The Poppies for 2012!

Welcome to the Poppies for 2012 - the only industry awards for pop culture collectibles! Each year a panel of judges from the industry - companies, media, artists, retailers and collectors - assemble to nominate and then vote on the very best collectibles in 18 categories. This year there were 140 judges on the panel, and they debated and nominated and voted, then I tallied! The results are now final, the awards complete, but I'm sure the discussion has just begun.

The Poppies have their own physical award now too - starting last year, I've been giving out a plaque for each winner. A couple of last year's winners did me a solid and sent back a photo of the award with the toys - or the team. Check out this shot from Sideshow, and this one from Mattel, to see what the plaque looks like.

I've also done my own set of bests and worsts of the year for comparison, and don't forget that we also have the People's Picks awards, where readers vote on the same ballot as the Poppies judges. I'll have a comparison of the results of those two with the results of the Poppies as part of each award below, and in those tables there's links to see every collectible.

Here are links back to past year's picks for comparisons:

My picks:   People's Picks:   Poppies:  
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

If you have comments you'd like to share, let me know by emailing me.  Let's get this party started!

Best Overall Company

I tasked the judges with paring the number of nominees in this category down a bit this year, and they did. I'm going to try to do the same again next year, as I'd like to get to the point where just being nominated at all is an honor.

When you have such a diverse group of judges, you tend to get some very diverse results. Normally, that translates into the winner getting there with less percent of the vote than say, the People's Picks. But when it comes to the Best Company, that's definitely not the case.

The third place spot was a tie - something you get more of with a small number of diverse judges like this. Both Lego and 3A Toys snagged 6% of the vote, barely falling behind the number 2 pick, NECA, who grabbed 7%. NECA continues to produce some very strong product in the popular 6 - 7" licensed market, and in the last year or so they've upped the quality of their paint work.

But no one came close to the 38% of the vote garnered by the big winner - Hot Toys! I know some collectors are deeply concerned about their rising prices, and there's some other companies nipping at their heels when it comes to paint quality, but none of this has caught up with them yet. They continue to produce the widest range of high quality, high end collectibles, and with some interesting changes in 2013 (can you say posable statues?) it looks like they might be trying to address some of the cost issues.

Place MWC's Picks People's Picks Poppies Picks
1st Place Playmates Hot Toys Hot Toys
2nd Place Hot Toys NECA
3rd Place NECA DST 3A/Lego


Best Overall Line - High End

Like Best Picture and Best Director, the Best Company and Best Overall Line - High end tend to go hand and hand.

With 9% of the vote Enterbay's Masterpiece HD series of quarter scale action figures takes the third spot. That's a bit of a surprise, since the company didn't make it in the top three of the previous category, but the paint and sculpt quality of these large figures is really outstanding.

The Best Company winner takes second, landing 19% of the vote for their Batman licensed figures. With figures from both the old Burton films and the new Nolan films coming out in the same year, they had just about every Bat-fan covered.

And yes, they also took first, with a very solid 33% of the vote going to their Avengers licenses. Since that covered a lot of ground - including Iron Man - it's no surprise that the multiple amazing figures caught the judge's attention.

Place MWC's Picks People's Picks Poppies Picks
1st Place Avengers - Marvel Avengers - Marvel Avengers - Marvel
2nd Place Masterpiece HD Batman (Hot Toys)
Batman (Hot Toys)
3rd Place Bishoujo Bishoujo Masterpiece HD


Best Overall Line - Low End

You might find it surprising, but it's actually very rare that all three polls line up on the top winner of any category. That's my fault more often than not - I have weird taste sometimes. But not when it comes to this category in 2012.

Eight percent of the Poppies judges went for the NECA Predators figures, a line they did a great job with last year. The paint work was particularly awesome, something that NECA has worked hard on improving.

In past years, Mattel's Masters of the Universe Classics was practically a shoe-in for the win, but this year they slipped to second with 13% of the vote.  I don't think it's the line's fault - most collectors are just accustomed to the series at this point, and the quality of the big winner took them by surprise.

That big winner is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles of course, which grabbed 20% of the votes. It's nice to see Playmates back n the game, and both the new and classic figures have been terrific. It would be a shock if this was the only time we saw them show up in this year's Poppies results.

Place MWC's Picks People's Picks Poppies Picks
3rd Place The Hobbit Monster High Predators


Eddie Wires Award for Outstanding Paint

This award was created in memory of the amazing artist Eddie Wires. Many people in the industry knew Eddie, and everyone inside and out loved his work. The Poppies Judges thought it was appropriate to create a special award in his honor that in turn honors a collectible that stands out due to it's exceptional paint quality.

There were a lot of great contenders this year, and considering how often paint suffers when costs rise, that's a pleasant surprise.  It also speaks to the quality of the paint artists who are working on these collectibles, as well as the improved production processes.

Third place goes to a really amazing paint job - the Enterbay Masterpiece HD Joker. While I had my issues with the hands, I certainly didn't have any issues with the truly outstanding, life-like paint work. Eleven percent of the judges agreed.

Because of the intricate work required for any Predator figure, they tend to show up on the ballot and the winner's podium in this category. Second place goes to the best of the Hot Toys Predators from last year - the Samurai Predator. He sliced up 16% of the vote.

And the winner is...with 28% of the vote...the hot Toys Nicholson Joker! I love this figure, but I figured I was in the minority. He's not currently the most popular version of the Joker, and he's not as recent as a character. All three polls picked him as the winner, and it's hard to argue with results like that. Now if they'd just go back to the Adam West show and give us a Sid Cesar version, complete with visible mustache under the face paint.


Best Male Figure 12 - 18"

Someday, something other than a Hot Toys figure is going to win this category. But it's not this year. In fact, Hot Toys takes all three top spots!

They take third with 11% of the vote going to Iron Monger. I was a bit surprised by this, but as I said with the People's Picks, I think it was the high cost that put a lot of people off.

Second place went to the Keaton Batman. It's nice to see them going back to earlier versions of these characters, allowing you to round out your Batman display. Michael took 16% of the vote.

The winner barely edged him out - once again, it's the Nicholson Joker, and this time he received 17% if the vote.

A couple things that I thought was interesting. First, although the Avengers or Marvel figures from Hot Toys took the top spot in Best Overall Line, none of the related figures other than Iron Monger made it into the top three here. Guess that means that the collection of figures is just that much more impressive, but the Batman license wins when it comes to specific individual releases.

The second thing is that not only did the People and the Poppies judges agree on the winner, they agreed on all three top spots! That's pretty rare, especially in this hotly contested category.

Place MWC's Picks People's Picks Poppies Picks
1st Place Iron Monger
Nicholson Joker Nicholson Joker
2nd Place T-800 DX10 Keaton Batman
Keaton Batman
3rd Place IG-88 Iron Monger Iron Monger


Best Male Figure  5 - 11"

This is always a popular category with plenty of options to choose from. In past years, both DC Universe Classics and Masters of the Universe Classics dominated - not so any more.

MOTUC's Draego-man did sneak in a third place tie with the classic Michelangelo from TMNT. Both figures grabbed 9% of the vote.

Second place is ALSO a tie, with Masterpiece Prime and Mezco's Frankenstein both receiving 10% of the vote. All these ties - and the close vote count - goes to show just how diverse this category is.

The big winner didn't put much distance between himself and the runner's up. He took 11% of the vote, and left the competition green with envy - it's DST's Marvel Select Hulk! The Marvel Select line is almost always great, and the Hulk is such a perfect character to make a perfect action figure. Combine the two, and you couldn't go wrong. Outside of Hot Toys, this was the nicest Avengers figure of 2012 as well.

Photo Courtesy of MTVGeek


Best Male Figure under 5"

When I tallied the People's Picks votes, I noted that the under 5" category garnered the least interest from voters, and it didn't matter if it was the Male category or the Female category. Looks like this pattern remains the same with the Poppies Judges.

The third place spot goes to my winner - Mystron. I love what the Four Horsemen have been doing with the Outer Space Men series, and this guy was the best of the best. Twelve percent of the judges thought the same thing.

Another 13% of the judges went for the evil Darth Malgus, a great Hasbro Star Wars release. With the new 6" series coming out in 2013, I think new life is going to be breathed into the license for them.

The top winner is also from Hasbro, and since they pretty much have the market cornered on quality in this scale, that's no surprise. The Poppies judges - or at least 18% of them - loved Beta Ray Bill enough to give him the nod.

Place MWC's Picks People's Picks Poppies Picks
1st Place Mystron Darth Malgus Beta Ray Bill
2nd Place SP Spider-Man SP Spider-Man
Darth Malgus
3rd Place Brock Samson Beta Ray Bill Mystron

Photo Courtesy of Ridureya


Best Female Figure over 11"

I'm hoping we can add some more judges next year with 'doll' experience, but even this year there was love for the more feminine in this scale.

Third place really is a more traditional doll. The Hollywood Jem from Integrity Toys received 13% of the vote and the hearts of the judges. Nostalgia is a part of that, but there's no doubt it's quality work as well.

Another 16% of the vote went to the latest Resident Evil Alice from Hot Toys. I've said it before but I'll say it again - what a kick ass costume.

Hot Toys also takes the top spot here with 28% of the votes going to their Baby Doll. I was really surprised by this, mostly because the movie is so universally hated by fan boys. It appears they can overlook that when it comes to collectibles, a nice trait to have.

Place MWC's Picks People's Picks Poppies Picks
1st Place Amber Babydoll Baby Doll
2nd Place Angelique Hollywood Jem
3rd Place Alice Alice Hollywood Jem

Best Female Figure 5" - 11"
The third place winner in the mid-sized female category isn't a pretty lady - but that's kind of the point. Henrietta from NECA got her disgusting hands on 9% of the votes. Who knew ugly rotting flesh could be so beautiful!

In second place, with 18% of the vote, is the Other M Samus Aran figure. I know nothing about the woman under the armor, but I have to admit that it's one damn fine looking toy.

While Masters of the Universe Classics might be losing some traction in the Male category, they're still on top with the ladies. The winner is Sorceress, with a very solid 25% of the vote. That's interesting, since so many fans belittled her for how the wings were attached and restricted her articulation. Still, she took the top spot with both the people and the poppies judges.

Place MWC's Picks People's Picks Poppies Picks
1st Place Catwoman Sorceress Sorceress
2nd Place Dove Catwoman
Other M Samus Aran
3rd Place Sorceress Other M Samus Aran Henrietta


Best Female Figure under 5"

The Male Under 5" category had the least interest from People's Picks and Poppies voters out of all the Male categories. Turns out, the same is true with the Female category - has everyone grown disillusioned with the scale?

That doesn't mean there aren't some cute figures out there though. And one of the cutest is Vanellope Von Schweetz from the flick Wreck It Ralph. Thinkway certainly as a way with animated figures like these. She took 10% of the vote.

Second place is another one of those ties, with two figures each getting 17% of the vote. Nightmare Sister and Kim Arashikage shared the honor.

While it might seem like there's not a lot of votes left, first place was still a big winner with 26% of the vote. Green seems to be a common color for winners this year - it's She-Hulk! Hasbro continues to crank out quality figures in this scale, male and female.


Best Build a Figure

I wish the BAF or CnC concept was doing better. I found the DC Unlimited figures today, but didn't buy Flash and Superman. If there had been a BAF with the figures, I would have picked them up too...but without it, I wisely figured I didn't need one more Flash or one more Superman figure in the collection. This same logic did not stop me from buying the Batman.

Back to the BAF's. The third place spot is ANOTHER of those pesky ties! Arnim Zola and the Captain Action Hawkeye costume both snagged 11% of the vote.

Coming in second is the very cool Bat Signal from Mattel. This came as pieces with the Movie Masters Dark Knight Rises figures, and is one of the few BAF diorama's with a light up feature. The Bat beacon took 18% of the vote.

The big winner is big in lots of ways - it's Mattel's Voltron! Okay, I'm not sure if he's really a BAF, at least by strictest definition, but the judges felt he was a good addition to the ballot and I agreed. Hey, you buy the pieces separate and put them together - close enough!

Place MWC's Picks People's Picks Poppies Picks
1st Place Terrax Bat Signal Voltron
2nd Place Bat Signal Voltron
Bat Signal
3rd Place Captain Action Hawkeye Arnim Zola Arnim Zola/CA Hawkeye

Photo Courtesy of Mint Condition Customs


Best Vehicle or Playset

Damn, I always forget how much work this is - hang on while I go get a 5 Hour Energy...alright, I'm back and jittery. Back to the awards...

We may split this category up next year, depending on how many good nominees we see. But for now, it's still vehicles and playsets, and there were a bunch of great choices.

The third place winner, with 15% of the vote, was the Hot Toys Tron Lightcycle!  The vehicle was pretty cool, even if you really couldn't do much with the Sam Flynn figure.

In second place is another Hot Toys product - the Suit Up Gantry for their Iron Man license. This diorama took 20% of the vote. With the display cases for the Iron Man suits coming out this year, I'm betting Hot Toys is all over this category next year as well.

But even with two of the three top spots, they didn't manage to win it overall. Instead, the Playmates TMNT Sewer Lair playset whipped up 26% of the vote and the number one spot! That's no surprise to me - it was my pick as well.

Place MWC's Picks People's Picks Poppies Picks
1st Place Sewer Lair Suit Up Gantry Sewer Lair
2nd Place S.T.A.P. Sewer Lair Suit Up Gantry
3rd Place Boonetown Tron Lightcycle Tron Lightcycle



Best Statue

Several lines took a bit of a nosedive this year in this category, due to a slip in quality or style. But one format remains hitting on all cylinders - Sideshow's Premium Format.

In third place is the Han in Carbonite PF, which took 9%. While it's not a truly traditional PF (since there's no clothing), it was still extremely popular with the Star Wars crowd.

In second place is the clown prince himself - the Joker Premium Format! This is a terrific start to their DC series, and I can't wait to see the 12" figure as well. This statue took 10% of the votes.

The big winner is another Sideshow PF, but it's a whole lot sexier than the other two. It's Baroness, from the G.I. Joe line. I don't have any interest in that line, and yet I've barely been able to resist her allure.

Place MWC's Picks People's Picks Poppies Picks
1st Place Batman (Kotobukiya)
Joker PF Baroness PF
2nd Place Bishoujo Power Girl Baroness
Joker PF
3rd Place Batman Black/White Jock Poison Ivy Han in Carbonite PF


Best Bust

I could go for the cheap joke here. But I'm just too classy for that - or too tired.

The third place winner is a beast - literally. It's the Beast bust by Grand Jester. This is the Beast from Beauty and, not the Marvel comics version. Grand Jester has been doing some nice work with the Disney classics, and this is one of the best from last year. The Beast received 13% of the votes.

With 16% of the vote, the very cool Swamp Thing from DC Collectibles took second place. This one was on everyone's list, due in large part to the detailed sculpt and great paint.

If you wondered if I influence the outcome of these awards, think no more - the winner is a bust I abused pretty badly in my review. Still, 22% of the Poppies Judges felt he big green skinned monster (green again!) that was Factory Entertainment's full size Frankenstein bust was the best of 2012. Even I must admit that the lights and sounds are mighty cool, and he's on display in my home.

Place MWC's Picks People's Picks Poppies Picks
1st Place Watto Swamp Thing Frankenstein
2nd Place Cruella Devile Gambit
Swamp Thing
3rd Place Swamp Thing Frankenstein Beast


Best Designer/Vinyl

This is not a category where I really know all that much. I know what I like of course, and since many of the designer styles are truly art, knowing what you like is half the battle.

I think the judges did a nice job picking a good variety of unique vinyl figures for the ballot, but even so, it seems that the better known and more traditional styles won out.

In third place is one of the Hot Toys Cosbaby series - Batman. I liked them of course, but I'm a Bat fool. Eleven percent of the Poppies judges felt they were the best of 2013.

But they were beat out by another 19% of the voters. They put the very cool Armorvor from Onell Designs in second place. At some point I gotta believe that with the cool stuff Onell is doing, more and more collectors will start paying attention.

I thought the winner was a real surprise, even though I liked him well enough. A big 26% went for the KidRobot Matt Groening figure - how cool is that?

Place MWC's Picks People's Picks Poppies Picks
1st Place Apexplorer Batman Cosbaby Mat Groening
2nd Place Amorvor Wall-E
3rd Place Plants Vs Zombies
Matt Groening Batman Cosbaby

Best Prop Replica
I'm not on the same page with the rest of the world in this category, but why should this be different than any other part of my life?

There's a third place tie between my favorite - the Mystic Seer - and the nifty Captain America trading cards. Both of these received 11% of the vote. It's nice to see at least 1 in 10 judges agreed with me on the Seer.

With 15% of the vote another eFX collectible took second place - the Darth Vader helmet based on A New Hope. I have to admit, it's awfully good looking, and well worth the price tag.

But it's obvious to me that I haven't played enough Portal 2, because I had no idea just how popular the Portal Gun was going to be. A solid 28% of the voters gave it the nod for first place.

Best Block Figure

Yea, you know who won. And it wasn't even close.

But Mega-Bloks took third place with 7% of the vote, and I think it's the terrific job they did with Skylanders. I expect we'll see more licensed sets coming from them in 2013.

And you can't ignore the huge influx of Minimates last year. Just about every license under the sun got the treatment, and they were awfully cute. The judges agreed to the tune of 11%.

Ah, yes. Even though they do mostly building sets, everyone loves the Lego figures as well. They swamped the competition with 54% of the vote, the biggest single number of votes in any category.

Place MWC's Picks People's Picks Poppies Picks
1st Place Minimates Lego Lego
2nd Place Mez-itz Minimates
3rd Place Megabloks Playmobil Megabloks


Best Misc

Now it's time for the catch all - the category where the unusual comes to win.

This year, the Monster High dolls swung into third with 16% of the votes. My daughter has lost some interest...but my grand-daughter is now into them in a big way. Mattel keeps the line fresh, a key aspect to the success.

Another 17% of the judges went for the Walking Dead  blu-ray case from McFarlane. I think it's the screwdriver in his eye socket that wins you over.

The big winner? Why, it's Skylanders of course! These things sold great all year, and with the release of the Giants game, it looks like they've got legs for awhile yet. I do think they better get some more of the actual giants on the pegs though, before kids lose interest in the new game.

Photo Courtesy

General Comments
Another year has flown by, and Toy Fair is right around the corner. I expect we'll see some interesting items, especially from newer, smaller companies.

As I mentioned in the People's Picks comments, it's interesting to see how many voters abstained when it came to the under 5" scale for both male and female figures. While it's clear that neither Hasbro or Mattel is going to be dropping the scale any time soon, it looks to me like collectors may be jumping ship.

I'm very excited about Hasbro's announcement on the 'black' series for Star Wars. Collectors have been begging for a high quality 6" scale Star Wars line for years, and it appears like we may finally get it. I've only been collecting the 12" figures for several years now, but this might just suck me back in.

I mentioned this earlier, but it's worth saying twice - I think Sideshow's DC sixth scale figures will be one of the most talked about lines in 2013. Whether it will be good talk or bad talk remains to be seen, but there's going to be plenty of it. DC collectors have been dying for a great sixth scale line for pretty much ever, and if Sideshow can deliver, they'll sing their praises across the net. If they fail, heaven help them.

I thought it was interesting that although TMNT won Best Low End and the Sewer Lair won Best Playset, they didn't win the individual male figure award. Not sure what that means...but it's interesting nonetheless.

Who will be getting awards next year? If I could guess that, I'd be a whole lot richer...but I'm willing to bet that we'll see Sideshow's DC figures, Hasbro's Black Series, and maybe even some of the very cool Mezco offerings that will be shown off at Toy Fair. I'm betting it's also pretty safe to assume that most of the movie lines will suck major league, with the possible exception of The Hobbit. I have a hunch that's a line that will improve with age, like a fine wine.

Thanks for hanging out with me for another year, and supporting the web site through your patronage, your clicks on the links, and your forwarding the review links to your friends and fellow collectors. I appreciate it, and I look forward to another great year in 2013.


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