In addition to being a huge fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I have also been a long term fan of Nintendo and a great
many of their properties for just as long. But unlike the Ninja Turtles, there hasn't been a lot of action figures based on
the various Nintendo properties. There have been a few over the years, but the highlight has definitely been the amazing figures
produced by Toy Biz many years ago under the Mario Kart and Diddy Kong Racing license. Toss in their their Legend of Zelda Ocarina
of Time figures and you have a collection that has yet to be surpassed to my knowledge. But 2014 brought a few new challengers
that may just surpass those lines for the greatest line of Nintendo toys ever. On the international side of things, there is
the S.H. Figuarts line which has produced a small number of high quality Nintendo figures such as the Samus Aran and Skyward Sword
Link figures that I reviewed earlier in the year. And in the U.S. Jakk's Pacific has started to produce a line of Nintendo items
including traditional action figures in both a four and six inch size. I had initially ignored these lines as they didn't seem like
they would be any better than the Toy Biz versions I already owned. But after seeing what Jakk's Pacific has planned for future
series, I had to reconsider. So I picked up the first series of the four inch and six inch figures which include Mario, Yoshi, Wario
and Link in the 4 inch line and Donkey Kong and Bowser in the six inch line to see how they stack up against what has come before them.
Packaging - 4 Inch line 7/10, 6 Inch line 8/10This line posed an interesting challenge when it came to the packaging. How do you create a design that works well for the wide variety of different games that fall under this license? My first thought would be to incorporate some art from all of the different Nintendo properties. But Jakk's went the opposite way and came up with a very simple and clean looking design and changing the primary color for each license. So Super Mario Bros. figures have red packaging. Link from the Legend of Zelda has green packaging. And Donkey Kong figures have yellow packaging. It's very simple but it works really well. The bright colors are very much in keeping with a video game based toy. I do wish that both versions would include more information about the games on which they are based or the characters themselves. But since all of the packaging is bilingual, I can understand why text has to be limited. But even if they wanted to avoid text, they could have at least made use of the interior of the boxes for the 6 inch figures for some creative backdrops. The bigger issue though is the lack of durability and quality control on the 4 inch carded figures. (One of the boxes for my six inch figures was damaged, but that had more to do with ordering it from a store that doesn't know how to properly package their shipments.) The cards for the four inch figures is made of material that is too thin and is prone to damage. They crease very easily. And the hooks at the top are especially prone to damage with the heavier figures like Wario. But even if you get the cards before they can be damaged on store shelves, there is another issue. The bubbles wrap around the left side of the cards and are taped down on the back. But the tape is very poorly applied and coming up on most of my figures. I'm fine with using this style of bubble. But then use decent tape to hold it down so every figure doesn't look like it has been opened and repackaged.
Sculpting - Donkey Kong 5/10, Bowser 6/10, Mario 9/10, others 8/10The sculpting for the four inch figures is pretty well executed. The details are sharp and there is enough to keep the figures from appearing dull. There are a few minor design changes I would have prefered. Link should be larger. Wario's upper body should account for more of his body overall. And Yoshi is looking a bit chubby. Mario is fairly spot on though. The way the articulation is desinged on all of the figures is a bit unusual though. Most of the joints are desinged to blend in to the sculpt quite well, but only in one position. If they are moved out of the default position, it can leave some odd and fairly ugly ridges and gouges. The larger six inch figures are not as impressive as the smaller figures and have the same issues with the poorly integrated articulation. Bowser looks nice, too nice. He has a simple, almost cartoonish appearance. I don't want a cute looking Bowser. I want a mean, scalely looking monster. If they had added some scale texture to the skin and more detail on the shell, this could have been a much more intimidating looking figure. Donkey Kong is even worse. He has a lot of texture for his fur. But none of the detailing is very sharp. And on the chest, fists and feet there just isn't any. If you want a version of DK to star in an 80's Saturday morning cartoon, he's perfect. If you want a big ape to menace Mario, this might not be the best choice.
Paint - Link 8/10, others 7/10The paint applications on all of these figures is probably their strongest attribute. While the paint applications on most of them are not that complex, they are all donw neatly and with little to no imperfections. Link deserves particular notice as there is considerably more detail work on his outfit than any of the other figures.
Articulation - Link 7/10, Mario & Donkey Kong 6/10, Wario 5/10, Yoshi & Bowser 4/10Jakk's did an admirable job of trying to add articulation to these figures without breaking up the lines of the sculpts too much. But the results are hit or miss. The best of the six is Link. His card claims that he has 13 points of articulation, though that is counting each of the multi-part joints such as the snkles which are both hinged and rotate, as just one point of articulation. So he actually has twenty eight joints. Unfortunately the hem of his tunic really limits the movement of his hips. And a lot of the joints are not as tight as they should be. They aren't exactly loose. They will hold a pose, but just barely. Mario has thirteen points of articulation: ball joints at the neck and hips, hinged and rotating shoulders, hinged elbows and knees and rotating wrists. The neck joint doesn't have much range of motion since he has no real neck to separate the head from his body. Wario has the same arm articulation and neck joint, but only rotating ankles since his legs are so short. Yoshi has ball jointed hips, hinged and rotating shoulders and a rotating neck. Unfortunately that means he can only stand upright. He can bend over for Mario to ride on him or for his tongue attack. For the larger figures, Bowser has fourteen points of articulation: rotating and hinged joints at the hips, shoulders and wrists and hinged elbows. But the range of motion is very limited. The hinges for the hands are pretty much pointless. And the shoulders are set up for the arms to stick straight out to the sides by default. He may look menacing, (albeit in a fairly cartoony way) but his arms are about as useful as those of a T-rex. Donkey Kong's articulation is better. He has rotating joints at the neck and ankles, hinged and rotating shoulders, hips and wrists, and hinged elbows and torso. His articulation allows him enough range of motion to do the important things, stand either on his feet alone or with his knuckles on the ground and pound his chest. But there isn't much more that he can do beyond that.
Accessories - Bowser & DK 0/10, Link 7/10, others 5/10The six inch figures do not come with any accessories. They don't really need any, but neither do Mario, Wario or Yoshi and they each have one. Mario comes with a Super Mushroom. Yoshi comes with an egg and Wario has a yellow coin. Link comes with three accessories: the master sword with a scabbard and his shield. There's certainly no lack of other items that Link could have had as well. But at least he has the basics covered. There's just one slight problem with the accessories for the four inch figures. Someone at Jakk's got the bright idea to hide the accessories. Link's shield comes in a small treasure chest. And the accessories for Wario, Mario and Yoshi are in cardboard question blocks. It's a neat idea. But instead of just putting them in disposable cardboard boxes, they should have made an actual question block accessory and a real treasure chest. That would have made the difference between the accessories just being a nice little bonus that will be tossed aside immediately and them being something truely unique and impressive.
If you are looking for a means to add a few more display/play options, Knex's Mario Kart Blind Bag figures are a pretty good option. The figures themselves are not that impressive which is why I am not bothering to do a full review for them. But each series of their blind bag figures has one or two enemy troops such as Goombas, Cheap Cheaps, Bullet Bill and Bob Omb. They are sold as blind bags, but as you might expect, it isn't too hard to figure out which bags contain the enemy figures due to their unusual shapes. At $4 each, amassing an army might be expensive. But one or two are not unreasonable.
Value - 6/10The four inche carded figures retail for $10 each and the six inch figures are $15 each. Overall I'd say my first impression was correct. These are decent figures, but certainly not surperior to some of the versions that I already own. But for those that don't have the option of going back in time, these are a reasonable substitute and you can get the entire first series for what just one of the Toy Biz Mario Kart figures costs now. And assuming the line continues and expands as Jakk's has planned, these could easily become similarly prized items in the future.
Happy Hunting:The World of Nintendo lines are carried in a number of different stores. Though both Target and Toys R Us seem to be supporting the lines the most. Actually, I believe that Bowser is a Toys R Us exclusive. If you are interested in picking up the line, be aware that Link seems to be in fairly limited supply, possibly only one per case. So if you do see him in stores, it would be a good idea to pick him up if and when you get the chance.