Simpsons Wave 2

Simpsons fans rejoice - Playmates continues to give us characters we thought we'd never see in plastic form!  C'mon, be honest - did you really ever believe you'd get to have a Barney or a Flanders?  Now you can, along with the cool Intellivoice chip technology with the playsets.  The five new figures in this assortment are - Pin Pal Homer, Sunday School Bart, Chief Wiggum, Barney, and Ned Flanders.  Smithers is pictured on the back, but not yet released.

These are showing up at K-marts first, oddly enough.  However, they are just now showing up at Target as well.  The rumored case assortment is true across the board right now - 5 new figures, one each per case, and 7 old figures from wave 1 (3 Homers, 2 Barts, 1 Burns and 1 Krusty).  These are still the very reasonable $4.99.

Accessories - ***
Excellent choices in accessories for the most part.  Wiggum has his coffee cup, donut and night stick.  Homer has his ball and bag.  Flanders comes with his bible, very cool chef hat, and spatula.  Barney has a sub sandwich and glass of beer.  And last but not least, Bart comes with a bible, slingshot and Radioactive Man comic.  My one complaint is that we've seen our first accessory reuse with this series.  The slingshot was included with the first Bart, and the bible is the same for both Flanders and Bart.

Sculpting - ***
This set is hit and miss.  Homer is almost - I say almost - a straight repaint of the original.  He does have slightly new sculpting on his shoes and on his shirt, adding buttons for example.  But he is close enough to a repaint to be considered one.  All the others are new sculpts of course.  Of the other four, they hit the mark beautifully with Wiggum and Bart.  Both capture the characters fantastically, and although some might think Wiggum is too big, if you look at pictures from the various Simpsons books you'll see the scale when compared to Homer is actually pretty darn good.

The same can't be said for Flanders and Barney.  While not awful, there is something that doesn't quite work here.  For Barney, it's not his size - again, he is usually drawn fatter and taller than Homer.  For me, it's the hair that isn't quite right.  For a better adaptation, just look at the UK Burger King figures.  As for Flanders, I think the open mouth look isn't quite right.  I'd have preferred a more carefree, hi-diddly-ho look.

Packaging - **1/2
Same as wave 1.  The card art is very colorful and includes plenty of Simpsons style.  Obviously, you have to destroy these packages to get to the figures, but for the MOC collectors, the card stock is heavy and most of the figures I've seen have had little shelf wear.

Articulation - **1/2
The same 4 point articulation we've seen all along.  All of the five new figures have neck, shoulders and waist.  Actually, that's probably enough articulation for these toys.  Also, most of the hands (although not all) are well sculpted to hold their accessories.  The major exception here is Pin Pal Homer, who can't hold his bowling ball to save his life.




Value - ****
Where do you get $5 figures these days?  Let alone figures with cool accessories, AND voice chips.  Yes, you have to have the playsets to get the appreciation of the voice chips, but these things beat the living daylights out of the Commtech chips produced by Hasbro.

Intellivoice Chips - ***
As I said, these are far superior to the similar attempt that Hasbro made with their Episode 1 Star Wars figures.  The lines are straight from the show, and the characters are each able to interact with more than one of the playsets.  If you are only buying certain playsets though, you'll want to read the boxes carefully to make sure you get the ones that give you the sounds for your figures.

My only complaint here is that both the Homer and Bart chips are just reused from the original figures.  I know that Playmates has to find some ways to keep costs down, but I would have been even more impressed if they had some additional sounds from these two.

Overall - ***
Are they perfect?  No, there's a couple minor nits I have, but overall these are a terrific value.  They are certainly far superior to the old Mattel figures, and the terrific variety we're already seeing bodes well for this line.  If you're a Simpsons fan, I highly recommend you get out there and grab these - let's show Playmates and Fox just how much we want to see all the characters!

A picture of the whole gang so far, for scale

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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