Captain Toy/Michael's Review of the Week

The Poppies...The People's Picks...MWC Picks!
The Best of 2021 as Selected by Industry Judges And All of Us

Date Published: 2022-04-29
Written By: Michael Crawford

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People's Picks 2021

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The time has finally come! Sorry for the delay, but the last month or so has been pretty weird, and even before that I was behind the curve. Add in all the craziness that has been the last two years, and you get some delays. But now the process is complete, and we can announce the winners of the 2021 Poppies!

In normal years, I'd do three different posts - one for my picks, one for the People's Picks, and one for the Poppies. But because of the delays I thought we'd just get right to it and combine all three in one massive missive, my War and Peace version of toy awards!

I thought I'd give a little background on the Poppies process, so it's clear how things work to those not involved in the judging. We have a list of about 150 judges from the industry - company folks, artists, retailers, media types, well known collectors - and starting in the fall, 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 December, we started the nomination process. It was about a month or so late this year, due to my schedule. 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 in normal years. In this weird year, it went well into late February. 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. Then everything gets written up - *whew*

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

My picks:   People's Picks:   Poppies:  
2021 2021 2021
2019 2019 2019
2018 2018 2018
2017 2017 2017
2016 2016 2016
2015 2015 2015
2014 2014 2014
2013 2013 2013
2012 2012 2012
2011 2011 2011
2010 2010 2010
2009 2009 2009
2008 2008 2008
2007 N/A   2007
2006 2006 N/A
2005 2005 N/A
2004 2004 N/A
2003 2003 N/A
2002 2002 N/A
2001 2001 N/A
2000 2000 N/A

On to the list...

Best Overall Company
One of the things that having all this confusion and chaos can do is shake up the industry. We have quite a few new players, a few folks that are gone, and a few companies that have risen to the top once again.

My picks were based on my personal preferences of course. I gave the bronze to NECA, a company I feel has really done amazing work consistently, year after year, for a very long time now. They are the only company producing mass market figures that I still pick up with regularity.

My silver goes to Mezco. It's all about the One:12 Collective, baby, a line that I think will be one of my all time top five. That's a list that I'll be compiling on my death bed, and will let you know the final result with my dying breath.

My gold goes to EXO-6. I'm really, really impressed with their releases, from the quality to the care, but also they way they run the company. Quick turn arounds from pre-order to shipment, great communication with customers, and a true love for the products they are producing makes them stand out. I suspect they'll be in my top three for several more years.

The People were a bit different than I, but we did have some crossover. Their bronze medal went to Hasbro, a company that has several strong lines on the shelf right now. 10% of the voters felt they deserved the win, thanks to Star Wars, G.I. Joe, and of course, Marvel Legends.

The People's Silver medal went to Hot Toys, a perennial favorite. Another 11% of the voters picked them, and while they aren't in my top three these days, I can certainly understand the appeal. They have some stiff competition coming up in the sixth scale market though, so 2022 will be a very interesting year for them.

The gold medal from the People went to NECA, with 17% of the vote. I'm not surprised of course, since I had them in third myself, and NECA products are much more accessible than a high end item like Hot Toys produces. But for them to beat Hasbro is a pretty big deal, especially with so many licenses for Hasbro on the pegs right now.

And now, drum roll please, the Poppies results:

The bronze medal went to NECA, with 11% of the votes. I'm a little surprised, considering how great they've been doing with a number of lines and how popular they were in the People's Picks, but it was a close race.

In fact, Hot Toys just squeaked by them with 14% of the vote to grab the silver. Their dominance of the sixth scale market continues, and I'll be very interested in seeing if a company like Queen Studios can start putting some pressure on them in 2022.

The winner did surprise me, and wasn't even any where near my top three. Hasbro takes the gold with 22% of the vote, perhaps because of their continued success with Star Wars combined with a strong showing with G.I. Joe and Marvel Legends. This is a repeat win for them as well, coming in first in the last Poppies.

(Image courtesy Fwoosh)

Place   My picks  
People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place NECA
Hasbro NECA
Second Place Mezco
Hot Toys Hot Toys
First Place EXO-6
NECA Hasbro

Bludd action figure

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Best Overall Line - High End
While some things change, some things have remained very much the same. And that includes the top three Poppies finishers in this category, even after two tumultuous years.

But first, my picks, which you know can be all over the place at times. My bronze pick here is the Marvel releases from Hot Toys. Let's be honest - Star Wars and Marvel are really all Hot Toys is doing these days, and it even seemed to me like Star Wars was taking a back seat to the MCU.

My silver goes to the new comer EXO-6 and their Star Trek series. They had some terrific releases, and almost took my gold in this category, but they are still relatively new to the scene. I'm calling it now - I'll be shocked if they continue on their current track and aren't my gold next year.

My gold should really be no surprise here - the One:12 Collective. They still have quantity over EXO-6's Trek, and their quality remains outstanding. I'm a little worried their price point is going to get too high, but we'll see what 2022 brings.

The People gave 11% of the vote to EXO-6's Star Trek, netting them the bronze. I bet they rise in 2022, if they produce the number of figures they have planned and can maintain the quality they've produced so far.

The People liked Hot Toys too, but they preferred the Star Wars brand, with 14% of the vote. But the gold medalist matched my choice - the One:12 Collective. It took a solid 24% of the vote, easily outpacing the competition.

Ah, but what about those Poppies voters?

As it was in 2019, so it is in 2021, with only the percentage's changing a bit. Hot Toys Star Wars line gets the bronze with 15% of the vote, Hot Toys Marvel line gets the silver with 18% of the vote, and once again, Mezco's One:12 Collective wins with 25% of the vote. That's some pretty amazing consistency, but the truth is not a lot of new stuff was hitting. Even more unique is that all three award voters went with the same number one - that happens very rarely.

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Hot Toys Marvel EXO-6 Star Trek Hot Toys Star Wars
Second Place EXO-6 Star Trek Hot Toys Star Wars Hot Toys Marvel
First Place One:12 Collective One:12 Collective One:12 Collective

One:12 Collective Vapor action figures

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Best Overall Line - Low End
There's one line that has been pretty dominate in this category for years - that hasn't changed. But there's also a couple of those new comers to the list, both emerging over the last couple years.

I put Marvel Legends in the third place spot. They remain super consistent, and they produced a ton of figures in 2021. But they did have a few stinkers, and they are starting to have a peg warmer problem, at least around me.

My silver medal went to the Four Horsemen'ts Mythic Legions. This is a terrific line that I don't think gets enough credit or press. If you love fantasy based lines, you owe it to yourself to check them out.

My gold goes to the 'Ultimates' from NECA. Okay, this isn't really a series in a traditional sense, but the ultimate style treatment they give to a broad range of licenses in a 7" scale is what makes them such a dominate force.

The People's Picks bronze goes to NECA's TMNT line. With 11% of the vote, it was an easy pick up for them, and I'm a bit surprised they didn't end up higher.

Just edging them out, with 12% of the vote, was the G.I. Joe Classified series. Joe is back, baby!

The winner is a match with me - NECA's Ultimate releases. They picked up 13% of the vote to take the gold. However, you can see how close things were, and how a lot of the vote was clearly spread out across the other nominees.

The Poppies Voters were very consistent, until they weren't...

The bronze goes to NECA's TMNT series, with 11%, matching the people in place AND percentage. I have to admit, I'm really glad I haven't gotten into it - and I'm really sad I haven't. It's a fantastic line, but if I'd bought just one or two, I'd be sunk into the entire thing.

A newcomer, and yet a very old license, is the silver winner. With 15% of the vote, Hasbro's G.I. Joe Classified series got the silver. Yea, Joes have been around for a long time, but this new line up is really hitting it off with collectors.

After matching with the People on bronze and silver, the Poppies judges took a hard right turn. The winner is still kicking ass - Marvel Legends. But it's getting tight, and their percent was just 20. Those contenders have a way to go, but they are closing the gap to gold.

(image courtesy Fwoosh)

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Marvel Legends TMNT TMNT
Second Place Mythic Legions G.I Joe Classified G.I. Joe Classified
First Place NECA Ultimates NECA Ultimates Marvel Legends

Marvel Legends MODOK 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.

My bronze medal pick in this category is the Hot Toys Nebula. She had a very complex paint job, and I think they pulled it off beautifully.

My silver goes to the Creature from the Black Lagoon from Mondo. I didn't know I needed another sixth scale Creature, but I really did. And the paint work elevated a terrific sculpt to the next level.

But it wasn't quite enough to take my gold. That went to the Asmus Crown Series Gandalf. Yea, the rooted hair is amazing, but so is the work on the skin tone and face. This really was a work of art.

The People gave the Hot Toys Mysterio 11% of the vote. This surprises me because I thought they didn't like the swirling effect - I was clearly misinformed by the loud whining of a small contingent.

The People followed that up with a silver medal awarded to another surprise - the Weta Cave Troll. He edged out Mysterio with 12% of the vote.

The big winner for the People matches my choice - Gandalf. It was a pretty big win too, with 15% of the vote. Still, the votes were spread pretty evenly across the People's Picks.

But what about the Poppies?

This year's Poppies winners came from some very different licenses, companies, and scales. The bronze winner is from NECA - Ming the Merciless! This was a bit of a surprise to me, but 12% of the voters responded to this old school character.

The silver medal went to the bronze People's Picks winner - Mysterio from Hot Toys. It was close, but 13% of the voters gave him the edge in this category.

The winner was the silver medal favorite of mine - the Creature from the Black Lagoon by Mondo. This is the best Creature in my collection now, and I have quite a few. Just over 14% of the voters agreed with me that the paint work takes him to the next level.

That was a mighty tight race!

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Nebula Mysterio Ming the Merciless
Second Place Creature from the Black Lagoon Weta Cave Troll Mysterio
First Place Asmus Gandalf Asmus Gandalf Creature from the Black Lagoon

Creature from the Black Lagoon action figure

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Best Male/Female Figure - 18" and up
This was one of those years when there wasn't a lot of quarter scale to choose from, at least not in the action figure arena. But there were a few outstanding items.

This one is an easy one to report on, because a truly, truly rare trifecta occurred - me, the People, and the Poppies judges all agreed on all three medalists!

The Poppies voters gave 13% of the vote and the bronze medal to the Hot Toys Spider-Man. I had him in that spot as well, as did 15% of the People.

The silver medalist received 27% of the Poppies vote, a big chunk not to win. The Hasbro Pulse release of the gigantic Sentinel was one of the coolest releases across the board all year, and I also had it in the silver medal spot. The People's Picks voters gave it 26% of the vote, almost as much as the Poppies.

The big winner, with a whopping 41% of the Poppies vote, is the Hot Toys Mandalorian and Grogu. It's certainly a well deserved win, even with the stiff competition of the other two. Rarely do you get a 1/4 scale figure with so much display potential and add ons. Hot Toys went well above and beyond with this one. The People agreed, giving it 47% of the vote, and I put it in the top spot as well.

(image courtesy Hot Toys/Sideshow)

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Hot Toys Spider-Man Hot Toys Spider-Man Hot Toys Spider-Man
Second Place Sentinel Sentinel Sentinel
First Place Hot Toys Mandalorian/Grogu Hot Toys Mandalorian/Grogu Hot Toys Mandalorian/Grogu

Hot Toys Mandalorian and Grogu action figure

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Best Male Figure 12 - 17"
Once upon a time, this was the Hot Toys category. They could sweep, and no one would be surprised. That's no longer the case, and I suspect we'll see this get tougher and tougher for them in 2022.

I didn't pick a single Hot Toys figure. Eh, maybe I'm just getting jaded, or maybe the quality of the others in the industry are influencing me earlier than others. My bronze went to the Creature from the Black Lagoon, produced by Mondo. Like I said, I didn't know I needed a new Creature, but I sure did.

I picked the Data from EXO-6 for my second place finisher. Their work is outstanding, and Trek fans should be very, very happy. If you're hesitating on this line, you're making a big mistake.

My winner was an easy choice - the Asmus Crown series Gandalf. It's a work of art. There's no other way to describe it.

The People, or at least 11% of the, went a different direction with their third place spot, giving it to Hot Toys Mysterio. That swirling smoke revealed bronze!

They also went with Hot Toys for silver, giving 15% of the vote to the terrific Captain America. Yea, they've done a lot of versions, but this latest one might be their best.

But they agreed with me on the gold, giving Gandalf a solid 22% of the vote. I can't wait to see what goodness we get in the Crown series going forward.

But were the Poppies similar? Yes and no. You might have thought my choice of the Creature was odd, but 15% of the Poppies judges agree with me, giving him the bronze.

This was a really close race, and the silver was one with 17% of the vote - Gandalf. Yea, I was surprised he didn't take the gold, but even with the amazing rooted hair it wasn't quite enough to unseat Hot Toys from the top spot this year.

They didn't dominate though - they got the gold with 18% of the vote going to the Captain America. Endgame wasn't just good to Disney!

(image courtesy Hot Toys/Sideshow)

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Creature from the Black Lagoon Mysterio Creature from the Black Lagoon
Second Place Data Captain America Gandalf
First Place Gandalf Gandalf Captain America

Avengers Endgame Captain America sixth scale action figure

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Best Male Figure 5 - 11"
While we all didn't agree on every place in this category, we all did go for the same gold medal winner.

But of course we start with bronze, which I gave to the terrific NECA Goliath. I'm really loving what they are doing with the Gargoyles line, and he was an excellent way to kick off the series.

I gave my silver medal to another NECA figure - Frankenstein. Whether you went color or black and white, you got a fantastic rendition of the classic Universal Monster.

My gold - and spoiler alert, everyone's gold - is Conan. When Mezco does these odd licenses and characters in their One:12 Collective, be it Popeye or Nemo, they do it right. And Conan is an excellent example of this care and attention.

The People went a different direction with their bronze medal, thanks to 10% of the voters. They jumped on the Aragorn from the new DST LOTR line. I've gotten them all so far as well, and I have to say they are a step up from the Toybiz releases.

Another 11% of the voters went with NECA's Frankenstein, netting him the silver here as well. I also have their Mummy and Wolfman, and this is quickly becoming one of the very best sets of Universal Monsters in my collection.

And as I said, they agreed with me on the gold - Mezco's Conan. With great articulation, a ton of accessories, and an excellent interpretation of the Frazetta version, 19% of the voters went for him.

And the Poppies judges were pretty similar...

But we actually got our first tie with the bronze medal in this category. Both the NECA Goliath and the Blitzway Inspector Gadget got 9% of the vote, earning them each a spot.

The silver, with 14% of the vote, went to the same delightful NECA Frankenstein that both I and the People awarded. Now where's our Dracula and Creature from the Black Lagoon?

And the gold goes to...with no suspense whatsoever...Conan! Yep, this was not just the best One:12 figure of the year, but the best figure in this scale. It was mighty close though, with 15% of the vote giving him just a slight edge.

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Goliath Aragorn Goliath/Inspector Gadget
Second Place Frankenstein Frankenstein Frankenstein
First Place Conan Conan Conan

Conan One:12 Collective action figure

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Best Male Figure under 5"
We had better entries in this category in 2021, but the popularity of the format is still not what it once was.

I picked a dark horse for my bronze medal - the US Marine BAR Gunner by Marauder Toys. I think they are doing some pretty amazing work in this scale, and are flying under the radar.

For the silver medal, I went with the new Boba Fett in the Vintage Collection. Nice articulation, great paint, and a terrific sculpt make him a much needed update.

One company is really killing it right now in this scale - Hiya Toys. Their Aliens, Predators, and Robocop series are all terrific, and I gave their Big Chap Alien the gold here.

Ten percent of the People agreed on the Big Chap Alien, but it was only enough to snag them the bronze. The silver was won by DST's Frodo (yes, the overall scale of the line is bigger than 5", but dear Frodo isn't) with 14% of the vote. The Vintage Collection Boba Fett was particularly well liked by the People, and it snagged their gold with a whopping 24% of the vote.

And then the Poppies spoke...

The Poppies judges - or at least 10% - agreed on the quality of Hiya Toys in this scale, but went in a slightly different direction, picking the Robocop for the bronze medal.

With a healthy margin, the ReAction Shogun Godzilla snagged the silver, surprising everyone but the 18% of the voters who picked him. I don't pay a lot of attention to the ReAction line these days, but clearly they still have the eye of the industry.

The winner will be familiar though. That Vintage Collection Boba Fett snuck by Godzilla with 19% of the vote, just enough to grab the gold.

(image courtesy of Hasbro)

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place US Marine BAR Gunner Big Chap Alien Robocop
Second Place Boba Fett Vintage Frodo Godzilla
First Place Big Chap Alien Boba Fett Vintage Boba Fett Vintage

Star Wars Boba Fett Vintage Collection action figure

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Best Female Figure 11" - 17"
Hot Toys has a history of dominating this category, even in years where other companies have produced some great figures.

I did give them props, awarding them the bronze for the fun Spide-Gwen, and the silver for the terrific looking Nebula. The latter added to my Guardians display, while the former is a great representation of an animated MCU property.

My gold was reserved for someone else, a new love - EXO-6 and their terrific Captain Janeway. This is a company that will do Trek with honor and respect, and getting another captain on the shelf so soon is amazing.

But the People couldn't break away from Hot Toys. Their bronze went to the Armorer, who snagged 17% of the vote. That Mandalorian love is spreading!

Another 21% picked Nebula, enough to get her the silver medal. While she's definitely not a particularly posable figure, she has a beautiful head sculpt and paint job.

The People's Picks gold winner was the Spider-Gwen. We don't get two portraits every time with Hot Toys, but when we do, they tend to do it right. While this is an animated character, they nailed her look, but masked and unmasked. She sneaked by Nebula with 22% of the vote.

The Poppies judges were in complete agreement with the People, giving the Armorer the bronze (17%), Nebula the silver (23%), and Spider-Gwen the gold (32%).

(photo courtesy Hot Toys/Sideshow)

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Spider-Gwen The Armorer The Armorer
Second Place Nebula Nebula Nebula
First Place Captain Janeway Spider-Gwen Spider-Gwen

Hot Toys Spider-Gwen sixth scale action figure

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Best Female Figure 5 - 11"
When it comes to female figures, we have far more to choose from than we just did a decade ago. This is a very, very good thing.

It makes it tough to pick favorites though. I went for the Baroness in the G.I. Joe Classified series for my bronze. Now I know, she was probably available in 2020 to some degree, but because of the pandemic we didn't do the awards that year. Since she was still readily available in 2021, we felt she deserved to be on the list.

My silver went to the Star Wars Black Bo-Katan. Great articulation, and a great likeness went a long way to my picking her for the number two spot.

But you know I had to go with a One:12 figure for this category, and the Wonder Woman was just too good not to get my gold.

The People - or at least 9% of them - were moved enough by the show Wandavision to vote for the ML Scarlet Witch and get her the bronze medal.

Another 10% went for the Baroness, clearly a smart nomination on the ballot. And the gold? Well, the People agreed with me, giving the One:12 Collective Wonder Woman the top spot with 19% of the vote.

Ah, but the Poppies Judges saw it a bit differently...

They loved the Baroness too, but not quite as much, giving her just 8% of the vote. Still, in a very divided set of results, that was enough to get the bronze.

They also loved One:12 Collective Wonder Woman, but again, not quite as much as myself or the People. She took the silver medal with 12% of the vote.

You can see it was a tight race, and the winner of the gold snuck by with 17% of the vote. It was a huge surprise to me, but the Marvel Legends Captain Carter took the top spot! Clearly the show did a lot to boost the love, but the figure was no slouch in terms of quality.

(image courtesy Action Figure Barbeque)

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Baroness Scarlet Witch - Wandavision Baroness
Second Place Bo-Katan Baroness One:12 Wonder Woman
First Place One:12 Wonder Woman One:12 Wonder Woman Captain Carter

Captain Carter Marvel Legends action figure

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Best Female Figure under 5"
Just like with the men, there's not as many female figures in the smaller scale these days.

Still, I had no trouble picking three. My bronze went to Katara from the McFarlane Avatar line, a line I think deserves a bit more attention than it has gotten.

My silver went to the Mandalore version of Ashoka Tano. The Mandalorian has really given this character new life.

My gold might seem like and odd choice, but I was utterly surprised to see the Grady Twins make it to market, even as Toony Terrors. I'm hopeful we also get a set as part of the regular NECA 7" series.

The People liked the Grady Twins too, just not quite as much as me. Well, 13% of the voters agreed with me, but that was only enough to get her the bronze.

While they didn't love Bo-Katan in the previous category, 22% of them made up for it here, and she grabbed the silver medal.

The People went for Ashoka Tano too, and in great enough numbers to get the gold. It was practically a landslide, with 37% of the vote going her way.

But would the Poppies judges agree?

They did when it came to the Grady Twins, and 13% of the votes were enough to nab them the bronze medal. C'mon, NECA - give them to us in the 7" scale!

They also agreed when it came to the silver medal winner - Bo-Katan. Clearly she fared better in a 4" scale than in the 6" scale for everyone but me.

And yes, they agreed on the gold too, giving Ashoka Tano the top spot with 43% of the vote. That's an even bigger margin than the People's Picks!

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Katara Grady Twins Grady Twins
Second Place Ashoka Tano Bo-Katan Bo-Katan
First Place Grady Twins Ashoka Tano Ashoka Tano

Ashoka Tano Star wars action figure

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Best Build-A-Figure
Once upon a time, this category almost went away, due to so few BAF's getting produced. That's not a problem these days, with Hasbro cranking them out as part of the Marvel Legends, and other companies like McFarlane and DST jumping on the wagon as well.

The results were a nice mix across companies as well. I went with the ML BAF of the Watcher as my bronze medalist, a character I thought was a great addition with the new What If? show making him popular. My silver pick was Sauron, from the DST Lord of the Rings series, another surprise for me. And my gold went to the very cool King Shark from the McFarlane Suicide Squad wave.

The People went with an ML BAF for their bronze as well, giving 8% of the vote to Stiltman. I was a bit surprised by that choice, but with a large number of nominees, anything can happen.

The silver winner took a big 22% of the vote - King Shark. Clearly a lot of folks like my gold medal pick, and McFarlane is using the BAF concept quite effectively.

The People (26% of them) picked my silver medalist for their gold medal - Sauron. The DST Lord of the Rings line was a pleasant surprise overall, and the Sauron was a great use of the BAF concept.

The Poppies judges were quite similar. With 13% of the vote, an ML BAF took the bronze - but this time it's Colossus! It seems everyone appreciates all the terrific BAF work Hasbro is doing, but can't quite pick just one they agree on.

They also loved the DST Sauron, giving him 16% of the vote and the silver medal. But 20% agreed with me, making the McFarlane King Shark the big gold medal winner!

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Watcher Stiltman Colossus
Second Place Sauron King Shark Sauron
First Place King Shark Sauron King Shark

King Shark action figure

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Best Vehicle
This is one of those categories where you can get a pretty broad variety, including price range.

My bronze pick is a good example - the Rainbow High Color Change Car. Yea, it's an actual toy, not just something made for collectors. But it's still a really cool concept that is a ton of fun.

My silver medalist is the Battlebus from Fortnite. There's a ton of cool vehicles in the Fortnite line, but this bus/balloon combo is huge, and it's hilarious to me.

My love for Star Trek takes over with the gold medal though. In fact, when you combine Star Trek and Playmobil, you're combining two loves of mine, and it's impossible for me to deny. My gold goes to their Star Trek Enterprise.

The People voted slightly differently. With 15% of the vote, they went with the cool McFarlane release of the Batcycle: Curse of the White Knight. McFarlane has done a number of cool bikes in the DC series.

Another 16% went for the very pricey but very cool Millennium Falcon by Jazzinc. I'd give almost anything - other than the money, which I don't have - to get their 66 Batmobile, but sadly, it's not going to happen.

The gold was decided by 20% of the vote - the Playmobil Enterprise! Clearly the People have as good of taste as I do. However, if you're thinking this set was cheap, think again - it was around $400.

The Poppies judges gave their bronze medal to a dark horse - Merricks' X-Wing. It took 12% of the vote. That's one that was completely under my radar, and came as a very big surprise.

Their silver medalist was not a surprise, however. Like myself and the People, they appreciated how cool the Playmobil Enterprise was, and 18% of the voters was enough to snag the second place spot.

But the beauty and exclusivity that is the Jazzinc Millennium Falcon was just too much for the Poppies judges to ignore. With 23% of the vote, it grabbed the gold!

(image courtesy of Jazzinc)

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Rainbow High Color Change Car Batcycle: Curse of the White Knight Merrick's X-Wing
Second Place Fortnite Battle Bus Millennium Falcon Playmobil Enterprise
First Place Playmobil Enterprise Playmobil Enterprise Millennium Falcon

Star Wars Millennium Falcon

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Best Play Set
Three play sets dominated this year.

I've always got to be different of course. I picked the Imaginext Batcave, which gets an update and an upgrade every year, as my bronze medal winner. This thing is huge!

My silver went to Castle Grayskull, part of the MOTU Origins series. It's a simpler version than the old MOTUC release, but it's still pretty sweet.

My gold comes with caveats. It's the 1966 Batcave by McFarlane. It's too small, scale-wise, but there's some really great details, and I'm a sucker for the old show.

The People - 27% of them - went with the Super7 Snake Mountain, another amazing MOTU play set. MOTU had a big year all around.

The People love MOTU so much, they gave the Castle Grayskull 29% of the vote and the silver medal. It's not quite the amazing play set that was the MOTUC version, but I have to say it's pretty damn nice.

The People agreed with me on the gold though, giving the McFarlane 1966 Batcave the gold with 32% of the vote. They clearly didn't mind the minor scale issues.

The Poppies judges weren't quite so high on the 1966 Batcave, but it did get 21% of the vote and the bronze medal.

The Poppies judges love MOTU too, and they went with the Origins version of the Castle Grayskull for the silver. A very big 28% of the vote made it the clear second place winner.

And the big winner? Yea, it's more MOTU - Snake Mountain! This thing is massive, truly a work of art, and something fans never thought they'd see. A huge 42% of the judges went for it, and it was really no big surprise.

(photo courtesy Action Figure Barbecue)

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Imaginext Batcave Snake Mountain 1966 Batcave
Second Place Castle Grayskull Castle Grayskull Castle Grayskull
First Place 1966 Batcave 1966 Batcave Snake Mountain

Snake Mountain play set

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Best Statue
While some of the categories have shown like minded voting between myself, the People, and the Poppies Judges, this is not one of them. Considering the smaller number of choices, that's pretty surprising.

I have a soft spot for the excellent work Star Ace is doing with the Harryhausen statues, and I gave my bronze to their Ceratosaurus. If you're a fan of the movie One Million Years B.C., or just dinosaurs in general, you should check them out.

My second place winner is the terrific Gandalf/Balrog statue from Prime1. This is one of those times when the light up feature really takes a statue to the next level.

But my gold is going to a personal favorite overall - the 1989 Catwoman from Tweeterhead. I have the smaller sixth scale version they did a few years back, and this new quarter scale version is even better.

The People really gave the Lord of the Rings characters a lot of love, starting with the Cave Troll by Weta. About 9% of the voters went for this statue, which also was a silver place finalist in the Eddie Wires category earlier.

The People diverged into Star Wars with their silver medal winner, who received 10% of the vote - Asajj Ventress! Sideshow has done a great job with their Mythos line of statues, and Asajj is a terrific looking release.

But the People couldn't stay away from LOTR for long, rushing back to give their gold to the Gandalf and Balrog statue. The dueling pair took a solid 19% of the vote.

The Poppies judges, or at least 8% of them, fell in love with the Gandalf and Balrog as well. It's a really impressive set up, one of the nicest LOTR statues in several years.

The silver medal was a rare tie, with two statues each getting 10% of the vote. The People's silver medalist Asajj Ventress tied with my gold medalist Catwoman, two very lovely and deadly ladies.

But the gold medal winner in this years Poppies wasn't even in the top three of the other two groups! That's pretty rare, but Prime1's Ash Williams squeaked by the competition with just 11% of the vote. This is one of those statues that owes a lot to the diorama style base, which adds a tremendous amount to the overall visual appeal.

(photo courtesy of Prime1)

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Ceratosaurus Cave Troll Gandalf/Balrog
Second Place Gandalf/Balrog Asajj Ventress Asajj/Catwoman
First Place Catwoman Gandalf/Balrog Ash Williams

Ash Williams Evil Dead Statue

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Best Bust
There aren't as many busts these days as there once was. The aughts were certainly the glory days - even the 90's had quite a few. But it's been awhile since we saw that kind of deluge.

Still, there's a few good ones coming out to choose from. Gentle Giant continues their work of course, and I picked their Doctor Aphra for my bronze medal. This was a great looking release with a lot more detail than some GG busts.

Another Gentle Giant release got my silver - Lak Sivrak. Okay, so as a character he's not exactly popular, but I love the character design and they did a terrific job capturing the fur.

My top finisher is one I almost didn't get - the Legends in 3D Joker from DST. They were underproduced when they were first manufactured, and my pre-order ended up cancelled. I figured I was out of luck, but fortunately, they are re-releasing them, and I have him on pre-order again.

The People really, really liked the Legends in 3D statues from last year. They gave 14% of the vote and the bronze medal to the Darth Vader, 15% of the vote and the silver to the Joker, and 17% of the vote and their gold to the Doctor Doom!

But the Poppies judges slipped in one of those Gentle Giant releases in their top three. With 13%, their Asajj Ventress took the bronze spot. Another strong showing for the deadly Jedi, indicating just how strong the appeal of the character is.

The allure of the Legends in 3D couldn't be ignored by the Poppies judges, however. They gave a solid 15% to the Darth Vader, and they followed that up with a whopping 30% going to the gold medal winner - Doctor Doom! I hope DST continues this series, particularly the Batman Animated characters.

(image courtesy Diamond Select Toys)

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Doctor Aphra Darth Vader Asajj Ventress
Second Place Lak Sivrak Joker Darth Vader
First Place Joker Doctor Doom Doctor Doom

Doctor Doom bust

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Best Designer/Vinyl Figure
I'll admit it - I don't like Pops. But there's plenty of great designer figures and vinyl figures out there that aren't Pops.

I picked a very large one for my bronze - the Cyclops from Star Ace. Unlike some of the resin statues they did for the Harryhausen license, this one is a vinyl figure. And gorgeous.

I'm going with a release from Mondo for my silver - the Imperial variant of their 84 Godzilla. Fans of the old school monster should be very happy with any of the variations on this figure.

My top pick is the Gorillaz - these things are just too damn cool, and look fantastic.

There's no accounting for taste, and the People picked a Pop vinyl figure for their bronze. With 14% of the vote, the Galactus (and Silver Surfer) figure grabbed the third place spot. Of course, it helps that this is one of those huge jumbo Pops, which I have to admit are pretty cool.

Another 16% went for another Pop - Skeletor. I guess the MOTU love transcends all sorts of media! These more complex Pops - Skeletor comes on his throne - set themselves apart from the regular releases.

Just over 16% of the People came to their senses and agreed with me, giving the terrific Gorillaz figures their gold medal.

The Poppies judges loved the Galactus/Silver Surfer Pop as well, giving it 15% of the vote and the bronze medal. It's that jumbo size thing - although the cool paint job might have something to do with it as well.

Another 17% went for my top pick, the Gorillaz. While that wasn't enough to get the gold, it did manage a silver.

The gold medal winner took 18% of the vote - Godzilla 84 Imperial variant! This is a Mondo release, and they've done a pretty amazing job with their Godzilla line overall. If you haven't checked them out, you really should.

(image courtesy Mondo)

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Cyclops Galactus Galactus
Second Place Godzilla 84 Skeletor Gorillaz
First Place Gorillaz Gorillaz Godzilla 84

Godzilla Imperial variant vinyl figure

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Best Prop Replica
The prop replica market has become more balanced, with a lot of very good but very expensive items, and lots of less expensive but still really sweet replicas getting released.

I picked relatively low cost items all the way through.  For my bronze, I went with the Mandalorian Helmet from Hasbro. They've done a terrific job with the entire line of helmets, and this one was very popular thanks to the show.

NECA has given Hasbro a run for the money in the low cost prop replicas lately. They did several Batman related releases this year, and I really like the 1989 Batman Grappling Gun, enough to give it my silver.

My top pick is an odd ball though - the Nerf Aliens Pulse Rifle. It's actually a great looking pulse rifle, although it needs a repaint to be accurate. Still, I never thought I'd see something like this produced.

The People liked the Mandalorian helmet too, and agreed with me, giving it the bronze with 15% of the vote. They also agreed with me on silver, giving it to the terrific 89 Grappling Gun with 17% of the vote. But when it came to the big winner, we diverged, and they went with the very high end but very cool 1:1 scale Grogu.

The Poppies judges had some similar results, but not a lot of exact matches. With 12% of the vote, they gave the 89 Grappling Hook the bronze. NECA has been creating some very cool prop replicas, and doing it for a very reasonable price.

Another 21% of the vote went to the Aliens Nerf Pulse Rifle. They must have thought the entire concept was as cool as I did.

But the big winner matched with the People, not me - Grogu!  This 1:1 scale replica of the adorable 'child' might be a tad expensive, but he's definitely worth it. He took 33% of the vote!

(image courtesy Hot Toys/Sideshow)

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Mandalorian Helmet Mandalorian Helmet 89 Grappling Hook
Second Place 89 Grappling Hook 89 Grappling Hook Aliens Nerf Pulse Rifle
First Place Aliens Nerf Pulse Rifle Grogu 1:1 Grogu 1:1

Grugo 1:1 prop replica

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Best Building Set
While some other companies are getting some very cool sets out there, Lego still dominates these medals.

I don't buy a lot of Lego but I did buy both my bronze and silver medal choices - the 1966 Batmobile (a no brainer for me) and the Seinfield set.

I haven't bought my gold medal choice, but it's such a great looking set and there just isn't enough Sesame Street merch out there.  Yea, I picked the Sesame Street set.

The People also liked the Seinfield set, one of those I never thought we'd see get created. At least 13% of the voters loved it as much as I did.

Star Wars sets always do well, and 14% of the voters went for the AT-AT, giving it the silver medal. It was beat out by the terrific 66 Batmobile for the gold though, with 18% of the vote.

The Poppies Judges went a different direction with their bronze medal, giving 13% of the vote to the very cool NES set. I have to admit that it seems like a really, really strange thing to make out of Lego, but clearly lots of the Poppies judges loved it.

Another 14% of the vote went to the AT-AT set, one of the nicest Star Wars releases in the last couple years. Everyone loves an AT-AT, and this set really does look just about perfect.

The big winner for the Poppies, with 15% of the vote, is the ECTO-1! This large version is much better than the earlier releases, and has some impressive size.

(image courtesy Lego)

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place Batmobile 1966 Seinfield NES
Second Place Seinfield AT-AT AT-AT
First Place Sesame Street Batmobile 1966 ECTO-1

Lego Ghostbutsers ECTO-1

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Best Misc
And we are finally to the end of my War and Peace, the Misc category! Here we find that weird combination of cool and goofy.

My bronze pick is certainly both of those things. Tiki mugs are their own special kind of collectibles, becoming very popular over the last few years. The MOTU Geeky Tikiss are really cool, with great designs that fit both the Tiki concept and the MOTU aesthetic. They get my bronze.

My silver is going to the Mattel Jurassic World Apatasaurus. Man, I would have lost my mind as a kid if something like this had been available. These huge dinosaurs are a dream come true for any kid, Jurassic Park fan or not.

The gold medal winner for me are the silly little Tiny TV Classics. They are little televisions that play some nerd movie or show - for example, Back to the Future. The design of the TV matches the period of time from whence the show or movie came. So the BTTF set has a very 80's lookthe Batman movie set is very 60's, etc. They also have a little remote, and you can start, stop, and jump back and forth in the movie with it. Because they are just about the right scale for 6 - 7" figures, they go nicely with some action figure lines.

The People picked a winner for their bronze medal that was not on my list - the Jumbo Boba Fett. This one is the prototype version of Fett. Gentle Giant has had a lot of success with these oversized releases in the classic action figure style, and this one is particularly nice. Or at least that's what 14% of the voters felt.

Another 15% felt the Apatasaurus was the bomb. Who wouldn't? A huge dinosaur, done in terrific detail? Yes please!

But the gold medal was won with 17% of the vote, and yes, it was the Tiny TV Classics. C'mon, the concept was fun and there was some content to appeal to everyone.

The Poppies judges also loved the Apatasaurus from Mattel. With 19% of the vote - a pretty big slice - it took the bronze. With the new movie coming, we're sure to get a lot more of this type of product in the next few months.

The silver medalist took 20% of the vote, barely edging out the big dino for second. The Poppies judges love their Jumbo Star Wars, and the Prototype Boba Fett was particularly well done.

But it wasn't enough to snag the gold. That honor went to the Tiny TV Classics, with 29% of the vote. I bought two of them myself - the BTTF version, which is on the shelf with the NECA figures, and the 66 Batman version, which has joined the McFarlane line.

(image courtesy Basic Fun)

Place   My picks   People's Picks   Poppies
Third Place MUTO Geeky Tikis Jumbo Boba Fett Apatasaurus
Second Place Apatasaurus Apatasaurus Jumbo Boba Fett
First Place Tiny TV Classics Tiny TV Classics Tiny TV Classics

Tiny TV Classics

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First, I have to apologize for the lateness this year. While the voting ended two months ago, life has had a way of interfering with the tabulation and write up. I promise we'll do better next year, and judges can expect to hear from me by September.

It's interesting to see the return of McFarlane, a company that was almost dormant for several years. They are back in a big way, and are clearly looking to re-establish themselves. Of course, NECA might have something to say about that.

Hasbro is still going strong, with three huge lines on most store shelves - Marvel Legends, Star Wars, and G.I. Joe. There are rumors swirling about Marvel Legends, but I suspect most of it has to do with supply chain delays, rather than retailers abandoning the line. Mattel still has something to say about it though, especially with their multiple MOTU lines out right now. We know they are shopping around for a buyer - Hasbro has had the opportunity to buy them out twice before in their long rivalry and passed, while they do it again?

I'm really looking forward to the sixth scale market, where lower priced companies like Asmus, Threezero, and EXO-6 are putting a ton of pressure on Hot Toys, particularly with Hot Toys raising their prices. And we will see what happens with Queen Studios, a company that could have a big impact on them from the other direction.

And then we have the impact of the supply chain woes. How will collectors react when dozens of figures they pre-ordered over the last couple years that have been held up for one reason or another suddenly start shipping? It could create a lot of wallet shock, and if too many cancel due to budget issues, the effect could ripple through the market.

This year has already started out interesting, and proves to just get more interesting as it goes along! And now you know why 'may you live in interesting times' is actually a curse, not a blessing.

I hope you enjoyed this year's results, 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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