Simpsons Wave 5

Wave 4 of the Simpsons line is barely cold on the shelf and already we have wave 5!  I'm certainly not complaining, and plenty of other Simpsons fans feel likewise.

This particular wave has only one Bart variation - Bartman - and no major players.  But there are a couple major fan favorites in Martin and Bumblebee Man, and great versions of Kent Brockman, Sideshow Mel and Captain McCallister.

They are hitting Targets first this time, and still selling for $4.99 there.  I didn't find Sideshow Mel, so this review is only of the first five of the wave...but I'll find him soon, if it kills me.

Packaging - ***
Same story, different wave.  These are the same as the previous packages, and they have the 'wave 5' designation on the right side that started with the previous wave.

The only thing to note is that several characters could have possible packaging variations.  The Captain, Bartman, and Martin have yellow stickers over cancelled playsets like the Aztec Theater.  And Bumblebee Guy has a yellow sticker also covering one playset name, but has "Krusty Burger (coming soon)" printed on it.  These could be permanent changes on future cards.

Sculpting - ***1/2
While many collectors have complained that this line isn't the most exciting in terms of character selection, I think these sculpts and scale are some of the best.  Martin simply kicks butt, and Brockman, Bumblebee Man and the Captain are all better than average.  Of course I haven't seen Mel in person yet, but the only loser of these five is the Bartman.  His bug eyes are a little too much, and he really did need the 'scowling' look he has in the prototype pictures.  He also suffers from the same scale problems the other kids have.

Articulation - **1/2
Gee - neck, shoulders and waist.  What a surprise!  Yes, the articulation is exactly the same on these as it has been on every previous wave.  And yes, we'd like it to be better, but this has always been a situation I can deal with.

Accessories - **1/2
In every previous wave, the accessories have gotten high marks from me.  But unfortunately, this time we get very little in the way of new accessories and mostly reused items.

Bartman has three comics, but at least all three have new Radioactive Man covers.  He also has the reused rocket and slingshot.

Kent Brockman has a reused clipboard with appropriate checklist, reused half eaten donut, and new microphone.

Martin has a new apple, but a reused clipboard (with IQ test), books, magnifying glass and cookie sheet.

Bumblebee Man has a new bowl and spoon, but reused camera, and clipboard (with gag written on it).

And Captain McCallister is the only figure with all new accessories, but only two - a harpoon, and a can of tuna.

Most of these accessories are at least applicable to the characters, although a couple are a stretch.  Reusing accessories has always been a Playmates strategic direction, so you can expect to see it as much as possible.

Paint - ***1/2
All the paint ops are extremely clean and well done.  There is no sloppy overspray on any of the ones I picked up, and even the accessories look great.

Talking Feature - **1/2
Here's another area that I usually give higher marks, but several of these figures are woefully short on lines.

Of course, Bartman works just like every other Bart variation on every set.  Kent Brockman has the greatest number of compatible playsets, working with five of the current releases, but Martin only works with the school and the comic shop, and McCallister and Bumblebee Man don't work with any current sets!

Let's hope that when Krusty Burger and the Church hit we get some good lines for these two.

Value - ****
At five bucks, these are still a tremendous value.  Unfortunately, it looks like those days are numbered. (Toys R Us online store) have raised their prices to $7.99, and rumor has it that other stores will go up to $5.99.  Bricks and mortar Toys R Us stores have already reached that level, and could go higher.  I guess a good thing can only last so long.

Overall - ***
Sure, three stars out of four is still pretty good, but this wave has received the lowest rating so far of the five released.  Why?  The sculpting and style is still great, and I don't mind this particular character selection at all.  But the reuse of so many accessories hurts, and the lack of lines in any of the playsets also really hurt my final evaluation.

I've included a picture below of these five with Homer for scale comparisons.

Where to Buy:
Target, Target and if you can't find them at Target, then Target.  Hey, five bucks is still a great deal.  On-line, you should have plenty of options.

- New Force Comics is always reliable, and they have started selling sets of these instead of just cases.  They have some of the best prices as well, with a case selling for only $58 plus shipping!
- Entertainment Earth has them by the case for $70 plus shipping (that's twelve figures rather than six).  (MROTW Affiliate)
- Action Figure Express has cases for sale for $75 plus shipping. (MROTW Affiliate)

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford

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