Simpsons Couch Gag Playset

Mcfarlane Toys has just released their second offering under the Simpsons license - the Couch Gag Deluxe Set.

The opening couch gag scenes have been a staple of the show since the very beginning, and has become a part of our cultural literacy.  There are over 200 different couch gag openings, and Mcfarlane isn't the first to exploit them in the three dimensional world.  Hamilton Collectibles has a series of small statues based on the theme.

However, McToys version has something unique.  Each figure has magnets in various locations - head, hands, feet - which allows them to stack and pile in a tremendous number of different ways.  The idea is to create your own wacky couch gag scene using the stacking feature.

The set retails for about $20, but I've seen it as high as $25 at Spencers.  Online shops are getting these in now, and I have some suggestions at the end of the review.

Packaging -  ***1/2
I generally like boxes better than card/back packaging.  Why?  Well, it always stores easier, is much less prone to damage, and is usually more collector friendly.

Unfortunately, that last bit is the only place this package fails.  To remove the figures, you'll have to utterly destroy in inner tray.

However, if hits on all other points, and as an added bonus - a big added bonus - includes some terrific background text and photos.

On the back you are treated to six of the some of the more unique and visually interesting couch gags from the show, along with some nifty Simpsons trivia (did you know that one of the oldest known couches came from the tomb of Queen Hetepheres, circa 2550 BC?) that really adds to the package design.  This is the type of extra effort that makes the package stand out from the crowd.

It's also nice that the entire set is easily visible through the window, and could actually be displayed on a shelf this way for the MIBBers.

Sculpting - ***1/2
The figures are done in a four inch scale, similar to the Ironic Punishment set.  I'm betting that's what we see from here on out with any McToys Simpsons release.

The sculpts are great, matching up nicely with the cartoon counterparts.  The scale between figures is better here than what we saw with WOS, and the kids aren't nearly as oversized.  The poses picked for each figure works well with the magnet feature, allowing for a variety of other figures to be posed on or under them.

The scale of the couch itself is a tad off, with it being just a tad small.  There's no way that the whole family would actually fit sitting on this coach, even with Maggie on someone's lap.

Paint - **
The biggest issues I found were with the paint ops on the various figures.  Homer had the greatest number of issues, but I suspect that this will vary from set to set.  Still, I'm anticipating that the overall paint quality won't be up to the usual Mcfarlane standard.

Homer has lots of slop, with plenty of yellow marks across his shirt.  The white of the shirt is also inconsistent and thinly coated, allowing the color underneath to show through in some places.  

The other figures all show various signs of slop - inconsistent applications, stray marks, poor cuts between colors and bleed.  Ignoring Homer, the rest of the set was more in line with the usual mass market quality, but that's still below what most of us expect from Mcfarlane.

Articulation - **
The articulation is designed to make the magnetic feature work better, so that you can arrange the figures in more ways.

All the figures have neck articulation, and for SLH, Snowball II, Lisa and Maggie, that's it.  Lisa could have really used at least one cut arm to give her a few more options.

Bart, Homer and Marge also have the cut neck, but Marge has one cut shoulder, while both Bart and Homer have both shoulders cut.

Accessories - **1/2
I'm counting the couch, floor and beer can as accessories to the basic family of figures.

The couch and floor are nice, if fairly basic.  There's a remote control sculpted on one couch arm, and a big bag of chips resting on the floor.  There are also a couple boxes of Lard Lad donuts on the back of the couch.

There are four peg holes in the couch and floor - one for Marge in the donut boxes, one for Marge in the floor, one for Homer in the floor, and one for Homer in the center of the couch.  Marge's has the smaller pegs, and the set includes four pegs in case you lose a small or large.

The pegs work well with Homer but Marge isn't quite as lucky.  For her, the peg fits up too far in her foot, leaving very little to hold her to the floor or boxes.  It does work better with the boxes than the floor though, perhaps because the peg fits tighter in the top box, not allowing as much to be pulled up into Marge's foot.

There's also a Duff beer can included as a loose accessory, but it does not include a magnet.  Too bad, since Homer's hands are designed to hold it, and without the magnet it just rolls around loose most of the time.

Magnetic Feature - ***
The magnets have their good and bad points of course, but in the end proved to be a pretty slick idea.

Bart sports the largest number with four.  He has them in both feet, one hand AND inside his head.  He works well with the three inside the skateboard (one on the bottom and two on top).

Homer has three magnets, with one in each hand and one in his head.  Lisa has three as well, but she has two in her feet and only one in her hand.  She might have one in her head, but if she does the pointy hair makes it so weak as to be ineffectual.

Snowball II has the fewest, with only one in her feet.

Maggie and Marge only have two.  Marge has one in her hair and one in her left hand, while Maggie has one on her butt, and one in her head.  Unfortunately, the one in her head is quite weak, and the pointy hair makes it even worse. SLH has two as well, also in his butt and head, but both work great.

In general, the magnetic feature works well, although the fact that some of the magnets will repel works against it.  Still, you can get a surprising number of combinations, and the magnets are strong enough in most cases to allow even heavy configurations to stay up.

Fun Factor - ***
Kids will largely ignore the paint issues, which is the biggest problem for me.  Instead, they'll focus on the magnet feature, and kids love magnets.  There's plenty of room for hanging these off each other in all kinds of ways, and the really creative kids will probably combine them with things like Magnetix sets.

Value - ***
I'm counting this at twenty bucks, and that's a pretty good value these days.  You're getting 7 figures in a four inch scale, with a basic diorama, some limited articulation, and a pretty nifty magnet function.  Considering how expensive many figures have gotten that are just basically big PVC's (often $4 or $5 each!), I think this is a pretty darn good price.

Things to watch out for - 
Take care attaching and detaching the couch from the floor.  The pegs are quite small, and it's a very tight fit.  It would be very easy to break them off.

Overall -  ***
I'm happy to see this set in scale with the Ironic Punishment set.  The 4" scale isn't too small, and will work well if McToys does additional playsets, like the upcoming announced Island of Doctor Hibbert.

I also think the magnet feature works better than anticipated.  It's still a little restricted in its usefulness, but it's more versatile than you might assume.

The big issue here holding the set back was the sloppy paint application, something I'm not accustomed to seeing in a Mcfarlane product.

Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpt - ***1/2
Paint - **
Articulation - **
Accessories - **1/2
Fun Factor - ***1/2
Value - ***
Overall -  ***

Where to Buy -
Some online shops have these in - some are still pre-orders, but should have them any day:

- Killer Toys has the pre-order up for $22.

- CornerStoreComics has the pre-order up for $19.

- Amazing Toyz has the pre-order up for $19.

- Clark Toys has the pre-order for $20.  They also carry a huge range of other Mcfarlane products, like Sports Picks.

- YouBuyNow has it on pre-order for $22.

Related Links:
Mcfarlane's first foray into the Simpsons was with the Ironic Punishment set.

And here's a feature on the WOS line, along with a page of all the Simpsons reviews of the past.

And if you're looking for a place to discuss all things Simpsons, check out the Simpsons Collector Sector, the best discussion boards for Simpsons Merchandise on the web.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

This page copyright 2003, Michael Crawford. All rights reserved. Hosted by 1 Hour