Dr. Greg is back tonight with a retro-review
- Santa's Sleigh from Playing Mantis. Take it away, Doc!
here with another diagnosis. The patient this time is Santa’s
Sleigh and Reindeer Team from Playing Mantis (PM).
I know, I know, Christmas is long past.
That’s why I just picked this toy up, because it was being sold at
DEEP DISCOUNT at TRU.com. Cha-ching!
I paid less than $15.00 for this baby, and the SRP was more than
$50.00. Patience, as they say,
has its rewards. I should know,
because I have been patiently waiting for this toy since I was 6 or 7 years
old, along with many other boomers. I
mean, what child of the 60’s and/or 70’s didn’t
Packaging - ááá
Consistent with the entire line, this has
bold and bright colors, with pictures from the show and from other products
in the line. Oh, and it’s
HUGE! At 29.5 inches it’s
turn it sideways to get it through the door huge.
Great for display, although I can’t imagine anybody being able to
resist opening the box. My
biggest problem was the inner ‘cloud’ base that the figures and sleigh
are attached to inside the box (and I do mean attached, with more than 45
twisty ties!). Mine was broken
at the front and, even though I didn’t plan to use it, if I had I’m not
sure it would be sturdy enough to last for very long.
Actually, I’m sure. The thing is flimsy.
If I had my ultimate wish, it would have been to have a styrofoam
cloud base come with this, with small posts for each reindeer so that I
could position them in various ‘flying’ positions. I would also have
liked to see more pictures from the actual show on the box, especially here
where they definitely had the room for them. Maybe next year?
Sculpting - ááá1/2
This would have gotten a 4 if only for one
problem. Playing Mantis
promised 6 different reindeer head sculpts and, as far as I can see, there
are 2 (not including Rudolph). The
eyes and noses are PAINTED differently, but there are only 2 different
sculpts, and they are only slightly
different. That problem aside, they sculpts are top drawer.
As with the rest of the line, they all look as if they stepped right
out of the film. Santa we’ve
seen before, and I saw no discernable changes with him.
Of course, Rudolph as portrayed here is now a ‘young buck’, and
looks fantastic, as well as Santa’s Sleigh.
PM seems to have their sculpting down pat, and I’ve been pleased
with all of their other new Rudolph figures this year.
I have just 1 wish here, that being a magnet system a la the Muppets
to hold Santa’s hat in place.
One thing that has been a disappointment for me this year is the slight
downturn in PM’s paint applications.
Santa, although an exact copy of last year, is the worst.
He has multiple spots where there is no paint, and the white of his
jacket, hat, and beard are badly spotted.
It looks to me as if they tried a wash to bring out the highlights
and it didn’t take, making these areas appear very sloppy.
The finer points on Rudolph are well done, with very little slop, as
well as the rest of the reindeer, but again I see that there was a wash used
here that, although not
hideous, isn’t up to the same standards as last year.
Their fur looks more like plastic, whereas Rudolph and Clarice from
last year looked more like ‘fur’. The
eyes, noses, and hooves are all very well done however, considering their
small size, with very little slop. The sleigh also looks very nice, even
though it is rather basic. (I suppose it was also basic in the show.) I hope
that I was just unlucky with my set, as I’ve been pleased in the past with
PM’s work and I would hate to see this as a trend.
I would have loved to have seen a neck
joint on the reindeer that allowed better head positioning, but alas that
was not to be. They all have the same 5 points as last years deer;
shoulders, hips, and neck. Another joint in 1 (or both) of the front legs
would have upped the poseability a bit too.
Rudolph has one extra joint, as his tail can move to enable the light
up effect of his nose. Santa is
exactly the same as last year, with neck, shoulder, wrist, waist and ankle
joints, which is plenty for him.
suppose I should add the reindeer harness in here as I don’t know where
else to put it.Not bad at all,
it is heavy rubber and allows for a modicum of movement for the reindeer. Real jingling bells would have been sweet, but I’m just dreaming.
Accessories - áá
The only thing here that qualifies is
Santa’s toy bag. Personally I
would have liked to have seen at least one pvc
toy in there. It’s big
however, and looks nice in the sleigh.
I’ve already stuffed mine with a spare misfit doll, elephant, and
Sam’s banjo. Besides the bag,
I can’t really think of anything else that there could have been.
Feed buckets? A reindeer
pooper scooper? A map for
all honesty I bought this toy for myself, but my kids played with it for a
short period of time and the diagnosis wasn’t good.
The problem is that, since everything is attached by way of the
rubber harness, every time Alex or Kiki would try to move the sleigh or a
particular reindeer they would all
fall over. This was very frustrating and, even though they love the show,
their interest quickly faded.
Value - ááá1/2
For collectors and fans of the show
this is a real treat. I must caution that it does take up a huge amount of
display space, but I remedied that somewhat by displaying other figures
around it. On display it looks awesome, and I can’t wait until next year
and my yearly Christmas diorama to show it off to everybody. As I commented
under packaging, it would have been perfect if a Styrofoam
cloud base come with this, with small posts to position the reindeer in
various ‘flying’ positions. (If I saw the recent Toy Fair pics
correctly, it looks as if PM has had a similar idea as I saw Rudolph posed
on what looked like a clear Lucite post in a
‘flying’ position.) It’s not perfect, but it comes close and I am
personally very happy with it.
Value - áááá
This depends on where you're shopping. At an SRP of forty bucks, he's
too expensive, considering the other figures on the market in that
range. But with most stores selling these in the $30-$35 range, you
have some other options. Add a half star if you get it for $5 or more
cheaper, and if you can find it for under $30, that's extremely good.
Overall - áááá
give this set a áááá
for a couple of reasons. The first is because this is really a very
impressive set. I mean, who would have thought that any company
would dare make such a huge boxed set?! 8 action figures plus a
vehicle?! Unbelievable. The risk alone was probably enough to
turn off most companies, but Playing Mantis swallowed hard and made
the dreams of countless Rudolph fans finally come true. The quality,
while not perfect, was definitely higher than average, and the
coolness factor is off the charts. In other words, anyone who
loves Christmas and/or Rudolph MUST buy this set. And that's MY
Figure from the collection of