NOTE - this review ran today at Movie Poop Shoot.  I'm running it here as well because Aisle Sniper provided a set of figures to me for the review, and I wanted to be sure they got a good plug for it.  So if you're undecided on where to pick them up, give Aisle Sniper a try.  Now on to the review - some of it might sound a bit odd, since it was written for the other site, but bear with me...

Some reviews are hard to do. If an action figure is truly amazing, second coming of Christ sort of stuff, then reviewing it is very easy. Likewise, when I end up with a figure that resembles a steaming pile of camel crap, ripping it a new one is better than easy - it's fun. They might not admit it, but I think all reviewers enjoy kicking that dog. I can just picture Ebert cackling with glee every time a new Vin Diesel movie is announced.

Back to my initial point. Some reviews are hard to do, and they are normally those that fall in between Christ-like and camel crap. These are the figures that are just, well, average. Writing a dozen paragraphs about how something is at least better than a sharp stick in the eye, but won't be making up for your lack of a date on Saturday night, is serious effort.

Today's review is a hard review. Not because the figures sit in middle of the spectrum (there are some very good points and some very bad points) but because the damn things are not just a license owned by the same guy that owns this site, but one of them is actually HIM. Nice as Kevin may or may not be, saying the figure looks like my dog's butt might not be a particularly good idea.

The biggest problem with reviewing something produced by someone you know - be it colleague, acquaintance, friend, co-worker, or boss - is that everyone reading the review will assume two things: a) anything good you say is because your just sucking up and b) anything bad you say is because you have some sort of personal issue with them.

I'm here to assure you that neither of these things are true. While I'm distinctly aware that Clerks is Kevin's baby, and that the short, fat figure in the first series is really him, none of that will factor into my opinions on these actual figures. Anyone that knows me knows that's true - the rest of you will have to just take my word for it. And I promise to wipe the ass off my face when I'm done.

The first set of action figures based on the cartoon Clerks are now out. They include Silent Bob, Jay, Randall and Dante. Further series will be released, including animated versions of characters from various Kevin Smith movies, and not just the animated show.

Packaging - ****
Wow. The card art and design on these really surprised me. I saw pictures of them - hell, I even saw them in person at Toy Fair. But for some reason I didn't pay much attention to the packaging then. But once I got them in my hands, the sheer coolness of the design hit me like a ton of bricks.

The card backer is shaped like a piece of film, with the required perforations along each side. The graphics are terrific, with some appropriate text and pictures of upcoming figures on the back. These are easily in the running for best packaging of the year.

Sculpting - ****
Hey, I am NOT sucking up. The sculpts on these really are excellent. They match up to the source material extremely well, with just the right amount of detail for the animated style. The poses selected are all very appropriate to the characters, and the facial expressions are dead on. They caught the frustration of Dante, the smugness of Randall, the stoned wonder of Jay, and the, well, silence of Bob perfectly. Cut me some slack - it was the only thing I could think of for Bob.

You might get surprised by the scale though. These are smaller than I expected, some as tall as the Simpsons but not as bulky (...must...resist...fat joke...). But the look pretty good on the shelf together, and no one has any trouble standing on their own.

Paint - ***1/2
The paint ops are actually better than they appear in the photos. They aren't perfect, but I didn't notice as many problems until I looked at the close up photos. There's some sloppy lines between the colors, and a little bleed, but overall I was pretty pleased, particularly with the work on the faces. All the colors are consistent, and I didn't have any blobs or over spray. However, I've heard some reports of weak paint ops, so be very careful when picking yours out on the peg.

Articulation - Bupkis
Okay, so much for the kudos. Now we get into the less that stellar qualities of these figures. First, there's no articulation. Now, they don't mislead you here - the packaging clearly states that these are 'inaction' figures. The theory is that collectors are unlikely to even open these up, and if they do,
they'll stick them on their computer and leave them there to collect dust until something even more uber-geek comes along, sort of like Precious Moments for the View Askew crowd.

Now, I'm not going to dispute that for some this is true. Sure, a bunch will never even make it out of the package. I don't think it makes much sense to design your product that way - assuming most people won't even 'use' it - but I can't argue that it will be true to some degree. I also realize that given good poses, the ability to stand well on their own, and great sculpting, the need for articulation is reduced.

But I can't agree with the idea that no articulation is needed even if you put it on the shelf. I like being able to at least pose the figure the way I want, and even if I don't touch it for six months, I'd prefer to have some control over how it looks and what it's doing. C'mon, without any articulation how are my annoying co-workers going to be able to re-pose them in various obscene sexual situations with other figures?

Accessories - Bupkis
The sculpts aren't designed to use accessories. No open hands, no way to hold anything. Add to that no articulation, and there really isn't much point to having accessories. But this is a huge negative for these figures. Having cool accessories with the figures is a great selling point, and has been known to sell figures no one would normally buy - I can guarantee that they'll sell twice as many Don Vittorios in the Simpsons line simply because he comes with the little bicycle. Accessories give you another option to
tie back to the character's personality or experiences, and can really add to the overall appearance of the figure. I realize the decision to go with 'inaction' put the kabash on the need for accessories, and that's another reason why that decision was such a poor one.

Value - *1/2
I spent ten bucks each for these. Since suggested retail is $9.37 (get it?), you can expect most
stores to round that off at ten bucks. And what do you get for ten bucks? Nicely done, slightly larger
than normal PVC's. In this market, the price point is way out of line with the actual product. Yes, it's
a cool license, and the sculpts are great, but these are five dollar figures tops.

Overall - **1/2
The only thing saving these figures is the sculpting and paint ops. It's a cool license, and they've captured the likenesses extremely well, but the lack of articulation and accessories with a ridiculously high price point really hurt what could have been a fantastic line. Will I get the next series? Yes.  I like the license a lot, but I'll still be disappointed with the shortcomings.

Where to Buy - 
The only bricks and mortar stores that I've seen these at so far are the Musicland family -
Musicland, Sam Goody, Media Play. On-line:

- Aisle Sniper has them in stock and ready to go for less than $37.48 for a set of four. That comes out to $9.37 each plus shipping. I've bought quite a bit from them, and I've always been happy with the customer service and fast turn around time.

They were also nice enough to send a set along to me for the review, so check them out if you have a chance.  And tell them Mikey sent you!

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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