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Secret Squirrel and Captain Caveman
Hanna-Barbera by Jazwares

Captain Caveman and Secret Squirrel Hanna-Barbera action figures by Jazwares


I love cartoons - they are easily my favorite form of entertainment. The quality of the average toon has dramatically increased over the last couple decades. I know there are people that look back on Scooby Doo and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fondly, but they were really bad shows. In every generation there were always a few good ones - no one can ever deny the quality of shows like the Looney Tunes - but the overall quality was pretty bad.

But in the last 20 years, we've seen a ton of great shows, with imaginative plots and far superior writing. I think this mirrors the overall improvement of scripted television in general during this period, as working for tv lost some of its stigma and more writers, directors and actors that once only went after movies made the shift to the small screen.

But as I said, there were some classic cartoons back in the day, albeit with more simplistic story lines and dialog than today. Many of these came out of the studio of Hanna-Barbera, the tremendously prolific animation company of the 60's, 70's and 80's. With the dozens and dozens of shows they produced, you know not all were of the same level of quality - the aforementioned Scooby Doo was their work - but others were some of my childhood favorites.

We've seen figures based on the cartoons before, but it's been awhile since some of the less popular shows in plastic. Jazwares has picked up the license - along with some other very good modern cartoons, like Adventure Time and Regular Show - and are producing figures in a 3-4" and 6" scale for Tom and Jerry, The Flintstones, the Jetsons, and others. I picked up two of the smaller figures for this review: Secret Squirrel and Captain Caveman.
Click on the photo below for a life size version
Captain Caveman and Secret Squirrel Hanna-Barbera action figures by Jazwares
Captain Caveman and Secret Squirrel Hanna-Barbera action figures by Jazwares
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Captain Caveman and Secret Squirrel Hanna-Barbera action figures by Jazwares
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Captain Caveman and Secret Squirrel Hanna-Barbera action figures by Jazwares
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Captain Caveman and Secret Squirrel Hanna-Barbera action figures by Jazwares
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Captain Caveman and Secret Squirrel Hanna-Barbera action figures by Jazwares
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Captain Caveman and Secret Squirrel Hanna-Barbera action figures by Jazwares
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Captain Caveman and Secret Squirrel Hanna-Barbera action figures by Jazwares
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Captain Caveman and Secret Squirrel Hanna-Barbera action figures by Jazwares
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You can find these at Toys R Us, where you'll pay around $7 each for this scale. They also have the larger figures as well.

Packaging - **1/2
The small card backs and bubbles look good, with a slightly retro TV design. The front has some reasonable character specific personalization, but the back has a generic Hanna-Barbera group photo. This is not indicative of who will be produced and who won't, so it's a bit misleading.

I originally gave this figure three stars in this category. But then I found out from a reader that his hat opens up, and there's a small white 'arm' inside that can hold the camera. How cool is that! And yet there's no mention of it anywhere on the package, a huge failure on the part of the marketing of the toy.

Sculpting - ***
These are the 3"-4" scale figures, not the 6" I suspect their's a big difference between the quality of the plastic on the two lines, because I've heard the larger figures feel soft and weak all around. That's not the case with these two smaller figures - they feel pretty much like any other action figure. 

I do like the designs, but that's because they've done a nice job translating the 2 dimensional characters into 3 dimensional figures. That's not always easy to do, especially with an unusual guy like Captain Caveman.

That's not to say they aren't with a few issues, holding them back from a better score. There are a lot of mold lines, rough edges, and soft details. There's also some gaping at the joints, like the waist of Caveman.

Captain Caveman can't stand on his own for any period of time, but that's due to the soft ankle joints, not the sculpt. Secret Squirrel can also have some problems staying upright, but if you widen out his stance and play around with the tail, you should be alright.

Secret Squirrel's hands are sculpted to hold the two accessories perfectly, and Captain Caveman's right works great with his club, a big plus.

Paint - Captain Caveman ***; Secret Squirrel **1/2
The paint work isn't quite as good on either figure, although it's not awful. No sticky paint, and most of the coverage is consistent.

But there's plenty of sloppy cut lines, and even a few odd stray marks. Check out the front of Secret Squirrel's head band...what's the white mark?

Secret Squirrel also has some wonky eyes, a key area on any figure. Captain Caveman doesn't have that issue, and while his overall paint application is a bit more simple, it's also a bit more clean.

Another problem with Squirrel's paint is the mis-colored pins and discs in the elbows and shoulders. Instead of being white, they're clear, noticeable even with the nekkid eye of a blind mole.

Articulation - Secret Squirrel **; Captain Caveman *1/2
I'm not exactly sure what's going on with the articulation on these figures - it looks like a bit of a weird experiment.

Secret Squirrel has a cut neck, which is a decent enough joint. He also has cut joints at the top of the legs, which work well enough.

The shoulders are pin/disc ball joints, and I think that's a nice surprise. But then you get these weird elbows, where the pin goes through front to back, only allowing the arms to move inward and outward on the body. Perhaps this would be interesting if the range of movement was good - you could bring the arms across the body for some different poses - but the elbows barely move. That means they're ugly and useless.

He has one more joint too, at the top of the tail. You'll need to adjust it to keep him upright.

As an observant reader pointed out after I initially posted this review, Secret Squirrel's hat opens up and there's a small white arm inside to hold the camera - too cool!

Captain Caveman doesn't have a neck joint, due to the hairy design of the body, but he does have a cut waist. There's the same ball shoulders, and his wrists are the same sort of weird pin joints as Squirrel's elbows. They work about as badly, too. He has cut joints at the top of the legs, and another weak, weird pin joint at the ankles. This soft joint makes it very hard for him to remain standing.

The pins and joints feel weak. Add in the bizarre design of the elbows, wrists and ankles, and you get a fail in this category.

Accessories - Secret Squirrel ***1/2; Captain Caveman **1/2
There's not a ton of extras, but I like what's here. Secret  Squirrel does the best with two accessories, and Caveman has one.

Caveman has his traditional club, sculpted to look like wood. It fits great in his hand, and looks good.

Secret Squirrel has a gun (not many modern cartoon characters get guns!) and a large camera. As I mentioned earlier, his hands are sculpted to hold these - the right specifically posed for the gun, the left for the camera. He can holds them well, and they both look good in their simplistic design.

There's also a small white arm inside the hat, and you can use this to hold the camera just like on the show.

Fun Factor - **1/2
While I like the sculpts, I hate the articulation, and this hurts their playability. It was tough to keep them both standing, especially the Caveman, and that's always a negative against a toy's play value.

Value - ***
Even 4" figures run $9 or $10 these days, so finding anything for $7 is a nice surprise. True, they aren't perfect, but I think the value is still solid.

BTW, right now Toys R Us is having a sale on all the Hanna-Barbera figures, buy one get one half off. That brings the price down on these another 25%.

Things to Watch Out For -
The joints seem a bit weak, especially on Caveman, so take a little care when working with them.

Overall - Secret Squirrel ***; Captain Caveman **1/2
I heard a lot of really bad things about this series - bad plastic, bad paint, bad articulation, cheap toys that should be at the dollar store. I didn't have nearly that number of issues here, and I suspect that some of those complaints are coming from the 6" line, which looks a lot weaker.

The articulation is bizarre here, and some of the joints and pins are much too weak. Had they not gone weird in the design of the joints, I bet these two could have pulled another half star.

In fact, the more I posed Secret Squirrel, the more I liked him. And then a reader pointed out that the hat opens up to hold the camera on a small arm! That's pretty sweet for a $7 figure. I may pick up a few more of this scale, and I'll certainly pick up a 6" to review, especially if I can find a Space Ghost. 

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***
Sculpting - ***
Paint - Captain Caveman ***; Secret Squirrel **
Articulation - Secret Squirrel **; Captain Caveman *1/2
Accessories - Secret Squirrel ***1/2; Captain Caveman **1/2
Fun Factor - **1/2
Value - ***
Overall - Secret Squirrel ***; Captain Caveman **1/2

Where to Buy -
The only place I've seen these so far is Toys R Us, along with all the other new Jazwares cartoon series. Expect to pay around $7 each for these 4" scale figures.

Related Links -
McFarlane did a couple series of nerd Hummel Hanna Barbera figures - I reviewed both series 2 part 2, series 2 part 1, and series 1. There's also deluxe set 1 and deluxe set 2.

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Captain Caveman and Secret Squirrel Hanna-Barbera action figures by Jazwares


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

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