Simpsons Wave 2 Playsets 

Playmates may be telling us that these won't show up until September, but don't you believe them.  Somehow, K-marts has got the handle on the latest figures and playsets, beating the competition to the punch.

The two new playsets are the Kwik-E-Mart, with Apu, and Springfield Elementary, with Principal Skinner.  Each retail for $19.99, and are set up the same as the previous playsets.

Accessories - ****
The playsets ARE the main accessory, I suppose - either that or the figures are.  But let's pretend it's the playsets.  Both of these are even better than the previous sets.  There seems to be more room (although they are the same size) due to a better layout.  The graphics in the windos and doors are great, and the voice chips capture the characters extremely well.  Skinner also has an American flag to hang on the wall, and a clipboard to hold in his hand.  Apu has a hot dog and Squishy.

Sculpting - ***1/2
Extremely nice work, although comic characters are far easier to capture than 'real life' characters.  Scale seems about right as well.

Packaging - **
Nice looking boxes, with colorful graphics.  Pretty sturdy as well, but you'll not only need to destroy the box, but you'll need a screwdriver to get these buggers free.

Articulation - **
The Intelli-Tronic chips make these less articulated than I'd like.  Apu has shoulder and neck articulation, while Skinner also has a waist cut joint.

Value - ***1/2
The Commtech readers that Hasbro put out were twenty bucks.  On top of that, the figures with the chips were usually $7.  Considering that these playsets are far more attractive, contain dozens of voice samples for the various characters, actually sound like the characters (unlike 90% of the commtech chips), and the figures are only $5 retail, I'd say these were an extremely good value.


Overall - ***1/2
If you had told me 2 years ago, as I searched in vain for any Simpsons merchandise, buying over seas just because it was my only choice, that in a couple summers I'd have a Kwik-E-Mart and Apu figure in my hands, I'd have told you that you were crazy.  But now it's happened, and we should consider ourselves awfully lucky that these extremely cool figures ever saw the light of day.  If you're a Simpsons fan, please - get out there and pick these up!  I'd love to see this line continue to succeed.

Unfortunately, there is a problem as I understand it.  The second wave of figures, which I haven't found yet, have a TERRIBLE case pack.  They've put six of the new figures (one each!) in with six of the old figures.  I have no idea what Playmates is thinking, but this could cause some serious problems for them, and could end up destroying the chances for this line to continue.  If they continue to pack in figures that are already in abundance at retail, stores won't reorder, and they could manage to screw up another (can you say Star Trek?) property.  Let's hope somebody at Playmates gets a clue.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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