Roaring King Kong


Reviewer C. Martin steps in tonight with a nifty review of a Kong toy that's hitting clearance - Roaring Kong!  What's the scoop, C.?

As inevitable as death and taxes, toys from blockbuster movies are a sure thing. Peter Jacksonís King Kong is no exception, and prompted a line of various toys. Among these is a plush, roaring King Kong made by Playmates.
Or as like to call him, Tickle-Me-Kong.

This toy originally came out with the cinematic release of the film, and in my area the Tickle-Me-Kong went off the shelves pretty fast. With the release of the DVD, Tickle-Me-Kong was back, and seemed to stay for awhile.

What struck me most about this toy was itís size- smaller than Elmo, possibly even GI Joe- sized. Which is odd, considering itís supposed to be KING KONG- 8th Wonder of the World. Perhaps this was done to avoid terrifying the "Ages 4 and up" for whom Kong is suggested on the box? 

However, on a recent trip to Target, Tickle-Me-Kong caught my attention with his bright red mark down sticker- $10.48! Thatís $5 off the regular price of $14.99! What the heck, maybe The Yeti from GI Joe could use a pal!

Packaging - **
Again, the kid angle comes into play, as Kong sits exposed in an open box- a pleasant change from the fortress-like collector boxes Iím use to opening. Two wires to fight and Kong is free!

The obvious advantage of an open box is that prospective buyers can try out Kongís chest-roaring action, feel his soft, synthetic fur and his rubbery teeth. Kids love to touch everything.

The box features some decent artwork based on the movie, with a brief blurb about Kong on the back:

"He is massive, he is mighty, he is Kong- and heís all yours! Now you can relive all of Kongís amazing adventures or create brand new ones with this super life-like Kong. Authentically detailed with Kong fur and a jungle rumbling squeeze-activated roar, Kong is the perfect go-anywhere gorilla!"

The box also advertises the hard-plastic creature packs you can get, telling you to "Collect them All!"

And the box points out three features of Kong:

Realistic face, hands and feet!
Real Kong fur!

As Kong isnít real- at least I donít recall ever seeing a forty-foot ape- how is his face realistic? And the line about "Real Kong fur" might scare some children- did they shave the real Kong to make these plush toys?

I will admit however, that Kongís limbs are super-poseable. But more on that below.

Sculpting - ***
Tickle-Me-Kong is wearing a growling face. In the display box he looks like heís thrown back his head and is bellowing a challenge. Free of the box, where he drops into a pre-running pose, heís looking straight ahead, ready to snap into a V-Rex with mouth bared wide. The sculpt also features battle wounds- red painted gashes on Kongís rubbery chest and face.

For me, one major flaw is the choice to have Kongís gaze looking up and out, as though reflecting on what dinosaur to eat for breakfast. Iíd have preferred him looking straight ahead, but I guess that could have scared those Ages 4 & Up.

Kongís hands are surprisingly well down- he almost has a Joe Kungfu grip, and the material is soft and rubbery for grabbing little trees, people, etc.

Nice detail on Kongís feet as well- with the bottoms actually sculpted with grooves, etc instead of being flat like most toys. They also are of a soft, rubbery material, suitable for small children.

As for Kongís body... well, itís a stuffed, hairy, plush toy. Heís been sewn into a knuckle-standing pose, his big butt sticking out, and his hips seem a little wide. His head is tilted up and slightly to the right. If he was just a little smaller, a Joe might be able to hold him in a good Half-nelson pose.

Perhaps the most striking problem with the sculpt for me is Kongís teeth. In the film, Kongís lower tusks seem larger, and the left lower tusk is broken off. For the Tickle-Me-Kong, the upper canines are far more prominent and all four canines are intact.

Paint - **
I mentioned the battle scars under Sculpting, but Iíll do so again here: theyíre just plain red streaks. Not very realistic looking. And Kong has a bright pink tongue and palate. On the other hand, Kongís teeth are discolored, and not bright and shiny white. As there is no Crest Fresh Whitening toothpaste on Skull Island, this seems like a nice touch.

Kongís eyes, in addition to gazing off into la-la-land, are painted very simply. Bright white eyes, with black corneas and red pupils. Apparently, someone snapped a shot of Kong and forgot to remove the red eye from the photo before passing it along to the factory. I think black pupils and brown corneas would have been better.

Articulation - **
Kongís articulation is similar to that of the Adventure Team Yeti and Hasbro Plush Chewbacca- stuffed limbs with a heavy wire inside. A sort of Gumby articulation.

For Kong, his arms and legs do offer some poseability, however the wire doesnít allow for much rotation of the wrists or ankles. Add in the heavy talk box and Kong tends to be very hard to put in a stable standing pose. Add in the fact Kongís head doesnít want to do more than how itís already sewn on, and you basically get slim to none articulation.

Accessories - Nada
Kong doesnít have any. Not even a small girl to carry around. Which makes me think of this as Tickle-Me-Kong even more. It must be intended for small children- there are no small pieces!

Even a simple plush tree would have been nice! Or maybe some rubbery chains for Kong to break free of in a plush recreation of the auditorium scene from the movie. Kongís complete lack of accessories does make my Sideshow Creature from the Black Lagoon, with his stand and fossil hand, seem much more complete however. 

I hate to just give one star for this feature, as not many action figures can talk nowadays. But what irks me is the fact they gave Kong just ONE sound effect. A single roar that starts out with heavy breathing- like heís making some kind of obscene call to Anne Darrow- then which changes to some kind of ape chuckle, then finally into a very brief roar. Nothing like when he defeats the V-Rexs. Heck, my little girlís Teletubbies make more sounds then Kong.

And while you can pull the voice box out of Kong to change the 2 AA batteries, you canít completely remove it, which makes Kong very washer unfriendly.

Fun Factor - ***
Come on itís KING KONG! How can you not have fun with him? Got any of those smaller green plastic Army Men laying around? Perfect size for Kong to tromp on.

Borrow your daughterís Polly Pockets and now Kong can play the role of Mighty Joe Young.

Want GI Joe or a Sideshow Army of Darkness Ash to go on a mission into the congo to find King Solomonís Mines? Use Kong as a super-intelligent ape.

Want GI Joe or a Sideshow Army of Darkness Ash to go on a mission into the congo to find King Solomonís Mines? Use Kong as a super-intelligent ape.

Or maybe you daughter complains thereís no Mojo Jojo for her stuffed Power Puff girls to fight? No problem, cut out a purple cape and stick a paper cup on his head and Kong can do his best to take over the City of Townsville.

Whatís more, being plush, this Kong can be hurled across the room, or take a tall shelf dive without fear of being damaged. On the other hand, play outdoors will undoubtably matt all that great fur with filth and a trip through the washer or sink to clean it might take away his roaring action.

Value - ***
For $10.98, I think this is a good value. Itís basically fun, and cheap enough that if it does get itís voice-box broken you, or your child, shouldnít be too upset. Combine in the plush feature- easy on feet that step on a discarded Kong in the middle of the night- and youíve got a pretty good toy here.

Overall - ***
If Iíd have bought Tickle-Me-Kong at full price, which I did once consider, I wouldnít rate it so high. But as he was on sale, and both I and my 6 year old can get some use out of him, Iím happy with the purchase. I will of course be checking on Kong periodically at Target, as his sale price was only $10.98. Target likes to mark things down a lot, so I expect these to drop down to $4 or $5 dollars eventually. For that price, I may buy 2 or three more and do a whole Tarzan shelf diorama.

Score Recap- 
Packaging - **
Sculpt - ***
Paint - **
Articulation - **
Accessories - Nada
Roaring Action - *
Fun Factor - ***
Value - ***
Overall - ***


Figure from the collection of C. Martin.

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