Simpsons Mini-busts
Krusty the Clown

It's tough reviewing busts. Why, you ask? Because busts start to slide into the world of art, a place where action figures are just starting to softly tread.

With action figures, you can review based on functionality. Sculpt, paint, articulation, accessories - all of these categories are more functional than artistic. Sure, there's still an element of art, and there's certainly still an element of personal preference, but at least the basic premise is easy to define.

But with busts, there's really only sculpt and paint that are somewhat quantifiable. The design itself, and how well it captures the background, personality and life of the character are firmly planted in artistic soil. And once you start talking art, you start talking personal preference, big time.

Tonight's review is of the latest Sideshow Simpsons bust, a character I like to call "I think it's time to clean my loaded gun" Krusty. Krusty is of course the epitome of the sad clown, completely stressed out and not nearly as happy as the face paint would imply. Between booze, lawyers and television executives, his life is a living hell, but one he can't break free from. Heh, heh kids!

I'll give it my best shot to review this without letting my favoritism for this particular version of the character get in the way, but you've been warned. Krusty is available from the Sideshow website for $35, and at various websites (I have several suggestions below) for slightly less.

Sideshow has four more busts scheduled to hit this summer - Grampa, Wiggum, Groundskeeper Willie, and Sideshow Bob. Most of the earlier busts, including Homer, Marge, Moe, Lisa, Comic Book Guy, Bart and Apu are currently on sale for $25 each.

Packaging - ***
Mini-bust packaging serves one purpose foremost - keep the bust intact. The Styrofoam insert does that perfectly, yet it allows the buyer to see the bust through the window in the outer box. That's a nice touch that many mini-busts boxes neglect, and one that's pretty critical to sell a high priced item. I don't know about you, but I like to see the bust I'm getting before clunking down the silver.

Beyond that, the package is fairly standard. FOX keeps pretty tight reins on what you can do with the Simpsons style and color scheme, and Sideshow did the best they could within the constraints.

Sculpting - ***1/2
This is Krusty at his dejected best. The proportions are excellent, and the hair length seems just right. The arm proportions seem fine as well, but overall there is one issue worth noting - his scale is somewhat larger than the previous busts.

This is most obvious when sitting next to Homer. The characters are fairly close in size in most incarnations, although Krusty does tend to be slightly larger than Homer. Here, it seems as though the difference is a little too great, making Krusty appear almost in a larger scale. It's not a major issue, nor is it one that hurts the overall appearance of the bust, but it's still worth noting.

Paint - ***1/2
The paint ops are generally excellent on the bust, although there's not a lot of small detail work. The colors that cover large areas are consistent and clean, and appear fairly accurate to the show, at least to my colorblind eyes. Krusty's yellow is paler and less bold than the yellow of OFF, but that is consistent with the show itself.

There's little to no slop between the colors, with good definition and no bleed, and the colors are vibrant and bright. A little more detail work, and it would have been an easy four stars.

Design - ****
Ah, now we get to the artsy part. Here you'll have to forgive me, because when it comes to Krusty, my favorite versions have always been depressed. One of the tragedies of the World of Springfield line is that we never got a Krusty in his tux, shirt and tie undone, bedraggled, with a growth of beard and a cigarette. In this design we get as close as we'll probably ever get. The only other time we've seen this side of Krusty was in the Rocket USA Diecast set, and I think Sideshow has done a better job capturing the expression.

Krusty's hair droops, his eyes half open, one hand on his side, and the other holding a cigarette to his lips, a nice chunk of ash hanging off the end. This is Krusty backstage, catching a quick smoke break during commercial, his real self exposed. Not completely of course - this is only a sculpture of the upper half of his body.

I love this design, and it's one of my top two favorites out of the set of busts so far (the other being CBG). Rather than just get the same old standard happy Krusty, Sideshow gave us something different, and I for one really appreciate it.

The only thing that hurts the overall design are the pedestal bases. They've never been my favorite - just how cool would they have been as nuke plant cooling towers? - because they have nothing to do with the license. But this was FOX's decision, so I can't fault Sideshow too much.

Value - ***1/2
I'm scoring this based on the standard $35, which isn't bad in the current mini-bust market. These are a little smaller than most mini-busts due to the large pedestal bases, but they stand about the same height overall as the Gentle Giant mini-busts. They are very similar in size and style to the Buffy/Angel busts from MAC, and at $35 each, a solid value. Pick them up for $30 or less, and you can add another half star to this score.

I've you've been holding off, I think picking them up at $25 each from the Sideshow site right now might be a smart move. You can still pick up an entire set, and these things will always be a much wiser (and better looking) purchase than the Hamilton "we make a billion of everything" collection statues.

Overall - ***1/2
As I said, this one zips up to hold a tie for first place as my favorite in the overall series of busts. I think that the entire series has been overlooked by many Simpsons collectors, and a few years from now they'll regret it. This set, all together, looks amazing on the shelf, and I'm hopeful we'll see Sideshow extend it beyond the currently announced additional busts.  It doesn't look good though - at the scheduled chat this week with Production Manager Brant Bridges, when asked about the Simpsons (and the possibility of doing Futurama): "Beyond what's announced, no plans to continue, or foray into Futurama".

Where to Buy - 
I picked up mine directly through Sideshow, where they are $35. This is a limited edition of 2000, and with this classic pose, I'm betting it will be one of the more popular (right up there with The Collector and Comic Book Guy). Other on-line options include:

- Alter Ego Comics doesn't have Krusty in stock, but they have a great sale price of $15 on Lisa.

- Southern Island has Krusty in stock for $30.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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