Monsters, Inc.

Another guest review!  Either there are lots of great reviewers out there, or I'm getting lazy.  And since I'm not getting lazy - I've been lazy my entire life - it must be that first one!  phalen returns today, with Monsters, Inc.!

Greetings! I didn't introduce myself last time (left that to Michael) so I guess I am overdue... my name is phalen180 and I'm a toyaholic.

*hehe* OK, OK. Anyways, some of you might know me as the webmaster and tech admin over at Simpsons Collector Sector. If you're into the World of Springfield line, or any collectibles of Our Favorite Family, and you haven't already visited, drop on by - we're always glad to welcome new members. Michael is also a moderator over there so if you come by you'll have a chance to chat with him, too. Thanks for letting me do some reviews, Michael!

On to the review...

A few months ago while waiting for our movie to start, my girlfriend and I saw the trailer for Monsters, Inc. Since my girlfriend's nickname is "monster", needless to say we were very excited. What better than a movie about cartoon monsters from the folks who gave us Toy Story (1 and 2) and A Bug's Life? Raaaaaarrrr!

Master toymakers Hasbro got the license to make toys fashioned after the film, and toys have started trickling out the past few weeks (middle of September). Some of the first things I've seen are PVC 6-character sets (very nice, but not so exciting without knowing all the back story behind them) and a large-scale talking Mike Wazowski (one-eyed green monster).

Last Monday, though, was the day for toys. Not only did I find Shmi and Luke X-Wing Star Wars waves - I also found that my local K-Mart had finally put out the 6" scale Monsters, Inc. figures.

A total of six figures have been produced so far in this scale: Mike Wazowski (green eyeball), Frungus and Ray (I'm assuming that Ray is the red one); George Sanderson (orange one-horned guy); C.D.A. Agent (yellow-suited guy); Randall Boggs (purple lizard); Waternoose (gray spider) and Sulley (large blue hairy monster).

I picked up all but George Sanderson and the C.D.A. Agent, so I'll be reviewing the three pack, Randall, Waternoose and Sulley.

Packaging - ***
Extremely basic modern packaging, nothing particularly imaginative or unique, but certainly adequate. The cards feature images of the figure attached and a description of the special features that each has.

Sculpting - ***
I love the sculpting on the Waternoose (spider) and Randall Boggs (lizard) figures and the sculpting on the Sulley figure is pretty good too; however, I'm pretty disappointed that one of the two main characters, Mike Wazowski (eyeball) got such a lackluster treatment. Why is his clipboard permanently attached to his hand? What is up with that? And the grin is just too goofy...

The expressions and textures on the Boggs and Waternoose figures are definitely top notch, and I'd give them ****1/2 and **** stars rated individually. I can't wait to see these characters in action in the movie!

Paint - ***
Nothing spectacular here on paint jobs, but all good quality. Since these are cartoon characters, the coloration and sculpting are pretty basic and clean-looking, which I like. Paint on Sulley is the most detailed with lines on the horns and bright pink spots blended into his molded blue fur. Horns and fingernails on Mike are a bit sloppy - check your figure carefully before buying (I never ever remember to do that *sigh*).

Articulation - **1/2
Here's a rundown of the points of articulation for each figure:

Randall Boggs - 9 points: 4 arms, 4 legs and tail
Mike Wazowski - 4 points: arms and legs
Frungus - 2 points: arms
Ray - 4 points: arms and legs
Waternoose - 2 points: arms
Sulley - 8 points: ball-socket arms, elbows, hands, left leg, tail

There's a lot of variation between the different figures, as you can see. The major disappointment on articulation is that Sulley's head and Fungrus tentacle base APPEAR to be articulated but no matter what you do, they're not going to move. Either that or I have defective figures.

Accessories - *1/2
Unless you count the three-pack of assistants (Mike, Frungus and Ray) no one comes with any accessories.

So what did they do? The three-pack has 2 non-talking "accessory" figures and each of the three characters is holding a clipboard.

I sense that someone from PlayMates got angry when he was told that he couldn't give any more Simpsons figures clipboards and went to work for Hasbro on this project. *sigh* And you can't remove them! The clipboards and the other stuff attached to the assistants (hardhats, glasses, etc) are all molded or glued on.

** for throwing in extra figures. - 1/2 for the attached accessories.

Special Features - ***
Here's a list of each figure's special features. For purposes of this list, Frungus and Ray won't be considered:

Randall Boggs (lizard) - push on either of his eyes and his belly lights up and he says phrases (presumably from the movie). He is sculpted from a semi-translucent purple plastic that allows the color of the light inside his belly to be visible. There are two different lights. Score for Randall: *** - I like the voice clips but without seeing the movie I can only guess what's going on with the lights. The translucent body is neat, but the lights don't really light it up over more than a very small portion and so their effectiveness isn't great.

Mike Wazowski (eyeball) - push on a peg on his back and his eye flips (different sized irises) and he says phrases from the movie. Can someone say triclops? This bit is ancient and the rotating eye doesn't do anything for me. I'd rather have no eye-ball movement and not have a big stick coming out of his back. That and the ball isn't aligned very well so he has more than one eye sometimes. Score for Mike: **

Waternoose (spider) - push him down and make his legs extend (very easy to do) and he'll pause for a second and then growl as he "jumps" up to his normal position. He only jumps about 3/8" or 1/2" up from his normal position, but this is the best "special feature" of the whole bunch. My girlfriend and I are going to play with him for HOURS, I guarantee it. You can also push on his bowtie to hear phrases from the movie. Score for Waternoose: ****

Sulley (hairy monster) - squeeze his right leg towards his left leg and he raises his arms and growls "Gluarghargh! How was that?". Very cute. Also, you can push on a ridge on his back and he'll say phrases from the movie. My only concern is that I can't tell if they are actually using John Goodman (who does the voice of Sulley in the movie) dialogue for the figure or not. I HATE it when some toy developer's voice is used and dialogue is rerecorded. My doubts lower this figure's rating from *** 1/2 to ***. I think kids will love the scaring-action arms, though!

Overall, Mike (eyeball) is the only figure that really drops this line below average. Every other toy that I picked up has a cool special feature. Considering how heavily Disney/Pixar is marketing on this one-eyed character, I really expected a better 6" scale toy likeness.

Value - **1/2
At $9.99 a pop from K-Mart (where I purchased the toys) they're not a particularly great value. I expect that they will come down in price once the movie has been released, most likely when they hit Target stores. Watch out for sales on these, as I think they'd be a super value at anything near the $8 mark.

Overall - ***
Hovering between ** 1/2 and *** scores, I'm going with ***. For one, the phrases are funny. Secondly, though I'm very disappointed with the Mike W. (eyeball) figure, it does look good and play well with the other figures. Bottom line for these toys for me -- really fun to play with. Bottom line for anyone who isn't already excited about the movie -- keep an eye (ba-da-bing!) out for them once you've seen the movie and give 'em a shot if you enjoyed it.

Where to Buy
I purchased my figures at the local K-Mart. I expect that every major toy retailer will be carrying these within the next few weeks.

Figure from the collection of phalen180

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