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The Simpsons - Coach Homer, Yao Ming, Tom Hanks
NECA

Yao Ming Simpsons action figure by NECA


There are a handful of action figure series, just a few, that will forever be classics for me. The Muppets, BTAS, Super Powers - these are some examples. But the grand daddy of them all, my one and truest plastic love, is the World of Springfield.

The series wasn't perfect, and I sure did complain often and loud. But it spanned a massive number of characters and playsets, and the talking feature was one of the rare ones that actually added play value to the toys. Especially if you had Moe's Tavern in your cubicle.

The line has been over and done for almost a decade - egad!  It doesn't seem like 10 years since wave 16 was shipping, but time certainly does slip by. I've missed the series, and it's one of the few that I still have a complete collection both carded and loose.

NECA announced last year that they were producing new Simpsons figures as part of the big 25th anniversary of the show. These figures were to be celebrities that played themselves, not other characters. It was an interesting take, but most interesting of all was that NECA, unlike other companies that came after Playmates, understood that they should match the scale and style of the original series. They weren't going after the Intellivoice style sound feature, but at least their figures would fit in with any WoS display.

The first series has now hit, including Tom Hanks, Yao Ming, Kid Rock, James Brown, Hugh Hefner...and Coach Homer. He's not a celebrity, but if you know Fox, you know you can't release a wave of Simpsons figures without a Homer or Bart variation.

I'm going to check out three tonight, with the other three getting hit up in the next week. Series 2 has already been announced, and will include 8 more figures (including the Who!).
Click on the photo below for a life size version
Coach Homer Simpsons action figure by NECA
Yao Ming Simpsons action figure by NECA
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Tom Hanks Simpsons action figure by NECA
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Coach Homer Simpsons action figure by NECA
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Yao Ming Simpsons action figure by NECA
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Yao Ming Simpsons action figure by NECA
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Yao Ming Simpsons action figure by NECA
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Yao Ming Simpsons action figure by NECA
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Yao Ming Simpsons action figure by NECA
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Yao Ming Simpsons action figure by NECA

These figures will run you around $12 each, a pretty reasonable price these days for a 5 - 6" action figure. 

NECA is also doing smaller PVC versions of these characters, and I'll take a look at those sometime in the next couple weeks as well.

If you're interested in learning more about WoS, check out my very long feature on the series here.

Packaging - ***
The packages are fairly basic, and doesn't have a ton of personalization. There is the small insert label at the bottom of the bubble, and there is a complete listing of the figures in the first wave on the back. At least the predominately red color is a nice change of pace from the old school yellow.

Sculpting - Yao, Tom ***1/2; Homer ***
Some people will have a different goal in mind when looking at these figures. For me, it's clear - they need to look as much like the World of Springfield line as possible, so they can seamlessly fit in.

And on that score, they rock. Yao and Tom are particularly good, with a similar style to the sculpt and design. Yao is big of course, coming in about an inch taller than the other 5" figures. I've included a photo with a couple of these mixed in with a couple of the older figures, and it's a pretty clean fit.

That's because key design elements have remained the same. If you look at Tom's hair or his suit, you can see how well it matches up with the suits and hair of other previous characters. While Yao is tall, his facial structure matches his Simpsonized self extremely well.

Homer is a bit of the odd duck out though. They have changed up his look a little, making his belly sit higher on the body and narrowing the head. I don't have an issue with that - animated characters vary from season to season, show to show, even frame to frame. But I did knock him down slightly because of some weird mold lines on his face that detract from the overall look.

Height and volume wise, these fit in perfectly. While I have no real interest in the family members they are mixing in (a Maggie variant is slated for the second series), the celebrities will make a terrific addition to my display.

Paint - ***
The paint work is generally clean and sharp, particularly on the eyes. Hanks is a great example, and even his eyebrows are slightly better than average.

There is something a little weird about the yellow. It appears more painted on then an actual plastic dye (which is quite possible), and looks a little different than the majority of WoS. Not all of them - there were several that sported this same look - but most.

It's a minor nit though, because the color and tone are great, and when they are mixed in with other figures, you'll never notice it. There's a rub mark here, a stray smudge there, but nothing about the paint is a major distraction.

Articulation - **
These figures don't have much articulation, but you really can't blame NECA. They are trying to go for WoS style figures, and if they added a bunch of joints, they'd lose the overall design consistency.

There's a cut neck, cut shoulders and cut waist. Anyone that bought the old Playmates figures knows these limitations well.

The low score is indicative of the low articulation, but then, I always scored WoS figures low in this category as well.

I do wish they'd take a shot at adding a few more joints where they wouldn't effect the overall appearance. For example, all three of these figures could have had cut wrists and ankles, and still fit in with the original style. Cut wrists would have made it easier for Homer and Yao to pose the ball in their respective hands a bit better as well.

Accessories - Homer **; Yao, Tom Bupkis
Here's a place where this series takes a definite turn away from the old series. While WoS figures were always loaded up with cool accessories, there's almost nothing here.

The football in Homer's hand and the basketball in Yao's are both permanently attached, removing them from consideration in this category.

The only accessory is Homer's hat, which fits well and looks good in place. I can't say that we really needed anything else with this particular set of three, but how funny would a clipboard have been?

Fun Factor - ***
These aren't exactly fun in the traditional sand box way, but if you're a big fan of the show, you'll love them for what they are. It's been a long time since we had truly fun Simpsons action figures, and I'm thrilled that NECA has brought them back.

Value - ***
It's been awhile since I paid $12 for an action figure in this scale. True, there's not a ton of accessories, but I can guarantee that this is not a cheap license, particularly when you add in the cost of the specific celebrities. If dropping the accessories keeps the cost low, I'm less annoyed by it.

If you buy this set from some online retailers, you can get them slightly under $12, improving things even more here.

Things to Watch Out For -
Not a thing.

Overall - Yao, Tom ***; Homer **1/2
Obviously, I love this concept.  The fact that fans can add to their World of Springfield collection and fill out the celebrity characters is a double thrill, and it shows how bright the folks at NECA really are.

The articulation isn't going to be all that and a bag of chips, but that's to be expected. I don't want super articulated figures, because that would interfere with the first thrill - getting new WoS figures.

And while there remain some key characters that we will most likely never see - Maude Flanders - I can also live with their choice to go after the celebrities. Famous people playing themselves became a staple of the show, and everyone has their favorites. There's also the potential that this will allow the line to have some cross over potential, such as Kid Rock fans that don't care about the rest of the line but would love to have their favorite artist on their desk in Simpsonized format.

Poor Homer is going to peg warm - of that I have no doubt. So will Maggie. Fox never understood that the figures weren't for kids, but for fans, and those fans only need so many variants of the family. Let's hope that Homers and Maggies don't end up clogging the pegs, making it tough for stores like Toys R Us to move the future lines.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***
Sculpting - ***1/2
Paint - ***
Articulation - **
Accessories - Homer **; Yao, Tom Bupkis
Fun Factor - ***
Value - ***
Overall - Yao, Tom ***; Homer **1/2

Where to Buy -
Online options include these site sponsors:

- Fanboy Collectibles has the set of 6 for $80.

- Big Bad Toy Store has the set of 6 for $84.

- Things From Another World has the singles for about $14 each.

- or you can search ebay for a deal.

Related Links -
I have a full listing of my past Simpsons reviews here, as well as a long feature on the World of Springfield here.

Discussion:
Want to chat about this review?  Try out one of these terrific forums where I'll be discussing it!

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Tom Hanks Simpsons action figure by NECA


This product was provided for the review by the manufacturer. Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

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