Retirement Castle & Police Station

The World of Springfield is a truly amazing line.  Now at 101 distinct figures, with no signs of ending through 2003, it's longevity is surprising to even the most hardcore Simpsons fan.  This is a big month for the line as well, with a new wave, new playsets, new All Star Voices, and new exclusive sets all coming out.

The newest regular issue playsets are the Retirement Castle with Jasper, and the Police Station with Eddie.  Eddie rounds out the police force, while Jasper is only the second senior citizen produced so far.  Grampa had to have somebody to talk to! EDIT - Doh!  How could I forget Hans Moleman?

Target is your best bet for these right now, although Toys R Us stores have started to see them trickle in.  Targets price of $20 is still the best around.

Packaging - ***
It's serviceable, looks pretty good, and holds up well on the shelf.  It's tough to complain too much, but I think a change would help refresh the line.

Sculpting - ***
There's two aspects of the sculpting here - the sets and the figures.

Both playsets are extremely nice.  Some folks complain that this aren't the most exciting locations, particularly the Retirement Castle, but if you look at all the excellent details that Playmates has included you'll see how you can turn a hum-drum location into an excellent set.

Still, the Retirement Castle is the less exciting of the two.  While most of the details and stickers are good, it falls a little short compared to other sets.  The sculpting on the couch and bookshelf is solid, and the addition of the door knob on the door to the nurse's station and the pen at the window are nice touches, but it's still no Kitchen or Android's Dungeon.

The Police Station is slightly more complex, including the opening jail cell.  While it would have been nice to get an actual cell that someone could fit in, by giving us a working door they've made it extremely easy for you to customize the cell itself.

There are far more details on the walls of the station as well, including the cool 'Wanted' poster, filing cabinets, map of Springfield, and other details.

The two figures are both hit and miss.  There still seems to be something off about Eddie, although he does look far better in person than he did in those early prototype shots.  Jasper looks great, and is one of my favorite sculpts, but he seems out of scale.  I hadn't pictured him this large or foreboding standing next to the other figures.

I'm going to mention the new plastic here, for lack of a better spot in the review.  Yes, the plastic is definitely been changed with these latest figures.  It was extremely obvious on the second series of celebrities, and it's very obvious here as well.  While I'm not sure I like it better or worse, it still is important to note that it's different, and you'll be able to notice it in the figures on your shelf.  Check out the photo of Grampa and Jasper together in the Retirement Castle to see just what I mean.

One other thing to mention on the sculpting - both figures have had their hands sculpted to hold their accessories correctly.  With less articulation, this is always an important point.

Paint/Stickers - ***1/2
I had absolutely no paint problems with either the figures or the sets.  All the colors were clean and consistent, and there was no bleed or overspray.

The stickers were also pretty good, with several standouts. The sticker of the nurse at the nurse's station is great, very reminiscent of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.  I also love the El Barto poster in the Police Station, and all the stickers have good color and quality.  I do wish that the stickers in the Retirement Castle had more text - I know it would have to be mighty small, but with Lionel's business card we've seen them do it.

There's also an error on one of the stickers - the white wanted poster in the Police Station names Dolph and Jimbo as the suspects, but shows a picture of Kearney above the Dolph name.

Articulation - **1/2
The articulation has never been supreme, but I wouldn't expect Playmates to change it now.  Adding any visible joints would just hurt the line at this point, causing too much inconsistency between the older and newer figures.

Accessories - ***
The accessories are a little light this time around, although not bad.  Both sets come with one major accessory, and at least two minor ones.

The Police Station comes with a large desk, which you can actually find room for under the wanted posters.  There are also three accessories for Eddie - a gun, club and cuffs.  While those three are all re-used, at least they make complete sense.

The Retirement Castle comes with the same TV that the Living Room had, with a new sticker.  There is also a potted plant, and Jasper has his cane.  The cane and plant are new, but it's tough to find room for both the plant and the TV on the set.

Talking Feature - ***
The talking feature is still solid, and if you're looking for complete lines for these sets I'd direct you to The Simpsons Collector Sector.

I do think it's important to note that because Playmates is trying to get lines in for all the characters that we are seeing some odd matchups - I noticed Disco Stu has a line in the Retirement Castle for example.  Having more unusual characters in the line along with more obscure locations is going to make it very tough for Playmates to find sensible lines for each set for each character.

Value - ***1/2
If you pick up these sets for $20, you're getting the same great price you would have paid two years ago.  Now that's a value - if you end up with the higher $25 price point, take off a half star.

Overall - ***
These two sets are solid, although not exceptional.  It's nice to have Eddie to fill out the Police set, and it's great to finally get another old geezer.  If you can only pick up one, I'd go with the Police Station, although not having Jasper would drive me nuts.

I have to admit that I really like some of the sets that you can put together now - with Eddie, Lou, Cop Marge, and Wiggum in the Police Station, all the Pin Pals plus Carl and Lenny at the BAR, and the whole Sunday Best family along with Lovejoy, Flanders and Rod and Todd at the Church, you can have some terrific displays!

Where to Buy
Target is the first place to look, since they have the best price, but TRU is getting them in right now too. There are plenty of on-line options:

- New Force Comics still has their preorder page up for $40 for the pair. I'd assume Rick will be getting them in very soon.

- Aisle Sniper has their preorder still up for $22 each plus shipping.

- Entertainment Earth has both in stock for $50 a set plus shipping. (MROTW affiliate)

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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