The set is an exclusive to Toys R Us
on-line. That's right, you won't find it at your local store, but have to
pick it up through Amazom.com.
Retail price is $40, similar to the other recent TRU exclusives, and they are
nice enough to have free shipping on this item. While the box clearly
calls this the 'Original Simpsons', the Amazon listing is for the 'Flashback'
play set, the original working name for the set.
Packaging - ****
This is the first - and very likely only time - I've ever given a Simpsons toy a
perfect packaging score. I'm being a little generous here, but I want to
highlight just how cool the box graphics and text are.
Both the front and back include photos of the
family members 'then and now'. The text on the back is great, although it
clearly avoided any direct mention of the Tracey Ullman show, presumable to
avoid licensing costs, but it still gives a nice interpretation of the origins.
It's not particularly collector friendly,
although there aren't any screws to remove. It's sturdy, and the one I
received from Amazon had no damage whatsoever in shipping.
Sculpting - ***1/2
I suspect some folks will have issues with the character sculpts, and I'll
point out where those may be. But for me, this set looks terrific!
The play set itself is very, very basic, far
more than you've come to expect. More basic than even sets like the DMV,
and certainly nothing like the elaborate Comic Book Shop or Kitchen.
That's not really the fault of the play set
designers though. The living room in that episode was very plain and
simple, and of course that meant they had to follow that design. They did
put in extras where they could though, along with the toy box, photos on the
walls, and basic surface details. One of the coolest aspects is the
'waviness' of the wall edges, intended to give the impression of the rougher
animation of the shorts.
Each of the figures has weak points, but overall
they managed to capture the essence of the original, goofy, ugly
characters. From Homer's pinhead to Lisa's wild spiky hair, they've got it
I've heard lots of people raving about the
Homer, but for me he's got the biggest issues. The sculpts on all of these
are completely new, but for Homer it's the least obvious. His angry head
sculpt has tons of personality, while the body is chunkier, with thicker arms
and legs. I really wish they'd gone with a more obvious body change, like
the blue suit you see in the 'then and now' photos. The white shirt is
just so common that it doesn't make him pop out from the pack as much as the
Marge is drastically different, with a heavier,
stockier body, and shorter, thicker hair. She has the same elongated face
as the rest of the family, and a great scowl, the perfect expression for how she
felt while pounding on 'homer'. Marge's sculpted pose is also designed
intentionally for her to be beating the crap out of the punching bag, just like
in the short.
Bart, Maggie and Lisa are also very, very
different. You might not notice it entirely until you see them side by
side with their modern counterparts, but then the changes become tremendously
distinct. Both have very different hair, the odd elongated faces, and radically
different bodies. The kid figures are all done in 'Database' scale - that
is, they are done in a smaller, much more appropriate scale to the adults.
Seeing them together makes you realize just how cool it would have been had we
gotten properly scaled modern versions all this time, rather than the oversized
An interesting trivia point about this set -
this is the first regular sized play set with two walls that requires
assembly. Main Street has two walls, but is much bigger than usual, and
all the other exclusives that have been packaged in pieces had only a single
While Homer isn't my favorite version of all
time, he certainly is exceptionally spiff, and the overall appearance of the set
makes it a Simpsons geek's dream.
There are some small, yellow, dots that are
actually separate sculpts from the floor along the back wall, on either side of
the toy box. There's much debate as to what these are, although both
marbles and packing peanuts from getting out the punching bag are possible
Paint - ***
The paint ops were solid, although with the rather basic play set there's less
of them. The walls and floor are nice and consistent, and the stickers
used for the photos and the doorway look great.
The paint work on the figures is good, although
there's still the occasional bleed and fuzziness between colors. The
whites of the eyes on a couple had marks or over spray, but the quality is
pretty consistent with the rest of the series.
My big complaint here is that Bart has his 'now'
colored red shirt, rather than his 'then' colored blue shirt. This was
probably the only chance that fans of a blue shirt Bart had of every getting an
Articulation - Maggie ***; the rest **1/2
There's a surprise in the articulation category! Wow, the first time
in the entire series that I've actually had anything interesting to say here!
And what's that? Well, it's not with Bart,
Homer, Marge or Lisa, since they have the same four points as always. But
Maggie makes a break from the pack here, or at least from all the previous
Maggies. They all just had neck articulation, but this time we actually
get all four points - neck, shoulders, and waist!
Accessories - ***
The accessories are a tad light here, especially at this price point.
I have no amazing suggestions for what else could have been included, but with
only the gloves, ball, mallet and punching bag, it feels lacking.
However, these items are all new, and the
punching bag stands out as an great addition to the set. Homer can hold
the mallet well, but I couldn't manage to get any of the kids to hold the big
ball. Marge's gloves are also removable and made of a soft rubber.
It's a little tougher to get them back on then it is to remove them, but it's
Talking Feature - ***1/2
The talking feature here is almost perfect. There's a good number of
lines, and they are all from the actual short!
Homer - "Act like a lady.", "Do
you hear that? The punching bag!", " Why you little!", "Get
out of the way, step aside boy.", "Let go Lisa!", "I can't
sleep with that racket.", "Go tell em to knock it off.", "I
said do it, now move it!"
Marge - "They're just playing Homer.",
"I like the punching bag sound. You go tell them if you don't like
it.", "Now play friendly, children."
Bart - "But, we don't want to play
friendly!", "Sorry Dad.", "But, you're a mere girl."
Lisa - "We want to play rough!",
"Yeesh, what a grouch." , "Your problem is your not
motivated.", "Come on Bart, you can punch better than that. Let me
Maggie - her usual sucking sound.
The default is the sound of hitting the punching
bag. The fact that all these lines come from the short is a huge plus.
But there is a negative. I had that old
problem here, where the figures had a tough time making contact and maintaining
contact with the pegs in the base. The talking feature is only as good as
how well the pegs and slots hook up, and here it wasn't perfect. Hopefully
that's not a consistent problem.
Value - ***
This set is a much better value than the Centennial
set, and even a slightly better value overall than the THOH4.
At $40 and free shipping, you're getting five figures, a full sized playset, and
a handful of great accessories. Maggie even has 4 points of articulation!
Overall - ***1/2
This set is for the serious Simpsons geek. Viewers who care little
about the history of the show and the roots of the characters are likely to be
put off by the odd designs and weird appearance, but for the diehard fan, this
set will be one of the favorites.
The major issues I had all related to the fact
that they didn't go far enough with the retro look. I wish we'd gotten a
Homer body design and a Bart pain scheme more similar to the 'then' pictures on
the box, but overall I'm extremely happy with the final product. I
couldn't even complain too much about the price!
Where to Buy -
This is a Toys R Us on-line exclusive, so Amazon.com
is your only place to pick it up!