Points of Articulation
Top 10 Toys - Take 2!
Last month, we all got together and voted on the Top 20 Toys of the OAFEnet Era - from a list of 35 nominees, we carefully picked the toys that showed off the best of the industry in the time that we've been active.
And that was a great list, but when you're working by committee, some things suffer. Not everybody plays with every toyline nominated, and even doing the proper research isn't always enough to convey what you need to know. So this month, we're fixing the mistakes.
Each of us is choosing one toy from the list that we feel should have been higher, and one we think should have been lower. And of course, you can see how we ranked all the nominees by clicking on our names. Now, here we go!
- Too low: Predators
- While the paint and quality issues especially early on hindered the line, the detail and commitment to accuracy was really remarkable, and the fact that NECA has kept the line going long enough to encompass all the Lost Preds from Predator 2 is a ridiculous accomplishment. Yes there's a lot of part-sharing, but the dedication to getting the minor details just right is commendable, especially with what little NECA had to go on. With Dutch on the horizon, as well as the "Big Red" from Batman: Dead End and the possible trophy display, this series is far from waning and actually seems to only be getting better. The mix of sculpt and articulation is everything we always wished McFarlane would have done with the license.
It placed: #16 || I ranked it: #5
- Too high: MOTU Classics
- This could just as easily have been DCUC, for a lot of the same reasons: too much reliance on a standard, underdetailed base body with standout characters being too few and far between. But I'd probably say MOTUC is the bigger offender. Overpriced, with myriad quality issues and even worse customer service issues, the constant deflections and lies and misdirection from Mattel, lazy character inclusions, the list goes on and on. Especially after the extreme pressure with the sub issue for 2013, telling people they had to commit so much money without really knowing what they would get, it's really just an unpleasant experience for figures that, in my opinion, aren't particularly worth it.
It placed: #15 || I ranked it: #19
- Too low: Seventh Kingom
- Sure the figures had some weak joints and have been plagued with delays but never has there been such a rallying point around Love of the Hobby as with Xetheus. FANtastic Exclusive is the only time when clearly and publicly a toy was made simply for the love of making it. Some lines we know are made for retail at a break-even point but the transparency with the Horsemen was nearly unparelleled and the outcome are some of the very best (sculpt, paint, articulation, accessories) figures ever produced!
It placed: #10 || I ranked it: #9
- Too high: Marvel Legends
- It killed the industry. It set the new standard of 6" scale hyper articulated figures and did so with in-house billion-dollar characters thereby setting a financial benchmark no other company could achieve despite cultivating the collectors' expectation they could. Add to that the birth of the "four figure series," the chase variants, the retailer exclusive series and you have an unfathomable nightmare-- and that's even before accepting how preposterous many of the sculpts were and how useless and garrish a lot of the articulation was! (and while I'm at it, Lord of the Rings was nothing short of the biggest pain in the ass of a line to collect with character selection and distribution only becoming somewhat reasonable AFTER all the movies had left theaters. And Xevoz... seriously? A line I've never heard of that we've only reviewed 3 figures from. How did this even make the list let only rank in the top 5!?)
It placed: #2 || I ranked it: (forgot to vote)
- Too low: Masterpiece Transformers
- The ultimate Transformers toys, constructed from the highest quality metal and plastic, complete with all the articulation and accessories and features that define the characters - these are the DEFINITIVE Transformers toys, and they will never be beaten. Some gripe about the high price point - which I feel is actually good value for money considering the amount of features each one of these has, including their excellent transformations and amazing accessories and unbeatable paint apps (and, bloody hell, compare the value here against the $30 MOTU Classics, which don't come close) - and the poor character selection - a more valid complaint considering the appalling reuse that pits them against even the KINGS OF REUSE, Mattel - but in honesty these ARE the definitive versions of these beloved characters and they're amazing. We are certain to see new and better versions of most characters across the lines we collect, but there will never be a better version of Optimus Prime, or Megatron, or any of the other Masterpiece Transformers.
It placed: #21 || I ranked it: #3
- Too high: Lord of the Rings
- Beyond the distribution problems, the fluctuating price points, and the strange character selections & repetition, ToyBiz's Lord of the Rings figures suffered from the most inconsistent quality in recent memory. On one end of the scale there were toys that were beautifully detailed with magnificent likeness and great articulation made from durable plastic, then there were toys that looked awful with crap likenesses and plastic that fell to pieces. Action features got in the way of sculpt and articulation, leading to super-articulated remakes meaning collectors had to double dip, ditto massive boxed sets containing only a couple of new figures inamongst dozens of toys collectors already had. At its highs, ToyBiz's Lord of the Rings was an amazing line, but for the most it was a complete mess, and collectors had to search high and low to get the figures really worth owning.
It placed: #3 || I ranked it: #12
- Too low: Transformers Alternators
- It didn't have the QC problems of Masterpiece, but offered engineering that was nearly as impressive. The toys were large, solid, and completely licensed, years before the movie did the same thing. Though the fiction that went with it was only available in Japan, it was a fanboy's delight, drawing on the entirety of Transformers' history to create a new story rather than just retreading what had gone before, like Classics did.
It placed: #27 || I ranked it: #6
- Too high: Justice League Unlimited
- Too much re-use, and the one time they tried adding more articulation, they immediately backpedaled and took it away again. The paint was atrocious, distribution was awful, and half the time the figures couldn't stand when you got them out of the packaging. Boiling a toy's feet should not be S.O.P. when you're buying things off the shelf. This line ended up rating higher than Transformers Animated, a line that offered show-accurate sculpts that could still move the way they should? That's stupid. It deserves to be lower.
It placed: #29 || I ranked it: #22
- Too low: MOTU Classics
- GI Joe fans have the 25th Anniversary Collection. Transfans have TF Classics/Universe/Generations. And He-Fans have this. The figures are true to the original designs, but larger and better articulated. The Four Horsemen went back to basics on the line, reusing sculpts to save money and delivering us the best He-Man toys ever. This is a line that Mattel is making jut for the fans, not for the profit, and that love shows.
It placed: #15 || I ranked it: #5
- Too high: DCU Classics
- This line suffered distribution problems as early as Wave 2, and they never really let up. The final few series shipped at this time last year, but they're just now beginning to appear in brick-and-mortar stores. Add to that bad construction (including broken joints and misassembled pieces), spotty paint and questionable character choices, and there's no way this line deserved to be in the top 15.
It placed: #12 || I ranked it: #22
So there you are: if we had left this up to just one person, the list would have ended up very different (or if we'd actually had these vetoes when we were voting).