Toy Story By Mattel
Woody, Buzz, and SDCC exclusive Buzz

Toy Story action figures by Mattel

When the original Toy Story movie hit theaters, there was one and only one toy all the kids wanted - Talking Buzz Lightyear. This large toy, produced by Thinkway (who did a terrific job last year with Wall-E toys), was one of those must have Christmas presents that sold out face and commanded big bucks on the 'bay.

With the theatrical release of the 3-D versions of the first two films right around the corner, and the new third film hitting next June, Mattel thought the time was right for a new line of figures based on Andy's pals.

There is a regular series of toys on the pegs right now at stores like Target, and tonight I'm going to look at two of the mid-sized action figures, Buzz and Woody. These guys are in the 5 - 6" range, and come with action features. These figures run around $10, depending on the retailer.

Last week at Comic-Con, Mattel also sold an exclusive 3 3/4" version of Buzz, complete with his Space Ranger packaging. I've included a photo of this special packaging, since it was a big selling point for the exclusive. These smaller figures were $15 each at the show, and you can pick them up at Matty Collector starting tomorrow, August 3rd.

There was also a chase version of this small Buzz, or at least I guess it turns out to just be a chase. I (and a number of other folks, from what I can tell) was under the impression that all the SDCC Buzz figures had the name "Andy" written on their foot. Turns out, they don't, and only some limited number of chase figures bear this marking. This confusion amongst collectors was only one of several faux pas' that Mattel managed to pull off with their exclusives this year.

Just to be clear, if I mention the "SDCC" or "Exclusive" Buzz, I'm talking about the 3 3/4" version that was available at the San Diego Comic Con. If I talk about the "regular" Buzz, that's the 5 1/2" tall version you can currently pick up at most mass market stores.
Toy Story action figures by Mattel
Toy Story action figures by Mattel
Toy Story action figures by Mattel
Toy Story action figures by Mattel
Toy Story action figures by Mattel
Toy Story action figures by Mattel
Toy Story action figures by Mattel
Toy Story action figures by Mattel
Toy Story action figures by Mattel
Toy Story action figures by Mattel
Toy Story action figures by Mattel
Toy Story action figures by Mattel

Packaging - SDCC Buzz ****; Regular Buzz and Woody **1/2
The regular figures come in fairly standard cardback/bubble packages, with a fairly dull design. They went as small as they could though with the bubbles, which is always a good idea. In fact, they had to pack Rex inside the bubble sans one leg to get him to fit.

The exclusive Buzz comes in a nifty little package designed just like the one he came in on screen. This comes inside a slightly larger black box, and the whole thing is fairly collector friendly. That's good, since you'll have to take him completely out to figure out whether you got an "andy" version or not.

Sculpt - ***1/2
The sculpting is solid all around, and with the exception of the hands, the larger and smaller Buzz could almost be twins.

Woody is slightly taller than Buzz, coming in at about 6", while Buzz is about 5 1/2". That's consistent with the screen versions. The small Buzz is almost exactly 3 3/4" tall, making him just a little shorter than most figures in that scale right now, but visually it works pretty well.

The larger Buzz and Woody are very accurate to the screen versions, although some of the details are a little soft. 

Buzz's hands are sculpted in open positions, with the right looking very much like a hand ready for to deliver a karate chop. Woody's right hand is sculpted to hold the whip, also for his action feature, and the left is in an open pose.

Surprisingly, both figures stand great on their own, even Woody. This is a surprise because Woody's action feature is triggered by his legs, and that often means a wonky stance that doesn't hold up.

The smaller Buzz looks even better. Shrink down those details and they get less soft, giving him a slight edge over his big brother. He also stands great on his own, and his hands have slightly different sculpts. The right is designed for a very specific "hand on his hip" pose, while the left is in a slightly relaxed gripping pose. He has nothing to grip, however.

Paint - SDCC Buzz, Andy ***1/2; regular Buzz ***
Considering that the larger Buzz and Andy are your usual mass market, sell them to kids kinda toys, it's nice to see that Mattel kept the paint quality high. You expect it with the SDCC Buzz, but with the regular toys, companies sometimes think kids don't care as much...but they do. Kids know crap just as well as adults do. Sometimes better.

There's still a bit of slop here and there on Buzz, like his eyebrows and the various green sections of his suit. Woody has fewer issues, which is saying quite a bit considering the much more complex outfit. I'm very impressed with the stripes on his shirt, as well as the pattern on his vest.

The exclusive version looks terrific, with cleaner paint work than his larger cousin. I do think a couple of his stickers could stand to be slightly straighter and better aligned, but considering the size and Mattel's usual track record with this scale, I'm pretty impressed.

Articulation - SDCC Buzz ***1/2; regular Buzz **1/2; Woody *
Let's start with the best, who also happens to be the smallest - the SDCC Buzz.

I don't know if he has a cut neck - I can't get his head to turn, but I can't really reach in there properly and get any leverage, either. Since the larger version does, I'm surprised the smaller version doesn't, and it's possible that it's just stuck and I can't get a good enough hold on it to free it up.

His visor does open and close though, which is a big plus in my book. He also has pin and post style ball joints at shoulders, elbows and knees, and these work quite well. In fact, you can get the lower and upper leg to turn at the ball itself, giving the knees quite a bit of mobility.

The wrists are a simple post joint, so they can only turn. The waist can also turn, and the only real disappointment here is the hips. They can't move forward and backward particularly well, and the post joint that they've used is much, much to limited considering the rest of the figure. Had they put hinge joints here like they did on the larger buzz, four stars might have been possible.

The larger Buzz does have the cut neck joint, but does not have a helmet that can close. It sure looks like it should, but no matter how hard I tried, it wasn't going to budge. That's a big negative in this category.

Another negative is caused by the action feature. Since he has a 'karate chop' right arm, that shoulder is pretty useless. It's the same sort of pin/post (or 'hinge') ball joint as the smaller guy, but because it has to work with the action feature, it's a bit restricted. 

The elbows are also pin/post, and look like the smaller version, but I found them to be less useful as well, and the wrists have no joint at all. This means far fewer arm poses than you can get with the much smaller figure.

He lacks the cut waist, and the knee joints might look the same, but they can only be turned at the top, not inside the lower leg. While he has the better hinge hips, the reduced articulation in the arms, legs and waist end up cutting his score considerably.

Then there's poor Woody. His whole design is around the action feature, and as usual when that happens, the articulation suffers. He has a cut neck and cut shoulders, but the right shoulder is so loose that it's impossible to have it hold a pose without some help. The legs have no articulation, there's no cut wrists, and there's nothing at the waist. He has one pose, and that's it.

The small, empty holster on his belt also moves, but I'm not sure that's going to matter to anyone.

Accessories - Woody **1/2; regular Buzz, SDCC Buzz Bupkis
Woody has three accessories - his hat, lasso, and a small paper box.

I don't know what you'll do with the box, since it's fairly flimsy and fairly worthless. Kids will destroy this thing in about 10 seconds.

The hat is a soft rubber, and fits pretty well on his head, although it has a tendency to pop off. The lasso is a harder plastic, and fits in his right hand.

Neither the regular or SDCC Buzz comes with any accessories.

Action Feature - Woody **; regular Buzz *1/2, SDCC Buzz Bupkis
Usually, scoring Bupkis in a category is a bad thing. In this instance, it's not, as lacking any action feature is a plus for the SDCC Buzz.

Companies still believe in action features, although it's been my experience that kids think they are cool for all of about 10 minutes. That 'cool for a little while but wearing thin quickly' category is where the action features for both the regular Buzz and Woody fall.

Press Woody's legs together, and he spins his right arm. Yee haw! Press the button on Buzz's back, and his right arm snaps downward in a karate chop. Hiii Ya! Or you can turn his lower arm inward, and it looks like he's saluting.

Both of these features take far too much away from the posability and playability of the figure in general. This is a toy line without conflict, making these action features even less useful. Who is Buzz going to karate chop - poor Rex?

Fun Factor - SDCC Buzz ***1/2; Woody, Buzz ***
The best overall toy of the three is the one not even intended for kids - the SDCC exclusive version. While the action features on the other two will be amusing short term, most kids will tire of them pretty quickly, and once they do, the figures have far less use.

Value - SDCC Buzz, Woody **1/2; Regular Buzz **
While $15 might seem steep for a 3 3/4" figure, that's pretty much the going rate these days when it's a con exclusive. Woody has enough accessories to justify the now usual $10 cover charge, but Buzz really lacks what it takes to be worth that much moola.

Things To Watch Out For
Not a thing.

Overall - SDCC Buzz ***1/2; Regular Buzz **1/2; Woody **
If you have a chance to snag the smaller SDCC exclusive, do it. He's a great looking little figure, and if you already have a large collection in this scale, he'll fit right in. Who wouldn't want to put Buzz up against a Stormtrooper or Indiana Jones?

On the other hand, I don't see the regular line doing particularly well. The action features aren't going to do much for the collector or the kid, even if kids were interested in the figures. It's a tricky sell for the pint sized consumer, because there's no conflict, and action figures, by their very nature, are conflict based toys. If there's no one to battle, then there's not much point. I bet the larger Buzz figures do well, but the regular action figure line is destined for clearance.

If you really do want to pick up a Buzz and Woody in this approximately 6" scale, try the two that are packed with the rocket. They appear to be less encumbered by any sort of action feature.

Score Recap:
Packaging - SDCC Buzz ****; Regular Buzz and Woody **1/2
Sculpting - ***1/2
Paint -  SDCC Buzz, Woody ***1/2; regular Buzz ***
Articulation - SDCC Buzz ***1/2; regular Buzz **1/2; Woody *
Accessories - Woody **1/2; regular Buzz, SDCC Buzz Bupkis
Action Feature - Woody **; regular Buzz *1/2, SDCC Buzz Bupkis
Fun Factor - SDCC Buzz ***1/2; Woody, Buzz ***
Value - **1/2
Overall - SDCC Buzz ***1/2; Regular Buzz **1/2; Woody **

Where to Buy -
Picking up the exclusive is possible - if you're dedicated and fast - at Matty Collector on August 3rd. The regular figures are showing up at Target and Toys R Us as I type this.

Related Links -
It's probably no surprise that this is the very first review of any Toy Story action figures I've done.

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Toy Story action figures by Mattel

This product was purchased for the review by the reviewer. Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

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