Best of The Bin 2008
I'm pretty sure there's a law requiring any and all review sites to provide a list of their picks for best of the year. In this spirit, I wanted to provide some on behalf of The Clearance Bin.
Unfortunately, there are problems with this plan.
First of all, this isn't a "first run" review site. I've got reviews posted for toys that are three or four years old; some of which I've been watching, biding my time, until the price fell to a point I could afford. On top of that, I really only get my hands on a handful of toys representing a minuscule percent of what's out there. The problem is further compounded by the fact I've only been running this site for a few months.
If you want a REAL best of 2008 list, check out "The Poppies," the Oscars of the toy collecting world.
Yeah, the Poppies is the real deal, as professional as toy awards get.
This, on the other hand, is more like The Clearance Bin itself: a haphazard, second-rate approach. Rather than try to figure out what's best from what came out this year, I'm going to start an annual tradition of looking at what's best from what I've reviewed. What are the best figures, best values, and best all around toys that I've reviewed in the last... er... three or so months?
Yeah, here's hoping next year's list will be a little more meaningful. Without further ado, here are the arbitrary winners in seven even more arbitrary categories:
Best Design: Deluxe Wall-E and Eve from Thinkway Toys
In terms of sheer brilliance, nothing I've seen in a while approaches the design work done on these action figures. It's not that these are better sculpted or painted than a lot of what I've seen or that they're flawless (they're not), but the decisions made in the planning and design are simply jaw-dropping. From Wall-E's reflective eyes and working tank treads to Eve's arm sockets and changing expressions, the planning and execution of these toys is worthy of Pixar itself. Thinkway Toys has a motto I find kind of irksome: "I'm a thinking toy!" I don't know about the toys, but there's no question that the designers have their wits about them. This is one company I'm keeping an eye on in the future.
Honorable Mention: Marvel Super Hero Squad: Phoenix
If they had somehow slipped in the standard Super Hero Squad articulation, Phoenix could almost have stolen this award from Wall-E and Eve.
Best Approriated Accessory: Lemax 21 Pc. Pine Trees
All right, if there's a Michaels near you, stop reading this review, get in your car, and go see if they still have any of these left in stock. Have you noticed how every other review I've posted since buying these has incorporated a tree or two? There's a reason for that. As time goes on, I like these more and more. These are the single most versatile display tool I own (well, other than shelves). If you can't get them this year, wait until next Christmas. I'm sure you can even find them at 50% like I did. Every toy collector and gaming enthusiast should think about picking these up.
Honorable Mentions: Lemax "Spooky Town" collection
While not nearly as useful as the pine trees, these are nice for their price. Also, I finally found a use for those roads! But that's a story for another day (and possibly another site).
Best Statue: War Paint Conan: The Barbarian from NECA
Sure, I was hard on this when it came out, because it's a statue and not an action figure (and, might I add, a few points of articulation would have fixed that problem). But lets not lose sight of the fact that this is the single best sculpt I've reviewed here. Conan is as close in appearance to his source material as I've ever seen any toy. And that source wasn't easy to duplicate. At this price point, you're getting something that looks like it should cost a whole lot more. Sure, I wish this was getting the "Best Action Figure" award instead of the "Best Statue", but whatever it is, it's one of the nicest toys I bought this year.
Honorable Mention: Marvel Super Hero Squad: Phoenix
She'll get as many mentions as I want to give her, dammit!
Best Surprise: Reindeer Games Rudolph from Forever Fun
If you look through the toys I've reviewed, almost everything (other than Clearance Reviews) has something in common: I was planning on checking them out before I ever saw them in the store. In most cases, I've already seen pictures, press releases, and sometimes even reviews before I first see the packaged toy.
But not Rudolph. Sure, I see figures from various specials on the shelves every year. But I wasn't expecting this figure, I'd never heard of it, and I certainly wasn't looking for it.
It turned out being one of the nicest figures I bought this year. And I only paid $8. I'm used to getting bargains like that from the clearance section, but it's a genuine surprise stumbling upon a figure this nice at this price.
Best... er... Vehicle or Play Set (or anything else I hardly reviewed): 1966 TV Series Batmobile from Hot Wheels
Yeah, this one's a cheat. That might as well read ONLY vehicle or play set. But I have a feeling I could have reviewed a dozen of each, and this still would have come out on top.
I still wish the trunk and hood opened, and a little more detail would have been nice... but that's all nitpicking. This is an awesome toy, one that stands up nicely to the Corgi Batmobiles I already own.
It may not be my favorite version of the car, but it's a great toy. Besides, no Batgarage is complete with out Adam West's wheels.
Honorable Mention: I'll have to get back to you on that....
Best accessories: TIE: Deathstroke and Rudolph
This one's a tie betweem the two toys whose extra accessories were the most impressive. It isn't merely the quantity that deserves acknowledgement, but the quality, as well. While not everything these came with was uniformly good, both came equipped with more than enough high quality goodies to stand above the rest. Deathstroke came with an arsenal, along with a piece of a "collect and connect" figure. Rudolph's woodland pals, along with his glowing nose and base, demanded further recognition, as well. If every toy came with as many extras as these two... I'd need a bigger bin to store them all.
Honorable Mention: Search and Protect Eve
Best Action Figure: DC Universe Classics Green Lantern from Mattel
This came close to being a five or six-way tie, to tell the truth. In the end, though, I decided this award needed a single winner. There were a lot of great toys I picked up this year, though it's one I wasn't initially excited about that rose to the top.
Now, let's be clear about a few things. This isn't my FAVORITE toy of the year. That honor belongs to Wall-E, who was one joint short of stealing this award. What Green Lantern represents, though, is the best figure, the best combination of design, sculpt, paint, and articulation to yield a final toy that really stands out. You can find dozens of poses that accentuate the sculpt. And what a sculpt: the head was expertly crafted.
He's not an overly complicated figure, but he's a perfect example of what Mattel can accomplish with their DC Universe Classics figures. While he wasn't perfect, Green Lantern turned out being an all around excellent figure.
Just watch out for paint in the joints.
Honorable Mentions: Robin, Wall-E, Deathstroke, Wonder Woman, Rudolph
Well, that wraps up 2008. But I've got... a few... toys from Christmas I'll be reviewing over the next few weeks. And months. As always, if you've got any comments about this review or The Clearance Bin in general, head on over to The Middle Room and leave me a reply.