Freakables Series 1


The Japanese have too much money. Keep that thought, because we'll eventually return to it.

When I was a kid, way back in the 60's and 70's, there were lots and lots of kid's crap designed for us to collect. "Save the whales! Collect them, trade them with your friends!" was a popular bumper sticker. And one of the features of these 'collectibles' was that you didn't know what you were getting when you bought it, and so to get a complete set, you had to buy, buy again, and then buy some more. I bet my mom threw out enough Cap'n Crunch to solve the world's food crisis.

As a kid, this was great fun. It's the element of anticipation, followed by either the joy of victory or the agony of defeat, sort of the completist's version of the Olympics.

This was also great fun because it wasn't my money. There was always a mother, father, brother, sister, or handy grandparent to con into buying 'just one more'. If you think they don't let kid's gamble, then you've never watch one shoving quarters into the gumball machine, hoping to get the blue parachute guy this time.

Now that I'm an adult, I have a different feeling about this collectible crap shoot. No sir, I don't like it. I end up spending way too much, and I end up with way too many extras, mocking me for my addiction. And that brings us back to the Japanese.

See, they love this thing, even as adults. Just about all the mini-figures over in Japan come packaged so you can't see what you're getting, with special ultra rare chases and one in a billion figures that are designed to drive you insane. For example, in one batch of Star Wars Kubricks, the chase figure was...INDIANA JONES! The Marquis De Sade would have wept in admiration. And since the Japanese love having this done to them, I've concluded they have too much money. And should give some to me.

But what has that got to do with tonight's review? I've just blown through 300+ words, in a seemingly worthless diatribe against the evils of not-knowing-what-you're-buying marketing, and I'm usually so straight forward, and to the point. Ah, but it all has relevance you see! Tonight's review is on the latest release from Palisades, the Freakables. And yes, those evil minds decided to inflict the cruel torture of Russian Roulette collecting with this line.

The Freakables are small, PVC style figures, with one point of articulation each. They all tend to be a tad pudgy, and have something covering their face. The single point of articulation allows you to pull back the item blocking your view, and see one of three or four different faces, depending on the Freakable in question.

There are six basic Freakables in this first series: Meathead (3 variant faces), Scary Mary (3 variant faces), Deep Creep (3 variant heads), Stooperkid (4 variant heads), Suger Freak (4 variant heads), and Freaky Tiki (4 variant heads). That totals up to 21 figures available in the first set. Each comes in a small box with no window, but at least a name, so you know which of the six main characters you're getting. After that, it's up to the God's of plastic to get you the right ones...or if you're smart, you'll hook up with your fellow collectors to trade. There's a thread over at the Palisades message boards for this very topic. 

There are also two exclusives for the completists out there - one from Southern Island of FreakyTiki, and one of SugerFreak from upcoming Palisades Collector's Club sign up packs. If you're looking for a complete checklist, plus some photos of the unproduced heads, check out this nifty site

Retail on these is going to be anywhere from $6 to $8, and they are hitting various retailers now. I have some suggestions at the end of the review .

Packaging - ***1/2
I can only assume from looking at these boxes that the one blue crayon they had around the office is finally used up. Ouch! Hey, I joke, I joke! The fine graphic artists at Palisades have given us a nifty little box, with lots of color - none of it blue - and a very pleasing design. It fits the theme well, and although they originally had a box with a small window planned, I think this makes more sense. Even with the window, you wouldn't have been able to see the figures face due to the mask, so it wouldn't have removed my complaint about not knowing which one I was getting. And this way, they had more real estate to work with for color, text and graphics.

Sculpting - Stooperkid ****; Deep Creep, Suger Freak, Scary Mary, Freaky Tiki, ***1/2; Meathead ***
Out of this set of initial designs, my favorite basic figure is Deep Creep. I like the tight fit on the diving mask, and how it completely hides the face underneath. The use of the octopus over the mask is very cute, although I'm not sure how you dive while wearing a flotation device.

But he doesn't get the best sculpting score, because if you look across all face choices, he doesn't have quite the same level of nifty variety as Stooperkid. Of course, any form of superhero parody is bound to do well with the average toy buying crowd, and the design is appropriately silly.

ScaryMary is the goth chick of the bunch, and along with FreakyTiki and SugerFreak, falls in the middle of the pack. Personal tastes will drive which of these you find most appealing, but most collectors are going to like the entire set.

Ah, and then there is MeatHead. He looks nothing like Rob Reiner. What he does look like is a large ham. I suppose Rob Reiner was a bit of a ham as well, but nothing like this. This design freaks me out the most, and since the line is called Freakables, it must be the most successful in its purpose, if not my favorite.

Paint - ***1/2
The paint ops are excellent all around, similar to the better work we've seen from Palisades. There's lots of color, especially in the faces, and plenty of small detail work. While they are cartoony in nature, they still show a lot of attention to detail. There's good separation between the many colors, little to no bleed, and the difficult work, like eyes and teeth, is clean and neat.

Articulation - *
There's one point, depending on the figure. Most have a joint in the wrist or arm, but Deep Creep has it on his diving mask. The joints worked fine, and allow you to pretty easily move the masks back and forth, but you do have to be careful with a couple of them, as the joints are quite thin and easy to damage.

Accessories - *
Each figure comes with a small stand. The stands aren't necessary for most of the figures, but a couple - for me, it was Stooperkid and Freaky Tiki - have a tough time standing without them. There's nothing else, and I'm not sure what else you'd expect with this theme and design.

Fun Factor - ***1/2
Stick a pile of these next to a pile of Crittaz, Palisades other in-house developed property, and I'd grab these in a heartbeat. Then again, I thought the Garbage Pail Kids were funny. Kids will enough the gross factor, and will definitely enjoy trying to complete a set. Woe to the poor parents buying 50 of these things, and stepping on the extras in the middle of the night.

Value - **1/2
I'm assuming you're paying around seven bucks each for these, someplace in the middle of the anticipated $6 - $8 range. At six bucks, you might squeek out another half star here, but it would be close. Certainly at $5 you'd have a solid value, but since these aren't licensed (and since you'll probably have to buy a ton or trade a lot to get a set), the price is a tough one to take.

Still, other items that are nothing more than big PVC's are going in the $10 range, so I certainly can't complain too much with the current retailer situation.

Overall - ***
This is a nifty little idea that could very well catch on if given enough exposure. Of course, getting exposure is the tricky part these days, and I'm surprised a retailer like Hot Topic didn't go for these - they fit right in with their target audience. The same folks that pick up Living Dead Dolls could easily get caught up in buying these, and with a fairly low price point (relative to other stuff out there right now), they could be a big hit.

Everyone is sure to have their own favorite, but DeepCreep is mine. If I could only get one, it would be him, with SugarFreak and ScaryMary coming in second. I suspect a lot of superhero fans will like StooperKid, and I have no idea who will buy MeatHead. Then again, he certainly freaks me out.

Where to buy - 
Your best bet is on-line - it's unlikely you'll see these at any bricks and mortar locations, including your local comic shop. Options include:

- Southern Island has the whole first set of six for $40. They also have the exclusive FreakyTiki in stock.

- Killer Toys has them available individually for $6 each.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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