Hanna-Barbera series 1
Tom and Jerry, Fred Flintstone, Quick Draw McGraw,
and Hong Kong Phooey

In 1944, two animation directors from MGM went off to form their own animation company, and Hanna-Barbera was born. It wasn't til the 60's that they really started to take off though, and during the 1970's, they were the most successful television animation studio in the world. With hit shows like the Flintstones, Jetsons, Scooby-Doo, and Yogi Bear, they dominated the television cartoon landscape.

Sadly, Hanna-Barbera exists no longer. Bought in the 90's by Ted Turner to form the basis for the Cartoon Network, it was completely absorbed into Warner Brothers Animation and the Cartoon Network Studios in 2001.

McFarlane Toys has picked up the license to do a series of figures based on the many, many Hanna-Barbera cartoons. This is a vast library, but is certainly a nostalgic one. The first series consists of Fred Flintstone, two versions of Tom and Jerry, Quick Draw McGraw, and Hong Kong Phooey. There's also a deluxe boxed set for Fred Flintstone that I'll be reviewing in the next week or so.

Packaging - ***1/2
It's no big surprise that these are clamshells with inserts. And it's also no big surprise that I like that style of packaging. There's nothing quite like the solid, impervious nature of a clamshell to retain all those wonderful paint fumes.

The inserts are personalized this time, each having a specific photo on the front for the character inside, and some additional specific details about that particular cartoon character on the back. There's also shots of the rest of the line.

The graphics are sharp, the colors bright, and they'll certainly stand out from the crowd on the pegs.

Sculpting - Security System T&J, Quick Draw, Phooey ***1/2; rock band T&J ***; Fred **
The sculpting of the majority of this wave is excellent, with an eye for the original source material and classic poses.

Fans of Tom and Jerry are sure to enjoy the "Home Security" version, in which Tom makes the mistake of sticking his hand into Jerry's hole. Uh, the one in the wall. Jerry responds by smashing his hand with a mallet, and inside we see the other tools of torment that Jerry uses on Tom - dynamite, a steel trap, a bomb, and even a set mouse trap. These are all nicely sculpted in a classic style, reminiscent of the old cartoons. The premise and design of the diorama is excellent, and the scale between the characters is acceptable, although purists will have an issue. Jerry is at least twice the size he was depicted as in the cartoons, although that's probably to allow for greater detail in this small scale.

The Rock Band diorama isn't quite as enjoyable for us old timers. Here we see Tom and Jerry working together, at least initially, in a rock band. This is certainly not the T&J I grew up with, and is a more modern interpretation. Although the sculpting is solid (with the same scale issues as the other set), it doesn't score as high for me because of the poor choice for design.

Ah, but Quick Draw McGraw and Hong Kong Phooey make up for it. Quick Draw is in his classic El KaBong outfit, using a guitar to thwart an old west outlaw. This is a truly classic moment, and extremely fitting for both Quick Draw and his sidekick, Baba Looey.

Hong Kong Phooey is about to karate chop and kick a robber right out of commission, backed up by Spot. Again, it's a classic pose, if a little light on detail. The fact that both Spot and the robber are separate pieces improves the overall quality of this set.

I've saved the only real disappointment for last. Fred Flintstone is sculpted on his chopper. Now, I don't actually ever recall Fred wearing a black leather coat and driving any sort of prehistoric chopper, but this may be from those later, less appealing years. It's certainly not a particularly nostalgic or iconic look for Fred, and leaves the inner child in me pretty bored.

That's not to say that the sculpt on the bike and surrounding base isn't excellent in terms of quality and detail - it is. It just isn't a particularly interesting or memorable moment for the big guy. Of course, if that was his only issue, he'd be up there with the rock band T&J set, but you'll notice he scores lower. The facial sculpt is off as well, not quite looking like the Fred I remember so well from those afternoons after school.

The scale on these in relationship to other figures is in that 4" range. They look pretty good with the Simpsons stuff produced so far, although Fred is a little bigger than Homer.

Paint - ***1/2
The paint is uniformly clean and well done, much more like the standard we expect with Mcfarlane than some of the sloppy paint we've seen with their Simpsons line.

Like many cartoon lines, this series allows for a wide range of bright, exciting colors. There's very little slop here, although you'll see it once in awhile on the thin lines, or at the cuts between difficult colors like black and white.

There never are a lot of small details with cartoon lines, but what's here is extremely good.  I didn't see any bad eyes, and even the guitar strings on all three instruments were straight and even.  

Articulation - Hong Kong **; the rest *1/2
I'm actually being generous here giving them one star, but if you were expecting articulation, don't. These are statues, placed in classic poses. They are not designed for any sort of real manipulation.

Some have no articulation at all, like both Tom and Jerry sets. In both sets, Tom is positioned on a spring. This allows him to bounce around, but that's some sort of cross between 'articulation' and 'action feature'. It works fine, and the spring is extremely sturdy and made from heavy guage metal, but it's not particularly exciting.

On the more classic, "home security" set, the jaws on the metal trap are also hinged so it can be positioned.  Even the small bar that sits under the tray in a traditional trap can move, although you can't actually 'set' the trap fully open.

Hong Kong Phooey himself has the most articulation of the bunch, with a cut neck, waist, and left wrist. The thief in the set is on a spring, like Tom, but this is intended once again to work more as an action feature than as articulation. Phooey's right arm and right leg move, but that's as part of the action feature as well.

Fred actually has joints at his shoulders, but they are intended to move the arms the barest of space, and are there largely because of the manufacturing process. The sculpt almost completely restricts them from any movement. His front wheel does turn though, and his back wheel moves as part of the action feature.

Finally, there's the Quick Draw set. He has a cut neck, that allows him to look left or right, and really counts as his only official joint.  The outlaw rocks back and forth, but more about that in the Action Feature section.

Accessories - ***1/2
The concept of accessories with these sets is a tad unusual, but I'm counting the dioramas themselves as accessories, along with extra figures beyond the main character(s).

The dioramas all look terrific, even if some (as mentioned in the Sculpting section) make little sense. My personal favorite is the Home Security T&J, since it's so iconic and complex, but the others are good as well.

It's worth noting in praise of the Rock Band set, that all the electronics - both guitars and the microphone - actually plug into the back or side of the top speaker.  That's a pretty cool addition, and the material used for the cords is just the right type of plastic to look good yet not break too easily.

Fred actually comes with a helmet that can hang on the bike, but can't really be worn. He also has the opening compartment on the side, that reveals the true inner power source. This cap doesn't fit particularly well, and appears to be slightly off in terms of shape. You can get it to stay on, but it's clearly misaligned.

While sets like the Phooey and Quick Draw aren't quite as complex, they have extra characters going for them. Baba Looey comes with McGraw, and Spot comes with Hong Kong. Spot requires his base to stand (which can be separated from the main base), but Baba is independent.  These are scaled properly for the other figures, and while not articulated, look as good as the main characters.

Action Feature - Fred **1/2, both Tom and Jerry sets **; Hong Kong Phooey, Quick Draw *1/2; 
Mcfarlane doing action features - here's a real switch. We saw the donut eating action with the first Simpsons boxed set, but that could have been a fluke. This set of figures puts the question to rest though, and yes, Mcfarlane has moved into the world of action features with at least their cartoon figures.

Some of these features aren't really traditional 'action features'. The Home Security T&J set, and the rock band T&J set, merely have Tom suspended on a spring. That makes him bounce around every time you move the set (fairly annoying if you're trying to take photos), and that's about it. Since this doesn't hurt the sculpt, it's easy enough to ignore if you prefer. While they score low as action features, they won't effect the overall score much because they can be ignored and don't hurt the display potential of the figure.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the Hong Kong Phooey action feature. This is very much the traditional action feature, and not only is it a weak feature, it hurts the appearance of the figure.

Push down on a lever on the base, and Phooey drops down, kicking out with one foot and chopping with his hand. In theory, he hits the robber on his spring and knocks him around, but that works far better in theory than reality. It's a pretty silly gimmick, and because of it, the Phooey 'at rest' has his right leg at an odd angle.

Quick Draw has a pretty silly feature as well.  The outlaw moves from side to side. It's not a spring action like the T&J sets, because he can only move from side to side, not forward and backward.  It's amusing in a goofy bobble head sort of way I suppose, but could have been skipped and no one would have complained.

Unfortunately, my Quick Draw is already leaning forward at this 'joint', and I suspect it will get worse with time.  It does look like you can unscrew the outlaw from underneath the base, and can probably cut off whatever peg is holding him slightly above the ground.  If he starts drooping too much, this is definitely an option.

The Fred motorcycle has 'wheelie poppin' action, which really amounts to having the back wheel lock into three tilted poses. I have the bike in a flat pose, plus two more, in one of the final photos of the review. Again, it's not really as much of an 'action feature' as a display option.  However, unlike the rest, it actually adds something to the figure.

Fun Factor - **1/2
While there is some debate as to whether this line is intended for nostalgic adults, or kids that actually get Boomerang on cable, it's clear that they aren't 'toys'. The action features aren't intended for much play, and the style is more suited to shelf display. Kids are also unlikely to know either Phooey or McGraw, unless they are lucky enough to have the aforementioned Boomerang channel at home.

Value - ***
You'll find these as cheap as $10, a price point Mcfarlane has been able to maintain for awhile now while the rest of the market increases. That's a solid value, certainly above the current average, especially for the quality of sculpting and paint.

Things to Watch Out For - 
Not much. Even with Mcfarlane, you'll still want to keep an eye out for the best paint ops. There's not much to break here, with solid construction and no joints.

Overall - Security T&J ***1/2; Quick Draw, Phooey, rock band T&J ***; Fred **1/2
While most of these are getting an average score, I do want to say that I really like them.  With the exception of Fred, they'll look great on my shelf, and the quality of the paint and sculpt are as excellent as we've come to expect.

The 'home security' version of Tom and Jerry is my favorite, simply because it does the very best job of combining the classic appearance of the characters with a nifty, complex diorama.  Had they all been this good, it would have been a perfect wave.

Both Quick Draw and Hong Kong Phooey are good, but the silly action features takes some away from both.  Had they gone without, and put that money else where (more on that missed opportunity in a minute), I would have scored them another half star higher at least.

The Rock Band T&J set is certainly well done in terms of appearance, and I love how all the electronics plug into the top speaker.  It's just not a particularly iconic look for the characters, and that hurts it slightly for me.

The only real disappointment out of the whole wave is Fred, but most people know this going in.  This just isn't the Fred I remember, and I'm looking forward to his more traditional look in series 2.

Now, what about that missed opportunity?  These are sets that really needed sound. Forget Lost, where the figures will say lines that nobody remembers.  Here there are classic sounds - not lines - that would have been perfect.

Sure, you could have had actual spoken lines, but that's not what Hanna-Barbera cartoons are best known for. It's the sound effects that have been burned into our brains.  The "Kabong" when El Kabong smashes someone in the head with the guitar - the silly xylophone sounds when someone tip-toes - the screeching, hopping brake noise when someone has to stop suddenly.  They developed these sounds and used them over and over, to the point where we all recognize them instantly.  How cool would it have been to have them built into the dioramas where appropriate?

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpt - Security System T&J, Quick Draw, Phooey ***1/2; rock band T&J ***; Fred **
Paint - ***1/2
Articulation - Hong Kong **; the rest *1/2
Accessories - ***1/2
Action Feature - Fred **1/2, both Tom and Jerry sets **; Hong Kong Phooey *1/2; Quick Draw Bupkis
Fun Factor - **
Value - ***
Overall - Security T&J ***1/2; Quick Draw, Phooey, rock band T&J ***; Fred **1/2

Where to Buy - 
Here's some sponsor choices:

- Clark Toys has the deluxe set for $20, and the regular figures for $12 each OR if you're buying the set, they have the best deal at just $50 for the full set of 5!

- Amazing Toyz has the singles at $12, the boxed set at $22, and the set of 5 for $55.

- CornerStoreComics also has the singles at $12, the set for $55, and the boxed set is at $23. You can also get all five and the boxed set for $75.

- Killer Toys doesn't have this regular series listed yet, but they do have the boxed set of Fred in the dragster for $23.

Related Links - 
I don't have any other H-B reviews...yet. But you can expect the boxed set to get the treatment very soon!

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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