The Incredibles
Disney Store Exclusives

The Incredibles opened to huge box office last week, and I was one of the folks in line to see the film. I wrote it up last weekend, but will say here that it was a great James Bond movie, and could become my favorite Pixar film once I've had a chance to see it again on DVD.

We've gotten a decent share of toys, although it hasn't been the huge influx we've seen with some past films. I haven't seen a single Incredibles figure at our local Wal-mart, and Target only has a few pegs. Toys R Us seems to be the store that's backed it strongest, and in our area, Meijers has a decent number of figures.

I previously reviewed both the deluxe line and the basic line from Hasbro, along with the large rotocast figures, but heard nothing but praise about a series of figures by Disney that are exclusive to their stores. No longer having a local Disney store, I was in the dark, so I ordered a set of Mr. Incredible, Mrs. Incredible and Jack Jack, Dash, and Violet from the on-line Disney store.

I'll warn you ahead of time and save you some reading - if you like this line, you're not going to like my review. Disney must infuse some sort of hallucinogenic into the air of their stores to make people more susceptible to the power of suggestion. It's the only reason I can come up with for all the gushing praise for a set of figures that is less than average quality compared to the rest of the market, including Hasbro. And is that any surprise after seeing the Disney Indy and Haunted Mansion attempts?

Now, I'm going to say this very clearly at least twice, because I know people will start misquoting me. The Hasbro figures are neither great themselves, or overall better than the Disney figures. If I was to go back and review the basic figures today, I'd give them a slightly lower overall, with some figures **1/2, but still perhaps Mr. Incredible at a ***, and Dash might even be a **. I'm also not saying that the Disney figures are complete garbage. Here's what I am saying - the Disney figures are not knock your socks off stuff, and have plenty…PLENTY…of their own issues. In the end, some aspects are a little better than Hasbro, some are worse, and both lines up being pretty damn average.

Packaging - **1/2
The packaging design and style is actually pretty innovative and unique. It's a take off on the clamshell design (and I had far more trouble getting it open than any other clamshell due to its construction) and I like the graphics and how they tried to match up with the Incredibles symbol. However, it fails in a couple different areas.

As I already said, if you're an opener, have a chainsaw handy. And if you're not, you'll have to live with a design that's tough to store and takes up a good chunk of space. On top of that, while it's similar to a clamshell, the bubble lacks strength and is easy to crush. All of mine that came from the on-line store were smashed in, and I wouldn't be surprised if that happens pretty easily on the pegs as well.

Sculpting - Mrs. Incredible, Jack Jack ***; Violet, Dash **1/2; Mr. Incredible **
The sculpts across this line are a really mixed bag, with some really excellent, some really terrible.

Let's start with the positive - the head sculpts. They are generally well done across the board, and better for the most part than Hasbro's attempt. I particularly like Elasti-girl's head sculpt, with a few stray hairs on her forehead. The Violet head sculpt is actually an odd selection, with the hair band that I didn't think we saw until the very end of the film, and which I don't recall her ever wearing 'in costume'. When she first started putting her hair out of her face, she simply put it over her ears, and it was still parted on the side. Personally, I prefer the look Hasbro went with for Violet, with only one eye exposed, but the basic sculpt of Disney's isn't bad.

Of all the head sculpts, my favorite is Dash.  Disney has managed to capture the appearance perfectly - except for one minor detail.  It's huge!  If you can manage to ignore the scale, you'll see that the got both the expression and the tough to capture hair just right.

Now let's talk about the worse - the body sculpts. I hate Mr. Incredibles body sculpt. The torso is sculpted far less ripped than the Hasbro version, but that's not the big beef since it's actually more movie accurate. The problem is that with the ball jointed shoulders, and no rea; form of back muscle, the torso looks more like an upside down pear,  not a triangle. While he was never svelte in the red uniform, he did have a much larger chest and back than his waist, something that's completely lost in this dorky looking version.

Then take a gander at those gams. The thighs are completely off, partly due to the odd ball jointed hips, but also due to the weirdly way they've sculpted them. The difference in size between the calves and thighs is too extreme, and the length of the legs in proportion to the length of the torso is also way off. Overall, this Mr. Incredible is the goofiest looking one on the market, including the Happy Meal versions.

And then there is Dash. His head was larger than his body in the film, as was Violet's and Mrs. Incredibles. But not this obscenely massive. He looks like some sort of over-inflated Macy's Day parade balloon.

Violet, Jack Jack and Elasti-girl have the best overall sculpts from head to foot, but even they suffer from a massive problem - scale! Scale between these figures is all over the map. Mrs. Incredible is in pretty good scale with her husband, but all three of her kids are HUGE and out of scale with their parents. Violet is as tall as her mother, and Dash comes up almost to his father's chest. Scale was not this kind of issue with the Hasbro basic set, who I believe look much better together as a family.

Finally, the last issue to discuss in terms of sculpting - can they stand. I realize the designs of these characters make standing difficult, and I don't fault them completely for that. Even so, the mom, Dash and Violet do stand on their own if you play around with them a bit. However, you can give it up with Mr. Incredible. I managed to get him to stand for brief periods to take the photos, but it took a ton of effort, and he never lasted long. Yes, he has tiny feet and a huge torso, but a) the basic Hasbro version does as well and stands great on his own and b) if the design means they can't stand on their own (i.e. Invader Zim) than PROVIDE A STAND!

For a nice reference, check out the official website for this 'line up' shot of the characters.

Before we move on to the next category, let's do a head to head comparison on the two series. For sculpting, Disney wins in the head sculpt appearance, even with Dash's scale issue. I prefer the head sculpts on every Disney version, and had Dash's head been just about 25% smaller, it would have been perfect.

On the body sculpts, I hate Disney's dorky Mr. Incredible, and much prefer Hasbro's, even with it's issues. I also prefer the size of Disney's bodies, but the fact that the figures are so far out of scale with each other really bothers me. In the end, I'd say the bodies are (other that Mr. Goofy) a draw.

Paint - **1/2
The paint ops are solid, a little above average for the usual mass market work. Of course these are exclusives to a single store chain, so you'd expect them to be a little better than average.

Colors are clean and consistent, and there's very little bleed or poor definition between them. Then why the low score? One reason only, but oh it's such an obvious reason.

All of the family members have this weird 'blush'. What the hell is that supposed to be? Some sort of rosy cheeks? Instead they look either embarrassed or ill. Wanna know how to ruin an otherwise great looking head sculpt? Do something completely out of place and silly like add blotches to the cheeks.

The finish is worth mentioning as well. The Disney figures have a high gloss appearance, particularly the red plastic, which ends up looking cheap. I wish they'd gone with a matte finish, something that Hasbro came closer to.

Let's do the same thing with paint that we did with sculpting - compare the two lines. The paint ops on the eyes and masks are far superior on the Disney versions. The work on the body and insignias is a wash, and considering that the Disney versions are exclusives, and twice as expensive, I'm not surprised that the detail work is better. But the awful blush on the faces ruins an otherwise promising paint job. Again, for every step forward Disney takes over Hasbro, they manage to find a way to take one backwards. This category is a wash between the two.

Articulation - Mrs. Incredible, Violet, Dash, Mr. Incredible ***; Jack Jack Bupkis
The articulation on these is better than on the Hasbro line (with the exception of Jack Jack who seems to be a PVC no matter who produces him), no doubt about it. Not all of it is super useful, but it's always nice to have.

Like I said, Jack Jack is a PVC. He's a bigger PVC this time, but still a PVC.

Mom, Dash and Violet have similar articulation, with neck, ball jointed shoulders, elbows, waist, knees and hips. The elbows and shoulders give you a little more poseability, but the hips and knees are really there just to find the sweet spot that keeps them standing.

Mr. Incredible is, well, more incredible. He has great arm articulation, with ball jointed shoulders, elbows and wrists, and also has neck, waist, ball jointed hips, and knees. The hips are odd looking ball joints though, and don't fit in well with the overall design. On top of that, the leg articulation doesn't do much for you, since he can't hold any pose, let alone multiple ones, for more than a little while.

The arms are great though, and that is something I wish we'd seen in the Hasbro product. He can put his fists on his hips, raise them in triumph, or punch out the bad guys.

A comparison is easy here - Disney wins, with the exception once again of this awful Mr. Incredible. The ball joints at the top of his legs simply do not work visually, and are the best example I've seen in a long time of truly fugly joints hurting the overall appearance of a figure. His arm articulation, and the articulation on Violet, Dash and Mrs. Incredible are much better than the Hasbro version.

Accessories - Violet ***1/2; the rest *1/2
How much did I pay for these again? And where's the accessories?

Every figure comes with a pair of collector's cards, similar to the posters that came with Hasbro's versions. There's also a ring that a kid can wear, which come in different colors depending on the character. Neither of these things have anything to do with the film, although I have to admit that all the rings disappeared pretty quickly once my three year old twins found out about them.

Mrs. Incredible does have Jack Jack, but I'm considering him a figure, not an accessory. That will her here, but help with her value score, at least a little.

Violet is the only one to come with something worthwhile, and it's not just worthwhile but excellent. It's a clear version of herself, in invisible form. This is a completely different sculpt, but is unarticulated. They sculpted a stand to one foot, also clear, so the accessory actually stands better than the regular version.

She's not articulated, although she could have been. All the pieces are glued in place. Overall, the clear version of Violet is the best thing about this entire set, but even she has a nit you can pick. It goes back to scale again - while she's clearly got her knees bent, she's actually the same height as the regular Violet. Doh!

Violet has her ultra cool invisible self, and blows away every other figure in this category in either the Hasbro OR Disney line up. For the rest of the figures in both lines it's pretty much a wash.

Action Feature - *1/2
Three of the five family members also include an 'action feature'. Dash and both parents have light up symbols on their chest, while Violet and Jack Jack do not.

The feature works fine - push the symbol, it lights up. You can replace the battery in back when it wears out. I have nothing really against the feature, except that it added to the cost while not really making any sense (yes, Mr. Incredibles symbol beeps when he's being tracked, but he didn't light up like a used car lot on a Friday night). However, with only three of the five having the feature, they look different again!

The light up symbols are a translucent yellow of course, to allow the light to pass through. The non-light up symbols on Violet and Jack Jack are painted on, so when all five are together, there's a huge difference in appearance between them. Again, I want a set of figures that look good together - between the silly light up symbols and the scale issues, these fail miserably.

You can't really compare the lines in this category, since the Hasbro basic figures lack any sort of action feature. But considering how much I dislike both the general appearance of the translucent symbols, and the fact that the family is not consistent in appearance, it's certainly not a plus for the Disney line.

Fun Factor - Mr. Incredible **1/2; the rest ***
When I was a kid, there was nothing more frustrating about an action figure that couldn't stand on his own. How can you knock him down? How can you shoot him off a cliff with a rubber band or dart gun? How can you blast him with a dirtball in the back yard? Such are the dilemmas of youth. Mr. Incredible would be one of those figures I found frustrating and annoying.

The rest are better toys, with problems to the collector, but less issues for the average kid. Accessories other than the goofy cards would have been nice, but I'm betting kids actually like the silly rings.

This category is almost a wash between the two lines, but with the problems of getting Mr. Incredible to stand, and the generally lame cards, rings and light up symbols, I'm going to have to give a slight edge to Hasbro in this category.

Value - Violet **1/2; the rest **
The Hasbro basic figures, which are much smaller than these, were $5. However, other than Mr. Incredible, they were two packs, so you could have the whole family for $15. Here, the figures cost $10 each, and only mom and baby are a two pack, so you'll be spending $40 for the set.

That's steep, even for exclusives. While these are larger with more articulation, they lack any accessories, and certainly don't compare to other figures on the market (including the specialty market) in the ten buck range.

There is a sale going on right now (or was earlier this week) where these are 25% off, so now's the time to buy if you can, and at that price you can add a half star to the score.

When comparing the two lines, it's almost a wash again in this category, since you are getting better articulation and larger size for twice the price. The price is also driven up by the light up feature, something I could have been happy to never see, and I really believe the Disney stuff is really only worth in the $7 - $8 range. Another slight edge to Hasbro.

Overall - Violet ***; the rest **1/2
If I were to go back now and re-grade the Hasbro basic figures, having seen the film, they'd drop slightly in score from *** to a similar **1/2 - ***. Now that I've seen the movie, I have more to base my opinions on, and having seen more merchandise also helps.

The Hasbro figures aren't nearly as bad as some people are claiming, and these Disney figures certainly aren't as good. In the end the strengths and weaknesses of each tend to cancel each other out, leaving both lines pretty average for what they are trying to be.  I'm not saying the Hasbro figures are great - God knows, they aren't - but many folks are raving about the Disney figures, and it's wholly undeserved.

For me to be really happy with the Disney line, they had to drop the awful blush, do something about the leg and torso sculpt on Mr. Incredible, drop the silly light up feature and with it the price, and fix the scale issues between the characters. Then they would have been truly great figures, and I'd actually have a set of Incredibles on my shelf I was really happy with. Instead I have two sets of the family, and neither are better than average.

How great would it have been had we gotten a line of figures slightly bigger than the Hasbro, but slightly smaller than the Disney, with the added articulation and head sculpts of the Disney but better scale and body sculpts of Hasbro? That's something I would have been happy to pay ten bucks for, but alas, it seems it was out of the creative reach of either company.

Packaging - **1/2
Sculpt - Mrs. Incredible, Jack Jack ***; Violet, Dash **1/2; Mr. Incredible **
Paint - **1/2
Articulation - Mrs. Incredible, Violet, Dash, Mr. Incredible ***; Jack Jack Bupkis
Accessories - Violet ***1/2; the rest *1/2
Action Feature - *1/2
Fun Factor - Mr. Incredible **1/2; the rest ***
Value - Violet **1/2; the rest **
Overall - Violet ***; the rest **1/2

Where to Buy - 
The Disney store (or the parks of course) are the place to pick these up. Just make sure you breathe deep the store air first, and they'll look much better.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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