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Points of Articulation

Toy of the Year

The ToY Awards started back in 1998, when yo 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.

He wanted to honor the toys that older toy fans actually liked. ToyFare magazine had a similar year-ender, but when he 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, 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
    Nitro Zeus
    This movie Transformer features an innovative conversion that's unlike any jet-based TFs before him, and straddles the line between challenging and intuitive nicely. Plus, his design and gimmick mean he can fit in with non-movie collections, giving him appeal beyond the franchise of his origin. His only weakness is availability, and even that's gotten better as the end of the year drew near.

    Other nominees included Marvel Legends Hela, with her giant hat • Transformers Generations Overlord • NECA's Ultimate Chucky • Titans Return Triggerhappy • Spidey Legends Moon Knight, with his add-on armor and smart accessories • NECA's Kenner-style Stalker Predator • Transformers Bisk, the robot that is half lobster • Batgirl of Burnside, because she wasn't just the same sculpt as always • Masterpiece Bumblebee.

  • Best Line
    DC Bombshells
    Take one of the best-received ideas in recent years - DC's heroines reimagined as stylish pin-up girls - and turn it from large, expensive statues to small, affordable action figures. Throw in good articulation and nice accessories, and you have yourself a winner! The second series isn't as good as the first, but this is still a great line of figures.

    Other nominees included the workmanlike World of Nintendo • the daunting scope of Marvel Legends • the unexpected Grossery Gang Putrid Power fad • Lego Batman, because the sets were better than the movie they came from • the improved distribution of Star Wars Black Series, which meant you could reliably see almost all the figures in stores.

  • Best Accessory
    King Shark
    With Mattel's DC offerings the way they have been recently, anyone who completed this BAF definitely bought some figures they otherwise wouldn't have. Possibly six of them.

    Other nominees included X-Men Legends Warlock Build-A-Figure • NECA's Aliens Hadley's Hope sign • Kingdom Hearts' Pluto • Netflix Bullseye's weapons, hands, and heads • NECA's Queen Facehugger (the second, smaller one) • Snoke's throne • Spiked Tail Predator's movable gun • Ultimate Chucky's cardboard box, packaging sized for the toy • Supergirl's hover stand.

  • Best Packaging
    At last year's Wrestlemania, The New Day came out to the ring inside a giant box of Booty-O's cereal, dressed like Dragon Ball Z characters. Now they're being sold in those costumes and the packaging looks like a box of cereal. It's so cool!

    Other nominees included NECA's TMNT carrying caseSnoke's throneroom • Netflix Marvel Legends for the lovely paintings on the sides • Marvel Legends Battle for Asgaard rolling up to save space • NECA's Ultimate Ash with the lenticular cover.

  • Worst of the Year
    Blind boxes. Lootcrates. Rare chase figures. Retailer exclusives. Rare chase figures of retailer exclusives. If there's a predatory sales tactic out there, Funko will use it. It seems like everything they do is calculated to move merchandise, not to actually make quality products. Funko POP!s are the Beanie Babies of the 2010s, complete with limited releases and aftermarket protective cases to ensure their mint status, and the company's IPO was a mega disappointment to all involved. It was not a good year to be Funko.

    Other nominees included Funko's inconsistent scale within lines, such as Disney Afternoon or Rick and Morty • the general lack of DC figures both from Mattel and DC Direct • interesting Build-A-Figures being stuck with unwantable solo figures • Titans Return Astrotrain with his Headmaster gimick and garbage altmode • movie Wonder Woman in her permanent cape • Ghostbusters Select Slimer and his gigantic arms • McFarlane Toys' Titanfall for failing to deliver on any of its promises • Titans Return Broadside for a halfassed jet mode and stickers • GotG Legends Ex Nihilo, the character nobody asked for.

  • Best Exclusive
    Supreme Leader Snoke (Throne Room)
    Snoke himself is available in the normal line, but this GameStop exclusive adds a giant throne and a backdrop representing the room behind him. Considering that this was one of the most beautiful scenes in one of the most visually impressive films in recent memory, that's a great inclusion. No one needs Snoke's throne, but if you want it, it's available. The set was nominated for Best Accessory and Best Packaging, and it's part of a Best Line nominee; it only makes sense that it would be the Best Exclusive.

    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 Classic Black Panther (Second Place, Hasbro/Walmart) • Metal Defender Lions of Voltron (Third Place, Playmates/Target) • Arkham City Harley Quinn (NECA/TRU) • Groot Evolution (Hasbro/TRU) • Jungle Briefing Dutch (NECA/SDCC) • Medusa (Hasbro/Walgreens) • Usagi Yojimbo (Playmates/SDCC) • Cyclops and Dark Phoenix (Hasbro/TRU)

Now that you know what's won this year, you can head on over to see our past winners. The Class of 2017 joined some illustrious ranks, and they're all archived here.

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