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Points of Articulation

Toy of the Year

The ToY Awards started back in 1998, when yo was just doing reviews on his 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.

He wanted to honor the toys that older toy fans actually liked. ToyFare magazine had (and still has) a similar year-ender, but when he 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.

  • ToY
    Muppet Kitchen w/ Swedish Chef
    Awesome playset with a superb character, a wonderfully sculpted and detailed set that even girls like! Yes, chicks dig the little kitchen pieces and utensils and food, and damned if you won't as well! The Chef and his kitchen kick ass!

    Other nominees included Spawn 10th, for being the type of toy that McFarlane should have been making for years • Superman, because he's so iconic and DCD finally came close to Marvel Legends quality • Keldor, simply for being a cool figure with some great accessories • the Rotocast Hulks, because they're huge, they're cheap, and they brought rotocasting to American toy shelves • Plan B's Structural Firefighter for being the most iconic of the Emergency Forces line • and Unicron for providing a figure that fans have wanted for almost two decades.

  • Best Line
    Emergency Forces
    Everything about these guys is great, from sculpt and articulation to paint and accessories. They've got a beautiful sort of mundanity about them, and give kids some real heroes to emulate - the original purpose of toys. The line took Plan B's already great toys off the battlefield and put them on the streets.

    Other nominees included Marvel Minimates for going after big licenses while moving into a smaller scale • Armies of Middle Earth, the battle-builder's dream that gives the LotR line a healthy dose of chracter diversity • Spawn 24 for being highly articulated, highly sculptural, wonderfully painted, giving us killer bases and a definite personality to the line while showing what Todd can do when he tries • Kingdom Hearts because it was such a turnaround from the company's previous effort and gave us good sculpts and decent articulation • the Rahkshi give the Bionicle line more articulation, a bigger imposing size, and a bunch of awesome new bad guys for the good guys to kill • Movie Maniacs 6 provided the first real MM toys ever • Mutant Earth for its inventive creatures and top-notch sculpts • Mez-Itz have ergonomic bodies, detailed heads, and varied licenses, plus you get two toys for five bucks • GI Joe SpyTroops overcame a lot of the problems that plagued the Joes when they relaunched, gave us all kinds of removable armor, characters everybody wanted to see and - best of all - each character costs the same today as they did 20 years ago • Hellraiser is a true fans' line, which did right everything Todd did wrong • Fightin' Gear TMNT are simple and a good value, with more articulation and fully removable/interchangeable armor.

  • Best Accessory
    Rizzo's pizza box
    Like it says in the review, this thing is a marvel of toy design. The box opens and closes, the cheese is stringy and you can even remove a slice. The paint apps are tight and crisp. Palisades really did a marvelous job on this piece, showing the ingenuity and dedication that many other companies have overlooked or outgrown.

    Other nominees included the realistic mechanical detailing of the Lion's bear trap • Stripe's candy • Ralphie's soap • Keldor's head for its green flames and Michael Jackson-like flesh removal.

  • Best Packaging
    Lego Star Wars Minis
    Because the point of a clamshell isn't to permanently entomb the toy, a clamshell is supposed to be resealable, so you can display your figures and still have a handy storage solution. A clamshell should snap closed, not be welded shut at the factory. The design of these clams is great, from the shape of the package to the graphics inside. Not only does the package look nice, but it's greatly functional, too.

    Other nominees were Tony HawkRahkshi tubes • Mattel's Batman • AA's Dark AngelKingdom ComeStar TrekTMNTMarvel Select • and Ultimate Muscle.

  • Worst of the Year
    Clerks Inaction Figures
    There was a lot of really bad stuff in the toy world this year, but nothing as bad as these terribly ill-conceived lumps of plastic that don't do anything but prove how very insulated Kevin Smith is behind his encompasing cadre of hardcore fanboys. Plus, Jay looks like a buttplug.

    Other nominees included DCDirect's Kingdom Come, for taking great designs and sculpts and producing them so awfully • Image 10th Anniversary because while Spawn was nice, the rest sucked and they were four months late • The Matrix, because it just shows that Todd could ruin any license he set his mind on • Mattel for He-Man, Batman and mainly Keldor • Star Trek for giving us mediocre sculpts and poor selection • TMNT's Casey Jones for being such a dishonor to the original figure • Marvel Select for lowering the ToyBiz bar • Hasbro's Built to Rule for ruining GI Joe, Transformers and the concept of building blocks • the unerring abomination that is South ParkSarcastic Man, because he highlighted how badly Playmates is mis-handling this line • and, most of all, NASCAR, for not being a sport, for not being toys and for being RealScan from head to toe rather than sculpted.

Now that you know what's won this year, you can head on over to see our past winners. The Class of 2003 has joined some illustrious ranks, and they're all archived here.

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