Has it been a whole year already? I feel like I wrote last year’s PPF just yesterday. Anyway, welcome to the second annual awards post here at PGPoA. As you may recall, the way this works is I select my awards solely from figures I reviewed. So while there were obvious eye-popping examples of action figure design this year–the deluxe Hot Toys Joker comes to mind–you won’t see them here, because I didn’t buy them.
On to the awards!
Favorite Action Figure Line
While I started this year with my DCUC obsession intact, around mid-year my interest in DCUC flagged as my love for Masters of the Universe Classics grew. There’s no question this became my favorite line of 2009. Of course, this being Mattel, my anxiety from the distribution issues of DCUC (which was like a low-level software program running constantly in the background of my mind and draining precious CPU power), my MOTUC worries were condensed into a monthly series of brief but intense bouts of rage at the website’s inability to handle the traffic. And of course, there’s also the price issue (although I think paying $15 for a DCUC figure at retail is much worse than $20 for the larger and more exclusive MOTUC figures).
But despite all those issues, MOTUC still wins out as my favorite line. Like the 1980s originals, the figures are an archetypal example of everything action figures should be. They’re both great toys and great collectibles.
If I were giving an award for best figure, this would definitely go to Masterpiece Grimlock. Like his Masterpiece brethren, he’s a marvel of toy engineering and an amazing update of one of my favorite toys of all time. But the fact is, I just don’t love Transformers the way I did when I was a kid. I love MP Grimlock, but to call it my favorite of the year would be disingenuous. (Of course, if I ever become obsessed with Transformers again, it’s entirely possible he’ll become my favorite toy once more.)
So this year’s award for Favorite Figure goes to Skeletor. Always one of my favorite figures in any form, Skeletor’s MOTUC update finally gave him the ball jointed head and hinged knees, elbows and ankles he so richly deserved. Of all my MOTUC figures, this is the one I pull off the shelf every day or two.
I didn’t get the DCUC Wonder Twins set, otherwise that would probably be the winner here. Everything else I reviewed came in pretty standard packaging, so I guess, for the lack of a better option, Masters of the Universe Classics wins this one too.
I do think it was wise of Mattel to go with the style of the packaging for the vintage MOTU vehicles and playsets–all gray-green stone and yellow parchment–than the red volcano blast of the single figures, which they’d already recycled for the 200X incarnation. With MOTUC, Mattel seems to understand that it’s better not to just shoot for the most obvious nostalgic references to the original line, but to evoke the better parts of it, such as the vehicle/playset box art and the Earl Norem/William George posters.
Again, this one was a bit hard to choose; unlike last year, no particular review stood out, either in the writing or its popularity. But there was one review that I felt was thorough and informative, as well as allowing me to wax a bit about my childhood love of toys: my review of Masterpiece Grimlock.
I wasn’t nearly as into forums this year as I have been in previous years, particularly in the second half of 2009. By default the winner this year is He-Man.org, but even there I’ve only posted a handful of times this year. (OK, maybe two handfuls.)
This year’s prize goes to ItsAllTrue.net. While I’ll admit that I slacked off a bit, particularly in the second half of last year, NoisyDvL5 has picked up the pace, especially on DCUC. With frequent news updates, opinion pieces, and reviews, 2009’s IATN looked a lot like 2008’s PGPoA.
Of course, PGPoA may be evolving a bit. But more on that later.
Favorite Site Tweak
No question, my favorite change to the website this year was the addition of all the great art by Poester and new PGPoA art director MechaShiva. That great Mattycollector Calendar graphic on the side is only the latest example of his clever work.
I don’t think any pic made as much of an impression on my this year as this one. Seriously, the look in G.I. Joe’s eyes is priceless. Or possibly criminal.
Most and Least Favorite Company
It wins Most because it produces my favorite toy lines, particularly DCUC and MOTUC. They’re also willing to take a few risks on occasion, such as the early days of MOTUC and the upcoming Battle Cat. And of course, they employ the Four Horsemen, my favorite sculptors.
On the other hand, they made some brain-melting bad moves in 2009. Two big ones stand out: the decision to limit Gleek to SDCC and the decision to print a mere 1,000 copies of the MOTU Art Book (allegedly for some sort of charity-related tax reasons, but this was never adequately explained). Both moves did little other than anger their fan base and leave lingering resentment that has yet to abate. But more than that, I have absolutely no confidence they learned a single thing from these PR cluster****s, and I’m certain history will be repeated at this year’s SDCC in some way or another.
And that’s not even getting into the constant Mattycollector.com screw-ups. Again, I love that I own MOTUC Skeletor and DCUC Joker, and that I’m getting a gigantic Battle Cat in a few months, but damn, Mattel’s marketing department, PR department and product departments need to get on the same damned page–and preferably one that doesn’t end up screwing over collectors in some way or another.
Least Favorite Figure
Unlike the Tom Brady Probot from last year’s awards, there wasn’t any particular figure I loathed this year. But there’s no question there were some disappointments, especially in DCUC, and of them all I disliked Kid Flash the most. Undersized and overly toyish-looking, KF was an underwhelming example of an otherwise great line.
And now the one you’ve all been waiting for: the Poester Award for Toy of the Year! Voted on by you, beloved Poesters, this is the figure a majority of you (who participated in the poll) believed to be the best action figure of those I reviewed in 2009.
This was a highly-contested award, and there was a mere two votes between the winner and the third runner-up, He-Man. He-Man receives 11 votes, while the second and third runners up, Scareglow and Masterpiece Grimlock, tied at 12 votes apiece, and the winner received 13 votes. The remaining 77 votes were divided among 31 other figures.
But the big winner of the 2009 Poester Award, with his lucky 13 votes, is none other than DCUC Joker!