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Homer Simpson Syroco style statue
Dark Horse Comics

Homer Simpson Syroco style statue from Dark Horse Comics

There once was a company called the Syracuse Ornamental Company, or Syroco for short. Syroco made a wide variety of funky products from wood, pressed wood, and eventually plastic. Perhaps they are best known for their corkscrews, at least with today's collectors, but their pressed wood 'figures' of the 30's and 40's were tremendously popular.

Long before Planet of the Apes and Star Wars took character licensing to the insane heights we see today, Syroco was producing nifty little wooden figures of well known cartoon strip characters. During the 30's and 40's, they produced statues of Superman and other characters from popular strips like Dagwood and Blondie, The Phantom, and Prince Valiant. Syroco was founded in 1890, but sadly went the way of the buffalo just a few short years ago.

Dark Horse decided to jump into a line of Syroco inspired statues, and they've clearly been a big hit. They've produced dozens of figures so far, starting with the same basic licenses that Syroco did all those years ago like the Phantom, Krazy Kat, Lil Abner and others. Recently, they've branched into more modern licenses, like Disney's Scrooge...and the Simpsons!

The first release is Homer, out now, and he'll be followed up by Lisa, Marge, Bart, Krusty and the Comic Book Guy. There's been rumors of a few more, including Mr. Burns, and considering the number of other statues they've done for other licenses, I can see this line growing quite a bit.

Each statue is fairly limited, with only 550 produced. The cost is around $40 - $50, depending on the retailer, and I have some great suggestions at the end of the review in the Where to Buy section.
Homer Simpson Syroco style statue from Dark Horse Comics
Homer Simpson Syroco style statue from Dark Horse Comics
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Homer Simpson Syroco style statue from Dark Horse Comics
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Homer Simpson Syroco style statue from Dark Horse Comics
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Homer Simpson Syroco style statue from Dark Horse Comics
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Homer Simpson Syroco style statue from Dark Horse Comics
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Homer Simpson Syroco style statue from Dark Horse Comics
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Homer Simpson Syroco style statue from Dark Horse Comics

Packaging - ****
Each figure comes in a very cool tin box with exceptional graphics. They are very sturdy, and very scratch and dent resistant. Inside, the figure is held in a plastic tray, plus they are cushioned with soft foam inserts.

While the edition size is printed on the bottom of the figure, it is also included on the bar code on the bottom of the tin.

The bottom of the tin says there are 550 of these produced, which I believe is correct. However, the base of the figure actually says 600...things that make you go 'hmmmm'.

Sculpting - ***1/2
The first reaction most modern day collectors and Simpsons fans are going to have when they see this statue is "ewww". It's a very rough sculpt, with glaring mold seams and a choppy surface.

Ah, but that's the entire point! The old Syroco figures were made from a pressed wood - wood mixed with flour and other components and then forced into molds - and they were very, very rough looking. While this figure appears to actually be a plastic or perhaps poly-resin, it's been sculpted to look just like that old pressed wood.

The surface has a Cigar Store Indian texture, and the wavy uneven base and thick seams along the edges are identical to the original style.

Homer stands about 5" tall, which is also very similar to the old figures. I've included a comparison shot with a WoS Bart.

Whether you like these or not, at least in terms of the sculpt, is going to depend very heavily on your like or dislike for the nostalgic appearance. This one is going to be very much a love it or hate it situation - I doubt there will be too many folks in the middle.

Paint - **1/2
If you thought the sculpting of pressed wood figures back during World War II was pretty rough, just imagine what the painting was like. To say it was 'primitive' is to give the cavemen a worse image than Geico already has.

Again, Dark Horse isn't looking to make these pretty, but rather authentic to the old style. The paint work looks dirty and rough, with a dark harsh wash was added to increase the effect.

I'm not docking them for that, but I do think that the cut lines still needed to be fairly clean between the various colors. Yea, they were sloppy back then too, but I think that having a clean line between the shirt and skin, for example, would have gone a long way with these.  Again, how you feel about the various aspects of this paint job is likely to be a highly personal decision, and not one driven purely by technical quality. You'll have to look at the photos and the figure and judge for your self.

Accessories - **1/2
Normally, you don't get accessories with a statue, so any score in a category like this is a big plus overall.

Homer comes with a cool little pin, as well as a small pamphlet with info on both the statue and on Matt Groening. You aren't going to buy the statue just to get the extras, but they're nice to have extras nonetheless.

Design/Quality - ***1/2
At times, Homer can be a pretty dynamic guy, particularly if he's in the process of injuring himself. Other times, he's damn sedentary. The trick for Dark Horse was to pick a pose and design that looks like you expect Homer to look, and yet captures the old style of the Syroco figures.

They did that with this simple upright stance. Homer might not be doing anything crazy, but he is doing the one thing he loves more than anything - eating donuts. The half lidded eyes say "mmmm, donuts..." to the regular Simpsons viewer, and the simple pose says Syroco to the collector of old time folk art.

Fun Factor - *1/2
These aren't designed to be toys, but it's interesting to note that their ancient counterparts WERE toys. Let's not forget that at one point, rocks and sticks were toys too. We've become a bit spoiled by the level of articulation, sculpt and paint that even our most basic mass market action figure sports these days, and it's not just collectors - it's kids too. They'd have a hard time seeing these small statues as something they could play with.

Value - **
As much as these little buggers are growing on me, I can't find a way to justify the $45 average price tag. You can find them for under $40 if you look (and one of my sponsors has them down in that range - see below), but even then they feel a good ten bucks over priced. It's the edition size that's driving this cost of course, and the low numbers may appeal enough to collectors to make the extra cost worth it.

Things to Watch Out For -
When you're removing the pin from the cushion, take care. You can tear it right out if you pull it too far away from the foam.

Overall - ***
Dark Horse is taking a big risk with this series. With the majority of the other Syroco throwbacks they've done, they tackled retro characters with a retro look. People are more likely to accept the rough hewn sculpt and dirty paint with a character like this The Yellow Kid than they are with this yellow kid. Taking on a modern license with a retro style is fraught with risk.

Homer is sold out at many places at this point, but that might be less about the actual product and more about the drought that Simpsons collectors currently find themselves in once again. How well Lisa sells as the second release in the series will be the true test of whether OFF fans can accept this retro envisioning of their beloved cartoon favorites.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ****
Sculpting - ***1/2
Paint - **1/2
Accessories - **1/2
Design/Quality - ***1/2
Fun Factor - *1/2
Value - **
Overall - ***

Where to Buy -
Online options include:

- Alter Ego Comics has them for around $45 each, but is currently sold out of Homer.

- Urban Collector has them for around $38 to $40 each (depending on the character).

- Things From Another World has Homer at $45.

- Entertainment Earth has them all for $50 each.

Related Links -
I've covered a ton of Simpsons product. Perhaps the easiest way to find it is to hit the page here.

Discussion:
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Homer Simpson Syroco style statue from Dark Horse Comics


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

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