As always, lets start with a quick refresher... 2012 was the year of Hercules Vs Giant. 2013 was the year Fans Toys hit the scene with fan favourite MMC Hexatron taking second place to the game-changing Quakewave. 2014 was the year where MMC finally took the coveted top spot with Toy of the Year in Feral Rex and Company of the Year, narrowly beating out Scoria for Toy of the Year. Unique Toys took most improved, and Warbotron took newcomer of the year. 2015 was a busy year, with MMC narrowly missing out on company of the year to Fans Toys by just two votes. With MMC Spartan, UT Ordin and XTB Apollyon winning in their respective categories. 2016 was the year that Maketoys finally got the top spot beating out Fans Toys with their wide variety of styles, but with Fans Toys Stomp winning overall toy of the year. 2017 was a return to form for Fans Toys, winning company of the year, Citybot of the year with Omega, MP style and 3P toy of the year with Phoenix. MMC did well overall with Kultur winning CHUG, Iron Factory stormed the Legend style, Fans Hobby took best newcomer, and DX9 won most improved. The voting for overall 3P Toy of 2018 closes on 9th January based on the ten most nominated toys, but we can still look at the winners of each Toy category based on nominations, and the Company winners based on the write-in results. Will Masterpiece reign supreme like the last few years, will FT get toy and company of the year again? There are lots of movers and shakers for what at first glance seems like a slightly disappointing year, so read on. (But first; Disclaimer: Thank you to everyone who voted in all of the polls. TFW is nothing without it's members, and your voices on the 3P thread do get seen and heard by the majority of 3P companies. These are your choices and are presented here based on your nominations. Please do not attack the choices as being "wrong", biased, or in any way of my choosing, they are all correct as they are subjective.) Third Party Toy of the Year results 3P MP style Category 1) X-Transbots Flipout (Wildrider) 1) X-Transbots Crackup (Breakdown) 3) Fans Toys Quietus (Cyclonus) 4) PE Mega Dragon (BW TM2 Megatron) 5) Mastermind Creations Ocular Max Furor and Riot (Rumble / Frenzy twinpack) It's nice to see FT didn't drop off the list completely, but the bigger story is how out of nowhere XTB took the top two spots with joint first nominations for Flipout and Crackup, it shows me that the lower-case combiner wars are far from over, and a slavish commitment to 100% cartoon style which syncs up perfectly with Takara-Tomy's current approach to the MP line is exactly what people want! Some people nominated PE Mega Dragon as CHUG or Giant Toy, but I went and transfered the votes to MP because for me its clearly intended as a companion piece to the BW MP line. I'm sure others will disagree. For me the bigger story here is how we only had 21 figures nominated in this category compared to 31 last year, and far fewer nominations overall. 3P CHUG style Category 1) MMC Stray (IDW Drift / Deadlock) 2) MMC Collissus (IDW Thunderclash) A hugely disappointing year for CHUG Nominations, only 14 toys were nominated and only two toys got more than five nominations. I'm not sure if people have just moved away from CHUG or if we have too many categories, but other than MMC's amazing IDW style line-up, people aren't super hyped for these anymore. It certainly takes the shine off of "winning" this category for another year. You certainly can't argue that the move to Ocular Max wasn't a wisely calculated one. (And I'm sure you could argue with the size of the IDW style figures that they're close to MP scale now) For those that care, 3rd and 4th would be TFC Supreme Tactical Commander and MMC Aero Alpha with four votes each, every else got 1-3 votes each. A lot of people just didn't care enough to nominate anything, but it does show for those that did nominate that your choices count. 3P Citybot / Combiner Category 1) DX9 Gabriel (Omega Supreme) 2) Wei Jiang Ultima Guard (Omega Supreme) 2) Zeta Toys Armageddon (Bruticus) 4) MMC Magna Repeating last years blurb, this is always potentially a confusing category, there is an argument to be made that all the figures listed above are also intended to fit with the MP line (unlike previous years where some of the combiners have split the line between MP and CHUG, and some of the City Bots being scaled to smaller figures like Utopia or Devil Stinger). The lust for Omega Supreme is strong, with two cheaper alternate choices to last years most nominated toy (FT Omega) and blue repaints from Wei Jiang and FT, and a nice complete combiner from Zeta shows that people still want more options for MP combiners. Interesting to see MMC make the list for the first time since their stellar Feral Rex, even though only half of Magna has been released, it seems that people want a big-ass Sky Lynx for their collection. A few other toys were nominated in this category, but few got multiple votes. 3P Legends / Small Scale Category 1) Iron Factory War Giant (Bruticus) 2) Iron Factory Cygnus (Jetfire / Skyfire) 3) New Age Flipper (Bumblebee) 3) Magic Square Transporter (Ultra Magnus) 3) Mech Planet Hot Soldiers Iron Hero (Hearts of Steel Bumblebee) For me, this has been the most interesting category this year... For a third year straight, Iron Factory continue to dominate the top spots but competition is really heating up here with lots of newcomers and more nominations in this category than any other (25!). It's interesting to me that a small Bumblebee that fits in with a small largely forgotten MMC subline from 2011 can do so well here, but I guess the price makes it very appealing. Definitely the category to watch moving forward I feel, even with no releases from former category stalwarts DX9 and UT. OVERALL 3P Figure of the Year The top nominations from each category were included and the votes are in. After lots of people worrying that the XTB bots would cannibalise each others votes, a swarm of votes for Quietus gave the FT release enough votes to beat out the combined votes for both XTB bots. Well done Fans Toys. 3P Company of the Year Results Most Improved Company of the Year 1) X-Transbots Once again, this was not even close. X-Transbots got a HUGE amount of points in this category. 2) Mastermind Creations A former "Best Company" wins most improved. I don't really understand this as I feel MMC have been amazingly consistent with what they do overall, but I guess a more equal split of Reformatted and Ocular Max could explain it. Either way, well done MMC. 3) Iron Factory Definitely showing that these guys are on a lot of people's radars now with at least seven separate releases in 2018. But where were last years winners DX9? Nowhere to be seen. Just a handful of nominations for their Prime. Best Newcomer 1) Magic Square By a country mile, Magic Square dominates the best newcomer category, alongside... 2) New Age With their debut budget minibot line doing very well, and... 3) Papa Toys Also debuting with another Legends style line up. I guess with official MP releases hitting $250+, a small cheap 3P hit is the natural antidote and brings the fun back. 3P Company of the Year And here we go with the big one... 3) Fans Toys, slipping two places but with some quality releases. The MP scene has been crowded the last few years, and FT still manage to stay relevant. 2) MMC claim second with their mix of Reformatted and Ocular Max pleasing people from two sides of the collecting scene. The Reformatted line isn't for everyone, but those that love them, really love them. 1) X-Transbots!!! So a few years back this would have been unthinkable, with XTB having a bad reputation and even the year they got toy of the year with their MP style Megatron analog Apollyon, it wasn't without controversy. A figure which arguably won by being the first option available and has largely been relegated in favour of other options including the official MP36. Placeholder much? We use that negativity just to frame how amazingly positive this win is! It just shows that anything can change in the world of 3P, with two of the former biggest players barely registering this year. Many people nominated XTB most improved company last year and those guys were paying attention. Well done XTB, top two MP style figures and Company of the Year. A huge result. Summary Honestly, it has been a disappointing year for 3P, probably the most disappointing year since 2011 or so, and this is reflected massively in the nominations - or lack thereof. For me, it's been the hardest Year in Review to write because I've bought less this year than any other year, I've had to sit and check the names on nearly every nomination as few have really captured my attention fully. There was a time where we all knew the names of the 3P characters, with Hercules and Quakewave synonymous with those releases to this day, whereas now a lot of people just write the company name and the character it's homaging, this suggests to me that we're not talking about this figures with the same gusto as just a few years ago. Even huge contributors to the fandom like Maz have moved completely away from unofficial releases (leaving me pretty hard pushed to find quality photos) The 3P scene has been full throttle for nearly a decade now since FP City Commander kickstarted the whole thing, maybe a slightly lesser quality year was inevitable, if not needed? Either way, people have been predicting the "end of the 3P scene" pretty much since the day it started, so while I think the industry is safe and not going anywhere - even in the light of the recent Hasbro takedowns - I think 3P companies need to be more responsible. Cut out the gold-rush claim staking, stop the infighting, stop the cockwaving and let someone else do their own thing without competing, stop the online insults, stop multiple character releases. Find your niche, stick to it, less teases, release figures in a timely fashion, make it fun again. Shockers and 2019 Predictions Where were Fans Hobby this year? Last years best newcomer did well with Power Baser, but that's it. How will their Overlord do in 2019? Where was the much anticipated Iron Factory DJD combiner? Where was KFC? Only one cassette release, and no Buster / Hydra? I think they would have done very well. DX9 and Badcube barely mentioned in the whole nominations stage? Where you guys at? Will MMC's Reformatted IDW subline be able to stay popular without Lost Light being published, will that section of the IDW fanbase still support this line? I think all of the evidence points towards the Legends scene doing incredibly well in 2019 I also see the KO scene doing incredibly well with the increased price point from Takara-Tomy and the quality of OS KOs we've had this year, so be sure to check out the KO poll here. Thanks for reading. - C Z Hazard is part of the team behind Mayhem Mekanics, as a freelance writer - having written profiles, stories, and comics for more than half a dozen 3P companies under a variety of guises – he crafts the universe of the Unrustable Bastards. He's done the 3P year in Review for a few years now, and has three novels and a short story offering available on Amazon Kindle.