Poe Plays Favorites 2008

Tired of all those “Best of” blog posts that purport to survey the entire annual output of our hobby and then objectively single out a few for praise, when really the writers are probably just picking the stuff they liked? Fie on such pretense, I say!

Welcome to Poe Plays Favorites 2008 (PPF08), in which I list my favorite items of the year. Do not consider these awards or even miniature reviews–they’re just my favorites.*

*In some cases, I just added the word “Favorite” to the title when really favoritism has nothing to do with the category at all.

Favorite Action Figure Line


How much do I love DC Universe Classics? Two years ago, I wasn’t even reading DC comics. Now I have shelves full of them.  I think DCUC has usurped Marvel Legends as the premiere 6″ superhero line, as evinced by the complaints of those who can’t find them. The Four Horsemen’s always-superb sculpting and style, the diverse character selection, and the excellent Collect and Connect figures have made DCUC one of my favorite action figure lines of all time.

Yes, Mattel has had continuing quality control and distribution problems on this line, but as I’ve written often, I have not encountered nearly as many problems as others appear to have. Out of my 50+ DCSH/DCUC figures, I’ve had maybe two instances where a figure had to be replaced. And with the exception of the Walmart wave (which never really showed up anywhere in my state), I didn’t have too much trouble getting them thanks to online retailers.

Runners-up: Masters of the Universe Classics, Mattel Movie Masters, NECA TMNT

Favorite Action Figure

deathstroke1If you asked me what the “best” action figure of 2008 was, I’d probably have to go with NECA’s Ninja Turtles. In terms of design, sculpting, engineering, and paint application, those figures were incredibly well made.

But as any of you who read this site over the last year can probably guess, Deathstroke was my favorite figure of 2008. His sculpt is of course excellent, his articulation great, but it was his accessories (and the ability to holster them all) that made me take photo after photo of him. He’s easily one of the most photogenic characters I’ve ever owned.

Favorite Packaging

I don’t have much use for action figure packaging, since it’s just one more thing between me and the toy. But occasionally even I have to stop and admire a work of art, and that’s what fans got with Mattel’s incredible box for the King Grayskull SDCC exclusive. Not only did it unfold into a cardboard Castle Grayskull, not only did it have a working jawbridge and flickering lights, but it even had a sound bite of the King saying, “I have the power!” Bravo, Mattel.

Favorite Review (of mine)

Turtle Power!

Writing reviews can get a little dull. It starts to feel like a job sometimes, particularly if I’m not very enthused about the subject. That ennui is what led me to try a variety of review styles this past year, from the “intereviews” to the reviews where I just write a few random paragraphs. In the end, though, I think the MWC-style reviews with categories and a final “overall” tally worked the best, and that’s the format I’m going to stick with moving forward.

My favorite review of 2008 was the aforementioned NECA TMNT. Not only did I enjoy writing it and taking the photos, but I also managed to publish it before any other high-profile review websites, which didn’t hurt my site traffic.

Favorite Forum

I visit a number of action figure forums every day, so this is a tough one to call. But I’m going to give the coveted (or what might be coveted if anyone knew it existed) Poe’s Favorite to The Fwoosh. I find the posters there are mostly civil, pertinent news is posted quickly and frequently, and the mods work hard to keep everything running smoothly, from the discussion forums to the trade threads.

Favorite Blog

Again, this is a hard one to call, since many of the blogs I visit are run by people I feel privileged to call friends. So hopefully I’m not alienating anyone when I name Rob Bricken’s Topless Robot as my favorite blog of 2008. TR came on the scene just over a year ago (to the day, actually). With its substantial helpings of geek news, humor, and terrible, terrible fan fiction, TR became one of my must-visit blogs. What’s more, Rob even took me under his leathery, bat-like wing and let me write a few Daily Lists. Feel free to accuse me of playing favorites here, because, well, yeah–that’s the idea.

Favorite Site Tweak

My long-suffering webmaster, OB1, has had the patience of a saint in dealing with my endless ideas for “improving” this site. But he was always willing to speak up when he thought something was a stupid idea, too–thanks for saving me from myself, Obe!

That said, a few of the changes we made did work out quite well. I think my favorite was the addition of the Recent Popular Posts in the sidebar, which made it much easier for readers to go straight to whatever bizarre argument they were in the middle of without having to scroll through multiple posts.

Favorite Pic of the Day

Yet another tough one, but I had to go with this eerie, atmospheric piece by Sasamaster. There’s an elegiac lyricism in this photo that gives it a power beyond the usual Pic of the Day.

Favorite Random Post that Generated Tons of Traffic

“20 Things I Learned While Watching Spider-man 3” was posted on FARK and then added to StumbleUpon, resulting in an insane number of hits to the site in late spring. I now fully comprehend the power of the Snarky Geek List.

Least Favorite Annoying Collector Complaint

There was a point a few months ago where I might very well have punched a collector in the face if I’d heard him bitching about DC Universe Classics’ distribution in person.

For a while, I was the guy over on RTM’s Toy Buzz who would post “Ouch! – dead horse” after every post complaining about DCUC’s distribution. Eventually even doing that became like flogging a dead horse and I just curtailed my visits. I’m not denying the distribution issues are a legitimate problem, but the mean-spirited ranting has gotten really old.

Mattel seems to have somewhat mollified collectors by getting waves 3, 4, 6 and now 2.5 out in decent numbers, but they burned a lot of goodwill with the Walmart wave mess.

Least Favorite Figure

Tom Brady Pro-Bot. Ugh.


MOTUC Faker and Stratos advance reviews (via Fwoosh)


Pic of the Day


  1. The Army Man shot gave my dad all kinds of nostalgia story fuel AND now he has PLANS for the Fourth of July involving 50 bucks worth of Army men and another 50 in fireworks. I'm scared…

  2. jimm

    LoL on that one. Default bonehead move theme at work from now on!

  3. Hah… I nearly fell out of my chair. I needed to have a good laugh!!!

  4. I think you changed my life for the better with that link.

  5. Poe

    I'm also fond of the muted-trumpet variant, "Waahnt waahnt wahhnt waaaaaaahhhhhhh."

    BTW, have you seen this?

  6. Yes, it is an awesome sound effect that brings enjoyment. I see your playing style is slightly different than mine, being you have a t in the first note. I like the variation.

  7. Poe

    @MattK: The only problem I have with The Fwoosh is my spiteful envy over all the review samples you guys get. 😉

    @Paul: "Waahnt waah" is actually a standard part of my daily vocabulary…just ask Dr. Mrs. Ghostal. It's amazing how often it gets a laugh. I think I picked up the habit from an old MST3K episode.

  8. "@Paul: If I’d given it a little more thought, I’m sure I could have come up with something for Toy Bender to be my favorite of. Maybe “Favorite Site that Makes Me Poop My Pants with its Awesomeness”?"

    That would be cool, but seriously I was looking for an excuse to play the sad trumpet. I love that thing.

    And damn judging by the following you're building, I may have to hand the crown of "Best toy blog EVAAAAR" over to you by the end of this year. *Waaaaah wahhhhhh*

    God that thing is awesome.

  9. Matthew K

    Agreed PrfktTear above. PGPOA has become a daily stop for me this past year.

    I fortunately have not had the 'widespread' DCUC QC problems either. Two broken figures out of all of the ones I have bought and I have bought multiples of each figure released in this line.

    Nice to see a little fwoosh love, too. I swear every time I read something about fwoosh on another site it's usually about what giant jerks we are. I don't actually feel like I'm a giant jerk. Maybe a medium sized jerk, but not a giant jerk.

  10. I don't know if its just me, but it seems like Hasbro switched gears from Classics to Universe. Instead of making updated Transformers toys giving nods to the originals, but still coming up with great new molds, they decided to just remake it. Maybe I'm way off here, but the new figures just seem like cheap knock offs, thats all.

  11. Poe

    @Paul: If I'd given it a little more thought, I'm sure I could have come up with something for Toy Bender to be my favorite of. Maybe "Favorite Site that Makes Me Poop My Pants with its Awesomeness"?

    @Obe: I forgot about the Odds 'n Ends coding. That might actually be my favorite, since I wasn't even sure that was possible.

    Also, the Leonardo pic was a very close second for me. It was almost a toss-up, really.

    @PT: I agree that Transformers Classics has been a bit of a let-down. I think the Masterpiece line is really what fills the same niche as G.I. Joe: TFAC and MOTU Classics.

    As for my #2 DCUC figure…that's tough, but right now I'd probably give it to classic Aquaman. Hawkman looks like he's going to make a run for my favorite figure of the year, though.

    On a side note, I opened the long-haired Aquaman I had last night and wouldn't you know it, his biceps were switched. A little boiling and popping later he was fine, but we can add another one to the list. But I'll take an easily-fixed issue like that over, say, two left feet any day.

  12. I think you've hit just about every nail on the head here. I know POA started in 2007, but in 2008 it became the first place I checked every morning, and usually from here I can find out whatever else is actually worth checking out.

    2008 was definitely the year of DCUC. Before, I never collected any DC figures. I had a Zipline Batman and that was it. Its been great getting some of the iconic characters such as Batman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, and learning about ones I'd never heard of like Captain Atom, Firestorm and Despero. My favorite DCUC figure (besides the obvious Deathstroke) has got to be Batman Beyond. I've fiddled with him more then any of the others. I also was really excited to get the BAF Solomon Grundy.

    Like Poe, I have yet to experience any of these "endemic" problems with QC. I have every figure from Series 1-4, and for the most part they're all fine. No limb breakage or misplaced biceps or anything. It was just sad that the Walmart wave never made to across state borders.

    I also have to hand it to NECA's TMNT. Of course would you expect anything less than excellent from the Horsemen? I was just playing with Leo posing him for some photos the other day, and he's a LOT of fun.

    Transformers Animated was also a big part of my colleting this year. They're great updates of the '80s show and the toys are fun to play with. I am really disappointed with the Universe Classics 2.0. There were a few gems like Onslaught and Ironhide, but the rest left a lot to be desired. I don't think they were nearly as good as the first wave of Classics.

    I know King Greyskull came out in 2008, but in my mind MOTUC is a 2009 line. The year was mostly building up the anticipation for the release of He-Man and Beastman. I also want to give huge props to Mattel for creating MattyCollector.com, and for creating a Facebook page. They seem to be willing to listen to the feedback and hopefully improve as they move on.

    As far as this site goes, I'm a big fan of both the recent popular posts and recent comments.

  13. OB1

    I think my favorite tweak turned out to be the smaller left navigation images. I originally hated the thought of shrinking down Red Kryptonite's awesome images, but the compromise I worked out came out well IMHO. Plus, clicking on them features the full version at the top of the page that loads.

    I suppose second would be the new ODD/END bullets, just because I know that saves you some effort with some simple coding on my part.

    Now if more readers set up Gravatars, that would climb the ranks…

    I will put my vote in for Leonardo drawing his sword as my favorite of the year, but the one above is a close second.

  14. Seriously I'm the only comment on this one so far? This is is a great post! Stop arguing about He-Mans and DC figures, people and let's celebrate what we liked:

    Personally my favorites of the year included the new Falcon, and a ton of G.I. Joe figures.

  15. *wahhhh wahhh* sad trumpet noise for me!

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