Review Methodology

All reviews are conducted on a 50 point scale broken amongst six categories.  The whole process is very subjective and I wouldn’t doubt for a second that many people will either strongly agree or disagree with me.  My opinion is steeped in some pretty extensive experience but it’s still just an opinion.  If your opinion differs significantly from my own, in either direction, I would love to hear from you at Micronian_ace@anymoon.com.  Also please, post comments if you disagree with something I’ve said.  Don’t leave my site thinking I’m an idiot for not catching some obvious flaws of some toy… tell me!  Here’s what I’m looking for in each category:

Please note, it’s very easy for a toy to move from a 1 to a 2 but very difficult to get from a 8 to a 9.  As such there can be a big difference in toys with very similar scores.  Read the reviews carefully and judge for yourself.
1) Packaging and Extras:
I don’t display toys in their boxes; it’d be too space-consuming and I think of the toys themselves as art so why would I conceal them?  That doesn’t mean I’m against flashy packaging but I prefer to pay for the toy and not the box it comes in.  The boxes and inner-trays should be sturdy enough to prevent damage to the toy in shipping, should be efficient in size, and should draw your eye.  I don’t like boxes with plastic windows.  The window allows sunlight to age the plastic inside prematurely and the windows themselves are prone to breaking down or otherwise becoming damaged.
Extras can really add a lot to a toy.  I define extras as anything packaged with the product that isn’t permanently affixed to the toy itself.  This usually includes a gun and a little pilot figure as far as transformable jets go but it can go well beyond that.  Points are rewarded for extras that contribute to the coolness of the toy, useless extras will probably just irritate me as being something I had to pay for and could care less about.  Points will also be given for the decal sheets and inserts here.  A rough outline is provided below:
Packaging & Extras: 5 Possible Points
1) Toy comes in a plastic bag with no extras
2) Toy comes in a flimsy box with no extras
3) Toy comes in a decent box with no extras or a flimsy box with some extras
4) Toy comes in a decent box with some extras/inserts
5) Toy comes in a great box with good extras and includes extras that are superfluous to the actual toy (like a standing pilot figure, a comic, a DVD)
2) Charm and Collectibility:
This is sort of an intangible section that grants vintage toys and limited editions a nice boost.  If you don’t care about whether or not your toy is vintage or has a potential secondary market value then you may gain more from my reviews by backing out the score attributed here.  Charm is roughly equivical to the desirabilty of the toy.  Vintage toys with high sentimental values will score high here.  Did you love your Jetfire Transformer?  So did everyone else and that’s why a Bandai reissue of the the Takatoku “chunky monkey” will score high and the original Takatoku will score even higher.  Collectibilty is the natural extension of Charm.  Vintage toys that are hard to come across and popular limited editions will score very high.  I may occasionally offer price points for what the toy is worth in this section, obviously that price point will only be applicable on the day I make the post.  No, I’m not selling the toys I review (for the most part).
Charm & Collectibility: 5 Possible Points
1) Toy is a dime a dozen… and nobody wants it
2) Toy is common with some appeal or scarce but with limited appeal
3) Toy is common with a good amount of appeal or somewhat scarce with some appeal
4) Toy is scarce with a good amount of appeal
5) Toy is very scarce and in demand

3) Sculpt, Detail, and Paint:
Anyone who tells you looks don’t matter obviously isn’t a toy collector.  These toys are representations of mecha we already know and love so the closer they look to the lineart of the animation the higher they will score in this section.  This section will often prove to be the Yang to the Charm and Collectibility section’s Yin for vintage toys.  This section will also assume the toy was produced properly without manufacture flaws.  If I’m going to nitpick, this is probably where I’ll do it.  Tampo stamped detail and panel lines will certainly help bump scores up here.
Sculpt, Detail, and Paint: 10 Possible Points
1) Toy is said to be a certain item from a show but doesn’t resemble it at all.
2) Toy is at least the same category of what it was in the show but still bears almost no resemblance.
3) Toy has a similar shape or color to the item in the show but still is far from bearing a similar likeness.
4) Toy resembles the product in the show but with little consideration of proportions in any mode.
5) Toy resembles the product in the show in shape and proportion but only in one mode and without decent detail.
6) Toy resembles the product from the show roughly in all modes but with limited detail and frequent proportion issues.
7) Toy is a fair reproduction of the item in the show in all modes but is limited in detail and there is clear room for improvement.
8) Toy is an excellent reproduction of the item in the show in all modes with fair detail.  There is only slight room for improvement.
9) Toy is superb in all modes with excellent detail.  When stickered up this toy is truly something to behold.
10) Toy is superb in all modes with excellent detail and includes a tremendous amount of painted on detail rather than included decals.

4) Design:
This is where toys will earn points for the ingenuity employed in their transformation sequences and whatever tricks have been built into the toy itself.  Does the canopy open and close?  Are their landing gears?  Is the transformation intuitive?  Are their parts of the transformation that seem to require tweezers or some other means of assistance?  Does anything on the toy seem unduly complicated?  Does anything about the toy appear lazy?  Can panels on the toy be flipped to show battle damage?  Do trapdoors open to display additional weaponry?  These are the types of items that will score toys points in this section.
Design: 10 Possible Points
1) This isn’t a toy, it’s a brick.
2) This is a brick with a hole in it so a gun can be attached/removed.
3) This is a brick with a hole for the addition/removal of a gun and SOMETHING that moves, usually a head.
4) This is a non-transformable toy with five points of articulation or a transformable toy with fewer than 5 points of articulation.
5) This toy transforms… poorly.  The manner it transforms in is either non-intuitive, imperfect (requires pieces to be removed and replaced), or improper (unlike what we see in the show).  This toy may also transform but forego one of the modes within transformation (such as a Macross toy that can not obtain GERWALK).  The end result is often awkward.
6) This toy transforms… poorly.  The manner it transforms in is either non-intuitive, imperfect (requires pieces to be removed and replaced), or improper (unlike what we see in the show).  Transformation does not require skipping any necessary modes and the end result is usually play-able.
7) This toy transforms well.  It is sturdy throughout transformation and the end result is always playable. If this toy is of sufficient size it should include landing gears (or a similarly equivalent item for non-fighter planes) as a minimum of other features.
8) This toy transforms well and includes processes that help conceal the transformation method.  No modes are skipped and all are playable.  If this toy is of sufficient size it should include landing gears as well as a cockpit that opens and closes (or equivalents for non-fighter jet toys).  Some element of design should show consideration of articulation.
9) This toy transforms very well, all modes are playable, and additional elements are present purely for particular modes (Like the pieces between the chest and back of the Yamato 1/48 that help conceal the cavity in the middle of the battroid).
10) This toy contains all the elements of a toy receiving a 9 but goes beyond that including compartments that open to reveal additional detail, parts that can be swapped to show damage, and/or nuance elements that were shown only briefly in the show but are included as fan service.

5) Build & Durability:
The road to he** is paved with good intentions.  If a toy is designed beautifully but disintegrates if mishandled slightly then there was room for improvement.  It’s an easy argument to suggest that this section is actually an extension of design and in many ways it is.  For the structure presented here I tend to think of the toy in a best case scenario light for the Design section and in a “So how does it really play out” manner in this section.  The materials chosen to actually make the toy matter much more here.  If a hinge is only trouble because it’s made of very thin plastic instead of metal then the toy will be penalized in the Durability section rather than the Design section.  Toys will also gain points in this section for being screw-based rather than heavily glued.  Screws allow a toy to be taken apart and weaknesses, such as loose joints, to be corrected.  Toys that are extensively glued can not be taken apart without breaking, in most cases, and are prone to falling apart as the bonds of the glue break.
Durability & Build: 10 Possible Points
1) This toy is fine China… and you are a bull.
2) Toy should come packaged with glue… ’cause you’re gonna need it.
3) Was this toy put together by someone who recently lost their vision?
4) It’s recommended you leave this toy in the box.  The only problem is, its also recommended you remove this toy from the box and look for glaring manufacture issues.  When investigating for manufacture errors it is very important to move the joints as little as possible because they’re probably already on the verge of being so loose their useless.
5) Toy is put together well enough where an adult collector can handle it moderately without fretting constantly but for God’s sake, don’t let a child get hold of it.  Toy has numerous potentially fragile spots.  Joints seem to be loose after very minor handling.  Some pieces may exhibit excess glue… others seemed to have made it through manufacture without ever getting enough glue.
6) Toy can withstand extensive handling so long as consideration is given to a few major items.  It is still recommended children stay far from this toy if you consider it a collector’s item.  Usually paint-chipping is a pretty significant issue.  Joint wear seems like a concern sooner than it ought to be.
7) Toy can handle moderate play but will break eventually.  Paint chipping can be a problem, joints get loose before too long, and there are a few areas that seem to be frequently in peril of snapping off.
8) This is a sturdy toy that can hand moderate play and has very few areas that seem to ever be precarious.
9) This thing is practically a Jart.  It’s rock solid but paint chipping can still arise and thorough play will eventually cause something to break.
10) This isn’t a toy, it’s Superman!  This toy is built so solid there’s no way its interesting.  I would say that if Takatoku had ever released a 100% diecast chunky monkey with absolutely no paint that’d be a perfect 10.

6) Articulation:
It shouldn’t be a real mystery what’s being judged here.  The outline below gives a pretty good breakdown of what I’m looking at.
Articulation: 10 Possible Points
1) This toy probably scored a 1 in design also… because it’s a brick.
2) 1 or 2 points of articulation.  Maybe the head can spin around or the arms can move at the shoulders.
3) 3 points of articulation.  This might be a combo of the head moving and the shoulders also.
4) 4 or 5 points of articulation.  This toy might have shoulders, hips, and a head that moves.
5) 6 or 7 points of articulation possibly including some joints with with various mobility (swivel and bend).  Most likely joints at this point are at the neck, shoulders, hips, knees OR elbows.
6) 8 to 9 points of articulation including some joints with various mobility.  This toy was once considered average (or even above average), it features a neck, shoulders, hips, knees AND elbows.
7) 10 or more points of articulation.  Toy is capable of some interesting poses but is typically still a little too rigid for anything too exciting.  It has the joints previously described as a 6 as well as wrists/ankles.
8) Toy contains enough points of articulation to pull off some very interesting poses.  This toy may have balance issues or poor weight distribution though.  At this point ball-joints will likely be necessary in the hips and a waist swivel point.  A ball joint or similar mechanism in the neck is also a benefit.
9) Toy can pull off some pretty amazing poses unassisted and can maintain them without the fear of uneven weight distribution eventually leading to collapse.
10) This toy can do everything it did in the cartoon (except for the crazy stuff only animation magic makes possible).

7) Total Score:
Obviously this is just a total.  Be sure to do your own weighting for the individual categories that matter most to you.  Also note that I grade like your school professors.  An average job is a 7 so a completely average toy will get a 35.  That said, a perfect score is pretty much impossible to get because at some point the durability section will conflict with the sculpt, detail, and paint section or the design section.  Such is life, sometimes we have to give to get.  Basically you might want to consider a 49 the top score possible.  A 5 would be the lowest score possible and would probably be a toy I’d never purchase or review.  This toy would probably be more like an eraser with a VF-1 drawn on it that comes in a plastic bubble in a vending machine.  Also note that there is a big difference between a 33 and a 38.  One of those toys is below average either in a few categories or substantially in one, the other toy is likely at least average in all categories and/or likely excels in at least one.
Total Score: 50 Possible Points (6 point minimum score)
The total score will inevitably be highly misleading.  If a gashapon toy gets a tiny score does that make it not worth owning?  No, that just means that a full-size deluxe toy is a better toy (and you should already know that).  Deluxe toys will all score similarly since they are packaged and produced similarly.  Some toys will offset their weaknesses in some categories with strength in others… but some categories may be more important to you than others.  Look at the full review and give it your own weighting to determine what you really think it’s worth.