Captain Toy/Michael's Review of the Week

The Poppies...
The Best of 2017 as Selected by Industry Judges

Date Published: 2018-03-01
Written By: Michael Crawford

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People's Picks 2017

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The time has finally come! Sorry for the delay over the last couple weeks, but occasionally real life interferes, don't you know. But now the process is complete, and we can announce the winners of the 2017 Poppies!

I thought I'd give a little background on the process, so it's clear how things work to those not involved in the judging. We have a list of about 150 judges - this year it was 156, and you can find their names here - and starting in late August, I reach out to them to begin the process. I recruit a few new ones at this time too, and if you think you, or someone you know, would make a great Poppies Judge, drop me a line.

Around late October, we start the nomination process. We review each category, and judges can nominate any items they feel are appropriate. We discuss various topics, like combining, splitting, dropping, or adding categories, as well as the relative merits of individual items. This goes on through email, as well as on a discussion board set up for the specific purpose.

We don't want to miss any late comers, so this process continues into the first week or so of January.  If something came out in late December, but the judges feel it didn't get enough distribution to have a fair shake, we hold it over as a nominee for the next year. That's why one of my favorites, the GOTG2 Star-Lord, didn't make it on the ballot for 2017, for example.

Once everything is hashed out, I put together two versions of the ballot. One is for the Poppies, one is for the People's Picks. I open up the voting, people do their thing, and finally, I compile the results. *whew*

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

My picks:   People's Picks:   Poppies:  
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
There was some slight variation in this category from the People's Picks, but not much.

The big difference was in third place, where Hasbro took 12% of the vote and the bronze. Both myself and the People had NECA in this spot, but the rest of the judges appear to be quite happy with the work on Star Wars and Marvel Legends. I can't say that they're wrong.

Coming in at second, just barely edging out Hasbro with 13% of the vote, is Mezco. This is the second straight year that they've taken the silver in this category, a testament to the success of the One:12 Collective.

There's no surprise on the winner - Hot Toys does it once again, this time with 29% of the vote. It's hard to compete with a company with such a good reputation for quality, combined with some of the hottest licenses out there. They had a banner year with Star Wars, Marvel, and DC, sprinkling in a few other goodies along the way.

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place NECA NECA Hasbro
Second Place Hot Toys Mezco Mezco
First Place Mezco Hot Toys Hot Toys

Hot Toys Tuxedo Joker action figure

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Best Overall Line - High End
Once upon a time, Hot Toys dominated this category. They lost it last year to Mezco - can they regain the mantle?

Their Marvel line up took 13% of the vote and the bronze medal. I was a little surprised, because I think the actual DC figures released in 2017 were stronger, but it's hard to beat the appeal of the superior movies. People love the Marvel characters more right now, and Hot Toys created some beauts.

They also took second place, this time with a solid 20% of the vote going to their Star Wars series. This I fully understand, since every release - from Vader to Yoda to Jyn to Rey to K-2SO to old Han and on and on - was excellent. We can still find nits to pick, but overall the series is one for the record books.

But they didn't take the gold. Mezco grabbed 29% of the vote with the One:12 Collective, and took this award for the second year in a row. Considering the current after market prices of their releases, I suspect the popularity of the series isn't going to die off any time soon.

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place QMX Star Trek Hot Toys Marvel Hot Toys Marvel
Second Place Hot Toys Star Wars Hot Toys Star Wars Hot Toys Star Wars
First Place One:12 Collective One:12 Collective One:12 Collective

One:12 Collective Captain Marvel action figures

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Best Overall Line - Low End
One of the biggest surprises, at least for me, in this year's results is the extremely low number of ties. When you have a ton of possible choices, as we did in this category, and only 150 or so voters, you tend to get ties. Not this year, and not in this category.

There was some variation in the bronze and silver medals across the various voting populations.  The Mythic Legions from the Four Horsemen took bronze with 8% of the total votes. The Horsemen have done nothing but improve over the years with their specialized lines and releases, and if you thought their past stuff was cool, you really need to check out this fantasy line.

The Poppies Judges are loving them some Hasbro, and they gave the Star Wars Black series the silver with 10% of the vote. With the improvements in the eye and face paint, as well as an eclectic selection of characters, the series remains really strong. I just wish the distribution wasn't so awful - there are still holes in my 2017 set.

The winner, with 21% of the vote, is another Hasbro series - Marvel Legends. I'm not at all surprised, and this is one of those rare occasions where myself, the People, and the Poppies Judges all agree on the top spot. They pushed out a ton of great figures, with good distribution and a nice mix of comic and movie characters in every wave. Even the BAF's were solid, and there's very little on the retail pegs that rivals them in terms of play value.

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Articulated Icons Batman Animated Mythic Legions
Second Place Mythic Legions Mythic Legions Star Wars Black
First Place Marvel Legends Marvel Legends Marvel Legends

Marvel Legends Jackal action figure

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Eddie Wires Award for Outstanding Paint
A great sculpt can be rendered invisible with a bad paint job - a mediocre sculpt can be elevated to new heights with a great one. This award recognizes the best production paint work out there, looking for a collectible where the paint took it to a higher level.

Hot Toys took 16% of the vote and the bronze medal with their Doctor Strange figure. Until the GOTG2 Star-Lord came out, this was my favorite sixth scale release for the year, beating out even Hulkbuster in the end. It was the production paint job on the portrait that really sets him apart, and created one of the best likeness of the year.

My personal favorite edged out Strange by taking 18% of the vote - Mezco's Punisher. This was the best One:12 release of the year, and that's saying a lot considering how strong the other offerings were. I think the paint work on all three faces was excellent, but the battle damaged look was really outstanding.

Even though I didn't vote for her, 23% of the other Poppies Judges did, giving the Hot Toys Suicide Squad Harley Quinn the gold in this category. I can't argue with their choice, as the work on her makeup, tattoos, and hair is exceptional, and the skin, teeth, lips, tongue, and eyes are spooky real. Her extreme expression was a risk - but it was a risk that paid off big time.

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Kotobukiya Wonder Woman One:12 Punisher Hot Toys Doctor Strange
Second Place Hot Toys Tux Joker Hot Toys Doctor Strange One:12 Punisher
First Place One:12 Punisher Hot Toys Harley Hot Toys Harley

Hot Toys Harley Quinn action figure

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Best Male/Female Figure - 18" and up
Let's get into the actual figure categories now, starting with the big boys and girls. We combined male and female figures this year, due to the lack of female releases in this scale. If there had been no good female choices, we could have just called it the male category, but there was one female figure that absolutely had to be on the ballot.

With 21% of the vote, NECA's Batman Returns Catwoman takes the bronze. Using the rooted hair on the battle damaged portrait sets her apart, and it's an excellent likeness. It's also a big plus that now we have the three key characters for Batman Returns all in one high end scale and style. Nobody else has managed to do that for us (I'm looking at you, Hot Toys).

Hot Toys sneaks in and grabs the silver, taking 29% of the vote with their exceptional Iron Man MK42 Deluxe release. Anytime Hot Toys does a quarter scale figure, it's something special, and I wish we saw them do it a little more often with characters other than Iron Man.

But no one could take the gold from NECA. This year they got it for their Michelangelo, another terrific release in their TMNT series, which took 31% of the vote. Interestingly enough, their 2016 release of Donetello in this same series won the gold for them last year!

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Michelangelo Iron Man MK42 Deluxe BR Catwoman
Second Place Iron Man MK42 Deluxe BR Catwoman Iron Man MK42 Deluxe
First Place BR Catwoman Michelangelo Michelangelo

NECA TMNT Michelangelo action figure

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Best Male Figure 12 - 17"
There were a ton of amazing sixth scale releases in 2017. The number of companies producing excellent quality figures continues to grow, and the competition for your dollar is getting tighter.

One of the companies moving up over the last couple years is Blitzway. They gave us an amazing set of Ghostbusters, something I never expected to see, and they did it all at once - no dribbling them out one at a time over months. There were a couple that really stood out, but 9% of the Poppies Judges voted for Egon Spengler as their favorite, enough to give him the bronze.

Hot Toys took the silver and 21% of the vote with my personal favorite, Doctor Strange. While it was an amazing portrait and paint job, the complex costume and cool accessories pushed it over the top.

Hot Toys also took the gold. Taking this category away from them is no easy task - the last time it happened was in 2014, when Sideshow's Darth Vader took the top spot. They tend to release at least one amazeballs figure every year, and in 2017, that was the Hulkbuster. A whopping 38% of the voters went for him, and it's easy to see why. If you're lucky enough to have him, you'll completely understand. Not only is he another amazing piece of Iron Man engineering, but you can actually fit a full Iron Man inside! It's not easy, and it takes a little patience, but the fact you can do it boggles my mind.

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Egon Spengler K-2SO Egon Spengler
Second Place Hulkbuster Doctor Strange Doctor Strange
First Place Doctor Strange Hulkbuster Hulkbuster

Hot Toys Hulkbuster sixth scale action figure

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Best Male Figure 5 - 11"
Mezco has done extremely well in this category the last couple years. Their One:12 Collective line has people talking...and buying. After market prices on these things have gone insane, indicating there's a lot of demand in the short term. They have some key releases coming up between now and the spring, and hitting on every detail will be crucial to taking the line from hype to long term success.

For 2017, they didn't just do well in this category - the crushed it, taking all three medals!  I figured they'd win, but I had no idea the overall series was this popular within the industry right now.

Bronze went to their Space Ghost, who took 9% of the vote.  This is an old school character that works on a couple different levels of nostalgia, thanks to his silly 90's show. It's a simple look, but they nailed the clean lines and bright colors.

Thanks to three amazing portraits and a plethora of cool accessories, their Joker took the silver medal and 13% of the vote. There were some complaints about the suit, but I thought this was an amazing rendition of the character in this scale, easily one of my favorites of all time. Mezco has another coming out this year, and I suspect he'll prove as popular.

Of course, the big winner is the one, the only, the Punisher. Actually, there wasn't one, but several variations released on the general theme. The one on the ballot was the classic release, but you could argue that any one of them deserved the top spot. The triple portraits were outstanding, and the overall design worked perfectly for this character. The Ascending Knight Batman might end up this year's Punisher, but it's not going to be easy to fill his boots.

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Forest Troll Spider-Man Homecoming One:12 Space Ghost
Second Place Green Goblin One:12 Joker One:12 Joker
First Place One:12 Punisher One:12 Punisher One:12 Punisher

Punisher One:12 action figure

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Best Male Figure under 5"
As I've mentioned plenty of times, I've pretty much gotten out of collecting this scale, so it's probably not surprising that my picks aren't a particularly good match to either the People or the other Poppies Judges. They tend to match up with each other better, but this is one of only two categories (out of 20!) where there's a tie.

There's actually two ties, the first within the bronze winners. Three figures took 7% of the vote - Usagi Yojimbo, Link, and the Ultimate Gizmo. With this many excellent choices and a limited number of judges, it's not surprising to see a battle like this.

The silver medal was won outright by the Ultimate Chucky. He took 12% of the vote, just barely out of gold medal contention. He was the winner with the People, and I had no idea he was so popular. I learn something new every day!

The top spot was taken with just 13% of the vote. Actually two figures got 13%, the only tie for gold in all the categories this year. The silver and bronze medalists in the People's Picks ended up tying for the gold in the Poppies - Bucky O'Hare and Gladiator Hulk! I went with the Bucky photo below, since we all pretty much know what the Hulk looks like. ;)

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Bucky O'Hare Bucky O'Hare Usagi/Link/Gizmo
Second Place Scrooge McDuck Gladiator Hulk Chucky Ultimate
First Place Rowlf Chucky Ultimate Bucky/Hulk

Photo courtesy General Joes.

Bucky O'Hare action figure

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Best Female Figure 11" - 17"
While there's some pretty good agreement in general between the People's Picks and the Poppies overall, this is only the second category where the two groups actually agree on all three spots.

Fifteen percent of the Poppies Judges - me included - picked the deluxe Jyn Erso, giving her the bronze medal.  With a terrific outfit and accessories, she was a clear stand out. It helped that the on screen character was such a bad ass.

Hot Toys gets the second place spot as well, taking 21% of the vote with Wonder Woman. This figure had some vocal complainers, but I think they were off the mark. With both the People and the Poppies Judges giving her the silver, I'd say it's confirmed.

Hot Toys completes the sweep with their Suicide Squad Harley Quinn. This is an odd situation, no doubt about it. I'm betting that a decent number of the 25% of the voters that picked her didn't like the movie all that much. Some probably don't even like the new character design and backstory. Yet Hot Toys did such an amazing job translating her to an action figure that they couldn't ignore it. This says an awful lot about the quality of their work, and the realism of this figure.

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Ellen Ripley Jyn Erso Jyn Erso
Second Place SS Harley Wonder Woman Wonder Woman
First Place Jyn Erso SS Harley SS Harley

Hot Toys Harley Quinn action figure

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Best Female Figure 5 - 11"
This is a category that's kinda all over the place between the three groups. While there's a couple figures that make it on more than one list, there's four that only show up in one spot. This speaks to the quality of the releases, and the broad range of tastes.

The bronze medal goes to Zelda, from Good Smile. This is the Twilight Princess version, a beautiful figure with an excellent paint job. She took third place with 8% of the vote.

Silver went to the Marvel Legends Hela, with 15% of the vote. I'm kinda surprised that Hela ended up being the Marvel Legends lady that resonated with so many collectors. Perhaps it was the performance on screen that did it, or perhaps it was the unique character design and two portraits. Or maybe, just maybe, Hasbro simply crushed it with this one.

For a character that generated a lot of hate and complaining, the Suicide Squad Harley Quinn has done awfully well with the Poppies Judges. The One:12 Collective version gets the gold here with 17% of the vote. She's a winner on her own, but she also is a good indicator to the quality of any upcoming One:12 female releases.

Disco must truly be dead, since Dazzler didn't get the love I'd hoped. *sigh*

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Maz Kanata One:12 Harley Zelda
Second Place One:12 Harley Princess Leia ML Hela
First Place ML Dazzler ML Hela One:12 Harley

One:12 Harley Quinn action figure

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Best Female Figure under 5"
There's only one figure that was consistent across all three of the awards - and it's not one I was really expecting. This category was also a really close race, thanks to the great selection.

A surprise winner is from Diamond Select. Their Muppets Miss Piggy took 13% of the vote and the bronze medal. I'm a happier camper with the entire series than I expected, and I really hope we see it continue in 2018.

The only consistent figure is the 1966 Batman TV Batgirl, from Funko. She edged out Miss Piggy with 14% of the vote, grabbing the silver. Second place was her consistent spot with all three awards. And here I thought I was the only 66 Batman fan left in the world!  And there's good news from Toy Fair, it looks like the next wave will make it to pegs soon.

The winner squeaked by the contenders with 15% of the vote. Good Smile does it again with another of their Zelda figures, this time the Nenderoid version. If you haven't been paying attention to Good Smile, you should be, especially if you're a fan of video game, anime, and manga figures.

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Valkyries Eleven Miss Piggy
Second Place 66 Batgirl 66 Batgirl 66 Batgirl
First Place Cerisier Zelda Zelda

Nenderoid Zelda action figure

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Best Build-A-Figure
My only surprise in this category was just how close the race was.

Just like the People, the Poppies Judges gave the bronze to King Shark from Mattel. They had a number of BAF's as part of the Multiverse line last year, but I'd have to agree that King Shark was the best. That's what 12% of the voters felt, at least.

A large number, 20%, went for the Ragnarok Hulk from Marvel Legends. This was a cool BAF, with a bunch of his own accessories, something rather unusual in the world of BAF's. You can never get enough Hulk, and using him for the BAF with the Ragnarok wave of ML's was a very smart move on Hasbro's part.

The winner took the clean sweep from all three awards, getting gold from the Poppies Judges as well. It's the Diamond Select Rooftop Diorama from Ghostbusters. It took quite awhile to finish this thing, but it was well worth the wait. They have started with the first wave of Ghostbusters II figures now, and the Firehouse BAF will be another likely contender for this spot in 2019.

As I said, I wasn't surprised by the order, but the voting was close. The rooftop barely edged out Hulk, taking just 1% more of the votes.

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Snowball King Shark King Shark
Second Place Ragnarok Hulk Ragnarok Hulk Ragnarok Hulk
First Place Ghostbusters Rooftop Ghostbusters Rooftop Ghostbusters Rooftop

Ghosbusters Rooftop Diorama

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Best Vehicle
As I mentioned in the previous award discussions, we split up the Best Play Set/Vehicle category this year, thanks to the plethora of good choices for nominations.

The Star Wars Black 6" series supplied a couple, and Rey's Speeder took the bronze with 16% of the vote.  The People like Luke's conveyance better, but the Poppies Judges appreciated the new design of this cool vehicle. It helps that it comes with a solid Rey release as well.

Playmobil is doing some really fun work in their Ghostbusters series, and new sets should be hitting your Toys R Us any day if they haven't already. The Ecto-1 was great fun, with lots of play value and a terrific design, and 20% of the voters went for it. I hope branching into the licensed area works out for Playmobil, because there's a whole bunch of properties I'd love to see them tackle with their usual quality and detail.

The big winner, with 22% of the vote, is the Ultimate Batmobile. I wish I'd found one of these for a reasonable price, but sadly, I did not. I've heard great things about it though, and the various YouTube videos do a great job of selling the concept.

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Ultimate Batmobile Luke's Landspeeder Rey's Speeder
Second Place Rey's Speeder Ghostbusters Ecto-1 Ghostbusters Ecto-1
First Place Ghostbusters Ecto-1 Ultimate Batmobile Ultimate Batmobile

Ultimate Batmobile

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Best Play Set
The People and the Poppies Judges agreed on who should be in the top three. They did not agree on the order.

The bronze medal was won with 14% of the vote - the Qmx Star Trek Captain's Chair grabbed the honor. This was easily the best sixth scale diorama piece I picked up this year, and if you are a STOS fan, you really should check it out. Of course, you also need a Captain Kirk.

With 22% of the vote, the DC Collectibles animated Batcave took the silver. This is a really cool set, and much like their Batmobile and Batwing, it's a terrific centerpiece for a display. It works as a toy too, with lots of play value and potential fun to be had.

Leave it to the super cool Playmobil Ghostbusters line to grab the gold. They took 27% of the vote with their Firehouse play set. Sure, you have to assemble it first, but once you do the real fun begins. Or maybe it's the assembly that's the fun? The beauty of Playmobil is you get both!

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Ultimate Justice Battleground Ghostbusters Firehouse Star Trek Captain's Chair
Second Place Batcave Nano Metals Star Trek Captain's Chair Batcave Animated
First Place Batcave Animated Batcave Animated Ghostbusters Firehouse

Ghostbusters Firehouse play set

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Best Statue
This might be the category with the most variation, certainly across all three groups, but even between the People and the Poppies Judges.

The bronze winner, with 7% of the vote, is the Mouth of Sauron from Weta. The company continues to produce some of the highest quality collectibles on the market, and their focus and support of the LOTR properties remains steadfast.

I was pretty surprised that the Ghost Rider from XM Studios had been left out of the top three by the People. Not so with the Poppies Judges, with 10% giving him the nod. It's a truly beautiful and impressive statue, and they take full advantage of the bad ass nature of the character and the potential of the flames within the design.

The top pick, with 13% of the vote, is the Joker from the DC Designer Series designed by Brian Bolland's and released by DC Collectibles. No doubt the Killing Joke remains an influential Batman story, and the cover art remains a classic. When a statue is produced based on this cover, they have to add the lower body using their imagination. Lots of different concepts have arose, but I like the simple solution you see here.

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Rocket and Groot Designer Series Joker Mouth of Sauron
Second Place ArtFX Wonder Woman Mouth of Sauron Ghost Rider
First Place Ghost Rider Artorius Designer Series Joker

Designer Series Killing Joker Joker Statue

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Best Bust
The only other tie in any of the categories occurs here, but there was no doubt who the winner was. A whopping 89% of the vote went to just four busts.

The tie came for bronze, where two busts grabbed 15% of the vote each. That's quite a bit, but the choices on the ballot this year were fairly small in number. Both Bistain from Gentle Giant, and my fav, Man-Bat from DST captured the third place spot.

Gentle Giant also took the silver with 19% of the vote. Their Caesar Deadpool is one of those cute, amusing designs that could go terribly wrong if poorly executed, or tremendously right if properly executed. Clearly, they pulled off the latter.

They also took home the gold, grabbing a huge 40% of the vote with the McQuarrie style Han Solo. The McQuarrie designs have always been popular in any sort of collectible, but GG did a terrific job translating this one into three dimensions. The Han design isn't one we get a lot either, so I think fans were thrilled to see it released.

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Bistan Man-Bat Bistan/Man-Bat
Second Place Mad Hatter Caesar Deadpool Caesar Deadpool
First Place Man-Bat McQuarrie Han McQuarrie Han

McQuarrie Concept Han Solo bust

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Best Designer/Vinyl Figure
We all realize that Funko has taken over this market.  Even my grandma knows what a Pop! figure is, and she's been dead for 30 years. But they have some serious competition at the mass market level, creating buzz for other companies.  The downside to all this mass popularity is the smaller companies and individuals that made the vinyl market a thing in the first place tend to get drowned out.

Funko does grab the third place spot, taking 11% with their Rocky Candy release of Elvira. I haven't bought any of the Rock Candy figures, but I have to say that I'm sorely tempted. The quality is excellent, and I like the style much, much more than the Pop's. I just know better than to go down that rabbit hole...

Quantum Mechanix takes second with 15% of the vote going to their Pinky and the Brain. I did pick this one up, and I love it.  These characters need more merchandise, and Qmx did them proud with this small but impressive release.

Edging out the cartoon dio, with 16% of the vote, is another Qmx release - the Q-Figs Wonder Woman! This design is so damn cute, and Wonder Woman had a big year in general in 2017. It's an overall combination that just couldn't be beat.

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Brachiosores Dorbz Skeletor Rock Candy Elvira
Second Place Rock Candy Daenarys Q-figs Wonder Woman Pinky & the Brain
First Place Pinky & the Brain Pinky & the Brain Q-Figs Wonder Woman

Qmx WOnder Woman vinyl figure

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Best Prop Replica
Helmets seemed to dominate the market in 2017, but blasters dominated the Poppies.

But not completely. A real dark horse slipped in to take 9% of the vote and the bronze medal - the Diamond Select Toys release of Shakespeare's Bust from the 1966 Batman TV show. They did it as a bank, but I'm going to eventually try to turn it into a working switch. I may buy a second to carve up for just such a purpose.

Then comes the blasters. I'm embarrassed to say that I completely forgot about the Han Solo Blaster from Todd's Costumes when I did my own personal picks. It was the coolest prop replica I received all year, and yet I completely blanked on it when I was writing up my article. I blame the Russians.

But 10% of the Poppies Judges remembered quite clearly, and gave the exceptional replica the silver medal. The price point is fantastic on this item too, something you don't see much these days.

The winner, taking 12% of the vote and the gold, is the Blade Runner 2049 Blaster from Hollywood Collectibles. This blaster is based on the look from the original film, and it was such a good replica that the makers of 2049 went to them to get several to use in the new film. So technically, it isn't a replica of the prop in the new film, it IS the prop in the new film. It's hard to compete with that!

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Batarang Ashy Slashy puppet Shakespeare's Bust Bank
Second Place Ashy Slashy puppet Blade Runner 2049 Blaster Han Solo Blaster
First Place Blade Runner 2049 Whisky Han Solo's Blaster Blade Runner 2049 Blaster

Blade Runner 2049 Blaster prop replica

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Best Building Set
While there are a lot of companies producing building sets these days, Lego remains king.

They took all three spots again this year, starting with 9% of the vote going to the Batcave Break-In, a set based on the Lego Batman movie. While the movie wasn't quite as popular with the general public as the original Lego Movie, it did hit all the right notes with Batman fans.  This set incorporates some great features, and is a ton of fun from start to finish.

Lego has been doing some space themed sets, and their NASA Apollo Saturn V Rocket took the silver with 11% of the vote. The idea that they can do historic, realistic, space vehicles and they sell is cool enough, but they killed this one with the design and scale.

No big surprise, they took the gold as well with 32% of the vote going to the Millennium Falcon. This is the UCS release, and it's simply outstanding. I would never have the patience to put something like this together, but for those that do, the end result is amazing.

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Cabal Harvestor Dropship Saturn V Rocket Batcave Break-In
Second Place Millennium Falcon Batcave Break-In Saturn V Rocket
First Place Woman of NASA Millennium Falcon Millennium Falcon

Lego UCS Millennium Falcon

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Best Misc
It's time to finish up with the catch-all category, the spot where we nominate things that just don't quite seem to fit anywhere else.

This year's bronze winner is the Super7 Street Fighter M.U.S.C.L.E. figures. These cute little guys stole the hearts of 12% of the voters. There's a lot of nostalgia here with folks that remember the old M.U.S.C.L.E. stuff, but Super7 has done a terrific job extending the series.

Playmates grabbed 15% of the vote and the silver medal with their Legendary Lion Voltron. Talk about some nostalgia, they've really upped the game with their recent Voltron releases. This set is certainly worthy of the accolades, but I had no idea that many judges were paying such good attention!

Our final winner is...drum roll please...the Jumbo Early Bird Set of figures from Gentle Giant! Okay, so the entire Misc category is oozing with nostalgic love this time, an angle that GG has worked quite successfully with their Jumbo figures. This set commemorates the Early Bird figures, and fans remember fondly getting the promise of something cool least with this set, you got the figures right up front.

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Nano Metalfigs Jumbo Early Bird Set Street Fighter M.U.S.C.L.E.
Second Place H.A.C.K.S. packs BB-8 Hero Droid Legendary Lion Voltron
First Place BB-8 Hero Droid Dol Guldor Jumbo Early Bird Set

Jumbo Star Wars Early Bird Set

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There's a couple interesting observations from this year, at least to me.

This year the gold and silver winners in the Best Overall Company went on to sweep all three medals in their respective wheelhouse categories - Mezco in the Best Male 5 - 11", and Hot Toys in Best Male and Best Female 5 - 11". While that makes common sense, I believe this is the first time it's occurred. Perhaps we'll see Mezco do even better next year in the Best Female 5 - 11", once they have a few more potential nominees.

I also found it interesting that there were so few ties this time around. Remember, you're only talking about 156 judges, and some abstain from various categories. Factor in the number of great nominees in several of these categories, and the process is ripe for ties. We saw quite a few last year, but this year they were almost non-existent. I personally believe this is a result of every category having at least a couple stand outs, items that simply towered over the rest. While I don't agree personally with every pick, I can't argue with the quality of the winners.

I'll be really watching the One:12 Collective line this year. They have a lot of releases scheduled, and their ability to maintain the level of quality their fans are expecting will be critical to their ability to go from a fad to a long term specialized market.

There was a lot of agreement between the People's Picks and the Poppies, and there always is. That's not too surprising, but I do think (although I haven't done any in depth analysis) that there was more variation this year, with several categories having top three picks in one that didn't even show up in the other. Part of that is politicing - I think some companies did a good job reaching out to their fans and getting them to vote, which swung things differently. But also a big part of it is the overall quality of many of the nominees. Fifteen years ago, there was an awful lot of junk out there, and not a lot of great. Ten years ago, there was a lot more great, but it was concentrated among a few companies. Now there's a whole lot of great, and it's much more widely spread across all the companies, even the big boys.

I hope you enjoyed this year's process, and thanks to all that voted in the People's Picks, as well as a huge thank you to all the Poppies Judges!

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Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

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