Krypto the Superdog

JJJason is here tonight, with a terrific review of some great new kid's themed figures for Krypto.  It's all yours, JJJason!

Thank you very much, Michael. 

DC Comics superheroes have enjoyed an over decade long honeymoon in the realm of animated television. Beginning with Batman: The Animated Series and continuing through Superman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, The Zeta Project, Static Shock, Justice League, Teen Titans, Justice League Unlimited and The Batman, fans have much to enjoy. The DC Animated Universe is rich, deep and oriented just enough toward adults to keep in from perception as a collection of “kiddy” shows.

Thankfully, that’s changed.

The newest show to join the DC animated pantheon is Krypto The Superdog, currently running plentifully on Cartoon Network. Aimed squarely at the pre-school set, the show follows the adventures of Superman’s childhood pooch as he saves Metropolis from certain (animal instigated) doom in his former master’s absence. The show is cute, funny without being condescending, and action-packed without being violent. In short, it’s a great kids cartoon.

Enter Fisher-Price, maker of great kids toys. With almost no fanfare or collector anticipation, FP has released a generous first wave of action figures based on Warner Bros. Animation’s latest dip into the DC universe. There are single-carded talking figures (Krypto, Ace The Bat Hound, Streaky, Mechanikat [Krypto’s Lex Luthor] and Hot Dog [of The Dog Stars. Think a canine Legion of Superheroes]), two deluxe sets and Krypto’s massive rocket ship. 

Tonight, I review Mechanikat, Ace Vs. The Joker’s Hyena’s (deluxe) and Krypto with his new Earth owner, Kevin. (deluxe).

Packaging - ***1/2
Everything but Krypto’s rocket is carded, but you won’t find these figures hanging on any pegs. First, the bubbles take up the whole card, so there are no peg holes. Second, these figures are huge. This line is shelves only. The packaging itself is study, colorful and displays the figures very well. Great use of the Krypto logo front and center, filling an embossed section of the bubble. The cardback features a small bio card for each character, including separate cards for Krypto and Kevin, as well as comic panel-style descriptions of the figure and its accessories. Nice touch.

Sculpting - ****
The style of this show is even more simple and streamlined than Bruce Timm’s work for the bulk of the other DC animated series. Not everyone is going to be a fan of such a style but, for those who are, these figures are perfect representations of the characters from the show. With the fold of an ear or the crook of an eyebrow, the head sculpts bring out a great deal of personality in each character. I particularly love the scrappy daring of Krypto’s mug, and the stoic stillness of Ace’s face. I definitely prefer this Krypto’s head sculpt to the single-carded one, but be aware the ears of the figure reviewed here are sculpted back to reflect flight. 

The bodies are well proportioned and dynamic without being exaggerated. Where you can find them, the details, like Ace’s utility collar, are well done. Kevin even has treads on the soles of his sneakers. All capes are a light rubbery plastic, which is flexible without being flimsy.

Paint - ***1/2
When sculpts are this simple, the paint had better be great or all is lost. Luckily, that’s basically the case here. Mechanikat’s got a bit of glop here and there, but other than that everything looks great. I’m particularly impressed with the clean, thin lines of Ace’s muzzle. Krypto and Kevin’s eyes are bright and well defined, perfect for their characters. Paint quality is very good. FP tends to use thick paint able to withstand toddler play. They don’t have the rep they do in the industry for nothing, folks.

Articulation - **1/2
Bear in mind at all times, these are pre-school toys. As such, and taking the animated style into account as well, you’re looking at the most basic articulation. Kevin and Mechanikat have neck, shoulders and hips with an extra twist at the left wrist for Mechanikat (more on that in a bit). Ace has neck, shoulders and hips. Krypto has shoulders, hips, “wrists” (a very nice touch for flying poses) and a neck joint that allows movement up and down, (again, for flying) but not left and right. That’s a demerit. I also didn’t include Krypto or Ace’s tails as POAs, because it doesn’t seem like they’re supposed to rotate. Mechanikat’s tail does swivel though, so that’s seven POAs for him.

Other than that, these are about as articulated as parent company Mattel’s Justice League Unlimited figures…and these guys can stand up without benefit of a blow dyer or your prayers to a higher power.

Action Feature - ***
This section only applies to Kevin and Mechanikat, who have sound chips. The chips are loud and clear enough to be heard and understood easily without being obnoxiously loud.

Press a button on Kevin’s shirt, which looks a bit like a pocket, and he’ll say one of the following:

“Hi! I’m Kevin!”
“Let’s fly!” followed by a whoosh noise
“Backpack wings: activate!” (More on those later)
“My dog can fly, just like Superman!”
“Krypto’s my best friend.”
Whoosh noise alone
“This is my dog, Krypto.”

Eight separate clips, not bad. Pressing Mechanikat’s belt buckle earns you one of these gems (as well as speech-synced flashing of his red LED left eye):

“I am Mechanikat.”
“I’ve got my eye on you, Superdog.”
“Snookie Wookums, prepare for the invasion!”
“Soon, I will be ruler of the world! Ha ha ha!”
“This is one cat who has claws.”
“What’s the matter, cat got your tongue? Mwah-ha!”

Only six clips here, but you get the flashing eye, which is very bright. Mechanikat sounds a bit like another would-be galactic conqueror, Family Guy’s Stewie, so his clips are actually pretty funny.

One small minus for Kevin, his speaker is pretty obvious in the form of several small horizontal holes on the front of his shirt. It takes away from the sculpt a bit. Mechanikat’s speaker is much better hidden in the M on his torso.

Accessories - ****
This is an area these figures do very well. So well, it’s going to add to their Value score later on.

Mechanikat comes with three attachments for his cybernetic left arm; a big hand, a working claw and a working grapple gun, and a Snookie Wookums sidekick figure. The arm attachments pop in and out of his left wrist socket easily and fit securely via a round peg, so they all rotate (there’s that extra POA). The cute but exceedingly evil Snookie Wookums is a tough, hollow vinyl PVC with good, simple paint aps.

Ace makes out the best with a vehicle, a weapon and enemies. I know they’re billed alongside Ace on the package, but I’m counting Bud and Lou, The Joker’s hyenas, as accessories because they are just ample PVCs. That said, they’re extremely well executed PVCs, with sculpting and paint aps on par with the figures. Scale-wise, Bud and Lou are a bit on the small side, but I’m not going to make a big deal.

Ace also includes his jet wing skateboard type thing (basically his Batmobile) and a twin-missile net launcher that mounts on the front of the jetboard. Ace himself mounts on the jetboard via several foot (or, in this case, paw) pegs and stays on even if you turn the board upside down, so that’s pretty secure.

Kevin comes with a removable backpack and a leash for Krypto. The backpack has some nice, simple details sculpted into it and features pop-out wings at the press of a button. Once, deployed, the wings fold out for additional span. The leash fits pretty well around Krypto’s neck and into Kevin’s right hand. Kevin and Krypto also come with the pilot episode of the show on DVD in a nice little opening slipcase. Pretty awesome pack-in.

Fun Factor - ***1/2
The above rating is my perception of how a child who loves the show will like these toys. They are terrific replicas of what you see on-screen and have some really nice features and accessories working for them. They’re also nice and big for small hands, and the initial assortment has enough of a variety of characters that a kid can have some pretty grand-scale adventures right away.

Durability - ***1/2
I’m adding this category in the event you’re a parent looking to buy these figures for a child, and not a 30-year old child who wants them for himself, like me. I’d be a little wary of smashing Kevin and Mechanikat (as well as the rest of the single-carded figures) around because of the electronics inside, but structurally, these guys will take a beating. They’re made of tough, think plastic and vinyl.

Value - ****
The basic carded line, in which you’re getting a rather large talking figure, accessories and, in three cases, a sidekick figure, is $9.99 at Toys R Us. The Ace Vs. Joker’s Hyenas set, which includes a full-scale vehicle, is $14.99. Kevin & Krypto, with their DVD is $17.99. Krypto’s spaceship, which is mammoth and has some good features, is $29.99. I think that’s a lot of toy, and huge possibility for imaginative play, for the money. 

Things To Watch Out For -
Nothing really. You might want to make sure any talking figures you buy work via the Try Me holes in the packaging and make sure there are no obvious paint flaws, but that’s it.

Overall - ***1/2
I am a massive fan of Fisher-Price’s Rescue Heroes. With that line winding down, I’m very glad to have a new reason to visit the pre-school section. I very much look forward to future Krypto waves as this line has a lot of potential. With Hot Dog already out, I’m sure the rest of the Dog Stars are coming, but I’d suggest Ignatius (Lex Luthor’s Paul Lynde-channeling iguana) and Isis (Catwoman’s Siamese, who appeared on B:TAS and now addles Ace) are absolute musts. I’d also like to see an in-scale Streaky, perhaps as a PVC pack-in with a future Krypto or his owner Andrea, because the current one is way too big.

Also, if you plan on collecting Krypto, I urge you to buy a 10” Justice League Unlimited Superman figure to display with the line. As you can see from the picture, he fits in with his canine counterpart perfectly and, since Superman actually had a cameo in the pilot episode of the show, he’s canon. JLU 10” Superman is a wonderful enhancement for the Krypto line. If you’re already a JLU collector, buy another one.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpt - ****
Paint - ***1/2
Articulation - **1/2
Action Feature - ***
Accessories - ****
Fun Factor - ***1/2
Value - ****
Overall - ***1/2

Where To Buy - 
Toys R Us is the only chain getting these guys so far. I’m sure Wal-Mart and the like will have them soon enough, but for now Geoffrey’s the way to go, and he could sure use your money.

Figure from the collection of JJJason.

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