Moe's Tavern

Moe's Tavern - where Homer can't even remember his own name.  Fans of the World of Springfield have been waiting for this set for almost three years now, ever since it was first announced and then cancelled by Playmates.  The original concept art was shown in the spring of 2000, but FOX refused approval.

So what was the scoop?  As many people assumed, FOX didn't want a 'bar' play set.  Let's face it, this was intended as a play set for kids originally, and what behavior could you mimic with such a toy?  Probably not the kind of behavior FOX wanted to appear as promoting.

They weren't stupid however, and did say that if Playmates could find an exclusive retailer, someone where the likelihood of little kids getting exposed was lower, they'd agree.  But there was a major problem with that concept - cost.  The usual run back in those days for a play set was around 50-60,000 units.  (This number is lower now, but was valid then).  Exclusive play sets were produced in quantities around 20-30,000 max.  Therefore, exclusive play sets are smaller, costing probably around half as much to make as a full size set to maintain the same kind of profit.

But Moe's couldn't be a smaller set.  Hell, it's crowded as a full size set!  So that meant one of two things - produce 50k of the things at a retail of $20-$25, or produce 25k or so at twice the retail price.  A very sticky situation indeed.

As long ago as the summer of 2001, Electronics Boutique had already set their sites on this set.  They were going to get it as an exclusive, it was just up to working things out with Playmates and FOX as to how much and how many.  It would be extremely tough for them to move a full run all by themselves, and even after Diamond came in, it was pretty unlikely.  Therefore, we see a doubled price point on this set.

It's not a cheap set, but it's certainly one of the most crucial sets they've produced.  Will it the gamble by Electronics Boutique pay off, and they sell through these at full retail?  Only time will tell.

Packaging - ***
This is the last of the old packaging.  He also comes with a sticker about the Be Sharps Homer mail away figure.

After seeing this again on the shelf, I have to say I like the new design a little more.  Had they rotated the characters on the front, this overall design would have worked better, but I grew tired of seeing Homer, Bart and Mr. Burns.

Sculpting - ****
There are two aspects to the sculpting - the set itself of course and Duffman.  Both are exceptional.

Duffman looks perfect, like he's right off the screen.  He has eight cans of beer around his belt, all with nice detail work, and while he's pretty pre-posed (as are all WOS figures) at least it's an appropriate pose.  The smile works well, and his right hand is sculpted to hold a beer mug.

While Duffman is nice, the real beauty here is the play set.  We've rarely gotten this much detail in a set, and Moe's quickly leaps up to the head of the pack with the Comic Book Shop, Kitchen and Krusty Burger as most detailed play sets.

There's no plain sections on the walls, and everything is here that you'd expect - the phone, liquor bottles and glasses on the shelves, the taps, the television, even the Love Tester.  That has it's pros and cons - while it's always great to get so much detail, it makes the set extremely crowded.

I'm not sure that could be avoided though.  There's nothing superfluous here, and while we might want this set to be larger than the others, the economic issues around an exclusive that I mentioned in the intro would have priced it out of most people's wallet.

Paint (and stickers) - ****
This is one of the best sets for detailed paint and sticker work.  There's nothing plain about this set.

Of course, there's the paint apps and stickers on Duffman.  He seems to have less issues than some other recent figures, particularly with the white of his boots and gloves.  Whites have always been an issue in the past, but these are clean and consistent.  The Duff on his chest is painted on, and looks excellent.  The Duff labels on his hat and cans are all straight and well applied.  It's also great to see that the cans say 'Duff Beer', instead of just Duff.

The set really shines as well.  There are a ton of unique stickers here, from the Love Tester and TV screen, to each of the unique liquor bottles.  Unlike the court room, which is fairly dull in terms of color and sticker choice, this set leaps at you off your display shelf.

Articulation - **1/2
Do I really have to say it again?  Please don't make me.

Accessories - *
After all those great new accessories with wave 11, we've been spoiled.  But even if we weren't spoiled, we'd be mighty disappointed here.

There is only one accessory - a beer mug, re-used several times now.  Maybe they couldn't think of anything particularly exciting, but I think there are at least a few good choices.  Where's Moe's shotgun?  Or even a dish of peanuts?

Talking Feature - **
One of the things most folks complained about with the Court Room was the lack of lines.  Here again, there's fewer than most will expect.

If you're looking for a complete list, head over to the Simpsons Collector Sector.  My favorites:

Duffman -
Yea that's swell, Duff wholeheartedly supports the designated driver program... NOW Who wants to party?

Chief Wiggum-
All our founding fathers, astronauts and world series heroes have been either drunk or on the cocaine.

You ain't thinkin' of gettin' rid of the dank, are ya Moe?

There's only 26 lines with current characters, far below the usual 30-40.  I'm hoping that there are some for unreleased characters, and I haven't used my handy little gadget to try to find them yet.  But even so, with Homer, Barney, and Moe having so few lines, it's likely that this will disappoint quite a few folks.

The lines chosen however are almost all perfect.  They are on topic, and some of them pretty bold, particularly Wiggum's.

I had more foot peg problems with some of the figures, although I think it's the figures themselves and not the set.  There's a shortage of room - finding a good spot for Barney is pretty close to impossible, and Moe is on a bit of an odd angle in back if you use the foot peg.

Value - **1/2
I'm not beating this set up over price as much as some folks, because I realize it's simple economics.  If this set could have been released as a regular set and sold through all the outlets, it would have been $20-$25.  I certainly wish that was so, but the much lower production run of an exclusive is a killer here.

Overall - ***1/2
This could have been a four star, over the top set, if it had just had a greater quantity of lines, and improved on the accessories.  Those two areas are what really hurt the set for me, but even then it's one of the four best regular sized sets produced (the other three being the Kitchen, Krusty Burger and Comic Shop), and one of the top three exclusives (the others being THOH2 and Main Street).  It's a must have, and with the re-release of Moe with wave 12, I think the inclusion of Duffman was perfect.

Where to Buy - 
I picked it up at at local Electronics Boutique. On-line:

-EBGames has them at the same price of $40 plus shipping.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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