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
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
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 Action-Figure.com 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
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:
Toys has the set for $20 plus shipping.
Boutique has it for $22 plus shipping. (MROTW Affiliate).
(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.