While the title uses a rather generic 'plastic" title, we are basically talking about vinyl and resin figures under what is probably our biggest award category. It was difficult to select only ten pieces, and while I'm sure not everyone will agree with all of these picks...here they are.
10. Tofu the Vegan Zombie (Applehead Factory) Even though we were a little hesitant about this little zombie with the soy bean brain at first, the character and the figure are lots of fun. Now, if he could just stand without the base.
9. Bumrush (Dynomight NYC & ESC-Toy) He has man boobs and is in his skivvies...of course he'd wear a bag over his head. The crazy, unique look of the face drawn on that bag is what we love.
8. Immigrant Billy (Jure Gavran) Is this figure trying to make people aware of racial stereotypes or is it making fun? We're not sure, but the vinyl figure has a hollow stomach for storage and a killer design.
7. BLOC28 Mickey Mouse (Span of Sunset x Disney) Over the years, we've seen a ton of vinyl Mickey Mouse figures. But this blocky figure gives a stylized look to the cartoon icon. Plus, it comes packaged with a very cool baseball hat.
6. Night Gamer (Plaseebo) This rotocast vinyl from designer Bob Conge has a motion activated LED inside of it. So you shake, and watch for the trippy colors. Oh...and the little alien brainsucker is eerily cute.
5. Jumping Brain (Emilio Garcia) Emilio Garcia's resin figure is equally apprecietd by aspiring neurosurgeons as well as toy collectors. And it was our choice for the best sculpted figure.
4. Killa Instinct (BIC Plastics) This figure brought the designer toy movement back to its urban vinyl days. The spray paint can that's exploding out of the piece's back epitomizes that look.
3. Tricycle Terror (Scott Tolleson) This resin figure, based on Scott Tolleson's original artwork, is one of our favorite resin pieces...ever. And with news of more characters in the line, we're giddy.
2. Muraida Radioactive Edition (ESC-Toy) Urban vinyl meets kaiju in this mashup of styles. Erick Scarecrow's melting spraypaint can monster makes us long for the days of silly string.
* WINNER* 1. Zog (Strangekiss) David Lanham's marshmallow eating creature might look simple at first. But we still can't put down this this monster of a rotocast vinyl piece.
In one of our two big award categories, we'll be selecting the top ten plush figures of 2008. How do we pick these? Multiple characters from the same line are eligible. But we're really looking for a soft, cute and unique plush.
10. gini-gini (DreaminGirl) You don't need to feed or care for this giant white guinea pig. Heck, you could use it as a pillow. It's big enough for that.
9. Snow Attack Mousey Micci (ESC-Toy) Erick Scarecrow brought back his popular Mousey Micci figures in a slightly smaller size. The above, one of the new colorways, used a more sweatshirt-like fabric.
8. Raul Softie (Fuzzy Balls Apparel) The first plush from Fuzzy Balls and Roy Wasson Valle gives you the handmade plush look...probably because they all are handmade. The screenprinted stripes make this one unique plush.
7. KonjoinedKitty (Michael Schupbach and ESC-Toy) The KonjoinedKitty plush brought the yin-yang, good-evil thing to a siamese cat (not a siamese breed...siamese twins). These cute characters make the perfect pillow.
6. FluffyYukYuk (OhNo!Doom) The followup to FluffyBadBad gave us a slightly less violent chomp with that newly designed jaw. But it was just as cuddly...actually...even more.
5. Uncle (Dreamlets) The Uncle character is our favorite of the Dreamlets line. They're big, soft and simple. And who doesn't love those teeth?
4. Babo's Bird (Uglydolls) Well, he's a favorite of Sasha Obama...and he's our favorite Uglydoll of 2008. The bright blue color and the tiny little wings make him a draw for kids and collectors alike.
3. Dookie-Poo (Chaotic Unicorn and ESC-Toy) 2008 will be remembered for introducing us to the Dookie-Poo plush and vinyl lines. And if the name wasn't funny enough, you'll love this soft little plush with the sewn-in butt.
2. TeeHee (Anna Chambers) The Doolie Box line was one of our favorite new plush lines of '08. They're huggable, stackable and just really well produced. Why don't you have one of these yet?
*WINNER*1. Yeti (Curster and ESC-Toy) Curster's Yeti figures brought something new and intriguing to plush - solid articulation. You add in that amazingly soft fur and the fact that it can stand (and hang out) with your vinyl figures...and you'll understand why we chose this guy as our Plush of the Year.
When it comes to choosing what makes up a great toy line, it has to have multiple - and for the most part, solid - figure releases. It can be vinyl, resin, plush, wood...whatever! We've gone ahead and chosen our five favorite toy lines of the past year.
5. Mousey Micci 8" Line (ESC-Toy) The original Mousey Micci line was great, but then Erick Scarecrow went and shrunk them down and added some new colors. What's not to love about this plush line?
4. Puff Dogs (Rocket USA) Gus Fink's spherical pups came in several sizes and plenty of colors. Man's best friend has never been so cute and soft.
3. Mimobots (Mimoco) The one and only designer toy USB drive gained national attention with their Star Wars line. But that didn't mean they got away from their designer toy roots, as we saw a steady stream of great artists lend their talents to the line.
2. Star Wars 1:6 Scale (Sideshow) Sideshow listened to collectors and began releasing many of the ancillary characters from all six of the Star Wars films. Figures like Commander Praji and the Rebel Fleet Trooper are what make this line great.
*WINNER* 1. Uglydoll Kaiju (Uglydolls) You take some of the most popular designer plush characters and turn them into rotocast vinyl kaiju creatures...and then you make them in Japan with the highest quality. That will make for a successful line.
Choosing five top artists of the past year is always a difficult task. I like to look at the entire year's worth of work and choose those who have had a strong year...from January to December. So, here are our picks. And if you've ever wondered what these artists looked like, we found some photos to better familiarize yourself with them.
*WINNER* 1. Frank Kozik As with most years, Kozik released a ton of great figures in his own, unique style. Some of our favorites? The Beethoven Bust, Ride 'Em Bob, Greyscale Smokey, Potamus, Salari Ika, Zog
The same rules that applied to our Best Fully Poseable Male Figure award hold true for the Female figure award...except that these are lady figures (not men). So we have our top five picks, ironically, all from the same company. A clean sweep!
5. Elizabeth Swann Abandoned Bride (Tonner) The outfit alone deserves some sort of award. While this version of The Pirates of the Caribbean star isn't the most recognizable, it shows all around Tonner quality.
4. Black Canary Blonde Bombshell (Tonner) While this is not the regular DC Stars version of Black Canary, the Women of Power line gave this superhero a little glamor and fashion.
3. Lara Croft (Tonner) Tonner surprised collectors with the announcement of their Lara Croft Tomb Raider license. It gave them one of the largest Lara Croft figures and a new TCF body sculpt.
2. High Seas Elizabeth Swann (Tonner) This version of Keira Knightley's Pirates of the Caribbean character is more in line with the theme of the film...she's in pirate garb. But it continues the POTC hot streak.
*WINNER*1. Elvira (Tonner) A combination of the iconic beehive hairdo, the perfect outfit, and great paintwork on the makeup make the Elvira TCF our favorite of the past year. It was a surprise release (Tonner's Halloween Convention) and probably will be a surprise choice.
In an attempt to include 1:6 scale figures as well as larger figures in one category, we've created the "fully poseable" category. These figures have multiple points of articulation, usually include real cloth outfits and often have various accessories. We've also split these into male and female figures, and we'll take a look at the five best male figures first.
5. Ki-Adi-Mundi (Sideshow) While the Jedi doesn't include a ton of accessories, the outfit is of top quality and the head sculpt and paintwork does a great job recreating the onscreen look.
4. Frodo Baggins (Sideshow and Hot Toys) With The Lord of the Rings collectibles losing steam (5 years after the last film release), Sideshow was able to revive their LOTR line with the Frodo and Sam 1:6 scale figures. Both included a ton of accessories, but we like Frodo's sculpt slightly better.
3. Will Turner TCF (Tonner) Tonner's Pirates of the Caribbean brought us the amazingly produced Jack Sparrow TCF (2007 Winner). This year, they released Orlando Bloom as Will Turner. While the film character isn't as fun as Sparrow, Tonner did an equally good job producing this figure.
2. Indiana Jones Raiders of the Lost Ark (Sideshow) While you might have read about issues with the Prometheus body, there's one thing about the 1:6 Indiana Jones that can't be overlooked...it just looks amazing. The sculpt is near perfect Harrison Ford. And it comes packaged with a ton of accessories.
*WINNER* 1. Rebel Fleet Trooper (Sideshow) Sideshow's 1:6 scale Star Wars line is a favorite of collectors, and our favorite figure in the line was the Rebel Fleet Trooper. You probably only saw this guy for a total of 30 seconds in Star Wars: A New Hope, but it's the perfect face sculpt and outfit for this ancillary character.
Customizing is a skill and an art. It's one thing to be able to paint an amazing piece of artwork, but it's a completely different ballgame when you attempt to create that same artwork on an already existing vinyl figure. We've chosen our top five custom artists of the past year.
5. Erick Scarecrow While he's thought of as an artist of original artwork, Scarecrow also does some amazing custom pieces for various shows and events.
4. Attaboy Another artist primarily known for his original pieces and artwork, Attaboy has released a number of custom pieces using his unique style.
3. Joe Grady Grady has shown off his custom work in a number of shows this past year, but the above pictured Skeletor MAD*L might be our favorite custom of 2008.
2. NVC Crew A best custom artist list wouldn't be complete without mentioning Bao and Spive - the NVC Crew. This past year had them release a few original handmade figures, but that didn't mean they'd let up on those killer customs.
*WINNER* 1. Leecifer The artist otherwise known as Leecifer was responsible for bringing a washed and weathered look that you might see on print to vinyl figures. These are things of besuty that must be seen firsthand to truly appreciate them.
What's the difference between a regular toy line and a mini line? Well, other than the obvious answer - the height - you can buy a whole bunch of these for the price of one regular vinyl figure. So, here are our top five picks for the best mini line featuring figures under 4" in height.
5. Alien vs. Predator Cosbaby (Hot Toys) Out of all of the Cosbaby series that were released this past year, the AVP was our favorite. The Predator figures include a number of accessories, which doesn't happen often in mini lines.
4. Boogily Heads Series 3 (Rocket USA) The 3rd series of Gus Fink's Boogily Heads brought their strongest assortment of characters to date. A pumpkin head and a robot? Gotta love 'em!
3. Galaxy Bunch [Virus Series] (Michael Kwong) This line of 9 figures with various sculpts was one of the under the radar releases on the past year. It's a strong lineup of fun, different characters.
2. Baby Treesons (Crazy Label) The original Treeson was one of the most popular - and raved about - vinyl figures of 2006. This past year saw Crazy Label release 4 new mini characters in 4 different colors. One of the cutest lines of '08.
*WINNER* 1. Glyos System Series (Onell Designs) Onell Designs' Glyos System Series is still one of our favorite lines...several years after being introduced to them. They continue to release new and exciting colorways as well as adding new head sculpts to the lineup.
A great sculpting job can turn an ordinary figure into something great. Likewise, a bad sculpting job can just ruin a character that had a ton of promise. We'd like to recognize the top five sculpting jobs of the past year. These are five intricate or ground breaking sculpts that shouldn't be overlooked.
5. Zombie Series 1 (October Toys) Since this mini line isn't painted, it's easy to overlook the sculpting work here. But the closer you look at them, the more you can appreciate the intricate details of these tiny pieces.
4. Notorious B.I.G. NYCC Exclusive (Mezco) Mezco did an amazing job recreating the facial sculpt on the figure. But it's the wrinkles and pock marks on the arms that show that the company wasn't skimping on this sculpt.
3. Monster Burp (Crazy Label) How will that giant clear plastic burp not make this figure tip over? Well, we're not sure how they did it...but we like it.
2. Muraida (ESC-Toy) The Radioactive Green version of Erick Scarecrow's Murada figure is sculpted as a dripping/exploded paint can. There is a ton of sculpted texture on this vinyl piece.
*WINNER* 1. Jumping Brain (Emilio Garcia) This handmade project features an intricate sculpt that not only appears to be a lesson in anatomy, but is highly detailed and an obvious labor of love for the artist.