Playmates Toys is back for more of my money this week with the latest in their Simpsons
line. If there has ever been a collector friendly line, The Simpsons is it. After
fifteen waves, they have produced more characters than most fans could have ever
dreamed of. And now there are six more to add to that list: Deep Space Homer, Brandine,
Handsome Moe from the episode Pygmoelian, Comic Book Guy with his Worst Episode Ever shirt,
Manjula and the Octuplets. Plus there is a mail in offer for yet another, Stonecutter Lenny.
Packaging - 8/10These are the same style of cards that Playmates has been using for the last four or five series of figures. The figures are slightly offset on the card against a yellow background while the left side of the card has head shots of three of the characters against a red and black line drawing version of the Faces of Springfield poster. I generally don't care for the brighter colors being used in many lines today such as Playmates' TMNT line, but for the Simpsons they work well. And the black bar across the top provides a nice contrast to the bright colors. The back of the cards is pure, old fashion card back goodness. It has just about everything you could want: a brief blurb about the license, image of both the character and the figure on one of the playsets, a listing of the current and previous wave and images of the recent and upcoming playsets. Probably the worst thing about the packaging is simply the use of twist ties, but even that is kept with in reasonable limits. Generally there are no more than three or four twist ties which is pretty good for Playmates, the company that feels the need to screw some of their products into the packaging or glue the twist ties down on some of their reecent TMNT vehicles.
Sculpting - Moe & Manjula: 9/10 Comic Book Guy: 8/10 Octuplets: 7/10 Brandine: 5/10 DS Homer: 3/10Manjula and Moe are about as close as one can get to making a perfect 3D representation of a 2D character. They both have all the detail you hope to see in a figure of this scale without betraying the simple natured style of the Simpsons. Manjula's hand sculpts make it all but impossible for her to hold anything, or even look natural while pushing the Octuplet's stroller. Moe can hold some accessories, but not very well. But both manage to avoid the two biggest downfalls of the line: eyes that bug out and goofy expressions.
Comic Book Guy uses the sam sculpt as the previous two versions for his body, but with a new head sculpt. The body was great the first time, and it still holds up well. The grinning head sculpt looks good, though CBG seems to be suffering from a slight receeding hairline.
The Octuplets are an interesting mix. While no single sculpt really shines, the sum of all eight sculpts is quite impressive. All but one of the octuplets have eyes that bug out, but it doesn't really hurt the look as much as it does on the adult figures. Unfortunately only four of the eight are sculpted to sit on a flat surface. Also, for those of us that have a hard time telling them apart, each of the octuplets has a numbered diaper. By the way, be careful when buying the Octuplets, mine came packaged with two of one of the boys (#7) and was missing one of the girls (#8).
Brandine is another good sculpt, but it suffers from several key faults. The first is that they sculpted Brandine with a half shirt, cut off above the midriff. I haven't been able to track down an image of her any where else but on the back on the card and that one shows her shirt going all the way to her waist. The cut off version just looks slightly off to me. In addition the seam from assembling the figure is very obvious on her head, much more so than with the other figures. Her hands are too small to hold most accessories, but she can hold two of hers.
Deep Space Homer is sadly the loser of the line. After so many varients of the big guys, we finally get to one that most fans have been clammering for and it is a real let down. We'll start with the most obvious, and I do mean OBVIOUS: his helmet. IT'S HUGE! I think the sculpters were watching SpaceBalls rather than the Simpsons when they made this. But even they didn't have helmets this big. The control art shows how the helmet should look, small enough to be held under Homer's arm. The second problem is that Homer is too thin. (A sentiment I didn't think I would ever have to write.) Compared to the existing Homers he is easily two or three pants sizes smaller. Considering he is supposed to be wearing a space suit, he should be even bulkier. The details of the suit themselves are off scale. Details such as the zipper and pockets should be larger. The final nail in the coffin is the bands at the wrists, ankles and neck. Once again they are just too small to provide the contrast that they should provide. The end result is a sculpt that just doesn't look right in anyway. The only real saving grace is the head sculpt which turned out fairly well, but can't be seen well do to the helmet being permanently attached.
Paint - Moe: 9/10 Manjula & the Octuplets: 8/10 Brandine: 7/10 DS Homer: 5/10 Comic Book Guy: 3/10What a variance. Moe is about as perfect as possible. All the paint applications are clean and consistent. Manjula and the Octuplets are almost as well done. Manjula loses a point because there are two details that were missed, the neck line on her scarf and the hair band at the end of her braid. The Octuplets' faces are great, but the white for the diapers isn't as consistent as it should be and the lines are sloppy. Brandine's paint is a good execution of a very plain design. DS Homer's paint is fine, but has two areas for improvement. The badge on his chest should be larger and the bands on his wrists, ankles and neck should be a darker color to stand out better. And then you come to Comic Book Guy. The line along the waistband of his shorts is fairly sloppy. His hair tone is off; it's much lighter than either of the past versions. And his pupils are painted right at his eyelids giving him a rather odd expression. (Think Steve Martin acting like he just soiled his pants.) The only thing they did right was the lettering on his shirt.
Articulation - Octuplets: 0/10 DS Homer: 2/10 others 3/10If you have any World of Simpsons figures, you know what to expect here. Four points has been Playmates standard for this line since the beginning: shoulders, waist and neck. This series has two exceptions though. Homer actually gets an extra point of articulation since each leg swivels at the hip but loses a point off his score since the two leg joints only serve to allow you to balance his gigantic noggin but cost you the range of movement allowed by a waist swivel. Then there are the Octuplets who have zero articulation.
Accessories Octuplets & DS Homer: 9/10 CBG: 3/10 others: 6/10I had to ponder for a while whether the babies or the stroller were the accessories. I finally decided the stroller was the accessory, and it is the nicest one so far in the line. It looks good and has room for all eight kids. There are eight spots in the stroller, each marked with a number to correspond to one of the kids. The stroller can roll freely and has a resistor chip mounted on a retractable tab similar to the Stephan Hawkin figure. As an added bonus, when the chip is extended, it serves as a brake so that the babies won't be taking a joy ride off of you shelf.
Deep Space Homer comes with three accessories: a bag of chips, the inanimate carbon rod and the intelligent rollerskating monkey from NASA. The chips are a reuse that we have seen several times, though they are appropriate given the episode. The carbon rod was a given for this figure, but is somewhat dull since it is just a green stick of plastic. The monkey is the saving grace for Homer. He looks good, has nice paint applications and even sports a swivel waist. Plus, for a figures that has been rather lackluster in every other category, the inclusion of waht is essentially a second character is a big plus.
Both Manjula and have three good looking and completely new accessories. Manjula has a basket of laundry, bottle of Buzz Cola with a nipple to feed the octuplets and a jumbo bale of Wuvs diapers. Brandine comes with a pink top, hiking boots and beaded halter top with "Classy Lassy" painted on it. These are all great accessories, but are really of little use once removed from the card. Manjula can't hold her items and Brandine doesn't look very natural holding any of hers. They could be useful in a display, if not for the fact that the playsets for the line are just too small to have many accessories in them.
Moe's accessories include an eye patch, calander with his face pre-facelift, soap opera script and what I think is supposed to be a stack of coasters with his face on them. All four are new sculpts. The calander is great, or would be if there was room for it in the bar. But once again, the playsets are too small to take advantage of the accessories that Playmates does produce. The script looks good but is too thick to be held. The small blue thing that I'm calling a coaster has a nice sticker on it, but when you can't even make out waht it is supposed to be, the sculpt is obviously lacking. But the eye patch is a winner. Aside from the stroller, this is the only other accessory from this series that can really interact with the figures. It can be worn by Moe and looks quite good that way.
And then there was the nerd. Comic Book Guy comes with surprisingly enough, comic books. He has four of the same comic book sculpts that has been in use in the line since series one with four different stickers for the covers. I haven't checked if these covers have been used before, but they aren't any improvement over past versions. The stickers don't fit well on the uneven surface of the comic and only one matches well with the color plastic that was used. Considering they reused the entire body sculpt for this figure, it is a real let down that they skimped on the accessories.
Value - Moe, Brandine, Manjula and the Ocuplets: 8/10 DS Homer and CBG: 3/10In my impatience, I had to run out and buy these immediately which probably cost me an extra dollar per figure at $5.99. Moe, Brandine, Manjula and the Octuplets are great buys at that price both because they expand the already large roster of WOS figures we've gotten so far or are just really well done in the case of Handsome Moe. Homer and Comic Book Guy don't fair nearly as well. There are three reasons to get CBG: you missed the first releases, you really like the "worst episode ever" joke or if you are a completist. In the case of Homer, the best reason to buy him is probably the monkey. (The little one on skates, not the big one in the even bigger helmet.) Though I'm sure many people will buy him out of appreciation of the episode or completism.
Happy Hunting:Series 15 is just hitting shores now. Electronic Boutique stores have seen them hit shelves already and that is where I bought mine. You can also buy them from EB World.com They should show up at Amazon.com at some point. If you are looking to preorder future series, check out New Force Comics. As for brick and morter stores, EB stores will be your best bet to get them right away. But if you can wait unlike myself, both Target and Toys R Us have been stocking the line so far, though that may have changed with the post X-mas resets.