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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 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, ToY but normal collectors did not; things that they had received as samples, but weren't due on the shelf for a few months.

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
    Ultron
    For years, fans have been waiting for a figure of Ultron that actually looked like Ultron, and Marvel Select finally delivered. He looks great and moves well, but the reason he beat out some of the other competitors is his reasonable pricetag and the fact that you could actually find him in stores with no trouble.

    Other nominees include Renegades Storm Shadow, who only lost because of his availablity • the new Marvel Universe Hulk, with his improved sculpt and articulation • Prime Vehicon, for a super fun transformation scheme • Vintage Darth Maul is the definitive representation • Robocop with Leg Holster for the action feature they said could never be done • Renegades Scarlett is the best female Joe figure ever released • the Zombie-Viper fits with the brand, but is an all-new creation • Draego-Man also fits his brand, but is an all-new creation • Fearless Photog because Mattel finally delivered on a 30-year-old promise • Black Widow cuts no corners • battle-damaged Jason Voorhees for his sculpt, accessories and playability • Chair-Suit Engineer appeals to fans of the original AlienRattlor incorporates the old gimmick very well • Masterpiece Optimus Prime finally comes with his trailer, and though he's smaller, he's still awesome • Revelations Ezio is as good as usual, but comes with more accessories than you'd expect

  • Best Line
    Predators
    All the figures use the same base body, but paint and accessories have allowed NECA to create the entire Lost Tribe, showing an incredible depth. They also went back and added articulation to the Jungle Hunter Pred (creating a third new body in the process), and the future of the line looks very bright.

    Other nominees include Playmates' TMNT for the nice packaging, the great work on the Turtles, and the big playset • SH MonsterArts may be expensive to import, but they're incredibly well made • the return of Marvel Legends, as the line went back to its roots • Evil Dead 2 reuses the same body three times, but also gives us a 100% unique Deadite • SLUG Zombies have pop culture references and are sold in coffins • NECA's Rocky line

  • Best Accessory
    Headcrab
    This piece won out because it not only looked good (and looked just like it does in the source material), but also had a play feature that added value to both to the figure it came with, and to any other figure you put it near.

    Other nominees include Tunnel Rat's, bomb robot • the possessed deer head with Ash • Jason's removable hockey mask • SW Vintage Sandtrooper's gun with folding stock • Order the military dog

  • Best Packaging
    DC Signature Collection
    The packaging is designed so you can open it, play with the figure, but still close everything back up for display or storage. But it's the beautiful paintings on the back that really make these boxes worth holding onto. Most companies go for cool art or resealable packaging, but the DC subscription figures offer both.

    Other nominees include the flashy TMNT cards (both modern and classic styles) • Marvel Legends with a large piece of original art on the back • DKR Movie Masters that look like Batman's arm • Godzilla (Comic-Con Explosion) for the image of the big guy stomping SDCC • the Star Wars "Lost Line" changed the Vintage packaging into something new

  • Worst of the Year
    The Dark Knight Rises toys
    Mattel put a bargain store toy onto mass retail shelves, and thought no one would notice? The toys are badly sculpted, poorly articulated, and packaged like something you'd find at a bodega. What really makes this bad is the worry that it's the direction the toy industry is moving.

    Other nominees include Stargirl of her troll face and muffin top • TMNT for treating everybody other than the Turtles like an afterthought • White Lantern Flash for being the wrong color • Mighty Spector for not belonging in MOTU at all • Death for missing the point entirely • Bruce Wayne for being overshadowed by his own packaging • the TRU bump-up program • shortpacking Storm Shadow • the 4" Chitauri, which has less articulation than the packaging shows • Hasbro's running change variants, which may never show up • GI Joe Retaliation getting pushed back, ruining Hasbro's plans for the year in the process

  • Best Exclusive
    Dollar General GI Joes
    There are lots of rumors about these figures - cancelled wave, movie tie-in, unplanned release - but whatever their story, they're good. When GI Joe Retaliation was pushed back, these became the only new Joe product we'd get all year. They're just repaints and existing characters, but the designs were ones we hadn't seen since the '90s. Plus, as long as you lived near a Dollar General, they were plentiful and easy to find.

    The "Best Exclusive" category is open to every exclusive (convention, store, online, anything) released this year, and the winner determined based on our criteria for the perfect exclusive.

    Other top finishers included Night Fighter Robocop (Second Place, NECA/TRU) • Godzilla (Comic-Con Explosion) (Third Place, Bluefin) • "Hero from the Sky" Ash (NECA) • Eagle Vision Ezio (NECA) • Electric Gremlin (NECA) • SHIELD Super Helicarrier (Hasbro) • Unhooded Ezio (NECA/TRU) • Star Wars Speeder Bike (Hasbro/TRU) • Movie Masters Batman (Kmart) • Clear Bilbo (Bridge Direct) • Metron (Mattel) • Phantom of the Opera (DST/TRU)

Now that you know what's won this year, you can head on over to see our past winners. The Class of 2012 joined some illustrious ranks, and they're all archived here.


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