Simpsons Wave 2

The second series of Simpsons figures is now hitting pegs, at least with online and comic retailers.  I haven't heard any reports of these hitting stores like Toys R Us yet, and with what appears to be weak sales for the first series and movie series, I'm not sure if they'll ever make it to mass market.

The second wave consists of four figure 'sets' or dioramas.  There's Radioactive Man and Fallout Boy from "Up and At Them"; Homer and Krusty from the Homie the Clown episode; Homer, Bart, Lisa and Maggie from the first Treehouse of Horror episode; and the Good/Evil Homer.

Yea, it's a Homer heavy wave, that's for sure.  And with the sales of wave 1 and the playsets not looking that great, I have a bad feeling that it's the last wave we'll be seeing.

These run around $10 at mass market retailers (if they show up there) or a buck or two more with the specialty market guys.

Packaging - ***1/2
These are in the new style Mcfarlane clamshells, which take up much less space and have a lot less waste.  They are also tri-lingual, indicating perhaps that the strength of the line is the International market, not the U.S.

Even though these are shrunk down, they still managed to put all the goodies on the back of the insert, including some lines from the episode, a brief synopsis, and other specific information about each set.  That ain't easy to do in multiple languages, and for those of us in our 'mid-life', you might find the need for some ocular assistance to read it.  But I gotta say I'm impressed they kept it!

Sculpting - The Raven, Clowns ***1/2;  RM/FB, Good/Evil ***
As has been the case for the whole series so far, the sculpting here is top notch.  When it comes to the technical quality, there's very little to complain about.

These are done in a 4" scale, just like the rest of the series from McToys.  The scale between characters is good, much better than most attempts at animated kids and adults in other lines.  They're too small to fit in with most of the World of Springfield figures, but I can live with that.

Once you get past technical quality, how good a sculpt is (or isn't) becomes a matter of art and taste.  Either a pose and style speaks to you, or it doesn't. For me, this set is a bit of a mixed bag.

The Raven set is easily my favorite.  Fans have wanted figures from this THOH short for years, and Mcfarlane delivered with a very visually interesting and unique design.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the RM/FB set.  It's got enough of a dynamic appearance to still score a decent grade, but the overall impression is still a bit boring.

The Good and Evil Homers actually don't look quite as much alike in the face as you'd expect.  It is Homer after all, but the Good version seems a tad too slimmed down overall, especially in the face.  He's my least favorite of the Homer variants McToys has done so far.

The Good version is, well, gooder!  He looks just like Homer should, and the posing on both figures is interesting.  The fact that they can stand on their own is also a plus.

The Clown set has some very nice details, including more clown crack than you probably care to see.  While you might think that the hair on top of the head is the only way to tell Homer and Krusty apart, you'd be wrong - they took the time to get the subtle differences in the size and shape of the nose correct as well.

Homer can actually be removed from Krusty's back, if you're so inclined.  I'm not sure what possibilities that opens up, but perhaps I'm not being creative (or perverted) enough.

Paint - **1/2
Unfortunately, Mcfarlane's paint woes with animated figures returns with this series.  There's slop all over the place, poor cut lines, inconsistent coverage (especially with the black lines, which go from thick to thin to non-existent around the same area), heavy rub marks, stray marks, and just a general lack of quality.

They had some troubles with this earlier, but then with the Movie figures and with the recent Hibbert playset and Grinch figures, things seem to get back on track.  That makes the work here all that more disappointing.  Of course, that may be because these figures were put out at the cheapest possible cost, due to low demand.  Whenever costs get cut at the time of manufacture, the paint is always the first place it shows.

Of the four, the issues were the least problematic on the Raven and Good/Evil sets.  The Clowns and Radioactive man had much worse work, but I'm betting that the overall quality is inconsistent, so that you might find a Radioactive man that looks great and a Raven set that doesn't.  You're going to have to be careful picking them out, and pray to whatever Gods you believe in if you've ordered online.

Articulation - Good/Evil **1/2; Raven **; RM/FB *1/2; Clowns Bupkis
These are dioramas, intended to be displayed in a particular way. If you know that up front and are cool with it, you probably won't be too concerned about the Articulation score.

The least articulated of the bunch is the Clown set.  There's nothing moving here.  Fortunately, you can pose the boys either going up the ramp or going down the ramp, so there's some personalization.  Yea, it ain't much, but some times you grasp for whatever you can.

Surprisingly (at least to me), the Good/Evil set is the most articulated.  Both figures have cut necks, and the Evil Homer also has cut wrists to position his maracas.  The Good Homer also has cut wrists, as well as cut shoulders.

The Raven set doesn't have much, but what's here is surprising.  Homer has nothing, but both Maggie and Lisa have cut necks, so you can get them in just the right spot for looking down at Homer.

Finally, there's the RM/FB set. RM is a solid PVC figure with no articulation, but FB has a cut neck and cut ankles at the top of the boots.  The ankle joints don't help in his quest to stand without the base, but it does allow you to try to align the pegs and holes a bit better.

Accessories - Raven ***; Clowns **1/2; RM/FB, Good/Evil *1/2
There aren't really 'accessories' as generally defined, but I'm considering the diorama/bases as an accessory for the purposes of this review.

The Raven set is easily the big winner here, with a nicely engineered version of the wall and Lenore's painting.  I had the least trouble getting everyone in the proper place with this set, and the delicate string between Maggie and Lisa is quite a bit sturdier than I assumed.

The Clown set isn't bad, although I'm unclear as too why the Simpsons logo is on the top of the ramp.  EDIT:  Turns out there's another magnet in the top of the ramp, and the logo is hiding it!  You can have the figures suspended upside down...that's pretty cool.

It's still a bit too basic - there's absolutely nothing, not even a texture, on the red base or blue ramp - but the general concept works.  There's a magnet in the base itsefl, and two metal pegs on Krusty's feet, so he can attach tightly and easily.  EDIT - helpful readers found out why there's a sticker on the top!  There's actually a magnet hidden in the top of the ramp too, so that the guys can hang upside down from the ramp!  Isn't that cool?  Don't you think that would be something you'd put on the package as a selling point?

The other two bases are pretty much worthless.  In fact, since the Good/Evil Homers can stand on their own, there's no reason to even use it with that pair.  Unfortunately, Milhouse can't stand up without it, so you'll need to use the very, very plain plastic stand for the RB/FM set.  Even worse, the holes on the feet and the pegs on the base do not line up well, particularly with Radioactive Man, and you should be careful not to snap them.

With Pie Man, we got the cool roof top and dynamic posing.  That makes this base all the more disappointing in comparison.

Fun Factor - **
These aren't really meant to be played with, so this category will have very little effect on my overall, but it's worth noting in case you were thinking that a 6 year old might have fun with these.  If you know someone who's a big fan of the show, they'll enjoy putting them on their desk.  But there isn't a whole lot of 'play' potential here for anyone.

Value - Raven, Clowns **1/2; RM/FB, Good/Evil **
Most licensed Mcfarlane figures have slipped into the $12 range at mass market outlets, but you can still get these for around $10, even at specialty retailers.  Don't believe me?  Check out some of my sponsors that have them for sale!

Still, $10 - $12 for the RB/FM and Good/Evil sets (which are basically two decent sized PVC's in a package) is a bit of a stretch for even this Simpsons nut.

Things to Watch Out For - 
On the shelf (if you can find them at the LCS) you'll want to be picky with the paint.  Once you have them out and about at home, be particularly careful getting the figures on the pegs.  As I mentioned, some are very tight and/or not lined up properly with the holes on the feet, and forcing them can break the pegs pretty easily.

Overall - Raven, Clowns ***; RM/FB, Good/Evil **1/2
The paint is the real killer here, and had we gotten the kind of paint work that we saw with the Grinch or the Hibbert set, I would have added another half star easily to the scores across the board.

The RM/FB and Good/Evil sets are also hurt by the truly dull bases.  At this price point, you expect something a bit more, and with the work they did on wave 1, I was expecting more.

That more is what we got with the Raven set.  This one is a winner, and even with the paint issues I recommend picking it up.  They did a great job of designing a set that incorporates all five family members in a small space and stays true to the cartoon.

I like the Clowns set as well...I just can't get too worked up over it.  The bad paint plagued it for me, and I can't help but feel a bit Homer overloaded.  He's been the focus of one of the deluxe sets, been included in three more deluxe sets, and was in three of the four wave 1 regular sets!  Say what you will about Playmates, but they gave us a tremendous variety in their series right from the start.  Other than the five family members, characters have been mighty scarce in the McToys line ups.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpt - The Raven, Clowns ***1/2;  RM/FB, Good/Evil ***
Paint - **1/2
Articulation - Good/Evil **1/2; Raven **; RM/FB *1/2; Clowns Bupkis
Accessories - Raven ***; Clowns **1/2; RM/FB, Good/Evil *1/2
Fun Factor - **
Value - Raven, Clowns **1/2; RM/FB, Good/Evil **
Overall - Raven, Clowns ***; RM/FB, Good/Evil **1/2

Where to Buy -
Online (or your lcs) is the best bet right now:

- Clark Toys has the singles at $11, but the full set of four at just $40!

- CornerStoreComics has them in stock for about $11 each, or the set for $43.

- Amazing Toyz has them in stock as well, with some at $11 and some at $13, but the full set is just $43.

- Or you can take a shot at finding a deal on Ebay using

- Related Links -
When it comes to Simpsons links, I have a page set up special for them.


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Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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