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Points of Articulation

Poe Ghostal
Toy of the Year

The ToY Awards started back in 1998, when one of us 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.

We wanted to honor the toys that older toy fans actually liked. ToyFare magazine had a similar year-ender, but when we 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
    Jungle Encounter Dutch
    When NECA got the license for Predators, they were asked if they would be doing any human characters, and they said no. When they started doing toys based on the original films, fans asked about Dutch, and NECA still said no, because Schwarzenegger's likeness wasn't included in the rights. Fast forward a few years, and they have a whole set of Dutch figures! NECA kept trying to make it happen, and they finally did. We chose Jungle Encounter Dutch (i.e., "vest-no-shirt") because that was the most iconic version of the character, but Jungle Patrol, Jungle Extraction and Jungle Disguise Dutches were all nominated as well - "Extraction" just won because he's on the poster.

    Other nominees include Metroplex, the giant Transformer who is full of awesome • Castle Greyskull, because Mattel actually delivered on their promises for once • Marvel Select Venom, for all his accessories and the variety they provide • GI Joe Battle Kata Roadblock, with his amazing likeness and cool, playable accessories • BioShock Infinite Elizabeth, who has a great sculpt, paint, articulation, and softgoods that don't look terrible • Marvel Universe Hercules, because it's just an all-around swell toy • NECA's Spider Gremlin has amazing paint, an amazing sculpt, amazing articulation, and isn't as expensive as you'd expect • 6" Boba Fett because he's a 6" Boba Fett • the Alien Warrior corrects all the mistakes previous versions have made • the long, long, long-awaited Kwinn the EskimoDKR Batman uses oversized MotU pieces in a clever way

  • Best Line
    Star Wars Black Series
    Really, what do we have to say beyond "six-inch Star Wars toys"? That should cover it. The sculpts are great, the accessories are perfect, and the packaging is lovely. This is exactky what fans have wanted for as long as 6" figures have been a standard.

    Nominees include NECA's Predators, particularly for the Kenner-inspired throwback series and all the versions of Dutch • similarly, NECA's Aliens line, which is delivering both the xenomoprhs and some Space Marines for them to fight • Batman (1966) brings a well-known property to toy aisles for the first time • Mordles are cheap, simples, and nice to look at • the new direction for Transformers Generations is a welcome change from the overly complex toys we've seen in the past few years

  • Best Accessory
    Predator Trophy Wall
    If the definition of this category is "an accessory that makes you buy the toy just to get it," the the trophy wall has no competition: it made us buy a lot of figures we wouldn't have, just to get the skulls to go on it. It's a perfect display, true to the film and with plenty of room for extra skulls if you have some.

    Nominees include Mega Man's tri-blast • Roadblock's Battle Kata System • Chell's ASHPD Portal Gun • the Data-Viper's communications gear • Batman and Robin's wall • the severed head of King Thror • Venom's body mutations • TMNT Mousers aren't quite figures in their own right, but they're still awesome • the severed head of the Engineer

  • Best Packaging
    No matter which way you choose to display this graphically exciting packaging, you'll find something cool to look at. Plus, it's recloseable, so playing with the toy doesn't ruin it.

    Nominees include the striking Star Wars Black SeriesPredators Series 10, the Kenner throwbacks • NES Jason Voorhees because it looked like a videogame box • DCD Arkham Origins had nice designs in both the small and large figures • Batman (1966)'s stylish artwork

  • Worst of the Year
    It should have been so much better than it was, and failed to live up to even the lowest of expectations. After a strong start with Rorschach, things just derailed. Manhattan's shrinkage. Comedian's guns sculpted into their holsters. No gimp mask alternate head. No Bubastis. Ozy being a statue above the waist. No smiley face logo. Just a mess of a line that should have made itself.

    Nominees include the embarrassment that was World War ZBreaking Bad lived up to the second word in its name • Knifehead because of the limitations Walmart imposed • Hasbro canceling the 2013 Star Wars line at the beginning of the year • the resurgence of 5-POA figures, which ruined several promising toylines (including Iron Man 3) • Mattel's DC Signature Collection going out with a poorly done Batman variant • Hasbro's failure to release running change variants • the mis-assembled, half-unpainted Rocksteady

  • Best Exclusive
    SDCC Jason Voorhees
    This exclusive, inspired by a fan-made repaint, is not a "must-have" by any stretch of the imagination, but it does do something new and innovative with the mold - and even inspired a whole line of repaints like that! The packaging is awesome, and the fact that NECA made it available through multiple outlets after the convention is just gravy!

    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 Azog the Defiler (Second Place, Bridge Direct) • Jay & Silent Bob Minimates (Third Place, Art Asylum) • Iron Man Hall of Armor (Hasbro) • Superman vs. Zod (Mattel) • Florentine Scarlet & Caspian Teal Ezios (NECA) • Robo Force Maxx Zero Genesis Edition (Toyfinity) • TV colors Piccolo (Bandai)

Now that you know what's won this year, you can head on over to see our past winners. The Class of 2013 joined some illustrious ranks, and they're all archived here.

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