Odyssey Toys World Stars

The folks from Odyssey Toys recently contacted me to see if I would be interested in reviewing their new little figures, based on a wide variety of periods of history.  Never one to pass up cool toys, I said of course!

I was also particularly intrigued, since many of the figures were based on western characters, and you all know my affinity for western figures.  So I sat back and waited for a package as patiently as possible.

They sent over three figures - an Astronaut, Abraham Lincoln, and Buffalo Bill.  This gives you a feel for the wide variety of historical periods covered by the figures.

There are already over three dozen figures in a variety of themes - World Leaders like King Tut or Henry the VIII; Explorers like Amelia Earhart or Leif Eriksson; Western figures including Native Americans; and several more.

But the best part are the 'scapes' playsets.  I didn't get any with the figures to review, but from the pictures these look really cool.

The basic idea is to have a small, triangular base (think slice of pizza) with a background.  Both the base and the background are made of wood with stickers applied, and both pieces are also reversible so that you get two scenes with each set.  On top of all that, the scenes connect, so you can build a huge lunar station or even recreate the town of Plymouth!

The figures themselves are about 4" tall, with sculpted heads, solid torsos, bendy arms and legs, and cloth outfits.  Each retails for about $8.

Packaging - ***1/2
Each figure comes in a small plastic tube like container.  They look great together, and are very eye catching.  Each has a character specific background, and on the reverse of this background is a short biography.  The base of the package has a wood block inside, so they are very stable, and would even work for the collector to display!  Of course, these are really made for kids, but it's nice to see such a great job on the packaging done with kids in mind.

Sculpting - ***
The head sculpts are fairly generic, although you won't have too much trouble recognizing most of the characters.  The eyes and nose are done in a very similar style to give the overall line a particular feel, and it works well.

The hands are sculpted to hold accessories where possible, although most of the accessories come with the 'scapes'.

Paint - ***
All the facial paint ops are nicely done, although not overly detailed. There's a little fuzziness on some of the lines, particularly around the astronaut's boots, but overall I was impressed by the quality for a child's action figure.

Articulation - ***1/2
Okay, this is a weird category to score, since the articulation isn't handled in the usual action figure manner.  Instead, the arms and legs are made of bendy material.

This actually works extremely well here - I don't know if it's the use of thin limbs, or a higher quality material, but it's very easy to bend them in many positions and get them to hold those positions.

Also, the large oversized feet means they can stand extremely well on their own, even with the bendy legs.  Some action figure folks won't like the style, but kids should absolutely love it.

Accessories - ***
Each figure came with something - Lincoln and Bill had their removable hats, and the Astronaut had both the EV pack and helmet.

The quality on the hats was excellent, and they fit nicely on the head and look terrific.  They were fairly solid plastic, which makes all the difference.

The Astronaut helmet wasn't quite as nice, but the backpack is great.  Okay, he's not the Dragon Buck figure, but he's pretty damn cute nonetheless.

The pack has great graphics, fits easily on the back with velcro, and even has a big pocket right on the back with an elastic top!

Outfit - ***1/2
The Astronaut came out on top again in the outfit category, but they were all very well done.

He has terrific graphic detail an stitching, and there's even a great little NASA patch. He even has little elastic tubes running from the front of the suit!

The quality of the other two outfits is very high as well, with excellent stitching and material all around.  the fringe and edge decoration on Buffalo Bill and the wide selection of materials used on Lincoln show the level of quality that Odyssey is going for.

The only nit I could pick on any of the three outfits were the spurs on Bill.  They are made of material, easy to tear off, and don't really look right.

Play Value - ****
Here's the single most important category in a toy like this - just how much fun can a kid really have.  Get a few of these figures together with some of the Scapes, and I bet you'll see hours of activity.

These have fun written all over them! Actually, they have the name of each character written on the bottom of their foot, but use a little imagination, and I think you can see the possibilities. 

Value - **1/2
Ouch.  The one category where these take a hit.  At a SRP of around $8, these are about $2-$3 too much.  Kids are going to have a tough time convincing Mom or Dad to buy 20 or 30 of these at that price point.  Beanies did well because of the five buck price point - it didn't seem quite so bad to parents to spend at one time.  Eight bucks means they have to break a ten, and that's a harder sell.

Perhaps if these were picked up by one of the major retailers, they price would drop.  For now, you'll have to shop at the specialty toy stores to find them.

Overall - ***1/2
I'm very impressed by these cute little buggers.  Combined with the Scapes, there's tons of play opportunity, plus kids will end up learning about historical characters.  There's nothing like slipping a little learning in with the fun.

I can see adults getting hooked on them too if they aren't careful.  Getting the price point down a bit has got to be Odyssey's number one priority if they want these to really take off however.

Where to Buy - 
You should try the specialty toy stores, like Zany Brainy or White Rabbit.  I have yet to see these at the bigger retailers like Toys R Us or Target.  Expect to pay about $8 each for the figures.  Odyssey suggested the following on-line sources:

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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