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2009 Plastic and Plushies: Vinyl Toy of the Year

We save the biggest category for last. It's always difficult narrowing down all of our reviews for the best vinyl toy of the year. But I think these ten figures were the strongest of the past year. You disagree? Let us know about your favorites.

vinyl pierce

#10 - Pierce and Dogboy by Carnival Cartoons
Yeah...we might be a little biased on this pick (since the Plastic and Plush Exclusive Pierce and Dogboy are still available through our shop...wink, wink). Nonetheless, the two figure pack from designer Jared Deal is a perfect addition to the rest of the Carney family.

vinyl titus

#9 - Secret Agent Titus (IWG Movie Icons) by Rocket World
Patrick Ma released a trio of IWG characters - in all new sculpts - featuring poses and weapons from iconic action hero films. Titus, sporting his silenced Walther PPK, is reminiscent of the Timothy Dalton version of James Bond.

vinyl medusa

#8 - Medusa - Black Mamba by ESC-Toy
Straight from Greek mythology to vinyl, Erick Scarecrow released his version of the evil Gorgon sister. While she definitely won't turn you to stone, the snaked-up vinyl figure is definitely the most stylish Medusa you'll ever see. And as with a majority of ESC's all about the shoes.

vinyl drazoran

#7 - Drazoran by Max Toy Company
Mark Nagata went old school with this original Max Toy Co. kaiju. Made in Japan, the vinyl piece is a great example of why Japanese vinyl is superior to all others. Fans of Godzilla and the like will obviously be impressed.

vinyl boris

#6 - Boris by U1 Toy Arts
We already mentioned the first toy from artist Nathan Hamill in our sculpting roundup. The rather small (2.5" tall) piece holds true to its source material. A purple raccoon? Yeah, it's probably the best figure under 3" that we've seen this year.

vinyl pugzee

#5 - Pugzee (Street Version) by InuArt
The Street Version of the cigar-smoking, kneecap-bashing pug was our favorite of the three that were released. Dave Cortes, known for sculpting other people's characters, had the chance to sculpt his own. And Pugzee, with his bevy of accessories, is just a fun character.

vinyl up

#4 - Carl (UP) by Hot Toys
Hot Toys not only produces amazing 1/6 scale figures, but they've shown that they're adept at the rotocast vinyl game. With the Disney/Pixar license, they went crazy on this movie likeness of the film's main character - Carl. And with UP being such a popular movie, it only makes sense that this well-produced vinyl should be equally popular.

vinyl armodoc

#3 - Armodoc by Onell Design
Onell continued to release their traditional PVC plastic figures...but the decided to experiment and expand the Glyos line by adding the rotocast vinyl Armodoc. And if you picked up one of the first few, you were treated to a PVC figure tucked away inside. Here's hoping that they continue with the rotocast figures.

vinyl yhwh

#2 - YHWH by Necessaries Toy Foundation
The day finally of Mark Ryden saw a vinyl toy, based on his artwork, released to the masses. Ryden teamed up with NTF, who we had been sorely missing, to create the monster YHWH figure. While we heard mixed reviews of the piece, we had nothing for love for YHWH. I's Mark Ryden!

vinyl o no sushi

**WINNER** #1 - O-No Sushi by DYZPlastic
The first time we saw Andrew Bell's bento box full of vinyl goodness, it was fairly apparent that we were looking at a potential toy of the year winner. Was it the innovative packaging? Or maybe that the sculptor was able to pull off the exact look of Bell's Never Look Back print? Could it be that you get a little creature, bowl of soup and piece of sushi...all for under $25? Umm...all of the above.

2009 Plastic and Plushies: Plush of the Year

2009 was another strong year for plush releases. Whether you like to display them, cuddle with them or throw them at people...there was a plush dropped over the past year that will catch your eyes. Right here, we're taking a look at our ten favorite plushies of the past year.

plush stepper

#10 - Stepper (Bunk Bots) by Huge Factory
Jason Hilbourne decided to create a line of plush robots because his kids were sleeping next to their hard plastic robot toys. From that, the Bunk Bots were born. Our favorite of the line is Stepper, but each character is slightly different: shade of grey, eye pattern and hands.

plush haminal

#9 - Canned Haminal by Crystal Chesney Thompson
Already mentioned in our coverage of best packaging, the actual plush inside of that Spam-like container is also pretty darn cute. The pink plush is a combination of a hamster and canned ham...but not as tasty. Mmm...grilled hamster.

plush lion

#8 - Lion (Lubies) by RocketUSA
One of the best representatives of RocketUSA's Lubies line has to be the Lion. (I believe that's an example of alliteration) The softball style plush is soft and cuddly - perfect if you're 2 years old...or 82.

plush rue

#7 - Rue by Worry Woo Monsters
Andi Green's characters made the transition from her watercolor-styled books to 3-dimensional plush. Our favorite of the line is Rue. What, with a big ol' nose, stylin' hairstyle and soft angelic wings...wouldn't it be yours?

plush apple

#6 - Happy Green Apple (Fresh Fruit) by Anna Chambers
Crisp and delicious, this plush apple (is it a Granny Smith?) ended up slightly ahead of its red variant. The fleece material put it over the top. And...I think I just realized that I'm hungry.

plush uppy

#5 - Uppy (Uglydolls) by Pretty Ugly
Our favorite Uglydoll of 2009 had to be the bright pink Uppy. From David Horvath and Sun-Min Kim, the appeal starts with the color combination...but ends with those winged ears.

plush titus

#4 - Titus by Rocket World
Fans of the Insurgents Wilderness Gruppo finally got what they've been hoping for - a production plush piece. Probably the most popular - and the original - IWG character, the plush Titus held to his butt-kicking roots. Yep...that's a human skull.

plush greenees

#3 - Henry - Switch by The GreeNees
The family produced line of eco-friendly plushies are made using organic terri-cloth. Striving to get kids to make energy conservation a part of their daily lives, not only are they cute - but they have a message. Our favorite character is Henry, aka Switch, who helps promote solar power.

plush gooberry

#2 - Gooberry by Attaboy
We first saw Attaboy's Gooberry plush when it was still in development by Rock America (back in 2005). But when we got our hands on the interactive plush, we were obviously impressed. Pull the string - listen to the Gooberry squeak - and feel it shake.

plush embri

**WINNER** #1 - Embri by Monster Workshop
The handmade Embri, from Monster Workshop, features a wire armature inside of its plush body. The soft, furry exterior of the little monster makes it easy to cuddle...but the armature lets you pose the plush in various stances. And we love a plush that you can display next to the rest of your toys.

2009 Plastic and Plushies: Best Articulated Figure

So what exactly qualifies as a highly articulated figure? Well, they usually have multiple points of articulation (over 20) and are often 1/6  scale or - in the case of the TCF line - larger. We've put together our top ten list of favorite (reviewed) articulated figures of the year past.

artic smart

#10 - Maxwell Smart by Tonner Doll Company
It was Steve Carell's character in The 40 Year Old Virgin that collected all sorts of articulated figures. So it's only fitting that the actor gets his own authorized likeness. The figure is based on the Get Smart movie license...but you could easily turn him into Michael Scott.

artic vader

#9 - Darth Vader by Sideshow Collectibles
Sideshow continued releasing figures from their Star Wars license, and collectors were happy to finally get their hands on the evil Vader. The hulking 1/6 scale piece is bound to be the centerpiece of any Star Wars collector's display - unless you have a lifesize slave Leia.

artic campbell

#8 - Bruce Campbell by Dark Horse
My Name Is Bruce might just be the worst film I've seen over the past year, but I'm pretty sure that's what they were shooting for. Dark Horse created an authorized likeness of the star - Bruce Campbell - who actually plays himself (or a version thereof) in the film. And you get a bunch of movie-related accessories.

artic supergirl

#7 - Supergirl Deluxe by Tonner Doll Company
Tonner re-released several of their popular female super heroes in a Deluxe line. Aside from  being a lot shinier and a slightly bigger build than the original TCFs - the deluxe versions just have a higher quality feel to them.

artic snake

#6 - Snake Eyes by Sideshow Collectibles
If you were a kid in the 80's (the 1980's, that is), you probably remember a ninja/commando named Snake Eyes. That is, if you were a G.I. Joe fan. Well, Hasbro and Sideshow came together to release a high-quality 1/6 scale G.I. Joe line...and the Snake Eyes figure shows you just how crazy they went with the accessories.

artic yoshi

#5 - Yoshi the Woodling Faerie by Charles Creature Cabinet
It's hard not to be impressed by Charles Stephen's line of handmade ball-joint figures. And while Yoshi only has 16 points of articulation, we'll make an exception to put the resin figure into this category.

artic piggy

#4 - First Mate Piggy by Tonner Doll Company
If you remember The Muppet Show, then you probably also remember the Pigs in Space skit. And if you recall Pigs in Space, there's a good chance you remember First Mate Piggy. This was a easily our choice for best character from Tonner's Miss Piggy line.

artic cobra

#3 - Cobra Trooper by Sideshow Collectibles
The second figure in our top 10 - from Sideshow's G.I. Joe line - is the lonely and overlooked Cobra foot soldier. A great example of how Sideshow has stepped up their game with this line, the Cobra Trooper sports an impressive outfit (and tons of accessories).

artic rogers

#2 - Buck Rogers by Go Hero
The first 1/6 scale figure from Go Hero ended up being better than expected (and we had fairly high expectations). Yeah, there was a great outfit with a bunch of accessories, die-cast parts, a real glass helmet, etc. But the new figure body with a built-in MP3 player is our favorite part. You can listen to episodes of the original Buck Rogers radio show, record your own, or upload whatever you like.

artic vito

**WINNER** #1 - Don Vito Corleone by Hot Toys
Already the winner of best sculpt and a runner up in the packaging category, the Don Vito Corleone was an obvious favorite from 2009. This figure from The Godfather included an entire set of film accurate accessories. The paint and sculpt work on the figure is quite possibly the best we've ever seen. Yeah...he even has liver spots on his hands.

2009 Plastic and Plushies: Artist of the Year

There are so many talented artists currently creating, designing, and producing designer toys that it's difficult to whittle them down to only five. So we're looking at five artists that made a big impact in 2009.

artists doughty

#5 - Matt Doughty (Onell Design)
Some folks might not know who the man behind Onell Design and the Glyos figures is. Doughty spearheads the company that released a ton of new products in 2009. And if you've ever seen his creations using the Glyos figure parts - you'll wonder how he did it.

artists bwana

#4 - Bwana Spoons (Grass Hut)
Not only did Bwana release original figures and paintings, but he teamed up with David Horvath to customize vinyl Uglydolls. I was so impressed that I had to go ahead and sign up for Bwana's SARS subscription club.

artists scarecrow bell

#3 - Erick Scarecrow (ESC-Toy)
2009 saw the man (pictured on the left) behind ESC-Toy not only release vinyl figures...but he focused a lot of his time producing a number of small run, handmade resin figures. And I think this handmade stuff have been the most impressive ESC-Toy products to date.

#2 - Andrew Bell (Dead Zebra)
Bell (pictured to the right of Scarecrow) released possibly the most sought after vinyl toy of 2009. The creater of O-No Sushi not only released his own figure, but his designs were included in the BIC Buddy and Dunny lines. There was the Kidreaper, prints, customs...

artists lanham

**WINNER** #1 - David Lanham (Strangekiss)
David had a big year, releasing his Bill the Yeti figure. Ollie the Twitterific Bird sort of fell on the edge of 2010...and we're looking forward to the release of Fetch (Pete and Barnaby) and Maxswell. He also designed skins for Infectious, original prints and levels for one of the most popular iPhone games (Ramp Champ) of the year.

2009 Plastic and Plushies: Best Toy Line

We previously looked at our favorite blind box series, but what about all of the other vinyl, articulated and plush lines? In a mishmash of various styles and materials, we'll take a look at our five favorite lines from the past year. What makes up a "toy line"? It can't be a one-off figure...that's about it.

line icons

#5 - IWG Movie Icon Series by Rocket World
Rocket World re-imagined their three most popular Insurgents Wilderness Gruppo characters (Titus, Affonso and Hannibal) from various classic action movies.

line uppy

#4 - Uglydolls by Pretty Ugly
David, Sun-Min and the rest of the Uglydoll crew released several new Uglys in 2009. Our favorite? Uppy - pictured above.

line lubies

#3 - Lubies by RocketUSA
In 2009, RocketUSA released their line of super-soft, softball-sized Lubies plushies. Two series were released, featuring a number of cute little animals. Lions and Tigers and Bears...yep, they have all of them.

line onell

#2 - Glyos System Series by Onell Design
Onell continued their strong Glyos line by adding several new sculpts - Buildman, Armodoc, Beanbot, Gobon - to an already strong series. And they've expanded to include rotocast vinyl figures in the line.

line gijoe

**WINNER** #1 - G.I. Joe by Sideshow Collectibles
Sideshow teamed up with Hasbro and brought all of the children of the 80's a line they've been waiting for. Not only did Sideshow hold true to the classic line's styling, but they also released a quality product.

2009 Plastic and Plushies Prizes – 5 Days Left!


On Tuesday, we asked you to send in your favorite toys of the past year. Check out this post to refresh your memory. Well, here are the prizes that you could win!

  1. Complete set of Treeson and Other Stories Figures (Thanks to Crazy Label)
  2. Custom Star Trek Bunk Bot (Thanks to Jason Hilbourne)
  3. Plastic and Plush Exclusive Pierce and Nathan Carney
  4. Grab Bag Surprise
  5. BUDS Series 3 - 4 Random BUDS (Thanks to Jamungo)

So, five people will be bringing home a prize. We'll choose the five random entries from all those who have sent in a completed list (with mailing address) by January 25th, 2010 at 11:59PM EST. Winner #1 will have their choice of any of the five prizes...all the way to Winner #5 - who gets the lone remaining prize.

2009 Plastic and Plushies: Best Resin

Over the past few years, resin figures have really grown in popularity. Whether it's that artists can hand make small run art pieces at home - and you don't have to outsource production to a factory in Japan or China - or the medium just works better than rotocast vinyl, resin figures are starting to pick up steam.

resin foo

#5 - Foo Dog by Patch Together
This design was submitted to Patch Together by artist Melita Curphy (Miss Monster). It's an articulated roto-resin piece (you don't see that too often) that really conveys the artist's work.

resin tentatiger

#4 - Tentatiger by Patch Together
Another collaboration between Miss Monster and Patch Together yielded the Tentatiger resin figure. We like this one a little better than the Foo Dog due to the complex sculpting...and the snake tail.

resin destroyer

#3 - Destroyer by Argonaut Resins
I had a chance to customize one of O_Negative's blank Destroyer resin figures (it's the one pictured above). Not only are they great for customizers, but the overall design is great.

resin ducksauce

#2 - Ducksauce by DynomightNYC and Suckadelic
The Sucklord produced bootleg styled Ducksauce was the first figure released from DynomightNYC's Cthulhu Juice Crew series. And they even created a few specially made figures for some of their favorite toy news sites...

resin rascal

**WINNER** #1 - Big Rollin' Rascal by Scott Tolleson
Artist Scott Tolleson has cornered the market on cute girls riding three wheeled vehicles. Whether you like the Tricycle Terror or Big Rollin' Rascal better, Stolle has sped ahead of the resin competition...albeit on a Big Wheel.

2009 Plastic and Plushies: Best Customizer

Toy customizing is an art form in and of itself. Some of the top customizers are able to take a rather bland base figure and turn it into a masterpiece. Often, the prices of these customs overshadow those of original paintings. So here are our top five toy customizers of 2009.

custom wuzone

#5 - WuzOne
Responsible for some great representations of classic and current cartoon characters on vinyl, WuzOne has jumped onto the scene with customs like the one shown above.

custom rotobox

#4 - Rotobox Vinyl Anatomica
No one can customize a Qee like Rotobox. Go ahead and try turning a regular old Qee into a crazy transformable robot. Can't be done!

custom dead pres

#3 - Dead Presidents (Matt Walker)
No one does pinstriping like Matt Walker. He can do some amazing things with making Glyos figures look like little pieces of candy.

custom jpk

#2 - Jon-Paul Kaiser
Jon-Paul Kaiser is known for his amazing black and white custom paint schemes. He can create spot-on likenesses using only two colors. The above pictured version of Bob Marley was one of our favorite custom creations of 2009.

custom plaseebo

**WINNER** #1 - Plaseebo (Bob Conge)
While you might not know that artist Bob Conge was actually a college art professor, you've definitely seen his amazing custom work. Whether it be his mash-up figures or custom paint schemes...his work is unparalleled.

2009 Plastic and Plushies: Best Blind Box

Whether you love or hate blind boxes, you have to admit that they're a big part of the designer toy world. Rarely, do blind box series feature an entire set of strong designs...but these five come pretty close. Even though you don't know which figure you'll get, you should be happy with the result.

mini cupcake

#5 - Miss Cupcake by Dreamland Toyworks
Call me biased - as I love cupcakes - but this line (from artist olive47) features an assortment of the tasty little confections. While rotocast vinyl isn't as tasty as sugar and flour, the line would be a super cute addition to your collection. No matter which version you get.

mini treeson

#4 - Treeson & Other Stories by Crazy Label
Treeson fans were obviously super-excited to see a number of new characters added to Bubi Au Yeung's classic Treeson figure. It's one of the few blind box lines that's not a platform figure - these are all unique sculpts.

mini uglys

#3 - Uglydoll Action Figures by Pretty Ugly
All of your favorite cuddly Uglydolls (or at least 6 of them) were turned into little rotocast vinyl figures with waist spinning action. Each character was made available in a pair of colorways - their normal and Little Ugly variant.

mini bic

#2 - BIC Buddy Artist Series #1 by BIC Plastics
BIC Plastics' foray into the blind box realm yielded the BIC Buddy line. This series featured quite possibly the best lineup of artists ever - Andrew Bell, Brandt Peters, Sket, MAD, Angry Woebots, David Flores, etc. Plus, there were a few secret variants randomly packaged.

mini buds

**WINNER** #1 - BUDS Series 3 by Jamungo
Once you get to the third series in a line, you'll often find stale designs. But the guys at Jamungo stepped up their game, making Series 3 the best so far. They added in some new sculpts - had a few secret chase figures - and was our favorite blind box line of 2009.

2009 Plastic and Plushies: Best Sculpting

Sculpting work (like paint application) can either make or break a toy. And while you need both to perfect a figure, it starts with the sculpt. If you're sculpting a likeness of Harrison Ford, and it looks more like Bea Arthur...that's not going to cut it. So we're looking at the top 5 sculpts that have done the best job recreating their source artwork/likeness.

sculpt gandalf

#5 - Gandalf the Grey by Sideshow Collectibles
Yes, we are a little over six years past the last of The Lord of the Rings films. And it appears that Sideshow is finished producing 1/6 scale figures based on the license for the time being. But their sculpt of Ian McKellen as Gandalf is clearly the best of the line.

sculpt rascal

#4 - Big Rollin' Rascal by Scott Tolleson
In 2008, we saw the Tricycle 2009, we were given the Big Rollin' Rascal. The resin figure was sculpted based on a fairly complex illustration (at least by toy standards). But they pulled off one of the best resin pieces of the year.

sculpt boris

#3 - Boris - U1 Toy Arts
Nathan Hamill's first toy release was the purple and black raccoon named Boris. The sculptor kept that same boxy look that the original artwork had. And there are great little tooling marks that you don't often see in vinyl.

sculpt up carl

#2 - UP - Carl - Hot Toys
Hot Toys went the vinyl route with their Disney/Pixar UP license...and (especially in the case of Carl) they produced an amazing likeness of the cartoon...errr...CGI character. It looks like the crotchety old man jumped out of the TV to yell at you to get off of his lawn.

sculpt don vito

**WINNER** #1 - Don Vito Corleone - Hot Toys
It's not surprising that Hot Toys swiped the top two spots in this category. Industry-wide, they're known as employing some of the best sculptors. And if you position this version of Marlon Brando from The Godfather just'd think that you're actually watching the Oscar winning film. Just look at the jowls, fine wrinkles and hair. Oh...and we're not even talking about the amazing paintwork on this figure.