Family Guy Series 7

Only a few action figure lines make it to double digit waves. They have to be pretty big licenses to pull it off, and even then, the companies that produce the figures have to have the dedication and maturity to handle the complexity of wave after wave of the same license. It's more common these days to see a bunch of big hoopla over a license up front, then one, maybe two series of action figures at best.

Mezco has just released the seventh wave of Family Guy figures, with waves 8 and 9 already announced. While there have always been some complaints about character selection or variants, you have to give Mez a lot of credit - getting this far with a license is becoming more and more unheard of, and if he can pull it off, he must be doing something right.

This series includes Bad Girl Lois, Bionic Peter, Neil Goldman, Groovy Death, Commando Stewie and and the Performance Artist. Mezco always does variants, but the only confirmed variant at this point is on Neil Goldman, who is wearing a different shirt. I'll be using the variant version for the package photo so you can see what you're looking for.  I'll be giving Neil scores in the various categories, but I don't have any loose photos - sorry.

There may also be eye/expression variants, but nothing has been reported so far. These are hitting Suncoasts, FYE and online stores first, and I haven't heard anything about Hot Topic or Spencer's getting them in yet.

As to those upcoming series, they've switched to a four figure per wave plan, down from the past six figures per wave. Wave 8 is scheduled to include Workout Chris, Diane Simmons, Secret Agent Astronaut Millionaire Peter, and Quagmire in a bathrobe. The ninth series has been discussed as the Black Knight, Bonnie Swanson, Lando Griffin, and Stewie with an extra full diaper. Series 9 is still quite a way out though, so I wouldn't be surprised to see line up changes.

Packaging - ***
If you were expecting it to change, don't. It's fairly basic, but it does the job and it gets the point across. I wish they were a little smaller - seems like there is an awful lot of wasted space - and you know I prefer clamshells, but there's quite a bit to be said for maintaining a consistent package appearance for an entire license.

Sculpting - Bionic Peter, PA, BG Lois, Groovy Death ***1/2; Neil, Stewie ***
I was a bit surprised by a couple of these figures, as I hadn't expected to like them as much as I do.

One of those is Bionic Peter.  These one gag sort of variations are usually less appealing to me (at least Stewie wore the commando duds for awhile), but I really like Peter.  Oh, most casual observers might wonder 'huh?' when they see it on your desk, but it's such a cool looking character that I can overlook the obscurity.  The proportions are good, and the various 'bionic' pieces - magnifying glass eye, rake right arm, plunger right leg, garbage can left leg - look fantastic.

But my favorite of this line is the Performance Artist.  The head sculpt is dead on, the body looks excellent, the sculpt and articulation compliment each other, and the hands are even sculpted to work well with the plate of cookies or other accessories.

Lois was another big surprise.  I'm not really sure we needed another Lois variant, and this one really didn't do much for me in the early photos.  But once I had it, I realized that they'd done quite a bit of updating to the original look.  The nose is smaller, the lips are smaller, and the slightly wilder hair all come together to make a much better looking - hot or not - version of Lois.  She's slightly smaller than the previous versions too, including her head, and I like the new proportions and scale better.

Her lips are sculpted with a small hole for the cigarette, but it's not too noticeable if you decide to make her a non-smoker.

The first series Death got ***1/2 for his sculpt, and I actually like this one better.  There's a little more depth to the interior of the hood, and the funky afro looks terrific.  The only downside to him is the softer plastic they're using, especially in the wrists.

Neil is good, and he's going to take an honorable place on the shelf next to Meg, but there does seem to be something slightly off.  Perhaps it's the shape of the head, or perhaps it's the proportions in general, but he's not *quite* Neil. Still, I'm most happy about getting this character after the PA, since he adds someone new to the collection.

The only one I'm not particularly thrilled with is Stewie, but in the sculpt department he's not bad.  The regular top half of his head snaps on well, and because of the bandana, the hair is sculpted back a bit farther on his head. The combination of the bandana and the hair actually makes his head appear to be shaped a little more like it is on the show, although I don't think they've actually changed the size of the head in any way.

The shirt is sculpted rather than just painted on, and his right hand is sculpted to hold the knife. The opening is too big for the star to work correctly (you can jury rig a pose but it doesn't really look right), and the left hand is sculpted in a fist.  I could have swore I saw early photos of him holding both accessories, but that's not the case with the production figure. 

Paint - Groovy Death, Neil ***1/2; PA, Bionic Peter ***; BG Lois, Commado Stewie **1/2;
This overall line has always been plagued with paint issues.  The broad, bright colors often suffer from poor cuts between them, and other standard issues like stray marks and sloppy details are common.

That's still true with this line.  For me, the Neil and Groovy Death had the best work, with almost no slop.  Even Neil's braces were fairly clean, and the variant has the tampo of Neil and Meg kissing on the front, lined up nice and neatly on his chest.  The colors on Death and his dog look great, but even he has some inconsistencies in finish, with some spots brighter and glossier than others.

The other figures in the series largely suffer from poor cuts between colors.  The edges are sloppy, with bleed from one color to the other or overspray.  It's not terrible, but my Lois and Stewie exhibited the most problems.

The lesson?  Pick your set carefully.  I'm betting you can find a Lois that's perfect if you try hard enough, or and up with a Death that looks terrible if you're not careful.

Articulation - PA ***1/2; Bionic Peter, Commando Stewie, Neil ***; Death **1/2; Lois *1/2
As usual with cartoon figures, none of these are super articulated.  Still, there's good and bad.

The Performance Artist showcases the good side.  He has an excellent ball jointed neck, with a ton of posing possibilities and the ability to add lots of personality to the figure. He also has ball jointed shoulders, but these are the same style we've seen with most other figures in the line.  The balls at the torso don't allow for a whole lot of movement away from the body.

He also has a cut waist, cut wrists, and the all important angle cut elbows.  The elbows are a big addition to the figure, and allow him to hold his plate of cookies.

The bad is Bad Girl Lois. She does have a ball jointed neck, but it doesn't quite have the same range of movement as the PA.  And that is the one and only joint she has.  Although the shoulders look like cut joints, they're glued in place. There's nothing moving here other than her head.

In between these two extremes are the other figures.  Neil has a ball jointed neck, pin ball shoulders, cut wrists and cut waist.  Peter has cut joints at the neck, waist, where the rack attaches to his body and where the plunger attaches to his body.  He also has the standard FG ball jointed shoulders.  And Death has a cut neck, cut shoulders, cut wrists and one cut elbow.  Commando Stewie is similar to past Stewies, with a cut neck, pin ball shoulders, cut waist and cut hips.

The articulation is all about as much as you can really get for these designs, so there's no real surprises, positive or negative.

Accessories - Neil ***1/2; PA, Lois, Death ***; Commando Stewie **1/2; Bionic Peter Bupkis
The accessories are a bit lighter this time around, but there's still some interesting goodies here.

Groovy Death has the same two accessories as before - his sickle and his dog. This time though, his dog is done up in the same groovy colors as he is. The dog isn't articulated, just like the first time around.  Death also has a gold chain, disco sized, with a gold medallion.  The chain itself is metal, but the medallion is plastic, making the two look quite a bit different.  The chain isn't easily removable, but pop off an arm and you can do it.  I wouldn't recommend it though.

Bionic Peter hasn't got jack.  I suppose it's because he's large, and fairly complex - but it's still tough to pay $13 or more for just a single figure with nothing else.

Neil gets the best score of the bunch, since he has a nice assortment of character specific unique items. There's the clipboard, corncob pipe, table and A/V equipment. The table has four legs hidden underneath, but the wheels on the feet don't turn.

BG Lois might look hot, but she's not quite as warm in this category. She does have a boom box though, to help her do her thing.  She also has a small display stand, a smart move on Mezco's part.  Without it, you can't get her to stand.  She also has one more accessory not mentioned or shown on the package - a cigarette. I mentioned earlier that her mouth is sculpted to hold it, and it looks pretty good in there.

Commando Stewie has a knife and throwing star, but he can only hold the knife.  The right hand is the only one sculpted to hold things, and the gap between the fingers and thumb is sized for the larger knife, not the thinner star. His coolest accessory is his camouflage head gear.  The top half of his head actually pops off, and you are supposed to pop the head gear on.  Too bad this works poorly, because he looks much better wearing the grass than not.  But the regular head top pops on and off with a snap, but the grass top won't stay on tightly for me.  It pretty much falls off, and because of the size, he has to lean quite a way foreword to stay standing with it on.

Finally, there's the Performance Artist. He only has two accessories, but they both fit him perfectly from a character perspective, and one is huge. He has a plate of cookies, along with the CPR dummy. The dummy is very hollow, very light plastic, and unarticulated, but it's in a decent scale and looks cool.  The paint ops are a tad weak on this accessory, but that seems consistent with the rest of the line.

Fun Factor - ***
These are fun figures, even if they don't have uber-articulation. There's plenty of cool accessories, the sculpts look great, and the episode specific characters take you back to some of the funnier moments from the show. If this was a kid's line, kids would actually enjoy them, but they lack the one key ingredient for a line aimed at the younger set - conflict. One of Michael's Top Ten Rules of Action Figures is that a license MUST have conflict within it for it to make a good kid's line. That's why action figures based on Power Rangers, Ben 10 or Avatar do well, and while shows like Spongebob or Fairly Odd Parents might have a huge fan base, they'll never sell as action figures, at least to kids.

Value - **1/2
These still run around that $12 mark, which is pretty average right now on the specialty market. You're best bet for getting a full set AND saving money is to pre-order thsese through reputable online companies - you'll get them faster than waiting for the store to get them in, and almost always cheaper even with shipping.

Things to Watch Out For - 
Paint ops once again.  If you're picking your set off the peg, do what you can to compare and get the best set.

Also, take care with some of the joints.  Some, like Death's wrists, are very soft plastic, and can easily break if they are paint stuck.

Overall - PA, Neil ***1/2; Death, Bionic Peter, BG Lois ***; Commando Stewie **1/2
If you're only picking up new characters, you'll be happy with Neil and the Performance Artist.  Both look terrific on their own, but even better with previously released characters.

Unless you're a completist, or a huge fan of the particular episode, I'd skip Stewie.  His one saving grace is you could put him with the previous Bertram, instead of the Stewie from that wave, to give the shelf a little more interesting look.

Groovy Death, BG Lois and Bionic Peter are all solid variants, and they've managed to make what I thought would be uninteresting actually pretty cool.  But I'm betting that only the hardcore will pick up the entire wave.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***
Sculpt -  Bionic Peter, PA, BG Lois, Groovy Death ***1/2; Neil, Stewie ***
Paint - Groovy Death, Neil ***1/2; PA, Bionic Peter ***; BG Lois, Commado Stewie **1/2;
Articulation - PA ***1/2; Bionic Peter, Commando Stewie, Neil ***; Death **1/2; Lois *1/2
Accessories - Neil ***1/2; PA, Lois, Death ***; Commando Stewie **1/2; Bionic Peter Bupkis
Fun Factor - ***
Value - **1/2
Overall - PA, Neil ***1/2; Death, Bionic Peter, BG Lois ***; Commando Stewie **1/2

Where to Buy -
Plenty of online opportunities to spend your scratch - 

- YouBuyNow has series 8 up for pre-order, and a ton of the older figures in stock. They'll put up their Series 7 figures when they hit stock.

- Amazing Toyz and CornerStoreComics have the set of 6 for $65, or single figures for $11 - $16, depending on the character.

- in the U.K., Forbidden Planet has them for about 10 GBP each.

- Toys And Cool Stuff hasn't listed series 7 yet, but they have older figures at around $14 (Canadian).

Related Links -
I've covered a ton of past Family Guy goodies - 

- Here's my reviews of wave 1, wave 2, wave 3, wave 4, wave 5, and wave 6.

- there's the boxed sets, including the Peter and Lois two pack, series 1.5 family boxed set, and the Peter and Chicken two pack.

- Finally, there's the review of the large talking Stewie, and the deluxe Evil Monkey.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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