Simpsons Die Cast Series 1 & 2

Rocket USA, purveyors of all things metal, showed two sets of die cast Simpsons figures last year at Toy Fair.  Following the style of the earlier Futurama sets (Set 1 and Set 2), they seemed to be well received, at least by the collectors.

Then came months of vendor issues.  There appeared to be insufficient vendor interest, so they shopped them around as an exclusive.  At one point, they were very close to becoming an Electronics Boutique exclusive, but then management and direction changed there, shifting away from toys, and it was back to the drawing board.

Finally, these have been released in a very limited manner as a Diamond exclusive.  That means comic shops will have them, but not many other retailers.

The rumor is also that the numbers produced are quite low, perhaps as low as 1600 sets.  With those kind of limited numbers, these may be a bit tough to find, although their price point will keep all but the serious Simpsons fan away.

There are a total of eight figures in the two series.  Series 1 contains Lisa, Maggie, Marge and Homer.  Series 2 contains Bart, a 'ripped' Willie, a 'dejected' Krusty, and Grampa.

There's also a 'family pack' at Media Play stores.  This one includes the five family members, and also sells for $25.

Rumor has it there is a third set in the planning stages for the 7 Duffs!

Packaging - ***
The graphics and details on both boxes are quite good.  The long boxes have a top flap that opens to display the four figures.  The packaging is also collector friendly, which means that you can open it up, take them out, and put them back again later if you'd like.

My only complaint is that the cardboard used is fairly thin, and isn't likely to stand up to shelf wear very well.

Sculpting - ***
This varies greatly across the six figures.  The sculpt on both the Willie and Krusty figures is great, and considering how much collectors and fans of the show love these sides of the characters, I'd expect them to be very popular.  In that same set, the Grampa sculpt is decent, although pretty predictable, and the Bart sculpt is perhaps the worst of all eight.  They've missed something here - perhaps his head appears to tall because the spikes of his hair don't quite work.  In any case, he doesn't quite look like the Bart you've come to know and love.

In the other set we get four of the five family members.  Homer and Marge are decent sculpts, although neither pose is particularly exciting.  Lisa is nice, but the winner of the set, at least for me, is Maggie.  It's a great design, and one of my favorite small Maggies in my collection.

Paint - ***1/2
For such small figures, the paint ops are quite good.  The lines are all neat, and the colors consistent and clean, right down to Willie's nipples.  I'm particularly impressed by how thick the application is, able to stand up to wear better than expected.

Value - **
Here's where they take a hit.  The Futurama sets ran about $10 for every two, which was steep to begin with.  But at $25 for four, that's over six bucks each.  I can get a very nice action figure these days at that price point.

Of course, the family pack of the five family members at Media Play is a far better deal, but you miss out on Willie and Krusty, two of teh best in the entire series.

Overall - ***
The sculpting is a bit of a mixed bag, but the paint ops are excellent and the overall quality is quite high.  The price point hurts them a bit, but for the major Simpsons fan, these are great items. 

Where to Buy - 
I haven't seen them yet at any local stores, although most comic shops had the opportunity to order them through Diamond.  On-line:

- I picked mine up through Entertainment Earth, where they are $25 a set plus shipping.  As that's the suggested retail, I suspect that's the price most places will carry them at.

- JGP Toys has them as well, and if you buy both sets they are only $46.  I've always gotten great service from Grant!

Figure from the collection of Ryan Bradshaw.

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