to ship, I'd expect this license to fair pretty well in 2016 as well.

But it's going to be very hard for anyone, even another Hot Toys line, to block this year's winner from repeating 12 months from now. The winner, with a whopping 35% of the vote, is Hot Toys Star Wars line. Is that any surprise, considering the hype and enthusiasm generated by the new film?

Star Wars Obi-Wan Kenobi sixth scale action figure by Hot Toys

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Best Overall Line - Low End:
With the first two categories, my winners and the People's Picks were pretty far apart. There were a couple matches, but certainly not the top dogs.  That gets better with the Overall Line - Low End...eventually.

Taking 14% of the vote is the terrific Alien(s) line up from NECA.  They've been crushing this one, and with the various releases of Ripley and the Power Loader, this was a particularly good year for the series.

Taking another 16% of the vote is Hasbro's 6" Star Wars Black series. Again, with all the fan hype over the new movie, I'm not surprised.  Collectors may not be thrilled with every release, but there's a generally positive attitude towards the overall series.

The winner snagged another 20% of the vote, and this is where I agree completely with the People. They've picked the DC Collectibles animated Batman series as their winner, and as a big fan, I wholeheartedly agree.

Batman Animated action figures by DC Collectibles

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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.  The important quality is the paint - what collectible had a paint application so good that it took the overall item to the next level?

My first place pick only took 11% of the vote, but that was good enough for a third place finish. The Hot Toys Whiplash MKII remains a favorite of mine in the paint category.

I was a bit surprised that the second place winner didn't take it all - it's Marylin Monroe from Blitzway.  She's a beautiful statue, certainly a sight to be hold, and it's largely due to a much nicer paint application than we usually see, even on high end statues like this. Don't worry, Marylin has another shot at gold in the Best Statue category.

The winner snagged a very respectable 27% of the votes to take first - the 1/4 scale Iron Man MKXLIII! I'm surprised by this for two reasons, neither of which have to do with the overall exceptional quality of the paint. First, I had to be convinced to get it on the ballot because while it was released in late 2015, not a lot of people had gotten it yet. And second, I keep thinking that fans will get Iron Man'ed out at some point. Clearly that's not yet the case, and the reception for this guy has been extremely positive.

(Photo courtesy Sideshow Collectibles)
Iron Man MK43 quarter scale figure by Hot Toys

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Best Male Figure - 1/4 scale and Up:
With all the NECA releases in 2015, I thought for sure this was going to be their year.

The best they could manage was third, however, with 12% of the votes going to my favorite, the Batman Returns Penguin.  I love this guy, and considering the price point, he was a great addition to the line up.

Second place was taken by that same guy that upset dear Marylin for the Eddie Wires award.  The Hot Toys 1/4 scale Iron Man MK43 took second in the 'big and tall' category. Seems like there must have been a fair share of international voters, since that's where this guy was first available.

The big winner, with a whopping 44% of the vote, is Boba Fett from Hot Toys.  This Return of the Jedi version is extremely well done, and if you haven't had a chance to check out the amazing quality of the Hot Toys QS series, please do so. You'll be drooling.

(Photo courtesy Sideshow Collectibles)Star Wars Boba Fett 1/4 scale figure by Hot Toys

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Best Male Figure - 12" - 17":
I might be remembering things incorrectly, but this category is usually a blow out.  Until last year, it was dominated by Hot Toys, but Sideshow snatched it from them with their excellent Darth Vader.  This year, Hot Toys returned to dominance, but the three top figures were neck and neck with the voters.

In third place, with a very solid 19% of the vote, was the new Tatooine Luke Skywalker from Hot Toys. I certainly get it - this is the best young Hamill portrait in this scale, and he comes with a buttload of extras.

Edging him out, but just barely, with 20% of the vote is another Hot Toys Star Wars release - Darth Vader. While Sideshow's release won this category, Hot Toys couldn't quite overtake their best release of the year.  Perhaps it was the annoying light and sound features that held him back?

Whatever the reason, the winner didn't win by a lot.  He grabbed 23% of the vote to slip by Vader and claim the gold: the Battle Damaged Robocop/Murphy figure!  I passed this one up, and I'm kicking myself repeatedly and with much gusto over that one.  The last time I made that big of a mistake was probably Blade...or perhaps Vasquez. The detailing on the exposed portrait is amazing, and the likeness is one of their best.

(Photo courtesy Toy Haven)
Battle Damaged Robocop sixth scale action figure by Hot Toys

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Best Male Figure - 5" - 11":
Way to go, peoples!  Another category where they got the winner least as far as I'm concerned.

In third place, with 8% of the vote, is Hasbro's First Order Stormtrooper, from the 6" Black Series. He's a solid release, that's for sure, and overall the line looks to improve during 2016. The Han that just hit looks great!

We have our first (and one of only two this year) tie, with two figures getting 12% each and taking second place. Interestingly enough, both also had similar problems with breakage.  The first is the Chris Reeve Superman from NECA; the second is the animated Batman from the DC Collectibles line. I loved both of these guys, even with the brittle plastic.

But the winner puts the smack down on the rest of the field with 21% of the vote, and it's the same figure I chose: the One:12 Collective DKR Batman! This is a line that I expect great things from, and their Judge Dredd and Batman releases were a fantastic start.

One:12 Collective Batman action figure by Mezco

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Best Male Figure - Under 5":
There weren't a lot of choices this year - the market has definitely shrunk for this scale, at least for now. These things are cyclical of course, and they'll be back in the game soon enough. But even with the fewer choices, it was a very tight race.

With 12% of the vote, the G.I. Joe Gung-Ho figure grabbed third. That goes to prove that even with less available product, Joe is still mighty popular with his fans.

Sneaking into second with 15% of the vote is Rick Grimes from the Walking Dead. This is a series that gets better with likenesses with every release, and this latest Rick is a world apart from the first time they produced him.

Pulling in front with only 19% of the vote is the big winner - the First Order Snowtrooper from Hasbro. They didn't ship a lot of Force Awakens figures in 2015, waiting for the movie to hit to avoid spoiling anything, but this design remains one of my favorites. Clearly the fans felt the same way.

(Photo courtesy Rebel Scum)
First Order Snowtrooper action figure by Hasbro

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Best Female Figure over 11":
This category has a streak going - two years in a row, it's been taken by Black Widow. Hot Toys has given us a new version each year for each new movie release, and fans loved it both times.  With a third release in 2015, can they keep the streak alive?

Before we get there, let's start with the third place winner. With 17% of the vote, another Hot Toys release took the bronze - Gamora!  While she had a few issues, she was still a beautiful rendition. Now if we can just finally get the final piece in the Guardians puzzle...

My first place pick actually took second with the Peoples, and I have to admit I'm a little bummed out. Star Ace's Hermione Granger snagged a solid 25% of the vote to get the silver, but she already had my vote. The prototype for the older version in the ball gown looks great in photos, so I'm crossing my fingers that the final release will wow us.

And the top winner, with 32% of the vote...drum roll please...Black Widow!  The lovely lady from Hot Toys continues her streak, much like Meryl Streep. It's not all that surprising, since every release has gotten better, but it will be interesting to see if 2016 brings someone different to the top podium, or more of the same.

(Photo courtesy Sideshow Collectibles)
Hot Toys Black Widow Age of Ultron figure

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Best Female Figure - 5" - 11":
Once upon a time, Marvel Legends, DCUC and MOTUC dominated this category. They were the only game in town, when it came to female figures. No longer!

Third place was won with 11% of the vote, with the bronze going to the "where's Waldo?" of action figures: Rey, as seen in the Hasbro 6" Star Wars Black series. The early release had some paint issues, but the later shipments have a much improved application.

Slipping past Rey is another Hasbro Black series figure: Captain Phasma. While she didn't get to do much in the first film, I'm expecting much badassery from her in the next release, and this 6" version is a terrific looking figure.

The winner goes to Ripley from the terrific Aliens line by NECA. She grabbed 16% of the vote, just squeaking by Phasma (who had 15%). She is one of the greatest female action characters in one of the greatest sci-fi action movies, so it's terrific to see NECA doing such a great job with the license.

(Photo courtesy Preternia)
NECA ALiens Riply action figure

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Best Female Figure - Under 5":
There were more choices nominated on the ballot than I expected, but it was exactly the sort of tight race you knew it would be.

Getting 15% of the vote was one of my favorites, Carol from the Walking Dead. McFarlane has done better and better with the likenesses and paint work on this series, and I suspect it will be a major line for them for some time. While the figures are technically at that 5" mark, I feel they compare better to the other 4" scale lines in terms of style, rather than the 6 - 8" stuff out there.

Second was won with 19% of the vote, and it's another version of the winner of the previous category - Captain Phasma.  She might be smaller, but she was still very popular with the voters. I picked her as my winner, but the Peoples had other ideas.

It was close though. Ashoka Tano won it with just 20% of the vote, doing it Hillary style. This adult rendition was popular with collectors, and pairing her up with Vader in a Rebels two pack wasn't a bad idea either.

(Photo courtesy Yakface)
Ashoka Tano action figure by Hasbro

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Best BAF:
There were a ton of BAF's released in 2015, and a ton more appear to be on the horizon for 2016. Hasbro is really the company keeping the concept rolling, although other companies still get the occasional winner out there. Not this year - Hasbro is sweeping the category.

Third place goes to Thanos, one of those Hasbro Marvel Legends BAF's. He took 10% of the vote and 10% of the hearts of fans. Or of fan's hearts. You know what I mean.

Second place is another ML BAF, the big Rhino.  I suspect that getting two heads with this guy went a long way to pleasing collectors and fans alike. He took 12% of the vote.

The winner took this one in a massive landslide.  I don't think any other winner in the 2015 awards had this kind of overwhelming majority over the second place finisher.  With 46% of the vote, the Marvel Legends Hulkbuster takes the gold. Makes sense to me, since he was my pick as well.  He has the sort of bulk that we saw more often with older BAF's, and he has great sculpting, great paint, and great articulation. That's always a winning combo. Poor Rhino, he didn't stand a chance.

Hulkbuster Marvel Legends action figure by Hasbro

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Best Play Set or Vehicle:
This has been a hopping category lately, with companies like Hasbro and Mattel producing vehicles and play sets in much larger scales with more regularity. And let's not forget that there have been quite a few sixth scale goodies that qualify too!

In third place is one of those surprise vehicles from Hasbro - the TIE Fighter in the 6" Black series. With 13% of the vote it grabs bronze, and it also grabbed some serious cash from collectors that couldn't resist all that plastic. You can count me in that group!

Second place was taken with 15% of the vote, and it's another vehicle designed for 6 - 7" figures. NECA has been kicking butt with a lot of their lines, but when it comes to vehicles, their best work last year was the Aliens Power Loader. Again, it wasn't cheap, but you got a terrific addition to your Aliens display for the money.

There was no doubt about the winner, with the animated Batmobile from DC Collectibles getting 25% of the votes.  I loved it, you loved it, the peoples loved it. Personally, it was the light up feature that sent it over the top.

Batman animated Batmobile by DC Collectibles

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Best Statue:
This was probably the tightest race of the bunch, with only a few percent between first and third, and only the second tie in the entire process.

As I mentioned, there were only two ties this year, quite a bit fewer than any previous year.  Clearly, the voters were less spread out on the choices this time, with a lot of solid, clear winners. However, the third place spot for best statue was one of the two ties, with both the Balrog and Smaug from Weta getting 8% each. This is a good example of what can happen when too many choices from a single company and license are up for the same category. Had only Balrog or Smaug been a choice, it's quite possible that the majority of the 16% that voted for one or the other would have combined forces, giving the one statue the win. Instead, the vote was watered down, allowing other statues to take the lead.

The second place winner was a surprise to me because I thought I was the only one that liked it. With 10% of the vote, the 1989 Batman Premium Format statue grabbed silver.  As I said, this was a bit of a surprise, since collectors either complained about the matte paint job on the suit, or the fact that his head is slightly turned.  But the silent fans came out when it was time to vote, and gave him some love.

I'm not in the least bit surprised by the winner, although the fact that she only beat Batman by 1% of the vote is kinda shocking.  There's no doubt that Blitzway did an amazing job with their quarter scale version of Marylin Monroe, and fans of the beloved actress finally have a great collectible for their shelves.

Marylin Monroe statue by Blitzway

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Best Bust:
Like the 4" action figure, 2015 was a slow year for the bust and mini-bust. Fewer companies are making them, and fewer licenses are getting the treatment.  There has been some growth in output though in more recent months, especially with companies like DST looking to produce something collectors can more easily afford in this format.

The third place winner isn't easy to afford, however. He is beautiful though, and I picked him as my winner for the year - Smaug from Weta. Yes, this is a Smaug bust, not the Smaug statue we were just discussing. About 16% of the voters agreed with me.

The second place winner is even bigger - the DKR Batman life size bust by Sideshow. It's hard to not be impressed by a 1:1 scale bust, and they did a nice job on this Bale likeness. At least, that's what 18% of the voters said.

Taking first is another surprise, at least to me.  While I appreciate all the hard work Diamond Select has put into their cheaper busts and statues, I hadn't expected to see one win. And yet, the animated Harley Quinn bust did just that with 23% of the vote.  I've been buying all their animated product, and have to say it's a terrific value, with great quality for the price. And Harley is always a favorite with the fans, so my surprise seems less and less appropriate as I type this.

(Photo courtesy Entertainment Earth)
Harley Quinn bust by DST

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Best Designer/Vinyl:
There was a pretty broad range of choices on this year's ballot, from the mass market to the specialty release. The top three reflected that as well.

In third is the adorable Hulkbuster Cosbaby from Hot Toys.  He's much larger than the average Cosbaby, which is as it should be, and he has a beautiful paint job. He also has 11% of the vote!

Number 2 is also from Hot Toys, but not a Cosbaby this time.  Their line of 'artist mix' vinyl bobble heads gets it's name because they are designed by famous toy artists for Hot Toys.  The Tony Stark designed by Touma took home 14% of the vote and a second place trophy.

The big winner is an interesting one. I picked him as my winner too, and while he is from Funko, he's not technically one of their vinyl figure releases. Instead, he is part of the ReAction line...but the judges felt he fit best in this category.  They must have been right, because Bruce the Shark from Jaws took top honors with 27% of the votes!

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

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Best Prop Replica:
When it comes to great prop replicas, big and expensive tends to win the day.

That's certainly the case with the third place winner, who took 15% of the vote. There have been a ton of Captain America shields produced over the last couple years, but the one from eFX remains a huge fan favorite.

Another big, beautiful but expensive replica took second place, this time with 17% of the overall vote.  I'm a big Batman fan, and I'd love to have the Arkham Origins Bat Cowl from Triforce.  They've done a number of sweet cowls, but this one really stand out.

But the winner wasn't quite as expensive, and was even available at mass market retailers like Toys R Us and Target. Hasbro's new FX Kylo Ren lightsaber was one of the few 'toy' releases to sell out quickly, and it also grabbed 26% of the votes. I think fans really miss the days of Master Replicas, and this is the closest we've seen to that sort of work in quite some time.

(Photo courtesy Toys R Us)
Kylo Ren FX lightsaber

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Best Building Set/Figures:
We switched this category up last year as part of the on going evolution of the awards process, and it was a great idea.  In the past, we simply selected a company, but now the ballot lists specific sets or lines of sets, so that voters can be far more specific with their favorites.

About 9% of those voters went for a set that came out fairly late in the year, but was a fantastically cool release - Doctor Who! While there's a number of Doctor Who items as part of the new game, this set really raised the bar for the regular releases.

Someone other than Lego took second place, grabbing 12% of the vote. That would be McFarlane with their very cool Walking Dead sets.  As I said in my picks, these are more like models than traditional building toys, but the detail and quality are pretty amazing considering the scale.

The winner goes back to Lego, who received 26% of the vote for their overall Star Wars releases in 2015.  Between the new and old films, they hit up a lot of very cool vehicles and locations, and were some of the best toy releases for Force Awakens overall, particularly before the movie opened at theaters.

(Photo courtesy
Star Wars Rey Speeder building set by Lego

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Best Misc:
As the number of categories in the Poppies has grown, the nominees for the Misc category get stranger, and stranger.  This year there were definitely some odd balls, and the winner is a perfect example. The winner also pulled off the biggest domination of any of the categories for 2015.

The third place spot was taken with 11% of the vote. Fans of the 1966 Batmobile are always looking for something new, and DST supplied it with the uber cool Batmobile bottle opener. I can't guarantee you'll look cool using it, but it is cool enough on its own for you both.

The second place winner received a respectable 13% of the vote, edging in to the top three.  NECA's Aliens line has shown up repeatedly in these awards, and I expect they will in the Poppies too, and their Red Queen Alien figure grabbed a spot here. You'll notice a change this year with this figure. Normally, she would have been included in the Female figure category, since she is a figure and she is female, after all. But the judges agreed that wasn't really fair, being she's an alien, and we placed her in the Misc for better representation. I'm leaning heavily toward adding a new category for next year, a single "Best Alien or Monster" category that will allow some of the more gruesome figures across all the scales a chance to battle it out. Let me know what you think!

The top winner in this final category crushed all comers with a whopping 52% of the vote.  Once again, NECA did it up right for the Aliens license, producing this super cute and fun carton of alien eggs. This is a perfect example of exactly the sort of bizarre thing that belongs in this category, and it's exactly the sort of silly thing collectors love.

(Photo courtesy of the Clearance Bin)
Alien Egg Carton by NECA

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Please share with your friends!

And there you have the People's Picks for 2015!  A few surprises, a few not, but it will be very interesting to see how these results match up with the judge's choices in the Poppies.  I should have those ready to publish at my next update!

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