Captain Toy/Michael's Review of the Week

The People's Picks...
The Best of 2018 as Selected by Readers

Date Published: 2019-03-08
Written By: Michael Crawford

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People's Picks 2018

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The People have spoken, the votes are tallied, and it is time to announce the winners of the People's Picks for Best Collectibles of 2018!  Readers vote using the same ballot as the Poppies, making for an interesting comparison with the results and adding some fuel to the debate. I'm tallying up the Poppies right now, and I should have those results ready very soon.

The People's Picks are kinda like the Golden Globes or People's Choice - they can give some indication as to how the Poppies might go. Of course, there's always those exceptions...

Here are links to past year's picks (and this years) for comparisons:

My picks:   People's Picks:   Poppies:  
2018 2018 2018
2017 2017 2017
2016 2016 2016
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

On to the list...

Best Overall Company
The results for 2018 are identical to 2017 - it seems the top companies are maintaining their vise-like grip on the market

The bronze medal goes to NECA, who took 11% of the vote, an almost identical percentage to last year. They remain strong, and their push to have a greater, more dedicated presence in Target is likely to drive their brand higher in 2019. It's a smart move, as is their new 'ambassador' program, where a collector keeps track of the local store for them.

The silver medal goes to my personal favorite, Mezco. They took 16% of the vote, an uptick from 2017. Their One:12 Collective line is crushing it right now, with a wide variety of high quality releases that are speaking to a big segment of the collecting population.

The big winner is the same as last year as well - Hot Toys. They took 30% of the vote this time, a drop of 3% from last year. Their quality remains extremely strong, and they have some of the biggest licenses, which continues to drive their hold on this category. The slight slippage is most likely due to fewer unique licenses and characters, as they hone in their focus on the big three of Marvel, Star Wars, and DC.

Hot Toys Jack Sparrow action figure

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Best Overall Line - High End
This category *almost* matched 2017...but not quite.

Hot Toys takes the bronze with 17% of the vote with their Star Wars series. Lots of great releases again this year, but the overall fever for all things Star Wars was definitely down in 2018.

They also took silver, with 22% of the vote going to their Marvel Universe series. As the Star Wars license was down, so was the Marvel license up, and it's reflected here at a more micro level with Hot Toys offerings. These two licenses took bronze and silver last year as well, but the positions were switched.

The gold medal winner is a repeat from last year, straight up. Mezco's One:12 Collective grabbed 28% of the vote - an increase from 2017's results - and creates one of those odd dynamics where the best company pick didn't match with the best overall line pick. Mezco is definitely riding a wave these days with this series, and I don't expect any change in the situation for 2019.

One:12 Collective Iron Man action figures

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Best Overall Line - Low End
This is always a crowded category, but there was a clear distinction between the top three and all the others in terms of vote percent. Interestingly enough, only one of the three winners was on the list last year.

The third place medal goes to NECA's Ulimate Horror figures. Okay, so it's not technically a 'line' but the 7" horror figures are themed well enough to get 11% of the vote and the bronze medal. Their heavy rotation into Target stores no doubt helps, but the product is great as well.

They were barely edged out (with just 12%) by another line that wasn't here last year - Star Wars Black. We're talking 6" figures here. With a tremendous number of releases and improvements in sculpting and paint, it's no surprise they jumped back into the mix.

But we've seen the winner plenty of times before, and Marvel Legends repeats their win of the gold with 21% of the vote. Wave after wave hit in 2018, with a lot of great BAF's, solid character selection, and a nice tie in with the MCU movies.

Marvel Legends Cull Obsidian action figure

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Eddie Wires Award for Outstanding Paint
The Eddie Wires Award is intended to highlight a collectible where the paint work was so exceptional, so amazing, so eye catching, that it set the figure apart from everything else.

With 10% of the vote, the impressive Thanos on his Throne, the huge statue from Sideshow, took the bronze. He also has a big price tag, as you'd expect, but there's no doubt he's a thing of beauty on the shelf.

Second place goes to a Hot Toys sixth scale figure that I felt deserved a spot on the ballot in another category as well. The Admiral Tarkin was a truly impressive sculpt, and the fantastic paint work gave the underlying portrait the sort of realism other figures and companies only dream of. He garnered 15% of the vote.

Hot Toys takes the top spot with 30% of the vote going to Yondu. This is another really, really, really impressive release for Hot Toys, and he did make it on the ballot in the Best Male Figure 12 - 17" category as well. For this award, he took the gold, and definitely deserved it.

Hot Toys Yondu action figure

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Best Male/Female Figure - 18" and up
The male and female figures remained combined in this category for 2018, since there just weren't enough ladies in the scale to make breaking them up worthwhile. And of course, NECA still dominates.

They took the bronze with their Deadpool, who got 16% of the vote. The exclusive version was actually on the ballot since it had lots more accessories, but you'd be happy with either release. I know I was, and I just picked up the regular!

NECA also took the silver, snagging 22% of the vote with their TMNT Raphael in Disguise. The TMNT figures they've produced in this scale the last couple years have done consistently well in the Poppies, so it wasn't a surprise to see them medal again with the trench coat wearing versions.

But a bit of a surprise - NECA did not take the gold. Nope, the spoilers Hot Toys swooped in with their latest Batman Begins release and wowed everyone. They got a dominating 37% of the vote, even with the least interesting outfit from the Nolan Bat-verse.

Photo courtesy the Hot Toys.

NECA Batman Begins action figure

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Best Male Figure 12 - 17"
I stepped out of the Hot Toys comfort zone with my picks, but I know a lot of folks still think sixth scale and Hot Toys are synonymous. The attitude is apparent in the results.

That's not to say that all three medalists aren't worthy. The bronze medalist, with 12% of the vote, is their Thor from Avengers: Infinity War. It's a tricky one for me, because it's a great figure...but not my all time favorite Thor.  Still, lots of people really loved this release.

Thor was barely edged out for the silver by Hot Toys Homecoming Spider-Man. Peter took 13% of the vote, sneaking by the MCU God. Honestly, this is one of the best Spider-Man figures they've done to date, so I'm not at all surprised he's in the winner's circle.

The only Hot Toys figure I put in my top three is the winner with the people. Yondu took a whopping 37% of the overall vote, crushing even the other Hot Toys nominees. I think it's the combination of a fantastic sculpt and fantastic paint - it's impossible to beat.

Hot Toys Yondu sixth scale action figure

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Best Male Figure 5 - 11"
The One:12 Collective took two of the three spots last year. This year, they took all three...sort of.

I say 'sort of' because they are in a tie for the bronze.  Mezco's latest Punisher variation (Special Ops Punisher) grabbed 7% of the vote, as did NECA's Pennywise from the 2017 movie. We have another Pennywise shipping any day now, and I suspect the character is going to be huge in 2019. And it shouldn't be much of a surprise that another Punisher took at least one of the medals, since the regular release version won this category last year.

Mezco was firmly in control of silver, taking 9% of the vote with another variation on an earlier release. Their One:12 Joker (deluxe), with his extra heads and a ton of accessories, swayed enough voters to slip past the majority of the pack.

This year's winner came completely out of left field for me and a bunch of other collectors. He's not from a major license, or even a modern license. Of course I'm talking about Popeye, a figure they put out late in the year and promptly rocked the world.

Popeye One:12 action figure

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Best Male Figure under 5"
There weren't as many nominees in this category for 2018, because the market for this scale has shrunk. It'll come back of course - all these things are cyclical - but right now, the pickin's are pretty sparse.

All three of the winners here were a big shock to me.  The third place spot is taken by Scrooge McDuck, from the cool DuckTales series by Phat Mojo. I still haven't found their 5" scale Bob's Burgers figures, but I will. Oh yes, I will. Scrooge and the rest of the gang were a breath of fresh air in the action figure aisle. He snagged 11% of the vote.

Just barely in front of him, with 12%, is another surprise (at least to me) - Ian Malcolm from the Jurassic World series. Other than the big dinos, I didn't pay much attention to the line, but clearly others did and liked what they saw.

The surprises just keep on rolling in with the big winner of the gold - the City Hunter Predator from Hiya Toys!  I like what they're doing, but it's been hard for me to judge if others feel the same. Clearly they do, with 13% of the vote giving them the edge over the competition. I'll be checking out their new Injustice Batman and Superman soon as well.

City Hunter Predator action figure

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Best Female Figure 11" - 17"
Hot Toys swept the male counterpart of this category, and yes, they swept the female version too. But the winner of the gold this time crushed, obliterated, and dominated even the other Hot Toys nominees.

Let's start with bronze. Their Star Wars Leia Organa received 12% of the vote, which is great to see considering she's not a young, scantily clad character.  The likeness is amazing, and Leia deserves the award.

A Hot Toys Wonder Woman took the silver in 2017, and another Wonder Woman (deluxe this time) took the silver in 2018 with 23% of the vote.  I don't know if I like this version better than the original, but she definitely has some great extras.

Generally the winner of this category might get 25%, maybe 30%. Not in 2018. The gold medal winner took a whopping 40% of the vote - Hela! I'm not shocked by the win as she was also my first place pick, but the dominance in the category was a bit surprising. Perhaps more surprising, their Black Widow didn't crack the top three. I'm pretty sure every year a Black Widow was on the ballot she won, but perhaps enough versions are finally out there to wear off the appeal.

Hot Toys Hela action figure

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Best Female Figure 5 - 11"
Guess what? Mezco's One:12 Collective started to get a bit more involved with female figure releases in 2018, and the result is exactly what you would expect. What I didn't expect is the complete shut out of any Marvel Legends.

They took the bronze spot with their Wonder Woman release. About 9% of the voters put her number one, and there's a lot to like. I thought the costume was terrific, and they've done a nice job filling out the Justice League team.

Silver is going to a great Star Wars Black release - Hoth Leia. I loved her too, but I'm a sucker for the Hoth costumes. About 13% of the voters agreed with me, giving her the edge to take second.

Mezco is taking the top spot this year, unseating likely competition from Hasbro in both the Star Wars and Marvel Legends lines.  They grabbed a solid 16% of the vote with their Catwoman, a figure that got not one but several releases during the year. Even with well documented breakage issues, fans loved the figure.

Photo courtesy Mezco:

One:12 Collective Mezco action figure

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Best Female Figure under 5"
As I've said before, I'm not doing a lot in this scale myself these days, so I can't judge the results all that well. Were you surprised by them?

Coming in third place with 10% of the vote is the nifty little Black Widow from the Gamerverse set of Marvel Legends. Her sixth scale counterpart might not have placed, but she did squeeze into the smaller scale category.

Taking second and 17% of the score is another bad ass female superhero - Wonder Woman. This is the Nendoroid from Good Smile, a figure I put on the top of my list. I love the look of these, and one of them actually won this category last year.

But not this year. This year the top prize goes to a Star Wars lady, Aphra from the Vintage Collection. A whopping 39% of the voters were in agreement here, giving the Marvel Star Wars comic character the gold.

Photo courtesy of Action Figure Barbecue:

Aphra Star Wars action figure

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Best Build-A-Figure
There are a ton of Build-A-Figure releases each year, far more than I ever thought we'd see. However, the majority are coming out of Hasbro, with a handful of Mattel releases making up most of the rest.

The best Mattel BAF this year took the bronze - Clayface! He was my top pick, and 15% of the voters agreed with me. Of course he's not called a 'BAF', but rather a CNC - Collect-N-Connect. But hey, you get the idea.

The silver medal winner barely edged him out, taking 16% of the vote. Mattel's Marvel Legends Apocalypse is big and bad in all the good ways.

But it was their Sauron who grabbed gold, and did it in a truly impressive fashion, getting a huge 44% of the vote and crushing the competition. I skipped picking up this wave, and now I'm beginning to regret it.

Marvel Legends Sauron action figure

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Best Vehicle
It's unusual not to see a Batmobile in the top three, but that's what happened in 2018.

Hasbro got a bronze with their cool Imperial Combat Assault Tank. I think it's the retro sci-fi meets G.I. Joe military styling that convinced 11% of the voters to pick it as their winner.

Hasbro also took the silver, but with their Marvel Legends line this time. Their Ghost Rider Flame Cycle was a personal favorite, and another 14% of the voters agreed with me. This is one bad ass bike, and perfect for kids and collectors with its affordable price tag.

But this was another one of those categories where the gold medalist was the clear winner with 26%. Hasbro gets the gold and the hat trik, switching back to Star Wars with the Dewback and Sandtrooper in the 6" Black series. Is the Dewback a 'vehicle'? Certainly. Was he fantastic? Absolutely.

Star Wars Dewback and Sandtrooper action figures

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Best Play Set
Batman might have had little effect on the Vehicles category in 2018, but he definitely put his imprint on the Play Set winners.

Coming in third with 15% of the vote is the Primal Rage Batcave from Funko. I saw this thing at my local Target the other day, and I *almost* pulled the trigger, even though I haven't bought a single one of the Primal Rage DC figures. The cave is damn cool, and has plenty of other uses outside of Batman.

Bruce Wayne managed to get the silver too, thanks to the Imaginext Wayne Manor. Kids love the overall line, and the DC characters and sets are particularly fun. From the earlier Batcaves to this updated manor, there's a lot to love. Just over 16% of the voters agreed.

But this was one of those categories where the winner was so clear cut, so dominate, that no doubt was left.  The winner of the gold, with a huge 53% of the vote, is the TMNT Street Scene. This one was an SDCC exclusive, but there's another slightly different version coming to online retailers in 2019. If you missed it last year, I suggest you grab one when you can.

TMNT Street Scene playset

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Best Statue
This was a very, very crowded ballot in 2018. There were a ton of nominees, and they were all fantastic. That translates into lower percentages for the top three winners.

Sideshow took the bronze medal and 6% of the vote. Their Premium Format Wolverine is an amazing rendition of the comic book version, with a terrific, dynamic pose and beautiful sculpt.

Just edging them out for the silver with 9% of the vote is the Eomer on Firefoot from Weta. While it's been years since the films, the license remains strong with collectors, and Weta continues their own tradition of producing fantastic statues based on the movies.

The gold winner had a solid 17%, and is also from Sideshow - Thanos on his throne, huge and menacing in all his glory.  It takes both serious cash and serious real estate to be able to collect statues of this size and quality, but they become the centerpiece of any collection.

Thanos on Throne Statue

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Best Bust
This category has taken a bit of a dip in the last few years, but I suspect we'll see them perk back up over the next 2 - 3. Circle of life and all that, don't you know.

This was the tightest race of all.  With 22% of the vote, the huge 1:1 scale Joker, designed by Rick Baker and produced by DC Collectibles, grabbed the bronze.  Talk about creepy - don't sleep in the same room with this one.

Barely squeaking by with 23% of the vote is another Weta release - the Fell Beast! Huge is definitely the direction this category is going, and this amazing piece will wow your friends and scare your cat.

Talk about squeaking by - the gold winner was at 24%, sneaking into first place. It's not too surprising who the winner is, however, since the amazing Alien busts from CoolProps are always fantastic. If you thought the bronze and silver winners were huge, you have to see this baby in person.

Alien Cool Props bust

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Best Designer/Vinyl Figure
This is an interesting category. Funko dominates the 'vinyl' side of things these days, but you don't want to lose track of the 'designer' side either. It's a tough wire to walk, and we're talking about how we might change it up next year to better serve both areas.

For 2018, the bronze medal went to Batman in the Vinimates line from Diamond Select. These are pretty cool little designs, and Batman was easily a stand out. Hey, he's Batman. He's also the one to get 12% of the vote.

Funko grabbed 14% of the vote and the bronze medal for their Ian Malcolm. What's up with Dr. Malcolm right now? I love Jeff Goldblum as much as the next guy, but the upswing in fascination with his Jurassic Park character is interesting to me.

The gold medal went to a different line from a different company - the Balrog from Weta! This is part of their Mini Epics, and he made it past the heavy Funko competition with 16% of the vote. He's quite unique, and appears to be freaking out the small dog in the photo below.

Photo courtesy

Balrog Weta vinyl figure

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Best Prop Replica
I was kinda surprised by this category. Did people not see the Godkiller? It was one damn fine sword.

But it didn't make the top three. In third place, with 15% of the vote, is the very cool Infinity Gauntlet from Hasbro. They continue to do some really amazing things for a very reasonable price, and I really liked this release. I'm looking forward to seeing the Ant-Man helmet in 2019.

In second place, grabbing 23% of the vote, is the 1:1 scale Groot from Hot Toys. Yep, he's an action figure, but since he's 'lifesize', he's also technically a replica. And a damn fine one at that, matching the on screen version extremely well.

Hot Toys also took the first place spot with 26% of the vote going to their Infinity Gauntlet. It is beautiful, and the closest thing you'll probably ever get to the actual gauntlet. It's also almost $1000, compared to the $100 the Hasbro version cost.  For me, the overall value was the deciding factor, but if you have the money you won't be sorry.

Photo courtesy Sideshow:

Hot Toys Infinity Gauntlet prop replica

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Best Building Set
Guess what - Lego has increased their dominance over this market. Don't believe me? Just check out the shelves at your local Target or Walmart.

The bronze winner from Lego is the app controlled Batmoble. This combination of electronics with Lego blocks is an interesting direction, and one I expect to see a lot more of in the next year. This Batmobile got 11% of the vote.

Lego took the silver, and 22% of the vote, with the huge Voltron set. You get all five buildable, posable lions which can then be combined to form the final Voltron figure. With almost 2500 pieces, it's not for the faint of heart, but it is an amazing set for the big fans.

And of course Lego took the gold, this time with 29% of the vote. Their Hogwart's Castle, with over 6000 pieces, is the Death Star of Harry Potter. You'll spend hours on this baby, and the final result looks amazing.

Lego Hogwart's Castle

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Best Misc
I had a tough time when I picked my favorites in this category. It's always tough because each entry is so unique in its own way.

The People, or at least 15% of them, went for the Super Colossal T-Rex from Jurassic World. We don't really have a category for 'animal' figures, and his scale and style were pretty unique, so he ended up in the Misc category. While all the JW toys were solid, he was a particularly great release.

The silver winner, with 23% of the vote, ended up here because it crossed over several categories.  Is it a play set? Is it a statue? How about Misc!  The Batcave from Factory Entertainment is all that and more.  Done in a 1/64th scale (think Hot Wheels), and based on the 1966 tv show, it triggered all sorts of nostalgic love.

The winner really surprised me, although I have to say it's made a big difference in a number of lines. The new face 'painting' techniques (which are more accurately printing techniques) have allowed companies like Hasbro and Mattel to really improve the paint applications on 1/12 scale and smaller figures.


I was surprised by the large spread between gold and silver in quite a few categories this year. For most people there was a clear winner, separated from the rest of the pack. I was also surprised by the scale of the busts in general, as they get larger and more intricate.

Of course, there wasn't a ton of alignment between the People's Picks and my personal favorites, but that's not surprising. I'll be interested to see how close these results match to the Poppies, and I should have those ready in the next few days.

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Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

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