Captain Toy/Michael's Review of the Week

The Poppies...
The Best of 2018 as Selected by Industry Judges

Date Published: 2019-03-13
Written By: Michael Crawford

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People's Picks 2018

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The time has finally come! Sorry for the delay, but occasionally real life interferes, don't you know. But now the process is complete, and we can announce the winners of the 2018 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 146, 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.

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:  
2018 2018 2018
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
For the People, the winner of this category was pretty clear. However, it was a real donnybrook in the Poppies.

The third place winner took 14% of the vote. Hasbro has upped their game with both the Star Wars 6" Black series and their Marvel Legends, so it's not a surprise they placed in this category. You'll see more of their figures from these two lines sprinkled through the rest of these awards.

The results between the top two was whisper thin. It was neck and neck, but Mezco ended up with the silver and 21% of the vote, edged out this year by Hot Toys with 22% of the vote. The final result is the same as last year - Hot Toys in first, with Mezco in second. However, the spread was big last year, about 16 percentage points, while this year it shrank to just one. While Hot Toys continues to lead with quality in the sixth scale market, it's clear that Mezco is really challenging them overall.

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 Hoth Leia action figure

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Best Overall Line - High End
The results in this category mirrored the People's pretty close...but again the spread from one year to the next has changed considerably.

Bronze goes to Hot Toys for their Star Wars line. They received 12% of the vote, and dropped slighty from 2017. This was the same result we saw with the People's Picks, and I think it's due in large part to the overall shift in collector fascination from Star Wars to Marvel.

And yes, the Hot Toys Marvel series took the silver, grabbing 16% of the vote. The quality remains outstanding, and while we still see an awful lot of repeats, we got some great new characters in 2018 as well.

Once again in 2018 the gold medalist is the One:12 Collective. Mezco really is crushing it with this line of high quality, mixed media action figures in a 1/12 scale, rivaling the sort of work previously reserved for larger scale collectibles. They had a ton of excellent releases last year, both from major and minor licenses. They also took 40% of the vote for 2018, a big jump up from their winning result of 29% percent in 2017.

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Batman Black/White Hot Toys Star Wars Hot Toys Star Wars
Second Place Hot Toys Star Wars Hot Toys Marvel Hot Toys Marvel
First Place One:12 Collective One:12 Collective One:12 Collective

One:12 Collective Doctor Strange action figures

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Best Overall Line - Low End
The 2018 results in the 'low end' category - hey, if you have a better name for these two categories, please let me know - is also very, very close to the 2017 results. But there's a couple key changes that continue to indicate an overall shift in the market.

Hasbro's Star Wars Black 6" series takes bronze with 10% of the vote. This is a slip for them, dropping from Silver in 2017. This does mirror the flip of the larger scale Star Wars and Marvel lines in the previous category, and I think 2018 was just a down year for the license in general. However, Hasbro is to be commended for continuing to produce this fantastic series, and for looking at improvements in quality as well.

Silver was taken with 13% of the vote, and it's last year's bronze winner that is moving on up. The Mythic Legions by the Four Horsemen have jumped a spot, and that's pretty damn impressive. This is a small line, a 'boutique' collectible in many ways, yet its impressive quality, style, and design have propelled it on an upward trend. I picked them as my winner this year, moving them up from Silver to Gold, and it's great to see other Poppies judges mirroring the sentiment.

Once again this year, Hasbro's Marvel Legends comes out on top, taking an impressive 24% of the vote in a crowded field of nominees. They had a LOT of releases last year, and the quality of the figures themselves - from paint to sculpt to plastic - improved. Combining movie and comic book characters in themed waves is also a winning combination, making fans of both happy.

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Ducktales Ultimate Horror Star Wras Black
Second Place BTAS Busts Star Wars Black Mythic Legions
First Place Mythic Legions Marvel Legends Marvel Legends

Marvel Legends Black Widow 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.

The individual winners prove this out once again.  Taking the bronze with 12% of the vote is the terrific Thanos on Throne by Sideshow. This statue was well loved by the People too, and I'd be surprised if we didn't see it place in the top three in the Best Statue category a little later on.

I'm going to be honest here - I was pretty shocked by the results of the top two. The big winner the People picked was edged out with the Poppies judges. While 16% of them favored the Hot Toys Yondu, it was only enough to grab the silver. Yondu is an amazing figure, but there was one which 19% liked slightly better.

Hot Toys took the gold with their Admiral Tarkin. I can see it, no doubt about it. The skin tone and freckling is some of the most realistic I've ever seen, and not something that gets regularly repeated. It's so good, macro photos can be easily confused with a real person.

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Tsume Vegeta Thanos on Throne Thanos on Throne
Second Place One:12 Doctor Strange Hot Toys Tarkin Hot Toys Yondo
First Place Judy Hopps Hot Toys Yondu Hot Toys Tarkin

Hot Toys Grand Moff Tarkin action figure

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Best Male/Female Figure - 18" and up
NECA still dominates this category, but they aren't the only players out there.

They took the silver, snagging 16% of the vote with their Deadpool. The exclusive release came with a ton of extras including a great unmasked portrait, and didn't last long on the shelves.

Another 20% of the voters went for the NECA Raphael in Disguise. Their Michelangelo did great in 2017, so it was no surprise to me that throwing a trenchcoat on the TMNT characters would be a winner in 2018.

But it was Hot Toys that sneaked in for the gold, taking 24% of the vote and the hearts of many a judge with their Batman Begins release. It might not be the favorite Nolan Batman costume design for many, but getting the iconic look in this scale was much appreciated and well rewarded.

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Daredevil Deadpool Deadpool
Second Place Raphael in Disguise Raphael in Disguise Raphael in Disguise
First Place Deadpool Batman Begins Batman Begins

Hot Toys Batman Begins action figure

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Best Male Figure 12 - 17"
Here we have perhaps the most debated, most anticipated, most discussed category. Thanks to the huge popularity of sixth scale in the action figure collector community, this award gets the most attention. And this year, we have a shocker.

There are several shocks, actually. Let's start with the first - the People's pick, who was also a favorite in the Eddie Wires awards, only grabbed bronze in this category. Yep, Hot Toys Yondu garnered 11% of the vote and the bronze medal.

Beating him out is another Hot Toys release - Homecoming Spider-Man. I've said this is one of the nicest  Spideys Hot Toys has produced, and clearly 17% of the voters agreed. But it still wasn't quite enough to take the top spot.

Nope. The winner squeaked past him, getting 18% of the vote and the coveted gold. I heard a lot of really good things about the Mythos Obi-Wan Kenobi after its release.  I liked what I saw at cons. But I didn't buy one for myself, and therefore had no definitive proof of it's in-hand excellence. Sideshow clearly nailed it with this one, and pleased the Star Wars fans and sixth scale collectors alike.

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Yondu Thor (IW) Yondu
Second Place Gimli Spider-Man (HC) Spider-Man (HC)
First Place Wesley/Roberts Yondu Mythos Obi-Wan

Sideshow Mythos Obi-wan Kenobi sixth scale action figure

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Best Male Figure 5 - 11"
Last year, Mezco's One:12 Collective dominated this category. With them taking silver in Best Company and gold in Best Overall Line, you'd expect a similar result. You'd be wrong - to some degree. They swept the category in 2017, but only took one spot this year.

The bronze medal, and 7% of the vote, went to the NECA figure of Pennywise from the 2017 movie. While the classic 1990 version was great as well, the newness of the film and character did a lot for it. I bet the 2019 Poppies will have one of these guys on the medal stand as well, with the second film right around the corner and a lot of versions hitting the pegs.

Coming in second with 14% of the vote is the Marvel Legends Thing. Hasbro released a lot of great characters last year, but I don't think there was another that generated as much positive buzz and opinion as this Walgreen's exclusive.

The big winner took home 28% of the vote, and a shiny gold medal. Mezco might not have swept the category, but they did win it overall, and with a surprise at that. Popeye isn't what you'd call a modern license, so winning this category with their release of the iconic character is all the more impressive. If that's not impressive enough, this is the first single figure award so far where all three winners matched!

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Gammorean Guard Pennywise 2017 Pennywise 2017
Second Place Bromden Ironjaw One:12 Joker (dlx) The Thing
First Place One:12 Popeye One:12 Popeye One:12 Popeye

Popeye One:12 action figure

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Best Male Figure under 5"
Ready for another big shock?  Obi-Wan was a huge shock not just because he wasn't a Hot Toys release, but because he wasn't even in the top three of my picks or the People's Picks...and yet he won the Poppies!  Time for another one of those...

The Poppies judges, or at least 10% of them, went with Link (Breathe of the Wild) Nendoriod from Good Smile. That was enough to snag them the bronze. I really like the look of all the Nenderoid's, and Good Smile remains impressive.

The People's gold medalist and my silver medalist, the City Hunter Predator from Hiya Toys, took the silver and 12% of the vote.  I really like what Hiya is doing right now in this scale, and I'll have a review of their Injustice Batman and Superman very soon.

But the winner came out of left field, at least for me - the Wampa from the Star Wars Force Link two-pack! He scarfed up a solid 16% of the vote to take the gold. To be fair (if you watch Letterkenny, I know what you're saying in your head right now), Wampa figures are always great, and this nicely articulated and well sculpted release was no exception. But the win was still a surprise to me!

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Scrooge McDuck Scrooge McDuck Link
Second Place City Hunter Predator Ian Malcolm City Hunter Predator
First Place Colossus Rex City Hunter Predator Wampa

Photo courtesy Hasbro.

Star Wars Wampa action figure

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Best Female Figure 11" - 17"
While Hot Toys didn't fully dominate the male version of this category for 2018, they certainly dominated the female version. We also have our first tie in any category!

The bronze medalists each took 10% of the vote. It's not unusual to get ties with a smaller number of judges like this, even when the ballot is fairly crowded with nominees. Hot Toys Black Widow and their Leia Organa were even steven, both claiming the bronze.

The silver medalist put a little distance between them, getting 22% of the vote. The latest Wonder Woman (the deluxe version) added some really great accessories to a figure that was already tremendously popular.

The gold medal winner? C'mon, you know who it is - Hela. Hot Toys crushed it with this one, and even though some folks didn't like the cape color and others rebelled against the exposed shoulder joints, a whopping 34% agreed she was the best release of the year. And like Popeye, this was unanimous between me, the People, and the Poppies judges.

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Belle Leia Leia/Black Widow
Second Place Leia Wonder Woman (dlx) Wonder Woman (dlx)
First Place Hela Hela Hela

Hot Toys Hela action figure

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Best Female Figure 5 - 11"
There were a lot of great choices this year, making the race extremely tight.

Bronze had only 9% of the vote, a relatively low number, but with a tight race that can happen. The third place spot goes to Gwendolynee Heavensbrand from the terrific Mythic Legions series. I was a bit disappointed that the male figures from this line didn't do better in their category, so this score for Gwen was nice to see.

The silver medalist garnered 11% of the vote. You didn't expect to not see the One:12 Collective represented, did you? Their Catwoman comes in second, a terrific figure that was probably held back from the top spot by some breakage issues. She took the top spot with the People, but the Poppies judges weren't completely sold.

The One:12 Collective Wonder Woman took home 15% of the vote, but so did Hasbro's Star Wars Black 6" Hoth Leia! Yep, we had a tie for the gold, which doesn't happen very often. I only included a photo below of Wonder Woman, but I had Hoth Leia in my top three as well, and completely understand the appeal.

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Hoth Leia One:12 Wonder Woman Heavensbrand
Second Place Gadriel Hoth Leia One:12 Catwoman
First Place Judy Hopps One:12 Catwoman One:12 Wonder Woman/Hoth Leia

One:12 Wonder Woman action figure

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Best Female Figure under 5"
We have another tie!

It's for the bronze again, and it's also an even 10% again. This time, it's the small Marvel Legends Black Widow (part of the GamerVerse two pack) sharing with the Peggy Bundy from Funko. I'm not surprised by the Black Widow, as it caught my eye on the pegs every time I saw it. But Peggy? Hey, Funko is doing something right by the fans.

Another 20% of the voters were enamored with the Hero's Edition Wonder Woman from Good Smile. Another Nendoroid won last year, and the Poppies judges are clearly fans of the style and quality.

But the winner came in with a big 30% of the vote, easily taking the gold. As with the People, the Poppies judges responded extremely well to the Aphra figure from the Star Wars Vintage Collection.

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Aphra Black Widow Peggy Bundy/Black Widow
Second Place Astrodite Wonder Woman Wonder Woman
First Place Wonder Woman Star Wars Aphra Star Wars Aphra

Photo courtesy of Action Figure Barbecue:

Star Wars Doctor Aphra action figure

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Best Build-A-Figure
While the first half of the categories were pretty cut and dry, the back half sport a ton of ties. Of course, when you have a smaller number of voters you're going to get some ties, but I think this is the most I've ever seen.

The bronze medal goes to the Monster Venom, obviously from Hasbro. This wasn't one of my favorite Marvel Legends BAF's, but it clearly spoke to 11% of the judges.  My big regret is skipping the Spider-Ham figure that was part of the wave.

Mattel jumps in to share the silver medal with Hasbro. Their terrific Clayface - my favorite of 2018 - received 14% of the vote, tying the Thanos from Hasbro. While neither of these figures is big relative to the BAF's of years (and years) gone by, they are on the big side for modern BAF's.

The victory here was quite clear - Sauron took a dominating 26% of the vote. The sculpt is terrific, and he's a fairly unique figure to add to the shelf, always a big plus for a BAF.

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Krombopulus Michael Clayface Monster Venom
Second Place Thanos Apocalypse Clayface/Thanos
First Place Clayface Sauron Sauron

Marvel Legends Sauron action figure

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Best Vehicle
Another tie! Holy crap, the races have been tight for silver and bronze.

This time it's a tie for third, with two vehicles each getting 10% of the vote. Both are Star Wars too. One, also picked for bronze by the People, is the very cool Imperial Combat Assault Tank. Star Wars fans were torn though, with another 10% picking the Sand Crawler, an exclusive with the Disney parks. I haven't seen one in person, but it looks damn cool in photos.

There wasn't many positive things, toy-wise, to come from the blockbuster DC movie Aquaman. But the Warrior Shark that came as a two pack was beloved enough by 14% of the judges to grab the silver medal. It is really cool, with better articulation than any of the figures in the series.

While there was a tie for third and the spread to silver wasn't huge, the winner of this category decimated the competition with 33% of the vote. As with the People, the Poppies judges overwhelming loved the Star Wars Black 6" series Dewback. I just hope we continue to see more of these deluxe figures and sets in the line.

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Planet Express Assault Tank Assault Tank/Sand Crawler
Second Place Dewback Flamecycle Aquaman Shark
First Place Flamecycle Dewback Dewback

Star Wars Black Dewback and Trooper

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Best Play Set
2018 wasn't a great year for play sets, but there was at least one serious stand out. This is one of the rare categories where I matched exactly with the People's Picks, but things swapped up a bit with the Poppies.

The bronze medal was grabbed with 19% of the vote. The TMNT Epic Sewer Lair is huge, and the 2018 release has some amazing play features, making it an easy pick.

Surprising to me, the Wayne Manor didn't make it with the Poppies Judges. Instead, the silver went to the other Batman play set most often mentioned, the Primal Rage Batcave. I don't own one yet, but I have to admit my resistance is waning. Thanks to the cool design, there's a whole lot more than just Batman who can use it. About 22% of the voters picked it as their favorite.

But a whopping 41% of the voters went with the same gold medalist as myself and the People - the TMNT Street Scene!  This was an exclusive, but well worth tracking down. If you missed it, fear not - a slightly different version will get a wide release in 2019.

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Primal Rage Batcave Primal Rage Batcave TMNT Sewer Lair
Second Place Wayne Manor Wayne Manor Primal Rage Batcave
First Place TMNT Street Scene TMNT Street Scene TMNT Street Scene

TMNT Street Scene play set

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Best Statue
This was a really crowded field this year, with a lot of nominees. Every one of those nominees were outstanding, and the statue market has come a long way over the last few years.

That translated into a tight race with the winners having lower than usual percentages. Everyone got some votes!  The bronze went to Poison Ivy from XM Studios. They produced a lot of great statues last year, but Ivy was a definite stand out. She took 7% of the vote.

Silver went to People's favorite, the Thanos on Throne statue from Sideshow. 14% of the voters loved him, and he is quite the impressive piece on the shelf. It better be a big shelf!

Another 15% of the vote, just a few more, picked one of my winners - the Hulkbuster from XM Studios. Sure, Ivy was nice, but the Hulkbuster is simply incredible. The detail, the paint work, the design - it's awe inspiring!

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Portegas D. Ace Wolverine (PF) Poison Ivy (XMS)
Second Place Hulkbuster Eomer on Firefoot Thanos On Throne
First Place Joker BTAS Thanos on Throne Hulkbuster

Photo Courtesy Heroes Collectibles:

hulkbuster XM Studios Statue

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Best Bust
Where statues are on the upswing in quality, quantity, and demand, busts seem to be on the downswing. There's still a few companies out there doing some amazing work though, and I suspect within the next couple years things will swing back for them.

Third place was taken with 19% of the vote. Weta gets the bronze with their terrific Fell Beast, and the scale and size of this 'bust' is an indication of where the current market is heading.

Sticking with the big stuff, the 1:1 scale Joker designed by Rick Baker snagged 20% of the vote and the silver medal. Some amazing things have come from the mind of Rick Baker - this Joker continues the tradition.

But it's Coolprops that gets the gold, with another huge 1:1 scale bust - their latest Alien. Based on the original film, this thing is all kinds of scary with a heavy dose of cool. I'd just like to mention that my birthday is in just a couple weeks, and this would make a marvelous gift. Just saying.

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Joker 1:1 Joker 1:1 Weta Fell Beast
Second Place Alien 1:1 Fell Beast Joker 1:1
First Place Killer Croc Alien 1:1 Alien 1:1

Alien Coolprops bust

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Best Designer/Vinyl Figure
Of all the categories, I believe this one has the most deviation across all three groups. No one seems to be on the same page.

The Poppies judges, or at least 9% of them, picked both the Ian Malcolm and Deadpool as Bob Ross Funko figures, giving them a tie for third.  Both of these are also pretty funny in tone rather than a straight up Pop, making them stand out from the rest.

Another 10% of the judges went for the People's pick - the Balrog from Weta. Big and bad ass, it's nice to see him get some credit. It's also nice to see the LOTR license still has legs.

The gold medal winner barely squeezed past the competition, taking 11% of the overall vote. The judges went for the Poison Ivy (from Sho Murase). A unique design with elements derived from multiple themes, it's eye catching but familiar enough to be instantly recognizable.

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Mermaid Man & Barnacle Boy Batman (Vinimates) Malcolm/Deadpool Ross
Second Place Maximillan Cash Ian Malcolm Balrog
First Place King Korpse Balrog Poison Ivy (Sho Murase)

Poison Ivy Sho Murase vinyl figure

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Best Prop Replica
It was a bit of a down year for prop replicas too, but Hasbro continues to shake up the market with their inexpensive releases.

The bronze medal winner is one I definitely picked up - the Eye of Agamotto! Well crafted, decent accuracy, and overall quality for a reasonable price made it one of my favorites of the year. About 8% of the Poppies Judges agreed.

We had our final tie of the competition, this time for silver. Both the Hot Toys Infinity War Gauntlet and their own 1:1 scale Groot took 19% of the vote!  I love them both, own them both, and swear by them both. But is this an example of Hot Toys cannibalizing their own votes?

The big winner with the Poppies judges was the OTHER Infinity War Gauntlet from Hasbro, part of their Marvel Legends replicas series. It took the gold with 20% of the vote, barely beating the two Hot Toys offerings. While there's no doubt the Hot Toys Gauntlet is superior overall, the price tag is also extraordinary. What Hasbro managed to do with lights and sounds, all at a true fraction of the cost, is probably what gave it the edge.

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place IW Gauntlet Hasbro IW Gauntlet Hasbro Eye of Agamotto
Second Place Groot Groot HT IW Gauntlet/Groot
First Place GodKiller Sword IW Gauntlet HT IW Gauntlet Hasbro

Hasbro Marvel Legends Infinity War Gauntlet prop replica

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Best Building Set
Guess what? It's all about Lego. No real surprise here, with less competition in the market in 2018. Large sets ruled the day as well.

They took the bronze with 7% of the vote. It went to the Aston-Martin, a set I really love. These realistic vehicles are pretty amazing, although I understand why they might not be every builder's cup of tea.

The Poppies judges - 24% of them - went for the Hogwart's Castle. If you're a Harry Potter fan AND a Lego nut, this is the set to die for. The People gave it the gold, but it fell just a little short with the Poppies judges.

Their gold winner grabbed a solid 31% of the vote. They love Voltron, and I have to say it is one of the most impressive and creative sets. That's saying an awful lot considering the creative nature every Lego set exhibits. You get all five Lions which can be built and played with individually, but then can combine to form the huge Voltron itself. How sweet is that?

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Hogwart's Castle Batmobile Aston-Martin
Second Place Batmobile Voltron Hogwart's Castle
First Place Aston-Martin Hogwart's Castle Voltron

Lego Voltron

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Best Misc
We have some real odd balls in the Misc category, which always makes it one of my favorites.

The new face painting (which is more accurately printing) is getting great reviews from most folks - at least when it works. We've all seen those horrible figures where it went wrong, but those mistakes seem to be showing up less and less on the pegs. Thirteen percent of the voters picked this new process as their favorite Misc for 2018, getting it the bronze.

The Super Colossal T-Rex grabbed 16% of the votes, enough to give him the silver. The figure was the stand out of an overall great Jurassic World line up. The Mosasaurus has been showing up lately, and I bet he makes it on the 2019 ballot.

The winner is a play set, a statue, and just an all around cool display piece - the 1966 Batcave from Factory Entertainment! Done in a 1/64th scale, it's super detailed and accurate. It's not cheap, but then so few of the best things are.

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Massive Monster Mayhem T-Rex Face Painting
Second Place Rick & Morty Superfan 66 Batcave T-Rex
First Place 66 Batcave Face Painting 66 Batcave

1966 Batcave

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

We had a lot more ties than usual this year, although almost all of them were for the bronze and silver awards. I think that speaks to the overall improvement in quality across the board, where the number of great items in most categories has gone up, rather than down. It also has to do with the variety of licenses, spreading out the fandom a bit.

I also think the results of the Best Overall Company and Best Overall Line - High End are fascinating, particularly when taken in context with the previous years. Hot Toys still won the former, and Mezo still won the latter. But Mezco closed the gap considerably between them and Hot Toys in the Company category, and pushed their lead out even bigger in the Overall Line category. It's clear they are on the right track strategically, and 2019 is going to be an interesting year for both companies.

I'm still pretty shocked by the Obi-Wan win. Hot Toys has been so dominate in the male and female categories that I simply didn't see this year's upset coming. Of course, that's why they call it an upset. Here's how momentous this is - I've been doing the Poppies for 12 years now. In the previous 11, Hot Toys as only lost the Best Male 12 - 17" category one other time, in 2014. It was also to Sideshow (for their Vader that year), and while other companies have taken the silver and bronze at various times, Hot Toys is normally the lock. Some day a smaller company, like a Qmx, Asmus, or someone we don't even know of yet, is going to take the top spot...

Now I bet some are wondering why the DX Jack Sparrow wasn't in the running, and if he had been, would the results have been different. I don't know if they'd be any different - that Mythos Obi-Wan is damn nice - but Jack didn't make it in because Hot Toys didn't feel he was strong enough. While all the judges can nominate and debate which figures make it on the ballot, I defer to the actual company when that company is a judge and includes themselves in the process.

For example, let's say the judges come up with a list of figure A, B, C, and D from a particular company that they feel should be on the ballot. The company judge says "yea, but we think figure E is stronger than D, so we want that one on the ballot". I defer to them, and swap D for E.

Why? Simple. This year is the perfect example. Let's say myself and/or the other judges said "no, we really, really think you're wrong, and we want Jack and Tarkin on there" (the two I wanted included). And then the Mythos Obi-Wan wins. It could create a situation where the company feels we lost the award for them, by forcing our nominees on them. Of course, this only applies to companies that have representatives judging. You don't partake in the process, you get no say.

I had some other big surprises - Mezco didn't sweep the Best Male 5 - 11", and the Star Wars Wampa came out of left field for me - but these surprises are what makes the process so much fun.

I hope you enjoyed this year's results as well, 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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