The Simpsons Series 1
Mcfarlane Toys

I'm still a big fan of the Simpsons, even after all these years. They've had good seasons and bad seasons, terrific shows and awful shows, but they've remained on my regular watch list longer than any other show.

I also collected all the World of Springfield figures, of course. When Mcfarlane announced they'd picked up the license, it was met with very mixed feelings by WOS collectors, but only time would tell if Mcfarlane could bring their own touch to the license.

They've released two products so far - the Ironic Punishment set, and the Family Couch Gag set. Neither was met with much enthusiasm, each having their own set of unique issues.

But now we get to see the real deal, the first official series of Simpsons action figures from Mcfarlane. I wasn't expecting these til late this month, so when they shipped from Clark Toys, it was a very pleasant surprise. The deluxe boxed set with Itchy and Scratchy should be right behind them.

This first set is really dioramas based on four classic scenes from the show. If you've picked up any of Mcfarlane's Hanna-Barbera product, you'll be familiar with both the style and the scale.

The set includes Homer and Bart strangling each other ("Why you little..."); Bart and Krusty at Kamp Krusty; Marge and Homer in their inner space suits from "In the Belly of the Boss"; and Bart and Homer dressed up as Pieman and Cupcake Kid, from "Simple Simpson".

These retail for around $10 - $12 each, and I'm assuming we'll see them show up at Toys R Us, and possibly Meijers for those of you in the Mid-west. Online retailers will get them as well, and I have some recommendations at the end of the review.

Packaging - ***1/2
This is Mcfarlane, so these would be clamshells. They have a single page printed insert, and while I'm not thrilled with the basic colors and design, I do like all the personalization. The front and side of the card show and describe the particular diorama, and on the back there's screen shots from the show, along with specific descriptive text. They could have cheaped out, and given us the same insert for every figure with just a different bubble sticker, but they went the extra mile and it's appreciated.

Sculpting - Kamp Krusty ****; Homer/Marge, Pieman ***1/2; Why You Little ***;
All of these looked terrific in the packaging. When I pulled them out, I did find a few issues though, some of them quality, some of the aesthetics.

Let's talk about the best of the bunch - Kamp Krusty. I like everything about this set, from the poses selected for Bart and Krusty, to the detail on the totem pole. This Bart is just a smidge smaller than the Bart with the other two dioramas, and he's closest to correct scale in my eyes. He also has both the bow and quiver with arrows (which are actually accessories, since all three are removable!). Krusty has his surgery scar on his chest (which is actually sculpted and not just painted on!), and just about the perfect expression. They proportions of his hair, head and nose are about as good as it gets, and you can't ignore the totem pole, with the wood grain texturing added.  I can't imagine too many people having serious issues with this diorama, unless it's simply because the episode doesn't rank very high with them.  

Both Bart and Homer fit nicely on the base too, but don't require the base to stand. Neither is true with the Pieman diorama. I love the look of this set as well, and it's a great choice. The design was a good idea, but execution didn't turn out quite as well. Both have trouble fitting on the pegs, although I did get Homer to stay on with some work. Bart goes on easy enough, but because the angle of his feet never quite matched up with the roof, he tends to fall over fairly easily. Still, the sculpted expressions and scale of the figures are spot on, and it's another set I'll be very happy to add to my shelf.

Homer and Marge are good sculpts, but I suspect folks will have an issue with the episode as well. While it's a Treehouse of Horror sequence, it's not one that's real high on the favorite's list, and I bet a lot of people will assume Mcfarlane included it only because it fulfilled the 'one hot chick in every series' requirement.

If you can get past that though (or are a fan of the episode), you'll be able to see that the sculpt on this set is extremely well done. The organ base looks terrific, and they both suspend above it on long plastic rods. You need to put Homer on the shorter rod - I found that the other one wouldn't hold him up properly, and even the shorter one took some work. Marge worked fine on either rod, however.  Homer is pretty heavy, and I do have my worries that he'll bend this rod over time.

My major complaint with this set is that neither of the helmets like to stay hooked together. They tend to fall off Marge and Homer too easily, and you may end up gluing them at some point.  I also wish the plastic rods weren't glued in place, since it makes storing the base a tricky proposition.

I'm leaving the most iconic (and perhaps least appealing) for last - Why You Little... This set is very basic, with just a Homer figure and Bart figure over a rug base, each strangling the other. While Homer strangles Bart regularly on the show, this strangling each other only happened once, I believe. I'm betting I'm not alone in saying that I wish they'd gone with the more classic situation with only Homer doing the strangling, a look of rage on his face. The figure does fit on the base nicely, but it's the plainest base of the bunch, and in general, you'll be hard pressed to fork over the bucks for something this basic.

Mcfarlane hasn't used a lot of hollow rotocast parts in the past, but we get several here. Both the Homer/Marge base and the Kamp Krusty totem pole are hollow rotocast, although the pole is made from a much harder plastic.  And yes, the hairs on Homer's head are metal in every case.

General scale on these is around 5", much like the Hanna-Barbera line.  They're much smaller than the old WOS figures, so displaying them separately will probably be necessary. 

Paint - Kamp Krusty ***1/2; Why You Little, Pieman, Homer/Marge ***; 
While the paint ops here aren't perfect, they might be a slight improvement over some of the other recent cartoon line releases.

The biggest issues are on the white areas.  The suits for Homer and Marge, the underwear on Pieman, and the shirt on Homer all show stray marks and inconsistent coverage.  Other colors fair better, and the Kamp Krusty set is very well done.  If all the sets were that good, there'd be nothing complain about.

The black lines don't seem as excessive this time.  They're still there on all the eyes, but other places seem to be on a more appropriate level.

Articulation - Homer and Marge, Pieman **; Kamp Krusty, Why You Little *1/2
Just like the Hanna-Barbera line, these figures have just enough articulation to get them in their intended diorama pose, and no more.

Let's start with Bart and Homer, Both have an articulated neck, which means they can touch tongues, and it's as disturbing to see as it is to describe. Homer has a waist joint, and both hips on Bart are cut joints.  It's not much, but you can give the basic pose a little personality.

The Pieman figures both have cut necks and cut hips, and Homer has a cut joints on both arm so you can position the pie at different angles and get the flag just right. Neither stands particularly well on the rooftop though, which was a bit of a disappointment, since they sure can't stand without it. I did finally get Homer to stay in a good position, but Bart's feet never quite lined up well enough with the foot pegs to make a tight fit.

Homer and Marge have neck joints, along with cut shoulders, cut waist, and cut ankles. Homer also has cut wrists, making him one of the more articulated figures in the entire first series.

Krusty and Bart are almost statues. Bart has a cut legs at the pants, and Krusty only has cut ankles where the feet meet the legs.  Yep, pretty much statues.  Fortunately, the selected pose looks terrific.

Accessories - Kamp Krusty **1/2; Pieman, Homer/Marge **; Why you little Bupkis
Several of these guys actually have accessories, much to my surprise. Since I wasn't expecting them, any score is actually a big plus.  What I mean by an accessory here is something outside the two figures and the base.

Kamp Krusty actually has several accessories. First, there's the obvious flag on the pole, and the separate small base that holds it up. You can position this anywhere you'd like in the background, and making it a separate piece (instead of crowding the base with it) was a very smart idea.

Bart also has three loose arrows which fit inside his quiver. Be careful when you're opening him up, otherwise these might end up lost.

Pieman also has a flag, and American flag this time. He can hold it in his left hand, and it comes apart at the center, where a metal rod holds the two pieces together.

At first, I wasn't going to count any accessories for the Homer and Marge set, but then I figured some folks might like displaying them without the helmets - they're easy enough to remove. So I'm counting them here, although many people will consider them fairly necessary.

Homer and Bart, in the Why You Little set, don't have anything additional. It's just them, their gripping hands and extended tongues.

Fun Factor - **1/2
FOX drove Playmates nuts with the WOS line up, determined that the Simpsons was a line for kids. No matter how much proof there was that it was clearly a collector oriented license, they still drove them crazy asking for kid and play friendly concepts.

Mcfarlane realizes this is a fan based license at this point. These aren't meant as kids toys, although kids in the pre-teen bracket that love the show may enjoy displaying them as much as your favorite cubicle dweller will.

Value - Why You Little **; the rest ***
At ten to twelve bucks each, these are a solid value.  You're getting decent bases and dioramas in most cases, with the exception of Why You Little.  Even I have to admit that you're going to feel a bit ripped by that set, with the very basic base and figures.

Things to Watch Out For - 
With the continued paint problems with the Mcfarlane cartoon lines, you'll want to pay attention if your buying these off the peg. Also, when opening them up there's a couple things to be aware of. First, the tape can cause some issues, especially on Marge and Homer's helmet, where you may need to get out some soap and water to remove it. I'd avoid anything like Goo Gone on the off chance it might damage the clear plastic.

Also, the thin plastic rods on the base for Homer and Marge are packed into the bubble in such a way (attached and glued to the base already), that you could snap them if you get a bit to vigorous in pulling them out.

Overall - Kamp Krusty, Pieman ***1/2; Homer/Marge ***; Why You Little **1/2
If you only pick up one of these, make it the Kamp Krusty set.  Yea, I know, you don't like the episode all that much.  But this is a set that really looks terrific on the shelf.

If you can only pick up two, add the Pieman and Cupcake Kid set.  The biggest issue was getting them to stay attached to the base, and I can live with the few paint issues.  The Homer and Marge set isn't bad, especially if you like THOH themed sets.  I do worry about Homer though, since he doesn't seem to be staying straight on the post particularly well.

Obviously, if you're wondering which one to skip, it's Why You Little.  It seems odd that the most iconic - almost - is the one I'm least impressed by, but it does have it's pluses.  If you're looking for something basic, that won't require anyone to remember the episode to enjoy, then this might be the set for you.

The big question here is whether or not there's enough collectors left to support another action figure line. Playmates did an amazing job with WOS, but these are clearly something a little different. They remind me of the work done by the Hamilton collection - only better. Will enough collectors come along for the ride?

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpt -  Kamp Krusty ****; Homer/Marge, Pieman ***1/2; Why You Little ***;
Paint - Kamp Krusty ***1/2; Why You Little, Pieman, Homer/Marge ***;
Articulation - Homer and Marge, Pieman **; Kamp Krusty, Why You Little *1/2
Accessories - Kamp Krusty **1/2; Pieman, Homer/Marge **; Why you little Bupkis
Fun Factor - **1/2
Value -  **
Overall - Kamp Krusty, Pieman ***1/2; Homer/Marge ***; Why You Little **1/2

Where to Buy -
I'm betting Toys R Us will get them, although they haven't quite yet. Online options include:

- Clark Toys already has them in stock and shipping, at just $40 for the full set.  They also have the singles for $12 each, and the Itchy and Scratchy set for $20.

- CornerStoreComics has them up for preorder at $11 for each single, or the set for $43.

- Amazing Toyz has the singles on preorder for $11 each, or the set at $43.

- Killer Toys has the set for $65 on pre-order. That may not be the price though, since the assortment is now only 4.

Related Links -
I love Simpsons crap:

- for all my older reviews, including the WOrld of Springfield stuff, check out this index page.

- if you're just looking for other Mcfarlane Simpsons info, check the review of the Ironic Punishment set and the Family Couch Gag set.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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