Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Playset

I'm back from a week long trip to San Francisco, ready to right up those reviews once again.  And first up is this terrific new playset from Playmates, the Treehouse of Horror.  Playmates continues to amaze me with the breadth of selection and the quality of toys they are producing for the Simpsons.

This set is a Toys R Us exclusive, out just in time for Halloween.  I wouldn't wait around too long to pick it up either, as I expect these to go very quickly.  Priced at $30, you get the playset along with four, count them four, characters - Bart as the Fly from "Fly vs. Fly" from THOH VIII, Homer from "King Homer" in THOH III, Burns as Dracula from "Bart Simpson's Dracula" in THOH IV, and Flanders as the Devil from "The Devil and Homer Simpson" in THOH IV.

Sculpting - ****
Once again, Playmates manages to capture these figures perfectly.  Since the only reuse here is Bart's body, it's also quite amazing that the price point was so reasonable.

Packaging - **1/2
Pretty basic stuff here, but at least the graphics of the four included figures are colorful and accurate.  This box is slightly thinner and taller than the regular playset boxes, so that all four characters can be plainly seen. It's fairly well constructed, although you have to destroy it to get the set out.

Accessories - ***
There are a couple accessories included.  Flanders has his ever present removable glasses, and a pitchfork.  There is also the small Krusty doll (as seen in the THOH III segment "Clown without Pity").  I'm not including the detachable trees, gateway or headstone - I count that as part of the playset itself.

Design - **1/2
I'll hit them up on the paper background as part of the quality, so I'll let that slide here.  They have moved the speaker from the bottom of the playset to the top, hidden behind one of the tombstones.  This was a great idea, since it allows the already clear voices to come through all that much better.  The gate, tombstones, and details on the playset are fantastic, and it contains even more references to other THOH episodes.  On the paper background you can see Marge as the witch from "Easy Bake Coven" in THOH VIII, the transformed Snowball II from Bart's Nightmare on THOH II, Kodos and Kang from several different episodes, a Zombie from "Dial Z for Zombie" from THOH III, and Burn's teeth in a jar from the same episode as the figure, "Bart Simpson's Dracula" from THOH IV.  On the playset itself, you see the aforementioned Krusty doll behind one tombstone, and the gremlin from "Nightmare at 51/2 Feet" from THOH IV.

There is one major design flaw here, however.  There is a very limited number of ways that the figures can be placed on the set.  Burns only works in the center, and Flanders works best to the right.  If you place him to the left, his foot covers up the button.  Homer doesn't fit well on any of the slots, due to both his size and the placement of the slot on his foot.  So you're pretty much stuck with Bart on the left, Burns in the middle and Flanders on the right with Homer off the set altogether.

Articulation - **1/2
The same four points for most of these figures that the others have had.  Homer has neck, shoulder and thighs, which adds an extra point to him.  The articulation is not the strong suit of these figures, but I can allow that due to the strong sculpts and excellent detail.

One other interesting point to note here - Burns does have the standard four points, neck, shoulders and waist, because they bothered to give him a lower body underneath the cloak.  If this had been Hasbro, we'd have gotten one solid chunk of plastic for a body.

Quality - ***
Overall the quality is very good.  They lost points on one count - the paper background is rather flimsy and likely to have problems.

Paint - ***1/2
The paint work is pretty consistent here, except you should watch around Homer's eyes.  The gray colors of Homer are a nice touch, since that is what he looked like in the episode (black and white).  The only down side is Flanders legs, which aren't brown but a dark red.  I'm not sure if they looked that way at some point in the episode, however.

Value - ****
Here's four figures, plus an excellent playset for thirty bucks.  On top of that, it's an exclusive, notorious for being more expensive.  So here's a fantastic value, and Playmates should be congratulated not only for producing such a wide variety of characters but for doing it at such a terrific price point.

Overall - ***1/2
Another excellent job by Playmates.  Although the playset isn't quite as perfect as say, the Kwik-E-Mart, it's still extremely good.  The mere idea that we've gotten figures of some of the best Treehouse of Horror figures, available at a large chain, and at a great price, is reason enough to give these guys great marks.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford

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