First, here are a few of my guiding principles:I. I judge a toy on what it was intended to be- A more statuesque figure doesn't get knocked for not having the same level of articulation as a Marvel Legends or DC Universe Classics figure. A stylized retro styled figure doesn't get compared to the sculpting and paintwork of something from NECA.
II. Most often, I'll try compare similar figures. A plastic army man is judged according to other solid plastic mini figures, not according to a 1/18th scale Star Wars figure. Anyone creating toys in a specific scale, however, may be compared to other toys from the same scale. It might not hurt your score, but if you release a 1/6th scale figure, you'd better believe it will be compared to the best (and worst) of what's around.
III. I don't judge a toy anachronistically, but try to consider how I would have perceived it at the time of it's release. A Legends of Batman figure isn't going to get knocked because the articulation isn't up to par with a DC Collectibles Batman figure.
IV. You should never have to fix your toys right out of the package. Ever. Breakage aggravates me.
V. I don't often factor in price. Unless the toy is only available from one specific source, it just doesn't seem to matter much. Besides, price is pretty fluid. Maybe you found the figure on clearance, wanted it so bad you paid a scalper's price for it, traded something older you had with someone else to get it, or received it as a gift. I'll present my opinions of the figure itself and you can decide what you're willing to pay for it. Sometimes I mention price if the figure is sold by one specific source, but not often.
Now, here's my criteria for assigning a particular rating to a particular figure:
Crap: Rarely do I intend to award a crap rating. Let's be honest: fans love to overreact and complain that action figures are crap all the time because they don't like the property or the character, or a detail was off, etc. In my book, there are only two direct ways to get a "Crap" rating: severe quality control issues (broken limbs, disintegrating plastic, etc.), or if a figure is wildly inferior in quality to the rest of its toy line.
Eh: This is a figure that may have some quality control issues, some very questionable design choices, or may simply not meet it's perceived goal. This is the kind of figure I would only recommend picking up if you are a diehard completest or if you found it on clearance for dirt cheap.
Good: This is a pretty decent action figure, and where a good many figures will land. If there are QC flaws, they are pretty minor. Otherwise, this figure does what it is supposed to, although it doesn't really bring anything new to the table. If you're a completest or love the character, it's probably worth picking up for you.
Great: This is a figure that meets it's goal and offers at least some unique feature--perhaps an exceptional sculpt, extraordinary paint apps, or fantastic accessories. This is the kind of figure you might recommend to someone who only wants to collect the best figures in a given line.
Epic: This is the kind of figure you recommend to someone who many not even collect a specific line or scale, and may not even care for the property. It fires on all cylinders, and brings some unique and new ideas to the table in multiple areas with great success or simply just does what it set out to do to perfection.
ThEpic Review scale allows a 1/2 point to be given, so you may see Crap and a 1/2, Eh and a 1/2, Good and a 1/2, and Great and a 1/2. The 1/2 is used by the reviewer to give a figure a personal swing. Maybe you have a good figure of a mutant cheetah, but you really like mutant cheetahs? Give it a Good and a 1/2. Simple right?
Why do I give so many positive reviews?
I've seen this question asked of other reviewers and I've had a few folks ask me the question as well from time to time. I'd say I give out mostly Good and a 1/2 to Great ratings. Isn't that a bit odd? Not really. For someone reviewing other forms of media like a book, film, or video game, you really don't know what you're going to get. There are elements of plot, acting, glitches, and execution that can make something we were interested in fall flat. With an action figure, however, rarely do I not know what I'm getting going in. For example, I tend to buy toys that I like. When reviewing movies I might go and watch some movies that I'm unsure of. I don't purchase many toys that I'm unsure of. I tend to put my collecting budget into toylines I'm already a fan of or that I can see the positive qualities in.