Welcome to the WORLD OF TOMORROW! Welcome to the world of Futurama. Now strip down and get on the probulator. If that joke went over your head, don't worry. You just need to catch up on satirical cartoon from the creative minds behind The Simpsons: Futurama. And now that it has begun airing on Comedy Central, it's a perfect time to see what you've missed. Meanwhile we long term fans are clamoring for new merchandise and Toynami is there to cash in. I reviewed the first series of figures which included a re-release of the old MAC Toys Fry figure and a brand new Doctor Zoidberg. The second series is just hitting stores now and gives us a brand new Leela figure along with the hero of DOOP, Captain Zapp Brannigan. (Kiff, show them his medal.) Oh, and did I forget to mention the series also includes the head of Richard Nixon in a jar?
Packaging - 3/10The packaging hasn't changed from the first series. Each figure comes in a window box with the figure itself clearly visible while their accessories as less clearly displayed along the side. In the case of Brannigan, you can't even see that there are any parts of the Robot Devil included until the box is opened. That's not a big deal though. What turns me off from the packaging are the graphics used for the box. Futurama is a very bright and colorful cartoon, not quite as much so as the Simpsons, but quite colorful none the less. The packaging seems to be a throw back to some of the retro style Futurama products that have been in production for years. So all of the colors are muted and distorted in a some what retro style. That's fine for the tin toys and signs that are done in that style. It doesn't match well here.
Sculpting - Zapp 7/10, Leela 6/10I was thrilled to see that unlike with series one, both of these figures are completely new. Honestly, I had been expecting them to just reuse the molds from the MAC Toys line throughout the first three series after they reused Fry's sculpt for series one. But Leela is clearly a completely new sculpt. The new sculpt is more refined. It is also quite a bit thinner. It is a very nice change for the face sculpt, the old one was a bit atrocious when viewed head on. This one doesn't have that issue. But the body is a bit too thin now. The pose is entirely devoid of personality which is something the previous figure had. Zapp Brannigan is also a nice sculpt. As with Leela, it is done is a very clean and simple style that matches the show well. There isn't a lot of detail, but the small touches make a big difference. And unlike Leela, the character design for Brannigan's head doesn't require any cheating to translate into three dimensions. If the figure has any draw backs it is that the way it is positioned really only allows for one pose, fitting though it may be.
Paint - 6/10The paint work is the biggest reason why I'm glad to have purchased a new Leela figure Where the MAC Toys had paint that was clumpy, uneven and a bit of a mess, the Toynami figures are light years beyond that in terms of quality. (That's light years at the 2000 AD speed of light not the 3000 AD speed since fans will remember that scientists increased the speed of light in the future.) Still, the paint work isn't quite perfect. There are areas where the edges of the paint don't quite match with sculpt such as Leela's eye and hairline and the white for Brannigan's boots and gloves. On most figures this wouldn't be a big deal. But with figures with so little detail, every small error stands out.
Articulation - Leela 2/10 Zapp 1/10The articulation is the greatest Achilles heel for this line. I'll grant them that the character designs don't lend themselves to levels of articulation like a Marvel Legends figure. But at only four points of articulation for Zapp Brannigan and five for Leela, this is taking minimalism a bit too far. Leela does at least have some useful articulation with rotating joints at the waist, shoulders, neck and ponytail. That is enough to allow her to raise her arms and use her accessories. But there really isn't a reason why they couldn't have at least put a rotating joint on her right arm where her wrist thing is. Brannigan on the other hand has rotating joints at the shoulders, waist and neck. With his arms permanently sculpted inward, the only pose in which they look right is down at his sides. You could also turn them upwards as if he were flexing his biceps, but the arms look comically tiny that way. In the end, you have a figure with one pose that can look to either side while in that pose. I expect better.
Accessories - Zapp 8/10, Leela 2/10 (add two points if completing the Devil figure)Futurama is a property that is riff with humorous props that practically scream to be made into accessories much like The Simpsons. Playmates Toys figured this out with their World of Springfield line. And to this day those accessories surface in displays and dioramas of figures even when the WOS figures don't. Toynami completely missed that potential with Leela. Sure she comes with some accessories, two retro futuristic style guns and the Robot Devil's crotch. The guns are okay, but there are so many better items that they could have included. And to make matters worse, she can't really hold the green rifle style one well since the handle with the trigger is much too small to fit in her hand. But where Leela's accessories are mediocre and quite forgettable, Brannigan's accessories are excellent. He comes with the head of Richard Nixon in a jar, a podium with the presidential seal and the Robot Devil's arms. The podium is nice, but it is nothing without a head in a jar to sit ontop. Actually that isn't entirely true since Zapp looks pretty good standing behind it with his hands on it. And that figure needs as many possible poses as it can get. Nixon's head is a great accessory and basically makes Zapp Brannigan a two pack of figures. The sculpt looks great and is scaled to the other figures well. But the addition of the jar makes it a bit too large over all. Forget about storing it in Bender's chest compartment. There is a bit of room to improve on the Nixon accessory. The head attaches to the bottom of the jar with a peg going through the base. As long as that is there, they could have made it so that you could move or even pose Nixon's head. That would have been cool. And while I realize this is asking a lot, I would love for them to have actually filled the jar with liquid since it is enclosed any way. That may be asking a lot, but hey, Toy Biz pulled it off years ago in the Silver Surfer toy line so why not?
Both figures come with parts of the Robot Devil build a figure. Leela has his waist section while Brannigan comes with his arms. Together with the parts from series one, we now have everything except his legs. That leads me to wonder if the series three figures will each come with one leg which would be a bit cheap. Or will they put the legs with one figure and some accessories for the Robot Devil with the other? That may seem like asking a lot, but he is pictured on the back of the packaging with a top hat and cane. And the arms are constructed so that the hands can be removed. Are interchangeable hands a possibility? (Sorry, it doesn't look like Fry's hands can be swapped with these.) There isn't a lot to say about the Devil's crotch. And that is a sentence I hope I will never have to say or type again. But it is worth noting that his tail is made out of a wire so it is adjustable.
Value - 6/10I paid $24 for a set of both figures on line. If you are fortunate, you may be able to shave a dollar or two off of that if you shop around. But it is still cheaper than I would have gotten them for through the local comic shop. If you are not like me and don't mind waiting, you may wish to wait to buy Leela. From what I saw of the first series, as a new character Dr. Zoidberg sold much faster than Fry. And with Zapp and Nixon basically being a two pack, they will probably do the same. That may result in places offering Leela for less in the near future. However, with the way the Robot Devil figure is shaping up, I would not want to miss out on the chance to complete him just to save a few dollars.
Happy Hunting:If you want to add to your cast of futuristic screwballs with Leela and Zapp Brannigan, they are shipping now. I ordered my set from Big Bad Toy Store since they were the first that I saw to have them in stock. But they will be turning up at more on line stores shortly. They were also available to order through Diamond Distribution so you may wish to check with your local comic shop to see if they ordered any or if they can order you a set.