Tomorrow is the big day - Wall-E opens. Okay, I'm not looking forward to it quite like The Dark Knight opening, but my kids sure are geeked up.
And why not? Pixar has yet to make a truly bad movie, and even with they're more average releases like Cars, they manage to entertain and delight. Wall-E has all the right things going for it, with a truly unique script, great looking characters, and the unusual angle of very little true dialog. I can't wait.
The toys have been handled by Thinkway this time around, a company that is also quite creative and unique. I'm reviewing a couple more of the electronic versions tonight - Interactive Wall-E and
iDance Wall-E. Both of these figures also have action features that are critical to your enjoyment of them, so I'm doing my second video review of said action features, linked to later in this text review.
You can pick these guys up at stores like Toys R Us, but I'd do it pretty quick. They have been selling briskly so far, and once the film opens the demand is likely to go way up.
Both Interactive Wall-E and the slightly smaller iDance Wall-E run about
Packaging - iDance Wall-E ***; Interactive Wall-E **1/2
All the boxes for the various electronic figures are quite similar, but they serve the purpose well enough. You can see the figures fairly well, and they provide a 'try me' feature to allow you to get some idea of the mechanical nature of the beast.
They aren't collector friendly, but these aren't collectibles. At least not yet.
The Interactive version scored a little lower in this category than the rest because he didn't come with any instructions in the box, at least not with the one I received. There's some info on the back of the box, but a more detailed explanation of his interactive self would have been useful.
Sculpting - ***
Wall-E has a pretty basic design, and so far Thinkway has done an excellent
job recreating it in multiple scales. These two are in between the scale of
the U-Command Wall-E and the deluxe Wall-E action figure, with the
Interactive version standing about 8 inches tall, and the iDance versions standing
about 6 inches tall.
In some photos you'll notice the treads on the iDance version positioned off at weird angles. That's just because they stopped there when he finished his last dance, and you shouldn't move them around (lest you damage the mechanism) manually.
The only real issue I have is the same one I had with U-Command - at these larger scales, the lack of texturing and detail becomes more apparent. But they've certainly captured the overall look and proportion of the on screen character quite well.
Paint - ***
Like the sculpt, the paint is accurate if not outstanding in detail. A lot of the pieces are cast in the color, rather than painted, as is often common with mass market toys. This lends itself to less detail of course, and also tends to accentuate the look of plasticy-ness.
There's some use of wash and dirt on the body, but it's not as extensive or as well done as on the smaller action figures.
The Interactive version has a door that opens on the front, and on the interior is a sticker that looks like compacted trash. It's a nice little addition that none of the other figures possess.
Articulation - Interactive Wall-E ***; iDance Wall-E **
While these are both electronic in nature, they also have some level of poseability.
For iDance Wall-E, it's largely just his hands. The fingers and wrists are articulated, so you can pose the hands. You can move the arms a bit, but I wouldn't force them, since it can damage the toy.
Interactive Wall-E has those free wheeling treads that allow you to push him along the floor. He also has the articulated wrists and fingers, as well as the door that opens in front to reveal the trash sticker.
His best feature in this category though is his movable arms. And by 'movable' I mean take them off his shoulders and move them to a whole different part of his body! The arms pop off, and there are small post holes up near the bottom front corners to pop them back in. Since this is the second figure we've seen with this feature, it's obviously something right out of the movie. Once the arms are in their new location you can turn them all you'd like, as the lower post holes are not attached to the internal interactive mechanism.
Accessories - Interactive Wall-E Bupkis; iDance Wall-E *1/2
Since these are designed as electronic toys, I wasn't expecting any accessories, so any score here is a plus.
Interactive Wall-E met my expectations, coming with nothing extra. No real surprise there, but worth noting nonetheless.
iDance Wall-E comes with a couple items. Since he is intended to work with your iPod or other MP3 player, he comes with a short cable to connect him. And since he does move around a bit as he dances, they included a clear plastic 'dance pad' that is just big enough to contain him, yet
still let him bust a move.
Action Feature - Interactive Wall-E ***; iDance Wall-E ***1/2
The action features are key for these figures of course, and there's no good way for me to explain in static photos and text just how those features work, so I've included another
short video. This one is several minutes shorter than the U-Command video, but covers both figures.
The iDance Wall-E ended up with the higher score here for a couple reasons. First, the play features of the Interactive version grew old a bit quicker, and when I demonstrated them to various folks, they found them less appealing and interesting. I suspect that he's a lot cooler if you pick up the Interactive Eva to go along with him.
The iDance version was sure to bring a huge laugh to everyone, regardless of age, when you hooked it up to an iPod. The dance moves are pretty hilarious, and the interest level of the adults and kids I tried it out on seemed
to remain high for a much longer period of time.
Fun Factor - ***
These are fun toys, no doubt about that, but I suspect these two won't have quite the same longevity as either the RC U-Command version or the smaller action figures. I'm also partial to the action figures because they allow for more creative play, and I really wish we had something like the deluxe figure but with a sound chip. For me, that's the best of both worlds.
Value - **1/2
You're not getting a steal here, but both of these figures are priced about right for the current electronic toy market. This category won't end up with a negative or positive effect on my personal Overall.
Things to Watch Out For -
Not much. Obviously you don't want to be twisting the arms, necks, and other moving parts, since that can damage the internal mechanism. The Interactive version IS intended to be pushed along on the floor manually though, and that's one of it's key selling points.
Overall - ***
Both of these are fun toys, designed for kids and adults to have a good time
with Wall-E. And not in a way that would make Eva jealous.
All three electronic versions I've looked at have very distinct play purposes: U-Command is the remote control version, designed for slightly older kids that enjoy RC toys; iDance is the version for even older kids and adults who live their lives strapped to an MP3 player, and who find great amusement with things like the iDog; and Interactive Wall-E is for the slightly younger set, with moving treads that allow them to push him around, and the ability to interact with their voice.
Personally, I like the deluxe action figure the best so far, but for parents looking for electronic toys for their kids, all three of these make a great gift idea.
Where to Buy -
Your best bet right now is Toys R Us, which seems to be the only major retailer gearing up for this movie. I'm surprised other retailers didn't see the potential here, especially after the huge hit the Cars vehicles have been. Cars have done phenomenal not just because the movie did well, but because kids (and adults) already loved collecting and buying die cast metal vehicles. Doing a line of toys was a perfect fit! Wall-E has the same sort of built in appeal, because they are robots, a type of toy that already has a huge built in audience. Everybody loves robots!
Related Links - I've covered a number of Wall-E toys so far: