South Park Series 3
Mr. Garrison, Wendy, Chef and Cartman's Mom

South Park continues to be as popular as ever on Comedy Central, and I can see why.  It's as irreverent and satirical as always, still finding inventive ways to slap the people who deserve it around for their stupidity.

More surprising to me is that Mirage Toys has managed to release a third series in their South Park line of toys.  It's not that I think there's no market, but with the current high price point for specialty figures like this, I'm still amazed that they've made it this far.

Series 1 and series 2 were made up of kids, so series 3 switches to primarily adults.  We get Wendy to go with her classmates, along with Mr. Garrison, Chef, and Cartman's mom.

Some online stores have these in, as well as Hot Topic stores.  I assume the Musicland family of stores picked them up, so you should see them at Media Play and Suncoast soon.  They run around $13.

Series 4 is scheduled to hit in the early part of 2005, and includes Jimmy, Sheriff Barbrady, Mr. Mackey and Big Gay Al.

NOTE: A friend just let me know they saw a Satan figure at their local Suncoast.  He was supposed to be out with this wave, but isn't pictured on the back, and wasn't at the stores I found these at.  Keep your eyes peeled!

Packaging - **
No big changes to the packaging, but the more times I see it, the less enamored I become.  It's fairly plain and basic, although that's not too far off the style of the show. Still, I think a little more creativity could have gone into the general design.

Sculpting - Mr. Garrison ***; Chef, Wendy **1/2; Cartman's Mom **
The style of South Park is extremely simple, since it started as basic construction paper animation.  There's not a lot of detail to the cartoon, and you shouldn't expect a lot of detail to the figures.

These are rotocast, so think big dog chew toy.  And large they are, since they actually took a shot at some sort of scale between the kids and adults.  With the kids in this line so large, there was no way they could actually match up, but they get points for at least trying.  The scale actually works best with Wendy and the other boys, because they did make her slightly smaller.

The designs are all very static, with arms at the sides and some sort of aghast expression.  One of the nice things is that all the features - eyes eyebrows, mouth, facial hair, glasses, etc. - are actually sculpted, and not just painted on.  That is a nice touch that I have to admit is really growing on me with time.

When I first saw these in the packages, I suspected that Chef would be my favorite.  But then I cracked them open, and found that he is very flat.  Yep, he's flat.  He's far thinner front to back than he is side to side, so he ends up looking a tad odd.

The one that surprised me was Mr. Garrison, who has a great expression, and actually works fairly well in his static pose.  Cartman's Mom is the weakest of the bunch for me, probably because she looks so much like some sort of freaky sex toy.  Considering her proclivities on the show though, I'm not too surprised.

Paint - Wendy **1/2; the rest ***
In general, the paint ops improved over previous series.  I noticed less sloppiness this time, particularly around the arms, hands, feet, shirt and legs. 

There's still a few issues with the eyes, although Wendy was the only one that was really bad.  She has lots of white off on the face, with the eyes brought together completely in the center.  Her mittens and coat also showed the same time of poor definition between the colors that plagued the previous waves.

Overall though, the quality has improved a bit, although it's still not at the level that you'll probably expect at this price point in the specialty market.

Articulation - *1/2
Each has one and only one joint, a ball joint at the neck.  While that allows you to do some useful posing with the heads, it means that for the most part, they are unarticulated.

This is a big problem with characters like Cartman's mom, who has a plate of chocolate covered pancakes and donuts, but can't hold them.

I know the designs don't lend themselves to much articulation, but the Peanuts designs didn't either, and yet they managed to find creative ways to add it.  I wish that Mirage could do something like that with this line.

Accessories - **1/2
Just like previous series, each figure comes with one accessory.  Cartman's mom has his favorite food, chocolate covered donuts and pancakes, while Wendy has a pile of puke, no doubt due to Stan's inability to speak to her without spewing.

Chef has his spatula, and can actually hold it.  He has a very small hole drilled in his right hand, into which you can fit the handle of the spatula.  It sticks out oddly though, and sculpted hands would be so much nicer.

Mr. Garrison has the most crucial accessory, Mr. Hat.  He's dressed in his patriotic best, and actually fits on his oddly sculpted right hand.

While the accessories all make sense, it's a pity they aren't more useful with the characters.

Fun Factor - *1/2
These aren't exactly fun toys, with almost no articulation, no conflict to their back story, and no way to really use the accessories.  I suppose some kids could find something to do with them, but what that might be, with characters like Cartman's Mom and Chef, isn't something I want to know.

Value - *1/2
At $13, these figures are running with the big dogs of the specialty market.  While even I have to admit that their slightly simple rotocast style has grown on me, I still haven't lost sight of the fact that these are easily $5 - $6 overpriced.

Overall - Mr. Garrison **1/2; Chef, Wendy, Cartman's Mom **
This isn't as good of an overall line as I think it could be, and the high price for these really hurts them.  The high prices are hurting everyone of course, especially the buyers.

If you look at Chef from the front only, and skip the spatula sticking out from his side, he doesn't look too bad.  Mr. Garrison is actually pretty good, at least an average figure compared to other lines.

While I'm not leaping up and down, screaming about these figures from the rooftops, you'll notice that I am buying them.  I'm a huge fan of the show, and I'm at least happy that I'm getting some half way decent figures of the best characters.  Beggars can't be choosers I suppose.  

Packaging - **
Sculpt - Mr. Garrison ***; Chef, Wendy **1/2; Cartman's Mom **
Paint - Wendy **1/2; the rest ***
Articulation - *1/2
Accessories - **1/2
Fun Factor - *1/2
Value - *1/2
Overall - Mr. Garrison **1/2; Chef, Wendy, Cartman's Mom **

Where to Buy - 
Hot Topic is the only brick and mortar store I've seen these at so far, but I'm betting Media Play and Suncoast will get them eventually.  Online options include:

- CornerStoreComics has the set of four listed for $50.


Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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