Simpsons - The Island of Doctor Hibbert

As the World of Springfield line wound down, Playmates and Toys R Us wanted to do one more Treehouse of Horror exclusive.  The regular playsets weren't selling any more at this point, not even a few thousand units, but the THOH sets had always done extremely well for TRU.  Still, if they were going to do one more, it had better be a winner if it was going to sell.

Playmates wanted to do a set that was based on the haunted mansion, and included a number of various figures from different episodes, including Raven Bart and Alien Maggie.  You can see the artwork for this set here.

Unfortunately, FOX didn't like that choice.  They wanted a set from the more recent Manimals (Island of Dr. Hibbert) show.  While the characters were visually interesting, the episode itself wasn't huge with fans, and was fairly new as well.  Playmates asked several folks, including myself, what the prevailing opinion was.  We counseled them that going with the Manimals set, as compared to the Haunted Mansion, was a bad idea.  Hey, I was one of the few that liked that episode, but I felt that several of the characters in the Mansion set were far more appealing overall.  Other collectors agreed with me, as did both Playmates and TRU.  Playmates went back to FOX and told them that they wanted to either do the Mansion set, or no set at all.  And thus, there was no set at all.

Clearly, FOX was determined to get this set made.  Now, years later, they've convinced Mcfarlane to produce the set as part of their line, although it looks quite a bit different than the proposed set for Playmates.  You can see the original proposed set here.  Yes, there's some similarities, but I think the McToys plan to go with the forest scene is much smarter, since they got more key figures (like CBG) in the mix.

This set has just started shipping, and most online retailers should get it in over the next couple weeks.  I don't know if any brick and mortar stores will get it - TRU had the first series and the movie figures, and Suncoast/FYE might get it as well.  Expect to pay $20 - $25 depending on the retailer.

Packaging - ***
The package is designed with MIBers in mind.  While the figures aren't displayed exactly like they would be when the set is put together, it's close, and it is supposed to look good even if you never open it up.

That means a lot of twistie ties.  To hold the figures in place, they used a ton.  So if you're an opener, you'll need to grab a frosty beverage and kick back while you spend awhile taking this guy apart.

Of course, this idea - setting up the figures in the box in a displayed manner - only works if the figures all stay where they are supposed to.  You'll notice that was not the case for me, and Hibbert was bouncing around the box free.

There's a special note on the packaging too...Bart has a small plastic rod that holds him to the tree.  This rod is hard to find, being taped into the clear plastic tray over near the fire pit.  Don't throw out the package before you find it!

Sculpting - ***1/2
Sculpting is never Mcfarlane's problem.  Well, almost never.  And this set sports the usual terrific work that we've seen on other Simpsons figures from them.  If you've like series one and the movie figures, you'll enjoy these.

I had a few minor issues, like the slightly blocky and chunky look to the cuts around Homer's flippers, and the slightly soft sculpt on Marge's hair.  But the general appearance is top notch across the board, and this is perhaps my favorite set of Simpsons figures from McFarlane so far.

The scale is good, and these go fine with previous figures.  The adults are too small to go with the WOS line, but the kids would still work.

The sculpts on the bases are good, although the most intricate is the trees for Bart, Lisa and Maggie.  The webbing between the trees is made from a very hard plastic, and you know what that's brittle as well.  I snapped the webs cleanly off from the left tree when I was taking it out of the package.  I was going to glue it back together, but I was able to pose it up tight and in place, and it made handling the trees and web far easier.

I also snapped the pegs for Hibbert's feet right off taking the base out of the package.  They bent and broke with barely any pressure, so take extra care there as well.

The three bases, along with the fire pit, look terrific together.  The base of the figure pit is a clear plastic, and the flames are translucent, so if you have a small light source you can put below it (or inside it), it would light up nicely.

Homer is permanently attached to his base, but the rest of the figures attach with pegs with the exception of Marge.  She merely stands where ever you'd like, and she doe so pretty well on her own.

Paint - ***
Unfortunately, the paint isn't quite up to the level of the sculpt.  As has been an issue with many of the Mcfarlane cartoon lines, the paint is sloppier than usual.  There's some rub marks on the eyes (several of the figures exhibit this), small details are a bit sloppy like the buttons on Hibbert's vest, and some of the large coverage is less than consistent.   Colors are bright and bold though, and while it's not as clean as I expect from Mcfarlane, it's still better than average.

One other thing to note - there's far fewer of the black outlines on these guys than we've seen on past figures and sets.

Articulation - CBG **; the rest *1/2
If you're looking for super articulated, you are clearly looking in the wrong place.  But this set is designed to be set up pretty much one way, and then look good.

All the figures have a jointed neck.  All of them are cut joints, with the exception of Homer.  He has this weird springy bobble neck, and I have no idea why.  I would have much preferred a cut joint, since I could at least turn his head and he'd hold a pose.

That cut neck is it for Maggie, Lisa, Bart, and Homer.  Marge has one additional joint, at the base of her tail.  Unfortunately, I could do much with Marge's neck because it's painted tight enough that turning it would tear the pin.

Surprisingly, I couldn't get any of Bart's legs to move.  They are all in the right spot for them to hold onto the tree, but I was still expecting them to be articulated.

Hibbert has cut shoulders as well, so you can pose the arms.  That's pretty important for his design.  Burns is NOT articulated, even at the neck.

Finally, there's Comic Book Guy.  As I said, he had the cut neck, but he also has cut shoulders AND cut wrists, to allow him to pose in slightly different ways with the staff.

Accessories - ***1/2
I'm counting the figures as the main 'thing' here, while the bases and accoutrements are 'accessories'.  And if you look at it that way, then you'll see why this score is so high.

Both the sculpting and paint work on the base is great.  The figures all fit nicely in their correct spots, even Bart and Lisa.  The set is large enough to hold them all as well, and having a set that's too small for the figures has been a common past complaint.

There's one more accessory too - CBG's staff.  It comes apart as well to allow you to fit it into his hand higher up on the stick if you prefer.

Fun Factor - **
Okay, these aren't kid's toys.  They are fun for adults of course, and fans of the show will probably like this set better than most of the other McToys Simpsons stuff so far (although the movie stuff was damn good once you've seen the film and can appreciate the lines).

Value - ***
At $25, I'd drop this to **1/2 stars, and average value.  But at around the likely $22 - $23, this set is a pretty solid value.  And if you pick it up closer to $20, which is possible at one of my sponsors, you can add another half star.

Things to Watch Out For - 
Way more than usual, but I've mentioned them all.  There's the web that can snap, there's the foot pegs that can snap, and there's Bart's post which is easy to overlook and toss out.

Overall - ***1/2
While I had quite a few nits to pick with this set, I'm actually quite happy with it.  The figures look great together, and going with the exterior wooded scene was a great idea.

The paint issues may pull this set down a bit for you though, particularly if you aren't as enamored with the theme as I.  For me there's a cool factor that boosts up the overall appreciation of the set.

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

Where to Buy -
These are just starting to hit some retailers.  I don't know if any brick and mortar stores will get them, so online might be your only answer.  Check out these sponsors for your pre-order (they should have them any day):

- Clark Toys has the FANTASTIC price of just $20 for this set!

- Amazing Toyz has them listed at $23.

- CornerStoreComics has this listed at $23.

Related Links -
I've reviewed quite a bit of Simpsons goodies over the years, and you should be able to find links to all of them at this page

Keep scrolling down for a ton more photos too - I got a tad photo happy with this set, including adding not one but TWO large photos at the end!

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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