The People's Picks for Best/Worst of 2006

The voting booth is closed, the votes are tallied, and it's official - the People's Picks for Best and Worst in 2006 are complete.

If you'd like something for comparison, here's the results from 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, and 2001. I'll also be discussing how the picks varied from my own, which you can find right here.

So without further ado, let's get right into the results!

The Best Overall Company
When people vote, they aren't required to make a selection in every category. But this is one of two that is almost 100% selected by voters - they always have an opinion on what's the very best.

This year the third place winner is NECA, with 15% of the votes cast. This is no doubt in response to a number of the popular licenses they picked up, and the overall improved quality of sculpting and paint. With licenses like 300, Grindhouse and Harry Potter in 2007, and with some excellent looking prototypes already out there, it looks like they'll be doing well in the competition next year as well.

It was an extremely close race between second and first, but Toybiz was just edged out for the top spot. The now defunct organization (Toybiz World Wide no longer handles the manufacture of Marvel product, and what remains of Toybiz has been renamed Marvel Toys) managed to snag 20% of the vote though, and it's clear they've always been a favorite of the collectors.

Sideshow squeaked by them though with 21% of the vote. Sideshow was my pick as well, and I'm not surprised to see them win, considering what a terrific year they had.

It's worth pointing out that while the Four Horsemen only released Xetheus this year under their own name, their work for other companies like Mattel and NECA garnered them quite a large number of write in votes.

Best Overall Line
This is the other category that is almost always selected by every voter. The voting was extremely fractured this year, with just about every line know to man or beast getting a vote from somebody. But in the end, the top vote getters followed along the same general lines as the best company category.

Cult Classics only pulled 6% of the vote, but with the fractured voting, that was enough to snag third place. This is an NECA line, so that's two bronze medals in a row.

Sideshow may have gotten top honors as company, but their Star Wars line (which I put in first place) took second with 12% of the votes.

And while there were lots and lots of lines that grabbed a few percent, the gold was won by a commanding 23% of the vote - Marvel Legends. While I think Hasbro is starting out well with the line, they'll be hard pressed to manage to keep the top honors next year.

Best Mini-Figure Line
There's only a few to choose from in this category this year, so it's no suprise that the winners did so with large percentages of the votes.

Mez-itz, even with almost no shelf presence this year, pulled in 19% of the votes for third. They're still my top guys.

Galactic Heroes, cute little buggers that they are, grabbed a solid 23% of the votes to take second.

And in first place, with a whopping 41% of the With Diamond and Art Asylum making a number of recent announcements around other licenses getting the mini-mate treatment in 2007, like Star Trek and 24, it looks to be a very promising year for them.

Best Male Figure (18" and above)
This is another fairly short field, since I pulled the Premium Format stuff out of this category and moved it to the Statue category. Still, there was some great choices.

Third place goes to Jack Sparrow from NECA, with 12% of the vote. Jack was really a rehash of the previously released version, but good is still good.

Second place was won with 18% of the vote - the Lord of Darkness, from SOTA. Breakage issues or not, this is an amazing looking figure.

And with 35% of the vote, it's no surprise that both I and the peoples picked the Balrog as number one in this slot. Thanks to NECA, we finally got this monster.

Best Male Figure (12" - 18")
Wow - I hadn't expected this category to be so fractured! Votes were all over the place, and there was almost no agreement on which male in this category deserved top honors. I'm going to bet that's because the quality on so many of them has gone up over the last couple years.

With only 6% of the vote, the Enterbay Bruce Lee came in third. He's too pricey for my tastes, but a lot of other folks certainly responded to the high quality.

Barely edging him out with 7% of the vote is the Takara Batman Begins. He was also in my top three, so I'm not particularly surprised. Lots of companies tried to do him right, but only Takara really pulled it off.

The top honors goes to the best 12" Sideshow Star Wars figure so far - Darth Maul. I had made my selections before he hit my doorstep, so he wasn't in my top three. I'm not sure that he would be either, considering the quality of those I picked. But he is the very best of their Star Wars line so far, and good things are to come in 2007.

Best Male Figure (under 12")
Here's another very fractured category, but that should be no surprise considering how many choices there were. Everyone is going to have their own thoughts - and favorites - when it comes to this category.

Third place was won by the Face Offs version of the Hulk, with 5% of the votes. He's widely regarded as one of the best versions of the Hulk to date, so I wasn't surprised.

Just edging him out for second with 7% of the votes is Xetheus, the bad ass cow from the Four Horsemen. This is a figure that not only looks great, but has a grass roots fan following. I'm looking forward to next year's SDCC exclusive as well.

And finally, taking the gold with just 8% of the votes, barely slipping by the competition, is the Marvel Legends Green Goblin. He was my top choice too, and was easily my favorite ML of the year.

To give you some idea of just how close this race was, three other figures - Darkseid, the DCSH Batman, and the NECA Davy Jones were all tied just one vote shy of the Hulk!

Best Female Figure (12")
The competition was pretty short this year in this category, but with a number of 12" female releases already announced for 2007, I'm hopeful that the number of nominations will go up next year.

With 10% of the votes, the anime character Rei Ayanami takes the third place spot.

People complained alot about Cordelia Chase from Sideshow, but 20% of them voted her into the second place spot.

But the winner was very clear, with a whopping 43% of the votes - the Takara Catwoman. Big helmet or not, they love her - they really love her!

Best Female Figure (under 12")
Unlike the category for the men, where there was much division and lots of choices, the female winners took their awards without question.

Third place goes to the pirate version of Elizabeth Swann from NECA, with 12% of the votes. Of the several versions of the dear girl that we've seen, this is by far the best.

Second place goes to a slightly less lively young lady - the Corpse Bride from Mcfarlane. She was released with a slightly new sculpt as part of wave 2, and folks loved her as much as the wave 1 version. She took 17% of the votes.

And with 25% of the votes, one of every four voters selected the DCSH Batgirl. Again, this mirrored my choice, and mirrors the overall anticipation I see for future DCSH waves. 

I wish I had included the DC Direct Power Girl in the selection, because she did garner a lot of write in votes. Hey, I asked folks if I was missing anyone...I'm going to be making a change to the nominating process next year to avoid that sort of thing happening again.

Best Statue
This category gave me my first surprise of this year's results - Sideshow didn't do quite as well as I expected. With amazing PF's like Obi-wan, Vader, and Lurtz, I had expected them to clean up.

They didn't but Leia did manage to take third place with 8% of the votes.

Second place is the one and only tie of this year's voting. The Boba Fett statue from Gentle Giant tied with the Batman Black and White Mignola statue, each with 11% of the votes. Perhaps it's that these two came in above Lurtz that shocked me so much.

Because Sideshow did manage to take the top spot as well, with Doom. He grabbed 12% of the votes, and I have to admit that he is truly amazing.

Best Mini-bust
Gentle Giant tends to dominate here, but they did have one Hell of a year.

Their Harry Potter line is cranking out the hits, and the Dementor takes third place with 13% of the votes. He wouldn't be my favorite of the HP busts, but he is pretty sweet.

Second place goes to DC Direct. Their Woman of the DC Universe line of mini-busts has been getting great reviews, and Supergirl takes second place here with 14% of the votes.

And finally, Gentle Giant comes in again with 20% of the votes going to their Palpatine bust. They've had three more terrific busts in the Star Wars line since then - Chewie, Maul and Grevious - but it was Palpatine that seemed to shift the overall line back from boring rehash to cool, impressive new sculpts.

Best Articulation
Now we're back to the company specific awards. This year, we had a landslide winner in this category.

Second and third place went to sixth scale companies. Medicom took third with 8% of the vote, and Sideshow (issues with their body or not) got 9% of the vote. But the first place winner was a landslide victory - Toybiz took 43% of the votes. They were kings of articulation - will Marvel Toys repeat next year? Or will Hasbro make a major showing?

Best Sculpting
In past years, this category has been a blow out. The improved quality across the board in this area means that the three winners are closer in votes than before.

NECA is number three, with 15% of the votes. They've made it down the long path, and are knocking at the door.

Sideshow takes the number two spot with 19% of the votes. Again, they are riding high right now, and while they occasionally put out sculpts that drive their fans nuts - and not in a good way - they are able to deliver the majority of the time.

Ah, but you know who won, with 20% of the votes - Mcfarlane. Still king in this category, but the spread is getting smaller.

Best Packaging
Now remember, the number of choices is pretty consistent in all these categories, so when one company suddenly steps up with a big number, you know it's not simply because folks had little to choose from.

When it comes to best packaging, one company stood out again. Oh, Mcfarlane took third with 9% of the votes, and Hasbro took second with 11% of the votes (probably in response to the cool work on Sigma Six), but Sideshow had so many package innovations this year, that it's no wonder they took first with 32% of the vote.

Best vehicle/play set/deluxe set
Ah, another category where I missed an opportant nomination. I should have included the House of M boxed set here, and they did pick up quite a few write in votes anyway.

But third place went to the Cursed Jack/Barbossa set, with 10% of the votes. This was a good one for sure, and NECA continues to do a great job with the POTC license.

11% of the vote was enough for NECA to take the second place spot, this time with the cool Highlander set.

And while I admit that they aren't quite the same as the rest of the vehicles or playsets in this category, the voters picked the Mattel line of Cars in first place, with 12% of the votes. Hey, I didn't pay attention to the rules, and neither did you.

Best New Idea
Sideshow dominated in this category this year, with plenty of good ideas to choose from, but they didn't take all three spots.

In fact, the third place spot goes to a general concept - more zombies. With Sideshow, NECA, SOTA, and Mezco all releasing or planning for the release of zombies, it's been a great year for the undead. Just a few years ago, you couldn't find a zombie action figure, and now they're a regular staple. You can never have too many zombies, and 16% of the voters agreed.

Then Sideshow took over, taking 23% of the vote with their idea to distribute sixth scale figures from other companies, including Medicom and Hot Toys.  This is a terrific way for collectors to get these imports in the U.S., and it builds a strong relationship for Sideshow.

Sideshow also took first place with one of my very favorite ideas this year - the magnetic flaps on their Star wars boxes. When it comes to higher end collectibles, it's clear that buyers want their packages to remain nice, even of they're openers. Sideshow understands this better than any other company right now.

Now it's time for the worsts, the stuff that makes you cringe. Who's the dogs this year, and who let them out?

Worst Overall Company
Oddly enough, most of the usual suspects were missing this year. But third place, with 10% of the votes, was JAKKS, who tends to get picked on quite a bit every year. While I admit that they tend to cut some corners, I'm not sure why they draw such ire over some companies that are far worse. But they aren't as high in this category this year, which is something postive.

Second place went to Zizzle with 11%. These guys are new kids on the action figure block, and while their sculpting isn't perfect, I think that the overload of POTC figures (and the comparisons with NECA's work) did them in. The larger scale figures were their downfall, because both the 8" and 12" stuff looked much worse than the 3 3/4" line.

And first place was no surprise to me, but maybe to you. Shocker Toys took first with 12% of the votes, edging out Zizzle by just a handful, and is the only one of the three top vote getters that I picked as well. Perhaps if they can get some product out in 2007, and manage to keep the unprofessional actions and comments to a minimum, they can turn this around.

Worst Line
This time, the readers and myself agreed on two of the three spots, and that's because two lines were so far beyond bad, that they were easy choices.

We didn't agree on the third place winner though, as 8% of the voters picked Power Rangers. I don't pick on the line, because I know it's as far away from being a collector's line as possible, but the readers aren't as kind.

We did agree on second place - Web Splashers. This awful line up got 14% of the votes. This is what happens as one company leaves a license and another is coming in - old crap gets reheated as new crap.

We also agreed on the first place winner. How could it be anyone other than Superman Returns? With a huge movie that geeks are sure to love, there was big expectations for the toy line. Mattel didn't meet them, so it's not surprising that 15% of collectors remembered that.

Worst Mini-figure line
There's not a lot of choices here this year, so the ones that win are sure to get the majority of the votes.

Third place went to Stikfas. They took 19% of the votes, and I think that this must be partly in response to Hasbro pulling support for them. I have to admit that they are pretty damn cool, so I'm betting the hate is coming more from how they are being handled than from their actual quality.

Second place went to MegaBloks, with 23% of the votes. Again, like Power Rangers, I think this is largely because they are predominately geared towards kids, and collectors have a tough time making the transition.

First place, with a commanding 37% of the votes, went to Shockinis. Shocker left Shockinis behind for most of 2006, which probably didn't help the already negative attitude many people have toward the company.

Worst Male Figure (18" and above)
There weren't a ton of 18" figures in this category this year, or certainly not a ton that were truly bad.

But 20% of the voters found Freddy Mercury to be lacking. I personally think it's the pose, but it may also be a lack of interest in the singer himself.

25% of the voters picked Scarface, giving him the number two slot. There's been a ton of Scarface merchandise over the past few years from three different companies, and collectors are simply burned out.

The first place vote getter, with 27%, is SOTA's Pumpkinhead. This was a figure that folks were really anticipating, especially after the high quality Lord of Darkness. The prototypes looked fantastic, which even further built the anticipation. While the sculpt was still solid, the greatly reduced paint ops hurt the figure, and really disappointed buyers.

Worst Male Figure (12" to 18")
This was a huge year for this size range, especially in the licensed category. And while a majority of the figures were good to great, there were some real stand out stinkers.

Third place was won with 15% of the votes - Willy Wonka, from Gentle Giant. I mentioned in my picks that GG drives me nuts with their inconsistency, and this figure was a perfect example.

Second place was won with 17% of the votes - Will Turner. As I mentioned in discussing Zizzle getting a worst company pick, the 12" line was part of the big problem for them.

Finally, there's first place. Again, the big disappointment was Superman Returns, and 22% of the voters picked the 12" version from Mattel as the big stinker of the year.

Worst Male Figure (under 12")
Unfortunately, there's still far too many good choices in this category. Even so, the first place winner/loser literally blew past the rest of the gang.

But first, there's third place. With 14% of the votes, the God awful Web Splashers Namor makes an appearance. He was one of my picks as well, and was such a flashback to the 80's that it was shocking. He was bad when he was first released in 2001, and 5 years and some minor changes did nothing to improve him.

Second place went to a rather odd 'figure' - the Meat. Only a few votes gave the Meat the second place spot over Namor. I think the Meat is pretty damn funny, but 15% of the voters weren't as easily amused.

A whopping 30% of the vote picked the Super Breath Superman as the worst figure of the year. I wholeheartedly agree.

Worst Female (12")
Because there were so few 12" female figures to choose from this year, this category gave us one of the weirdest outcomes. More about that in a minute though.

First, let's talk about the third place winner, with 19% of the votes. It was Alagua, one of the bbi Goth chicks. While she's probably not that bad of a figure overall, I suspect the whole goth chick as an action figure concept took some heat.

Second place is our weird anomaly. Cordelia Chase from Sideshow took the second place spot in best 12" female figure of the year with a solid 20% of the votes. Now, she ALSO takes the second place spot in the worst 12" female figure of the year, AGAIN with 20% of the votes! She was definitely a controversial figure, with lots of vocal collectors both praising her and damning her when she came out. Clearly, you either love her or hate her.

The first place winner got a vote from one out of every four voters - Lt. Gay Ellis. I think the hair just scares them.

Worst Female Figure (under 12")
Here's another category where myself and the voters matched on two of the three picks.

One of these matches is in the third place spot. I put Lady Deathstrike in my silver category, but 18% of the votes was only good enough for her to pull a third place spot with the voters.

The second place winner, with 22% of the votes, was one I didn't pick - Elizabeth Swan from Zizzle. I liked the 3 3/4" line much better than many other folks did.

But we agreed again on the first place winner - Adrian from the Rocky line. Oh, I didn't put her in first, which I reserved for the Pylean Princess Cordy, but I did have her in my third place spot. 23% of the voters picked her, enough to get the first place spot. Rocky would be proud.

Worst Statue
While there were plenty of possible choices this year, one stood out as really bad.

I thought I was alone on the Kotobukiya Superman, but 18% of the voters agreed that the pose was just silly.

Another 19% of the votes went after the Premium Format Buffy. I have to agree that it was a disappointment, largely due to the lazy eye.

But a whopping 34% of the votes went to the Beast statue, based on X-men 3. People just aren't ready for a nekkid fur covered guy. It was like seeing Robin Williams in his birthday suit, dyed blue. *shudder*

Worst Mini-bust
Here's another category where the first place choice wasn't even close.

Third place was taken with 19% of the votes - the X-men 3 Wolverine. This was a movie that just didn't get much in the way of good merchandise.

Second place went to the Gentle Giant Qui-Gon mini-bust. This was one I wasn't happy with either, and was easily the worst in their Star Wars line last year.

And first place takes a huge 45% of the votes, making it quite clear that the Becoming Buffy mini-bust was definitely not well loved.

Worst Sculpting
Now we're into the company specific categories...

You're going to see some old favorites in this category, starting with third place.

Jazwares gets it with 9% of the votes. This is a company that has actually done much better this year, but is going to have to overcome their past reputation.

JAKKS takes second with 14% of the votes, another company that we've seen in this category for several years.

But the first place winner is a newcomer - Zizzle. They took 21% of the votes, and as I said earlier, I clearly like their work in the 3 3/4" line better than a majority of collectors.

Worst Articulation
No one in any category got the percent of votes that the winner/loser of this category received. And I'm sure that there will still be complaints about it.

NECA managed to get third place, but did it with just 6% of the votes. DC Direct took second, but again only pulled 8% of the votes. How could they manage to get in the top three with such low percentages? Because the first place winner took a humongous 50% of the votes.

And that would be Mcfarlane. Hundreds of voters believe that Mcfarlane has taken the sculpt/articulation ratio to new and unnecessary lows.

Worst Packaging
Unlike the previous category, no one felt particularly strong about one company or another, so this category was very fractured. Just about every company picked up some votes.

The third place winner was Hasbro, but I think that their work so far on the Marvel lines is going to boost them for 2007. The had only 9% of the votes.

Zizzle took second, but only had a couple more votes (out of hundreds cast) than Hasbro.

And the first place winner was Mattel, with just 11% of the votes. It's probably no surprise that the companies doing predominately mass market figures take the three spots here.

Worst Vehicle/Playset
I'm not even sure that the first place winner was introduced this year, but I know they were still on the shelf.

The third place winner (with 11% of the vote) was definitely new this year - the Islas Cruces playset from Zizzle. 

Second place was won with 17% of the vote, and was one of my picks as well. It's the goofy Fred Flintstone in the stone age racer. 'Goofy' is the nicest word to describe it.

The first place slot goes to the Star Wars 'choppers', those silly motorcycles with characters liKe Vader riding on them. Good God, that was a stupid idea.

Worst Idea
If anyone ever tells you "there's no such thing as a bad idea", slap them. There's plenty of them, and you can thank the foolish brainstorming technique of verbalizing any ridiculous idea you have, without spending even a minute using your own internal editor before doing so, for some of the worst ideas we've seen over the last decade.

Third place goes to the inclusion of prop replicas with the Lost figures. This idea took only 8% of the vote, but it was enough to get a mention.

Second place went to the Star Wars Transformers. Star Wars is cool...transformers are cool. Unfortunately, just like Star wars and motorcycles, combining two good ideas doesn't make a great idea.

First place is another big winner with a commanding 43% of the votes. The idea of packing one of the Giant Man pieces (his right hand) with a variant short packed figure takes the cake for stupid ideas this year. Leave it to Wal-mart to come up with that one.

Most looking forward to in 2007
Not it's time to end on a high note, by looking at the things folks are most looking forward to.

There are lots of things that got votes this year, and even some write ins that were pretty cool. Things like the Four Horseman Fantastic Exclusive for 2007, and the Kockblockerz from Creative Maximus deserve an honorable mention.

Eight percent of the votes went to the DC Superheroes line. They've been strong in 2006, and folks are anticipating what we'll see from them this year.

Thirteen percent of the votes went to the 12" Star Wars line from Sideshow. Another line that had a really strong year in 2006, and we only have a basic glimpse of product for 2007 at this point. Toy Fair should bring some very interesting news.

The winner was Marvel Legends, with 17% of the votes. This surprised me, considering how many folks seem distraught over Hasbro taking the reigns on this line, but hopefully this means that plenty of collectors are staying open minded. With Toy Fair just a few weeks away, we'll be getting all kinds of cool news around these and the other lines for this year.

That's it for another year! I'll be doing my usual State of the Industry column some time in the next couple weeks, so watch for that one, and thanks for voting!

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