Geeks and nerds of the world rejoice, Futurama is back! Last week marked the return of all new episodes on Comedy Central.
If you don't know why that is a big deal, turn in your geek card and hang your head in shame. In the mean time, I thought
I would celebrate by going back and picking up the latest series of Toynami Futurama figures. Granted I'm a bit behind
since these were released weeks ago. But we waited almost seven years for new episodes on TV, so what's a few weeks? At any
rate, the eight series of Toynami's Futurama figures are out. And this time we get Bender in his chef's garb from the episode
"The 30% Iron Chef" and Mom, the CEO of Mom's Friendly Robot Company.
Packaging - 4/10Eight series and counting and the packaging hasn't changed. While I like the use of artwork, I still don't like the muted tones that they use. It just doesn't feel right for the Futurama license. But I will at least give Toynami some credit for consistency. If you are a MIB collector, having all of the figures share the same packaging design means that they look better together.
Sculpting - Mom 2/10, Chef Bender 8/10This is the fourth Bender figure that I've purchased and the second Chef Bender figure to be produced. (There was a Chef Bender variant figure that was part of the MAC toy line.) Yet they still managed to come up with a sculpt that is different enough so that it doesn't seem like a waste of money if you have the previous versions. The head and legs are reused from the first Toynami Bender. But the torso and arms are new. They are sculpted to give Bender a full length chef's coat. The one draw back to the new parts is that the arms sit just a bit too high on the torso so that the "bunched fabric" at the shoulder actually extends up beyond the body. But that is a very minor issue. And then there is Mom. She is sculpted in her natural, thinner form, and then larger body is a removable accessory. The head sculpt turned out well. But from the neck down, there is almost no details. That wouldn't be too bad since it is accurate for the character. But there is also no articulation in the legs or body, which means that there is no ability to adjust the center of gravity to support the weight of the large head and hair. The only way my figure was able to stand was to bend the legs. And even then, she is far from stable.
Paint - 5/10The paint work for these two figures is a mixed bag. The pain applications on Mom are quite well done. The face and hair are fully painted as are the hands and boots. That means that over half of the figure is painted. And they manage to do that without any quality control issues. But there is no detail work. It's just large areas painted in solid colors which means the final figure looks quite dull. Chef Bender is much better in that regard. Unfortunately the quality control took a nose dive. The lines between his foot cups and legs are really bad. His right wrist is a bit sloppy as well, but not as bad. I'm a bit disappointed that they didn't paint the bottom his shiny metal @$$. But it is not like it is going to be seen often. Still, it is Bender we are talking about.
Articulation - Mom 2/10, Bender 4/10Mom has only four points of articulation, all of them in the arms and three of them in just the left arm. It has rotating joints at the shoulder, elbow and wrist. The right arm has the final rotating joint at its shoulder. The left arm is great. By cutting the elbow joint at an angle, you are able to get the equivalent of a hinged joint with up to a ninety degree range of motion. Unfortunately it is all wasted since the left hand is mounted at a right angle to the arm so there are only a few poses that the figure can take without looking like her wrist is broken. But I'm most disappointed by the lack of any hip joints which as I stated earlier, means that there is no way to adjust the figure's balance other than bending it. Chef Bender has just three points of articulation: neck and both shoulders. The legs are still bendable, but the arms no longer are. That's a shame because there's no reason why they couldn't be bendable.
Accessories - Mom 3/10, Chef Bender 6/10 (add two points if completing Roberto)Mom comes with just one accessory for the figure, the large dress which she wears for public appearances. The dress snaps apart and then clips over the neck. It also has several braces inside to keep the figure firmly in place. The dress accessory is a nice idea and looks good. And since its hem extends down below the figure's feet, it also solves the stability issue. But when the dress is in place, the figure becomes a complete statue. They could have gone all out and given the dress articulated arms. But as it is, the dress just doesn't measure up to what this line usually delivers.
Chef Bender comes with four accessories: a wooden spoon, a chef's hat and two spare sets of eyes. The eyes include a set of normal eyes and a set looking up and to the right in addition to the partially closed set which come on the figure. The regular eyes are a nice choice in case you didn't buy the original Toynami Bender figure. But the other set are a pretty dull choice. The chef's hat fits snugly on Bender's head and has room for his antenna. But where Chef Bender really stands out is actually the Build a Bot pieces. He is package With Roberto's arms and his stabbin' knife. But if you aren't building a Roberto figure, the knife makes a great additional accessory for Chef Bender.
Build A Bot - RobertoThe release of the eighth series also marks the completion of the third Build A Bot figure: Robeto. Mom comes packaged with his head. Chef Bender comes with his arms and knife so you can complete everyone's favorite criminally insane robot. (Well, everyone except Fry perhaps.) He looks good. And the fact that this is the first Build A Bot which could be completed over just two series of figures is a welcome change. But there's two problems. The first and most serious is that they got the scale VERY wrong for Roberto. He should be a little taller than Bender. But he towers over Bender! He is probably at least 3/4 of an inch too tall if not more. The other issue is not as serious, but should have been corrected by now. Yet again, many of the Build A Bot parts are not designed to stay together once assembled. The arms and legs are fine. But his head and waist come apart with minimal effort. There's no reason to design the parts this way. And after having to search for Robot Santa's legs on more than one occasion, I would welcome a design change to avoid limbless bots.
Value - Mom 4/10, Chef Bender 7/10Toynami's Futurama figures retail for $14 apiece. While Mom is a great character and the closest that Futurama has to a main villain, this just isn't very impressive as an action figure. If you just want a cheap plastic statue, you're all set. If you want an action figure, it's probably the best you'll get. Chef Bender on the other hand, doesn't disappoint. He looks great, has great accessories, and you don't actually have to eat his cooking. It's a winner all the way around. The only downside is that in a line with so few figures produced, getting yet another Bender variant can feel like a missed opportunity for one of the many other great characters from the show. Hopefully now that the show is back with new episodes, we'll have plenty of opportunities in the future for all of the characters from the show.
Happy Hunting:Series eight has been shipping for a while now. So you may actually have missed them by now if your preferred retailer only buys a small number of the Futurama figures. But they are still out there. Big Bad Toy Store still has them listed as does Entertainment Earth. There are also multiple listings for them on eBay, though all of the starting prices seem to be above retail.