The Homer

Being from Detroit, one of my favorite Simpsons episodes involves the discovery of Homer's long lost brother, now a rich man running a car company.  Homer joins his brother, and develops the ultimate regular guy car - at least in Homer's brain.  Called the 'Homer', it is so bad and so expensive to produce that it destroys his poor brother's company.

Playing Mantis now brings us in all it's glory the 'Homer'.  It's through the Polar Lights division of the company that makes a wide variety of model kits.  This one is a snap together kit, with a skill level of 1, so even I can manage to get it together in under two hours.

I found this at Media Play for $13, but I know a lot of on-line stores will be carrying it as well.

Packaging - ***1/2
Polar Lights always does a great job capturing the look and feel of any license they work with in their packaging.  This box is a fine example, and has a tremendous amount if great text on the back, a rarity these days.  You'll have to destroy it to get the little Homer out, but since you're opening it to build the car, there's not much point in keeping it after anyway.

Sculpting - ***1/2
This sculpt score covers both the car parts and the little PVC Homer figure.

It's the car that really shines here, as the little Homer is less than stupendous.  He's not terrible, but he's a rather average version of the lovable oaf.

However the car is a whole 'nother story.  The final product looks excellent, and the work on each individual piece contributes to the final appearance. There's a ton of detail were possible, although the nature of the show doesn't allow for anything excessive.  For example, the body of the car won't have a lot of detail simply because the cartoon itself lacks any sort of surface texture detail.  There are a ton of other great touches here though, including all those accoutrements Homer thought so important - the cup holder outside the door, the antenna on the dash board, the bowling trophy hood ornament, it's all there!

They've really captured the look of the vehicle, and I have to ask myself - who wouldn't buy a car this cool?

Paint - ***1/2
Sure, most snap together kits claim you don't have to paint anything, but that's pretty much a lie.  This is the first time I can honestly say that they've made painting a completely unnecessary option.

The instructions do say you could paint three small parts if you wanted - the steering wheel wrap, a couple of the clear tail lamps, and one other that slips my mind.  All three are very minor, and really are just fine the way they are.

The rest of the parts are molded in the proper colors, or in clear plastic.  There's the predominate green, brown and chrome, but also some black.

The only negative on the paint or colors comes with Homer's eyes.  Every version I saw looked like the episode where he was licking toads.  All the pupils were quite large, and many were off center.  Be careful picking yours out to get the best possible.

Snap Together Quality - ***1/2
Can you really just snap this thing together, or are you going to be pulling out the glue after the first instruction panel?

I'd say you can go about 80% or so without glue on this one.  There are some smaller pieces that do snap on alright, but I glued them just to be sure, like the rear view mirror, or the hood ornament.  I also did a little gluing on the main body pieces just to ensure overall structural strength.

Most of the pieces do snap together nice and tight, but be very, very careful.  Don't force things, as it can be very easy to break them.  I managed to not break a single tab or post, and that's pretty impressive for me.

Of all the pieces, the one that drove me bats was the air freshener.  First, it was a pain in the butt getting it on the mirror just right, and it's one of the earliest steps.  That means as you flip the car around adding the other pieces, there are plenty of opportunities for it to fall off, which it did with regularity.

Also be particularly careful with the antenna on the dashboard, as it's quite possible to snap the thin rods as you try to push the piece into place.  And it took awhile to get Homer and the steering wheel both in place, and you really have to do them together, so it might be tough to try to use glue on either of those pieces without making a mess.

Instructions/Difficulty - ***
This is a skill level 1 model, but I wouldn't hand it over to an eight year old kid unsupervised unless he or she is very patient.  It's too easy to break some of the smaller pieces trying to snap them together, and if you hurry you're bound to regret it. The instructions are very clear however, and make it fairly simple to get it all together in 30 - 45 minutes tops.  Make sure you pay attention, as there are parts that should go on before others to make the build much smoother.

Value - ***
At just $13, this is a decent value.  Most models in this price range don't have all this cool chrome, and this model also has more clear plastic (one of my favorite aspects) than most.  I'm betting if stores like Wal-marts or Toys R Us pick this up you'll even see it available there closer to $10.

Overall - ***1/2
I knew all along I'd be picking one of these up, since I'm a Simp-psycho.  But I was very pleasantly surprised by how smoothly it went together, and how great it looked at the end.  I'm sure that if you went back to the episode there's some additional paint features you could find to add, but they really did do an excellent job getting the look of this unique vehicle down, with little need for paint or glue.

Where to Buy - 
I picked mine up at Media Play, which means Sam Goody and Musicland could get them as well.  I'm betting Wal-mart and Toys R Us (or Meijers in the mid-west) could end up with these as well, since they also carried the Playing Mantis Batmobiles.  On-line:

- Entertainment Earth has them up still as a preorder for $13 plus shipping.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

This page copyright 2003, Michael Crawford. All rights reserved. Hosted by 1 Hour