Greetings from Springfield
Simpsons Collectible Figures
Series 1, 2 and 3

Since the end of the World of Springfield line from Playmates, Simpsons collectors have been hankering for something new. Oh, they have the insane amount of Hamilton stuff they can collect (and I just reviewed the first of the Simpsons Couch Scenes over at MPS), and with the Mcfarlane sets coming out later this year, they're hopeful. But when it comes to actual 'figures', things are pretty bleak right this minute.

Not so for our cousins to the south. Down in Australia (I'm assuming it's down for you, since I have very few penguins reading my site) there's a new set of collectible figurines (hey, that's how they are billing them, not me) being released to a select group of stores.

A company called The Promotions Factory is releasing 24 figures in three waves, exclusive to Cole's, Bi-lo, and I have heard Target. All down in Australia, so don't go rushing off to your East Armpit, Ohio store expecting to find them.

The 24 figures come in three waves. The first 8 are called "Evergreen Terrace" and include Marge, Homer, Bart, Lisa, Maggie, Flanders, Rodd and Todd. These were just released to stores in cases of 24 figures last week, and how many of each character varies.

The 'ultimate' figures are one per 24, with the others varying in quantity up to the 'common' figures that are 5 or 6 per case. In wave one, there are no ultimates, but there are several 'super rare' at 2 per case, including Marge, Maggie, Rodd and Todd. The collectible rankings that the company has assigned them are: Common (5 per case), Uncommon (4 per case), Rare (3 per case), Super Rare (2 per case), and Ultimate (1 per case).

Wave 2 is scheduled to come out on July 4th. In theory, as the new wave comes out the old wave gets pulled, so that these are supposed to be only available for a very limited time. Of course, knowing retail stores, that might not work quite as they have it planned.

Wave 2 is called "Krustylu Studios" and includes two versions of Krusty (actually, the one standing is Krusty, while the one riding the bicycle is Homer dressed like Krusty), Tina Ballerina (1 per case), Mister Teeny, Sideshow Bob, Sideshow Mel, Bart again, and Corporal Punishment (1 per case).

Wave 3 hits on July 11th, and is called "Springfield Elementary". It includes another Bart, Otto, Edna Krabappel, Milhouse, Nelson, Ralph Wiggum, Skinner and Willie. Again, no ultimates in this case, but there are several that are 2 per case (super rare), including Skinner, Nelson, Edna and Otto.

These retail for $2 each Australian, which is only about $1.50 in U.S. currency. They stand about 3.5" tall on average (although every figure is different), similar to large PVC's.

There are also three shopping bags with checklists on the back, and there are plans for series 4, 5 and 6, but no word on who might be in them yet. I have suggestions at the end of the review for picking these up...but it's not pretty.

Packaging - Bupkis
Okay, I'm grading these on the actual package, which is nothing. These come packed in a countertop box of 24, and you just take the figure itself up to the register. No muss, no fuss, and at such a low price point I'm sure that the theft issues aren't high on their list of worries.

But wait, you say...isn't that a package that all 24 are in up at the top of the review? What the hell is that? Ah, that is the promotional press kit that TPF put together for the set. Cool, huh? How do you get one? Well, I spent years and years writing reviews, using up at least 20 hours a week of my time, spending countless dollars, and building a reputation as a toy reviewer and avid Simpsons collector. Or you could just pick one up off ebay

Sculpting - **1/2
The figures stand (or sit, or crouch) from 2.5 to 4.5 inches tall, depending on the character. That makes them smaller than WOS, but bigger than the Playmates PVC's. I have a comparison photo somewhere over to the left of several of the figures together.

I also have a photo of the kids from this line of PVC's with the adults from WOS - I think they match up pretty good, but your mileage may vary.

Some of the figures are done in classic poses we've seen time and again. Homer in his 'ooooo' pose at work, ready to snag a donut off the lunch table (and you can tell he's at work, cuz he's wearing his tie), Bart laying backward laughing (we've seen this pose many times in various PVC lines), Ralph eating paste, Flanders in his 'Hi neighbor pose...these are all pretty standard, but done well. There are also some rather unique poses, including the unusual outfits of Lisa and Marge, Krusty and Mister Teeny on bikes, Sideshow Bob leaning on his axe, or Edna flirting.

It's nice to see the mix of old and new poses, and the sculpts are decent considering the low price point. Not all the characters are spot on by any means, and a couple like Milhouse and Krusty, are off by more than they should be. But on average, the sculpt is decent for an under $2 PVC.

I do have one major grip with the sculpting though - scale across the line. For example, Flanders is practically dwarfed by his own kids, and even from one kid to the next, there's no rhyme or reason to their size. Character scale is all over the place, with some too big and some too small, and none of it making much sense. While cost can be a real excuse for sculpt and paint cut backs, there's no reason they couldn't get the size of the characters in relation to each other done right.

Paint - **
One of the areas that always takes a hit with cheap PVC's is the paint ops. If you're expecting the kind of work you see on a Palisades Invader Zim or Mezco Family Guy, you'll be disappointed. Of course, those figure also cost 8 - 10 times as much.

There is a general feel of slightly lower quality, with bleed, wavey edges, offset pupils, and thick coatings on just about every figure. It's about average for this type of PVC though, and wasn't a huge surprise.

There are also the occasional major issues, like the large chunk of red paint on the right eye of my Willie. Now there's a sentence that could be seriously misconstrued if taken out of context! You'll want to be sure to look over each figure carefully at the store to avoid any major problems.

Articulation - Bupkis
Unless you aren't paying attention, this should be no surprise. These are big PVC's, not articulated action figures. Since there's no expectation for this going in, it won't effect the overall score, but it's still worth noting to rule out any thoughts of a swivel neck or arm joint some place.

Accessories - Bupkis
See above.

Fun Factor - ***
If you have kids who love the Simpsons, they'll probably enjoy these quite a bit. Although they aren't articulated, that won't be a major factor. This also gives them a chance to have some figures that have never seen plastic form before, and the kids in this set actually work pretty well with the WOS adults.

Value - ***1/2
At around $1.5 US, these are pretty cheap. The level of paint ops are a little more forgivable considering the price tag (although the scale issues aren't).

Playmates actually considered doing something very similar to this, only in a slightly smaller scale, and then doing playsets for them as well. Too bad it never got off the ground...

Things to Watch Out For - 
If you're a lucky bloke and can actually pick these up off the counter at your local Coles, pay extra special attention to the paint ops. They vary pretty wildly across the figures, so you'll want to spend a minute picking out the best.

Overall -  **1/2
These are nicely done, inexpensive PVC's of a wide range of Springfield's finest. They aren't going to have perfect paint and sculpts at such a cheap price, but they still manage to deliver about what you'd expect.

My big issue with them is around the lack of consistency with scale. Some of these look like they belong in another line altogether, and it hurts the overall display. With more series coming up - and what could quickly become a set of 100 or more PVC's - having consistency in the size would have been more than nice.

Still, the avid Simpsons collector will want to hunt down a set. If you have other Simpsons PVC's, especially those done by many European companies, you'll know what to expect in terms of quality and style, but the big plus here is that we get some of the lesser known characters.

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

Where to Buy -  
Well, this is where it gets a tad tricky. If you live in Australia, I suggest getting over to the closest Coles, Bi-Lo or Target right away. Wave 1 is out now, and is only supposed to be out for one week. Yes, one week for each wave.

If you aren't lucky enough to live in the land of kangaroos, dingos and koala bears (how's that for a stereotype?), I suggest you find yourself a friend that does. There's plenty of goodies in other countries that Australian collectors would love to get their mitts on, and now's the time for you to work some trades.

Or you could go the easiest route, and buy these on ebay. Currently prices on sets and cases are staying in the $2 a figure range, although I suspect that some of them will get tougher to find as people catch on to the existence of the line. Now might be the time to buy, especially if you want to pick up the rarer ones like Tina Ballerina and Corporal Punishment.

Related Links -
I have far too many Simpsons links to even list...but I already listed the majority back when I did the big WOS roundup.

Also, the company website on these figures is right here.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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