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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
    Lt. Ellen Ripley
    NECA specializes in doing the impossible. They made their name among collectors by releasing Pinhead, and the "impossible" figures have continued ever since. But the ultimate, ungettable, no-way, never-gonna-happen figure of them all was Ripley. Sigourney Weaver just wouldn't allow her likeness to be used, and there was no way around it. But NECA being NECA, they never gave up the fight, and finally made her happen. There were two figures based on Alien, but Aliens is the iconic version, and they made her perfectly. Even her accessory is cool! The only thing missing is a Newt for her to carry on her hip, but Carrie Henn is even less likely to approve her likeness than Weaver was - you know, "impossible."

    Other nominees include Devastator, for reminding us all why official toys are still better than third party versions • Mega Man X, with his die-cast parts, working lights, and realistic mechanical labels • Horizon Brave for being chunky and solid in a way not many toys are, and having a working action feature • Ultra Magnus, a terrific version of the comicbook character • 1954 Godzilla because it's the first articulated version of the classic • Marvel Select Carnage, with all his accessories and different looks • Otachi, another great Pacific Rim monster with fun features • the Alien Queen puts McFarlane's version to shame, and is now available in black or red • the Black Series Stormtrooper is a solid offering of a hot new design • Marvel finally made a Ben Reilly Scarlet Spider with the hoodie • Decimus Hrabban, yet another top-notch Four Horsemen product • the creepy horror show that is PyramidheadArrow's Deathstroke, which could almost double as a videogame figure • Viper because GI Joe/Transformers crossovers are far too rare • New 52 Harley Quinn for being complete fun • Thrasher Suit Batman with its amazing articulation.

  • Best Line
    Marvel Legends
    It was a big year for Marvel Legends - there were six BAF series (Odin, Hobgoblin, Thanos, Ultron, Rhino, and Hulkbuster), exclusive sets at TRU, Target, SDCC, and even Walgreens. The character selection was a mix of obscure favorites, new costumes, and famous characters in need of updates. There were a lot of accessories even beyond the BAF parts, and the paintwork was more reliable on these than on many companies' offerings. Most of the characters may be built on repainting three basic bodies, but that's just a fact of the industry these days; we can't hold it against Hasbro if we're going to ignore it for everyone else.

    Other nominees include the Gothitropolis ravensTransformers Combiner Wars, for smart parts re-use and reclaiming what had mostly been left to third-party • Pacific Rim continues to chug along years after the movie • Star Wars Black Series, for finally being available in stores again • Mega Bloks Monster High with its strong colors and fun minifigures • NECA's various Ultimate figures.

  • Best Accessory
    BB-8
    Rey is the star and hero of The Force Awakens, but nobody knew that before it opened. Still, from "Force Friday" onward, she's been one of the hardest Black Series figures to find, despite her general crumminess. The reason? BB-8. Everybody fell in love with that cute little ball-droid the instant they saw it, and Rey was the only way to get one. The paint is lacking, but the articulation is fun. And remember, Hasbro released R2-D2 as a full-priced figure all by himself, so getting BB-8 as a pack-in was very welcome!

    Other nominees include Chameleon's heads, which definitely sold the figure they came with (many times over) • Spider-Man's pizza • Deadman's spectral ghost mask, to show his powers in action • DC Icons Green Lantern's armor construct • the Gothitropolis Ravens' scythes • Zira's paper airplane • Scarlet Witch hex effects • Nenodroid Link's floating heart piece • Yellowjacket, for being the only version of the movie's villain • Commando's rocket launcher • Riddler's toys • Wash's toy dinos • Harley Quinn's skates • Motoko's boobs • Rocky's 8-bit flag • Doink's three different hair pieces.

  • Best Packaging
    Alien Egg Carton
    This seems like a joke you'd see on DeviantArt or one of those daily T-shirt sites, or possibly something made up by Think Geek for their April Fools' Day joke, but it's a real product! Six facehugger eggs, sold in a cardboard carton just like you'd get at the grocery store. Hard to beat that kind of comedy!

    Other nominees include Sherlock's box, styled like the front door of 221 B Baker St. • the Book of the Vishanti, which doubled as a real prop • NECA's boxes, which often come with backdrops for the figures now • Batman: the Animated SeriesDC IconsAlien QueenDoomsday.

  • Worst of the Year
    Names
    For some unfathomable reason, Hasbro insists on naming different toylines with the same name. The Black Series refers to both 6" and 4" figures. Marvel Legends is now being applied to the 4" figures as well as the 6"ers. When new figures are solicited, the only way to know what they are is to look at the price. It's just stupid.

    Other nominees include everybody cheaping out on articulation • Mattel's King Hiss torso fiasco • Funko not changing their joints as promised • Avengers 2 Hulk • Hasbro's badly hips that barely move • general quality control in the industry, with lots of broken joints and missing paint apps • rising prices despite flat inflation • Force Friday sellouts • terrible distributionRocketeer's insufficient neck articulation • Arkham Knight Scarecrow • the terrible redesign of Hasbro Toy Shop.

  • Best Exclusive
    Anteverse Gipsy Danger
    You could get the exact same sculpt in the main line, this one is just cast from translucent plastic to make it look trippy - a feature which also sets it apart from the rest of the line. Plus, the packaging is designed to highlight the translucence, so even MOC collectors can enjoy it.

    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 Ghost Lo Pan (Second Place, Funko/Previews) • Daredevil (Third Place, Hasbro/Walgreens) • Ambush Predator (NECA/SDCC) • Kenner AvP (NECA/TRU) • Kylo Ren (Hasbro/Kmart) • Joker (NECA/TRU) • Batman (NECA/TRU) • black and white Universal Monsters (Funko/NYCC) • BlueLine Batman (DC Direct/SDCC) • Pacific Rim mini-figures (NECA/SDCC) • Rambo (NECA/SDCC).

Now that you know what's won this year, you can head on over to see our past winners. The Class of 2015 joined some illustrious ranks, and they're all archived here.


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