Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

Playing Mantis (under their Memory Lane division) produced one of the best lines of 2000 in their Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer line.  Also known under the title of the show, The Island of Misfit Toys, these figures were the hit of Christmas that year.

Last year, they released the same figures again, with promises of new figures and sets this year.

They kept their promise, and this year we get six new figures - Cheif Elf, Skinny Santa, Young Buck Rudolph, Comet, Mrs. Claus, and Charlie in the Box.  Along with these figures, they have re-released the Hermey, Rudolph and Yukon Cornelius.

The figures retail for about $6, and are showing up at K-mart first.  They will be hitting Target and Toys R Us as well, along with other regional retailers.

For a look at the previous figures, check out my old review.

Packaging - ***1/2
This score depends on which sets you buy - the single carded figures, or the three packs.  While both are attractive, I'm giving Playing Mantis the extra points here simply for offering the boxed versions.

They did this in previous years, and with the Peanuts lines, and it's a great way for the completists to pick up the whole set at a reduced cost.  Excellent idea!  They also only packed the new six figures in the boxed sets, matching up with the consumer demand.

Sculpting - ***1/2
Again, Playing Mantis shows what they can do when they set their minds to it.  These sculpts are more detailed and complex than the Peanuts line, and while the claymation wasn't all that complex, the details that were there are all included.  Areas like Santa's beard, the Chief Elf's costume, or the bodies of the reindeer all have the appropriate level of sculpt detail.

Paint - **
The paint ops on this set isn't as nice as the previous years.  I've heard that PM is aware of the issue and took steps to resolve it, making sure that later shipments were improved.

I had to be very particular picking out my set to avoid rub marks, very sloppy lines, or spot completely missing paint.  The problems were on both the figures and the accessories, so be very careful if you are buying from the early assortments.

Articulation - ***
PM has done an great job again giving most of these figures all the articulation they need.

Young Buck Rudolph and Comet have joints at the top of all four legs and the neck.  The leg sculpts were done to give the figures a nice, walking appearance, and the sculpt works with the level of articulation.

Skinny Santa has neck, shoulders, cut elbows, wrists, and hips, while Mrs. Claus has neck, shoulders, wrists and ankles.

Chief Elf has neck, shoulders, wrists, ankles and the same interesting slit leg joint that Hermey had.  It allows for a wide range of motion, and a lot more positions than you'd expect.  His nose also turns, although that doesn't actually do much for changing his look.

Charlie is the odd ball, as he has bendy arms, and is attached to the inside of the box with a spring.  That means he bounces around, looking as if he just popped up.

Accessories - ***1/2
Each figure comes with a two or three sensible, well designed accessories.

Santa has a set of jingle bells, which he can easily hold, and a 'baby' Rudolph.  Baby Rudolph has the same articulation as the big version, and he looks terrific.  His hat is removable of course.

Mrs. Claus (what is her first name?)  comes with a mixing bowl and spoon, and the misfit flying fish with a big fishbowl.  The design on the misfit fish is really terrific, allowing you to pose him on the top edge of the bowl just like in the show.

Charlie in the Box is the lightest, as he only has the misfit plane.  However, the plane was designed to stand, displaying his face on the underside.

The Chief Elf is well outfited, with his baton/pointer, paint brush, paint jar, toy wagon, and train blueprints.  His hat is also removable.

Comet has his coach's whistle, along with the misfit boat.  His baseball cap is also removable.

Teen years Rudolph only comes with the misfit jelly squirt gun, but he has the light up feature similar to the original.  Push down on his tail, and his nose lights up.  Mine works alright, although you have to mess with it a bit.  The original version did work slightly better, requiring a simple touch.

Value - ****
In the boxed sets, these figures are only $5 each, which is a great price for a well sculpted, nicely articulated figure with some terrific accessories.  Even at the carded price of $6 each, they are still a pretty good deal.

Overall - ***1/2
The only disappointment with this set was the poor paint application, and if you're careful you should be able to find ones that don't have the problem.  Also, I'm glad to hear PM has recognized the issue and have supposedly resolved it with future shipments. 

I'll be reviewing the deluxe King Racer and Dog Sled set soon as well.  This is one of the best seasonal lines ever produced!

Where to Buy - 
They are hitting most K-marts already, where the carded figures are $6 and the deluxe figures are $10.  I've also found them at Kohl's, where they had the boxed sets for $15 and the deluxe figures for $9.  Both Target and Toys R Us should be getting them in soon.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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