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Celebrity Simpsons - Kid Rock, Hugh Hefner, James Brown
NECA

Hugh Hefner Simpsons Celebrity action figures by NECA


As a long time lover of the World of Springfield, this first series of Celebrity Simpsons action figures has me beside myself with happiness. If you didn't get to see my first review of Tom Hanks, Coach Homer, and Yao Ming, check it out here for some back story.

These have started popping up at Toys R Us, along with the smaller PVC versions. They'll run you around $12 each or so, depending on your geographic location. Online retailers are getting them in as well, although it will cost you another buck or two each to go that route.

Wave 2 has already been announced, and I have my fingers crossed that we'll get at least 25 characters out of this run before it ends.

Packaging - ***
The package is pretty basic, with some limited personalization on the interior bubble label. There's only a couple twisties, and the bubble tears off the backer easily - perhaps a bit too easily - so there's no trouble freeing them from their plastic prison. I also like the red color, a nice switch from the more common yellow that we end up with on 99% of Simpsons product out there.
Click on the photo below for a life size version
James Brown Simpsons Celebrity action figures by NECA
James Brown Simpsons Celebrity action figures by NECA
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James Brown Simpsons Celebrity action figures by NECA
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Kid Rock Simpsons Celebrity action figures by NECA
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Hugh Hefner Simpsons Celebrity action figures by NECA
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Kid Rock Simpsons Celebrity action figures by NECA
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Hugh Hefner Simpsons Celebrity action figures by NECA
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James Brown Simpsons Celebrity action figures by NECA
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Simpsons Celebrity action figures by NECA

Sculpting - ***1/2
These guys are clearly designed to fit in with the old Playmates World of Springfield figures, coming in around that same 5" scale. Character height does vary a bit, and I'm certainly going to be interested in seeing how small Maggie is. They have a variant of her planned for wave 2, so we won't have to wait too long.

There's enough detail here considering the design. Any more, and they wouldn't look like Simpsons characters. I particularly like the work on James' shirt and lapels, but all three have little touches that set them apart.

With a simple, fairly unarticulated design like this, it's very important that the figures can stand on their own.  All three do that just fine, including Kid Rock who has a rather dynamic pose.

That is a bit unusual for a figure that's trying to fit in with WoS - remember, most of those figures were simply standing straight up, due to the logistics of the electronics. However, that's not true for all of them, and some of the best looking figures had a slightly more dynamic stance. I'm glad they went that way with Kid Rock, a character who is all about extreme movement.

As a performer, James Brown is pretty extreme too, but in this case they toned it down. He's got a bit of movement in the pose, but it's not radical or excessive.

Of course, Hugh is the most basic, and yet I like him the best of the three. There's something about the style and expression that just works perfectly, and this is one figure I never thought we'd see, perhaps only outranked on the "no way Fox will do it" scale by Rabbi Krustofski and Maude Flanders.

Paint - ***
Considering the price point - and that pesky style - the paint work here is fairly clean.

I really like the work on Kid Rock's facial hair and glasses, as well as Hugh Hefner's eyes and eyebrows. Most of the lines are clean, and there's very little bleed. There's a few spots, like the waist band of Rock's pants, but they are not the norm.

I did knock Brown down for one issue though - the cuffs of his shirt that are sticking out of the coat sleeves should match the shirt. They don't, and are just painted the same color as the coat.

Articulation - **
If you're expecting super articulated figures, then you're looking in the wrong place. These are designed to look right with the earlier figures, and they are designed to look right within the context of the very specific animated style. They do both of those things extremely well, and the only way to do them is to limit the articulation.

These three have cut necks and cut shoulders. James Brown and Hugh Hefner also have a cut waist, but oddly enough, Kid Rock does not. It seems odd to me, since there's no apparent aesthetic or logistical reason why.

And as I said before, I'd like to see some added joints that are still possible, even when trying to keep true to the two tenants I mentioned above. For example, cut wrists would go a long way to posing the figures with things like the pipe and the microphones, and wouldn't hurt the design.

Accessories - James Brown **; Hugh, Kid Rock Bupkis
Like the first three I looked at, these three are pretty short on extras. That's definitely an area where they part ways with the old World of Springfield line up.

James does have his microphone and stand (all done in a single color), and it is held in his hand with a peg and peg hole. The scale is good, and the rather plain look fits with the overall style.

But the microphone with Kid Rock and the pipe with Hugh are permanently attached, making them part of the figure and not accessories. As I said in  my previous review, if cutting back on extras allowed them to keep the price down, I'm willing to accept that.

Fun Factor - ***
These aren't really action figures for kids, although I'm sure Fox still thinks so. Even with the 14+ logo on the front, the suits at the network probably think 8 year old kids are going to eat them up.

They aren't. But older fans of the show will love to have them, particularly if they've kept their beloved World of Springfield figures and play sets. It's pretty rare that you can add something to a display after 10 years of inactivity. We have NECA to thank for that.

Value - ***
You should be able to find these for around $12 at Toys R Us, and even online retailers are in that same ball park, maybe a buck or so more. Even without a ton of accessories or articulation that's a solid value, because the Simpsons license isn't cheap. Add in the cost of doing the celebrities as themselves, and you can see where the price is coming from.

Things to Watch Out For -
Not a thing.

Overall - Hugh Hefner ***1/2; Kid Rock, James Brown ***
Yea, while the individual scores don't necessarily warrant it, I upped the overall on Hugh. He's just so damn cool, and is such a surprising figure to get, that my overall impression is quite a bit better than the sum of the parts.

There are a number of very cool new lines coming out this year, as well as more great Star Wars Black, Masters of the Universe Classics and DC.

But even with all that cool, my most anticipated series is this one. I can't wait to see what NECA announces for future releases, and I'm dying with anticipation for wave 2. I'm hopeful that we'll see a good couple dozen figures out of this, stretched over the next two or three years, and who knows - maybe through some act of God we'll actually end up with a Maude after that! It might sound crazy, but if you'd said we'd get more Simpsons figures like these 10 years after the end of the World of Springfield ended, I would have told you that was crazy as well. Here's to crazy, and the fine folks at NECA that are willing to bring the crazy!

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***
Sculpting - ***1/2
Paint -***
Articulation - **
Accessories - James Brown **1/2; Hugh, Kid Rock Bupkis
Fun Factor - ***
Value - ***
Overall - Hugh Hefner ***1/2; Kid Rock, James Brown ***

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 already reviewed the first three in this wave, and I have a full listing of my past Simpsons reviews here, as well as a long feature on the World of Springfield here.

Discussion:
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Kid Rock Simpsons Celebrity action figures by NECA


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

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