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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
    Super Colossal T. Rex
    This massive figure from Mattel's Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom line is not in scale with any of the other toys (except perhaps its fellow nominee, the Indoraptor) because it seems to be in a roughly 1:12 scale. You can have the king of dinosaurs battle your Marvel or DC figures! It has a bit of a play feature that allows it to eat other small toys, but that doesn't get in the way of the standard fun. And though it's on the expensive side, it's a decent value for what you get. The thing is almost four feet long!

    Other nominees include the Jurassic World Indoraptor, another large, articulated dinosaur at a fair price; • Fortnite Cuddle Team Leader, with a great sculpt, outstanding articulation, and nice accessories; • NECA's Endocop with Terminator Dog, two outstanding figures in beautiful packaging; • Marvel Legends Mysterio, a much-needed update of a classic villain, with a unique sculpt and appropriate accessories; • NECA's Pennywise, both 2017 and 1990 versions; • Marvel Ultimate Legends Ghost Rider, with his two-style motorcycle; • Deadpool Legends Cable, looking just like Liefeld's art and armed with huge guns; • Black Series Jaina Solo, more than just Hasbro throwing a bone to the fans; • NECA's Crash Bandicoot, the plain version; • Funko's Pickle Rick, with almost all the accessories and features you could want; • Predator Machiko, a human figure no one expected could actually be made in this era of mold re-use; • Nendoroid Robobot Kirby, putting the Nendo Kirby in a fully articulated mechsuit.

  • Best Line
    Marvel Legends
    It feels like a cop-out to give the win to Marvel Legends again - after all, they won in 2015, and it's not like 2018 was a substantially better year for ML than 2017 or 2016 were, yes? But consistency is often an underrated trait. When you buy a Marvel Legend, you know what you're going to get: good sculpt, good paint, probably some decent accessories... their biggest problem is the sheer volume of toys that are coming out, meaning stores have trouble keeping pace, and so distribution experiences backups. Looking for Spider-Man's Lizard or SP//dr series? Well too bad, Homecoming is still on the pegs. Still, in 2018, these are the solid baseline against which all other collector toys are judged.

    Other nominees included Star Wars Black Series for its (minorly) better distribution and the advent of "Photo Real" face printing; • Transformers Power of the Primes, for stylish card art and interesting gimmicks in all its size classes; • DST's Pacific Rim Uprising, for playing so well with NECA's popular line; • Marvel Studios: The First 10 Years, for finally giving us characters we should have had ages ago; • Mattel's Jurassic World, with detailed dinosaurs in the main line and dark yet colorful packaging for the "Legacy" collection; • Funko's Savage World, which does Mortal Kombat, horror icons, and DC Comics characters in the old He-Man style; • NECA's "Ultimate" editions because they've pretty much become the straight standard for the company, with most releases never getting a non-Ultimate version any more.

  • Best Accessory
    Thanos' "snap" hand
    SH Figuarts' take on Thanos is not hugely better than the Marvel Legends Build-A-Figure, but it does have one very strong advantage: the moment from the pop culture movie of the year, in the form of an alternate right hand with the fingers posed in s "snapping" movement. That should have been an inclusion with every version of Thanos, but only Bandai did it.

    Other nominees included Marvel Legends Mr. Fantastic's Ultimate Nullifier; • Black Bolt's screaming head; • Kratos's plug-in shield; • Pennywise's balloons; • GameStop Pennywise's Georgie arm; • Spider-Ham's Pork Grind head; • Psylocke's mental effects; • Super Mario Odyssey's Cappy; • Grand Moff Tarkin's Interrogator Droid; • Lady Deadpool's Headpool; • Mythic Legions Sword Horsemen; • Funko's Fortnite building materials.

  • Best Packaging
    Defenders Rail Authority
    This Marvel Legends SDCC box not only houses the figures, it serves as a piece of in-scale set decoration. A subway car? Almost every Marvel hero lives and operates in new York, a subway car is something they'd see every day! Plus, it seems to be throwing shade at Iron Fist, by putting Danny Rand off in the corner by himself.

    Other nominees included Schleich TRU Geoffrey's bright box; • Marvel Legends Back in Black Deadpool's 1980s styling; • Marvel Studios: The First 10 Years' box-side mural; • Venom Legends' white and black colorscheme; • Transformers BotBots' striking and destructible bubbles; • NECA 1990 TMNT, aping the old VHS sleeve.

  • Best Build-A-Figure
    Sauron
    There have been many Build-A-Figures of note over the past few years, and while Marvel Legends seemingly created the concept, you can find other companies tackling it in interesting ways; including not just other comic lines like the DC Multiverse Rookie and Clayface, but also lines like Funko's Rick and Morty. But in a year of solid and interesting BAFs, nothing compares to the wonder of Sauron, the classic X-Men villain who found new life in internet meme-dom. Who hasn't wanted to turn people into dinosaurs? Well, now every collection can have a pal who's into that, with the incredibly impressive sculpt and awesome articulation making for one of the absolute best toys of 2018.

  • Worst of the Year
    Too Many Marvel Figures
    The rate at which Marvel Legends came out this year was just ridiculous, with more series than could possibly-- okay, just kidding, it's absolutely the death of Toys Я Us. No question. This category was all sewn up back in March, when the closure was announced. We just wanted to give you a little swerve, to briefly think that the super-predictable thing wasn't the right anwwer. There's a silver lining to the situation, with more stores setting up or expanding their toy sections (GameStop, Best Buy, Kohl's) and NECA finally breaking into Target stores with their own self-merchandised sections. But as cool as all that is, it's not worth the loss of jobs, the pretend IP auctions, and the cheap "look, we're back as a brand inside Krogers" crap that TRU went through in 2018. Toys Я Us and everyone attached to it - employees, vendors, and customers alike - got dicked over by the brand's owners, and that was easily the worst thing about toys this year.

    Other nominees included the overwhelming Marvel Legends release schedule, with too many figures coming out too fast (yes, that was a real nominee, not just a joke); • DST's Pacific Rim Uprising, for its lack of accessories and loose joints; • Spider-Man Legends Doc Ock's arms, which are pre-posed and not fun; • Venom Legends Scream, which is only half-painted.

  • Best Exclusive
    Marvel Legends Thing
    With this release, Walgreens managed to complete the Fantastic Four, which is something even companies that weren't limited to a single new figure every few months have had trouble doing. Plus, the toy is 100% new sculpt, with extra heads and hands for alternate looks. If this had been released as a Build-A-Figure (and, judging by its size, it could have been), it would have even given Sauron a run for his money - and yet it cost no more than the figures with repainted bodies. This isn't just a good toy, it's an achievement.

    The "Best Exclusive" category is open to every exclusive (convention, store, online, anything) released this year.

    Other top finishers included:
    • NECA 1990 TMNT (NECA/SDCC)
    Holiday Bucky O'Hare (Boss Fight Studio)
    • Black Series Porgs (Hasbro)
    • Mythic Legions Keltuss (Four Horsemen)
    • Marvel Select Thanos (DST/Disney Store)
    • Marvel Legends Vision & Scarlet Witch (Hasbro/TRU)
    • Star Wars Throneroom Kylo Ren (Hasbro/Walmart)
    • X-Men Legends Archangel (Hasbro/GameStop)
    • Star Wars Black Series General Veers (Hasbro/Walgreens).

Now that you know what's won this year, you can head on over to see our past winners. The Class of 2018 joined some illustrious ranks, and they're all archived here.


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