SDCC Exclusive Underdog

Have no fear, Underdog is here!  Growing up, I heard that phrase regularly on my little black and white television in my bedroom.  I was a big Underdog fan, and no matter how much the new movie would like to make you believe something different, the only true Underdog is the one that sells newspapers during the day, walks on two legs, and wears red tights.

Mezco picked up this license earlier in the year, and did an exclusive for SDCC.  I'm covering the exclusive tonight, but the regular figures are also just now shipping.  The exclusive cost $25, and only 600 were produced.

This set shows Simon Barsinister and Underdog from the classic episode "Phony Booths", in which Barsinister uses a mind control device to take over our hero.  The two figures are both slightly re-tooled versions of the standard releases.

Wave 1 actually includes Simon, along with Sweet Polly Purebred, and Riff Raff.  There's not one but four variations on Underdog himself - smiling open mouth, smiling closed mouth, and two versions with a stern mouth.  I haven't seen them all yet, but rumor has it that the stern look Underdogs have a variation on their leg sculpt that makes them different from each other. If someone knows more, let me know!

Packaging - ***
The pair comes in a white box with the Underdog logo and a SDCC exclusive sticker.  Understated is the key here, as is often the case with SDCC exclusives.  The big surprise is that the package is actually quite collector friendly, and you can remove the figures and backdrop from the inside without any damage, and then store them back after you're done.  There's a few twisties to toss out, but they aren't particularly important to keep once you've got these puppies in your hot little mitts.

Sculpting - ****
Back in the day, folks considered Palisades the master of bringing animated figures to 3-D.  Mezco has taken over for the fallen master, and I must say they are doing a terrific job.

These figures look fantastic, with tons of personality and character.  The designs match the show extremely well, and the proportions and scale are excellent.  While the arms, legs and torsos are sculpted in somewhat pre-posed ways, the sculpt works great with the available articulation to make for a much more poseable figure than you'd first assume.

These guys are larger than you might expect too, going more in the Family Guy or South Park direction than in the Simpsons direction.  Simon stands about 3 1/2" tall, while Underdog is about 5" tall.

Paint - ***1/2
I rag on Mezco for paint ops a lot, so it's only fitting to point out that these have some of the best paint applications I've seen on cartoon toys in awhile.

The cuts between the bright colors are quite clean and neat, with very little slop, glop or blop.  I haven't figured out what 'blop' is yet, but I needed  a third word to rhyme with 'slop' and 'glop'.  Get all the paint ops on the South Park and Family Guy figures to look like this, and I could die happy.

Articulation - ***
My biggest surprise with these figures is in the articulation.  Not that there's a ton (there isn't) but how well what's here works and is incorporated into the designs.

Both of them have cut necks, which is probably their biggest drawback.  Simon's design really doesn't allow for anything else, since the guy doesn't even have a neck to speak of.  But they could have pulled off a ball joint at the base of Underdog's neck, but they went with a cut instead.

There's cut joints at the shoulders and wrists as well, and the arms are reasonably poseable even with the sculpted mannerisms.

The biggest surprise is the ball jointed waist, hidden on both underneath the torso.  While I'm calling it a waist, it really operates like a single waist joint that allows the legs (as one) to move quite freely under the torso.  That means the figures can tilt forward and back, side to side, and turn.  This allows for some creative posing, and also allows you to work with the center of gravity on these figures to get them to stay upright in many poses.

Accessories - **1/2
There's not a ton of accessories here, but what you get is reasonably decent.

Underdog comes with an extra set of straight arms, with fisted hands.  These work well for flying poses, although he can't really take a true flying pose.  The arms go on and off easily, hold tight, and have very sturdy posts.

As mentioned earlier, the controller device is actually attached to Barsinister's left hand, so it isn't an accessory.  That means the only other true accessory is the cardboard backdrop of the laboratory.

While the all cardboard set up is a bit cheap, it does look great.  By including one side, they've made the back quite sturdy, at least for display purposes.

Fun Factor - ***
These are actually quite fun, due largely to the unique articulation and solid designs.  If kids today actually knew who these characters were, they'd enjoy playing with these.

Value - **1/2
A price tag of $25 for not one but TWO SDCC exclusive figures is actually pretty good, as the price of exclusives has continued to edge up.  Even the regular release single figures are running around $15, so this price point is about where I'd expect it.

Things to Watch Out For - 
As I mentioned earlier, it's pretty easy to pop off the hollow head of Simon Barsinister, but much harder to get it back on.  Don't go trying to overdo things with that neck joint, because getting the head back on is more work than you'd expect.

Overall - ***1/2
I'm very pleased with this first pair of Underdog figures, enough in fact that I plan on picking up at least one more Underdog, along with Polly and Riff Raff.  I doubt I'll need a second Simon, but they might catch me in a weak moment.

Fans of the old cartoon should enjoy these, but it's hard to say whether anyone outside the serious fan will be willing to shell out this kind of cash.

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

Where to Buy -
There's really only one good option for picking up the exclusive - direct from Mezco's store.  When it comes to the regular release figures, I hear that some Hot Topic and FYE stores are getting those in already, but there's been zippo around here.  Online options include these sponsors:

- CornerStoreComics the set of four for $47, or the singles for $12 each.

- Time and Space Toys has the set of four for $60.  They also still have some of the old Exclusive Premiere PVC two packs for $15 each.

- for the UK readers, Forbidden Planet has the set of four for 40 GBP.

Related Links -
I don't believe I have any other reviews, but several years ago Exclusive Premiere did a series of PVC figures that aren't too bad, but are much smaller than these (and not articulated). Search around the web and you'll find them - I know Time and Space Toys still has some for sale.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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