We began the 2001 Toy of the Year wrap-up with the words “2001 has been a truly incredible year for Japanese toys” and it looks like we didn’t lose any of that momentum going into 2002. The 2002 TOTY ballot featured more toys than any prior year, and arguably the most diverse contestants thus far. The main difference between 2002 and years past is that there was really no single item that stood head and shoulders above the rest in terms of quality and innovation. Rather, there were numerous solid efforts from the Bandais, Yamatos and Miracle Houses of the world, which made it a guessing game up right until the last minute the polls closed.
So, without further ado, we give you the…
VF-1A Hikaru-Type Valkyrie
Miricle House Shin Seki Gokin
|Bandai Movie Monsters Series|
Robot Haro (original green)
|DX MSiA |
|Uni 5 |
|G X – 0 7OVA |
|Metal Grade |
|Soul Of Chogokin GX-01R |
OAV Mazinger Z
2002 Toy of The Year: Yamato 1/48 VF-1A Hikaru-Type Valkyrie
2002 may well be remembered as the year of the Valkyrie, seeing 7 new toys from Bandai and 5 from Yamato. Although the Bandai re-issues made some small evolutionary improvements in the tried-and-true Takatoku design, it took Yamato’s new totally-over-top 1/48 scale VF-1A valkyrie to grab folks’ attention. Featuring a crazy transformation that manages to stay faithful to the anime and yet requires no disassembly or extra parts, as well as an insane level of detail, and (finally) a solid ratcheted toy-like feel to it, the 1/48 does not fail to impress.
Special thanks to the readers at Macrossworld for ensuring that this toy received the attention that it deserved.
Second Place: Miracle House Shin Seki Gokin Mazinkaiser
Only narrowly edged out of first place by 2.7%, the Miracle House Shin Seki Gokin Mazinkaiser proves once again that the majority of ToyboxDX readers subsist on a diet of mostly zinc. Virtually solid metal save for his head, hands and his enormous wings, this bad boy very nearly took the vote due to his sheer weight and shelf presence alone.
Third Place: Bandai GX-10 Boss Borot
2002 gave us six SOC releases from Bandai, which was an unprecedented release schedule in this much-beloved retro toy line. Oddly enough, the one release that grabbed SOC fans this year was certainly the goofiest and unrespected toy in the line thus far; Boss Borot. Love him or hate him, big Boss only finished 2.8% behind Mazinkaiser and largely split the gokin vote, giving the almost completely plastic Yamato 1/48 the opening it needed to take the TOTY crown. It’s also worth pointing out that Hobby Project’s Boss Borot took the first ever ToyboxDX TOTY prize.
Fourth Place: Bandai Gouraijin DX
How did a diecast transforming set of beetles with rubber tires and treads end up so far down on this list with only 7.5% of the vote? Probably because sentai is an acquired taste and has the additional baggage on this side of the Atlantic of being seen as Power Rangers fodder. Hopefully Bandai America will bring Gouraijin over here with minor changes so that more fans can get the chance to experience this big, black bad boy.
Fifth Place: Bandai Movie Monsters Series Titanosaurus
Although an important kaiju piece and an unquestionable favorite among vinyl toy fans, Titanosaurus met the same fate as virtually all Japanese monsters and wasn’t quite strong enough to overpower the gokin before him.
Sixth Place: 1/4 Mascot Robot Haro (original green)
Another wacky toy from this year’s ballot, Haro was certainly a very much under-represented Gundam character until very recently. Unfortunately, this little guy practically demanded a working knowledge of Japanese to get much enjoyment out of him, which rather severely restricted his popularity among collectors. Haro certainly seems to be a big hit in Japan, however, with multi-colored versions recently hitting the shelves.
Seventh Place: DX MSiA Sazabi
Bandai’s 12″ version of Char’s Sazabi certainly made a lot of waves when it arrived earlier in the year, and for good reason; it was the first villain in the DX line, potentially opening the door for all kinds of antagonist-goodness down the road. Featuring better proportions than the Master Grade kit (well, except for those hands) and a good share of ABS and loads of weapons and gimmicks, all for about $30, this thing was snapped up by collectors the second it hit the shelves.
Eighth Place: Uni 5 VariDorin
One of the crazy vehicles from the much-beloved Go-Rangers series, the Uni 5 Varidorin put up a showing similar to last year’s GodPhoenix. Huge, and mostly diecast, with 4 independently motorized props and loads of gimmicks, the wacky design (and the fall-off-if-you-look-at-them-funny cannons) was perhaps a little too retro for many modern collectors.
Ninth Place: GX-07 OVA Mazinger Z
A solid, black, glossy super poseable entry in the SOC line. Sadly, for many collectors it was “just another @#$%^* Mazinger” and promptly shoved to the back of the toy shelf by most. There’s probably some poetic justice about Boss Borot out-shining Mazinger in there somewhere…
Tenth Place: Zoids Gojulas GIGA
At a whopping 41cm in length, Gojulas is one of the largest and most impressive Zoids ever released. Weighing in at 10th place, however, shows that Zoids that don’t have quite the traction in the community as other toy lines.
Eleventh Place: Metal Grade RX-78 Gundam Released at a wallet-busting 38,000 yen price point, this sucker definitely wasn’t for everyone. Certainly there’s lots to love about a 1/100 scale 100% solid diecast metal RX-78. Bandai unquestionably lost a lot of potential buyers at that pricepoint, and probably several more over their decision to release it as a bare metal kit, but you have to hand it to them for the balls that it took to bring this thing to market. Of course, even the Metal Grade wasn’t quite as crazy as…
Twelfth Place: HY2M RX-78 Gundam
A 75cm (29 1/2″) RX-78. Released at 78,000 yen, plus an additional 12,000 – 15,000 yen just for shipping, the H2YM certainly separates the men from the boys (or the wallet from the otaku…) Only the Japanese could release a piece like this in the middle of a recession and still manage to have them sell out in no time…
Thirteenth Place: Soul Of Chogokin GX-01R OAV Mazinger Z
Released to a resounding “eh”, although the execution of the GX-01R is virtually flawless, it’s “yet another @#$%^* Mazinger” in the SOC line. Although impossible to disparage the toy on its own merits, SOC completists everywhere now quake in fear of a possible GX-01R2…
Fourteenth Place: Deluxe MSiA Burning Gundam
2002 was the year that many Toyboxers started referring to MSiA as “rubber Gundams”, which pretty much sums up many older collector’s feelings for the line. Certainly the winner when it comes to price and breadth, 3″ PVC toys still fall into the “toy crack” category and have yet to make any serious inroads when it comes to Toy of The Year…
—The Rumble Crew