Wave 3 of the Simpsons

Two Simpsons reviews in a row - while I'm thrilled with these terrific releases from Playmates I do wish they'd space them out a bit between the playsets and the figures.  But I'm certainly not complaining!

This series has six new figures - Kamp Krusty Bart, Sunday Best Homer, Otto, Milhouse, Nelson and Moe.  Folks have been waiting for Moe since series one, but they'd hoped they would get him with a Moe's Tavern playset.  It doesn't look like that will happen now, but you never know.

These are running $4.99 at your average Target, which is the store getting them first.  There are also reports that they have slowly begun to trickle into K-marts and Super K-marts.  No word on any variations yet, although the bottom of Bart's shoes are not painted white as in the previous figures, so that might change.

Packaging - ***
It's the same as the rest of the line - brightly colored, individual pictures of each character on the back, the backing specific to the figure.  Nothing ground breaking here, but certainly acceptable. 

Sculpting - ***1/2
These are so close to perfect...but one small detail holds them back from a perfect score for me.

Both Homer and Bart are actually new sculpts on the heads, although the changes aren't huge.  Bart's hair has been altered slightly for the 'wilder' look, and Homer has a more serious, closed mouth, sculpt.  Homer also has much thicker hair, or at least the two strands on top that he still has.

There is also something weird about Bart's eyes - in the shot at the very top of the page you can see the various Barts, and the new one has his pupils painted further out to the sides, and smaller.  It gives him a slightly odd look, and isn't nearly as nice as the others.  But overall, both his and Homer's sculpts are good.

Moe, Otto, and Milhouse are simply fantastic.  Moe is his ugly self, and doesn't look to be in any better mood than usual.  Otto is a perfect sculpt, and is perhaps the best figure they've done so far.  Milhouse has his eyes painted on the front of his glasses, just as you'd expect from the style used on the show.  In his case, I think if they had sculpted the eyes and added glasses, as with Grampa and Flanders, it would have looked completely unlike him.

Nelson is the only one hurting this set.  And it's not really his sculpt - it's excellent!  He looks exactly as he should.  No, the problem here is one of scale.  They've made some minor flubs in this line on a couple other figures, but none have been this far out of scale with the others.  Nelson is far too short and small.  At the very bottom of the page you can see a picture of three kids together, and you'll notice that Milhouse and Bart are the same height as Nelson.  If they'd just given him a little more height, this wave would have been absolutely perfect.

Articulation - **1/2
Nothing surprising here, if you've bought earlier Playmates Simpsons figures.  Neck, shoulders and waist is what you get.  Not much, but considering these characters are primarly intended to stand, it's not terrible.  *NOTE* Since first writing this, someone pointed out that Otto has a unique neck that allows him to...headbang!

Accessories - ****
The line continues to provide some great accessories with each character, although the cost conscious Playmates has reused several.  None are silly or out of place, however.

Bart comes with the same slingshot as always (I suspect we'll get this slingshot with every Bart variation), quiver with arrows, bow with arrow, and can of imitation gruel.  Unfortunately, he can only hold either the bow or the slingshot, and his funky left hand is open wide, but for what I have no idea.

Milhouse has a Squishee, re-used from the Kwik-E-Mart set, ice cream cone, and walkie-talkie.  Adding the comic book would have been another good re-use item here, but they didn't. I also wish that he could hold the squishee, since his face sculpt is perfect for him to be slurping it, but neither hand can hold it.

Otto has the fewest accessories with only two, but his guitar and headphones are at very well done.  The headphones could fit him slightly better but it's not bad enough to gripe about.

Sunday Best Homer comes with the Good Book, nabbed from the Flanders figure, a boom box and a large foam-style #1 hand/finger.  The hand fits well on to Homer's left, and is extremely fitting for today, Super Bowl Sunday.

Nelson comes with the spray can included with the earliest Bart, baseball bat, paper airplane and blue water balloon.

Moe has the best accessories, but once again has one re-use, the beer mug that Barney also carries.  In addition he has the pay phone that Bart always harasses him with, and a bar cloth. The cloth fits well in his hand, but the handset of the phone doesn't fit onto the cradle in any way that I can see.

Talking Feature - ***1/2
It took me awhile to find decent playsets for these guys.  While they may be compatible with most of the sets, they don't say a whole lot.  I was especially surprised to find that Milhouse didn't have a single line in the school!  But I did eventually find sets that they all worked with fairly well.  Is anyone out there keeping track of every line that every figure says with every playset? *NOTE*  Someone else has a Milhouse that works with the school, so I suspect my figure is bad.

Paint - ***
Most of the paint ops on this series is great.  Bart's eyes are a little funky, and the white on Milhouse's eyes and Homer's eyes can have marks, so you should be careful picking yours out (if you have that luxury).  The white on Moe's apron was excellent though, and I was pretty surprised since that's one color that always seems to have the most trouble covering and staying nick free.

The biggest problem in this area is the Kamp Krusty insignia on Bart's shirt.  I was hoping it was painted, but it's a sticker.  And it's a sticker that isn't applied particularly well.  A short cut that hurt what otherwise is an excellent looking set.

Value - ****
The single best buy in any action figure aisle right now!  For five bucks you get a great figure, terrific accessories, and they work with the playsets. So why are we paying eight bucks or more for most figures from other companies these days?

Overall - ***1/2
Of the three waves produced so far, this is by far the best overall.  I'm betting right now that when the Best of 2001 lists are compiled next winter, this line will blow the competition out of the water.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford

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