Muppets Lab/Beaker Playset

It's official, at least in my own little mind - Palisades Toys has a hit on their hands with the new Muppets action figure line.  So far, 8 unique figures are officially released - Miss Piggy, Kermit, Dr. Teeth and Bunsen Honey Dew make up the first series, with a Dr. Teeth repaint, an Electronics Boutique exclusive Miss Piggy with long hair, and a TRU exclusive Master of Ceremonies Kermit in a tuxedo.  The latest to hit shelves, not quite yet there but due any day, is the Muppet Labs playset with Beaker figure.

Ken Lilly at Palisades was kind enough to send this Muppets Lab playset my way for an advance review.  It's always fine to get packages in the mail, and it's so much more fun when they are this cool!

Since so many folks are bound to compare this to the WOS playsets, I included a photo at the very bottom of the review showing a side by side comparison.  The Muppets Labs is about an inch taller, an inch and a half wider, and an inch and a half deeper.

A little more on this subject - it's difficult to compare the style of sculpting and design between these because both represent their source material extremely well.  A playset like the WOS Kitchen has a tremendous amount of detail, but it's based on a 2D cartoon, and a cartoon that is fairly simplistic in it's style.  While the Muppets sets are also bigger, they do not have the voice technology of the WOS sets, which is where the trade off occurs.

Packaging - ***1/2
The Muppet Show packaging is eye catching and well designed.  The graphics are excellent, with good text on the show and character.

The large window allows you to easily see the playset, and Beaker is prominently displayed.  It's not collector friendly in my definition of the term, but it is nice for the MIB collector who would still like to see the major features. 

I also like that everyone is properly credited on the back of the box.  It's a nice feature that more companies should do.

Sculpting - ****
I can't find a thing to complain about with the sculpting.  I'm sure that Beaker was particularly difficult to get into this format because of his spikey but wispy hair.  They did manage to pull off a sculpted version that maintains the style and feel of the puppet itself, even though matching it exactly would be impossible.

All the little details in both Beaker and the playset are terrific.  There wasn't a thing they skimped on, from the slightly crooked tie, down to his oh-so-cool shoes.  Let me mention his shoes again - they may very well be my favorite part of the whole set.  I'm not sure why, but they are just so perfectly done that it knocked my socks, er, shoes right off.  Interestingly though, he has no holes in his feet, so he can't stand on one of the 25th Anniversary stands like the other figures.

Paint - ****
Plan B Toys is credited on the box for the paint, and they've done another terrific job.  There's no slop anywhere on the set or the figure, and the choices of colors and textures really bring out the details and sculpting.

There's so many nice details in the paint ops, it's almost impossible to mention them all.  This is how color and paint can be used to maximize the look of a playset!  The silver of the Robo-Bunny even matches up to the silver used in the rest of the playset, which might have been blind luck, but I'm betting on good design.

I have but one nit to pick here, and it's on Beaker's hair.  It's like Bizarro Beaker hair, the exact opposite of what I had expected.  In the photos his hair is darker orange, with highlights due to the natural lighting.  On the figure, the wash works out the exact opposite, with a lighter orange hair, but dark highlights.

Accessories - ***1/2
There are two accessories - the Gorilla Detector, and the lab table.

The Gorilla Detector looks just like you'd expect, and is well sculpted and painted.  While the eyes and bulb on top are both translucent, I don't think the hole in the bottom was intended to allow them to light up from external light.  Adrian from theorized that in his review, but I suspect it's simply a manufacturing by product.  

The second accessory is the laboratory table.  It has an attached 'cap' that can be placed on Beaker's head.  The details on the table are great, and it works fairly well, but there are two areas that could use improvement.  First, it appears that all the pieces aren't quite the right size, as it doesn't all fit together quite right.  The table is out of alignment with the sides no matter how much you fiddle with it, which makes turning it slightly problematic, and makes it appear a little askew when sitting up straight.

The second problem is the cap and tubes that attach it to the table.  It fits fine on Beaker's head, but the tubes make it very difficult to keep it there.  They want to return to a straight position, and putting a couple thin wires in those tubes to allow them to be 'posed' would have really helped.

Articulation - ***1/2
Beaker has far more articulation than you first suspect.  With neck, ball jointed shoulders, elbows, wrists, waist and ankles, he can take as many poses as his lab coat, and your imagination, will allow.

His mouth is made of soft rubber, so you could probably use some hot water to get it into a new position, then cold water to lock it there, but I wouldn't suggest doing that too much.  It's made of fairly thin material, and I can see you tearing it off pretty easily.

Value - ****
Suggested retail on this is $25, which is an extremely good deal.  Rumor has it that you'll be able to pick them up for $20 at TRU though, and there's a couple on-line stores that that are between 20 and 25.  That's a knock out price for this nice of a playset with a figure.

Overall - ****
This is the first toy this year to completely blow me away.  It's a fantastic representation of a great character, a neat playset, and all for a great price.

There's been lots of comparisons to the World of Springfield sets and figures, but that's not really an apples to apples sort of thing.  The source material is different - cartoon and puppets - and both lines have done an excellent job capturing the look of the source material.

Palisades has a hit on their hands, and I think they're biggest problem in the next six months will be it becoming TOO popular, too fast.  Of course, that can be a good problem to have.

Where to Buy
These will be at the Musicland family (which includes Suncoast, On-Cue, Media Play and Sam Goody) and TRU for about $25. On-line:

Beans Toys has the set for $20 plus shipping.

- Electronics Boutique has it for $22 plus shipping. (MROTW Affiliate).

- Amazon (TRU's online store) has them for $23 plus shipping, and the coupon code CHNKBKAMZNLT will get you $5 off a $35 purchase. (MROTW Affiliate)

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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