Packaging - ***1/2
This packaging gets high marks for several reasons. First, by giving us
both single carded figures and boxed sets, they give completists a chance to
pick up the whole set at a slightly cheaper price. Folks who only want a
couple of the figures can buy them single carded and get just what they
want. It's the best of both worlds!
The boxes are also attractive and collector
friendly for the most part, although some of the objects are sealed to the
back. The boxes are nice and easy to store too, for those collectors who
like things to stay MIB.
Sculpting - ***1/2
The first set of Peanuts figures - Good Ole
Charlie Brown - were released by Playing Mantis just slightly over a year
ago. I hit them up harder that time around, and one of the areas I was a
little disappointed in was sculpting. I'm happy to say they've made some
The head sculpts are still very similar to the
originals. They do a great job capturing the look of the cartoon, although
if you disliked the scale before you'll still be unhappy about it. These
are certainly larger figures than most people expect.
The body sculpts have changed drastically.
This is largely due to the addition of several points of articulation, a
challenge I didn't think they'd be able to meet. More on that in a minute,
but the changes to articulation mean that the overall appearance of the body was
Another area of improvement is the hand
sculpts. Every character has unique hands, designed to hold their
accessories. That's a huge improvement, especially with figures that have
some pretty nifty accessories. There's a sharpness to the hand and finger
definition that wasn't there previously, and they really look much more like
hands than paws.
Paint - ***
This is still an area where they can use some work, although it's a big
improvement over the older series.
The paint application on the faces is solid,
with good expressions and clean lines. These have variant expressions,
just like all the previous series, and this time they include a 'singing'
expression for each one along with smiling. Those are the two I've seen so
far, but I'm betting there may be others as well.
Pig Pen uses paint to imply his dirty exterior,
and they've pulled this off nicely again. Add the paint smudges in with
his wild hair, and you know exactly who this is supposed to be.
The paint is much cleaner and less gloppy on the
hands as well. The lines on the clothes, although not highly detailed, are
fairly good and consistent. It's still not perfect, and there are some
issues with bleed between some of the tougher colors like black, white and
yellow. But overall it's a big improvement.
Articulation - Schroeder ***, Others
Wow, what a major change! They've added several points of articulation and
completely redesigned the waist and legs!
Each figure has neck, wrists, cut angle elbows,
waist, and split legs. The waist joint turns left and right, and the legs
can tilt forward and back together or independently. The range of motion
varies between figures and is dependent on the sculpt. For the boys, who
have pants, the legs move less, but for both Lucy and Sally the new joint works
The new arm articulation is a great addition as
well. The old figures had one joint on the arms, midway at the
sleeve. These have an angled elbow joint that give the arms a much greater
range of motion, and in conjunction with the wrist joint really adds to the
poseability. Again, depending on the sculpt they work better or worse, but
it's clear that Playing Mantis is really trying to step it up.
Schroeder is the odd man out, because he's
sitting down as usual. He has the new cut angle elbows, shoulders, neck
and wrists, so that he can take a perfect pose playing his piano, but his lower
body articulation is still non-existent.
Accessories - ****
Playing Mantis has done a nice job with the accessories for every series,
but they really went all out on this set.
Charlie Brown comes with the most show-crucial
accessories. He comes with his trademark hat, and both versions of his
Christmas tree - pathetic and rejuvenated. The best part is that the sad
tree fits perfectly inside the beautiful tree, and even one of the bulbs on the
sad tree becomes a bulb on the pretty version.
Linus comes with his stocking cap, blanket
(reused from the baseball version) sculpted to fling a snowball, and a snowball
to fit right inside.
Lucy comes with her psychiatric booth, stool and
donation can. This time the can is sculpted to fit inside her hand
perfectly. The booth is covered with snow, and the words are different
than the previous version, matching the show. It's a little smaller than
the first version, but is made from slightly heavier plastic.
Schroeder comes with his piano, just as you'd
expect. Only this time, the piano plays a line and short piece of music
from the episode!
Sally comes with her letter to Santa, the
mailbox she had a little trouble reaching, and a big pile of snowballs.
Pig Pen comes with what really amounts to
another figure - his dirty snowman. It's a heavy, solid piece of plastic,
and looks dead on to the show.
And every character comes with a snow base that
can be set next to the other bases to make a larger display. I don't use
these bases, because I don't have enough room for them, but they are a nice
Value - ***
At about $7 each these are a decent value, especially with the added
articulation. I hope they continue to improve on the paint ops, but the
style, articulation and accessories really are quite good at this point.
Overall - ***1/2
It is so rare to see a company improve a line during it's life.
Usually what you get with the first series is what you get with the last,
whether there's only a couple waves or a dozen. Playing Mantis is going
out of their way to improve the few problems with this series, and you have to
be impressed by that.
The only issues this time around were some small
problems I had with paint ops. Otherwise, these are about as good as you
could get for Peanuts figures. Even though the style of the characters
means articulation is difficult, they've managed to get creative and come up
with inventive ways to make good toys great.
Where to Buy -
I picked these up at K-mart, where they also had the entire Mickey's Christmas
Carol line in, and the new Rudolph figures. Reviews of those will be
coming soon as well. On-line:
and Space Toys is your best bet for all things Peanuts. Not only do
they have a great deal for all six of these figures for just $50 right now, they
also have the Snoopy playset that goes with them for $24. They also hav
all the Great Pumpkin figures and play sets, including the new Lucy's Party
set. Just click on the Peanuts button in the button bar on the left!
- Beans Toys
has the set of six still up for pre-order for only $42 plus shipping, an