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Points of Articulation

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Toy of the Year

The ToY Awards started back in 1998, when I was just doing reviews on my own. Yes, there were other end-of-year awards around at the time, but most of them focussed primarily on "child safe" toys, handing out praise for educational content, safety in manufacturing, and encouraging non-violent play patterns.

How lame.

I wanted to honor the toys that older toy fans actually liked. ToyFare magazine had (and still has) a similar year-ender, but when I started, they were nothing but whores to Star Wars. Then they went out of their way to ignore McFarlane. Plus, they had a tendency to include toys to which they as a news outlet had access, but normal collectors did not; ToY things that they had received as samples, but weren't due on the shelf for a few months (they continue this practice to this day).

Thus, the ToYs were born. The ToYs are the voice of the real fan community, covering what's really the best of the best. What started out as one "best of" award has grown and expanded to include a few more categories, but still: they're all the best of the best. We've even inspired a few imitators, but when you want the real toy of the year, you head for the Toy of the Year.

This year's winners are, as always, tres cool:

  • ToY
    Sauron
    Giant, monstrous figure with enough detail to cross your eyes. Plus, it's got all the play features fans could have asked for.

    Other nominees included Skeletor, for being such a great update of an '80s classic, with great detailing for a 6" figure • Alien and Predator, because it's just so cool • the Mummy, because it was detailed, articulated, and even had a touch of historical accuracy • Gimli for proving that human sculptors still out-do RealScan • and Captain Picard for proving that RealScan can be really good.

  • Best Line
    Spawn Series 22: The Viking Age
    McToys listened to their fans this year, giving this line of figures the articulation that had so long been lacking (even the woman!). With many other companies nipping at their heels, McFarlane's team had to do even better, which means the fans win. Though (as Poe pointed out in his great Skullsplitter review) the historical portion may be less than accurate, at least it exists.

    Other nominees included The Muppets' combination of the year's best sculpts, great accessories, and passable articulation • Marvel Legends for their sculpts, poseability, bases and comics • and the ultimate '80s update that are the Masters of the Universe.

  • Best Accessory
    Muppet Labs experiment table
    With real rubber straps and metal buckles, the table looks truly threatening. The wood is sculpted with real grain, and every little rivet on the stand can be seen clearly. The helmet fits on Beaker's head, ready to zap him at your whim.

    Other nominees included the classic simplicity of the Rohirrim Soldier's shield, helmet, and giant spear • Meryl Strife's tremendous arsenal of derringers • and Skeletor's sword for its combo of functionality and design.

  • Best Packaging
    Bohrok
    A new shape that lets you re-create the Bohrok nests, as well as perfect storage for the assembled figures. Very cool.

    Other nominees were the Alien and Predator's big box • and the Minimates' little tubes.

  • Worst of the Year
    McFarlane Toys
    What? How could we name McFarlane Toys the worst of the year? Simple: their decision to switch from blister packs to clamshells for all their figures. Those packages suck so long, so hard, and wicked hard. Worst thing that happened to toy fans in 2002. You should not need a tool to open your toys.

    Other nominees included McFarlane's Werewolf • N2's abominable Tick • and the entire Star Wars Unleashed line.

Now that you know what's won this year, you can head on over to see our past winners. The Class of 2002 has joined some illustrious ranks, and they're all archived here.


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