Hello and Welcome back.
It's that time of year again, time to roll down my favorites from 1:18th (3 & 3/4 inch) scale of the past year.
Unlike previous years I thought I might take a moment to run down my criteria since many times readers seem a bit confused on what it is I am doing here. This is (generally) how I pick the members of THE LIST:
#1 Character-Probably the most important thing to my choices. I love characters and generally want new characters to add to my collection roster. This is one of the major reasons characters like Duke never make the list, I am sick of his character and the dozens and dozens of versions of him. Lots of characters fall into the "I simply don't like them" category which automatically gets them excluded from my favorites. Basically I have to like the representation before I can even get any further. Sure there are exceptions and some less than stellar figures might make it into my favorites list just on character alone. Something to keep in mind while reading.
#2 Esthetics and "Feel"-Probably only slightly lesser in my mind is the esthetics of the figure itself. How does it look, is it a GREAT figure, ect. There is a whole package I look at and not just one like articulation or paint. In order to win out on the character part above, the esthetics must be pretty good. A prime example would be POC wave 3 Snake Eyes from last year.
#3 Functionality-This is where I think some people get confused. Not all characters need to be overloaded with articulation. For example, you will never see Spock pulling off ninja moves. The combat as presented in Star Trek is very different than a martial arts film, thus I can be forgiving on some lack of articulation there (to a point at least). However, no way will a modern figure with articulation of a vintage Star Wars figure ever reach my list. While I'm not a hound to articulation there are some basics I insist on with modern figures (Knees and elbows for instance).
#4 Concept-Why does this figure exist? If it's just to have another Snake Eyes, Duke, Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Wolverine, ect on the shelf I will probably pass on it. However if there is a reason (Vast Improvements on old designs or a different look the the character) I am more inclined to get it. Sometimes new versions of old characters do catch me off guard though.
#5 How can I use this?-So sometimes I buy a figure JUST to use it in my Photo webcomic Scale Wars (Shameless Plug) and sometimes a figure gets my attention JUST for that reason and ends up being a favorite because I can get some fun stuff out of it, even when the figure doesn't meet any of the above criteria. This, more than anything, probably can trump any of the above criteria. Sometimes figures make me smile JUST for the ideas they give me. No, I don't just let these bad boys rest on a shelf in a pose, I use them. To me that counts for a great deal as well.
I could simply run down the year like a reporter but honestly I find most times things like that are a waste of my and your time. Instead let me repeat what the purpose is here.
First and foremost, this list is my opinion, the list is called "Zed's Favorite" for a reason, it is my favorites of the last year. I am not claiming to be some toy guru who is wiser than the masses and dictates what is good or bad. I get no "freebees" and have no quota for each company to have certain numbers of figures from certain lines in the list. The fact is no one person can state that kind of opinion for everyone no matter how hard they try. I state what works for me. The first thing is that people will probably disagree with me, and that is cool, as long as no on tries to say what "My Favorites" should be (and on the internet people tend to do just that). Every year I debate taking that last statement out, but am quickly reminded of why I put it in there. Each year someone (or sometimes a group of someone's) try to tell me my favorites are not my favorites because they somehow believe they know what I should and should not like. Again this is me, I do this for love of the game not some kind of ego boost. I share this with everyone because many honestly enjoy it.
This is not as solid as a review or countdown, its me having fun with my collection and reminiscing over the past year and the ups and downs. This is a list of my favorite figures, the ones I went out of my way to find, the ones that made me think "I have to have that one" when they were previewed, the ones that just screamed at me and when I got them continued to give me a great deal of satisfaction. This is my opinions, thoughts, feelings and ideas about what has happened in 1:18th scale over the past year.
Now I said opinions, yep its very opinionated as are any reviews you read online or view in videos. Truth is any time you say "This is a good _____" or "This is a bad_____" its an opinion. The Federal Trade Commission has said a great deal this year about bloggers and free items they receive to act like "the average Joe" and say positive things about their products. Not me, I have said every year and I reiterate that I am not some toy guru who claims to have secret knowledge nor does any company send me free products (wouldn't refuse them though ;-), but I wouldn't change my opinions either so the point is moot ).
Another point is I limited the list to figures I actually have been able to acquire (Thus and SDCC Zarana and Star Wars Bespin Han are automatically not on the list simply because I was unable to acquire them). I am not affiliated with a news source nor do I receive "press" figures. Would like to, but nope I don't. Still the fact remains that I buy these toys and as such I only can claim to have first hand knowledge of the figures I have seen in hand. While I could do a least favorites list from those I have seen in the stores, I really felt that was counterproductive (besides I launch enough criticisms in this list to cover that as well). But it would also only be fair to look at figures I can actually look at. There is also a question of what I can afford (married with kids does cause one to be on a budget, thus I don't spend all my money acquiring toys I don't like, on purpose anyway). Also there is the idea that desire would make the figure rank higher, which makes sense when you think about it so why go there. Thanos would be a prime example of this, I wanted to put him on the list last year but I couldn't get a hold of him until much later. Thus he didn't make the list, but would have if I had gotten him sooner.
This year, as last year, I knew I was going to do this so as the year progressed and new figures were released I would mark them down on my list. The list itself went through many changes and was not finalized until the year had passed (on Dec 31). After that if I acquired a figure from 2011 it just didn't make the list. Sorry I have to have a cut off point. I will point out that several figures were acquired at the "11th hour" so to speak, and thus the list took longer to make and is late this year, sorry for that.
Last year I extended the list to 50, truth is there was just too much great stuff this year. I said last year after doing 50 I wouldn't do it again, however I just decided to do so because there was so much I wanted to cover. That and I am probably secretly a glutton for punishment.
I avoided repaints and rehashes, The Star Wars Saga Legends and parts of the Vintage lines are very important note here. The whole line is repaints and while I appreciate the chance to grab some figures I missed I felt it would be unfair to the new figures released this year.
Of course its the same relative format, a huge pic doctored in Photoshop and a write up of what I think of the figure, character, and how it relates to my little universe that I affectionately call "Scale Wars" (Shameless plug for my photo webcomic) as well as to me. But as I found with last years list things come out I am not expecting, memories, ideas and even changing my mind once in a while. Still what this is about is a 30 something guy who still refuses to let go of his childhood and who also loves that part of his life and the reasons why he does. All set out into individual stories of individual outstanding figures that make this thing I call a hobby move forward.
At the end of all these descriptions I try my best to include the other reason I bought them. My creative focus has been to my comedic Diostory/Photo-novel/Photo-comic Scale Wars (Another shameless plug, just hit HOME to go there, updated MON, WED, & FRI). I decided that it might be insightful to people to see my thoughts on how these new figures and the characters themselves play into the universe as well as help with insights into why I might have purchased them. Half the time I see a figure and then come up with an idea to make it work in the Scale Wars world and thus buy it.
Another important topic is that this is about figures in the 1:18th (3 & 3/4 inch) scale exclusively. While I will never say a "Giant" figure will never make the list (meaning a figure in 1:18th scale meant to represent a larger character), in general this is about 3 & 3/4 inch figures. That scale is where I first was introduced as a child (with Adventure People, really showing my age there LOL) and it is the scale that holds my interest. Without naming names, a few years ago some, shall we say enthusiastic, fans got rather heated because they though certain 6 inch figures were better than what was on my list. While I hold nothing against the 6 inch scale or any other scale (and have quite a few figures in other scales) it is not the main scale that holds interest for me. Star Wars really hooked me into the scale a very long time ago and I don't think I will change that anytime soon. Sorry to everyone who is not interested in the "little guys" but again this is my thoughts and opinions (and my site so :-P LOL)
A few notes about last year's and this year's list (This is directed at toy companies) a major problem I had last year (and this year) was distribution. In fact if distrobution had been done a bit better I would guarantee the 50 figures would have been different indeed. Still what that means is some figs didn't make the list because I had to decide on a cut off point, the same rule applies here. So I am saying to Hasbro, Mattel, Playmates. Bandai ect, that first off this segment is very popular (I welcome them all to look at the stats) and if you want to make an impressive showing you need to get your stuff out. I am sure you look on things like this like free advertising, so yeah you need to put your best foot forward cause I am old fashioned and still shop at the stores (although I admit 2011 forced me to shop online more than I have ever done before in my life). Oh, I occasionally shop online but not to the degree of many people, my primary gains with toys are defiantly from brink and mortar stores. Just wanted to throw that out there (not, that I am sure, any toy company is even reading, but it was the best and most non-insulting, non-whiney way I could think of to bitch about the problem).
Also a new feature, every year I get flooded with requests for wallpapers based from these pictures I do. Honestly I think they are just ok and are not worthy of such notoriety but I have been more than happy to fulfill requests. To save time (as I have one of those life thingy's) I have decided this year to make the pictures available in wallpaper format. There are a few reasons for this:
1. When working with these pictures if you try to go from smaller to larger you get some distortion, this year I worked with very large pictures and sized them down.
2. When a request is made (and I am more than happy and flattered to try to comply) I have to dig up the original picture and re-set it to the size desired (not a hugely horrible task but my originals are stored on a separate drive from my computer, thus I have to hook it up, try to remember where I filed the picture, copy it to the computer so I can open it in Photoshop, ect, ect). Again not something I am against doing but it does eat into time, thus I thought this might be an easier way to handle things.
3. Last year one picture I had to completely redo for a fan because the original got sized down and when I sized it back up the distortion was too great. I worked on the picture for days and to be honest I still am not at all happy about the results. It just never had the luster of the original in my opinion. I would like to try to avoid such problems in the future as I felt (and feel) very badly about the situation.
If you are interested in any of the pictures as a wallpaper just click on the picture and you will be taken to another page that has the picture in 3 standard sizes (1600 x 1200, 1400 x 1050, 1280 x 960). The original pictures as they appear on screen are already in 800 x 600 format, thus you actually have four options. These are all standard screen formats (no one has ever requested wide screen but it would be simple to take on of the above sizes and attach some black bars to them). At this point I am not planning to have any of these pictures done in wide screen format, but you never know that may change. I do forewarn that many of the pictures have flaws and they become more apparent the larger the pictures go. I am not perfect, sorry.
Tons of info to go over, sorry to ramble.
So with all that out of the way lets begin: