Sometimes timing is everything I guess. When Playmates Toys produced a series of action figures based on the Simpsons in the
early 2000's, it was a big hit. It lasted for sixteen series and produced more than a hundred different figures representing
a large swath of the population of Springfield. And that plastic population remains proudly on displayed in my home to this day.
So when NECA launched a new line of Simpsons figures that were more or less compatible with Playmates' World of Springfield line,
they certainly should have had my interest. While the cost per figure was higher than I would like,
Series One was a promising start. And series two has been showing up
over the last month. This time around, there are eight figures in the series: Tony Hawk, Lucy Lawless, Mark Hamill, Britney Spears,
all three members of The Who and a new version of Maggie Simpson. I better make more room on the shelf.
Packaging - 5/10The packaging design for the line hasn't changed from the first series. While the consistency is nice, the overall design, especially for the front is fairly bland. And the card stock is still very thin and prone to warping and damage. The best feature remains the use of actual screen caps from the show and description of how each celebrity came to cross paths with Fox's first family. The packaging is serviceable. But for a line that is clearly targeted towards adult collectors, collectors who are more likely to leave their figures in the original packaging, more effort in its design and execution would have been well warranted and appreciated.
Sculpting - Maggie & T. Hawk 6/10, L.Lawless & The Who 7/10, others 8/10The sculpting for the second series of figures is fairly solid. The only issue I have with quality is that Lucy Lawless's head doesn't meet her shoulders properly, leaving a slight gap. Beyond that there are just a few minor quibbles such as the transition from the shoulders to the neck on Brittney Spears doesn't look very natural and the details on Tony Hawk could stand to be more pronounced. (Cargo pants shouldn't lie that flat.) This series also provides the first direct comparison between the Playmates W.O.S. figures and the NECA figures in the form of Lucy Lawless. The two figures are remarkably similar. The NECA figure has slightly more realistic proportions: a smaller face, and thicker body. But looking at the two figures together makes it fairly clear that the NECA figures were designed to be compatible with the WOS line.
One thing that struck me as being a bit odd with this series though is the line up and costume choices. Lucy Lawless, Mark Hamill and Tony Hawk all make quite a bit of sense as all three play significant roles in the episodes in which they were featured. The members of the Who also make sense, and it is nice that they fit the entire band in a single series so fans can complete the group. But it seems a bit odd for them to use the group's appearance from the hotel scene which only lasted a matter of seconds rather than their outfits from the performance at the end of the episode. But then you come to Britney Spears and Maggie. Britney Spear was only in her episode briefly but I suppose you can't argue about her celebrity status. But this version of Maggie was nothing bout a one shot, visual punchline that lasted only a few seconds. Even knowing which episode she was based upon, I still had to go back and rewatch the episode to remember where she appeared in it. I suppose her inclusion is linked to the inclusion of Brittney Spears in this series. But that seems like a waste of two spots.
Paint - Tony Hawk 5/10, Maggie 6/10, others 8/10Each of the figures is suppose to be hand painted. Overall, the quality is very good. They aren't quite perfect. But at any distance beyond about twelve inches, you'd have a hard time see any issues. I do have a minor issue with Maggie in that they got the color of her outfit wrong. It is too dark, closer to lavender than the pink that is should be. But that is minor compared to the fact that they got Tony Hawk's hair the wrong color. It is black on the figure instead of the light brown that is should be. That is a pretty significant screw up.
Articulation - 4/10Each figure has four rotating joints: waist, neck and the two shoulders. They have improved a bit from the first series. Stuck joints are less of an issue. And none of the figures is stuck in an extreme pose. And only Lucy Lawless has any loss of movement due to her hair wrapping around her shoulders.
Accessories - Tony Hawk 6/10, The Who 5/10, Britney Spears 1/10, others 0/10Roger Daltrey comes with his microphone while his band mates each have a guitar. And all three can hold their accessories securely. Oddly, they glued the guitar straps for both Entwistle and Townshend to their backs but left Daltrey's microphone loose. But if you want to remove the guitars, you should be able to pop them off with minimal effort. Tony Hawk has two accessories, a removable helmet and his skateboard. Unfortunately since they goofed up his hair color it pretty much eliminates any desire I might have to display the figure with the helmet removed. The skateboard looks great. But the figure is not designed to be able to use it or even hold it. The best I was able to do was to wedge it between his foot and hand. Britney Spears comes with the award for the oldest citizen in Springfield which is permanently attached to her right hand. So it isn't really an accessory. But I do have to give them credit for including it. Mark Hamill, Lucy Lawless and Maggie lack any accessories. (Personally, I still think that Maggie should have been an accessory given her size.)
Value - Maggie 1/10, others 4/10These figures sell for $12 each. For Maggie, a version of the character that was a minor sight gag that no one really cared about, that is a complete waste. The other figures are decent representations of each character, well except for Tony Hawk's hair of course. But that is still a fairly steep price per figure if you are going to buy them all.
Happy Hunting:The second series of figures has been shipping for a few weeks. As with the first series, it should be available in specialty stores that carry NECA products. I purchased my set from Toys R Us locally. But they seem to have a fairly limited supply. I haven't seen them restock since I bought my set.