World of Springfield Series 15
Deep Space Homer, Brandine, Handsome Moe,
Manjula, Octuplets


I was thinking recently about the greatest lines of all time - the best action figure lines ever produced over the last 40 years. There's lots of course that rank up there,
but what I realized is that the World of Springfield is one of the top ten, perhaps even one of the top three. 

How can I make such a claim? Consider the sheer number of figures - almost 190 - that have been produced. Then add in the variety, with over 50 percent of these figures being truly unique characters. Add in the play sets, the close involvement with the fanbase by the company, the mail away offers, and the length of time the line has been in production, and you paint a truly amazing picture. The competition would be fierce for those top spots, considering how great lines like Star Wars, G.I. Joe, Batman, and others have been over the years, but I think WOS can certainly give any one of them a run for the money.

All this waxing philosophical was brought on by wave 15. This series just started hitting Electronics Boutique stores in the last week (and is available at Entertainment Earth as well).  It includes Brandine (Cletus' wife), Deep Space Homer, Handsome Moe, Comic Book Guy, Manjula, and the Octuplets. Even with three variants, this is one of the strongest waves in the last year. You can expect to pay around $6 - $7 each for them, depending on the retailer.

Packaging - **1/2
Same stuff, different wave. The head shots on the card front have switched to Brandine, CBG and Manjula. The Stonecutter Lenny mail away offer is prominently mentioned, but the tendency of these cardbacks to warp and bend
hurts the overall score. I've been spoiled by clamshells.

Sculpting - Octuplets ****; Deep Space Homer, Manjula, Brandine, Handsome Moe ***1/2; CBG ***
This is one of the best sculpted waves we've seen in quite awhile. The whole set is a winner, and I have one particularly reason that I'm being a little rougher on CBG, but overall I'm very pleased.

The Octuplets are the big stand out in this category. With unique sculpts for every baby, and tons of thought put into the design, these are some darn cute babies. Each was given a slightly unique pose, including one that's playing with his toes and another that's sleeping (I think - you could also make a case that he's crying). They are sculpted from the softer rubber, what's usually used for the coats or capes. This works extremely well, and the scale is actually right for a change. Oh, sure, it was right with Database as well, but that threw him completely out of scale with the other kids. Since these babies will most likely be displayed with their parents and not the other kids, having them in scale with the adults was the smart move.

Manjula is a close runner up in the sculpting department. Her expression is great, although perhaps just a touch wide eyed. Her out fit looks great, with just the right amount of detail, and although she can't hold any of her own accessories, the hand sculpts work well with the babies. Her 'dot' is also sculpted, rather than simply painted on her forehead. My only complaint with Manjula is that she's a tad too tall, and the character was certainly never taller than Apu on the show. That was probably done on purpose though so that she was tall enough standing next to or behind the stroller.

Brandine looks excellent with Cletus, and is a dead on representation. From her pot belly to her poor posture, it's the lady redneck in all her glory. Her handsculpts allow her to hold a couple accessories, the arm position is good, and the basic design is solid. Again, I have one minor complaint holding her back from four stars - she has some trouble standing. She has a very duck footed stance, and that means she can topple over forward fairly easily.

Deep Space Homer is a tough call for me. He has some major selling points, as he is a very unique looking variant, and I love the 'action' pose of his legs. Even with that pose, he has no trouble standing, and people will recognize him from the episode instantly. However, he has some issues as well. The suit itself isn't as detailed as I would have thought, and the helmet is huge! That's due to the size of his head of course, and in the cartoon they were able to cheat. But it takes a little getting used to such a massive
helmet on the body. It's been growing on me though, and I bet that as time passes he'll be one of my favorites overall. He's thinner than I had expected as well, and the body could have used a little more bulk in the suit.  The head sculpt here is actually new, very similar to the first Radioactive Homer head sculpt but not quite exactly the same. He has a look of wonderment, and you can almost hear the "Oooooo". One other item of note - they skipped the waist joint (like on King Kong Homer) to allow the line of the suit to be unbroken, and that was a very smart move.

Handsome Moe might technically be the best sculpt of the bunch. They even managed to capture the slightly odd look of his torso from that episode, something that always bugged me about the show. Let's just say he seems a bit bosomy, but it's true to the character's design. The expression is perfect, and the hand sculpts allow him to hold a couple of the accessories. Unlike Brandine, he has nice big feet that point forward, so that he has no trouble at all standing on his own. I'm betting that he'll be the pegwarmer of the
series though, if there is one. It's quite possible that even with a show specific variant like this, which only a limited number of people will want, that he'll disappear fast. Remember, not that many retailers will have these on the pegs.

That leaves Comic Book Guy. This is the fourth version of CBG that we've gotten, but he's the first single carded version. I think that means he'll fly off the shelf, because even the casual buyer will want one for around the office. The head sculpt is new, and has a very expressive appearance. The set of the eyebrows, the lidded eyes, and the wide grin all work well together, and he avoids the zombie appearance that plagues many other figures. Playmates should be applauded for goint the extra mile on this head sculpt. So why the slightly lower score? All because of that damn right hand. They've used the exact same body as the original CBG and the Toyfare version, with the elbow bent and the right hand sculpted to hold a cup. Since he doesn't come with a cup, this is pretty silly. On top of that, it's a pretty damn silly looking pose to begin with. I really, really wish they'd given us a different right arm and hand.

One final sculpting note - Brandine has no belly button, but CBG does. Are all the WOS women actually pod people?

Paint - Octuplets, Hansome Moe ***1/2; Brandine, Manjula ***; Deep Space Homer, CBG **1/2
Some folks have gotten great paint jobs, but I found that across the board this set has some issues. There's lots of bleed between colors, poor definition at the boundaries, and some outright sloppy work.

In my set, the Octuplets and Handsome Moe showed the fewest issues. The babies were the most impressive, with excellent work on the hair, eyes and diapers. Each of the four girls have eyelashes, and these are all done perfectly. Handsome Moe has his share of color, but there's no bleed, and the lines are clean and even. His eyes and hair are the best of the bunch.

Manjula and Brandine aren't terrible, but both have more issues with uneven boundaries between colors than they should. It's particularly noticable on the shoes of both, but Manjula has some issues around her eyes and earrings as well. She's also missing a paint op for her hair band at the bottom of her hair braid.  I do have to say though that she's a striking figure on the shelf because of the great color combinations.

Deep Space Homer and CBG are bringing up the rear. The biggest issue for Homer is his expanse of white, where there are some consistency and glopping. They yellow is more visible in some areas than others, and it's very obvious at all the joints. The small details are well done however. CBG's biggest problem is with some actual slop around his hair, where the orange color is actually bleeding down into his forehead.  That's right, I said 'orange'.  I don't know how he ended up with orange hair (rather than brown), but that's a pretty glaring mistake.

Overall, I love the brightness of this series, with lots of great use of color, but wish the actual operations were a little cleaner.

Articulation - **1/2
Usually this is where I make some sort of smart ass comment, but this time two of the figures have slightly different articulation. Four of the six have the usual neck, shoulder and waist. But the Octuplets and Homer vary from that standard.

Since the Octuplets are so tiny, they are simply solid figures in preposed stances. I've already mentioned though that they gave us lots of variety there, and that's preferable to a figure in a weak pose with weak articulation. The stroller itself has rolling wheels.

Homer has five instead of four points - neck, shoulders and hips. They skipped the waist joint so the lines of the space suit on his torso would be clean and unbroken. The hip articulation doesn't do much, but it does allow you to get the action posed legs into just the right spot to keep him standing on his own.

Accessories - Handsome Moe, Octuplets ***1/2; Manjula, Homer ***; Brandine **1/2; CBG **
Here was a really weird category for this series. Most series either have great accessories across the board, or too much reuse with everyone. For the last several waves, the amount of reuse has been approaching nil, but we get an odd mixture this time around. Is the reappearance of so many reused accessories another sign of the coming apocalypse?

Handsome Moe, with his great sculpt, also has the best accessories. He has four, and they all go perfectly with the episode. There's his eye patch, which fits perfectly and looks much better than I had anticipated; the plot book that he read that gave away his demise on the soap; a small picture of his ugly mug on what looks like a coaster (the consensus is it's actually just a thick photo); and the large calendar that his ugly mug was on for Duff beer, with the damage caused when he peeled off the Duff sticker over his face. I believe the calendar and the 'coaster' are reused accessories though, but at least the stickers are well done.

The Octuplets only come with one accessory, but it's a big one - the stroller. The wheels move, and there's a little compartment for each baby to fit inside. Each baby also has a number on his or her diaper, and that number corresponds to the spot they should sit in the stroller. You really need to put them in in that order too, and my one complaint is that they don't stay put a little better. I found myself picking them up off the floor a dozen times when I was playing around with the stroller earlier this week.

Manjula has three accessories - a bottle of Buzz cola (with the nipple for the babies!), a laundry basket of clothes, and a huge (and very heavy) bail of Wuvs diapers. The two big accessories are well done and appropriate, and they look good sitting on the shelf near the kids.

Deep Space Homer also has three accessories, but his are a bit of a cheat. There's the carbon rod, which is new but basically a plastic rod. There's the monkey, "super intelligent" that he is, but he is the exact same one that we got in the PVC set. He looks great, and is nicely in scale, but it's still a complete reuse.  In fact, he's not quite as nice as the mini, because he only has a waist joint, whereas the mini also had shoulder joints. And finally, there's a bag of snacks ("Salty Snax"), but they were chips he was eating on the shuttle, and those don't sound like chips to me. On top of that, it's also another reused accessory.

Brandine reuses the hick boots that Cletus had, and she also comes with an unwearable shirt that says 'classy lassy' on the front. This is similar to how they did the jacket with the Sarcastic Man, and I'm not real excited about this type of accessory. They always end up going in the box, as they don't really look right on display. She also has another item, which I'm not completely convinced I've got identified. At first I thought it was a bandana for her head, but it doesn't fit. Then I thought it was a halter top, and that's what I'm sticking with. Of course she can't actually wear it, but it can be held in her hand.

Finally, there's CBG. He simply comes with four reused comics. One has a new sticker I believe, but again, I didn't go through every comic we've gotten in the past to be absolutely sure. At least you can toss these in the Android's Dungeon as more background filler.

Fun Factor - ***
The show has never really been a 'kid' show, no matter how much FOX would like to think otherwise. While they started out the line with the intention of getting kids to buy, it became obvious right away that it was destined to be a collectors line.

While the figures themselves would be fine to play with, the issue is more the license than the design. There's not much conflict in the world of Springfield, and that's what kids really love in their action figures - just look at the Power Rangers.

Fun is not just for kids though, and this score gets a boost from the fact that adults can have fun with these. Let's face it, a lot of the CBG figures will end up at work, where he'll end up in all kinds of bad positions.

Talking Feature - **
This is rather lack luster once again, but it's not suprising so far into the line. The three new figures, Brandine, the Octuplets and Manjula, only work on the upcoming Town Square. Handsome Moe also only works there - clearly he's got a new chip rather than the same old Moe chip like most variants.

That means I can't tell you yet everything these four might say, but from the packages you get the following:
Manjula - "Do you still find me attractive?"
Hansome Moe - "A new life, a second chance....for revenge."
Octuplets - "Waaaa"
Brandine - "What are you beating your gums about?"

Clearly we aren't buying these for the talking feature any longer. And with figures coming out that only speak with future play sets, it will eventually be possible that we get a figure that never does have speaking lines, since at some point the line may end before a play set finally ships that they require. The one bright spot here is the re-engineered connector. It is similar to Hawking, but you move the lever to the left, down and then to the right to lock it in place.

Value - ***1/2
I paid $6 each for these, and the only line on the market cheaper right now is Star Wars. Those are a third the size. When this line ends, I think we'll have seen the end of action figure prices under $7 - $8.  Let's hope that the new Lord of the Rings releases stay around $6 each.  Of course, since these are predominately re-releases, it doesn't completely count.

Overall - Octuplets, Manjula ***1/2; Deep Space Homer, Brandine, Handsome Moe ***; CBG **1/2
Overall this was an excellent wave. None of these is going to hang around the pegs for long, even an one episode character like Handsome Moe. With so few retailers picking up this wave, it's going to come and go pretty quick, so if you want these I'd pick them up sooner rather than later.

Although I gave CBG a lower score, I think he'll sell great. Handsome Moe is technically the best figure of the bunch, with great sculpting, paint ops and accessories, but he scored a little lower in my overall rating because he's not the strongest character.

The Octuplets, Manjula and Brandine are must haves for completing their families, and Deep Space Homer is an extremely recognizable variant. In terms of sales, this would have been a great seller, and I wish we'd gotten this assortment back at wave 12 or 13.

Still, the wave has it's issues. I saw enough paint problems to make me picky about which ones I took home, and the accessory reuse is much higher than any other recent waves. The talking feature pretty much wore out it's welcome several waves ago, but this set is strong even with that feature being unimportant.

The Power Plant Lunchroom playset should be hitting any day, so be on the look out!

Where to Buy - 
I picked these up at a local Electronics Boutique. YOu can get them on-line right now at:

- EBgames has them individually for $6 each, or the set for $35.

- also has them scheduled to ship for $8 each, and they have the playset listed for $25.  Let's hope they are $25 at the stores.

- Entertainment Earth has them in stock for $35 for a set of the six, or a case of 12 for just $60.  If you're looking for two sets - there are no shortpacks - that's a pretty decent deal.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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