Animal House Bluto

Sean Teeter has officially broken from his mold, moving beyond Star Wars reviews again tonight.  This time around it's an Animal House figure, a line I've been awfully tempted on myself...but not quite enough to fork up the bucks.  For me, this movie was a classic, a film that was released just as I was heading off to college.  I have fond memories of my toga parties...ah, those were the days.  Take it away, Sean!

“Mr. Blutarsky, zero point zero.” 

When a relatively well-liked film hits its 25th anniversary, you can be sure some specially packaged version of it will be hitting the shelves everywhere. Another possible side effect is the co-release of merchandise, be it clothing, books, or toys. That being said, National Lampoon’s Animal House has hit its special year, and Mezco has snagged the figure license. The first wave is currently out and features Flounder, D-Day, and Bluto –who I’ve reviewed today.

Packaging - ***
You won’t be finding many damaged packages, is all I have to say. Each figure comes on an industrial-sized clamshell card. The insert is nicely done and is in homage to the original cartoon artwork used for advertising the movie. The back has photo art for each figure currently available. 

This card is friggn’ huge! With chunky figures that clear nine inches, I think that a box might have been a better way to go with this line; it would also be more collector-friendly. 

Sculpting - ***
“Toga! Toga! Toga!” 
All the figures in this line are sculpted as caricatures of the character from the movie. Bluto works pretty well. He’s not quite John Belushi, but there’s enough detail present to suggest it. The face is very nicely done from the arched eyebrow, to the prominent chin, to the pockmarks on his cheeks. The nose seems a little off and the wrinkles around the eyes make his look a little older that he’s supposed to be, but they’re small complaints. The rest of the figure is a little plain. There’re some nice creases in his shorts and sweatshirt, but nothing to really write the farm about.

The hands are a bit of a sore spot with me. Bluto can only hold things with his left hand and the grip style isn’t the greatest. The fingers only really hold objects at the top then slope away down the side. The right hand is permanently pointing, which is okay for some poses but looks awkward with others.

Paint - **1/2
Judging by the other figures I saw in the store, the paint ops are really hit and miss in this line. There wasn’t a single figure without bleeding to one degree or another. I tried to pick the best Bluto, and he still has problems.

The socks, bottom of the sweatshirt, and hair line all bleed quite noticeably onto the skin color. The shirt lapel hanging out over the sweatshirt’s collar also bleeds. 

On the good side however, there’s some nice detail with the shorts’ pattern and Bluto’s five o’clock shadow. The hazy, reddened, inebriated eyes also look really good. Look around before buying, that’s all I’m going to say. 

On a side note, you might notice that Bluto’s sweatshirt is the wrong color. It appears black in the movie; instead Mezco has given it a green color. I don’t think it really makes any impact good or bad.

Articulation - **1/2
Bluto has six points of articulation: neck, shoulders, waist, and forearms. All of these joints feel a little loose, except for the neck. The shoulders are very limited ball-joints. If you try to force them too far, the arms pop off. The forearm cuts are okay and allow for some poseability, but don’t add too much for variation. 
From the waist down, Bluto is a statue. Well, let’s be honest here, Bluto basically is a statue with limited articulation. This is the kind of figure that sits on you shelf, computer monitor, or above the mantle in a frat house. It ain’t meant to be played with.

Accessories - **
Bluto comes with three accessories: a beer bottle, a “Black Samuel’s” whiskey bottle, and a clear goblet filled with spilling beer.

The goblet and beer bottle fit well in his right hand, but you’ll have to work the whiskey bottle a bit. While I think the spill sculpt for the beer goblet is a good idea in concept, the actual execution of it doesn’t work that well. There are only a few positions Bluto can hold it in, and none of them look quite right. I think a less extreme angle on the spill would have worked, or even interchangeable inserts for the glass: one neutral, one spilling. For the average price being charged, I think Mezco could have accommodated this idea. 

The two bottles are both hunks of semi-opaque plastic with stickers on them. The Jack Daniel’s knock-off label is pretty good: “Black Samuel’s Lunch Time Old No. 6 Brand, Quality Delta Sour Mash Whiskey”. Overall it just seems that there could be a few more accessories included in this lot. The three there just aren’t enough for this price tag and aren’t of the greatest quality. A few beer cans, a cloth Toga, a keg, or a couple of pencils that could stick up Bluto’s nose could have helped.

Quality/Durability - **
I’m kind of disappointed in this figure. He feels kind of flimsy for his size, but no one ever accused vinyl Rotocast figures of being overly hefty. His joints are pretty poorly executed as well, especially the shoulders. I love ball-joints, but these are pretty hard to move without pulling the whole arm out of the socket. The forearm joints are pretty loose and feel kind of fragile.

Value - *1/2
This figure is not worth the $15 price tag I paid for it. Unfortunately, you can’t really find any of the Animal House figures for less right now, off or online. Your best bet would be to troll Ebay. I think a $9.99 price would still be high, but I can’t really see these going for less in stores. More accessories and better overall quality could have really improved this score. Entertainment Earth has the set of three for $49.99. has them at $14.99 each.

Overall - **1/2
This is a hard score for me to give. Not only am I a big fan of John Belushi, as well as the Animal House movie, but my Alma Mata also just happens to be the University of Oregon, where it was filmed. While I have my issues about the figure itself, I think the bitterest pill to swallow is the hefty price attached. This is not a $15 figure. I don’t think it’s even a $10 figure, but I would have been much happier paying that price. 
Technically, Bluto’s closer to being a two-star figure, but shortcomings aside, he does display pretty well. He is basically a semi-poseable statue and in that role he works well enough to get a half-star bump. However at this price there is no way I can raise him up any further. 

In the end, as with any figure, it all depends on how badly you want Bluto and all his “sick Delta buddies” to adorn your shelf. I like the way Mezco has sculpted the ones I’ve seen –and I want to see more—but something’s seriously got to be done about the cost. I also hope Mezco doesn’t limit production solely to Delta house. I’d love to see the cheerleaders Babs and Mandy. : ) 

Figures from the collection of Coheteboy.

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