Island of Misfit Toys
Casual Santa, Girl Elf, Boy Elf, and Tall Elf

It's been three years since the first release of the Island of Misfit Toys.  Playing Mantis has released a handful of new figures each Christmas since, thrown in with re-releases of previous years.

This year there are four new single carded figures - Casual Santa, the Tall Elf, the Girl Elf and the Boy Elf.  I picked up all four at a local K-mart, which is the first retailer to get them again.  The Sam Goody family has also gotten them since, which includes Media Play.

K-mart was charging about $6 each, a good price.  If you can find the three packs, you might get the figures a little cheaper, but I'm not sure which sets of three they'll have packed together.

There's also a few new figures in other sets.  There's the Cave set with Rudolph's mom and dad, and there's a deluxe humble Bumble and tree, scaled to work with these figures.

Other deluxe figures includ a Santa, and the terrific Charlie in the Box I reviewed a couple weeks ago.

Packaging - ***
The card art and text are average on these, so while they stand out on the shelf they aren't anything spectacular.  The bubble shape makes storing them a bit of a problem, but the opener isn't going to mind..

Sculpting - Boy Elf ***1/2, Casual Santa, Girl Elf, Tall Elf
The character designs on the show weren't complex.  Neither are these figures, but they capture the look of the show perfectly.  

The head sculpts all have appropriate expressions, although that's due more to the paint work than the sculpting.  The scale of each figure in relation to the others is fairly good, although it's never quite perfect.  

Casual Santa is the stand out in this new set of four, and his sculpt is really based on the skinny version, but with more articulation and better accessories.

So why does the Boy Elf get a better score than the other three?  It's the use of bendy arms.  They actually score better with those arms later in the articulation section, but I wanted to point out here that the rubbery arms means less detail in the sculpts.  In particular, the girl and tall elf arms are far less detailed than the Boy Elf, and although they are technically more articulated, I prefer the sculpting on the Boy Elf.

Paint - **1/2
Paint ops continue to be a little tricky for Playing Mantis.  They seemed pretty hit and miss here, with some figures looking great and others having real issues.

One of the big issues was paint bleed or poor definition between lines, especially with the flesh tone.  The white of Santa's beard and the yellow of the Girl Elf's hair showed pretty consistent problems bleeding into the faces.

But if you're particularly picky, you should be able to find some decent examples of each of the figures with a little hunting.  Just be sure you're checking the figure closely on the pegs before hitting the register.

Articulation - Santa ***1/2;  Girl Elf, Tall Elf ***; Boy Elf **1/2
The articulation varies across the line, but the Tall Elf, Girl Elf and Santa have bendy arms this time around.

Santa is the most articulated, designed to sit in the included throne.  He has neck, bendy arms, wrists, hips, knees and ankles (at the boot top).  He can sit quite well, but I'm not thrilled with the bendy arms.

The Tall Elf and Girl Elf are in the middle, both with neck, bendy arms, wrists, waist, hips and boot tops.  They use the ball pelvis joint we've seen on past figures (and in other lines like The Year Without Santa Claus), and this works better on the girl than on mister pituitary problem.  His outer coat tends to restrict the range of motion of the legs.

The Boy Elf gets the lowest score, but I actually prefer his arms.  I've already given him a bit of a boost in the sculpting section because of that, but since this is the articulation category, he ends up with the lower score.  He does have neck, shoulder, wrists, waist, hips and boot tops.  Similar to his giraffe-like cousin, the outer coat really restricts the usefulness of the hip (split pelvis) joint.

Accessories - Santa, Boy Elf ****; Girl Elf, Tall Elf ***1/2
This is definitely a category that you can't complain too loudly about.  Everybody comes with a fair share of goodies, and all make great sense.

The Boy Elf has his glasses and hat, umbrella, hammer and misfit caboose.  The Girl Elf comes with her hat, misfit train car (with square wheels), pliers and saw.  Her car also attaches to the Boy Elf's caboose.  And I think the Boy Elf is interested in her caboose as well.

Santa has his throne, which he sits in nice and tightly.  He also has the neat clown toy that opens up to reveal the little wind up mouse.

The Tall Elf comes with a handful of packages, and a sprig of three leaf clover.  Oh, and we can't forget his hat and glasses as well.  Both he and the Boy Elf look great in the hat and glasses, but are butt ugly without them. It's definitely in their best interest to wear a hat..

Value - ***1/2
Six bucks is a very good price, especially with the cool accessories.  In a market where everything is $6.99 and more, it's good to see a few lines still keeping their prices reasonable.

Overall - Santa ***1/2; Tall Elf, Girl Elf, Boy Elf ***
If you're a big fan of the show, you'll really enjoy these figures.  They won't be everyone's thang, but they hit the market they're aiming for extremely well.  The bendy arms are a bit of a disappointment for me, but I know that Playing Mantis is working hard to find creative ways to add extra articulation, just as they did with the new series of Charlie Brown Christmas figures, so they get points for trying.  And let's not forget that the price point is pretty good too.

Where to Buy - 
I picked them up at K-mart, and have seen them at Media Play. On-line:

- Time and Space Toys is the place for all the Playing Mantis Rudolph toys and playsets, and they also have the Enesco ornaments and other items in stock!

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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