wall-e action figure from thinkway toys

Most of my contemporaries have a short list of must see films this summer than include the likes of Iron Man, Indiana Jones, X-Files, and The Dark Knight. Those are all on my list too (in fact, there's a movie opening every weekend from the beginning of May til the end of July that I must see), but there's another one that is very, very high on my list of most anticipated: WALL-E. Waste Allocation Load Lifter - Earth-Class, for those who were wondering.

For me to be interested, it's enough that Pixar is running the show. I don't think they've made a bad film yet, although some are clearly better than others. But when I realized that there was almost no dialog in the film, and that they were trying to tell a space love story...well, that seals the deal for me.

The movie is scheduled for release June 27th, but the toys are all ready hitting Toys R Us stores, with other major retailers to follow. There are small figures in the 3 - 5" range (reviewed here tonight) as well as larger figures more in the 6" range. What scale these actually are sort of depends on how big you think WALL-E should be compared to other folks.
wall-e action figure from thinkway toys

wall-e action figure from thinkway toys
wall-e action figure from thinkway toys
wall-e action figure from thinkway toys
wall-e action figure from thinkway toys
wall-e action figure from thinkway toys
wall-e action figure from thinkway toys
wall-e action figure from thinkway toys
wall-e action figure from thinkway toys

Expect to pay around $6 for these smaller figures. These were produced by Thinkway for Disney/Pixar, the makers of the original talking Buzz Lightyear toy that had parents going crazy a few years back. There are more than a dozen figures pictured on the back of the card, and tonight I'm looking at the regular version of WALL-E, Eve, The Captain, and M-O.

Packaging - ***1/2
As much as I hated the Dark Knight stuff, I love this stuff. And that's quite a bit.

The design is excellent, with almost no wasted space and a clear, unobstructed view of the figure. The card back is colorful and emotes the film nicely, with a nifty close up of WALL-E himself. The back of the card shows off the rest of the current line, but there is no real personalization for the character inside other than the obvious name tag on the front.

Great packaging should catch your eye and draw you in. These do both, and they do it well.

Sculpting -  WALL-E ***1/2; Eve ***; M-O, Captain **1/2
WALL-E is easily the best of the bunch, with some decent detailing and a fairly screen accurate look. His internal scale (arms to torso, legs to torso, etc) seems quite good, and I like the sculpted expression they went with. Not too bland, but not so overly suggestive as to make him seem forever stuck in one emotion. The detailing on the treads is most impressive, and there are even some very small sculpted details on the torso that might appear to be only paint at first glance. They aren't though - they went the extra mile with the star.

Eve isn't *quite* as screen accurate. First, she's a bit too large in this scale in comparison to WALL-E. The shape of the body and head also seem slightly off to me, but it's a tough call as she can clearly alter her external appearance (the arms being smooth against the body or 'floating' in various positions, as well as the connection of the head to the body) to some degree.

They do seem to have the basic look right though, although I can't help but wonder if Steve Jobs is trying to sell more Apple products. I do like the design, as it does a nice job of juxtapositioning the sleek female against the more rugged male, it does tend to remind me of a some sort of MP3 player.

The Captain doesn't look too bad in the package, but once he was freed I was very disappointed. The head sculpt is fairly nice, but the harder plastic used for the head allows it to hold a sharper cut. The rest of the figure is hollow and made from a very soft rubber - think squeeze toy. Once I had this figure in my hand, I was confused, wondering where the 4 chicken nuggets, fries and small Sprite went to.

The same can be said for M-0, although he is thankfully made of hard plastic all around. The sculpting here is very basic, as you would expect from the design, but the figure is so tiny and so lacking in detail that you'll be utterly under whelmed. Compare M-O to WALL-E, and I think you'll see what I mean. The detail work on WALL-E is clean and realistic. The work on M-O is sloppy and soft.

What scale this are in is up to interpretation. The Captain stands about 4 3/4", so I suppose you could claim that as the scale. WALL-E stands 2 3/4" tall, and I think he fits in very nicely with most 4" lines, like Star Wars or Halo 3 from Mcfarlane. Eve is about 4" tall, and M-O is just 1 3/4" inches tall.

Paint - WALL-E, Eve ***; Captain, M-O **1/2
There are two versions of WALL-E in this assortment: the one reviewed here, and a clean version called "factory clean" or "factory fresh" or something like that. Get the dirty looks much less toy-like, and much more like the film version.

Now, it's not perfect by any means. The number of details here is limited, and some of them are actual stickers. He also doesn't have much in the way of the blue on his eyes, which is clearly in the film and gives him so much more life. But the details that are here are decent for a mass market toy, and they've done a much better job with the appearance of dirt and wear than I would have anticipated.

Eve doesn't have a whole lot in the way of paint, since her parts are all molded in the appropriate colors. But at least they got those colors right, and they are clean and consistent, with no weird manufacturing issues like swirls or rubs. She's a nice high gloss too, consistent with what we see in the film. Again, I wish they'd done more with the eyes, because those are so critical to the emotions of the character in the film, but that's a minor nit.

M-O actually has a few paint details, but they are fairly sloppy. He also relies on stickers for some of his details, which feels and looks a bit cheap. Again, much of the figure is merely cast in a white plastic, but he isn't quite as glossy as Eve.

The Captain has more slop than the others, particularly around the hat details. His eyebrows are a bit off as well, and the various materials they've used for the body, arms and head have all absorbed the white in slightly different ways, making the color a little inconsistent. He's not atrocious, but for a six dollar action figure, he's nothing to write Grammie over.

Articulation - WALL-E ***; Eve **1/2; Captain, M-O **;
While none of these figures are going to win awards for their articulation, at least WALL-E gives it a shot.

He has a cut neck, pin and post shoulders (considered ball joints by some), and a pin joint through the hand. There's also wheels on the bottom of his tread feet so he can actually roll. Of course, actual treads would have been much nicer, but at this price I wasn't expecting them.

The shoulders allow the arms quite a bit of movement, but he really needs some sort of cut joint as well, either on the arm or at the wrist. He also needs a better neck joint, perhaps a ball similar to Eve's. And finally, I thought I'd be able to open up the body, and it actually appears like you should be able to, at least from the back, but alas, I couldn't manage it no matter how I tried.

Eve has decent articulation, and probably has as much as you can give her considering the design. There's a ball jointed neck, and shoulders that are sort of ball joints, allowing the arms to move out from the body and turn in a number of ways. And while it's not really a joint on Eve herself, the post used to attach her to the base is a ball joint too.

The Captain has a cut neck, shoulders and legs. These joints don't give you much flexibility, and you're not getting anything dynamic or iconic out of him.

M-O has a ball neck like Eve, and cuts on the shoulders so the arms can go up and down together (since they are connected by the sculpted item he's carrying). Obviously, he can also turn on the base or cart where he sits on the post.

Accessories - M-O **; Eve *1/2; Captain, WALL-E Bupkis
If you're an accessory junkie like me, this line is going to leave you seriously jonesing. It's a pity too, because it seems to me that WALL-E has the potential for all kinds of accessories based on what we've seen in the previews.

He has jack though. Nada. Nothing. The Captain is the same. Can you say "kid's meal"? I knew you could.

Eve comes with a clear plastic base that works quite well, and keeps her suspended above the ground in a variety of angles. M-O also has a small clear base, and he also comes with a 'transport vehicle', which he can sit on. It has wheels on the bottom to roll along the floor.

Fun Factor - WALL-E ***; the rest **
Action figures for films like this are a tough sell. Why? No physical conflict. Batman kicks ass. Power Rangers kick ass. Spider-Man kicks ass. WALL-E...ponders things. That can be a tough sell to your average eight year old boy.

Value - WALL-E **; the rest *1/2
While WALL-E isn't any great value at a whopping six bucks, He does seem on par with some of the other 3 3/4" style figures at this price point. An accessory or two would have gotten him that extra half star and made him an average value.

The others are way over priced. Eve is the closest to a decent value, because at least she has a little size to her and a reasonable design. Still, if this is what a $6 action figure has become, it's a truly sad day.

And the other two? You'll be shocked at what you're getting for your money. The Captain is a cheap chew toy, something you should get in a Happy Meal. Likewise the diminutive M-O. And that's where I think the real problem is. Had I gotten WALL-E in a kid's meal, I would have been truly impressed, because the paint and sculpt really are at a mass market toy quality. But the other three? Yea son, those are cute, but could you pass me the french fries?

Things to Watch Out For - 
Not much really. Since the WALL-E has that dirty, realistic paint, there might be some variance between them. But I suspect that the quality of these overall will be pretty consistent, and once you get them out you don't have much to worry about.

Overall - WALL-E ***; Eve **1/2; M-O, Captain *1/2
While these are overpriced in general, I have to admit I really like the WALL-E. At this size, I think he fits in perfectly with 3 3/4" - 4" scale figures, and if you want a new robot to join your R2-D2 and C-3PO, this is the perfect one. The slightly dirty paint job gives improves the basic mass market look, and the sculpt is actually pretty well done.

The other three...not so much. Eve is passable, and can go with robots from other lines as well. She does seem oversized to me in relation to this WALL-E, and it's tough to justify the price point considering what you get in the package.

The Captain and M-O...and unfortunately from what I see on the back of the box, probably the rest of this smaller scale line up...are easy passes. They really are kid's meal quality, and that's disappointing considering some of Thinkway's past work. The last thing I reviewed of theirs was the Spider-Man 3 room guards, and those (like the Buzz Lightyear everyone remembers) were at least really fun toys. These aren't even that.

I picked up two of the larger figures as well, and I suspect they'll do much better score-wise, even at the higher price point.  Still, I'd pick up this WALL-E to fit in with some of your other 4 - 5" action figure lines.

BTW, there's an "Ultimate WALL-E" coming this summer.   He's $190, with 10 internal motors, able to sense his surroundings and do your bidding.  That's a WALL-E I want to see.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpt - WALL-E ***1/2; Eve ***; M-O, Captain **1/2
Paint - WALL-E, Eve ***; Captain, M-O **1/2
Articulation - WALL-E ***; Eve **1/2; Captain, M-O **;
Accessories - M-O **; Eve *1/2; Captain, WALL-E Bupkis
Fun Factor - WALL-E ***; the rest **
Value - WALL-E **; the rest *1/2
Overall - WALL-E ***; Eve **1/2; M-O, Captain **

Where to Buy -
These are hitting Toys R Us stores first, but I'm sure other retailers will be putting them out soon.

Related Links -
Other Pixar toys include:

- the terrific Cars from Mattel. Now here's a movie that made the perfect tie with die cast cars, and Mattel found the perfect way to exploit that connection.

- the Disney Store has had some good action figures for various Disney/Pixar movies, and I looked at one of the Ratatouille figures, Linguini.

- also from Ratatouille was the PVC figures.

- Pixar has had trouble with mass market toys before, like the regular release Monsters Inc stuff.

- Medicom has done some great stuff based on Pixar films, including Buzz Lightyear.

- and if you don't think you can get kid's meal toys as good or better than these, look at what Pixar did with Mcdonald's for Monsters Inc.

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wall-e action figure from thinkway toys

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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